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Your site may be smashing it in other areas: slick design, quality content, high traffic and a low bounce rate… but still, a lot of visitors aren’t hitting the target. Whether that’s picking up the phone, signing up to an email or making a purchase, the people visiting simply aren’t converting. And that’s where conversion rate optimisation (CRO) comes in.

Conversion rate (CR) is the most important metric when establishing your site’s success. Every website has a fundamental purpose, and when people achieve this, a conversion is made. At the same time, each visitor that fails to accomplish the end goal forces the conversion rate to drop.

Many sites suffer from poor conversions, but fortunately there’s a range of processes that can optimize CR. In Part 1 of our CRO focus, we’re offering insight into three key areas – customer journey analysis, A/B testing and cart abandonment analysis – and explaining a little more about these techniques.

1. Customer journey analysis

Customers are complex beings, and though you’ll be aware of your target demographic and their characteristics (age, sex, income and interests, for example) you’ve got to remember that their online behaviour is often unpredictable.

‘Customer journey’ is a one of the most prevalent terms thrown around by marketers. Some wrongly assume that it’s a simple case of visitors hitting the search engine, visiting your site and then converting, but the truth of it is, customer journeys are far from basic. We must take into account the customer’s process from first discovering your brand (did they notice you through offline channels? A celebrity endorsement? A real life recommendation?), initially visiting the site, conducting further research (checking up on social channels, watching videos and reading reviews), revisiting (perhaps via display ads?), converting, and then establishing loyalty.

It’s a convoluted process and not something that should be ignored. Businesses really need to understand their customers and the journeys they complete, and in order to do this, data should be collected and scrutinized from every relevant channel. That means requesting feedback at particular touchpoints, identifying traffic sources, and monitoring other brand activity (promotions instore, influencer collaborations, features in print etc.) so you can apply it to actions onsite. This analysis will reveal your customers’ behaviour at a seriously granular level, allowing you to plan and action improvements.

2. A/B testing

A/B testing enables us to establish which of two versions performs best. The same web page can be tweaked with different variants – A and B – and then analysed to identify the best performer. This technique can also be applied to several versions, ie. multivariate testing.

A basic example of A/B testing is changing the colour of a button on each page version – one could be green, the other pink. Copy could also be tweaked, with a short, snappy call to action vs. a lengthy, flowery instruction. Each version is presented to a percentage of your site visitors, and the rate of conversions then compared.

Even the most minor of changes can have an impact on conversion rate: switching up the layout of a form, changing the fonts, or amending the size and type of image displayed. All of these elements contribute to the overall look, feel, usability – and ultimately the success – of your page.

3. Cart abandonment analysis 

A seriously frustrating feature of your conversion rate analysis focuses around shopping cart abandonment, where your visitors have made to the final hurdle, and then suddenly drop off. There are many factors leading to cart abandonment; customers may feel there’s a lack of trust, they procrastinate, or they’re stopped in their tracks by price comparisons. Slow loading pages are also a killer in shopping cart abandonment, along with unexpected charges.

So how can you optimise the final stages of the experience? Cart abandonment analysis will bring to light where the problem, or problems, lie. You should identify at precisely what stage the customer got cold feet, and which factors may have contributed to this.

In many cases, a simple snippet of copy reinforcing the benefits of your product or service can work wonders, as will the presence of previous customer reviews. Other techniques include the option of Guest checkout (many customers won’t want to set up an account) or a wish list feature (so they can save their purchase until later). Once they’ve left your site empty handed, encourage them to come back while the iron’s still hot, utilizing retargeting or basket abandonment emails (additional discounts work particularly well here).

Customer journey analysis, A/B testing and shopping cart analysis are seriously helpful techniques in CRO, allowing you to determine the problems with your site and how they can be rectified. Find out more about the conversion rate optimisation services we offer at It Works Agency by getting in touch, and be sure to revisit us in the coming weeks for Part 2 of our CRO insights.