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Increasing Conversions with CRO

January 13th, 2011 | | Conversion Optimization

Let’s assume that you’ve been diligently working on your SEO and continuing to tweak your website with the array of handy SEO tools out there.  Now, let’s assume that all that hard work has resulted in a fantastic SERP rank and an increase in traffic to the site. Awesome! You’re doing great.  Your SEO flies and fights, but can you CRO?

We all know by now that SEO is not a process that can be done once and stopped. It’s a long-term commitment and well worth the time!  Today, I want to encourage you to try out conversion rate optimization or CRO.  I hope that this post will serve to get the wheels in your noggin turning so you can brainstorm ways to improve your conversions, and check out a number of other helpful resources to get started in CRO.

There’s a lot of debate in the SEO industry about CRO with extreme proponents on both sides, which believe in SEO-only or CRO-only.  Think about it though – a site built to convert can’t do so without being found, and a website built to be found won’t convert to its full extent if it’s not user friendly.  Keep polishing your SEO, like I said, it’s never finished, and it’s the best way to give people what they’re looking for initially.  By adding CRO to the mix, you’ll be well on your way to bringing in as many conversions as possible.

CRO, put simply, is figuring out why your website visitors aren’t taking the desired action (i.e. converting), and tailoring marketing efforts to increase quality conversions.  CRO can involve running A/B split tests to determine which alternative a visitor is more likely to convert with.  When getting ready to start A/B testing, it’s usually better to start big and then drill down to smaller changes.  Spending weeks upon weeks deciding what color your Free Trial button should be isn’t going to give you tremendous changes, and if you do see an increase, research shows that it’s minimal.

This is where the Google Website Optimizer comes in handy.  You can test the design and layout of your website, then begin tweaking everything from the headlines to the body content.  After you’ve set up your tests, you can use a tool like Crazy Egg or Google Analytics heat maps to get a visual representation of what visitors click on the most.  But before you jump the gun and start testing every aspect of the page, understand this – CRO is also making sure that all of your marketing efforts are aligned and bringing in those good, quality conversions.

Let’s look at an example, shall we?  Here at Hanapin, we have a client who does an excellent job of making user friendly changes to their website to improve user experience and increase their conversions. After I started working on this account, I signed up for a free trial so I could better understand what their customers were seeing.

This particular client recently added tutorial videos after recognizing that abandonment often occurs from lack of knowledge on how to use the online product. (Hint: Find where your customers are leaving your site by setting up funnels in Google Analytics, and regularly checking your bounce and exit rates for abnormally high numbers). A great thing about adding video is you can put them on your website, and a 3rd party like YouTube. Then, you can use some SEO magic to help your YouTube videos get found in the SERPs. Pretty groovy, huh?

So, besides A/B testing everything, what other sort of ways can you help out the customers on your website and bring in conversions at the same time?  Here are some examples, can you come up with more?

  1. I’d suggest re-evaluating what your site has to offer in terms of assistance.  FAQ pages are helpful, but there’s more you can do in this day and age. Is live help chat is a possibility for your company?  People love instant fixes!  You can also provide your customers with a way to help themselves through help forums.  As always, make sure your contact information is available and not just on the Contact Us page.

  2. Build up your credibility.  The ways to accomplish this are simply endless.  Case studies, blogging, customer testimonials, links to your social sites, and prompt customer service are all great ways to do this.  No one wants to buy from a company they can’t trust.  If your organization has recognizable (trustworthy) companies they provide services for, ask them for permission to use their logo on your testimonial.

  3. Set up an email remarketing system.  With the client mentioned above, I receive (not overly frequent) emails from a customer service representative encouraging me to use the product by sending me tips and tricks.  They’re also sure to include a link to their blog, tutorial videos, and social networking sites in the email.

  4. Make your blog user focused! Keep it professional, but show off the human side of your company.  General articles about the business are a great credibility booster, but make sure you add in tutorial articles where appropriate. Don’t just blog for a month and call it quits, either.  It takes time to see the benefits. (Make sure to apply SEO techniques to that blog to make it search engine happy).

  5. Be feedback friendly! This client has a feedback button on every single page while logged in.  This gives your customers a voice, and it gives you a focus for improvement (and ideas for further CRO A/B testing).  Just make sure you’re keeping track of the feedback and responding to big issues.

  6. Make your call to action blatantly obvious.  If a customer is reaching the website, and they aren’t completing your goal conversion, or worse, they’re not immediately sure of what you do, – you’ve got a problem.  This client needs people to try the product and eventually pay for it, so they’ve added their sign up button to the top, middle, and bottom of the page (and they track how many people sign up with each one in Google Analytics).

What it comes down to is that all of the brilliant SEO moves in the world can’t convert a website to its full potential if the user isn’t finding what they need to make the commitment.  So keep up with your SEO for the bots, and find some ways to make your website human friendly at the same time.

Jessica is an Assistant Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.

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  • http://www.woodendockmedia.com Wooden Dock Media

    I like any article that links to a clip from the movie Hook.

    It’s hard to say that SEO is measured by ROI because it takes the “purity” out of the art form. Yet, sometimes, art and commerce has to share the same space so the artists can eat.

    Good stuff, Jessica.

    Do you actually find Google Website Optimizer to be that accurate?

  • http://www.bbqguys.com Jeff Loquist

    First off just wanted to compliment you on the great Hook reference.

    CRO is something we have now started to consider more thoroughly & just wanted to add that CRO is not just an SEO issue and we have implemented it in all aspects of our optimization efforts, from SEO to PPC and even Social visits.

    Time consuming…yes. Worth the extra effort…definitely!

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