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How to Improve Conversion Rates on Your Website: Article 4 of 4

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In the previous installments of this series, we considered testing methodology, identifying the must-have user experience, and optimizing your conversion funnel. I discussed how to use analytics to unlock pinch points and areas of opportunity for performance improvements. And finally I explained how to go beyond data to identifying true visitor intent through surveys.

In this fourth and final installment, I'm going to cover ways to implement those insights in the conversion rate optimization process while avoiding the all-too-common trap of getting bogged down by minutiae.

Conversion Rate Optimization Based on Insights

Now that you have insights from your data and surveys, you can build and execute an informed conversion rate optimization program—one designed to address the most important and promising areas of improvement. Gone are the days of testing button color for the sake of testing. You now have intentional targets that have a real opportunity to improve your business. Here's how to act on them.

1. Prioritize the biggest pain points


You can't optimize everything at once. Your first job is to prioritize the areas of opportunity based on the data and insights you've gathered. You're the ER doctor, and you need to triage the patient.

Force-rank each possible optimization and determine which ones have the highest likelihood of moving the needle for your business. You can build your ranking based on the likelihood of the optimization to improve whichever metric you care most about— revenue, user acquisition, you name it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What metrics are the most important to me?
  • What are the most important conversions to influence those metrics?
  • Which pages mean the most to the success of those conversion funnels?
  • Which flows are most critical to improving the metrics that matter to me?

2. Eliminate drop-off points

Tackle the pages in your funnel that have the most drop-off. Armed with analytics and insights, you should have some hypotheses about what could improve those metrics. Review those pages and ask yourself whether the messaging, content and promise of the page align with the intent of the user who visited that page.

If the needs don't align, you can address the page elements so they better address visitor intent. Alternatively, if your visitor's needs don't align with your product offering, you may need to optimize your inbound traffic source as opposed to the promise on the Web page.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the core value propositions that resonate with your users?
  • Are they clearly communicated on your site?
  • What have my visitors told or shown me that can be used to better communicate my product's value?
  • What do I know about my visitors' intent that I can use to improve the performance of this page or flow?

3. Eliminate excess steps

The must-have experience is the thing that customers fall in love with and come to know your product by. It's the thing they can't live without, and the thing your product does better than anything else they use. You want to get as many users to that experience as possible.

Review your funnel and look for unnecessary steps that can be removed. Are there pages that can come out, fields that aren't vital to the signup process, and steps that add friction? The faster you get users into the must-have experience, the fewer the places where your funnel can leak.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you remove friction from the onboarding process?
  • What steps can you remove from the user conversion flow?
  • What is the bare minimum information a user needs to provide to start using your experience?
  • What would happen if I flipped my funnel on its head and eliminated every step leading up to the must-have experience?

Avoiding the A/B Testing Trap

Some of these tests will be hard. Changing the user onboarding flow is not always easy. Redesigning interior pages to have stronger calls to action takes time. Getting optimization efforts prioritized in the engineering queue can require gumption and horse trading. But in my experience, the harder changes are the ones that will move the needle for your business.

You can do the easy, busy work of testing button colors and being frustrated with little return, or you can do the hard work of pushing through the optimization tests that have big potential upside. Instead of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, spend your time getting in place the tests that matter.

Too many people get caught in the swirl of micro optimizations, sapping energy the organization needs to embark on tests that can be truly game-changing. Stay focused on potential big wins.

Making Conversion Rate Optimization Work for You

Optimization can often be a letdown for marketers and organizations. When focused on the wrong elements, testing can lead to nowhere. But when you align your efforts with an approach that focuses on holistic conversion rate optimization, you give yourself a much better chance for success.

By focusing your effort on the potential big wins, you ensure that your testing and optimization efforts have the best chance at moving the needle. And by continually testing, iterating and measuring, you can improve the user experience, speeding them to the must-have experience they love and earning real wins for your organization through conversion optimization done right.

Articles in this series

Article 1: How to Build an Effective Conversion Rate Optimization Plan

Article 2: How to Uncover Confusion in Your Conversion Funnel

Article 3: How to Drive Conversion Rate by Understanding Visitor Intent

Article 4: How to Improve Conversion Rates on Your Website


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Sean Ellis is the founder of GrowthHackers.com and CEO of Qualaroo, a technology company that helps marketers better understand the needs of website visitors and improve conversions. He has held marketing leadership roles at breakout companies, such as Dropbox, LogMeIn (IPO), Uproar (IPO), Eventbrite, and Lookout.

Twitter: @SeanEllis

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Comments

  • by Vinay Bhagat Tue Sep 10, 2013 via web

    Sean - great series. Very sound and practical advice. Especially, the idea of focusing of striving for the big wins.

  • by Sean Ellis Wed Sep 11, 2013 via web

    Thanks Vinay. Good luck with your conversion rate optimization efforts. A big win can motivate your whole team to stick with CRO.

  • by Alon Even Tue Sep 17, 2013 via web

    Sean,
    Thanks for the great posts.

    When we are talking about mobile apps and website, we should put more emphasis on the optimization tips due to the UX constrains. In other words, you should measure, understand and improve the user experience (UX) on mobile web or within mobile app, using visual in-app analytics tools, which enables to see exactly how users intearact with your app/web and optimize the UX. Improving the UX will increae conversions, engagement and web/in-app monetization. Appsee is a good example of an in-app analytics platform that provides both visual (user recordings and heatmaps) and analytics reports (www.appsee.com).

    Thx,
    Alon

  • by Gracious Store Sat Sep 21, 2013 via web

    Thanks for these great series on improving conversion rates

  • by Tamar Wed Oct 2, 2013 via web

    Hi Sean,
    I second Vinay on staying clear of the big wins. I liked your metaphor of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Many companies focus on buttons, colors, graphics. One way to focus on the holistic approach is by segmenting the market based on digital behavior and digital profiling (even anonymous prospects) and targeting them with the right information according to the right context. Tamar, Insightera

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