A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

January 15, 2015 | Analytics, Marketing Strategies

When you move your business to the web, most do it with the fundamental goal of converting visitors to make a specific action. An action can be anything from handing over their details (lead generation), liking your social media page to buying your product or service.

How hard can it be getting people to like your Facebook Page or hand over their email address? While it may sound easy, it’s an extremely complex aspect of online marketing that takes years to master.

This article is a beginner’s guide on optimizing conversion rates for social media ads and landing pages. We will breakdown all the relevant terminology you need to understand, common mistakes most businesses make, and the most effective ways to increase your conversation rates manually and using automated tools.

Terminology

Before we get down to business, let’s go over some of the basic terms used in the online world when discussing conversation rates.

Action – What you wish the visitor to do after viewing your ad or landing page.

Conversion rate –implies the number of successful actions made by prospects as a percentile. This is worked out by dividing the total number of actions by visitors.

Impressions – The amount of times your particular ad or webpage is viewed.

Click through rate (CTR) – A metric used to determine the level of successful of an ad campaign. CTR is worked out by adding the number of clicks divided by impressions to give a percentile.

Funnel – A method used to gain customers. Read our online sales funnel article for further information on sales funnels.

Goal – The objective of your ad or landing page (i.e. to sell, inform, capture information etc).

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) – A review of the campaign, identifying what worked, what failed, problems encountered the way and ways to fix them.

Who is to blame if things go wrong?

Everyone!

Depending on how you run your ship, everyone on your team may be to blame if things run a mess, or awarded praise if you get the results you wanted. For example, one department may be in charge of writing the copy, while another in charge of the visual flow and layout. Perhaps you have a separate marketing department in charge of sourcing qualified leads to bring to your webpage or ad.

The point is this: everybody within your business should be working together to figure out the best possible way to reach your intended goal. Hold a meeting and get everybody to understand your objective for your particular campaign to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Understanding results

If your campaign is based on social media platforms, almost all have their own analytic dashboard to help you measure the performance of your ad. If your campaign is website specific, Google Analytics can track most part of your funnel to spot the weak links. For example, let’s assume your funnel is a 4-step process and the first two parts achieve a high CTR. However, part 3 sees a dramatic decrease in actions and prospects become disinterested. Analytic software makes you aware of these drops and helps you identity the weak links of your campaign.
A goal can be something as simple as the amount of time a visitor spends on your website, the amount of pages they click or if they made a purchase. All of this can be tracked pretty easily and for free.

How to optimize your conversation rates manually

There is no one size fits all when finding the perfect solution to optimizing your conversation rate. Each business, campaign and copy is so different that there are infinite variables to consider, what worked on your last campaign may not work for the next one.

The first step to optimizing your conversation rate is to use common sense. This means understanding your results and figuring out solutions to remedy the problems. To help you along the way, we have listed the four biggest factors that flat line conversions.

1. Call to action (CTA)

As mentioned earlier, a CTA is the element on your page which causes the prospect to take action. Usually found as a button with the text ‘Find Out How’ or something similar written on it. Your CTA is a good place to start when optimizing your conversion rates manually. The size of your button, the text, color and position play an important role to improving conversions. The goal of the CTA is to grab the prospect’s attention and persuade them to make the relevant action.

View the visual aesthetics of your CTA and ask yourself if it ignites a compelling reaction inside you. Is it placed in the relevant position making it easy to see without having to move your eyes? A test carried out by an Internet marketer found that his conversions increased as much as 11% by simply changing the text of his CTA to ‘Add to Cart’ from ‘Buy Now’. Each little thing can make a huge difference.

2. Form

Forms are typically used to capture information of a visitor. How complex is your form and do you think users may be turned off by it? Many businesses use CAPTCHA filtering to weed out spam, but did you know they can seriously effect conversation rates? Check this article by the guys at Moz to find out more.

Aim to streamline your form to show only the name and email address field when going for lead generating, or as few fields possible when selling a product. Implementing CAPTCHA filtering is awesome to stop spam, but can dramatically drop your conversions.

 3. Layout

How does your Facebook ad, Twitter Card or landing page look like? Does the layout have a solid flow leading to the CTA or are words jumbled all over the place? Is the intended action you wish the prospect to make obvious?

Using heat maps (discussed later) can really help you identity where visitors are looking and how far down your page they scroll. By moving the CTA above the fold (so users needn’t scroll down to make the action) is usually preferred, however, you won’t know the full story until you check the analytics.

 4. Copy

How does your landing page or ad read? Is it giving visitors a compelling motive to make the required action? Is the focus of the message clear or are some parts too vague? A copy plays a huge part in increasing your conversation rates, skim it over to ensure it’s clear, to the point and stirs up an emotion to persuade them to make the relevant action.

Does your copy contain waffle? Not the sweet tasty kind but too many useless sentences, jargon or complicated words? A copy should be as concise as possible, don’t aim for it to be 300 or 500 words, it should be as long as it needs to be without being a word over.

A/B Testing

Testing seems to be in almost every article we write and for good reason. As mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of variables that go into making the perfect ad or landing page, testing allows us to figure out what works best. Even if your first ever ad does amazingly well giving you an unbelievable conversation rate, it can still be improved. Setup an experiment and change the color and wording of your CTA, slightly adjust the layout and use different copies to see which visitors respond to best.

You won’t know what works best until you’ve tested it. Create 3-4 versions of the same ad or webpage and run them all. Use analytical software to measure results and use our tips above to improve on them.

External tools

We’ve discussed the major points to address when optimizing manually, now we will discuss external software tools which can further help optimize conversions.

Crazy Egg – Shows where people have clicked on your website. Crazy Egg has its own analytic heatmap reports which display where prospects are clicking, how far they scroll down a page before leaving and where they move their mouse. Crazy Egg is a great tool for optimizing landing pages because it can point out weaknesses that you’d otherwise never of known.

Here’s an article on how one online business increased their conversions by 9.3% using Crazy Egg.

Optimizely – Is a platform that will measure almost anything. Whether you want to track how many users stay on your website longer than 35 seconds, to how many people scroll to the end of your webpage, with Optimizely you can create bespoke goals and it will provide you with the metrics.

Optimizely is perfect for advanced testing and measuring the success of your sales funnels. Want to know how Optimizely can help you optimize conversion rates? Check out this in-depth article on how thisClicks enhanced their CTR using Optimizely.

Visual Website Optimizer (VMO) – Allows you to build campaigns from its platform from scratch. After creating a campaign, VMO allows users to change the color, text and pictures to create several variations within minutes. Probably the quickest and most efficient way on the Internet to create multiple ads for testing.

These are just a few of the most popular automated optimization tools businesses use to further improve every aspect of their campaign. All platforms mentioned are user-friendly and are extremely simple to use.

Conclusion

By making it this far you will have realized there’s infinite ways to optimize your conversion rates. No matter how big or small, every detail plays a part in whether your conversions will go up or down. To fully optimize, you need to know what prospects are doing and where your problems lie, you can only find out so much by yourself. Using a few external tools can help you discover more metrics and assist you to enhance landing pages to triple your conversions.

James Dickerson

Founder of CrushCampaigns

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