What’s the answer?
When you are trying to maximize website and landing page conversion rates, the problem is that it’s nearly impossible to even know what is the question.
Do you use the results and advice that comes from of all the great conversion rate optimization, A/B testing and analysis you find around the web? Or do you spend buckets of cash on a CRO specialist to set up your own testing program? Or do you do it yourself?
And even if you know these answers, where do you begin?
First, while most online information on CRO test results is valuable, as we’ve pointed out on this blog before, even commonly accepted AB test results on one site often do not produce the same results on every site. So, while orange CTA buttons really grab a visitor’s attention on many sites, they will not do so on a site that has an orange background.
To maximize your conversion rates, the first answer is that you must develop and execute your own testing program.
That leaves the question of whether to use the services of a CRO specialist or run your own testing program. If you don’t want to spend any money, the DIY approach may be your only option. But, considering the almost infinite number of variables, the testing knowledge required and software infrastructure needed, a DIY approach can easily become a money pit of false results that ends up costing more than going with the pros.
But you’re still not out of questions – and you still haven’t found the answer to maximizing your conversion rates.
Unfortunately, CRO experts are a commodity. Even if you manage to avoid the less scrupulous, you are still faced with choosing from a wide range of options. Each of them will have their own theories, methods and criteria. Just like AB test results, a CRO specialist’s record of success with other sites does not automatically make him or her the best choice for your program.
Finding Some of Your Own Answers
One of the biggest mistakes that ecommerce and lead generation site managers make is to simply hand off their CRO to a specialist. Like being forced to blindly believe everything the corner mechanic tells you about your car because you haven’t a clue how it works, you will be forced to do the same with the advice your CRO specialist gives you if you don’t first find some answers for yourself.
CRO can be a mystical world of bounce rates, time-on-site and eye-tracking maps. And the question of where to begin finding CRO answers is just a big as it is regarding your AB testing program.
But, if you take a step back, away from the crowd of the details, and look instead at larger, overall goals of testing and CRO, you’ll see a different, somewhat simpler picture.
When you do, you will discover the answers you need to step back into the crowd of details with better focus on those that will help you get where you want to be.
The Three E’s of Conversion Rate Optimization
Like it should be with everything you do in business, the three Es all relate to your customer. Start looking at your CRO in the light of the following points. You’ll be better able to know where to start, how to get where you want to go, and to know when you get there. (Although, until you get 100% conversions, you’ll probably want to keep going when you get to where you thought you wanted to be.)
Emotion is the first ‘E’ for a reason. It is perhaps the most important, least understood and most ignored part of web design and CRO.
Massive tomes have been written on human emotion as they relate to marketing and sales, but we’ll barely nick the surface here. Keeping the focus on your web visitors, each one has emotional needs and concerns when they land on your site. Job one of your testing program is to discover what are those needs and how best to meet them.
- Personas – The first step is to find out who are your customers. Whether you study your site analytics to see what they prefer, or actually go out and talk to them (recommended!), the more you know about your target audience, the better you are able to meet their emotional needs. Personas help you create hypothetical personality composites of your customers so you can learn more about them. While it’s generally accepted that there are four basic personality types, Meyers-Briggs bumps that up to 16 and you can break each of those into many others. You should develop many different customer personas for your design and testing.
- Emotional Needs – We all have needs, from the basic need for food and water to the higher need for love and self actualization. Fulfilling those needs is a powerful human motivator. Think about how your site can meet the emotional needs of your target personas. Before we go into it too much here, our friends at Unbounce recently uploaded an excellent post on “How to Create Landing Pages That Address the Emotional Needs of Prospects”.
- FUDs – Or Fears, Uncertainties and Doubts. We all have FUDs about many things we do in life, like skydiving. But, while fear for our personal safety is an understandable reaction to skydiving, it’s difficult to understand all the subtle fears, uncertainties and doubts, and their profound affect our actions, that we experience when we land on a web site for the first time. Are we in the right place? Will I find what I seek? Who are these guys? FUDs manifest themselves in internal ‘objections’ to conversion. Check out this post about how addressing FUD-based objections increased conversions by 60%.
None other than the grand master of all things related to online search, analytics, and now driver-less cars, gives us the best example of how website ease-of-use can conquer the world.
Have you ever wondered how Google, who entered the game long after Yahoo and Microsoft, has managed to maintain search engine market share that is more than double the combined market share of all their competition?
You need to go back to the 1990’s for the answer. Take a look at this screencap of Google’s homepage from 1999. What do you notice? First, it hasn’t changed much in 16 years. Second, it is incredibly easy to know exactly what you need to do to get what you want.
You use Google.com for one thing, web searches, so that’s what they give you; clearly and simply.
Now look at the pages of Google’s main search engine competition Bing and Yahoo. See any differences?
You’ll not likely be able to get away with Google’s ease and simplicity on your homepage. But the lesson is there. The easier you make it for people to convert, the more likely they will be to do so. And that ease of use can set you apart from the competition.
To be clear, we’re talking user experience (but using that term would have messed up the title of the post).
Everything we’ve discussed so far under emotion and ease can also be considered part of your visitor’s user experience. But the first two can exist and be properly executed, yet the visitor might not have a positive overall user experience. A site may be easy to navigate, but still be frustrating if it doesn’t have all the info that the visitor seeks. Similarly, in might evoke emotion, but not provide a clear path to conversion.
Journey Maps: The process of creating customer journey maps will help you focus on the path a person takes from initial awareness of your message through to becoming a repeat customer. In terms of your site and landing pages, a customer journey map reveals your potential customers’ activities (i.e.shopping online), motivations (i.e. find the best price), questions and concerns (i.e. should I buy the extended warranty?) and barriers (i.e. can’t find different color options) as they navigate through your site. From there, you can develop the graphic design, content and links that meet their needs.
The three E’s aren’t the answer to where to start your CRO program. Instead, they are a point of view that will light the path for the overall journey through conversion rate optimization. Like your customers’ relationship with your business, your quest for better conversions should never end.