After all, there are things you simply cannot control (their level of motivation and ability to move forward) or know (the hidden forces that drive them to make decisions). To top it off, you’re inundated with the latest trends, tools, and tips to help you improve your conversion rate. But busy marketers don’t have the time to read every case study or attend every webinar about conversion rate optimization (CRO). Luckily, you don’t have to.
Whether your goal is lead generation, product sales, or another kind of engagement, these are the 5 most important principles of CRO:
Know Your Customer
Every marketer has this old adage memorized, so why is it so hard to get right? Maybe it’s because it requires substantial effort to truly define and understand your customer. But without a deep understanding of the people you’re serving, you’re unable to create an online experience that encourages them to convert — no matter how slick your design or clever your copy.
Whether your current customer intelligence consists of detailed web analytics or some whiteboard scribblings, you have options to make sure your perspective is correct. If you have an email marketing list, send a short survey using a free tool like Survey Monkey. You can also poll visitors on your website.
Go where your potential customers are — whether it’s a conference or a coffee shop — and ask for a few minutes of their time. The idea is to ask questions to form a complete, nuanced picture of your target audience, going beyond demographic details to their desires, motivations, pains, and dreams. Once you do that, you’ll be able to craft a message that makes an authentic emotional connection.
Understand Visual Hierarchy
Smart design gently guides your audience down the path to conversion. Several key visual hierarchy concepts can do this:
Directional cues: Lines, arrows, and other graphics nudge your reader to focus on the object that is being pointed to. People are drawn to human faces, so the principle also applies to someone’s gaze, as Roku demonstrates on its homepage. The woman is looking at the product but, not coincidentally, also at the call-to-action.
F- and Z-patterns: Web readers are scanners. Take advantage of two known scanning patterns by placing important information on the page strategically. The gaze of readers who encounter text-heavy pages (think blog posts) will likely follow the shape of an “F.” The gaze of readers who encounter a site with mixed media (think any common homepage) will follow the shape of a “Z.” Keep your call-to-action inside the path and it’s much less likely to be ignored.
Size and color: Use a high-contrast color and larger font to show readers what they should focus on. REI, for example, uses a striking color and sizable font to draw attention to its 50% off winter clearance sale.
Make Conversion Dead Simple
Do your visitors have to fill out 10 form fields to get on your mailing list? Is it hard to find the “Check Out Now” button? If you require your customers to put forth any kind of unnecessary effort to complete a transaction, you risk them abandoning the page — and your site — forever.
It’s not just about removing hurdles; you must also add opportunities. Long, information-heavy pages should have at least two calls-to-action: one at the top and one at the bottom. Every page, from About Us to a blog post, is an opportunity — so every page should have a call-to-action.
According to Oscar Wilde, “Consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative.” Of course, he never had to optimize his website for conversions.
In order to gain your visitors’ trust, you must provide an online experience that is clear, reliable, and consistent. This is more than staying “on-brand” — it’s providing a tailored experience for each of your conversion goals. If the content and style of your Google ad or email doesn’t match the landing page it directs visitors to, you can benefit from improving consistency.
Homevalues.com does a great job of providing a compatible experience from the top of the funnel. Search “What’s my home worth?” on Google and you may see this:
Click it and you’ll be brought to this landing page, which closely matches the message of the ad (note the conspicuous call-to-action, minimal form fields, and directional cue):
Optimize for Mobile Conversions
Not too long, mobile was something that website designers and developers merely needed to keep in mind. “Don’t forget,” marketers would say, “some people might be accessing our site from their smartphones.”
In no time this scenario has flipped, as mobile internet usage, particularly among young people, continues to rise. Nowadays, it’s jarring to visit a site from a mobile device and encounter an experience optimized for a laptop screen.
Marketers who have a mobile-first mindset will reap the CRO rewards. The print and online magazine The Week, for example, has an easy-to-navigate website that looks similar across devices. But it looks like it was designed with a tablet in mind: