You probably clicked on this article because you are responsible for increasing conversion in some area of your website or digital product. Or maybe across the whole thing!
As you know, Conversion Rate Optimization is a complex process. As your customers' needs change, so will your CRO. Just like taking your car to the shop or getting your highlights touched up, your CRO needs regular maintenance.
Having worked with thousands of companies to improve conversion, we’ve built a reliable seven-step process for improving conversion.
The First 3 Steps for Improving Conversion on Your Site or Product
The focus of this process is building a system that not only works, but is also flexible to changes. These include how you find and measure visitor data, the new user journeys you create, and how you modify your site or product to stay current with changing customer preferences.
Step 1: Figure out your primary conversion events
Primary conversion events vary across industries and depend on context. Before tackling CRO, define what matters most to your team and product.
What is your conversion event? That can depend on your industry, or your goals as a company or team. Generally, the primary conversion event will be the key activity that gets the visitor closer to becoming a customer, or a user closer to becoming an adopter of a new feature.
Primary conversion events can vary across industry:
In eCommerce, the primary conversion event is usually a version of “complete purchase.”
On SaaS marketing sites, it’s often something like “sign up for a free trial” or “contact sales.”
In FinServ, it’s traditionally some form of “complete application.”
If you work in a larger company, your team might be responsible for smaller conversion goals outside of the primary conversion path. On a landing page, the conversion goal might be clicking “download whitepaper” or “online chat now.”
These smaller conversion events are called micro-conversions. A conversion funnel may include many micro-conversions, all of which together add up to the large-scale, macro-conversion.
CRO often focuses on improving these micro-conversions, as each can be a potential roadblock to the main conversion event.
Step 2: Map the major events in your conversion funnel(s)
After getting clear on what primary event you hope to produce, map out the steps that lead to it. What steps are you hoping they'll do along the way? List these and put them in order to create a conversion funnel.
Get tight about the ideal flow that leads your visitors into becoming paying customers. Your conversion funnel should ideally have between 4 – 6 steps. If you add too many steps it’s easy to lose track of the big picture. If you add too few, it’s hard to track what users are actually doing.
Some questions on how to break down what that ideal flow looks like to you:
What would the perfect customer do on your site? What do you want them to know about the product in order to buy?
Where should they go first on your website? What do they download first?
How do you expect users to learn key information about your company?
As we all know, users so often don't follow this ideal path. What should you do in that case? Some of our later steps give you detailed advice for that scenario.
Step 3: Use data science to find the key moments between your major events.
Ok, here’s where CRO gets interesting.
Why? Well, setting up a conversion funnel is crucial for tracking dropoff. The problem with most conversion funnels, however, is that they don’t tell you exactly where dropoff is happening. Knowing users often drop off between the “add to cart” step and the “click checkout” step (say) is useful, but you’re still missing what’s happening between those steps.
In the event of roadblocks, a micro-conversion – which can be as small as a miscommunication on what parts of a form to fill out, or an unclear call to action button – might be the culprit. But if you’re only tracking the steps you set out in Step Two above, you’ll only see that they’ve left. You don’t get to see where or why.
If there are a ton of little steps between moments in the funnel, that’s a major headache. Especially if they’re easy fixes.
That's why data science is CRITICAL for CRO. If you have a tool that can show you where users drop off at every moment, CRO becomes significantly easier.
If you’re lucky enough to have an analytics tool that can do this automatically, you’re already ahead of the game. In fact, some advanced analytics tools can automatically show you the invisible steps between events, and can show you which ones of those are most important to the conversion path.
In this case, all you have to do is:
Define your primary conversion event and the major steps in your funnel
Let your analytics tool find key dropoff moments in between these steps
Examine those steps to see what’s happening
Today, for examples, some tools can show you things like: "Hey, you know that 25% of your users drop off between steps 2 and 3. Well, it turns out that 75% of those users are dropping off at a very specific place – and here it is." Or "50% are dropping off here and 50% are dropping off here."
If your analytics tool can’t do this work automatically (if it can’t locate key interstitial events on its own), you can still do this work manually. This is more work, but can still yield results. (This assumes you have a tool that automatically captures all user data, so you'll have data on those steps.)
Here’s how to do this work manually:
Look for the steps with the biggest dropoff between them.
Go to your site and go through the user flow on your own.
Write down every action in it. Sometimes you'll notice problems with forms, or buttons not working.
Take each of these little steps and analyze them in your analytics tool to see what users do there. What do users do just before and just after each? How many users have problems?
Those are just the first three steps to improving CRO. To read more, check out our ebook. There you’ll learn:
What to do when users stray from the ideal path
How to know what to fix when you find a problem
How to use segmentation to pinpoint which users are giving you the most trouble and which users are giving you the least
In the meantime, happy converting!
Start today and elevate your analytics from reactive reporting to proactive insights. What are you waiting for?