Some people think that it’s not necessary to have an optimisation plan in place and instead just make changes on an as and when basis.
Taking on this attitude and expecting your conversion rates to consistently increase by simply changing the colour of your site’s elements every once in a while won’t help you in the long-term, though.
Whilst such small changes will help on a page that has never been optimised before will work to an extent, it won’t deliver a consistent and long-term increase in your conversions, and this is the goal of your conversion rate optimisation efforts.
The changing of elements’ colours and adding calls to action on your site do help conversion rates, however, these are what should be smaller parts of an overall conversion rate optimisation plan. Assessing your site thoroughly and planning for conversion rate optimisation will lead to continuous and consistent long-term results whereas ad hoc occasional small changes will only have a small impact in comparison.
It may seem daunting to think about planning for conversion rate optimisation at first, however, I am going to walk you through a simple four-step process. It’s really not as difficult as you think, and anybody can do it!
1. Gather Your Tools and Perform the Basic Checks
I am assuming here that you are starting at ground zero and have nothing in place already and have performed no checks. If you have already done some preparatory work, it is still worth starting here so that you can figure out how you currently stand and identify potential areas for improvement.
There are lots of analytical tools on the internet—both free and paid—that can help you make sense of how your website is performing with easy-to-digest data. Tools are more of a personal preference than anything else and you may already use some that you like, however, I personally recommend:
- Google Analytics, the versatile and all-around basic analytical tool
- KISSMetrics for conversion analysis
- A user analytics tool such as CrazyEgg
There are a lot of tools out there and you should have Google Analytics at least. It’s free and easy to use, and it gets to work to deliver data instantly. You can never have too much and it’s better to start with too many tools and strip some away as you learn what works for you.
2. Look at What’s Harming Conversions
When your tools are up and running, it is time to begin analysing all the data. I must admit that this isn’t the most fun thing you’ll ever do (unless you’re a data nerd!) but the sooner you dive in and get to work, the sooner you will get it done.
The point of analysing data is to highlight the pages on your website that are of high value such as your landing page, e.g. because they get a lot of traffic, within your sales funnel. Key questions to ask yourself during this stage include:
- Are people engaging with your CTAs?
- Does your traffic represent your target market?
- Are your visitors getting distracted or backtracking?
- Does your website deliver information visitors are looking for?
- Are your site’s important elements getting noticed?
No one site’s data is the same as another’s and analysis will be different in every situation. This affects the questions you ask, the obstacles you discover, and the solutions you need to work on. You can get your answers to these questions from metrics such as:
- Time spent on change
- Hard and soft bounce rates
- Elements engaged with
- Conversion rate between two pages
Assumptions can work here, especially if your site is small, so don’t be afraid to make them if something seems obvious. Just because there’s no data to back up an assertion does not mean it is untrue.
3. Drawing Up a Plan
After all your analysis, it’s time to pull together a plan. The depth and complexity of your plan is completely down to you; you don’t need to go too crazy… simply writing down your problems and what potential solutions you want to explore can be enough.
Generally speaking, there are two ways you can carry out conversion optimisation testing, either by:
- i) Creating a new page and starting from scratch means you should, if you take your problems into account, end up with a page that is already optimised and can then be fine-tuned further for optimum results.
- ii) Changing key elements (font, text size, colours, moving buttons…) by performing A/B testing to see what works and what doesn’t. This is the better option if you only have a few smaller problems that aren’t ingrained into your page’s architecture.
Only you can decide what is right for you, but I recommend going for the first option if you have never ever optimised your website’s pages and there are a lot of problems that have been identified.
All the changes you make should have a purpose. Each change should be fixing a problem that you have seen to, or think that it may, have an impact on your conversion rates.
4. Testing and Reviewing
This is by far the hardest part—putting your plan into action. Although you don’t need any major tech skills to make small elemental changes to your site’s pages, you will need some if you plan to build an entirely new page. Luckily, there are lots of tools and resources available online that can help you out.
Personally, I always recommend consulting a professional web designer as it is very easy to make critical mistakes. The last thing you want to do is waste time building a new page that is less optimised than your old page!
When your plan is in place then it is key that you record results over time. If you don’t do this, how can you know what’s working and what isn’t?
You need to know what’s improving your conversion rates so that you can scale up successful changes and apply them to your other pages that generate lower traffic. Whilst changes aren’t guaranteed to work cross-site, it typically does.
Remember, conversion rate optimisation is a long-term process. You are not going to see instant results, but don’t let this put you off… keep on making small improvements and over time these will snowball into incredible results.
It is such a simple process when you know what you are doing, too. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do it yourself!