The First-Timer’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (And 4 Tools to Start With)

October 16, 2018

We here at Webconnex understand how important it is to help get your customers to purchase registrations or buy tickets. This is why we’ve made the platform simple and easy-to-use. We want you to go from someone who is getting people to see your event, to someone who is getting people to attend your event. This step, from just a site visit to clicking for purchase, is called a conversion, and it’s immensely important for your event page.

To help guide you through understanding and increasing your conversion, we actually have a guest post this week! William Ellis is a front-end developer and a writer who has experience with RegFox, and has written in to help you increase your conversion rates.

Enjoy this First-Timer’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (and 4 tools to start with) from William.

If you own a website and are trying to make sales through it, the phrase Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is something you’ve probably seen referenced a time or twelve. It’s a hot online marketing topic right now, which normally means I’d recommend you stay as far away from it as possible, but I’ll make an exception because the process holds real value that can generate dividends in whatever terms you measure success - email signups, actual sales, or turning a visitor into a customer and then a superfan.

But what if you’re afraid of touching CRO for the first time for fear of getting burned? No worries. I’ve got an oven mitt in your size and I’ll go first. All you have to do is sit back and pay attention.`

Real World CRO Numbers

Getting some kind of traffic to a website in the first place isn’t that hard (just give away a Florida vacation on Facebook) but doing something constructive with it after it arrives is the trick that few have figured out. The numbers related to conversions are excruciating to marketers. According to SearchEngineLand, average landing page conversion rates run between <1 to 3%, with an average of 2.35%.

That’s the percentage of people who reach your site and end up actually doing what you want them to. Now you know why online entrepreneurs are such a twitchy lot - they fail more than they succeed. A LOT more. If this were baseball most website owners would be hitting below the Mendoza Line.

The good news is that there are plenty of examples of sites that have figured out how to convert upwards of 8 or 9%. If you’re stuck back in the land of 1% (or less) conversions, the good news is that learning and applying a systematic method of collecting and analyzing metrics could (I COULD - no guarantees here) ramp up your revenue, leads, and sales many times over. Do the math. That’s a good thing.

The important point is that a properly executed CRO program has the potential to make a historically noticeable positive difference in your bottom line. All you need to do now is sit back and learn how to make it happen.

Don’t CRO Without the Proper Tools

If you’ve read this far and aren’t exactly sure what CRO is, congratulations on your persistence. You shall be rewarded…

Conversion rate optimization is simply the process of tweaking various website elements - though only one at a time - we’ll mention why shortly - in order to improve the rate at which visitors complete the action you want them to. Remember, you don’t want people to show up at your website, poke around in confusion for a while, and then leave. That doesn’t do anyone any good. CRO helps you test changes against a control in the eternal search to find which iteration converts better.

**NOTE**
Here’s a sort of scary statistic. For every $92 spent to draw traffic to a website, only $1 goes towards conversions (see #46 on this lengthy but edifying infographic). In other words, marketers spend money to attract traffic but comparatively little convincing it to do something useful upon arrival.T

he following four CRO tools are inexpensive, easy to learn for beginners, but packed with enough features and options to remain useful for a good, long time. Obviously, this is just our opinion but one based on research and personal experience. Hopefully, that counts for something.

1.  Hotjar

At $29/month for up to 10,000 page views daily, this Hotjar tier probably costs a little more than the loose change in your couch, unless you have a sizable couch, but this all-in-one CRO solution can get you up and running towards the land of higher conversions. In addition to visitor recordings, heatmaps are all the rage today, and Hotjar has them. It’s the perfect way to gain a sense of how visitors navigate through your site and where they click. Among its other many features are the ultra-handy “user” polls, which allow you to solicit oh-so-valuable feedback about your website’s technical issues, usability, or design shortfalls.

2. Pingdom

Website page loading speed is an underappreciated part of the conversion process. Research shows that you’ll lose more than 53% of visitors if your website doesn’t load in less than four seconds. And that’s before you even have a chance to pitch them on a product or service. Type your URL into this freely accessed page and hit “start test.” In a minute or less you’ll have a surprisingly thorough breakdown of all sorts of goodies related to speed. You might discover, and you won’t be alone in this, that your biggest conversion barrier could be solved by simply improving your website load speed.

3. Google Analytics

This granddaddy of traffic metrics, thanks to recent CRO-related tweaks, is still surprisingly relevant in the conversion game and still free. That last point seems to be important to a number of people. As a product of the galactically popular search engine of the same name, you have to assume that Google Analytics probably has access to the best data. The interface might seem convoluted at first, but take your time, click around, and do a lot of reading. There is gold to be found in the various metrics in this software. You’ll have to open an account to use the thing, and they’ll try to upgrade you to various paid services, but, for now, what you need as a CRO newbie is gloriously free.

4. Unbounce

Your CRO education should begin with a thorough understanding of A/B testing, also known as split testing. This is where you take a web or landing page, change one, and test it against the changed version by splitting traffic equally for a period of time. Keep the one that performs best, make another change, and test again. In case you were wondering, no, the process never stops until you arrive at 100% conversion and that’s probably not going to happen. At $99/month for the basic package, Unbounce might cost more than the change in your pocket, but it lets you create and test different landing page variations so very easily that it should pay for itself.

Final Thoughts

When a visitor arrives at your website, a few typical questions usually leap to mind.

●  Am I in the right place?

●  Will this (product/service) solve my problem?

●  Is this page/website trustworthy?

●  What do I have to do to get it?

The faster and more smoothly you can address these sticking points, the better chance you have of converting a visitor to a customer and eventually a raving superfan. When used correctly, this is what CRO does. Good luck!

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