What would it be like for you if, with your same monthly paid search spend and related efforts, you could yield 50 percent more conversions? Not only would it help you get a nice, fat bonus, but it would likely also allow your campaigns to grow even further. You could now afford to bid on keywords that were previously too expensive, you could spend a little more to get more impression volume since your CPAs would be so low, and you’d leave your competitors far behind.
The benefits of conversion rate optimization (CRO) are obvious to all of us who work in online marketing. The key here is to really apply it well and improve your testing success rates. After all, testing is expensive, costing you not just media dollars but with an opportunity cost as well. Thus, you need to take a few steps to set yourself up for maximum success before you begin testing.
It’s always so tempting to start brainstorming ideas. However, much as you had to eat your vegetables before you got dessert as children, before beginning any type of ideation for CRO, it’s best to gain a solid understanding of both quantitative and qualitative data. This way, every time you read a new tactic you have a better frame of reference to brainstorm how you could potentially execute it on your account — thereby giving it a better chance of succeeding.
Incorporating Qualitative Data
A lot of tests are based solely on analytics data and looking at performance of KPIs and other numeric metrics. Certainly that can be very effective; there is no discounting the absolute importance of this data. However, without the qualitative understanding you’ll be missing out on achieving your maximum profit potential.
Learning more about the customer will not only help you better position your product for success, but it will also help identify areas of friction that are holding you back.
Ideally you want to start by painting a vivid picture of your customers’ wants and needs, as well as how they interact with your site. You may think you have a good understanding of this already, but you’ll be surprised by how much you will learn from getting answers to the questions outlined below. These learnings will allow you to better engage with your potential customers, allowing you to more effectively convince them to purchase and remove any elements that were previously hindering the conversion rate.
Here are a few of the questions you will want answered:
- To help you structure your content to better relate to your customers and better frame your purchase triggers, you want to learn:
- Why do your customers need your product?
- What are they missing out on by not having it?
- What opportunities will the use of your product bring them?
- What is their main purchase motivation?
- Have they tried to use a similar product before?
- After having used your product, what do they think the benefits will be to them?
- What are they expecting the outcome of using your product to be?
- How do they plan to use the product?
- To get a better understanding of what has worked for you and to learn sometimes surprising info about what actually ended up closing the sale, ask existing customers:
- How did they find out about you?
- What information on your page were they surprised to learn?
- What did they like about your ads and landing page?
- If there were one thing they would change about the ads or landing page, what would it be?
- Critically, for people who came to your website but didn’t purchase, you’d like to know:
- Did they find everything they were looking for?
- Why did they decide not to purchase?
- After visiting your site, what did they do next?
- Did they still want the product and choose to buy from a competitor?
- Or did they decide not to purchase the product at all?
- What was something you could have done to persuade them to purchase?
In addition to the above questions, also take some time to look at your competitors’ landing pages. This will provide useful insights into the purchase triggers they are using and how they are speaking to potential customers.
Gathering Qualitative Data
There are numerous methods to go about gathering this information. Here are some great options, many of them free to use:
- Ask the reps: Your sales team and customer service teams spend the bulk of their time speaking with your customers. Why not set up a meeting with the top performers from each team to get their thoughts on your current marketing messaging, on how they overcome objections, and on what gets them such good results? Also, if they are hearing some complaints from customers frequently, you can find ways to address and overcome the source of friction on the website.
- Take matters into your own hands: It might sound crazy, but for a refreshing reality check, invest some time in calling your customers yourself. Gather key marketing team members in a room and call a few current customers to see if they would be willing to answer questions for you. Just having that one-on-one interaction and putting a real human “face” to the customer can speak volumes.
- Implement a survey: There are several ways to incorporate surveys to get answers from customers and site visitors.
- You could have your customer service reps use a simple free tool like SurveyMonkey and potentially offer to enter customers into a sweepstakes to win a gift card for taking part.
- You could use an exit survey on your landing pages, leveraging a tool such as 4Q from iPerceptions, which is free and super simple to use.
- You could implement a survey on your landing page itself using a tool such as Qualaroo, which prompts users to share insights as they are navigating your website.
- Analyze on-site behavior: To gain an understanding of user behavior on the site without having to ask any questions, leverage tools such as CrazyEgg, which provides heatmaps of where users clicked, and ClickTale, which not only measures scrolling and how much of the page visitors are viewing, but also records little videos of visitors’ screens as they navigate your web pages.
- Conduct usability studies: To really get a solid understanding, invest in a round of feedback gathering with a tool such as UserTesting.com. For best results, have the testers walk through a full path, potentially even comparing the competition. Have them enter keywords into Google (or Bing), and click on your ad. Have them record their reactions to the ad as well as expectations for the landing page. Then have them share their thoughts, either via a structured set of questions or freeform to get more insights. You could even have them visit the competitor’s page in this way, and then provide a comparison of the two. Such data from testers who are in a similar demographic to your target audience can provide invaluable ideas and options for improving your landing pages.
No matter which options you use, ensure you keep a proper record of all feedback. Group common feedback elements together and then try to address with a robust brainstorming session.
A Little Inspiration
Now that you’re ready to begin brainstorming, here are a couple of inspirational case studies to get the creative juices flowing. Each one provides fantastic insights into what has worked, so we can learn from the hard-won successes of those generous enough to share.
- A case study showing a 400% CR improvement for Voices.com.
- SAP Landing Page Optimization that resulted in a 32.5% Lift in Lead Generation
- The SEOmoz $1 million landing page case study.
- The Basecamp Home Page Redesign.
- Test your instincts and get quick, bite-sized test results by reviewing the archive of tests on WhichTestWon.com.
Have additional ideas? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!