Anyone who works in marketing knows how important clients think Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is; so many businesses want to know if marketing professionals are familiar and can help with SEO.
It is a little peculiar how fixated most businesses are on SEO. So many people think that SEO is the silver bullet for online marketing; if they can just get their website on the coveted first page of Google, sales will skyrocket.
The fact is SEO is not a silver bullet. In fact, if your website isn’t well designed those clicks may be losing you sales and harming your brand.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is something businesses rarely raise in meetings with a digital marketer, but it is vital to a business's success.
What is CRO?
CRO is the process of optimising a website in order to ensure visitors do what it is you want them to do when they visit. SEO is important because it brings visitors, but it is the way your website is structured (CRO) that keeps them there, ensures they engage in the way you need them to, and will bring them back.
We’ve all had the experience. There’s a service or product you want, you’ve found a business through a search engine, but once you’re on the website it all becomes too hard. You can’t find what you want, or the checkout process is so arduous that you give up, click the back button, and try another company.
The sad thing is, so many websites aren’t user friendly, but with just a little thought, you can ensure yours doesn’t end up in the 'too hard basket'.
Below are some ways to make your website more effective through CRO
Home Page - making a good first impression
First impressions last so your homepage has to be right. Designing a home page isn’t as simple as it might appear, as it must have multiple elements while still looking appealing and easy to navigate.
A homepage should be conspicuously branded to help visitors with recognition and recall, and it should also communicate your brand values and philosophy. It should also have an intuitive design with a navigation menu that is easy to find and easier to navigate, and where you have a lot of content in your site, a prominent search bar that makes relevant content easy to find.
In addition, you should also have links to key pages (main services, current promotions, popular products etc) in main focal points. This cannot always be done elegantly, purely with text, so breaking it up graphically helps to make the page more visually appealing and easier to read. Using buttons for calls-to-action, or icons for services instead of only text whenever possible will make your page visually appealing and also easy to navigate.
Pro tip: When deciding on a graphic, many companies use the same generic imagery as their competitors. To stand out, think about your unique values and philosophy and make your graphics reflect that. Also, write a coherent tagline that makes sense to your customers and plainly states what you offer; “engineering a more cohesive social dynamic through innovation and a focus on excellence” might sound impressive but it doesn’t actually say anything.
The same goes for your Call-to-Action (CTA). Really think about what it is that you want from your audience. Is there a single proposition, or are there a number of successful outcomes that suggest a segmented audience? Think about “why” your audience would want to take the action you require.
If you want them to sign up for a newsletter, ask why they would. Are you offering something of value, or just looking for an opportunity to entice them into buying something. If buying is the goal, again ask why. Why should they buy from you? What are you offering that is unique? Is it quality? Range? Low cost? Superior service? What is it that will make them want to take the desired action? Again, grabbing some industry buzz words and slapping them together will not make your CTA drive conversion.
You need to really evaluate what it is that you offer and make your CTA speak to what you offer and connect with what your audience values. It should go without saying that your CTA should actually state what you intend to deliver. A CTA that connects with your audience but promises something you can’t deliver might drive conversion rates, but will harm your brand in the long term.
Navigation - Accessibility is everything
Navigation could not be more simple; at least in theory. Decide what you want visitors to do and make it easy to get them there. The principle is simple; get visitors from landing to objective in as few clicks as possible and make the last step really simple.
What is often overlooked is the fact that “easy” isn’t a universal concept. Some people like icons, some like searching, some like navigation bars and some like links incorporated into main bodies of text. The trick is to incorporate all options while still making the page seem simple. Very few people have the right skill set to execute this perfectly, however, any good web designer can make this work so long you remember “easy isn’t universal”.
The Basics - Build on a strong foundation
Get the basics right. The world’s greatest design is meaningless if the site loads slowly, has broken links, or incorrect information. Get the little things right, test them rigorously, and build from there.
Analyse and improve - There’s always room to improve
Finally, remember that there is no “one size fits all” for a website and some things will work better than others. Using tools such as Google Analytics and Hotjar will help you understand what is working and what isn’t. Don't worry about not getting it perfect in the first iteration, with the learnings from these types of data tools and ongoing improvements, you'll get there.
That’s just the beginning
The three elements discussed in this article are just the beginning to effectively undertaking a CRO improvement process. They are probably the most difficult elements, but as they provide the foundation for the CRO process they must be addressed before you apply any of the more specific and advanced optimisation functions.
There’s so much more to CRO
CRO is vital for the success of any website. It is a process of ongoing learning and refinement that begins with a well-designed home page, intuitive navigation, and making sure all the basics are addressed.
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