Guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation
Stage 5: Retain
Dan Matthews
2nd August 2012
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conversion rate optimisationConversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the process involved in testing a website, or user journeys within a website, in order to improve the overall conversion rate. This involves creating variations of the website and comparing these against the original website to find out which converts better.  

By Axelle Ros, conversion analytics consultant at search and social media agency, DBD Media.

CRO projects are based on the analysis of robust data, different forms of AB and multivariate testing and usability testing to understand the factors that inhibit or prevent users from making a purchase or reaching another conversion point.

Increasing revenue for the same marketing cost

If you can increase a website’s conversion rate from say 2% to 3%, it sounds incremental. But – and this is CRO’s most crucial point – such a nominal increase actually translates to 50% more revenue. And all for the same marketing cost. This means CRO should be a ‘no brainer’ for any self-respecting e-commerce business.

Shopping baskets – the place where CRO makes the best gains

Shopping baskets are often the key focus for CRO, as this is where there are the most significant gains to be found.

According to Forrester’s research (“Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment”, May 2010), 88% of consumers abandon an online shopping cart without ever completing the transaction.

This is often because a lot of effort goes into driving visitors to a website and encouraging them to add items to a shopping basket. But the checkout process itself is often overlooked.  That is why it is essential to reinforce a brand’s value proposition and any incentives throughout this final stage.

After all, these are the very factors that attracted users to specific items in the first place; reinforcing this at the final stage minimises the risk of losing potential customers.

CRO at the start of the user journey

But it’s not just the final part of the user journey that can benefit from CRO.  The first impression a website makes is crucial and very often determines whether a user is ever going to come back.

Some companies spend thousands of pounds on driving traffic to their website whilst ignoring a 60% bounce rate on their landing pages, which ultimately translates into 60% of their marketing budget going down the drain.

CRO lab research shows that users often consider a website for less than seven seconds – and that being the case, seven seconds is what you have to make enough impact to make them want to find out more.

Tailoring web usability to suit your target

The most essential part of any CRO project is the testing phase.  Best practices and hypotheses, even backed up by hard data, only give a rough idea of which direction to take.  The only way to ensure maximum effectiveness is to test, test and test again.

At the end of the day it’s what works for your individual website visitors that matters. That is why such variables as target market or seasonality should be an important consideration during any CRO audit.

CRO for return on investment

CRO is one of the most effective ways to grow profit for an ecommerce business.   We’re finding that insightfully executed CRO can pay for itself in a matter of days or weeks, and improves ROI across all digital marketing activities.  And critically for many of our clients, our CRO solution requires minimal changes to their websites which reduces development costs significantly.

DBD Media

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Author: Dan Matthews
Dan Matthews is a business journalist and author with more than 10 years’ experience writing in print and online. He is also experienced in online marketing and web project development, having created and grown several successful websites.
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