No doubt, if you are an affiliate or at all involved in online sales and marketing, you are going to hear the phrase “Conversion Rate Optimization” (CRO) a lot in 2010. It is not a new field, but it is now the most popular buzzword in performance-based marketing. In my opinion, CRO is always at the heart (and the art) of the science of performance.
If you are an online merchant, your websites are your best sales managers – they work hard (24/7) and cheap (compared to live salesmen). Whether you use your site to sell your products, collect leads or sell advertisement placements, there are two ways to make them perform better and sell more:
- The expensive way – buy more traffic
- The smart way – conversion rate optimization
Actually, to increase the profit you should do both; however, you should perform conversion rate optimization before you buy more traffic. The essence of CRO is enabling your site to “close” more deals.
Here’s an example , and yes, this involves some basic math!
Jake Sully rents the movie Avatar from his website. From his past experience, for every 100 visitors from his PPC campaigns, 2 visitors rent the movie from which he earns $4 commission each. Since Jake is paying $0.05 per click, he spends $5 and earns $8 commission for 100 visitors.
It looks like it’s a nice campaign, with a 1.6% ROI (8/5). Jake’s keywords generate 10,000 clicks a day, and with a $500 spend, $800 earning, that’s $300 profit per day.
Good…but not perfect.
By taking conversion rate optimization actions, Jake managed to improve his click-to-conversion rate from 2% to 3%, meaning that for every 100 clicks he is doing one sale more then he used to before the CRO. That’s one more sale of pure profit since the costs of clicks haven’t changed. So for every 100 clicks he spends $5 and earns $12. That’s 2.4% ROI! (12/5), and at the end of the day, after sending 10,000 clicks, Jake will spend the same $500 but will earn $1200, leaving him a daily profit of $700 (233% more!).
And don’t forget, one time CRO will affect the conversion rates for the rest of the campaign.
So, how should we optimize our conversion rates?
In one of my previous posts, “What’s in Your User’s Mind?”, we discussed the importance of understanding the user’s way of thinking in order to improve the conversion rate.
To make a long story short, here are few rules of thumb to improve the conversion rates:
- Keep the opportunities for thinking limited
- Make benefit-oriented headers, slogans and text
- Remove navigation bars
- Minimize the number of fields the user needs to fill
- Lead the user’s eye to the important places in the page
- Keep the important buttons (“Submit”, “Check out”, “Order Now”…) above the fold and use a clear call to action.
- Make sure your banners and landing pages match. If a user liked the banner and the offer in it and decided to click on it, he should get the same offering and the same look and feel in the landing page.
- Keep it simple, keep it clear and keep it short.
And as I always say – TEST, TEST and TEST.
Use few different designs and creatives, try different backgrounds, different buttons places, different “hero shots”, different headlines, different color combinations and whatever is replaceable. And always measure the conversion rate of each design in order to optimize it.
There are hundreds of tools and books on the net that can help you do the optimization such as:
- Google Website Optimizer
- “Landing Page Optimization” book by Tim Ash
- ClickZ Website optimization ROI calculator
As you can see, conversion rate optimization brings you pure profit and in the short and long-term it is a wise move, and an art that demands a good understanding of your users and the way they think. By testing and measuring you can do CRO with very low costs, but make a direct impact on your ROI.