Conversion rate optimization may be something that you’ve mastered ages ago. The thing is, the CRO landscape is evolving constantly, and what you knew several years back may not be so relevant anymore.
It’s important that you keep yourself updated with newer, more innovative CRO tactics. Ones that will help you drive more conversions each year.
Here are some of the best conversion rate optimization practices you should prepare for in 2018:
#1: Prioritize a Personalized Website Experience
At a time when retailers and B2B companies alike are struggling to stand out, you can’t afford to have a website experience is just as generic as that of your competitors. Sure, the experience may be pleasant enough. but there’s nothing that sets it apart from others. So you have just about the same chance as your competitors to convert your target customers.
According to an Accenture study:
- 65% of consumers are more likely to buy from retailers that know their purchase history
- 58% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when they get recommendations based on their preferences or past purchases
- 65% are more likely to buy from retailers who provide them with personalized promotions relevant to them.
More and more marketers are starting to realize the importance of providing a personalized experience to shoppers. Evergage reports that 88% of marketers believe their prospects or customers expect a personalized experience. A striking 96% also agree that personalization helps them improve their customer relationships.
The same study also found that the biggest benefit of in-app or website personalization is an increased conversion rate. The second biggest benefit is an improved customer experience, followed by increased visitor engagement.
Personalization also helps in many other aspects such as improving brand perception, reducing churn rate, etc.
There are plenty of ways to personalize your visitors’ website experience. You can segment your visitors based on location, demographic, browsing behavior, etc. And then you can use these segments to deliver personalized landing pages, offers, pricing, recommendations, and more.
Example: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Evergage conducted a case study on the effects of personalized experience on the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows website. They segmented their visitors in several ways to provide hyper-personalized website experiences.
First, they automatically segmented visitors based on their location and displayed home pages relevant to their referring geography.
They also created key segments such as families or novice skiers and provided them with content relevant to their needs. For example, visitors who belong to the “families” segment will get to see content that showcases some of the best reasons why Squaw is such a great option for families.
Squaw Valley placed visitors into the relevant segments based on the group with which they identified as or according to the content that they engage with. As you can see in the screenshot below, visitors can choose from four different groups. They’ve even taken care to personalize the CTA copy for each of the groups.
This increased personalization helped Squaw Valley cater to the unique requirements and preferences of their website visitors. They were able to increase the conversion rate in the “family” segment by 38%. The revenue-per-user also increased by 41% in this high-value segment.
#2: Help Shoppers Get Answers Quickly
People who shop online tend to do so because it’s convenient. They don’t want to waste their time traveling to the store when they can get what they need from the comfort of their homes.
So naturally, these shoppers would also expect to find what they need quickly and purchase it without any hassle. When they’re unable to do this, it could frustrate them and result in a loss of conversion opportunity.
A Pew Research Center survey found that being able to ask questions is important for 83% of U.S. adults when buying something they haven’t bought before. But when they have questions that can’t be answered by your FAQ page, they don’t want to go through the trouble of calling you up.
According to Avaya, consumers prefer not to call a business and would rather communicate through messages. This is particularly common among millennials.
Additionally, Bentley University and NeuraFlash discovered that every respondent in their joint study would rather have chatbot conversations with businesses if it’s going to help them save time and solve their problems.
So it’s clear that your conversation rate optimization strategy needs to consider the need for shoppers to have their questions answered quickly without having to call you up. This practice could work for both B2C and B2B companies in enhancing the visitor experience and driving conversions.
Live chat support can be an excellent addition to your site if you wish to make more sales. Visitors can get quick answers to their questions. This could make it easier for them to decide on a product to purchase.
Example: Logical Position
Logical Position, a PPC management company, was able to make use of live chat support to increase their conversions. According to a LiveChat case study, the company has experienced a 150% increase in inbound leads after introducing live chat to their site. Their inbound sales also increased by 30-40%.
Even if your agents are unavailable to chat 24/7, you could clearly display the hours during which they are available. You could also encourage visitors to leave a message so the agents can get back to them quickly as soon as they’re back online.
#3: Implement UGC More Effectively
Trust is an important factor when you’re planning to drive conversions to your site. You may optimize your webpages with statements and points to prove that people can trust you. But that’s not going to cut it.
People are more ready to trust other customers than they would trust your claims. So you need to prove your claims through social proof such as user-generated content (UGC).
In fact, Pew Research Center found that 82% of U.S. adults read ratings and reviews from other customers before buying something online for the first time. But it’s likely that you already know that. Maybe you already have reviews and ratings up on your product pages. This may work well enough to drive a decent amount of conversions.
For 2018, however, you could further optimize how you display user-generated content to increase conversions. In addition to the usual method of displaying reviews and ratings, you could opt for more visual user-generated content.
According to an Olapic study:
- One out of four respondents has purchased a product after they saw it featured in user-generated content.
- 56% of respondents are more likely to buy an item after they have seen it in a user-generated image that was either positive or relatable to them.
- 52% of respondents say that photos are the most appealing form of user-generated content.
These numbers suggest that the visual user-generated content can significantly improve your conversion rate optimization strategy. Try displaying photos submitted by users through social media on your product pages or your homepage.
Example: Byron Bond
Here’s how Byron Bond displays user-submitted photos on their homepage:
You could also display the same text reviews as before. But this time, highlight the best ones in a text overlay image or along with the customer’s photo. This ensures that the review is more prominently visible and could compel many shoppers to buy from you.
Here’s another example from Byron Bond, where they display customer photos along with their reviews:
In case you’re a B2B company and you want to display user-generated content, try adding photos of your actual clients or users next to their reviews or testimonials.
Take a look at how GroupHigh displays their client testimonials, for example:
#4: Optimize Your Checkout Page
Your checkout page is one of the most crucial elements in your sales funnel. It’s the page that determines whether or not you close the sale. Even if a shopper has made it all the way through, there’s a good chance they may still change their mind if something goes wrong at the checkout page.
In fact, the Baymard Institute has found that ecommerce retailers experience an average cart abandonment rate of almost 70%.
This shows that a lot of retailers may not be doing enough to ensure that their checkout pages are optimized for conversions. So it’s vital that your conversion rate optimization strategy also involves optimizing your checkout page.
According to the Baymard Institute study, the biggest reason for cart abandonment was extra costs being too high.
This suggests that most retailers are still failing to properly display the extra costs for products before customers add the items to their carts. Although this may be uncontrollable for many retailers, look for ways in which you can be more transparent about the extra costs.
For example, if you have a flat shipping charge make sure you display it. Or if you have a minimum requirement for free shipping, make sure you prominently display the terms. You can display it as a banner and you can also display it next to the pricing details of the products being viewed.
For example, Amazon displays the free shipping terms just underneath the cost of a certain item.
If you offer international shipping, you may be unable to provide free shipping everywhere. And the shipping costs may differ from region to region. But make sure your customers have the option to see how much they will need to spend on shipping charges before they decide to add the item to their bag.
Brands like Innisfree, for instance, provide shoppers with a shipping fee calculator. Shoppers can calculate the cost of shipping based on various factors such as location, shipping method, and package weight.
Another common reason for cart abandonment is a long or complicated checkout process that often involves mandatory account creation.
To optimize your checkout page for conversions, make sure you reduce the number of steps involved to complete a purchase. Start by eliminating the need to create an account and introduce a guest checkout option. If this isn’t viable for the kind of business you run, you could also give shoppers the option to register using their social media accounts.
You could further optimize your checkout page by adding trust seals. This is crucial because 22% of consumers abandoned their carts because they didn’t trust the site with their card information. It’s also important to provide shoppers with several payment options if you want to drive more sales.
#5: Make Use of Machine Learning to Identify Website Issues
The machine learning landscape is gradually evolving, creating more opportunities for online retailers to implement it into their conversion optimization efforts.
Zebra predicts that by 2021, machine learning will be widely used by retailers to personalize customer experiences. It will also improve their ability to forecast trends and changes in consumer requirements as well as enhance their visibility.
Machine learning algorithms can also be used by retailers to identify the biggest website issues that result in loss of conversions. The best part is that these algorithms reduce the time taken to identify these issues.
SessionCam has recently developed a CRO tool known as Customer Struggle Score or CS Score, which leverages machine learning technology.
The tool runs in the background and analyzes thousands of website sessions at all times. Through this analysis, the tool identifies visitor behaviors that indicate some of the common usability problems on a website. This cuts down the time and effort taken to identify conversion issues for websites.
UK-based brewery, Adnams PLC was able to use the technology to quickly identify pages that were not delivering good customer experience. They were able to prioritize their efforts and resources on pages that needed it the most. And this helped them correct their website issues more effectively.
These are five of the best conversion rate optimization practices you should prepare for in 2018. As always, it’s all about prioritizing your customers’ experiences and anticipating their needs and expectations. You need to focus on what your customers are looking for and what drives them to make a purchase. This will help you in making changes and adjustments that eventually increase your sales.
Got any questions or comments about these points? Feel free to leave a comment below. And if you need any assistance in converting your website visitors into paying customers, I’m always here to help.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.