agency,conversion rate optimization

10 Google Analytics reports we love (and a couple gifs, too.)

  • Laurel
  • ON
  • February 25, 2019
Did you know there are over 78 standard reports in Google Analytics? And that’s before you create any custom reports.
You have limited hours in the day and a finite marketing budget. So it’s important to spend your resources analyzing data that can have a meaningful impact on your business KPIs and bottom-line.
So the question is: how do you know where to start?
We’ve compiled a few of our favorite reports to help you get started or dig deeper with Google Analytics. We recommend you open up Analytics and follow along with your own data as we explore these reports. You just may be surprised by what you find.

In this post, you’ll learn about the reports we love, how to access them within Analytics, and how to derive meaningful data to help your business succeed. At Brain Bytes Creative, we use Google Analytics in conjunction with other CRO tools. (If CRO tools peaked your interest, you should read about the CRO techniques + tools we love!)

P.S. If you’re new to CRO, we recommend reading about what CRO is and taking a look at our CRO glossary.

1. Landing Pages Report: Where are users landing on my site? How are they interacting with each landing page?

The landing page experience you serve your users dramatically influences what they do on your website.
When it comes to landing pages, the more you can align your pages with what users are looking for, the better. In fact, websites with 40 or more landing pages average twelve times more leads than sites with 5 or fewer.
Isn’t that wild? This is why you need to study which of your current landing pages are performing well.
  • How to get there: Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages
  • What you’re looking for: This report is useful for seeing where users land on your site, and how they engage with the page they’ve landed on (and the site in general.) Specifically, look for these things in the Landing Pages report:
    • Pages that have a high bounce rate: A high bounce rate could indicate that the content on this landing page isn’t resonating with users. It may be too much info, not enough, or not the right content — meaning it could be higher or lower in the funnel or simply not what users are looking for.
    • Pages with a high session duration: A high session duration generally indicates that the landing page was engaging enough to encourage a user to stick around. Study the elements of the page to see what you can glean — and what you could test on other landing pages.
    • Pages that have a high conversion rate: If a specific landing page has a high ecommerce conversion rate, study it. What is unique about it? Does it have a lot of CTA’s? Is it short form or long form? Is the content specific or general? What kinds of visuals, multimedia and trust points are on the page? Note these elements, as you should test them on other landing pages.
    • Pages with a low conversion rate: A landing page with a low conversion rate is especially alarming when its a specific, lower-funnel landing page or when it’s a page that gets a lot of traffic. Take note and build out some tests to identify how you can better serve users.
    • Pages that get a lot of sessions: When you have a lot of landing pages where you can run tests, prioritize those with the most sessions.

2. Referrals Report: Where are my visitors coming from?

Understanding where your users are coming from when they land on your site will help you align your website with their desires.
Are your users finding you through google search? Display ads? Social media? It matters.
  • How to get there:  Acquisition → All Traffic → Referrals
  • What you’re looking for:  This report shows you how users are finding your site.

3. Organic Keywords Report: Which keywords are bringing traffic to my site?

Keywords are the cornerstone of search engine optimization (SEO), but did you know that they matter for CRO too?
Notice organic keywords are used to get traffic onto your site for free. They’re different than pay-per-click (PPC) keywords which are bid on.
  • How to get there:  Acquisition → Campaigns → Organic Keywords
  • What you’re looking for:  This report shows you which organic keywords are bringing traffic to your site, and how each segment of traffic is behaving.
    • Notice which keywords have the most users and sessions. This is where the bulk of your organic traffic is coming from. Based on their searches, can you tell what they’re looking for?
    • Which keywords have a high bounce rate? It’s likely those users aren’t finding what they need quickly on your site.

4. Source / Medium Report: What is the origin (example: google) and category (example: pay-per-click) of traffic arriving to my site?

Understanding the sources and mediums of traffic landing on your site, and how they interact with various landing pages, can give you valuable insights into how your users behave.
  • How to get there: Acquisition → All Traffic → Source Medium + add secondary dimension “Landing page”
  • What you’re looking for: This report is useful for seeing where users come from and how they interact with a site. We like to add landing page as a secondary dimension, like I’ve shown above. This allows us to study how users from various sources engage with particular landing pages. These are some specific things we like to take note of in the Source Medium report:
    • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with High Bounce Rates: This could indicate that a landing page is not resonating for a particular group of users. The content could be misaligned with what they’re looking for, or the design could be making it hard for users to find what they need easily.
    • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with Low Conversion Rates: Again, this could indicate that users are not finding what they’re looking for, or that you’re not presenting the content in a way that leads them to convert.
    • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with High Conversion Rates: Take note of sources and landing pages that have high e-commerce conversion rates and see what you can learn. Are those landing pages long? Short? Detailed? Do they contain multimedia? What kinds of CTA’s do they have?

5. Behavior Flow Report: How are users navigating through my site?

One study showed that 47% of users look at the products/services page of a website before clicking around to other pages.
Do you know what the most common paths are for users to take on your site? How about which paths convert the highest? Are those paths the same or different? How can you make them more similar?
  • How to get there: Behavior → Behavior Flow
  • What you’re looking for: This report shows you how users navigate through your site. As you study the report, ask yourself:
    • What are the most popular paths users take? Are they leading to conversions?
    • Are users going straight to checkout or viewing multiple product pages?
    • Note: you can also filter for new vs. returning users and frequency vs. recency.

6. Mobile Overview Report: How are visitors interacting with my website when they use mobile devices?

This year mobile officially surpassed desktop use for the 1st time. The average American checks their phone every 12 minutes (which is 80x per day!) And according to the Pew Research Center, over half (51%) of Americans make purchases through their smartphones.
Even when your customers are in physical stores, use their phones as part of their decision making process. Now more than ever, you need to understand mobile-first CRO.
  • How to get there:  Audience → Mobile → Overview
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • How are mobile users behaving differently than those on desktop? How about tablet?
    • What percentage of your users are on mobile?
    • How does the bounce rate compare to desktop?
    • How about session duration and number of pages visited?
    • Conversion rate?
These data points can give you really important insight on how to optimize for your mobile audience.

7. Site Search Report: What are users searching on my site?

What are users searching for on your site? This report can give you enormous insight into what content you need to make more easily accessible for your users.
  • How to get there:  Behavior → Site Search
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • The million dollar question: What are your users looking for? What are some popular search terms?
Depending on what you discover, you may find that you need to make certain CTAs easier to find, or that you need to build out high or mid funnel content people are searching for.

8. “Converters” Visitor Segment: How do users who convert behave differently than those who don’t, leading up to their conversion?

It’s amazing to think about the data we have access to compared to marketers 20 or 30 years ago. In the 80s and 90s, marketers had to rely heavily on industry market research or commission expensive studies to get real data points. Or worse — rely on guesswork and hunches.
But today, that guesswork is replaced with data. We can isolate particular segments and study how they behave. For example, how to users who convert into customers behave differently than those who don’t?
  • How to get there:  Sign in → Reports → Add Segment → New Segment → Create a “Converters” segment. Then, go to the Behavior Overview report and add the Converters segment.  
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • What do users who convert have in common? Do they spend more time on the page? Less time? Do they visit more pages?
This should inform how you optimize your site: building more pages, adding more content, simplifying your design, etc. How you optimize should be based on the data you see here.

9. Multi-channel Funnels Report: How do micro conversions, previous referrals and searches lead to overall conversions?

The Google developers guide says “Multi-Channel Funnels reports are generated from conversion paths: the sequences of interactions (e.g. clicks/referrals from channels) that led up to each conversion and transaction.” Understanding these reports can help you understand the user journey of your customers.
  • How to get there:  Conversions → Multi-channel Funnels → Overview
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • What types of assisted conversions do you see?
    • How to various types of traffic: organic, direct, paid, referral, social and display contribute to conversions?  

10. Exit Pages Report: Which pages are my users last visiting before leaving my website?

Exit pages can show you where your users are dropping off. This can give you insight into what types of content you should add or how you can serve your users a better CTA or next step to keep them on your site.
  • How to get there:  Behavior → Site Content → Exit Pages
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • Which pages have the highest exit rates?
    • What types of content is on those pages? Is it high or low funnel?
    • What types of CTAs are you offering on those pages?

Phew! That was a lot. (Time for some high fives!) Hopefully now you have some great data jumping-off points to create some AB tests for your site.

Thinking about using an agency? Here are our tips for choosing a great CRO agency. Want to contact Brain Bytes Creative? You can do that here.

Thanks for reading! Hope it was helpful.
Sources
agency,conversion rate optimization,user experience

CRO Glossary

  • Laurel
  • ON
  • January 29, 2019

Ever feel like the digital marketing world is full of jargon? We created this glossary so you have the most popular conversion rate optimization terms in one place. No BS. Just straightforward definitions. Hope it’s helpful!

AB Testing: a method of website testing that compares two variations of a webpage, “A” and “B” to see which converts better. “A” is the control while “B” contains copy or design changes. Performance is measured using Key Performance Indicators, KPIs.  

ABn Testing: a subcategory of AB testing which compares three or more variations of a webpage, “A” “B” and “n” additional variations to measure which performs best. “A” is the control while the other variations contain copy or design changes. The more variations, the longer the test will take.

Above the fold: the top of a web page visible to users without scrolling. The fold cutoff is different for desktop, tablet and mobile devices. The term “above the fold” is adapted from print marketing, where “above the fold” refers to the top half of the front page of a newspaper, visible from a newsstand.

Banner: a prominent graphic display that stretches across a website. Banners are typically rectangular and are usually displayed across the top of a page. Banners can also appear on the sides or bottom.  

Banner blindness: a situation that often occurs as users learn to ignore information presented in the form of banners. Banner blindness causes users to skim over banners or mentally block them out.

Baseline: the data/metrics used as a starting point when comparing a webpage to a variation. Baseline data usually includes a mix of KPI’s (key performance indicators), TPI’s (tactical performance indicators) and LPI’s (leading performance indicators).

Bounce: to leave a website after visiting only the landing page.

Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors who leave a website after visiting only the landing page.

Buyer persona: a characterization of a typical or ideal customer based on qualitative and quantitative market research. While some characterizations may be imagined, buyer personas are based on real data and customer insights. They are used to help marketers create more relatable content and a better user experience.

Call to action (CTA): an “ask” that aims to induce a user to take a specific action that moves them closer toward conversion. Examples include:

  • “Buy Now”
  • “Click Here”
  • “Sign up today and receive 20% off”

Cart abandonment: a drop off that occurs when a user adds a product to their online cart but navigates away from the site before completing the purchase.

Churn rate: the percentage of users who don’t renew a subscription. Churn rate is often used as a KPI for ecommerce sites that are subscription-based and even B2B services like SaaS.

Click map: a visual map of a website that shows of how users interact with a given page. Click maps show which buttons, text and other elements users click on.

You may be wondering which is more important between on-page and off-page SEO and the truth is, you can’t have one without the other. If you have no content, there is nothing for people to link to, and if you have no links you have no credibility or reason for search engines to rank your content.

Clickthrough rate: the percentage of users who “click through” from a hyperlink or ad to a landing page, or from one page to another linked page within the site.

Confidence level: the percentage of all possible future cases that can be expected to have the same outcome as a test.  For example, if a variation outperforms an original webpage with 95% confidence level, we can expect that the new variation will outperform the original in 95% of cases.

Control page: the original webpage which is kept the same throughout an experiment, in order to keep a baseline of metrics and ensure changes to metrics in any variations are not due to an outside influence.

Conversion: a defined action taken by a user. Usually, this action moves the user from browsing closer toward converting. Examples include:

  • Purchasing a product
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Downloading a whitepaper

Conversion rate: the percentage of users who take a defined action. Conversion rate is calculated by dividing conversions by total traffic.

CRO (conversion rate optimization): a set of methods used to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert.

Cookies: small text files that are stored in the user’s device. Cookies allow marketers to recognize users and track their preferences. Marketers use cookies to target specific users for particular experiments. For example, we may choose to show a particular webpage variation to returning users only.

CPA (cost per acquisition): a pricing model in where marketers pay for a desired action, for example, a form submit or purchase.

CPC (cost per click): a pricing model where marketers pay for each time their ad is clicked.

Cross selling: a tactic that increases sales by suggesting complementary products to a user who has already added products to their cart.

Decision fatigue: the deteriorating quality of decisions made by a user after a long session of decision making. Decision fatigue can cause users to bounce or exit a website.

Exit popup: a popup that displays when users start to navigate away from a website. Many exit popups include coupons designed to entice users to stay.

Exit rate: the percentage of visitors to leave a website from a given page, after possibly visiting more than one page on the site.

Experience optimization: a high-level approach to optimizing a customer’s experience across various channels. Experience optimization is holistic and encompasses CRO.

Eyeflow: the path where visitor’s eyes flow throughout the page. Studying eyeflow can help marketers discover which areas of a webpage are used often and which are ignored by users.

Form testing: a specific type of CRO testing that tests the elements of a form like length, design and copy in an effort to increase form fills.

Friction: any points in the customer journey that are annoying or cause frustration. Friction points make users less likely to convert.

Funnel: a marketing model based on a visual where customers move from the “top of the funnel” where they become aware of your brand to the “bottom of the funnel” where they convert.

Growth hacking: rapid experimentation across product research and development, sales and marketing to identify the most efficient ways to promote business growth.

Heatmap: a visual of a webpage that is overlaid with color to indicate how users interact with various elements. On most CRO software, areas with warm colors like red have high engagement and areas with cool colors like blue have low engagement.

Hero: the large banner image placed prominently above the fold on a webpage.

Hypothesis: a testable idea used as a starting point for further investigation. CRO hypotheses are based on quantitative web data and engagement metrics, as well as qualitative data from user testing.

Impression: the point at which an ad or piece content is displayed to a user. For example, if an ad appears 100 times in Google search results, there are 100 impressions.

You may be wondering which is more important between on-page and off-page SEO and the truth is, you can’t have one without the other. If you have no content, there is nothing for people to link to, and if you have no links you have no credibility or reason for search engines to rank your content.

Landing page: a page of a website accessed by clicking a hyperlink or ad. Historically, the landing page was most often the homepage. However, the best-performing landing pages are optimized to closely match user intent. High-converting sites often have many landing pages.

Lead generation: the initiation of consumer interest. For example, a user may become a lead when they click “request a demo.”

Leading Performance Indicators (LPI’s): secondary metrics used to track actions that eventually lead to KPIs. LPIs are more valuable than TPIs but less valuable than KPIs in terms of revenue.

Macro conversion: primary conversion goals; for example, purchasing a product.

Micro conversion: supporting conversion goals; for example, signing up for a newsletter.

Mobile first: the concept of designing or optimizing a page for mobile first before optimizing for desktop. Mobile first is becoming increasingly important as mobile use becomes more popular than desktop.

Multivariate testing: a testing style in which multiple variables are changed (as opposed to AB testing which isolates one variable). Multivariate tests are less precise but usually higher impact than AB tests.

Qualitative data: non-numerical data like survey responses and user feedback.

Quantitative data: numerical data like click rates, session duration or pageviews.

Responsive web design: website design that allows pages to adjust and display properly on a variety of devices and screen sizes.

Retargeting: a marketing tactic that involves using cookies to follow traffic who bounces from your website and targeting them again.

Sample size: the number of users needed to run your AB test until it reaches a desired statistical significance (usually 80-95%).

Segmentation: the act of dividing users into segments based on common traits; for example, mobile users or desktop users.  

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. SEO focuses on getting the right traffic to your website while CRO focuses on encouraging traffic already on your site to convert. The two work in synergy to optimize your website’s performance.

Session replay: an anonymized recording of a user interacting with a website. Session replays help marketers identify frustration points and create ideas for optimizing a page to better serve users.

Shopping cart abandonment (also called cart abandonment): occurs when a user adds a product to their cart but leaves the website before completing their purchase.

Social proof: In general terms, a phenomenon that occurs when people copy the actions of others. In digital marketing, social proof is the use of trust points like customer reviews, testimonials, social media mentions, etc, to make users more likely to convert.

Split testing: a broad term that encompasses AB testing and multivariate testing.

Split URL testing: a testing style where traffic is split between two different URLs of the same page, allowing marketers to test multiple design or copy elements at once.

Statistical significance: the level of certainty around whether a given test result is real (correlated with the change being tested) and not due to chance.

Tactical Performance Indicators (TPI’s): the lowest level of metrics used to track actions that eventually lead to LPIs and KPIs.

Trust icons: icons, logos or other symbols that boost a user’s confidence in a website. Examples of trust icons include an SSL certificate or McAfee logo.

UI: user interface; the way a user interacts with a computer or device. UI is more specific than UX.

Unique visitors: the number of unduplicated users who visit a site in a given time. If the same user visits two times, they will count as 1 unique visitor.

Upsell: the practice of introducing users to more expensive but similar items or add-ons. Examples could include an upgraded product or expedited shipping.

Usability: a website’s ease of use. Usability optimization is similar to CRO but nuanced in its focus. Usability optimization focuses on optimizing the user’s experience while CRO focuses on optimizing conversions. Usually the two go hand in hand.

User flow: the click path taken by a typical user from the moment they enter the website to the moment they convert.

User intent: what the user is looking for when they land on a page.

UX: user experience; the overall experience of a user as they interact with a brand. UX is broader than UI.

Value proposition: an feature intended to make a product or service more valuable to the user. The best value propositions can be communicated clearly and succinctly.

Variation: a web page that will be tested against the original. AB tests contain one change per variation page while multivariate tests contain many changes on a single variation page.

Whitespace: also known as negative space; the space between graphics, text blocks, CTA buttons and other design elements.  

Widget: a web application that makes it possible for a user to perform a function. Widgets can be used to add forms, live chats, etc.

content marketing,conversion rate optimization,design,musings,search engine optimization,user experience,web development

How much does a website cost?

  • Jason
  • ON
  • January 25, 2019

If you are asking this question you are likely trying to determine what you will need to budget for a website for your business. You have come to the right place.

So how much do your websites cost?

Knowing how a great website is created can help give you a better understanding of the cost. Websites, like cars, have a wide range of pricing options. You can get a website for $50,000 or $50,000,000 — it all depends on its features. Keep in mind that building a truly great website is a big task. I always equate building websites to building a brick-and-mortar store location, except it’s somewhere people around the world can visit 24/7/365. Today we will go over each stage of website development and the potential cost involved.

LET’S DIVE IN!

Website discovery

Price depends on a number of factors: the size of the website, the number of competitors, the complexity of the sales funnel, and the depth of research areas the website team explores during discovery. For example, one client might need a discovery into their website’s conversion rate optimization, possibly including a deep dive into performance analytics and session records to determine how visitors are using the current website. Other clients during discovery might simply need us to become familiar with their business and their goals before we begin work. Ultimately, discovery comes down to how able you can specifically identify your website’s problems to solve. The more gray areas, the more a discovery phase can help.

Website discovery cost:
Simple: $500.00 – $1,500.00
Moderate: $2,500.00 – $4,000.00
Complicated: $5,000.00 – $20,000.00

For most businesses, a moderate discovery will suffice. At that rate your website development team should have a firm understanding of most aspects of your business and can apply . If you are skeptical about the need for a discovery, talk it over with your website team and see why they think it’s important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; most web design agencies are flexible and willing to figure out the most cost-effective way to solve problems.

Flow mapping

Website flow mapping is all about thinking of how users will navigate through your site. You add on layers of complexity as you think through how a user will navigate through every page of your website. Many website companies and their clients believe that people go to your homepage first. That could not be more wrong. People arrive on your site by searching Google for a specific keyword and land on a related page. This is why at our agency we see every page as its own “homepage.” By looking at your website holistically, we can control what happens when someone lands on any page and push them into a sales funnel where appropriate so they convert. The next time you are doing a web search, think about where you are landing. Take note. You’ll see that understanding how users navigate though the site is critical to conversions, goal completions, and revenue.

Website flow map cost:
Simple: $200.00 – $1000.00
Moderate: $2,000.00 – $4,000.00
Complicated: $5,000.00 – $20,000.00

Every business needs to keep flow mapping as a consideration. If you choose not to do a flow mapping exercise, you will lose potential business. Moreover, Google won’t trust websites whose pages are not organized optimally or do not relate to each other in a way that makes sense. What’s important to Google’s advanced algorithm are the page relationships uncovered in flow mapping exercises. Flow mapping connects pages’ subject matter and establishes you as the expert around those specific subjects. That’s huge for both Google and your visitors.

Site architecture

Site architecture is essentially mapping out the navigation of your website. And if you do a flow mapping exercise, it will be clear what pages you need on your website. We use a program called Slickplan to create our site maps. A robust site architecture gives your users and search engines an easier time getting the information they need. Google loves a great filing system. It makes their job easier. By having an easy-to-digest site map, Google rewards you with higher rankings in the SERPS and users reward you with more conversions and goal completions.

Website Site Architecture Cost:
(If you skip flow mapping, this price will likely be very different.)
Simple: $200.00 – $1000.00
Moderate: $1,500.00 – $3,000.00
Complicated: $4,000.00 – $7,000.00

You really can’t get away from this step. Yes, you can do it yourself, but it’s always better to have a team of trained experts by your side because, over and over again, we have seen what works and what does not.

SEO (search engine optimization)

A mistake I made early in my career was not including SEO at the beginning of a project. I’d finish a website and then bring it to an SEO specialist. All it did was frustrate them. Why? Because it turns the website into a game of “What keyword are you trying to rank for?”, a lot like putting the cart before the horse. If I build an entire site with, say, forty pages and every page lacks a keyword focus, several things can happen:

You build pages that rank for zero keywords.

You have multiple pages with the same keywords, therefore cannibalizing your own pages. Google then has to make a decision about which page to serve in its result pages, and if there are a ton of pages with the same keyword, it causes Google to say, “I’m confused. I’m not going to serve any of these pages because it’s unclear what is the best page to serve.”

Google’s job is to serve the best result for any given query. Keep that in mind always, and then common sense comes into play. (If you have pages with the same keyword, make sure to put a rel:canonical tag on the one with the best content.)

You miss keywords that are critical for your business. Missed keyword opportunities mean missed business.

So what will an SEO team do at the beginning of a website project?

  1. Keyword mapping: Keyword mapping is the process of researching the search volume and intent around relevant keywords. Typically our keyword maps start with 300 to 600 keywords, but we quickly expand to tens of thousands after site launch with an important, ongoing SEO retainer. Building a site is just the start. You must think of your website as an evolution. If you don’t you are wasting money!
  2. Content assignments: Our team creates in-depth content assignments for our content creation team and/or your team’s content writers. These assignments list out the main keyword focuses, synonyms of those keywords, and break down each page by <h> tags (header tags) so it’s easy for Google to index and crawl.
  3. Site architecture recommendations: Words matter in search; so does the structure of the website. SEO specialists are always looking for ways to optimize. Having a keyword in your navigation is great, but how it connects to all relevant content is even more important.

Website SEO pricing:
Simple: $1000.00 – $2,000.00
Moderate: $2,500.00 – $4,500.00
Complicated: $5,000.00 – $20,000.00

Website SEO monthly retainer cost:
“I want to play the game and have an internal team”: $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
“I want you to do my SEO and I just want to be relevant in search results”: $2,000.00 – $3,000.00
“I want to win SEO and get to page one in SERPs within the next 6-12 months for specific keywords”: $4,000.00 – $14,000.00

Choosing not to do SEO at the start of your website is a horrible mistake. Trust me! I already told you I’ve skipped it once, and we have the occasional client that decides to skip it even after all my warnings. They all pay the price — retroactive SEO fixes and changes are expensive!

Website content development

Content is king, queen, and everything in between. Search engines rely on content to decipher what is on your website. There are a ton of best practices prescribed to content creation. If you want to be a player in the SEO game, then you must have the content to back it up. Great content (like this amazing post you are currently reading) is critical to website success. A quality content team will write with SEO in mind… ALWAYS.

Did you know that Google wants you to write like a 5th grader? We use the Hemingway app to ensure we deliver content that’s easy to consume. Google also wants your content to be above 300 words. They like 500 better but if you look at pages that rank in the number one position they are typically over 1500 words. My top ranking articles are often over 7,000 words like my article on “Music Video Costs” that ranks #1 or #2 for the keyword “Music Video Cost” since 2013! I beat Wikipedia. That’s how important great content is. Great content helps the reader by supplying them with solid, trustworthy information.

Don’t write your own content? Want to know why? Because you won’t. The majority of clients who say they will write their own content won’t actually do it because it’s hard and requires a dedication that most people don’t have time for. (This blog for example has taken me five airplane trips between Atlanta and Boston.) It’s beyond a simple matter of convenience. Content is not easy to do the right way. Hire an expert. It’s worth it.

Website content development cost per blog article or standard page:
(Depending on the writer and word count.)
Simple, using freelancer: $50.00 – $700.00
Moderate using an agency’s content team : $500.00 – $1000.00
Complicated using an agency: $1,000.00 – $1,.500.00

Website content development cost per in-depth resource (i.e., e-books, white papers, case studies):
(Depending on the writer and word count.)
Simple, using freelancer: $1,000.00 – $1500.00
Moderate using an agency’s content team : $2,000.00 – $3,000.00
Complicated using an agency: $4,000.00 – $6,000.00
*Case studies can be very dense and require a ton of research.

The great thing about creating quality, evergreen content is it has value year after year. I tell clients to think about it like compounding interest. I write articles every year that drive revenue for my business each year after I wrote it, as long as I keep it up-to-date with new information, or if it receives a decent amount of attention online. You can’t just let a piece of content sit stagnant. You need to keep it fresh and accurate.

Website design

Website design is critical to the success of your site. It’s not only the first impression, it’s the full user experience. You’ll hear the term UI/UX thrown around a lot these days because understanding how people use a site is paramount to its success. A good website design team understands user flow and conversion rate optimization — it’s critical to the success of a project. For exceptional and thoughtful website design, you can plan on spending a decent amount of cash; however, that kind of design is critical to helping drive conversions and revenue for your business. Good design is even more critical to e-commerce sites as it helps to reduce checkout friction — from selecting products, to entering payment and shipping details, to confirming purchase.

You can find designers online from $25.00/hr all the way to $150.00/hr depending on experience, but in my opinion a dedicated design team is the way to go. A website design team will produce much more powerful work than a single person building a site. Primarily, there is no diversity in thought with one designer, so you often get opinions rather than decisions based in facts and data. You see, today’s modern design teams don’t just design things that look good. They understand the reasons why websites should be designed a particular way. They have data to back up why sliders usually don’t work, or that you need multiple calls-to-action on a page. They know that anticipating how a user will use a site is more important than how pretty it is. They know that if a visitor doesn’t see what they need in 5 seconds, then they are likely to bounce off the site.

If you are only concerned with how your website looks, take a step back and think about how you use websites. Rarely are you concerned with design aesthetics over practicality. Of course, you won’t trust a site that looks like it was coded in 2008, but you also want a site that gets you the information you are looking for quickly and easily.

Website design cost: homepage
(The homepage is always more costly as it’s the website’s anchor.)
Simple, using freelancer: $300.00 – $700.00
Moderate using an agency : $3400.00 – $4,800.00
Complicated using an agency: $7,000.00 – $10,000.00

Website Design Cost: key pages
Simple, using freelancer: $150.00 – $300.00
Moderate using an agency : $2400.00 – $3,800.00
Complicated using an agency: $4,000.00 – $6,000.00

Website design cost: simple pages
Simple, using freelancer: $100.00 – $200.00
Moderate using an agency : $675.00 – $800.00
Complicated using an agency: $1,000.00 – $1,500.00

Most designers and design agencies will work to get you the most cost effective quote based on the effort involved. It’s likely that the cost of design varies even more deeply than I have laid out above. It’s also important to note that there are a ton of amazing page builders like Elementor and Octane that exist. These page builders allow designers to work within a drag and drop framework allowing them to build custom graphics and build out beautiful pages quickly. The website world is changing and there are a ton of options. A great digital marketing agency will work with you to decide what the best path forward is to you.

Website development

Website development is an area where you don’t want to cheap out. You can do every other step correctly, but this is where the rubber meets the road. The way your website is developed will affect everything from the user experience to the way Google and other search engines index your website and its pages.

In other words, if you take the cheap way out and skimp on development, you are likely to accumulate what we call technical debt. And technical debt is expensive. Technical debt refers to the shortcuts and their bad coding which cause the need for future code fixes (which cost money). You can also go into technical debt from your website going down or a hack caused by poor security measures. Technical debt can be avoided by hiring trusted developers or trusted agencies to code your website. In development you will always pay a price. The question is how much risk you want to take on. Do you pay upfront and know the cost, or do you cross your fingers and deal with the technical debt when it comes out?

Development costs vary greatly depending on the project and the language you are coding in. For example, a WordPress website will be far less to code than a .NET or Node.js website. Another variable is the development team. A younger and less experienced development team might be less money per hour but they will likely take longer to do the work or the quality might not to be as good. That said, there are a ton of really bright young developers so just do your research. An older and more experienced website development team is likely to have a higher hourly rate but also move faster. Again, every situation is different so do your homework.

Website development will affect the following:

  1. SEO indexing in the SERPS
  2. Page speed
  3. User experience
  4. Conversions
  5. Your overall stress levels

Look, #5 on the list is no joke. Worrying about your website can be very stressful and time-consuming. As many of you know, your website is the backbone of your business, and when the website goes down, business is affected. Worrying about the health of your website is a big distraction from running your business operations. It’s always best to hire a reliable team of experts to back you up.

Website development cost: homepage
(The homepage is always more costly as it’s the website’s anchor.)
Simple, using freelancer: $500.00 – $100.00
Moderate, using an agency : $3,600.00 – $5,000.00
Complicated, using an agency: $7,000.00 – $20,000.00

Website development cost: key pages
Simple, using freelancer: $150.00 – $300.00
Moderate, using an agency : $2,600.00 – $4,200.00
Complicated, using an agency: $5,000.00 – $7,000.00

Website development cost: simple pages
Simple, using freelancer: $100.00 – $200.00
Moderate, using an agency : $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
Complicated, using an agency: $3,000.00 – $4,500.00

The cost to develop a website could be expensive, but going back to my aforementioned car analogy… you can get an 1988 Ford Escort and it will get you there, but a new BMW is going to be a better ride and is less likely to breakdown because it’s better engineered and newer. Don’t be cheap. You will pay for it! Technical debt is very real. In 2010 I built a social network for a specific sport. The project went so far over budget that we were pushed to take shortcuts when the client refused to recognize major issues that would come back to haunt their website and severely complicate it down the road. One year after launch the company was out of business because of those issues that were skirted over.

Opinion: Outsourcing the code for cheap, with a company you don’t know, in some faraway place is not a viable option. For example, early in my career I worked with several small development companies in India that promised $12.00/hr for web development. Although they were friendly, I got exactly what I paid for. The point is this: If you are paying anyone $12.00/hr for web development, you can count on the end result being garbage. Don’t learn the hard way.

Disclaimer: I am speaking from my own experiences with developers. This is not a knock against any of the fantastic Indian development companies out there — my point is they likely don’t charge $12.00/hr and I’ve never had the chance to work with them. I’m always open to working with great people so if you have a international team you trust please share them with me in the comments.

How do you choose the right website design and development company?

Choosing a website design partner is not easy. Use these steps to evaluate prospective web dev partners:

  1. Know your budget. Don’t go in blind. Map out your spending threshold and give a range to your prospective web development partners. The saying “the one who says the first number loses” does not apply to the web development world. A budget helps the team building out the website proposal come back with a realistic solution to your problem.
  2. Figure out how much time you can realistically commit to working your website, and determine if your internal team will provide the content. If you don’t have free time, tell the prospective website partner. It allows them to understand how much of the mental load they will hold, which affects the pricing and the process.
  3. Review your website development partner’s portfolio. The portfolio and client list will tell you a ton about your potential partner. Note that just because they have not done something exactly like your project does not mean they can’t do it. Many teams are very agile and can adapt to different businesses and needs. But a good team will be open and honest about their capabilities.
  4. We started our website design and development agency when clients from one of my other businesses kept complaining about their web team’s response times and communication skills. When evaluating a web partner and their proposal, keep an eye on their responsiveness and when they deliver. If they are slow to respond in the sales cycle, think about how their responsiveness when it’s time to deliver a design or a build. Think about how long it will take them to respond if your site goes down or is hacked. Digital marketing moves fast and so should your agency.
  5. Once you get the proposal, make sure that that partner truly understands the project, deliverables, and timeline. Building a website is not easy, so make sure the team pitching truly gets it. Call out things they missed and ask them to make sure those things are considered. However, website designers and developers are people, too, and everyone makes mistakes, so don’t necessarily ditch a great vendor over a missed detail. There are a ton of details with every website, so the occasional oversight shouldn’t take anyone by surprise.

What happens after my website launches?

What happens after you launch is 100% up to you and your budget. The most important thing to remember is that a website is an evolution. With today’s advanced data collection tools, businesses have real insights into how people use their websites. This is an opportunity to dial up your website to boost conversions and revenue. Below are common website questions I get asked after launch:

  1. Do I need to keep doing SEO after my website launches? You should! SEO is a never-ending game, one that most of your competitors are playing. And if you’re not playing, you can’t win. Websites gain authority in the SERPS by creating trustworthy content that’s optimized for specific keywords. And those websites are shared because they provide value. Look at this post. I created this in the hopes that it would help people answer a question I hear all the time: “How much does a website cost?” If it’s truly useful, people will share it and other websites may link to it. This will add value to our entire website.
  2. How much content do I need to create monthly for my website? My opinion is you should be putting up a new article every week at a minimum and you should be editing old post to make sure they are relevant every quarter.
  3. Are blogs important for SEO? Yes. Blogs are one way to stay relevant, and search engines like blogs because they want to see that a website is active, not stagnant. Blogs are also easy to write if you are actually writing about something you know and about which you’re passionate.
  4. How important is social media marketing for my website? Huge. Social media sites and apps are, ultimately, how your content is shared. Although most social network links are opaque and considered “no follow” within website analytics, search engine algorithms still consider social signals as a big trust factor, and will rank your website better because of them.

How much does a Brain Bytes Creative website cost?

Our website costs span a massive range depending on the project. Most sites are between $30K and $60K, but there are many outliers from $15K to $400K. If you’d like to get a quote it’s as easy as clicking here or calling me right now (yes, really).

Good luck!

conversion rate optimization

Ecommerce conversion rate optimization + 90’s fads: the most entertaining marketing guide you’ll ever read

  • Laurel
  • ON
  • December 20, 2018

I’m a ‘90s kid, which means I remember slap bracelets, Furbies, frosted tips, manually fast forwarding through commercials on my VHS player, and this AOL logo:

aol-logo--300x200

…and Beanie Babies, Wonderballs, Amanda, Please!, butterfly clips, my Lisa Frank lunchbox, Fresh Prince, Saved By The Bell, embroidered jeans, neon everything and “You’re watching Disney Channel.” I can keep going.

I also remember the first time my family ordered something off Ebay — and it came directly to our doorstep about a week later. Amazing.

Most of the novelties of my childhood have stayed in the ‘90s where they belong (goodbye, toe socks). But the movement toward ordering online isn’t going anywhere. 74% of Gen Z shoppers prefer online to brick and mortar. Millennials make over half of their purchases online. And 80% of Americans have purchased something online in the past month. Ecommerce is growing at a stunning rate.

To succeed in such a saturated market, you need a sound strategy. Because the competition is fierce. Users have seemingly endless choices online. There’s always somewhere else they can go. Did you know 38% of people say they’ll bounce immediately if they find your website’s layout unattractive? And 77% of users abandon their carts before checking out — perhaps because the checkout process is too complicated or cumbersome, you’re forcing your users to create an account, your site doesn’t look secure or your users discover hidden shipping costs.

#bye

The average ecommerce conversion rate is 1% – 2%. Which means for every 100 users who visit an ecommerce site, only 1 or 2 will actually become customers. But that’s on average. Your site can do better than that! And this is where CRO comes in.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a set of methods used to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert.

“Conversions” in ecommerce could mean:

  • Purchases
  • “Add to cart” clicks
  • “Add to wishlist” clicks
  • Subscribing to a newsletter

Let’s take a step back and think about your overall business goals. What do you need to be successful in ecommerce? Sales. So let’s focus on driving sales. There are many ways to drive sales — the most popular are paid search, ads, social, email and SEO. Each of these channels drives traffic to your site. That’s great. But it’s not enough unless they also convert.

Regardless of how you get traffic to your site (ideally a mix of paid and organic channels) you should always include CRO in your strategy. Because CRO aims to get traffic already on your site to convert. And the traffic on your site has the most potential: users are usually lower-funnel and have higher purchase intent than those seeing your brand somewhere else on the internet.

Convinced you need CRO yet? Let’s jump into it.

Here are some CRO things you should already be doing:

Include reviews

Not just any reviews. Go for detailed, product-specific ones. It’s also a best practice to include a 5-star rating visual – if you don’t have one, no lying, you’ll lose the trust of some customers.

Showcase trust points

Depending on your product and target audience, these can include media mentions, influencer endorsements, or industry awards.

Use detailed product descriptions

They should include all specs that users may be interested in. And they should be clear, succinct, and consistent with your brand voice.

This product description for Patagonia’s Women’s Better Sweater includes detailed specs and measurements, information about the material and how the sweater is made, as well as size info about the model for reference. The “read more” design keeps the product page and description streamlined.

Offer live chat, especially for complex products

92% of online customers say they are satisfied by live chat features (compared to satisfaction rates of 85% for email customer service, 84% for facebook messaging customer service and 77% Twitter customer service).

Capture email

Gotta catch ‘em all! All of the emails, that is. There are many ways to do this: at checkout, with a discount code popup, subscribe box, through survey submissions or a popup activated by exit intent, for example.

Include videos where you can

There are all kinds of creative ways to do this! Patagonia, for example, includes videos of retail associates talking about their clothes along with traditional static images. Other brands include videos of models styling them.

Cross sell with “customers also bought…” features

Cross selling is responsible for 10-30% of ecommerce sales!

Use discount codes

Shopify shared a stat last year that shop owners actively using discount codes are 8x more likely to make a sale.

Offer free shipping

With cart abandonment rates higher than the Radio Head in the summer of ‘97, the last thing you want to do is annoy a potential customer right before they’re about to make a purchase.

Allow guest checkout

And remember to capture their email.

Offer a streamlined checkout with a progress bar

A progress bar will help reduce cart abandons.

Track cart abandons and retarget

Visitors who abandoned their carts but are retargeted with a display ad are 70% more likely to convert. This is amazing in terms of ecommerce conversion rate optimization.

Already doing everything on this list?

Time to level up to some more sophisticated analytics and testing opportunities.

First, some analytics tools:

Scrollmap

Heat-map-blurred-300x109
  • What’s a scrollmap? A scrollmap is a type of heatmap that tracks how far users are scrolling on a page. You can set up scrollmaps for various pages of your site, and also mobile, tablet and desktop specific ones.
  • What you’re looking for: You’re looking to see how far users scroll. If you notice a lot of users dropping off at a particular place on the page, you may hypothesize that the content you’re showing at that point is not engaging or doesn’t align with what your users are looking for. Then, you can test alternative content. You should also look for any discrepancies between desktop and mobile scrollmaps, as this can give you insight into how desktop and mobile users are using your site differently. Also, take a look at how far users are scrolling. if your “buy now” button is lower on the page than a high percentage of where users scroll, you should move it higher.

Clickmap

click-map-blurred-300x108
  • What’s a clickmap? A clickmap is a hype of heatmap that tracks where users click. It’s a great way to visually understand which places on the page are enticing users to click. This type of data is super helpful when you’re trying to increase conversion rates for ecommerce.
  • What you’re looking for: Take note of any places where users are clicking that are not conversion-focused CTAs. This may indicate areas where you can build out content to push users down the funnel, or areas of prime real estate that should be used for a different, conversion-focused CTA. Also note areas where users aren’t clicking but you want them to. This can spark ideas for testing.

Analytics

There are all kinds of reports in Google Analytics. Here are a few of our faves for CRO.

1. Landing Pages
  • How to get there: Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages
  • What you’re looking for: This report is useful for seeing where users land on your site, and how they engage with the page they’ve landed on (and the site in general.) Specifically, look for these things in the Landing Pages report:
    • Pages that have a high bounce rate: a high bounce rate could indicate that the content on this landing page isn’t resonating with users. It may be too much info, not enough, or not the right content — meaning it could be higher or lower in the funnel or simply not what users are looking for.
    • Pages with a high session duration: A high session duration generally indicates that the landing page was engaging enough to encourage a user to stick around. Study the elements of the page to see what you can glean — and what you could test on other landing pages.
    • Pages that have a high conversion rate: If a specific landing page has a high ecommerce conversion rate, study it. What is unique about it? Does it have a lot of CTA’s? Is it short form or long form? Is the content specific or general? What kinds of visuals, multimedia and trust points are on the page? Note these elements, as you should test them on other landing pages.
    • Pages with a low conversion rate: A landing page with a low conversion rate is especially alarming when its a specific, lower-funnel landing page or when it’s a page that gets a lot of traffic. Take note and build out some tests to identify how you can better serve users.
    • Pages that get a lot of sessions: When you have a lot of landing pages where you can run tests, prioritize those with the most sessions.
2. Source / Medium
source-medium-not-blurred-300x119
  • How to get there: Acquisition → All Traffic → Source Medium + add secondary dimension “Landing page”
  • What you’re looking for: This report is useful for seeing where users come from and how they interact with a site. We like to add landing page as a secondary dimension, like I’ve shown above. This allows us to study how users from various sources engage with particular landing pages. These are some specific things we like to take note of in the Source Medium report:
  • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with High Bounce Rates: This could indicate that a landing page is not resonating for a particular group of users. The content could be misaligned with what they’re looking for, or the design could be making it hard for users to find what they need easily.
  • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with Low Conversion Rates: Again, this could indicate that users are not finding what they’re looking for, or that you’re not presenting the content in a way that leads them to convert.
  • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with High Conversion Rates: Take note of sources and landing pages that have high e-commerce conversion rates and see what you can learn. Are those landing pages long? Short? Detailed? Do they contain multimedia? What kinds of CTA’s do they have?
3. Behavior flow
behavior-flow-blurred--300x131
  • How to get there: Behavior → Behavior Flow
  • What you’re looking for: This report shows you how users navigate through your site. As you study the report, ask yourself:
  • What are the most popular paths users take? Are they leading to conversions?
  • Are users going straight to checkout or viewing multiple product pages?
  • Note: you can also filter for new vs. returning users and frequency vs. recency.
Based on the data you find, build out some testing ideas. Here are some good ones for ecommerce to get you started:
  • Multi-step vs one-step checkout style
  • Price points
  • Sticky vs fixed navigation
  • Number of items in the navigation
  • Short vs long landing pages
  • Button colors
  • Button copy
  • Header copy
  • Static vs scrolling hero
  • Imagery style: people vs products
  • Orientation of photos
  • Video thumbnails
  • Fonts and typography
  • Popup styles
  • Discount/promo codes

Depending on the complexity of your tests and how many variables you want to isolate, here are some testing styles to choose from:

AB test
  • What is an AB test? AB testing compares two versions of a webpage, A and B, to see which one performs better. Performance is defined by KPIs like conversions and bounce rates.
  • When to use this type of test: To isolate one variable — for example, testing one color CTA button against another.
ABn test
  • What is an ABn test? A spinoff of an AB test, ABn testing simply adds another variable, so you test variations A, B, C, D etc against the original.
  • When to use this type of test: When testing two or more variations of the same element &mdash for example, three versions of hero copy.
Split (multivariate) test
  • What is a split test? A split test (also called a multivariate tests) tests two entirely different pages against each other, as opposed to one simple element being changed. The variation page will contain many different elements than the first.
  • When to use this type of test: For more complicated tests with many variables (like a short form vs long form landing page). Split testing is high impact but with less precision — you won’t know which particular change caused a lift or dip in ecommerce conversions, but you can figure this out later with isolation tests.

Two quick notes as you’re testing:

First, remember that failure is an essential part of success when it comes to CRO experimentation. Read about How to Fail Well with CRO here.

Also remember to consider mobile. If your site gets more mobile than desktop traffic, start with mobile testing first. At Brain Bytes Creative, we often run mobile-specific and desktop-specific tests. You can read more about Mobile-first CRO testing here.

I hope this guide has been helpful and has given you some tools to increase your e-commerce conversion rates.

Time to set these testing ideas in action and get some actionable results.

Thanks for reading!

Sources:
conversion rate optimization,strategy

Why should I invest in CRO marketing

  • Nathan
  • ON
  • December 11, 2018
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There’s no time like the present to consider a CRO program.

Suddenly, you’re faced with an all-too-familiar scenario: You have a limited budget and aggressive sales goals. Now, you’re deciding where to invest your budget to generate the strongest impact. How you invest your budget will determine whether you meet your goals, and whether you meet your goals will determine your performance. The pressure’s on. This is the hard part, right?

It certainly doesn’t have to be. It’s time to consider investing in a robust Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) program.

Alright, fair enough. But why?

Let’s take the next few moments to walk through the benefits of a CRO program together. By the time you’re done reading this article, you should be well equipped to decide whether your website and business could benefit from CRO.

Spoiler alert: It very likely can!

Defining CRO

Common sense tells us we need a solid definition for CRO before we can really dive in head first.

Generally, we can define Conversion Rate Optimization as a set of methods used in digital marketing to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert. Conversion in this case refers to users who take desired steps forward on your website, either converting them directly into customers, or bringing them ever closer to becoming one. In other words, CRO is all about improving your website’s effectiveness on its users to drive sales.

On paper, it almost sounds like the marketing scheme of some evil mastermind… except in our scenario, it’s a plan that actually works.

Pretty neat, huh?

Now, let’s begin exploring some of the advantages of our potential scheme plan.

The Advantages of CRO

When it comes to CRO’s strengths, there are several key benefits that distinguish it from other website investment opportunities. Here are the major highlights:

CRO is unique in that focuses on your website’s current traffic.

Think of it this way: People who are visiting your site are already in your sales funnel, regardless of how close they are to the end goal. If they’re visiting your site, it must be because they’re interested in something you offer (sparing an accidental visit from a cat walking across the keyboard).

Imagine how exponential your results could be if you began optimizing your website for these users.

(Brain Bytes Creative is based in Atlanta, so sometimes traffic has a …slightly different meaning to us.)

CRO also reduces the cost of acquiring customers.

It doesn’t involve paid ads, emails or other forms of pricey advertising. Simply put, you’re making the best use of what’s already on your site. In other words, it’s not cheap, it’s working smart.

Here’s another way to think about it:

Have you ever been in a typical department store and thought to yourself something along the lines of, “I can’t find what I’m looking for?” If you know another store has the item in question, you might be tempted to leave and go there instead.

In this scenario, CRO would be the equivalent of optimizing your store’s layout for those customers that are already in the store, so that you can ensure they always find exactly what they’re looking for.

On the other hand, a paid ad would be trying to reach people who are either not inside your store, or don’t know about it yet. It’s much more lucrative to focus on those who are already closer to converting. You don’t want them to leave because of inconveniences.

Taking a valuable lesson from the example above, we can also glean that CRO helps you tap into your most valuable customers.

Research suggests that the highest quality leads come from organic traffic. If your traffic isn’t converting, this suggests that your website is clearly not persuading its users to buy in. This is why CRO focuses on creating the best service experience for your users as is possible.

CRO builds trust and brand perception.

One of the major components of CRO is improving your site’s overall design, which offers clear trust points your users are looking for.

Here’s a right on the nose example.

If you looked at two different sites that were offering the same product, who would you be more willing to trust with your business? The website that’s designed with a clear intention and is easy to navigate, or the site with a few broken images and missing links (or dare I even say: Comic Sans)?

It’s kind of a no brainer, isn’t it?

(On the one hand, at least he wasn’t making his website’s logo in MS Paint…)

But let’s think realistically now.

Even in the smallest of instances, CRO’s design oriented marketing strategies may yield an incredible impact that would otherwise very likely go unnoticed by many great thinkers in marketing.

One of my favorite examples I found was when Veeam Software, a data management company, changed one single word on their website and saw their click through rate increase by 161%!

Can you imagine that?

Using a survey on their website, they asked their users what additional information they would like to see on their product pages. The number one response was “pricing.” Of course, the company was unable to publish their pricing information given they sold explicitly through partners, whose discounts may vary.

The solution?

In one simple but clever move, they changed the text on their “Request a quote” link, which would lead users to a sales inquiry page, to “Request pricing.”

What likely accumulated into a two minute change led to a 161% jump in their click through rate. At the risk of sounding cheesy, that’s the power of CRO.

So, it’s not just the website with the nicer design that will win people over, but also the website that provides its users with the experience that is closest possible to their desired expectations. Which leads us to the next benefit…

CRO helps you steal business from competition and earn repeat customers.

These are the words you’ve probably been waiting to hear! If your site offers a better checkout experience than your competitors, it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll become repeat customers. Again, all you’re doing is simply maximizing your site’s usability. It’s simple, but effective.

CRO yields data that allows you to gain sharper insights into your customers’ wants and needs.

This next highlight is dedicated to that inner geek in all of us: CRO also includes a lot of data digging. The good kind! Any good marketer knows this is an information goldmine consisting of possible high-impact, far-reaching implications. Just take a quick peek at some examples of the sort of data CRO can return:

  • User flow analysis
  • Heat maps showing where users click and how far along they scroll
  • Session replays showing user frustration
  • Form analytics, including drop-offs and fields that slow users down
  • And of course, good ol’fashion A/B test results (can’t live without them!)

CRO & SEO

One last thought here! Have I mentioned yet that CRO also works hand-in-hand with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? It totally does, and it’s glorious.

Anyhow, back on the topic of data (and geeking out)…

Now that we have a greater understanding of CRO’s benefits, let’s take a closer look at some of the data that shows proof that CRO is as effective as it sounds.

Let’s Look at Some Numbers

Within the past few years, many new statistics regarding the effectiveness of CRO have been surfacing, and they carry nothing but great news to go around for any marketers worth their salt.

According to the quotes found on Sessioncam’s “20 Conversion rate optimization stats you need to know”, the average ROI from CRO tools has been estimated at 223%! In addition, out of a total of 36 CRO tools that companies have studied, only two have failed to generate a substantial ROI. Only two.

With only 22% of businesses being satisfied with their inherent conversation rates in 2017, it’s no wonder Google is beginning to see a stark increase in searches for CRO and its related services.

Speaking of which, here at Brain Bytes Creative, we’ve seen more than our fair share of CRO successes too!

To name just a few:

  • We generated 13 new leads in one quarter for an Orthodontics Manufacturer by identifying several opportunities to place CTAs.
  • We saw an increase in “Request an Appointment” form fills by 46.95% and increased page value by 19.99% for an orthopaedic practice in the Southeast by simply moving a form field.
  • We witnessed increased page engagement by 5.45% and form submissions (leads) from brokers by 0.35% for an insurance company by changing a single button’s text! …Sound familiar?

And the list goes on and on!

We use advanced CRO techniques as well as low-hanging fruit, as described in a few of the examples above.

(The More You Know: Originally, Brain Bytes Creative’s logo was a cartoony brain with a bite taken out of it. I wish we had kept it.)

Calculating CRO’s ROI

Moving on to the topic of ROI, Nabler mentions a KPI entitled “ROCRO” (Return on Conversion Rate Optimization) which calculates and measures the ROI you receive from your CRO efforts.

Let’s breakdown how to calculate ROCRO with a quick example using Nabler’s ROCRO calculator:

Imagine you’re a busy retailer who aims to primarily make sales online. The first thing you will need to do, is gather six key points of data:

  • Your average website sessions per day
  • Existing website conversion rate
  • Average order (or lead) value
  • Average contribution margin ratio
  • Estimated annual cost of your CRO program
  • Your estimated conversion rate lift from said CRO program

In this example, let’s say you roughly receive about 2,400 unique visits to your website a day, with an existing conversion rate of 2.5%. If the average order value is approximately $100 and the contribution margin is 50%, what sort of ROCRO could we generate if we bought a CRO program for an annual cost of $28,000 a year to help us manage our CRO program?

Even if you’re only estimating a 0.5% increase in your conversion rate lift (now 3% total), you’d be increasing your conversion rate by a mind boggling 17%!

Is It That Time Already?

So, by now you should have a solid grasp on why investing in a CRO program would greatly benefit you. To sum up, it’s a powerful and inexpensive tactic for a wise marketer who is taking steps towards leveraging the greatest possible results. Purely by optimizing your preexisting website’s design and usability, you will be taking massive, thoughtful strides towards hitting your conversion goals.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, now is the best time to consider investing in a CRO Program. More businesses are researching and investing in CRO each day, so now is the best time to get invested yourself, if you want to stay ahead of your competition.

If you’re interested in starting now, Brain Bytes Creative offers highly effective CRO services (not just speaking strictly out of bias here…).

But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Learn more about Brain Bytes Creative’s CRO approach by checking out some of our other wonderful articles here:

And of course, if you’re interested in contacting us directly to learn more, we highly encourage it! Drop us a line, and thanks for reading!

conversion rate optimization

Mobile-first: what does this mean for CRO?

  • Christine
  • ON
  • December 10, 2018

What was the last thing you searched for on Google?

Did you use your phone or tablet for the search? If so, welcome. You are part of the majority.

Or did you happen to use your desktop? In that case, you are the minority… and I’m guessing you’re at work. Good for you for reading this article and using your time productively! 😉

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “mobile-first.” It seems to be one of the latest buzzwords floating around the digital marketing world. So what’s the big deal with mobile?

Let me throw some impressive mobile stats your way:

  • Since late 2015, mobile search has passed desktop search and it’s only continuing to rise.
  • Consumers are now spending more than five hours a day on their smartphones.
  • According to BrightEdge, a whopping 57% of all U.S. online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets.

We are undergoing a “mobile revolution”. With this ever growing percentage of users accessing sites via mobile devices, it’s more important than ever to design mobile first.

Take Google, for example. Google recognized this majority shift in mobile usage and in July of this past year, they rolled out a major algorithm change. In short, this modification helps measure the ease of site navigation for visitors using tablets and smartphones. Everything from how user-friendly it is to make purchases, submit a form or call for more information will be taken into account.

Before this update, actions of desktop-based users carried more weight than any others. With this change, Google’s goal is to help encourage online business who have yet to upgrade their mobile experience to a responsive or mobile-friendly web design.

Our SEO team already to a look into how Google’s mobile-first indexing will impact SEO. But what does mobile-first mean from a CRO perspective?

The goal for CRO (conversion rate optimization) is to design a website that improves UX (user experience) and structuring it purposely to maximize the amount of customers converting. So specifically for mobile-first, start off by following these key CRO tips:

Tips for mobile-first conversion rate optimization:

  • Stay on top of the trend. Making sure your online business is up-to-date with mobile-first indexing will not only help your conversion rates, but also create a better experience for your future prospects’ current needs. The easier the experience, the more likely they are to return.
  • Don’t lag behind competition. Better to do it now than later! Don’t be the last one to jump on the bandwagon or your customers WILL move to an easier user experience… which, unfortunately, will be your competitors.

Wondering how you can stay on top of the trend and ahead of your competition? We can help with that!

Make sure you’re following mobile best practices for UX

Don’t know where to start? We have outlined some simple ways to get started with UX best practices in our UX (User Experience) Best Practices + Debunking CRO Best Practices Myth blog. Specifically for mobile-first design, make sure your are applying these UX guidelines to your site:

  • Clear CTA. Your call-to-action (CTA) should be simple as well as strategic in placement and design. Make it obvious, keep it above the fold and have a great call-to-action phrase. Doing this will increase the effectiveness of your CTA.
  • Simplest design. Keep your site’s design clean and easy on the eye. Avoid overwhelming your visitors by using too many CTAs.
  • Contact information. Your contact information (i.e., phone number, support, form, etc.) should be easy to find.
  • Trust points. Showcase your trust points (i.e., industry awards, reviews, etc.). Go on and brag about yourself, your users will be impressed.
  • Checkout and form optimization. Be sure to optimize your forms and checkout experience for maximum conversions. Get rid of any unnecessary fields and avoid fields that cause users to think twice before filling them out.
  • Responsiveness. This is a given. Your site needs to function properly. There is nothing more frustrating than a site which requires endless pinching and scrolling to read content or web forms which are difficult to navigate.

Re-think content

Another implication of a mobile-first approach is that content is more important than ever before. We have past the days of stripped back mobile sites and believe it or not, mobile users want the same content-rich experience as desktop users! With this mobile-first shift, we need to re-think content. Keep these pointers in mind when you are focusing on your mobile site’s content:

  • Full content mobile pages. Ensure that the mobile version of your website has all the same beneficial content that exists on your desktop. Give the people what they want!
  • Strategically displayed content. Smaller screens means less screen space (duh!). This will be a challenge for mobile CRO in that the most impactful content needs to be easily accessible on smaller screens for maximum impact.
  • Set image widths. Ensure image sizes fit smaller mobile screen. This will help avoid the awkward pinching and scrolling.
  • Engaging media. Use a variety of media to create a better experience for a larger range of visitors. Audio and visuals in particular perform well on mobile.
  • Shorter paragraphs and collapsable content. Using shorter paragraphs and breaking up text with rich visual media will reduce the likelihood of users becoming overwhelmed. Long and wordy posts may work on desktop, but that is not the case for mobile devices.
  • Crawlable content formats. Since crawlers can’t read visuals, headers should not be designed in an image, but as separate text.
  • CRO and SEO work together. SEO focuses on getting the right traffic to your site and CRO focuses on converting that traffic.

CRO processes must be changed

Aside from UX best practices and an emphasis on content, a mobile first approach to CRO changes the process itself. The very first step to the 10 Point Conversion analysis we use at Brain Bytes Creative is determining what percentage of traffic is mobile vs desktop. This determines how we go about analyzing and optimizing the site. If over half of the traffic is mobile, we analyze our 10 points from a mobile perspective first.

Digging deeper into the BBC Conversion Analysis, we would look at all 10 areas of analysis and ask ourselves the important questions keeping mobile-first in mind. Such as analyzing for Distraction, a more simplistic and easy to digest mobile design might be perfect for viewing on a mobile device, but may come off as too empty for the desktop version.

We also highly recommend mobile-first for your eCommerce site. Of all the things people did on their phones last year, mobile shopping was the fastest growing segment (up 54% year over year). To stay cutting edge in an industry that is so saturated, designing mobile-first is a bare minimum requirement for online businesses.

The proof is in the pudding

As part of a multifaceted CRO strategy, a mobile-first approach can help you stay cutting edge and see major lifts that you are looking for. At Brain Bytes Creative, our CRO program has embraced the mobile-first approach and put the new process and tips into practice. A great CRO success we’ve had was decreasing a client’s bounce rate by 10% for mobile and 15% for tablet by removing an alert bar that detracted from the user experience.

For another example of how the BBC approach to CRO can give your conversions a boost, check out this CRO Case Study and learn how we skyrocketed lead generation by 63.83%!

Agencies will be specialized enough to stay on top of trends like mobile-first. An agency can give you access to a team of experts and help you stay competitive and relevant. Here are some tips for choosing the right CRO agency for you.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new. Looking to give your conversion a lift? Brain Bytes Creative offers specialized conversion rate optimization services using funnel analysis, user flow optimization, heatmapping, session replays, form analytics, and optimization, and of course, A/B testing. Read more about our CRO Services or contact us here!

conversion rate optimization

CRO (conversion rate optimization) techniques and tools

  • Laurel
  • ON
  • November 1, 2018

A quick Google search for “conversion rate optimization tools” yields 25.2 million results (and counting). Skimming each of these articles would take 45,567 years. There’s no shortage of information when it comes to CRO — the internet is full of ads and articles. Perhaps rightly so, as CRO is one of the most high-impact strategies you can use to make your website traffic more profitable.

But if you’re new or new-ish to CRO, it’s hard to sift through the information out there and know where to start. The paradox of choice is a fact of our modern society. From the 36 brands of toothpaste available at your average supermarket to endless scrolling on dating apps, we have so many choices it can easily become paralyzing at worst and frustrating at best.

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My goal in writing this article is to outline everything you need to know to get started in CRO. I’ve distilled the most popular ideas out there into two succinct lists — techniques and tools — with some great jumping-off points.

Keep in mind CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) is a set of methods used in digital marketing to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert.

At a high level, there are five phases of the CRO process: scrutinizing, hypothesizing, testing, implementing and reporting. This article focuses heavily on scrutinizing and testing. I’ll summarize the best basic CRO techniques (scrutinizing), then share the pros and cons of the most popular CRO tools (testing).

The best basic CRO techniques

A quick note: Before you get started with these techniques, it’s a good idea to audit your site for basic UX best practices and “low-hanging fruit” — quick improvements that help a site convert better. After those changes have been implemented, move on to building your CRO process with these techniques.

CRO is focused on making the traffic you already have more profitable. The following techniques are ways to gain insight into user frustration and friction that keep users from converting.

Analyzing click maps. What we’re analyzing: Where users are clicking. Take note of any places where users are clicking on something (an image perhaps) thinking it is a button when it actually isn’t, and also any buttons that aren’t getting many clicks. Also notice which navigation terms, links, videos or other multimedia users are clicking.

Analyzing scroll maps. What we’re analyzing: How far users are scrolling. This gives us insight into how well the page aligns with user expectations and how engaging the content and design are.

Watching session replays. What we’re analyzing: Specific examples of user frustration. Session replays are useful for finding nuanced insights that would be overlooked when looking at other types of data.

Tracking goals in Google Analytics. What we’re analyzing: Whether and how often users complete specific actions. An example of a Goal would be signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form to request a demo.

Analyzing acquisition in Google Analytics. What we’re analyzing: Customer journeys. Acquisition shows us where users are coming from and how they’re finding our site. We can also see which pages they’re navigating to.

Comparing bounce rates across pages in Google Analytics. What we’re analyzing: Which pages users stay on, and which ones they bounce from. A page with a high bounce rate is not engaging or does not match what users are looking for.

Comparing mobile vs. desktop traffic in Google Analytics. What we’re analyzing: Which types of devices users are using to search your site. This will help prioritize testing efforts.

Analyzing forms & cart abandonment. What we’re analyzing: Where users are abandoning their carts, and which fields are taking them a long time to fill out.

Using customer feedback. What we’re analyzing: Survey data, reviews, customer service tickets, or insights from your sales team. Reviews are a good place to look for key value props and support tickets are a good place to learn about user frustrations.

The best CRO tools

These are some of the CRO tools and resources we’ve found most effective in our experience.

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We consider Google Analytics a given, as it compliments other CRO tools on this list and is the best source for quantitative data about your site!

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Pros: We love Freshmarketer and it’s the tool we use most here at Brain Bytes Creative. It’s a comprehensive CRO tool with excellent customer support.

Cons: Some users have run into complications when integrating with Magneto.

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Pros: Hotjar is another comprehensive CRO tool offering heat maps, click maps and session replays.

Cons: Users have run into issues with the surveys feature and with CSS integration.

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Pros: CrazyEgg is probably the most comprehensive tool when it comes to heat mapping, offering several different interfaces to suit your preferences.

Cons: Some users complain about the lack of pricing options.

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Pros: Kissmetrics is extremely comprehensive, and even offers email automation tailored to a user’s behavior.

Cons: Some users complain that the set up is not intuitive and the user interface could be friendlier.

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Pros: Optimizely is a comprehensive CRO tool with a simple interface.

Cons: Users complain that the pricing structure isn’t great for small businesses.

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Pros: Unbounce has an excellent user interface and customer support. You can create an AB test in a few clicks.

Cons: Users mention the pricing is a barrier for small businesses, and that the reporting is sometimes lacking.

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Pros: AB Tasty is an all-in-one CRO tool with great customer service.

Cons: Some users mention that you should to have technical knowledge and coding skills to get the most out of this tool.

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Pros: Usertesting.com gives you immediate feedback about your website from a panel of real people acting as users.

Cons: The audience is broader than your actual website’s audience.

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Pros: Google content experiments is a simple way to run AB and ABn tests.

Cons: This tool is good for testing but it does not provide robust insight into heat maps, scroll maps, session replays, etc.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article. Ready to give your conversions a lift? Brain Bytes Creative offers specialized conversion rate optimization services using funnel analysis, user flow optimization, heatmapping, session replays, form analytics, and optimization, and of course, A/B testing. Read more about our CRO services or contact us!

conversion rate optimization

How CRO (conversion rate optimization) can boost sales + leads for your startup

  • Laurel
  • ON
  • October 29, 2018

First things first — what is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a set of methods used to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert and become customers, or take the next step toward becoming customers (by requesting a demo, for example.)

You may have heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which focuses on driving traffic to your site. CRO focuses on taking traffic your site already has, and making it more profitable.

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A conversion is any action you want your user to take, moving them down the marketing funnel. Examples of conversions clicking a “buy now” button, requesting a demo, joining a mailing list, or even downloading a whitepaper. You can read more about Conversion Rate Optimization here.

In my “What is CRO?” article, I shared an example illustrating how CRO can impacts sales and leads. It went something like this:

Let’s say your website gets 10,000 visitors per month and your conversion rate is 4%. This means your site currently brings in 400 conversions each month. Now, let’s say our goal is to double that number.

Remember Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is focused on driving visitors to your site and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is focused on helping those users convert and conversion rate = the number of conversions (clicks, purchases, sign-ups etc.) divided by the number of visitors to your website.

If you rely on SEO alone, we will have to increase your monthly visitors from 10,000 to 20,000 to achieve our goal. But if we also use CRO to increase the percentage of visitors who convert, it’s much more feasible to double our sales. Increasing your conversion rate and monthly visitors each by 33% will lead to the same doubled conversions, and leave room for even further optimization.

Enough math. The point is, you can make the most of the traffic you already have while creating space for even further growth. Perfect for helping you reach aggressive sales goals in the startup space.

Does CRO matter for startups?

We all know certain things are true about startups. Long hours. Little sleep. Lots of coffee. An office culture so laid back and fun all your friends are jealous. You’re not a regular office. You’re, like, a cool office.

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Sorry, couldn’t resist.

A fun office and long hours aren’t the only things that define startup culture. Shoestring marketing budgets and a need for quick growth are also part of the deal.

This is where CRO comes in. If you’re deciding where to allocated limited funds, you should know that CRO is extremely cost effective. Because it takes traffic you already have and makes it more profitable, CRO efforts tend to have large ROIs. It’s easier to convert people who are already on your site into customers.

I like to think of a brick-and-mortar analogy. Investing in CRO is akin to setting up your store in a beautiful way and providing excellent sales associates to help shoppers find what they need. Other types of digital marketing like SEO or paid search could be likened to making your storefront beautiful or advertising around town in this analogy.

So, when should you invest in CRO to get the most bang for your buck? We recommend starting a CRO program 3-6 months prior to product launch. In the months leading up to the launch, the program should focus on making sure UX best practices and low-hanging fruit have been implemented across your site. Tracking of various conversion metrics and a deep analysis of your target audience should also be conducted during this time.

Then, once your product is launched, your CRO team (whether outsourced to an agency or in-house) should focus on scrutinizing your audience’s behavior through heatmaps, click maps, Google analytics data and goal tracking. The insights from the data scrutinization phase will inform which AB or ABn tests you launch first.

If your startup is following a growth hacking strategy, CRO will fit seamlessly into your efforts, as conversion optimization is cost effective and experimental by nature. If you’re into growth hacking, you may favor multivariate tests over traditional AB or ABn tests. Multivariate tests involve changing multiple variables at once instead of isolating each variable in its own test. While the results are not as precise (for example, if you see a lift in conversions, you won’t be able to pinpoint which change to attribute the lift to), they tend to run a lot faster than AB tests.

Note: Because it’s a buzzword and buzzwords are often misunderstood, I want to be explicit that when I say growth hacking, I’m talking about rapid experimentation across lots of marketing channels. In general, growth hacking includes experimentation across the marketing funnel, sales funnel and product development. In this context, I’m focusing on the marketing funnel, and more specifically the digital marketing funnel, where growth hacking can involve testing across many channels: social media, influencer marketing campaigns, email, paid search, website, etc.

CRO optimizations you can do yourself

Before working with an agency, there are certain CRO optimizations you can make for yourself, if you’d like. I’ll walk you through some UX best practices and some questions we ask at Brain Bytes Creative to help uncover “low-hanging fruit.” Finally, I’ll share a few metrics you should be tracking.

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Before we jump into these, I want to point out the distinction between UX and CRO. it’s important to remember CRO and UX Optimization are interrelated, but not quite the same.

Because CRO is experimental by nature, there are no “CRO best practices.” There are, however, UX best practices that will improve your user experience and will almost always lift conversions.

In general, we can define CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) as a set of methods used to in digital marketing to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert.

UX (User Experience) Optimization, on the other hand, is a set of methods used in digital marketing to improve a user’s perception of their online experience, including ease of use and efficiency.

UX best practices

Here are a few UX best practices to help you get started:

  • The conversion you’re designing for (a purchase, demo request, etc.) should be the most obvious call-to-action (CTA) on the page.
  • Revenue-driving CTA’s should be designed as buttons (as opposed to links or clickable images) and should contrast against the background color.
  • CTA copy should be clear and action-oriented.
  • Typography should be easy to read and hyperlinks should be a different color and underlined.
  • Forms should be optimized for conversions by removing any extraneous fields or any fields that cause users to pause before filling them out.
  • Trust points (industry awards, reviews, etc.) should be displayed prominently.
  • Read more on UX best practices…

Questions to uncover low-hanging fruit

Aside from implementing UX best practices, there are some questions you can ask yourself to uncover simple changes to improve your conversions. Keep in mind that each website has different users who behave differently. This is why CRO is experimental and allows you to optimize for your unique audience.

Low hanging fruit are optimizations which fix something on your site that is broken or very poorly designed. A low hanging fruit optimization will almost certainly lift conversions and can be implemented without AB testing. You may find that this list also sparks some ideas for AB, ABn or multivariate tests.

Website flow mapping is all about thinking of how users will navigate through your site. You add on layers of complexity as you think through how a user will navigate through every page of your website. Many website companies and their clients believe that people go to your homepage first. That could not be more wrong. People arrive on your site by searching Google for a specific keyword and land on a related page. This is why at our agency we see every page as its own “homepage.” By looking at your website holistically, we can control what happens when someone lands on any page and push them into a sales funnel where appropriate so they convert. The next time you are doing a web search, think about where you are landing. Take note. You’ll see that understanding how users navigate though the site is critical to conversions, goal completions, and revenue.

Here are some questions to help you uncover low hanging fruit:

  • Will a user understand your value prop as soon as they land on a page?  
  • Is your copy clear, easy to read and optimized for the target reader?  
  • Does the design guide the eye to areas we hope to emphasize?
  • Does the call-to-action stand out?
  • Look at how engagement metrics have changed over time. What can we learn?
  • Imagine you are the user. Would you choose us or a competitor? Why?
  • Read more on CRO low hanging fruit…

Metrics you should be tracking

These are the basics. If you don’t have these set up, stop and go do it now. Thank me later. There are all kinds of metrics to track, but be sure that at the bare minimum, you’re tracking these:

  • Goals in Google Analytics for revenue-driving conversions
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • New vs. returning users
  • Traffic and where it’s coming from (referral traffic)

When to hire an agency

I would never try to oversell CRO just to generate another lead. Many of us at Brain Bytes Creative are entrepreneurs ourselves. From food trucks (waffles! Fancy mac + cheese!) to video production companies , what can we say? We’re passion project people.

We’re transparent and we know what it’s like to build something from the ground up. So instead a CRO sales pitch, I’m going to share some “warning signs” that indicate you could heavily benefit from CRO, along with some tips for choosing an agency if you decide that’s the right decision for you.

I mentioned earlier that we typically recommend starting a CRO program 3-6 months prior to product launch.

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Ok, we know launching really looks more like this:

But what if you’re a more established startup?

While almost every site can benefit from CRO, there are some metrics that indicate you are a key candidate.

  • You are an ecommerce company (in this case, we always recommend having a CRO program).
  • You’ve recently seen sales or leads plateau.
  • Your site has high traffic but a relatively low conversion rate.
  • Your website has high cart abandonment rates.
  • Your site was designed more than a year or two ago and/or wasn’t designed with mobile and tablet users in mind.

If you decide to work with an agency, we’ve compiled some of our tips for choosing which agency to hire. You can read our full list here, but I’ve pulled out some that are most important for this context.

  • You should choose an agency that is credible and can provide case studies and testimonials.
  • Also, they should be data-driven, looking to data to inform each part of their strategy. You don’t want to work with an agency that relies on blind hunches.
  • Another thing that’s especially important for CRO is to find an agency that openly shares failures, takes risks, and knows how to fail well.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. Thanks for reading, and happy CROing!

Ready to give your conversions a lift? Brain Bytes Creative offers specialized conversion rate optimization services using funnel analysis, user flow optimization, heatmapping, session replays, form analytics, and optimization, and of course, A/B testing. Read more about our CRO services or contact us!

conversion rate optimization

UX (user experience) best practices + debunking the CRO best practices myth

  • Laurel
  • ON
  • October 22, 2018

If you’re new to CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization), you may be Googling around for some best practices to follow. If you’ve been doing conversion optimization for a while, you may be thinking “Wait — I’ve heard there’s no such thing as CRO best practices.”

So which is it? Are there best practices for CRO or not?

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The truth is that CRO is experimental — which means it can’t be standardized in a way that creates a simple set of best practices.  A best practice is one that can be considered the standard or most correct practice across the board for a particular industry, and with CRO, we’re always solving to find the most effective combination of copy, layout and design for a particular website experience. Conversion optimizations uncovered by analysis and testing will be specific to your website and audience, so they’re not really best practices. There is no standard right way to optimize for conversions.

But don’t bounce quite yet! There are some design-related practices that will almost always help improve your user experience. In most cases these will also increase conversions. Let’s call them UX best practices. Additionally, most sites have “low-hanging fruit” — quick improvements that help a site convert better. Our CRO team has some key questions we ask ourselves when working with new websites here at Brain Bytes Creative to help uncover low-hanging fruit. You may find them to be good jumping-off points. In this article I’ll share our top UX optimizations as well as the questions we use to uncover low-hanging fruit. Together, these should be great starting points if you are new to CRO or simply looking for a more structured approach to your CRO practice.

UX best practices

Imagine the worst online buying experience you’ve ever had. What were you trying to buy? What frustrated you? Maybe you had to click around a lot to find what you were looking for. Maybe you found the product page only to see that it was sold out. Or maybe right after you landed on the site, a large popup — my favorite *this is sarcasm* —  asked you to join an email list. Did you bounce and go to a competitor site or stick around to buy the product? Even if you stuck around, I’m guessing your brand loyalty probably decreased.

My point is this: CRO is closely tied to UX because the percentage of users who convert on a website is related to their perception of their online experience. Still, it’s important to remember CRO and UX Optimization are not quite the same. They’re interrelated but distinguishable.

In general, we can define CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) as a set of methods used to in digital marketing to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert.

UX (User Experience) Optimization, on the other hand, is a set of methods used in digital marketing to improve a user’s perception of their online experience, including ease of use and efficiency.

A solid approach to CRO encompasses UX best practices, so let’s dive in.  (Please note: This is not a comprehensive list of UX best practices by any means, just some we come across often in our CRO analysis.)

  • Design hierarchy is key. Think about what your users see first when they land on your page. Make sure to include your most compelling value props and your main call-to-action (CTA) above the fold.
  • The conversion you’re designing for (a purchase, demo request, etc) should be the most obvious CTA on the page. Any other CTA’s (signing up for a newsletter or watching a video for example) should be smaller and call less attention to themselves.
  • The most important conversion-oriented CTA’s should be designed as buttons (as opposed to links or clickable images) and should contrast against the background color.
  • Make sure your user is not overwhelmed by too many CTA’s or possible click paths. Include those they are likely looking for, and those you want them to take.
  • Typography should be easy to read and hyperlinks should be a different color and underlined. (Making this one change increased clicks by 24.93% for one of our clients.)
  • CTA copy should be clear and action-oriented.
  • Above-the-fold copy should speak to value props, be easy to read and be action-oriented.
  • Forms should be optimized for conversions by removing any extraneous fields or any fields that cause users to pause before filling them out.
  • Contact info (support, phone number, form, etc) should be easily available.
  • Trust points (industry awards, reviews, etc) should be displayed prominently.
  • The design should be simple to navigate; competing visual cues and districting elements should be minimized.
  • The content should be robust enough to give users all of the information they need before deciding to convert.

A quick note: There’s a lot of talk about testing in the CRO world. This is because each website’s audience is different. The practices mentioned in this section, however, aren’t really things you need to AB test. If your site is missing any of these, go right ahead to implementation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that UX optimization generally favors the most beautiful design, because beautiful designs improve a user’s perception of their online experience. However, not all beautiful sites convert well. And in fact, the highest converting sites are often not the most beautiful. I always think of Amazon, one of the highest converting sites ever.

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It’s not bad, but I can think of other sites with more beautiful designs. Apple is a UX dream come true.

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So is Epicurious, winner of a 2018 Webby award.

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This is where the distinction between UX and CRO becomes important. Sometimes beautiful sites convert well, but sometimes they don’t. From a CRO perspective, you should think about usability first and beauty second.

Uncovering “low-hanging fruit”

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Aside from implementing UX best practices, there are some questions you can ask yourself to uncover simple changes to improve your conversions. Keep in mind that each website has different users who behave differently. (Note: This list is not meant to be comprehensive, just some great questions to ask as you begin optimizing homepages, landing pages and other high-converting pages.)

  • Will a user understand your value prop as soon as they land on a page?  
  • Is your copy clear, easy to read and optimized for the target reader?  
  • Does the design guide the eye to areas we hope to emphasize? Does the call-to-action stand out?
  • What is important to the customer? How can you back this up with qualitative (survey) data, quantitative (analytics) data, heatmap and click data?
  • Look at how engagement metrics, such as bounce and click rate, have changed over time. What can we learn?
  • Is the sale simple, medium or complex? Does the amount of info presented on the page reflect the complexity of the sale?
  • Imagine you are the user. Would you choose us or a competitor? Why?

Thank you for reading! Hope this article was helpful. Looking to give your conversions a lift? Brain Bytes Creative offers specialized Conversion Rate Optimization services using funnel analysis, user flow optimization, heat mapping, session replays, form analytics, and optimization, and of course, A/B testing. Click here to read more about our services or contact us!

conversion rate optimization

How to choose a CRO agency

  • Belle
  • ON
  • October 18, 2018

Plenty of users visit your site. But few convert. You’re considering investing in a conversion rate optimization agency because you know CRO is a great way to support your ongoing marketing efforts like paid search, SEO, and social media. And after all, it’s easier to convert traffic you already have than brand new traffic. There’s no doubt that investing in CRO can lead to huge payoffs.

Do I need an agency?

So where do you start? You’re managing a budget and want to allocate resources to get the most for your money. A few options for running your CRO initiatives are to hire an in-house specialist, bring on an external consultant or engage with an agency. Obviously, there are pros and cons to each of these options. With an in-house specialist, you’ll have someone to look after your CRO efforts around the clock, but it’s likely the most expensive option. An external consultant will likely be more cost effective, but you only get the expertise of one professional. The benefit of hiring an agency is that you’ll have access to a team of experts without having to hire someone full-time.

What to look for

This article focuses on the third option: hiring an agency. A partnership with a good CRO agency can boost sales or leads tremendously. Recently at Brain Bytes Creative, we partnered with an orthodontics supplier to boost leads by 63.83% in less than a year.

But picking the right agency is key. We’ve all heard horror stories or had the unfortunate experience of working with bad agencies. You can set yourself up for success by asking the right questions. When choosing a CRO agency, you’ll want to look for a few key traits outlined below.

Is this agency credible?

You’ll want to request a CRO case study to see proof of ROI. Make sure that they’ve been around the block for increasing conversions. Request that the agency walks you through their case studies so you’ll be able to explain the benefits and potential activities associated with the program to your key stakeholders. Ask about the types of clients that they’ve worked with to ensure they’ve covered industries like yours.

Are they data fanatics?

If you’re approached by an agency that swears they’ll uplift conversions on your site but doesn’t have any data to back it up… RUN! You need an analyst on your case to take a fine tooth comb through every piece of website data you have from google analytics, heatmaps, session replays, A/B tests, etc. Every optimization or recommendation you see should be backed up with a data point. TL;DR: Don’t go with the crew that only talks about best practices.

Will this agency be an honest partner?

Because CRO relies heavily on testing and monitoring results, you want to work with an agency you can trust. You’ll want to find an agency that shares the good and the bad. Your CRO agency should be upfront about the red down arrows and present solutions to affect positive change. Be wary of agencies that are only showing you green arrows and picks and chooses what they show you. For example, sometimes tests don’t return the conversion uplifts we’re hypothesizing to see. It’s better to take away marketing insights and analyze why a test may have “failed” rather than push forward with a failed test that you think will create an uplift just because you’ve invested resources into it.

Are they responsive?

You need a CRO team behind your brand that is quick to respond. Because marketing initiatives can change at the drop of a hat, you need an agency that readily available to meet multiple times a month and send update emails in between. Its crucial the agency is there to listen to new marketing developments and to share their progress. For example. If an A/B test is launched that has been previously approved but a new stakeholder steps in and says that it misaligned with their brand, a CRO specialist needs to be able to take the test down on the fly! Your website is a huge revenue stream that can’t be any less than perfect.

Key questions to ask potential CRO agencies

Here’s a list of questions to ask as you vet potential agencies. They’re designed to help you uncover potential problems and make sure they’re legitimate. Hope this serves as a good jumping-off point as you begin your vetting process.

1. How do you determine what pages to prioritize?

Understanding how a prospective CRO agency identifies and prioritizes problems to solve is key to evaluating how they think and approach the job. While there is no one right answer, the wrong answers will surface pretty quickly. A good agency’s conversion optimization approach will be grounded in data and focused on investigating and solving the biggest problems or opportunities hiding within the data. To this end, consider sharing temporary analytics access and asking the agency to walk you through what they are seeing before signing a contract. You are looking for logic, curiosity and a drive to find the biggest win possible. Bad answers are those that are overly vague, hiding in jargon, or seem over-reliant on gut assumptions or feelings versus data.

2. Can you share some case studies highlighting your work that include ROI you’ve brought to your clients?

Website flow mapping is all about thinking of how users will navigate through your site. You add on layers of complexity as you think through how a user will navigate through every page of your website. Many website companies and their clients believe that people go to your homepage first. That could not be more wrong. People arrive on your site by searching Google for a specific keyword and land on a related page. This is why at our agency we see every page as its own “homepage.” By looking at your website holistically, we can control what happens when someone lands on any page and push them into a sales funnel where appropriate so they convert. The next time you are doing a web search, think about where you are landing. Take note. You’ll see that understanding how users navigate though the site is critical to conversions, goal completions, and revenue.

3. What kind of research will you conduct to gain insights on my website?

You’ll want to hear answers like A/B testing, session replay tracking, google analytics review, and mobile and desktop site analysis. Form analysis and cart abandonment analysis are also important, especially if you are in the ecommerce space. Customer journey analysis, including landing pages, referral traffic, session duration and bounce rate analysis are also key techniques in any CRO strategy.

4. To what extent do you rely on data versus hunches or gut assumptions?

You want to work with a data obsessed agency. You want to know that data leads the approach to determining key challenges and opportunities, as well as measuring and reporting results. But there is some room for instincts in this game. Instincts and experience are key for determining the hypothesis once the data has revealed a problem. The data may lead you to the problem page and area, but it takes a combination of experience, logic, and user empathy to develop a meaningful hypothesis for why the issue is occuring. So yes, data will take you to the promise land, but an experienced and intuitive CRO consultant will get you there much faster.

5. What is your CRO process?

Strong answers will include some variation of the following process: research, analysis, experimentation and reporting. Conversion rate optimization is about finding meaningful challenges to conversion and overcoming them. Research and analysis is key to figuring out what the opportunity is and hypothesize on how to fix it. Experimentation refers to designing and implementing an experiment that will test the hypothesis in a meaningful and conclusive way. Reporting is about sharing the results of the experiment, articulating the resulting recommendations, and pointing out any additional insights uncovered on the journey.

6. What kinds of tools do you use?

Your agency should use a mix of conversion tools or a conversion suite and definitely Google Analytics. Using heatmaps, clickmaps, session replays and goal tracking in google analytics are a non-negotiable.In addition to goal tracking, a reputable agency should be analyzing bounce rates, exit rates, landing pages, referrals, and forms in Google Analytics. Aside from quantitative data, be sure to ask about qualitative data like surveys and user testing. Check out a few of the CRO tools and softwares we’ve played with and reviewed here.

7. What is included and NOT included in the CRO program? What expectations do you have of the client and/or what resources will need to be purchased separately.

CRO often requires A/B testing, copywriting, design, and some development support. A full service agency should be able to provide these services but you’ll want to ensure you know what is included in the program costs. Some agencies provide recommendations for your development team after A/B testing with light copywriting and design. As development costs can range in technicality you’ll find most of the time the agency will not include that in their program costs or will offer it as a separate project once uncovering key insights for change from A/B testing. Knowing how much involvement and extra costs associated with the program is important before you begin your engagement.

Thanks for reading, hope this article helps you find the perfect CRO agency or solution. If you have any questions about CRO or agencies, drop us a line!