This post comes from Kate Morris, a former Distilled consultant who has recently upped-sticks in search of new adventures in Austin, Texas.
Want to sound like a total badass? Talk about CRO (conversion rate optimization) in your next client or marketing team meeting. It’s one of those power acronyms people love to throw around, but it really is a fantastic process to go through to convert more of the traffic your site or your client’s site is already getting. It’s an extension of digital marketing and SEO — the next logical step after your technical recommendations have been completed and content marketing is getting going.
CRO is great when you are “there” in terms of traffic, but need more out of the traffic. The things you can learn from CRO can impact incoming traffic by boosting natural search performance via having better loved and performing pages. It’s the anti-Panda tactic.
But hold your horses. Before CRO can happen, goals have to be set and there needs to be a benchmark to set those goals. Many people start CRO without knowing what goals they are testing toward. It doesn’t matter if you are working in GA, Omniture or any other analytics platform, what matters is defining the goals and tracking the KPIs.
What is it that leads to a paying customer for you?
This is the essential question. Do you know your customer funnel? What about all of the touch points on your website? By touch points I mean all of the things on your website beyond a form or a purchase that lead to a user becoming a customer. It’s time to sit down and define all the things people can do on your website that lead to them becoming a customer.
First, start with the touch points of which you are already aware.
Thank You/Confirmation Pages
These are the easy ones, but some contact forms can go untracked. Talk to your developers.
What forms or purchase processes lead to a thank you or confirmation page?
How many versions of a confirmation page are on the site and are you tracking them all?
This isn’t about your standard contact us forms. This check is about all past contest entry forms, old newsletter requests, anything that has been added to the site in the past and might still be lurking around.
Bonus: While you are at it, check to see if those confirmation pages are indexed. Sometimes there is a page that is forgotten about over time and that sneaks into the index. This page should at least be NOINDEX’d.
Not every input field or form has a thank you page, so it’s best to run through the site to ensure that you know everything a user can potentially fill out. If there are input fields that exist without a thank you page, make sure you are tracking the click of the submission button. It’s not a perfect measurement (what is really?), but it’s better than nothing.
Moving to the Next Level
Now that you know what is already out there, it’s time to think through what else is missing from your program. We are not just talking about the website. You should spend your time defining the whole customer experience and how that relates to your website.
Customer Funnel and Touch Points
What is your standard cycle for a lifetime customer? How do they find out about you? When do they hit the site in all of this and when do they change into a retained customer? This is your customer funnel. It helps you see what your customer touch points are. Once you have your funnel, you can translate that into a touch point funnel.
First, think about why a customer might contact you. Typically the answers include: purchasing, customer service questions, returns and exchanges, requesting more information, and complimenting or complaining about your business.
Map out every time a potential customer would interact with your brand at every point in the customer funnel. Below is a list we made for a client.
Now that you know what the touch points are, check to ensure you are tracking each one of those touch points. Of all the ways people can interact with the brand, there are many that will be offsite (social interactions, affiliate, other advertising). The points we are interested in are those in which the user interacts with the site.
What do you want them to do on the site?
Now that you have defined everything that is there, what is missing? You know your customer funnel and touch points online and off. Before you start testing, define what pages you want to test and then define what you want them to accomplish on those pages. Look for the holes in the touch point funnel, identify ways to track those items, and get to testing!
We are not talking the whole site here, just a few target pages to test. These should typically be new pages, or your top traffic pages. But know what you want to test, what part of the funnel it is, and what you want the user to do. Once you have that, the tests will be easier to run and prove ROI.
Thanks to Kate for this guest post. We hope you found it useful. If you’d like to learn more about this area of online marketing, take a look at our recent post on statistical significance for CRO.