Before diving into the topic of CRO best practices, there is something I feel like I should mention.
Naturally, a conversion rate optimization agency or specialist is able to create an effective and relevant CRO program only upon conducting a thorough analysis of your website, traffic and user behaviour. Each business is different and has its own needs. This is why CRO specialists run in-depth audits of their clients’ websites after setting business goals and KPIs. Without this analysis, one is not able to create relevant A/B tests.
Nevertheless, just like any other industry, CRO also has its own set of best practices. If you’re new to conversion rate optimization and you want to start making changes to your website with minimal risk, you can start with the best practices.
Keep reading as we unfold CRO best practices which will help you kickstart your optimization process.
1. Keep Important Elements Above the Fold
The term ‘above the fold’ comes from the time when people used to read newspapers and editors would place the top story in the upper half of the front page. It was common knowledge that the story above the fold got the most attention.
Although times have changed, some practices are still the same. Online, above the fold, is the content visitors see first without scrolling down the page. This is why placing your most important elements above the fold makes sense – we assume that most visitors get to see this section.
The call-to-action button, your value proposition and a relevant image (or a video for that matter) are considered essential elements that need to be placed as high as possible in the visual hierarchy of the page. This way, a higher percentage of visitors would take action as a result of seeing/interacting with them.
It’s also important to avoid cramming the ATF area. As I’ve said before, only crucial elements are to be placed here. Clean, minimalist web design is preferred because it increases readability and upgrades user experience. The content in this area is the most visible content on your page, so make the most out of it! Write compelling copy that has the power to engage users right from the beginning.
CXL Institute does it nicely:
2. Write Actionable Copy
In conversion rate optimization, copy plays a major role. It is more important than you might think. Your website might look clean, with all elements in their place and an overall modern vibe. However, it’s no use if it’s not accompanied by relevant, engaging copy. We’re talking about copy that converts.
Everything from your value proposition to your product descriptions and even your FAQ page should be speaking about your brand and how people can relate to it. People need to feel that you offer a legit, effective solution to their problem, that your product/service can meet their needs.
Only by featuring engaging, persuasive and relatable copy you will be able to stand out from the crowd. A good copywriter knows how to speak to each visitor, not the entire audience. General terms and standard promises are no longer effective. Each customer needs to actually feel that the product you’re selling is made especially for him/her. You have to make it difficult for them to say ‘no’.
Here’s a pretty good example:
If you’re not familiar with the card game, you might find the copy a bit aggressive and even offensive. However, keep in mind that this is what the game is all about! The copy stays true to the brand and fans actually find it funny. It truly speaks their language and this works in the company’s favor.
3. Include Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Any sort of social proof is crucial to make yourself trusted by your audience. However, if you’re only just starting a business and you haven’t had time to collect reviews yet, don’t use fake testimonials! It’s never good to underestimate your visitors.
It’s been a while since people started using the Internet and it’s safe to say that at this point pretty much everybody knows how to discriminate between a real, authentic product review, and one that’s completely made up. As a rule of thumb, if something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true.
It’s recommended to use both five-star reviews and less flattering ones, so to speak. It’s important to be transparent and convey trust. Visitors can see right through you, so if something appears to be fishy, they’ll know it right away.
Here’s how the guys from Bizzabo chose to give credit to their customers:
Pretty cute, right?
4. You Need a Mobile Responsive Website
Amongst the CRO best practices you should never ignore is mobile responsiveness. Although mobile responsiveness is not something to neglect nowadays, you’d be surprised how many businesses focus on optimizing for desktop, while forgetting all about the mobile experience.
If most of your traffic comes from mobile devices, it becomes imperative to make sure that the mobile version of your website is both functional and user-friendly. If you don’t know how to check for this information, this article can get you started.
You might have a cutting-edge desktop design, but if buttons aren’t functional on mobile and it’s difficult for users to place an order or fill out a form, then you’re facing an issue that could seriously affect your conversion rate, especially if you have a significant amount of traffic coming via mobile devices.
If you didn’t focus on mobile until now, it’s time to get started! I might even go as far as saying that you should start your CRO process by making your website mobile responsive. That’s how important this is!
See how Dropbox has already taken care of this:
5. Reduce Form Fields
Numerous case studies have shown that when it comes to forms, less is more. Therefore, you could say that reducing form fields is one of the CRO best practices you should definitely keep in mind.
If you think about, it’s pretty intuitive, isn’t it? A long form can be quite intimidating, it takes more time to complete and it implies more focus on the user’s part. A short form, on the other hand, requires less effort and it’s easier to fill out.
Even if this does not generally apply to all businesses, depending on their goals, it’s still good to remember a couple of things about forms:
- A rule of thumb: never ask for more information than you actually need. Therefore, remove any fields that aren’t necessary and try to simplify form completion. The easier it is for a user to complete a certain task on your website, the higher the chance for them to convert.
6. Ensure Message Match Between the Ad and the Landing Page
As we’re getting closer to the end of this article, I’m starting to think that maybe I should’ve opened with this topic instead of saving it for the end.
I can’t even begin to stress out the importance of creating a relevant and dedicated landing page that delivers on the promises from the ad. I might even go as far as saying that this is the backbone of every successful conversion rate optimization program. The anatomy of a high-converting landing page is a topic that we’ve already written about. Click here if you’re curious to learn more.
Now, to get my message across I’ve taken the liberty to offer you an example from Asos, a clothing shop that sells both women and men apparel (see screenshot below).
Overall, it’s safe to say that the landing page stays loyal to the ad. The ad says ‘Discover the summer dresses range’ and the landing page is the ‘Women’s Summer Dresses’ category page. So far, so good.
However, there are a few exceptions. First of all, the ad promises me discounts of up to 70% off on products featured in the Outlet section. And if you visit the section, you can easily identify the promotion. The only problem with this is that I’m looking for a specific product – a summer dress – which is why a promotion in the Outlet section isn’t relevant to me. Discounts on summer dresses, on the other hand, could have been very helpful.
Moreover, I’ve read in the ad that I’ll be able to choose from a variety of dresses, including Animal Print, Kimono and many other styles. Even so, upon filtering the products by style, I can’t seem to find animal print dresses.
This is exactly what I was talking about earlier. If you set certain expectations, you have to deliver on your promise. Otherwise, you’ll be left with disappointed users whose next step is to check out the competition.
I would say that these CRO best practices are enough to get you started. If you take another look at these recommendations, you’ll realize that you have nothing to lose if you try them out.
So, have a go at it and let us know how it went in the comment section below!