If you want a higher return on your hard-earned traffic, you need to get a higher number of visitors to take the actions that you desire.
Pretty obvious, I know.
But boosting your conversion rates isn’t about just split-testing pages.
Not about tweaking your button color, or moving your opt-in box above the fold. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is about…
- Finding out why visitors aren’t converting
- Fixing your site – or site elements – to make them convert
- Nothing else
Why Your Website Needs A CRO Audit
The most attempts at increasing conversions fail because people try to cut-and-paste conversion practices from other websites.
As shown in a previous article on the blog, unless the “best practices” are tested in the context that’s relevant to your audience, it’s worthless.
If you’re gambling for greater conversions, it will never lead to positive results. The solution?
A CRO Audit.
A full audit of your website and traffic sources is crucial to identifying what’s sabotaging your conversions.
In fact, without a CRO audit, you don’t stand a chance.CRO is finding out why visitors don’t become customers and fixing it.Click To Tweet
It’s like a doctor operating on a patient without knowing the problem – so he resorts to using random tools. That’s a recipe for disaster, don’t you think?
In this article, you’ll get the clear and complete structure of a conversion rate optimization audit along with helpful tutorials and tips to help you achieving your conversion goals.
Getting a CRO audit done on your site can cost thousands of dollars: and after this post, you’re going to know how to do it for free. So please treat this information like it’s worth thousands.
Let’s get started.
Conversion Rate Optimization Audit – Structure and Tips
1. Business Goals
Before you start your audit, get clear on what you want from it.
For example, let’s say you’re an eCommerce store who sells health products. Email marketing gives you the best ROI and sales. In this case, more subscribers equals more sales and profit.
Your main conversion goal can be to increase the number of visitors who subscribe to your list. From here, you can start analyzing and testing your current pop-up boxes, opt-in forms, and opt-in incentives to find what drives the most sign ups.
Setting up Google Analytics goals will help you in this phase. Goals can be applied to:
- Certain pages or screens users visit
- How many pages/screens they view in a session
- How long they stay on your site
- The events they trigger while on-site.
Every goal can even have a monetary value, so you can see how much that conversion is worth to your business.
To set up your goals, follow these steps:
- Go to your Google Analytics standard reports
- Click on the “Admin” button in the top right
- Click “Goals”
- From one of the Goal sets, click “+ Goal” to set up a new goal.
You’ll have to name your goal first. Make sure it is clear and intuitive enough to be instantly remembered.
The “active” or “inactive” options allow you to toggle whether a goal is functioning or not. If you want to turn a goal off, choose “inactive.”
[su_note note_color=”#fbe095″]Are you running A/B tests, popups or surveys on your site with Omniconvert? Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up goals using Omniconvert.[/su_note]
2. User experience (UX) Audits
“User experience matters a lot. More than most people realize. The best designed user experiences get out of the way and just help people get sh*t done. Less is more. If you have to explain it, you’ve already failed.” – Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of Fab.com.
UX describes the total experience that your website created for the users. This transcends mere design and includes how intuitive your site is to use, how fast your site is, how your site feels when used, and how much friction is encountered.
A site may look beautiful, but if users feel it loads too slow or that the information is unclear, then the UX is bad.
Peter Morville created the user experience honeycomb to describe the most important pieces of the UX puzzle:
- Useful: How useful is your website? What goal does it help users to achieve? The more use it provides to visitors, the better the user experience.
- Usable: If going from one page to the next feels unnatural or confusing, you’ve got a problem.
- Desirable: Yes, the design must be practical, easy to use, and efficient. But that shouldn’t lead to creating a dull website that fails to appreciate the power of images, brand image, identity, and emotional design elements.
- Findable: Users should easily find what they need/or want to do next. If they think about how to find it/do it, you’ve lost a visitor.
- Accessible: Just as buildings have elevators and ramps, websites should be accessible to people with disabilities.
- Credible: Before thinking of converting a visitor, they have to believe in your credibility.
- Valuable: Your site must add to to the bottom line and leave customers satisfied.
When conducting your UX audit, the honeycomb will serve as a useful checklist to guide your testing.
3. Analytics Audit
Garbage in, garbage out…right?
If your website analytics isn’t accurate, all the rest of your results will be corrupted beyond recognition. And you’d have wasted months and months accumulating crap data, for nothing.
That’s where auditing your analytics comes in.
Auditing your data ensures that your results are accurate, and helps save a ton of time down the line.
To start off, let’s look at conducting a Google analytics health check. The Google analytics health check is designed to answer the following:
- Are you collecting enough data?
- Is the data you’re collecting credible?
- Are there any technical difficulties that need to be addressed?
Common Analytics Tracking Code Issues
Incorrect filter settings
- Incorrect filter settings can affect the data you see, and can inadvertently filter all of your data from your reports. In most cases, this occurs when users apply multiple “Include” filters.
Using multiple instances of the Classic Analytics tracking snippets
Using incorrect snippet and/or viewing the wrong account or view
- If you track multiple websites and/or have access to multiple Analytics accounts, you might be using the snippet from another account and/or view. Make sure you are viewing the correct account and view. See Finding the Tracking Code for more information.
Common Tag Manager Issues
Incorrect filter settings
- Incorrect filter settings can affect the data you see, and can accidentally filter all of your data from your reports. In most cases, this occurs when users apply multiple “Include” filters.
- Check that you published your container after adding the Analytics tag. Changes made to a container do not take effect on a site until you publish the container. So, once you’ve added or edited tags, you’ll need to publish the container in order to make your additions and changes live on the site.
Wrong trigger configuration
- You might have set up a trigger expecting it to fire your tag, only to find the trigger is not firing based on the expected criteria. Double check the conditions you are targeting are actually present for the expected trigger behaviors. There are a lot of reasons why triggers aren’t firing, here’s a full list to help you troubleshoot.
Don’t drown your conversions and ruin your CRO audit with bad data. For accurate data:
- Create – or use – a Google Analytics Health checklist to review your setup.
- Go through your Account, Property, and View settings and ask yourself the questions above, and the ones listed in your checklist. Start from the most common issues and work your way down.
- New issues are like obsessed ex-lovers; they can always pop up. Be sure to review your checklist annually.
4. Qualitative research
Quantitative research – like analytics – uses numbers, statistics, measurements, and comparison to find out what’s happening. Qualitative research – like observing users in a usability study – uses observation and inquiry to dig out the answer to one question:
Qualitative research is:
- Who your customers are
- What your customers want
- The language your customers use
Through qualitative research, you can skyrocket the ROI of all marketing activities.
It allows you to create better test hypotheses, accurate personas, and pivotal changes in your website, copy, landing pages, customer service, value proposition because your actions are rooted in data that whispers the motivations of your customers.
There’s more than one way to collect qualitative data, but we’ve listed the best methods for CRO below:
Surveys grant you a deeper look into who your customers are, what they want, and what language they use when talking about you. They are also more likely to result in a response; research shows over 24.8% of customers are willing to complete surveys.
When users answer your surveys, their response becomes the basis for your new hypothesis, which you can test.
Tests that are based on user feedback will usually outperform tests that are based on what you read in someone else’s case study.
Every website is different. To create your first survey, follow this step-by-step tutorial that shows you how to create a survey with Omniconvert.
- User testing
Online-based usability tests allow researchers, designers, and marketers to understand why users perform certain actions. Users are prompted for feedback when browsing or after a particular action.
For example, when they decide to remove an item out of their basket, they’ll be asked what lead them to that action.
The best thing about user testing is that fact that you can create endless scenarios.
You can have users visit from different traffic sources, select various product categories, or buy different items. This, in turn, gives you a view of usability problems from a visitor’s perspective.
And if you’re worried about a specific page or element, you can always direct a constant stream of testers towards a page to analyze their behavior.
Research and analytics are instrumental for improving conversions. Trying to boost conversions without them is like trying to go on a trip without a guide: you’ll still see the same things, but without any context or clues to let you know why they matter.
Heatmaps can track the movement of a mouse across your web page, they can reflect where your visitors have clicked, or they can reflect how far a user has scrolled down a page. There are a few other ways heat maps can work, and there are different schools of thought on which ways are the most accurate.
Essentially, every type of heat map is trying to reflect where your visitor’s attention is on the page. Unlike Google Analytics, heat maps can show:
- Whether or not people are scrolling all the way down and consuming your content
- The exact links, words, or buttons people click on a given page
- The most popular portions of your web page
This makes them powerful tools for fixing hard-to-spot pain points, reducing friction, and boosting usability.
See our extensive guide on qualitative research for CRO for more information.
5. Data Collection
Now’s time to collect and organize our data into a comprehensive document.
Here’s a template we use to get the most relevant data:
It looks like a lot of sheets but once you understand what each dataset is for, this template will become a very powerful tool in your arsenal.
I’ll show you one-by-one what each of these sheets means. Basically, we have the following:
- Dashboard: This is the experiment prioritization part of the template, which we’ll explore at the end of this guide.
- Funnel: A bird’s eye view of your top segments. This is your “ideal” funnel that you’d like the user to go through.
- Where: List of your most important pages. This is helpful when running experiments (especially popups or surveys) that you don’t want to display on your entire website, but only on specific page types.
- To whom: How many users you have based on their type (new or returning), device, location, and medium.
The template is pretty straightforward and you’ll get what data you need to collect from your Analytics account just by looking at it.
[su_note note_color=”#fbe095″]Keep in mind that this template is 100% customizable, and we recommend you customize it to fit your needs. It is designed mostly for eCommerce websites in mind, but you can adapt it to fit your needs as a Publisher, SaaS or any other type of business.[/su_note]
6. Moving From Data To Hypothesis
After mining data, you’re going to start spotting patterns and trends. You’ll see where users encounter friction. But what’s next?
You can’t just magically wave your mouse over your screen and expect higher conversions (if only it were that easy!). But, you can turn that data into tangible results by forming a hypothesis to test.
Now, a hypothesis can be defined as:
A statement based on limited evidence that can be proved or disproved and is used as a starting point for further investigation.
Every single test that gets results is based on a good hypothesis that’s part of an A/B testing plan. Sometimes a test wins or loses. Regardless of the outcome, you still get to learn based on your hypothesis. This will lead to stronger hypotheses and better results.
The better your hypothesis, the higher the chances the suggested treatment will lift conversions. With a hypothesis, the goal is to pair identified problems with solutions that surface the desired outcome.
For example, here’s an identified problem: “It’s not clear what the product does for people. And they aren’t going to buy what doesn’t benefit them.”
“Let’s re-write product copy so it would be easy to understand what the product benefits are, and who it is for. We’ll also use better product pictures, and add social proof.”
“By clarifying the benefits of the product, improving the overall presentation, and adding social proof, people will relate to our product and understand it better. This will drive more purchases.”
So in this step, it’s all about identifying opportunities like this one.
Warning: Never test without a hypothesis. You can’t expect to learn how to get better results and stronger tests without forming hypotheses.
7. Prioritization & Timeline
Now that you identified enough problems and proposed solutions to increase your website’s conversion rate, it’s time to prioritize them based on their impact, cost, and ease of implementation, among other factors.
In this step we recommend the CRO Audit & Prioritization Template by Omniconvert:
Just sort the experiments based on the “Potential” metric.
8. Putting together a proposal
Note: Some of you reading this might be interested in optimizing your own site and you don’t need anyone’s approval. This is not for you. This is only for CRO
Specialists and agencies offering CRO services for their clients.
They say it’s all about presentation, and it’s true to a large extent.
Getting your experiment ideas approved doesn’t always happen right away, some of your ideas might get turned down or your client might request some changes to your experiment design.
If you only communicate your ideas through text, there’s also room to make them more appealing by communicating them visually.
We put together a Google Slides Template which you can steal and use with your own clients:
Using a professional template like this not only makes your proposal more visual and interesting, but it also shows your client that you put in extra work to communicate your ideas well with them.
Keep in mind organization politics and hierarchy, some clients might approve your experiments upfront while others, especially larger, international companies, might need to get approval from their manager or supervisor.
9. Learning & Further A/B testing proposals
Tests are just data-collection at the end of the day. There’s no win or fail, the only question you should ask is “is my hypothesis right or wrong?”
If you think about it, CRO is about being more data-driven. Data-driven is about not basing important decisions on your gut feeling. And by disproving a hypothesis, you are doing yourself (or your client) a favor by not implementing a change that would have a negative impact on your conversion rate.
To quote this post from ConversionXL:
And that is why starting your Conversion Rate Optimization efforts with an in-depth user research and an Analytics audit (as described in this post) is crucial.
What process do YOU follow when conducting a CRO Audit? Anything you’d like to add or comment on? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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