Driving traffic to a website is a tricky and often an expensive business. While many new business owners appreciate the need for visitors, they often struggle to comprehend the nature of user experience (UX) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). This is a mistake. The time, effort, and expense that is often invested in getting traffic to a given website can be wasted if it is poorly designed.
A website that provides a poor user experience can also harm any efforts made to gain traction on the Google and Bing search engine results pages. For example, page load speed and mobile UX are both used directly by Google as ranking factors.
Conversion Rate Optimization Essential Principles
Listed below are some essential principles of CRO. Anyone designing a commercial website should keep them in mind during the planning and delivery of a website.
Each page should load as quickly as possible. Use the Google Speed Test and GTMetrix to see how well your site performs. If a site takes too long to load, you will lose visitors quickly to competitors.
Google now uses a “Mobile-First Index,” and many of your visitors will likely be on mobile devices. If the site does not provide a good UX for mobile users, your Google rankings and your conversion rate will suffer.
Make sure that visitors can easily navigate your website and find what they are looking for.
The hero section is usually at the top of the homepage. Within 3 seconds, it should be instantly clear what the website offers. Include a clear image that shows what you do and a strong headline that also says what you do. Some websites still use ‘sliders’ that rotate pictures and headlines, but studies have shown that these tend to hurt conversion rates.
Benefits & Features
It’s important to outline how your product or service solves a problem. Take 2 or 3 benefits, make an icon for each benefit, and write a description of each.
Features are usually regarded as less critical than benefits, but they are also important for CRO. List up to 10 features and display them on the page, but lower down. You can list these as bullet points.
Social Proof – Reviews & Case Studies
Use review platforms such as TrustPilot and embed their widget onto your site, near the hero section. You should also add individual case studies with images and videos of the person giving the testimonial.
“Trust signals” such as awards and qualifications should also be added near the hero section. These should be in the format of images or icons so that the visitor can see them immediately.
Average review scores from third-party platforms are often prominently displayed on webpages to convey trust. Only use review scores if they are good! If you have an average review score lower than 4 out of 5, check your competitors’ review scores are. If they are higher than your score, carefully consider whether it is a good idea to include an average review score widget. It may damage a user’s trust rather than enhance it.
Using a tool such as Google Optimize or VWO, you can easily split test a page’s design. For example, you may want to try a different headline or another image in the hero section. You can show 50% of your visitors one picture and 50% of your visitors an alternative image. After you have had several visitors (at least a few hundred to gain some statistical significance), you can compare how the two designs performed in terms of conversions and time on site.
CRO Tips for the Homepage
For a small business, the homepage is usually the most visited page. With this in mind, a good UX and CRO are essential. The homepage aims to provide a good UX, make a good impression in terms of your brand, and either push visitors to a product or service page.
In terms of UX, the visitor should be reassured that he/she is on the right website and that the site has when he/she is looking for. You can outline your service(s) or products with a good headline while stating your unique or strong selling points.
If you offer multiple services, for example, phone answering and live chat (like Moneypenny does), the goal of the homepage is to usually move the visitor to a specific page. It can help provide a clear headline, with a clear image in the header that outlines what you do. There are often ‘buttons’ within or near the top of the page, designed to take the visitor to the desired page for the service they want.
Many companies have a main flagship product or service that generates a large percentage of a site’s revenue. In this situation, the main product would usually be given prominence above all the others on the homepage.
Looking at Ring.com, they have multiple products, but their main product has a much greater emphasis on the homepage. At the time of writing, the “Ring Alarm” takes up all of the homepage header, while other products are placed further down the page and take up much less page real-estate.
Another way to drive the most profitable sales and leads can be to dedicate almost the entire homepage to your main product or service. If 80% of your customers, for example, want to buy decking, but you also sell sheds, it can be a good idea to dedicate the homepage to decking, with a sidebar or footer link to sheds or “other products.” You don’t want to confuse or put off your ‘bread & butter’ customers, who provide your business’s foundation.
CRO Tips for Landing Pages
A landing page is usually a product or service page. For example, you might have a homepage for your construction company and several landing pages for each service – bricklaying, roofing, plastering, etc.
As for the homepage, the landing is crucial. Marketing expert Neil Patel states that you need to include your value proposition in the header. The attention span of a human is so small that you need to capture a visitor’s attention in the headline. People won’t read the rest of the page if the headline does not appeal to them.
The headline should be short and to the point. Ideally, it should also make a statement and be around six words.
Visual focus – a headshot, product shot, or even a video. Something people can focus on. If you have too much text, the conversion rate will drop.
Features and benefits are, as ever, essential. Remember to emphasize the benefits. Explain why someone should use or buy your product or service – as this is the solution to their problem. Research your target market, find out what problems they have and how your product helps them – for example, saves time, reduces overheads, helps you to focus, etc.
Have one clear “Call to Action.” A call to action is usually a button with text that says, “Add to Cart’, “Inquire Now,” or “Learn More.” You can use multiple CTA buttons, but they don’t tend to work as well. You can learn more about CTA buttons in this Wordstream.com article.
Generally speaking, websites as such should be clean, simple, visually appealing, and easy to ‘scan’ and interpret. Begin by looking at competitors and analysing their designs. Once your website is live, test everything using split testing to ensure that you make data-driven decisions.