Helping an Online Retailer Turn Visitors Into Customers with Conversion Rate Optimization

Once SEO efforts rope in potential customers, are they actually buying, subscribing, or downloading? Find out how we used CRO to increase ecommerce sales for one customer.

OPTIMIZE ORGANICALLY: HELPING AN ONLINE RETAILER TURN VISITORS INTO CUSTOMERS

Search engine optimization (SEO) efforts really paid off for one of our long-time clients, but that was just one piece of their growth puzzle. They had plenty of site traffic but corresponding purchases left some room for improvement.

We knew that conversions – turning site visitors into customers – were the end goal, and that conversion rate optimization (CRO) is what would get us there. But from that first realization to our client’s sales success, there were quite a few steps to take.

WHY IS CONVERSION RATE OPTIMIZATION IMPORTANT?

SEO is still great, right? It sure is, and regardless of how tactics shift, driving site traffic will always be a top priority. But once SEO efforts rope in potential customers, are they actually buying, subscribing, or downloading? 

This is conversion, and this is the end goal. And though conversions could be any number of interactions – subscribing, following a social media account, submitting a form or survey, requesting a quote, etc. – for our client, we were specifically looking to increase ecommerce sales.

When we looked at our client’s stats we saw plenty of potential. We asked ourselves: 

  • What prompts potential clients to buy?
  • Could we change a feature that would encourage purchasing?
  • How could we test our theories and measure results?

To start off, we made sure our client was ok with us making small changes to their site. They were on board and so we got to work.

OPTIMIZED TESTING - STEP-BY-STEP

When we set about gathering information for our client’s CRO game plan, we paid attention to how users operated on their site. We noted when they spent time looking at a product page but didn’t purchase, or when they moved items to the cart but never took the next step. 

Besides making sure that the site was easy to navigate and mobile-friendly, we needed to determine whether changing any site features would affect users’ behavior. That would take some testing. 

Our team first had to determine if it made sense – financially and logistically – to make site changes. Everything lined up and our goal became strategically plotting a course from site visitor to confirmed customer. 

CRO tweaks can range from complex to basic. After preliminary research we landed on the add-to-cart button as the best first feature to test. We wanted to know whether changing the color of the button would influence site visitors to seal the deal. 

Data was gathered according to our preset specs, analyzed to determine whether a certain color influenced customers, and a winner was then declared. We took those results, shared them with our happy customer, and implemented the change on the site.  

UNBIASED TEST RESULTS

Changing the color of a button could seem silly, insignificant, or incidental. And going in, we didn’t know what to expect. But when final test results showed that changing the button’s color earned the client a 138% increase in revenue for users tested, everyone took note – we were sold.

Which color won the race? It wasn’t green, the international sign for go, go, go, but a happy, sunny yellow. We were surprised too. Yellow wasn’t anyone’s first guess, but the test results were clear: they specifically showed a 12% increase in conversion rate when compared to the original site.

Now we want to be clear: these results were specific to this test, for this client, on one tiny feature of their website – they cannot be applied with a broad stroke. Drilling down into details and utilizing testing tools is the key to unlocking hidden data. This is why we always suggest pulling in an expert who can run meaningful tests and effectively analyze data outputs. 

CRO LESSONS LEARNED

Our biggest takeaway from this process was to test, test, and test some more. Every site, company, and industry will appeal to different folks. And every person out there has their own unique preferences and tendencies – the variables really stack up. As SEO brings more folks to any given site, it’s clear that ongoing testing is the only way to know what appeals to this growing, diverse group.  

It’s also pretty freeing to know that there are no predetermined rules here. There is no shortcut to results – testing is a must-do. That scratches our experimental itch. It also ensures that when a change is made it’s not based on opinion, fleeting trends, or what a competitor is doing.

That makes our actions more direct, and it enables us to overcome biases with data. If a business owner is especially proud of their site’s design, it’s easy for them to become blind to areas for improvement. But clear test results ring louder and more true. That is the practical beauty of CRO, and why we’re such a strong proponent for testing.

Of course these tests can’t tell us why a site visitor acts the way they do. But we can definitely find out what works for a specific site and company. We also found that starting small is the best way to get a handle on results while still gaining insight into how to improve conversion and increase sales.

This was our client’s first venture into CRO, but it won’t be their last. We’ve spotted other areas that are ripe for development, especially on the mobile front.

USE SEO AND CRO FOR POWERFUL OPTIMIZATION RESULTS

They are very different concepts, but CRO and SEO end up holding hands in any strong digital marketing plan. Site traffic from SEO is key, but converting visitors into paying customers is the real goal. And purchases are priority, but without the right volume of site visitors, sales goals are always out of reach. 

CRO testing can also help to pinpoint an ideal audience, targeting SEO efforts to this group. More visitors won’t help a company’s bottom line if they aren’t likely to purchase the website’s offerings. But once SEO gets those just-right visitors to a site, a solid CRO approach encourages them to interact. 

Clearly, SEO and CRO work best together and should be two arms of the same digital marketing package for any company. If a company only sells online – like our client – then it’s an absolute must. 

DIY DECISIONS

CRO could sound like just another way for marketing firms to make money. It might even seem gimmicky to some. But here’s the bottom line: for what our client spent on our CRO services, they saw a real-life increase in sales.

Maybe lightbulbs are going off and the CRO train is sounding like the way forward. A word of warning: for CRO to work, realize that data is king. Without clear metrics and skilled analysis, decisions become arbitrary and are often ineffective. 

The average business owner is working with a limited bandwidth. They won’t have the combined marketing expertise, product access, and time and energy needed to successfully run a host of tests, let alone implement results and strategize for the future.

That’s why it’s smart to work with a pro whose job it is to understand CRO, inside and out. They’ll know how to assess goals and set up tests. They’ll also be equipped to gather, analyze, and tease out the final data set. A dedicated digital marketing partner can then use test results to find actionable steps that will lead to growth.

A PARTNER FOR OPTIMIZATION SUCCESS

With this client specifically, testing ended up boosting sales and started a ball rolling. We’ve only scratched the surface, but what we learned we had to share. Every business that is operating online these days absolutely needs to be implementing CRO strategies. SEO is key, but CRO gets a business where it needs to be – making money and supporting further growth.

Pinning down the whys and hows of conversion is the next new frontier for this client and for all ecommerce businesses. Here at Alt Media Studios (AMST) it’s quite literally our job to both understand and successfully implement conversion rate optimization solutions for our clients. And as a certified Google partner we are ideally positioned, with powerful tools at the ready.

Working with a pro takes a load off of busy business owners and lets them concentrate on what they do best. It’s also a sure way to yield actionable results that can be used as the basis for ongoing, intuitive marketing strategies. 

IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO BUILD YOUR OWN CRO SUCCESS STORY, REACH OUT AND LEARN HOW AMST CAN HELP

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