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Comment: Four steps to optimising your website

Comment: Four steps to optimising your website
Sunday April 16 2017

Today’s customers expect their online experiences to be fast, simple and seamless. Website users who have a good experience are more likely to stay on your site and spend money. By Tasin Reza, CRO Director at RedEye

Google found that 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load, which is a pretty significant fact given that mobile accounts for more than 50% of all online sales, and sales via mobile grew 12.1% year-on-year according to IMRG Capgemini Sales Index - March 2017 report.
 
Meanwhile, overall online sales increased by 20.7% between February 2016 and February 2017, accounting for 15.3% of all retail spending, according to a recent report by the Office for National Statistics.
 
In this context, RedEye surveyed 900 digital marketers and e-commerce professionals to understand the use and impact of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) for their business, and found that 90% rate it as “crucial” or “important” to their overall digital marketing strategy.

Our methodology
Taking a step back to define a strategy is the first step to improving conversion rates. According to Econsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimisation Report 2016—produced in association with RedEye, the proportion of companies taking a structured approach to conversion rate optimisation has been growing steadily since 2009 to just over 35% today. Amongst companies that had seen a significant increase in sales, more than half are using a structured approach.

Businesses can optimise their website and improve sales by following this methodology, consisting of four key steps.

1) Research
Start by identifying underperforming areas. This could be an entire page or a specific action, such as adding items to a shopping basket or signing up for a newsletter to receive a discount. Businesses need to establish why their websites are failing to achieve their targets. Does the call-to-action (CTA) stand out on the page? Are the benefits to the customer clear?
 
As part of this structured methodology, businesses should conduct user testing, where participants are asked to perform certain tasks on the website and their progress is monitored and analysed. Savvy businesses should use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research, including data analytics to track customer journeys to identify how long they spend on the page, where their journey was interrupted, and why.
 
Measuring what percentage of traffic didn’t complete the intended action, like not completing a transaction or abandoning goods during a shop, will provide valuable insight. The aim of research is to investigate barriers to actions and identify solutions.
 
In addition to user testing, input from a design point of view is extremely useful for identifying pain points in a customer journey. A user Interface (UI) designer can offer valuable feedback about the layout of a web page and suggest improvements.
 
Businesses need to be bold when making changes to websites. Coming up with innovative ideas and industry firsts will help businesses stand out from the crowd. Testing these creative new features and seeing whether they work is the next step.
 
2) Test
Testing remains one of the most significant ways to improve conversion rates. Making changes to a website and testing it against an unchanged version of the site to measure improvements—known as A/B testing—is the most common approach. Using the data from completed research to establish what can be improved, businesses can define how successful these improvements will be over a set timeframe.
 
Companies see more success when they invest in multiple methods of improving their conversion rate. The most effective combination of methods is segmentation, usability testing and A/B testing. A/B testing was highlighted in the Econsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimisation Report 2016 as one of the most effective methods to improving conversion rates. Effective deployment of A/B testing consists of a prioritised list of tests that have a clear road map, and enables back-to-back testing, one test can begin as soon as another ends. This will streamline the generation of results, which will allow a business to implement successful changes faster.
 
It’s important to remember the same good web-development practices for CRO as it is for any other type of web development. Quality assurance (QA) is vital if the tests are to be meaningful. The changes must work across different browsers, devices, and targeting conditions. It’s good practice to run any test for a 24-hour trial period with only 10% of traffic, to make sure there are no bugs and that it’s behaving as predicted.
 
3) Analyse
In some cases, changes could have little effect, but this doesn’t mean that the test has been pointless. It could indicate that the area of the site where the test has taken place isn’t a critical area for the user, so testing focus should lie elsewhere.
 
It is good practice for businesses to record all the ROI data in a calculator, which can show real-time feedback of CRO performance. It helps the business understand the value of CRO and provides a good tool to conduct further testing.
 
4) Implement
Using the results from research and tests, businesses can create a seamless pipeline of changes to their website that will improve conversion rates. Implementing the changes that generated a positive ROI during tests across the whole website will ensure that the increased revenue is recognised once the test is completed.
 
Your customers’ demands are changing continuously and you must change with them. Improving customer engagement is a never-ending task, and businesses looking to grow, stay competitive and maintain a high level of customer engagement should periodically review their websites, track their KPIs and forecast for the future. Having a well-defined CRO strategy will ensure your business is continuously evolving its website based on your customer’s demands and improve your conversion rate.