In an ever-crowded market of newly launched businesses, reinvented rivals, and disruptive technology, it can feel impossible to reach your target audience.
With worldwide ecommerce revenue projected to reach 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021, your goal should be to maximize your share as much as possible. That’s where website optimization comes into play.
According to BrightLocal, 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, so it pays to invest in attracting and capturing new traffic.
Here are two major website-building misconceptions that trip up B2C and B2B companies alike:
- Businesses need to jump on the latest technological fads.
- Websites need major overhauls in order to get a bump in sales.
Your goal should instead be incremental and consistent improvement.
The Benefits of Continuous Website Optimization
Not only will you know for sure exactly what works for your target audience, but you’ll be able to save on costs by tweaking your designs gradually — instead of pouring a lot of time and money into a large change that might not deliver a high return in investment over the long run.
Want to achieve the following results?
- Staying relevant in your field
- Maintaining your customer base
- Reaching new audiences
Follow just a few (or all five!) of these steps every time you take on a website optimization project.
Always Be Experimenting
Learn from your mistakes, build on your successes, and tailor designs to your target audience by using customer data to fuel continuous website improvements.
Step 1: Research And Identify Gaps
Use the research stage as your guiding light for how to approach each round of making adjustments to your website. Before you run a new test, always return to the research stage (or at least to notes from a previous round of research) so you’re not shooting in the dark.
Understand your market
See who else is in your field and how they are positioning their products. Your goal here is to find out where there is room for disruption and opportunities for your company.
Investigate your customer segments
You’re better able to convert visitors into customers by addressing problems that people are actually encountering on your website. Don’t make assumptions; this is your chance to base your fixes on real world issues!
Step 2: Develop Ideas To Test
After each round of research, come up with a list of new experiments to launch based on what you’ve learned.
Every time you go through this step, you’ll be in a stronger position to know what elements are the most effective at moving the needle for your audience.
Use your competitor research
Now that you know where your competitors are falling short, you can better position your company’s products and services to fill in the gaps.
Target your customers
Once you’ve identified your most valuable segments and learned where your visitors are getting stuck, you can come up with hypotheses on how to create a better customer experience.
Use your search term research to emphasize specific keywords on different landing pages and launch relevant ads on your most popular search engines.
Step 3: Run Experiments
Pick success metrics to monitor and determine how much data you’ll need to come to a conclusion. That way, you’ll know if your changes are making an impact and you’ll know what your time frame is for gathering results.
Set a central goal and then break that goal into smaller pieces to help you sift out useful data from what can seem like an overwhelming number of factors.
Pick an end date
The best way to determine a length of time that is ideal for your business and your customers is to start with the industry norm of 2-4 weeks and then customize from there.
Pro Tip: As CRO Hero Sam Clarke puts it, “An important note when setting up your test: Choose one primary call-to-action to track.” If you pick more than two elements to change up at a time, you risk muddying up the results.
Step 4: Evaluate Results
Not all experiments will end in success, and that’s okay! Website optimization is a learning process that helps you get better with each new experiment.
The key takeaway is to learn what works and what doesn’t so you can build on your experience and keep improving your website over time.
Identify low-hanging fruit
Did you see any positive reactions to your experiments? Try to apply the winning element or variant to other areas of your site to maximize your results.
Find high-impact opportunities
Identify the points on your customer journey that have the most direct impact on conversions. Concentrate on these areas for your next round of tests.
While your findings may vary, two good starting points for applying your new customer insights are your pricing page and your checkout page.
Step 5: Apply What You’ve Learned to Future Experiments
Once you’ve implemented winning variants, it’s time to start the process again.
Run a post-mortem
Whether your changes resulted in a positive or a negative reaction from your website visitors, it’s important to understand why.
Pick the next test on your list
Build on what you’ve learned from previous cycles of website optimization so you can start picking out and improving the factors that matter most to your campaigns.
Learn about a new competitor, pick a new hypothesis to test, create new landing pages, and try out new colors, images, and setups.
With every run-through of these 5 steps, you create a more effective website that helps you stay on top of trends, continually improve your marketing approach, and learn what works best for your growing customer base.
Now that you’ve got the cycle down, here are some resources that will help you go through each of the stages. Plenty of these tools don’t require any coding knowledge or data science experience, so you can dive right in.
Use Your Tech Stack to Research and Identify Gaps
Where to Start with Competitor Research
Learn about your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and messaging. Pay attention to their customer complaints and praise. Use these popular platforms to help you learn more about your market.
How to Investigate Your Customer Segments
Use web analytics platforms to understand your customer segments. Your tech stack should work together to help you build a better experience for your customers.
Google Analytics Behavior Flow + Crazy Egg Snapshots
An ideal workflow would be to start out with Google Analytics to look at the common journeys users take from your homepage:
- Explore your Behavior Flow to understand which pages are generating the most click-throughs
- Segment further based on bounce rate and time on page
Once you’ve identified your most popular website pages in Google Analytics, you can create Crazy Egg Snapshots on those URLs to start getting an in-depth overview of the lead and customer experience.
Each Snapshot produces five user behavior reports, including heatmaps and scrollmaps. Armed with these five reports, you’ll be able to:
- Learn about the search terms that your visitors are using most often
- Find out which search engines are the most popular with your customers
- Pinpoint valuable referral sites
In addition, the Crazy Egg Confetti Report will help you:
- Discover what operating systems and device types are most frequently used by your audience
- See where on your page that visitors start to lose interest and exit your page
- Google Analytics Funnel + Crazy Egg User Recordings
Another approach would be to use Google Analytics to analyze your existing funnel so you can identify the page where you have the highest exit rate. Once you’ve identified the culprit, you should set up a Snapshot and User Recordings on that page.
Once enough visitor data has been collected, you’ll be able to watch recordings of the page to see which elements motivate users to convert, and to see exactly what barriers are causing people to abandon your page.
With this information at hand, you’ll be in a great position to optimize the page with data-driven insights! This process can then be repeated for the second “leakiest” part of the funnel, and so on.
Must-Try Web Optimization Tips to Test
Now that you’re armed with data, what’s next?
A common area of indecision with website optimization comes at the point between collecting data and analysis. If you’re feeling unsure; not to worry! Regardless of what change you make — or even whether it has a positive or negative outcome — every adjustment will just get you closer to figuring out the most effective method for converting your visitors.
To get your gears started though, here is a master list of some of the most popular approaches to improving your website. Once you’ve started launching website optimization tests, go back to this list and work your way through, honing your approach each time.
1. Use Your Competitor Research
- Target your competitors’ dissatisfied customers by building trust in your products and services through testimonials, and by creating competitor pages that compare your services.
- Build a landing page showing how your product or service solves a common customer complaint.
2. Target Your Customers
- Use your search term research to emphasize specific keywords on different landing pages.
- Launch relevant ads on popular search engines.
- Increase your backlinks and even form strategic partnerships with valuable referral sites.
- Ensure compatibility, minimize software bugs, and even launch new products based on the operating systems your customers are using.
- Decide whether to roll out multilingual support for your international customers based on popular regions.
- Optimize your website across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices so that you never lose a customer through frustration.
- Shift interesting content to areas right before people start to exit your page to motivate them continue scrolling down.
3. Extra Inspiration
- If you have a high bounce rate, check if the content on your page matches your popular keyword searches. If there’s a wide gap, it may be time for a copy overhaul.
- Once you’ve pinpointed keywords that visitors are using to find your site, add in new copy and images to build up your SEO.
- 60% of US adults abandon carts due to unexpectedly high extra costs, and 37% don’t complete the purchase because of being forced to create an account. Lower the barrier to completing a sale by providing a guest checkout option. Be upfront about costs.
- If people are exiting your website on a common page, try out a pop-up with an offer that is specific to that page so you can recover visitors.
- Experiment with different page layouts and move your most impactful CTAs to areas of your page that are receiving the most clicks.
Want To Be a CRO Hero? Launch An A/B Test.
A/B tests have many website optimization benefits:
- They take the guesswork out of whether an experiment is successful or not
- They defend against opinion-based decision making
- They encourage continuous, steady growth that compounds over time (much like the annual percentage yield on a savings account)
There are a few different types of A/B testing tools and types on the market, so check out this guide to A/B testing by Crazy Egg co-founder Neil Patel to get started.
Resources: A/B Testing Tools
Get Started with Goals
Before you launch an A/B test, make sure you know the goal that you’re trying to accomplish. If it’s a broad goal like increasing conversions, break that end goal into smaller pieces so you can accurately track the most impactful elements.
Examples of A/B Testing Goals
- Increase clicks with multilingual web pages, updated copy, and different CTA button colors.
- Expand email collection through targeted landing pages, testimonials, and pop-up offers.
- Boost sales by modifying your price offerings, checkout approach, and payment options.
- Motivate customers to return by providing optimized web experiences across devices and promoting new products with a variety of banners.
For a little inspiration, here are three examples of A/B tests you can try yourself.
Understanding A/B Test Results
Ideally, whatever A/B testing tool you use should give you a clear understanding of how your variants are performing.
Remember: Don’t launch too many competing elements at once, or you risk generating unclear outcomes.
Using the Crazy Egg A/B test results page as an example, here’s what you would typically learn:
In this image you can see the Goal clearly marked. You can also compare how the control is performing against the first variant, as well as additional variants that have been added over time. Last, and most importantly, you can see the percentage of conversion rate improvement that the A/B test has yielded.
While this test example has been running for a year, typically you should run experiments over 2-4 weeks to get optimal results. Once a winner has been picked (in this case, Variant #1), retire the losing variant and fire up a new test!
In your ongoing quest to make a better website, it’s always a good idea to dive into the ideas you’ve explored before and understand why they succeeded or failed so you can take your learnings into the next test.
Ready to Get Started?
Every experiment you launch helps you build a more empathetic user experience based on real data. By continually making adjustments to your website, you’re able to meet the shifting demands of a growing market.
The more you put off enhancing your website because you’re worried about needing to set aside resources for a massive overhaul, the more you lose out on capturing new customers. Keep in mind that the smallest changes can result in the largest improvements, so take it one step at a time, and:
Happy Optimizing! 🚀