Conversion Optimization 11 min read
A 5-Point Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist for Digital Marketers
- 21 Jul 2021 12 min read
It can be said that all roads in digital marketing lead to conversion rate optimization. Then if so, you could say your map in this scenario is a conversion rate optimization checklist.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a set of techniques that helps increase the number of visitors to your website and take action such as subscribing to your email newsletter, registering for a webinar, or purchasing a product. These techniques include optimizing various elements of your website, including the Web design, product messaging, and social media landing pages.
Nearly all efforts in digital marketing are intended to boost conversions. You create and distribute quality content to encourage visitors to your blog. You pay for social media ads to entice buyers to your e-commerce site. You aspire for a responsive user experience (UX) design for your site to keep visitors browsing around and hopefully subscribe to your mailing list.
One thing you should remember, though, is that CRO best practices are not cast in stone. These may change alongside new search trends, updates on search engine algorithms, and shifting browsing habits. For instance, social media landing pages did not previously matter as much as they do now.
So how do you get started on CRO?
To achieve a systematized CRO process, use a conversion rate optimization checklist as a guide. A checklist will lay down the must-do tasks vs. those that are optional, depending on your conversion goals.
The 5-point Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist
Below are the main milestones you should accomplish to conduct some basic conversion rate optimizations for your websites. Along with descriptions, you’ll find high-level processes that you should conduct, should you wish to bolster your conversion optimization efforts:
- Conduct a conversion audit.
- Formulate a data-backed hypothesis on where and what to optimize.
- Map out your strategy for specific optimization points.
- Implement, iterate, and test.
- Monitor, evaluate, and adjust.
1. Conduct a conversion audit.
A CRO audit is the first step in the conversion optimization process. This pertains to the in-depth examination of the elements of your website, including its design, analytics issues, and other factors that might be affecting your conversion rate. Conducting an audit will help you determine what’s working and what’s not and how to move forward.
Generally, an audit is an evaluation done by a third party to help eliminate biases. Many businesses consider working with a digital marketing agency equipped with the tools and know-how to conduct their CRO audit.
If you want to give this a try, keep in mind that you have to review your site with “fresh eyes” and think like a third-party auditor.
There are three types of conversion audit: technical, user design (UX), and copy. Below is a quick rundown of each:
This involves a review of the technical foundations of your website.
Imagine opening the hood of your car to check for potential problems. With search engine optimization audits, the focus is on the crawlability and indexability of a webpage. In CRO technical audit, the spotlight is on page elements.
A technical CRO audit helps ensure that every element on a page is designed with a purpose: to reach your conversion goals. It’s good to regularly practice optimizing the technical aspects of your website, to check if you’re meeting the standards of Google’s Core Web Vitals.
UX Design Audit
A UX design audit involves a heuristic evaluation of your webpages to detect design issues associated with the user interface. Its main focus is the usability of your site.
The primary aim is easy browsing that will help entice visitors to stay longer on your website and perform a desired action. “Optimal usability ensures that visitors stay on your pages and even explore others – a goal achieved only by eliminating factors that may turn off a visitor which you uncover,” according to Propelrr.
In the article ‘Improving a Human-Computer Dialogue’, usability pioneers Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich laid down a set of principles or heuristics to determine the usability of a design or a product.
Below is a checklist of criteria that you may use when conducting a UX design audit:
- Keep users informed about its status appropriately and promptly.
- Show information in ways users understand from how the real world operates and in the users’ language.
- Offer users control and let them undo errors easily.
- Be consistent; so users don’t get confused on the meaning of words, icons, and other elements of your site.
- Prevent errors. A system should either avoid conditions wherein errors arise or warn users before they take risky actions (e.g. messages like, “Are you sure you want to do this?”).
- Provide visible information, instructions, etc., to let users recognize options, actions, etc., instead of forcing them to rely on memory.
- Be flexible; so experienced users can find faster ways to attain their goals.
- Clear the clutter. Include only relevant information for current tasks.
- Provide plain-language help regarding errors and solutions.
- List concise steps in lean, searchable documentation for overcoming problems.
On-page Content Audit
A copy audit pertains to a review of the written information on each page. These texts inform, persuade, or entertain your visitors. What your visitor reads and sees on your pages should be able to persuade them to take action.
One of the best conversion marketing tips is to make sure your copy speaks directly to your target audience. Do they relate with the texts or spoken matter on your website?
According to Sean Durham of Medium, a good copywriting involves words that “slide nicely through the mind” and eliminate fears through smooth and honest discussions with your audience.
“If you can hit the right points with your word combinations, the tone of voice that you have chosen, and some juicy phrasing that seems to hook a reader in, then you will have created some magic which will convert curious readers into buying customers,” Durham explains.
For basic copy auditing, check if the calls-to-action match the button copy. Review if headlines are compelling and relatable. Verify if the information on your pages contain the necessary details to help your visitor make a buying decision. You may also develop your own conversion copywriting procedures, consistent with your brand voice and your conversion goals.
Additionally, subject matter expert André Morys shares the guide below on conducting a successful copy audit:
- Relevance. Is the page relevant to the needs or motivations of the visitor?
- Trust. Is the page deemed trustworthy?
Orientation. Are placements of the calls-to-action (CTAs) intuitive to the predicted behaviour of the visitor?
- Stimulation. Do the copies offer value propositions that are enticing enough to encourage the visitor to scroll further down?
- Security. Are the transaction pages perceived to be secure?
Convenience. Does the page provide seamless UX that allow visitors to transact with ease?
- Confirmation. Does the end-process provide confirmation and/or positive cues of an accomplished transaction?
2. Formulate a data-backed hypothesis on where and what to optimize.
A hypothesis is a prediction you create before running an experiment. In the CRO process, a hypothesis consists of three parts:
Clearly define the problem and validate it with data. This problem is an issue or pain point your visitor experiences on your website.
Below is a sample hypothesis framework by Propelrr in which it plotted hypotheses and recommendations for identified problems. In one item, it identified brand awareness issues that affect SERP performance.
A proposed solution
After defining the problem, propose a solution by clearly describing the change. Then, offer a theory on why this solution is the right course of action.
To address its content-related issue, Propelrr devised a hypothetical solution, i.e. publish regular and relevant content on Propelrr’s blog to increase its SERP performance.
The predicted results
Predict a result that relates your hypothesis back to your conversion metric. Then choose the specific metrics you will use to track either the success or failure of your experiment.
In the sample framework, Propelrr set the predicted result of its proposed solution to address its content awareness problem. It forecasts that posting relevant blogs within its niche/industry and those adjacent will increase SERP impressions and organic sessions on the website.
3. Map out your strategy for specific optimization points.
After identifying CRO issues through comprehensive audits and formulating data-backed hypotheses, the next step on the CRO checklist is to map out an actionable strategy for every optimization point.
Below are recommended strategies to optimize specific areas of your website.
A. Optimize the UX design
Create a conversion-centered design or a design that infuses visuals with user interface principles. These principles are as follows:
- Create focus. Establish focus on your page. Any design feature on your landing page should be dedicated to achieving a single campaign target.
- Build structure. Develop a natural flow for your landing page. Start by developing an informational hierarchy which lists down the elements that can help you achieve your CRO goals in the most logical order.
- Stay consistent. Make sure that your website and webpages use the same fonts, color scheme, and types. Refrain from doing something out of the ordinary or experimenting with a new look to avoid alienating your website visitors.
- Demonstrate benefits. Choose a powerful hero shot. The hero shot is the first visual visitors see when they arrive on your website. It should be eye-catching, but it should also explicitly demonstrate the advantages your products or services offer.
- Draw attention. Draw visitors’ attention to the CTA — the most important part of your webpage — through interface features (colors, fonts, patterns, and shapes).
- Design for trust. Design with confidence. Establish your reputation by assembling social evidence that is not only compelling, but also believable.
- Reduce friction. Check if your pages are performing well. Is your design crisp and simple? Are your landing pages mobile-friendly? How fast do your pages load?
Create websites that help lead you closer to your conversion goals. Learn about conversion-centered design techniques.
B. Optimize the product messaging
Product messaging is the “description, meaning, relevance, and value of a product or service”. No matter how good your product is, if the messaging is weak, your conversions will struggle.
A heuristic evaluation allows you to identify certain website elements that present your products in a way that results in a conversion. It could be a persuasive CTA, an enticing banner or a keyword-centric copy.
Optimize product messaging on your website using the following conversion requirement goals as guide:
- Orient the user upon landing on your site. This goal ensures that your visitor is able to determine the relevance of your website within seconds just by looking at your header titles and copies on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Appeal to user motivation. The page content should vividly express copies that resonate with the user, as they scroll through the page. It should be clear what the website is offering to alleviate a pain point or achieve a desired outcome.
- Convert the unique value. Make sure your Unique Value Proposition (UNV) is translated comprehensively and effectively on your website. The UNV essentially answers the question, ”What makes your product or service stand out in the market?”
- Establish credibility. Establish credibility and build trust with visitors through customer testimonials, social proof, and trust badges.
- Address fears. Check if the website copies offer any guarantees or other reassurances to minimize perceived risks on the part of the visitor/buyer. Determine if the copies clearly address conversion-critical questions posed by visitors.
- Present the offer. There should be a visible and dominant feature on a page that elicits and persuades the visitor to make a purchase or do any other desired action. This boils down to how unified your CTA and your intent are.
- Form design. Check whether a contact sheet or sales form is lacking or has poor responsive design. Sometimes, a conversion is lost when a visitor is ready to take action but the Contact Us page takes forever to load.
C. Optimize Web copies
Your goal in creating Web conversion copies is not to impress, but to drive visitors to perform a profitable action. How does this differ from a sale copy? A sales copy is profit-centric while conversion copies are customer-centric. The focus of the former is to generate revenue; the latter, to satisfy customer journey.
Here are recommended steps on how you can optimize your Web copies to boost your conversions:
The primary purpose of this step is to discover the voice of the customer (VoC) and identify the exact purpose of why they are looking for your brand. Here, you can also iron out the precise pain point of your audience and how your competitors are addressing these in their respective channels.
Write high-impact copies by:
- Developing your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
- Creating your message hierarchies; and
- Writing and editing your copies
A/B testing your copies
Compare versions of your copies in different formats across devices to see which versions perform better. Through this strategy, you can optimize your conversion rate and discover ways to drastically improve your CRO performance.
D. Optimize other channels
A social media marketing landing page is a specific destination that you’d want people to visit after being on your social media page. In terms of specific online marketing campaigns, these are the ideal pages visitors should land on, as a direct result of your campaign.
Boost your conversions by optimizing in other channels such as social media. You may do so by learning the elements of social media landing pages that help boost messaging, branding and conversions. These elements include:
- Straightforward links
- Pages that immediately show pertinent product information
- Focused, consistent, trustworthy and smooth design
- Clear and compelling copy and call to action
- Mobile-friendly landing pages
Explore tested techniques in optimizing social media landing pages to help boost your conversion rates.
4. Implement, iterate, and test
After identifying CRO issues, formulating a potential solution, and mapping out actionable strategies to solve the issues, it is time to implement, iterate, and test.
Through a rigorous process of implementing, iterating, and testing, you will be able to identify which execution works best for you. The next step in this CRO guide is A/B testing or split testing which will help establish if your proposed solutions and identified strategies will indeed solve your CRO issues.
One type of split testing to try is iterative A/B testing. Understand that running a test on a minor change in your website such as modifying a button color may need a large sample of results to help determine whether such change is working or not.
You will need at least 1,000 conversions per month on an asset to generate real results. This may mean long months of running tests -– something not all businesses and marketers have.
On the other hand, iterative tests are based on insights on previous experiments to implement gradual changes. This allows your website or app to evolve gradually over time with small changes rather than a massive redesign. An iterative A/B testing will allow you to test numerous conversion points with the right volume of traffic.
Take inspiration from the sample case study below that shows the results of an iterative A/B test:
A team at Wistia ran a successful iterative A/B test to increase new user activation rates on their website, in the product, and through email. They created an interactive experience that let their website visitors play with the core functionality of a product on the page, with no credit card required.
Wistia did not see any change in their new user activations. So to investigate further, they watched 30 users interact through the new page experience. Wistia’s team found out that many of the users were not active participants in the experience. Since all of the other page content was removed to minimize distractions, the users did not understand their intent.
The team then decided to iterate on the design and highlighted how users could interact with the page. The result: Their activation rates started to increase.
Arming yourself with powerful A/B testing tools can help leverage your CRO efforts. Try to invest in a tool that best fits your requirements, as an online business.
5. Monitor, evaluate, and adjust
Finally, it is time to monitor, evaluate, and adjust (if necessary) the strategies you have chosen to resolve your CRO issues.
You may perform a quantitative data analysis on a powerful platform such as Google Analytics. This type of analysis offers valuable insights such as the landing page your visitors access; the features they engage in; the channels that brought them in; the devices; and browsers they use, among others.
A quantitative data analysis will also provide you numbers that resulted from the changes you implemented on your website. How many carts are left abandoned after you have introduced revisions on the checkout page? How many visitors visited your blog from an enhanced social media content?
After a quantitative study, consider performing a qualitative data analysis. This involves looking into the “why” behind your visitor behaviour. Keep in mind that raw data alone will not tell you what enticed your visitors to visit your site or what made them proceed to checkout. You may perform this type of analysis through on-site surveys, user testing and satisfaction polls.
Old trends die and new ones emerge. Browsing habits change. What used to excite people years ago may no longer be as exciting today. Hence, make it a point to revisit your conversion rate optimization process regularly, and adjust it accordingly.
- Know what works and what doesn’t. Conduct extensive audits on your website, focusing on the technical, UX design, and copywriting areas.
- Go back to your framework. Be it the hypothesis or the implementation of optimizations, always be guided by a framework to help ensure that your problems will be dealt with in a systematic and data-driven manner.
- Have the patience to test your strategies. Test them as often and as rigorously as necessary to help ensure that your websites are always conversion-driven and effective.
Did this checklist help you flesh out a conversion rate optimization approach for your business or do you have your own list of must-haves for your CRO?
Leave a comment, or reach out to the Propelrr team for more tips on how to boost your CRO efforts.