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What is conversion rate optimization software?
Conversion rate optimization software (CRO) generally aims to increase the chance of web visitors turning into customers. Along the lead-to-conversion process, CRO increases the probability of specific web visitors’ actions, such as submitting a form, downloading an asset, requesting for more information or subscribing to a free trial.
The short definition of CRO is–it analyzes your web visitors’ activities, the actions they take and did not take to finish a process. Conversion is not limited to the actual customer purchase, but a goal that is completed. This include mailing opt-ins, asset downloads and free trial sign-ups.
The formula for conversion rate is: no. of unique goals accomplished by the visitor (ex. purchase or opt-in) divided by the number of unique times the same visitor dropped by your site. Moz.com has a simple conversion rate example here.
CRO traces its roots on the post dotcom bubble, when ecommerce sites started analyzing measurable metrics to gauge user experience and how to improve it to increase sales. As the ecommerce landscape became more competitive, so did marketers turn to conversion rate optimization software for actionable insights.
In this guide, we will go beyond answering the definition of conversion rate optimization software or–what is conversion rate optimization software?–and walk you through its many aspects, such as:
- Examples of conversion rate optimization software
- Benefits of conversion rate optimization software
- Types of conversion rate optimization software
- Features of conversion rate optimization software
- Buying factors to consider
- Pricing of conversion rate optimization software
- Potential issues
- Latest trends
The 70-20-10 Rule
Why use conversion rate optimization software? CRO helps you optimize the marketing budget by having a clear picture of where your traffic is coming from. Is it from paid advertising, search or affiliate marketing? The insight should help you follow the 70-20-10 rule, where you focus 70% of your marketing on tried and tested marketing channels that have been working for you so far; 20% on channels that have recently gone mainstream and can no longer be ignored; and 10% on new channels with potential. Your approach on the last should be agile, so it’s responsive to new channels as they come and go.
Examples of Conversion Rate Optimization Software
- Moz Pro. It features SEO tools to help you improve your organic search rankings, specifically your Domain Authority and Page Authority. Likewise, it enables you to measure and track your competitors’ search rankings vis-a-vis your own. Among others, the app allows you to follow the most profitable long-tail keywords for your site, fix on-site SEO gaps and ensure your site is found and favored by search engine crawlers.
- Optimizely. It is a user experience-oriented app featuring quantitative tools such as multivariate testing, multipage testing and behavioral audience targeting. It also uses predictive analytics to personalize web visitors’ experience. The app also features tools for mobile web compatibility, campaign management and interface customization.
- Unbounce. It helps you build highly engaging landing pages including mobile optimization. You have around 85 tried and tested templates but also an option to design the page from scratch. Likewise, it has features for campaign grouping, account transferring and IP filtering.
- Yoast. It is one of the widely used SEO tools for WordPress, which helps you improve on-site SEO elements and eventually your search rankings.
- Crazy Egg. A heat map tool, this app identifies the most engaging sections of your individual web pages. Using color-coding overlay, it marks the most used sections on your page in red, giving you visual clarity on where to focus optimization.
- GetSiteControl. A cloud app helping increase user engagement, grow the subscriber base, and generate leads. It allows to add 7 types of widgets to a website: email subscription forms; contact forms; survey forms; live chat; promo pop-ups and bars; social share and follow buttons.
Moz Pro lets you see your search visibility metrics and your competitors’.
Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization Software
What does conversion rate optimization software do? Generally, it improves web visitor’s engagement so you end up improving sales. Specifically, these are the advantages of conversion rate optimization software.
- Understand your customer needs. By analyzing traffic, general patterns emerge that help you identify who are engaging or buying from you. Conversion rate optimization software can analyze market segments by location, age, sex, profession and other demographics; and where data is opted in, it can further hone in on what tick your audience’s interest. This means your content and deals can be developed to match customer interests and increase the chances of conversion.
- Discover new markets. As your business grows or your product line expands, you may attract new market segments that you might miss without a clear picture of your audience. CRO can easily unearth this segment; for example, a spike in the sales graph leads you to connect it with an event in another country that proves to be profitable to your business.
- Keep growing. CRO allows you to address each customer interest or need; thus, prodding repeat buys or continuous engagement. Moreover, it helps you turn more visits to sales, ensuring your business keeps selling even as your old customer base plateaus.
- Build user trust. Knowing what interest your web visitors helps you address their expectations or concerns on your pages. They will see your pages as intuitive to their needs and, possibly, linger longer, increasing the chances of conversion. CRO, in fact, is a tool that helps you build user trust.
- Optimize pages or processes. CRO allows you to split test different versions of a page or process to leverage the most number of leads or sales. Among others, you can A/B test headlines, copy, CTAs, social proof elements and images and measure the impact of each change. The result is, you increase opportunities without having to invest more on web traffic.
- Better ROI. When you have a clear understanding of your customer needs, a specific picture of your best-performing online assets, such as, landing pages, white papers, content and deals, goals are met and sales increases. CRO delivers better ROI without having to increase your advertising budget.
Crazy Egg marks the most used parts on your page in red.
Types of Conversion Rate Optimization Software
How does conversion rate optimization software work? The answer depends on the CRO type. These CRO solutions may overlap in functionalities, but they do have a core feature that defines their type.
- Quantitative. This CRO type performs quantitative analysis built around a core web analytics tool. It answers the who, what, when and where of your website traffic. These include: Where do visitors come? What are they doing on your pages? Who are they (demographics)? When are they visiting most? By getting the answers to these important questions, you can focus your effort on critical metrics.
Example. Google Analytics
- Qualitative. This type focuses on qualitative analysis or the why behind your web traffic. It features on-site surveys, satisfaction surveys or user testing tools that help you define large audience sets into smaller niches. This allows you to focus on your most profitable market segments, each one with a clear customer profile.
Example: UserTesting, SurveyMonkey
- Website optimizers. This type lumps together CRO solutions that perform split testing, heat mapping and funnel optimization as the main functionalities to improve your website. These features help you to evaluate traffic sources and user engagement on specific sections of your website.
Examples: KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg
- Landing page optimizers. Many CRO solutions are specific to optimizing landing pages to improve campaign results. They have tools to help you refine the page title, social proofs, CTAs, images, copy and the overall layout. These solutions are must-haves to boost your campaign success rate.
Unbounce helps you create pages with optimized elements like typography, design and layout.
Features of Conversion Rate Optimization Software
These are the features of conversion rate optimization software. However, no single solution has all these tools. They are usually packaged separately or bundled by CRO type.
- Analytics. This is the general set of features that churn out measurable web traffic metrics such as clicks, scrolls and form or shopping cart abandonment. You use these metrics to build goals around and as benchmarks to measure your success.
- Heat map. Lets you visualize the most clicked sections of your web pages. A heat map uses color coding overlay (red being the hottest element) on a specific page. This is commonly found in website optimizers.
- Readability score. Evaluates if your content is easy or difficult to read with a scoring meter that spans the gamut of both extreme ends.
- Typography tools. These are usually found on landing page optimizers; they help you pull together the best typographic elements such as font, size, width and characters per line.
- Survey tools. Quizzes, polls, multiple choices, questionnaires and other survey forms are used to fish for web visitor or customer feedback. These tools may also include analytics and advanced logic for survey branching, block randomization or custom variables.
- A/B testing. It performs split or multivariate tests on page designs, landing pages or ads for web and mobile to help you fine tune a final version with the best chances of conversion.
- Landing page templates and tools. Ready templates with tried and tested elements help you build landing pages and launch campaigns on the fly.
- Page rendering tools. Lets you test the compatibility of your websites or landing pages with browsers and mobile OS and devices.
- Speed test. Specific CRO tools analyze your website’s page loading speed and come up with recommendations for improvement.
Buying factors to consider
Before you consider subscribing to a CRO solution, consider the following factors to ensure you get the most ROI.
- Type of CRO you need. The features of conversion rate optimization software above are often packaged separately or bundled by type. That means you have to know first what type of CRO you need so you match it with the right solution. Generally, you need qualitative tools for a large audience set to identify its parts. If you have well-defined visitor segments already, you need quantitative tools to analyze each set’s behavior on your website. If you are launching a campaign, you definitely want a solution with landing page builder, A/B test tools or page rendering tools. As no single CRO solution provides all these tools, you may end up using 2-3 different CRO types.
- Subscription flexibility. If you’re a small business with limited funding, avoid long-term subscription terms. Your CRO requirement will differ month to month (sometimes you will need qualitative tools, sometimes quantitative, at other times you may need a landing page builder) depending on your business priority. Having a plan that allows you to change the tool month to month makes you agile and optimizes your operational budget.
- Vendor reliability. Since you will be basing major decisions on the data churned out by CRO, it is imperative the solution is reliable. You do not want to make the right decision based on wrong data. Check user reviews and ratings, and perform DIY research on your shortlisted vendors. Major vendors like Google, Moz.com and Unbounce almost always guarantee reliability, but there may be more-fitting smaller vendors that you might miss if you solely rely on branding.
- Have a clear CRO process. Develop a CRO strategy first before shopping around for tools. The plan helps you define the goals and leverage CRO data to improve, not disrupt, your website. The strategy consists of planning, monitoring and analysis of CRO data. In the planning stage you need to define the hypothesis, the length of testing period and the metrics to measure. In the monitoring stage you need to keep tab of the essential data and sift noise out of the picture. Lastly, you need to understand statistical significance, if indeed the metrics do impact on your business or don’t, and what steps are needed to address the results.
- Your CRO maturity. A business that is just starting to implement CRO will have different requirements versus a company that already has amassed traffic and testing datasets. Novice users will probably start with free web analytics tools like Google Analytics for basic web traffic feedback and standard A/B tools to fine tune their landing pages. On the other hand, advanced users may look for sophisticated profiling and targeting features to zero in on their defined market niches.
Pricing of Conversion Rate Optimization Software
How much is the cost of conversion rate optimization software? The solutions vary in terms. To help you have an idea of the marketplace, here are examples of conversion rate optimization software and their pricing.
- Moz Pro. It features four monthly or yearly plans starting at $99 per month. The plans are built around the number of campaigns and scalable feature set.
- Optimizely. It offers three plans that require a request for quote. The plans are categorized by scalable feature set, from the basic (A/B testing) to advanced tools (third-party targeting).
- Unbounce. It has four plans that match a growing small business’ needs, starting from $49 per month. The plans are organized by your business type, for example, for in-house marketing team, client accounts and enterprise requirements.
- Yoast. Pricing starts at $199, but you need to request for a quote for a customized plan.
- Crazy Egg. It is available in four monthly plans based on the number of monthly web visits. Subscription starts at $9 per month.
The purpose of conversion rate optimization software is not foolproof. In fact, it may be compromised if you fail to address these issues.
- Lack of process. Optimizing conversion involves a process to leverage insights. From data collection and processing through hypothesis, defining goals and statistical learning, this process ensures the CRO data is optimized for best outcome. Failure to institute this process can result in failing to mine the gold that CRO delivers.
- Letting CRO decide for you. CRO is a tool that helps you make important decisions. It will not deliver the insights directly, but will churn out data that help you define an insight. For example, does a sales increase reflect true business growth or a cause of a market anomaly that temporarily benefited your business? You still have to put the CRO data in the context of other factors that impact on your business.
- Undermining CRO. Despite CRO data staring you in the face, your biases may undermine the insights you could have derived from this tool. This is true when we are proven wrong or our presumptions are challenged by data. For example, your audience turns out to be not the ideal market you have in mind. When you stick to your biases you are not only undermining CRO, but wasting opportunities to grow the business.
- Underutilizing CRO. When a CRO solution is difficult to set up and use, you or your staff are less likely to adopt it. Never mind that it has robust features and advanced tools, if the tools are unused you are leaking money. It’s better to choose an intuitive basic CRO package than a highly technical sophisticated plan if you lack for a resident I.T. user. Underutilizing CRO also happens when you fail to leverage all features in your plan.
- Using the wrong CRO approach. We have explained above the different CRO types. It is tempting to jump in at once and make decisions based on the analytics method (quantitative) because the data is detailed and compelling. But sometimes, qualitative data analysis like on-site surveys and user testing is needed to discover the why behind the what, especially for a large audience set, the further you can break it down to niches. On the other hand, relying too much on surveys can lead to survey fatigue, which messes up data. If you’re wondering when to use quantitative or qualitative method, it is time to rediscover your professor’s lecture.
- Replacing advertising with CRO. CRO enhances the ROI on your advertising and campaigns and should not replace paid promotions. In fact, you need to get your message out there first via organic and paid channels before you have traffic to optimize in your website.
Here are the three major shifts in the CRO industry that we expect to see or further developed in the next few years.
- Personalized CRO. Many CRO solutions are utilizing predictive analytics and other machine learning technologies to customize content and even pages to fit a web visitor’s interest. These solutions use individual visitors’ historical data and activities on your website to predict what to display on their next visit.
- Live video feeds. These CRO technologies are now being used and we can only expect more refined features in the next few years. We will also see the expanded use of live social feeds, gaining more prominence over evergreen content and digital assets. Facebook is already testing a more expansive live video feeds and video broadcasting to cash in on this trend.
- The Dominance of giants. The web is increasingly less democratized. Giant tech companies are walling off their territories as small players are put under their influence. Google is now the king of search; Facebook of social media; and Amazon of ecommerce. The answer to, “What is conversion rate optimization software?” as we know it, will become less of identifying your traffic sources and more on how to optimize your presence in these three major internet territories.