What is CRO? How does it work and help e-commerce websites achieve maximum results? Learn these and get more real-world tips from our guest experts from the Conversion Rate Academy.
In this episode:
01:05 – What is CRO?
02:32 – Where to go to get the best results
03:10 – Top 2 problems e-commerce sites need to fix
04:34 – Tools for mining visitor intelligence
05:12 – What every e-commerce store should have
07:06 – Are live chats important?
08:14 – Simple changes, higher conversions
10:23 – Why the Conversation Rate Academy was founded
12:26 – 75 proven split testing ideas
14:09 – The 5-step process for a better bottom line
19:53 – Questions to ask your buyers
20:52 – The action step e-commerce store owners should do today
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James: James Schramko here, welcome to SuperFastBusiness.com, and today we’re talking about CRO. And don’t worry if you’re not sure what that means, because I’m going to ask our guests to explain that. Today we have two guests. We have Bradley long and John Hutchison, who are the founders of Conversion Rate Academy, to talk about CRO. Welcome to the call, guys
John: Hey James.
Bradley: Hey James, how are you doing?.
James: Good, thank you. Hey. So we’re in different countries today. I’m in Australia, whereabouts are you?
Bradley: Well, I’m in Spain, this is Bradley.
John: And, I’m in Brisbane.
James: Right, so all over the place. Tell me, what is CRO? Just explain this for our listener.
CRO: More than just changing button colors
Bradley: OK, so CRO is fundamentally trying to improve the profit you make per visitor. So basically, for every website visitor you get, you’re trying to squeeze every last juice of profit you can from them.
To do that, you need to split test and basically, that means you need some software. So software only does one thing, though, and that is run the split test for you. It doesn’t tell you what to split test.
So that’s the hardest kind of problem that most e-commerce stores have. They struggle to come up with ideas, and after they’ve done all the obvious stuff, it’s kind of talked about in terms of best practice, that’s where the ideas run dry.
So yeah, CRO’s kind of two things. It’s coming out with the ideas, and it’s also using the split test software to prove your theory.
James: I love the concept. And we hear a lot about changing button colors and stuff. But the reality is, a lot of people are so obsessed about traffic that only really the pros and the top-end guys are doing this heavy conversion rate optimization.
Now what is really appealing to me, and the reason I wanted to talk to you, is that you have been working with very successful high-end e-commerce stores, and I imagine they’ve got a pretty comprehensive toolbox.
But importantly, will have learned where to go, where to go straight for the best results and to get these double-digit improvements.
So I’d love it if you could give us a few suggestions on some of the low-hanging fruit that people could go for, assuming that they’ve had a play around with their button color. What are the bigger ones?
Bradley: Yeah, for sure. So the most important concept to grasp there is that button color tests will only get you so far, and what really makes a difference and what these top-end guys understand is that you need to find out what the specific issues are that your visitors are having with your website.
Because truthfully, there’s only two reasons why people aren’t converting. It’s either there’s a usability problem with your website, so something’s broken, or they don’t understand something, and they’re confused, so they just end up leaving your site.
Or the second reason is that they have a sales objection, so they’re not persuaded, they don’t believe what you’re claiming, they don’t trust your product, or they don’t trust your company. So you need to fix either those two problems. So either a usability problem or a persuasion problem.
And just to give you a quick example, we worked with a client that had a shipping cost calculator on their checkout page, so it wasn’t until that point that anyone knew what they were in for in terms of shipping cost, right?
So when we looked at the analytics, a lot of people were looping back from the cart page back to the product page, trying to find that information, because they didn’t want to make the commitment of clicking through to the checkout page because, you know, that’s kind of scary.
It means getting a credit card out. So they were hunting around for this information. We found that out by running a popup survey on the cart page, which basically told us what the issue was so that we could fix it.
Best tools for mining visitor intelligence
James: Nice. So, on a previous episode I’ve had an interview with Greg Cassar, who did a lot of stuff with high-end e-commerce sites, and he was using a tool called Olark.
Have you got some specific tool recommendations for finding out some visitor intelligence? So that you might be able to figure out what’s missing or what sort of objections they have?
Bradley: Yeah, absolutely. So my favorite one is Qualaroo. It’s not the cheapest one out there, but it is the most usable, because it allows you to control when the popup is triggered, so you don’t necessarily want the popup to trigger unless it looks like someone’s about to abandon your cart.
So you can set it so that when someone moves towards the exit button it triggers a survey. So that would definitely be my recommendation at the moment. That’s my favorite, Qualaroo.
James: Beautiful. OK, so let’s say that I bought an e-commerce store tomorrow, from one of the many students of Ezra Firestone’s Brown Box Formula or something like that.
I bought it, and then I hit you up on Skype and I say, “Bradley, John, could you please have a look at my site.” What are you going to be scanning for? What are the big rocks that you know must be on every single e-commerce store to increase the conversions?
Essentials for e-commerce stores
Bradley: Yeah, sure. So I’m a really big fan of keeping things simple to get started with. So I like testing no-brainers. But there is a caveat to that. You don’t want to just straight implement stuff.
You definitely want to test it, because this whole thing is about being scientific, and knowing down to the penny what each change to your website is costing you or making. So that’s the beauty of testing.
So some of the things I like to get started with are maybe doing like a strapline or a tagline on your logo, if you haven’t got one. If you’ve already got one, playing around with it.
Loads of businesses completely miss the mark when it comes to their USP and their strapline. They use like superlatives like “biggest” and “best,” and what they actually need to do is ask their existing customers why they chose them, because that can be massively revealing.
We worked with a site that sold a home improvement product, and their whole kind of angle of entry into the market and their unique selling point was speed of delivery, and when we actually surveyed their customers, no one mentioned that at all.
They didn’t care. They were buying the product for completely different reasons. So it’s a good idea just to run a survey and then inject what you find out into your strapline.
James: What a fantastic thing, and probably not an obvious one. I was out visiting a client today, a very rare client visit, I think it’s the second time I visited them in about six years. And they asked me about LiveChat, because they’d seen that on my site. Do you think LiveChat’s important?
Bradley: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it’s not only a communication tool but I actually look at it as a conversion tool. Because if you’re clever about it, you can set it so that it triggers a chat with your visitor, at the point when they’re most likely to bail from your website.
So you go into your analytics, and you look at your average time on page. And say for example it’s 45 seconds. Well you basically just trigger your push LiveChat setting, so that it triggers around 40 seconds, so that you can try and catch that visitor before they’re likely to bail.
And what you’ll actually find is even sometimes just the mere presence of LiveChat, even if people don’t use it and interact with it, it can increase conversions, because it’s like a confidence thing. There’s actually real people behind the website.
James: It’s a trust builder.
James: Yeah, so we have ours integrated into the LiveChat cross to the helpdesk, and it pushes a ticket into our helpdesk and we found when we answer whatever the question was, it almost always ends up in a sale, so I think it’s a great conversion device.
Tell me, what are some of the other things that you think should be a baseline? Like some of the low-hanging fruit?
Simple moves for more conversions
Bradley: Yeah, sure. So another big obvious one is headlines. That can have huge results for you, because it’s kind of the message, the first part of the message anyone reads when they land on your page, and if you get that wrong, people probably aren’t going to read the rest of your sales message.
So there’s a ton of stuff you can learn from kind of the offline direct response world, which has been going since the day dot, before the Internet was even invented. These guys knew how to sell. They were split testing a hundred years ago with their mailings, so they’ve tested stuff to destruction and they know what works.
Basically times change and people don’t, so they’re the masters of salesmanship in print, and we want to become the masters of digital salesmanship.
So always test your headlines, and make sure that it’s got an emotional benefit in it and that it grabs people’s attention and it encourages them to read the next line and the next line of your sales copy.
James: It sounds like a Joe Sugarman technique. I was hanging out with him in Cabo, last year, actually. Had a very interesting chat. So…
Bradley:Oh, yeah. Cool. He’s a legend.
James: He is a legend. Now you also mentioned to me at some point that you should have consistency throughout your site. I was wondering if you could explain that in more detail.
Bradley: Yeah, we’ve worked with a few sites where just simple things like the call to action button changes shape or color as you proceed through the funnel.
So on their product page the add to cart button is, say, orange for example, and then by the time you get to the checkout page where it says “Secure Checkout,” it’s suddenly turned to green.
Well, you really want to keep that consistent, because you want to train your visitors to look for that call to action. And if you suddenly change the color of it, they’ve got to work a bit harder. So it’s just subtle little things like that that can make a difference sometimes.
How Conversion Rate Academy can help
James: Very nice. So you guys were actually practicing this stuff for agencies, or as consultants, and then now you’ve founded your Conversion Rate Academy. What caused that change?
Bradley: Yeah, basically, well having worked with some of the heavy hitters in town, we kind of just felt like the small- to medium-sized businesses were getting overlooked, because by nature, conversion rate optimization is fairly labor-intensive and because of that, it makes the fees that experts and consultants charge quite hard going for a lot of smaller businesses, so they’re kind of priced out of the market.
And the other thing is, there’s a few fundamental problems that e-commerce stores are facing at the moment. Their margins are getting squeezed, because, you know, the customers are wanting the sun, the moon and the stars from them.
They want free shipping, they want it the next day, they want the lowest prices. E-commerce stores are facing a lot more competition than ever as more and more people enter the market, and as you know, traffic’s getting more and more expensive, and you need to squeeze every last drop of profit from each visitor you get to your website.
So we just felt there was a huge need for giving these guys a level of help that doesn’t necessarily mean high-end consultancy fees of five figures a month.
It’s something that’s much more affordable and that we could build a community around as well, so that people could start helping one another out.
James: So who’s this designed for?
Bradley: So basically, to split test and not lose patience with it, you’re going to need a decent amount of traffic flowing to your site. So it really, ideally needs to be sites that are getting around about 10,000 visitors a month.
Otherwise your tests are going to take forever to reach conclusion. I won’t bore you with the math of it, but they have to reach something called statistical significance.
James: No, I’ve…
James: Yeah. I know that you need to have a certain number or volume and that it takes time. It could take some people years if they have very low volume.
Bradley: Exactly, exactly.
James: So I’m interested in, like, do you have a little favorite set of warm-up tests that you do for people who you encounter for the first time, you say, “Alright, start with this”?
Bradley: Actually one of the modules in our tests, as we kind of put together, there’s 75 proven split testing ideas that we kind of hand to people when they join, say, “Look, go do some of this stuff, because we know it works.” Included in there is things like turning on the Push LiveChat, the headline test, the call to action test, your strapline…
So you know, some of the obvious stuff. But then there’s other things in there like, they aren’t necessarily things that you would think about straight off the bat, but they can add real value to your business, like implementing a refer-a-friend scheme, or a loyalty scheme, things like that, so that they can add extra layers of profit that you probably just haven’t got around to doing yet, and it’s a good prompt for people.
So we’ve kind of built up this list and given tons of examples, so people can just go to that module, and just get started straight off the bat.
James: Now I’ve just got a random question. Have you ever encountered tests that revolve around site speed?
Bradley: Yeah, I mean that’s a big problem for a lot of people at the moment. If your page is taking like more than five seconds to load, you could be losing a lot in terms of conversion.
So one of the elements in that module I just talked about is running some tests on your site, like going to Pingdom, checking your load speed, and just fixing any errors in your code that are causing your page to load slowly.
So that’s not necessarily something around the split testing, but it’s kind of you know, you’ve got to get this stuff fixed because it’s a complete no-brainer.
5-step process to get actual results
John: Yeah I was just going to add that guys that really one of the first things that we sort of educate people on doing is really to understand their sales process and mapping out the funnel throughout that site.
Going from the landing page all the way through to order confirmation page and sort of highlighting where they should really focus their attention first because there’s no point just going out there and guessing and putting together split tests and going from there you really do want to sort of grab the problem areas first and the areas that you can get big wins from quickly.
So I think it may be important if Bradley could go through a simple five-step process as part of how we educate our students and our clients on how to implement things quickly so as that they are not wasting their time and effort on things that take longer time to produce the actual results.
Bradley: Yeah, good point, John. So yeah, like you said, one of the first steps is mapping out the conversion funnel, which really is just a case of taking a quick dive into your analytics and seeing where your big drop-offs are, which basically highlights where you’re leaking cash, and where the opportunities are for split testing.
Because there’s no point running a split test on your homepage if your biggest problem is on your add to cart page. So that exercise quickly laser-focuses you in on what’s going to get you the biggest results most quickly.
And the third step is just sitting down, analyzing all the feedback you’ve got, and then brainstorming test ideas and coming up with hypotheses.
And then crucially, the next step is scoring and ranking those ideas based on what we call testing magnitude, so there’s no point steaming in your first test and completely redesigning your entire checkout funnel, because a) it’s going to be a massive time suck in terms of resources, and b) you might not want to be doing that as you first test.
You might want to cherry-pick the ideas that are going to get you the big bang for your buck, but not be a huge time suck. So it’s important to sit down and balance out workload versus the predictive results. And then obviously the final step is split testing them.
James: Perfect. So that’s a really nice little outline.
John: I think the other important thing is once you’ve got that information, we’ve been lucky enough to work essentially across roughly 26 different industries and work with some of the big players and we’ve been able to capture the data and we’ve come up with what we believe to be 75 proven split test ideas which allow us to take proven different tests that we can plug in quite quickly.
So Brad maybe you can give some examples of some of the tests and the kind of results that we’ve been able to get.
Bradley: Yeah, so, just a quick example was we had a site that was selling spare parts for a home appliance store. And their conversion rate was pretty awful, was less than one percent.
But they’re still doing a good amount of business per year, because they’re in a good niche, and they basically ran some Qualaroo surveys, and they found out that their biggest objections were people wanted their parts in a hurry, because obviously their machine had broken down or whatever, and that was kind of like, “When am I going to get my part?” was a big question that came up.
And the other thing was they really worried about ordering the wrong part because there was like a million different choices, because there was so many products that they were supplying parts for.
So all we did was simply introduce a bold guarantee, which was one of the ideas in our 75 proven ideas, which was just come out with a really strong guarantee, to kind of overcome those objections.
So once we knew what they were, all we did was introduce what we called, “Get the right part the first time and on time” guarantee. And alongside that, we also highlighted the fact that most of their parts are available from stock and that it was same-day shipping, to kind of counter all those objections.
And when we ran that test, the outcome was a 217% improvement in conversion. That’s not to say that every test is going to get that kind of triple-digit improvement, but the point being is, once you handle your objections head-on, that is when you get the big results.
And even if you’re running a series of tests, of like, say, maybe a 20%, 30%, 40% improvement, the compound effect of those can end up just having a massive difference on your bottom line.
James: And everyone wants a difference on their bottom line.
John: For sure.
James: Yeah, have you found any markets that respond better than others, or is this market-agnostic?
Bradley: The B2B market can often be a little bit difficult, but we still get great results in it. The trick is, like I say, we harp on about this a lot, but it really is about finding out what your visitors think, because that’s how you come up with the test ideas in the first place. So it becomes a no-brainer when you do that.
More tips and techniques
James: Aside from Qualaroo, what else can you do to find out? I know, for example, one of my products I had a survey question upon purchase which said, “Why did you buy?” And I used to put that back into my sales letter. Are there other techniques you could use?
Bradley: Yeah, we use email surveys, so like something like FluidSurveys or PopSurveys, to just send out to your most recent customers. It’s often a good kind of segment to email because things are kind of fresh in their mind.
So maybe you send out to your last couple of thousand customers, hoping to get back at least 200, 250 responses to get a kind of meaningful data set. And you can ask them: “What are the top three things that persuaded you to buy from us or what are the top three things that nearly put you off?”
Because when you find those out, it’s exactly as you say James, you just inject that back into your sales copy and it can have a really nice lift for you.
James: Very nice. Well, you guys have given us some great tips today. Tradition on this show is we usually finish with an action step that a listener could take, as a result of listening to this, to get a maximum return on investment.
Obviously, if someone has an e-commerce store, or any sort of website that sells something, that’s getting several thousand visitors a month then they might want to go and check out your Conversion Rate Academy.
So that’s a given. That being the case, what’s an action step our listener could take right now, on their sales website, that could get them a really good return on investment?
Your action step to start split testing
Bradley: Sure. Well, the obvious thing to do is just start split testing because a big mistake is just not running tests. You have to these days. To survive in the next few years, you’re going to be having to run split tests.
So the first thing I would do is just go out, sign up for a free trial on Qualaroo and stick the survey on your cart page, your product page and your checkout page and on your thank you page as well.
So, on your thank you page you can ask: “What persuaded you to buy?” exactly as you said and on the other pages you can trigger it so that if they go to exit, you can ask them: “What stopped you from buying from us today?”
You start gathering data and then while that’s gathering, you can run a warm up test. So, go and do something like a headline test, a strapline test, some of those other easy tests we’ve talked about, just something simple that’s not going to involve loads of development time or design time.
And the beauty is with testing tools, like Optimizely for example, they’ve got what’s called a WYSIWYG editor in them. So you can go in and make changes to your site within the WYSIWYG editor, set it live and you never have to talk to a designer or a developer.
The only thing you need to do is install a snippet of code to install the split testing software. So you can actually start testing with virtually zero technical skills.
So the point is just go out there and do this stuff because it works and as soon as you start getting results, it gets addictive. So, just make a start.
John: It gets very addictive. I’d like just to add to that James, I believe one of the first things people should do is understand their sales or conversion funnel and they can get a lot of insights from Google analytics and there’s a free tool that you can sign up for and the name escapes me… what’s the name of that tool Bradley?
Bradley: It’s PadiTrack. Yeah
John: Paditrack. yeah. And you can use that tool to at least get quick analytics to see where your visitors are dropping off and from that information you can look to maybe plug those holes quickly by using some of the things that Bradley has just shared.
James: Fantastic. Well, very generous. Bradley and John, lovely to have you on the show, and I’m sure you’re going to go really well with your Conversion Rate Academy, because you’ve got some serious experience there, especially in the e-commerce market.
So even the tips you’ve shared today for free will help a listener get a return on investment, and I’m sure that they know where to go and get some help, if they need to take it to the next stage. So thanks so much for being on the show today.
Bradley: Our pleasure. Thanks, James.
John: Been a pleasure, thank you James.
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