Small business owners spend countless hours developing a site that will wow visitors, and spending time focusing on SEO is certainly important. However, it is not just enough to lure shoppers to an ecommerce site. The point, after all, is to make the sale.

Where SEO draws in potential buyers, CRO (or conversion rate optimization) turns that potential into reality. A smart website administrator will use CRO to uncover small mistakes that stop people from taking action. For instance, a flaw in layout or execution, such as a broken link or poorly placed “buy now” button, could literally prevent a purchase from occurring. Or perhaps a design choice, such as a color scheme or button font, can affect a visitor’s thought process, whether consciously or subconsciously, and interrupt the buying process.

Focusing on CRO can help website owners turn visitors into buyers and be a factor in the success and failure of any well-executed e-commerce site. If you’ve discovered that SEO wasn't enough, consider the following advice on conversion optimization to help get more out of your current traffic.

When To Use CRO

It's important to know when to use CRO. While many websites profit from conversion optimization, not all of them do. New sites, for instance, should focus on drawing in traffic and creating valuable content.

Sites without high traffic volumes are unlikely to benefit from the sometimes minute changes of CRO. In established sites, however, proper optimization can translate into a great deal of recurring monthly revenue. The leverage that results from thousands of visitors is likely to impact the bottom line for established sites, whereas new site owners may only feel frustrated in what feels like wasted effort.

Where to Start

Sure, color scheme is an important part of CRO, but it’s not the starting line. Begin by testing major changes to the site, such as the design, layout, menu structure, and alternate landing pages. Think big when starting out. Once those changes have been made, then - and only then - it is time to test button placement or font color.

A/B Tests

High school science classes teach the importance of testing one variable at a time. Remember your science fair project on plant growth? The teacher stressed the importance of selecting and testing each variable - light, heat, moisture. The project would have been inconclusive if more than one variable interfered with the results.

The same idea applies to CRO testing.

Each version of the site (A and B) should only have a single change that could affect the conversion rate. The remainder of the site must be identical except for the single variable that is being tested.

So perhaps you are testing a vertical versus a horizontal site menu. You would run identically-worded ads with two separate landing pages, A and B. Both pages should have identical content, but A has a vertical menu while B’s is horizontal. Upon the completion of the A/B testing, compare the conversion rates of both landing pages in order to determine your best course of action.

Optimize your ecommerce site by repeating the A/B testing using different variables, incrementally tracking each change and the results of the test. Make changes as needed.

Using Different Media Types

Some people prefer reading content while others would rather watch a video or look at an infographic. Since you will most likely have various types of visitors to your ecommerce site, it is a good idea to utilize all types of media. Making content available in text, image, and video format may increase conversions, so create multiple versions and go back to A/B testing of your site. Testing each change is a big part of CRO and is the only way to ensure that the changes you make are effective.

Choosing the Right Wording

Words are powerful. They’ve broken apart families, ended wars, and been the bridge to long-term love relationships.  When used correctly, words can influence the behavior of visitors, meaning the difference between a general glance at your ecommerce site and a sale from a new customer. Numerous case studies have proven that a change to the wording of a call to action can more than double response rates.

Now that truly is powerful.

Utilize effective and relevant phrasing and run A/B testing to fully optimize your landing pages. Be sure to optimize beyond the web content itself and consider the wording on infographics and clickable buttons as well.

Remember to always highlight benefits and not features.

Testing Colors

Scientifically-speaking, different colors create different feelings or moods. Advertisers know that they can affect how customers respond to their ecommerce site by utilizing color schemes and choices. For instance, making a call-to-action button, such as a “Buy Now” button, a bright color may increase clicks by 20 percent, according to case studies. Red is the most attention-grabbing color used for this purpose.

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Change the color scheme of your site, following up with A/B testing to determine the best color choice. Below is a quick guide for business owners:

  • Warm colors: Colors such as yellow, orange, pink, and red are eye-catching that promotes a sense of friendliness and energy.
  • Cold, bright colors: Lighter blues, lavender, and silver add a fresh look and subtlety that is great for professional-looking sites.
  • Cold, dark colors: Violet, navy blue, hunter green, and turquoise provide a feeling of quality and stability.
  • Warm, dark colors: Gold, brown, and purple are classical colors that signify luxury, relaxation, and tradition.
  • Neutral colors: Neutral supporting colors - including white, gray, and black - don’t convey anything on their own, but draw out other colors and provide contrast.

Misrepresenting Your Site Through Online Advertising

You’ve spent time ensuring that the theme of your site is in a suitable color, that you’ve used the right content and media, and that each page provides a relevant call-to-action. Next it’s time to develop online advertising that will draw in visitors.

If these ads do not properly depict what your site offers, you may lose potential clients as well as their friends and followers. It is essential that both the design and content of each piece of marketing material clearly represents what your site provides or sells. Otherwise, your product, company, or service may get the reputation as being low-quality or worse, as spam. In this age of technology and social media, word of mouth travels faster than ever.

Remaining Patient

Be prepared to wait because A/B testing takes time. Web administrators must remain patient and allow the tests to run through complete fruition. It is easy to see a conversion rate increase and think that you’ve received proof that your change is effective. However, countless other factors can skew the results.

Wait patiently and run longer tests. The longer, the better. This will allow you to determine additional factors which may affect results. Perhaps customers buy more frequently at the end of the month, on the weekend, or before a holiday.

Continue to Optimize

Since websites are meant to be dynamic, it is essential that you update content and add features and information, in addition to continuing to optimize your site. While you may feel that you can sit back and relax after you’ve finished A/B testing for each various aspect, your job is not done. With each update, you’ve added new factors that can affect the conversion rate. Think of each page you add as a new opportunity to maximize conversions.

About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.