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Conversion rate optimisation for small businesses: an introduction

Make the most of your web traffic by fine tuning your website. Conversion rate optimisation or CRO is the science of finding out what makes more of your visitors convert into paying customers.

It’s a common gripe among small business owners that they see plenty of Analytics traffic but “my phone isn’t ringing” or “nobody is filling out the contact form”. If this is the case for you, then it is definitely worth looking at your site with a fresh pair of eyes.

So without any more messing about, let us dive into the topic of conversion rate optimisation like Katie Hopkins would into an outrageous statement.


What is conversion rate optimisation?

To briefly summarise, CRO is a drive to analyse the behaviours of your website visitors and see how you can produce better conversion rates against your chosen goals. A goal can be any number of outcomes, including:

  • An eCommerce purchase
  • A tracked phone inquiry
  • An email query
  • A completed Contact Form inquiry
  • A subscription to your newsletter
  • A registration for downloadable content
  • An viewing of a video

You should use Google Analytics to measure your conversion rates. Make sure you’re set up for the basics with our intro guide and then take a look at Google’s own help page on setting goals. We’ve also embedded their video intro below, in case you’re interested.

An example of a conversion rate

Perkins Plumbers have a contact form for “free quotations on boiler installations”, which is distinct from their regular contact form for general inquiries. Their owner Pete Perkins decides he wants to get a better understanding of the conversion rate for the “free quotations” form.

To measure the conversion rate, Pete could compare the number of site visitors with the number of completed form submissions over a period of time. By measuring each week or each month, Pete can see if there is a trend in the conversion rate and then make changes to the site to see if he can help increase that rate significantly.


How to put CRO into action: 5 simple steps

Before you get started with conversion optimisation, you should consider a few things. As we said before, CRO is “the science” of finding out what makes more customers convert. And “science” means analysis and tracking results.


1. Establish your baseline

Before you get started with CRO, you need to establish your baseline. Decide what you are measuring as a conversion: this is the behaviour you want to improve over time.

If you have 400 visitors a month, and 2 people per month fill out your contact form, then your conversion rate will be 2/400=0.005, or 0.5%. Your aim with CRO is therefore to increase this percentage.


2. Find an element to test and optimise

In our example, you have a conversion rate of 0.5% for your contact form. If you want to increase the rate, what can you do to improve it, and how can you test it? A workable theory might be “adding a call-to-action button in a prominent area that links to the contact form”.


3. Make tests and track results

Figure out what changes you can make to improve your conversion rate. Remember to only change one variable at a time, otherwise it will be difficult to track what it was that improved the rate.

Continuing our example, we decide to put a special “Request a Quote” call to action (or CTA) button at the top of the page content on the home page. If you also decide to add a text link at the bottom of each page, it becomes very difficult to track which change leads to the next set of conversion rate results.

You could try the button first for one interval, and then try the text links for another period of time. Just make sure to record results over the same period and make changes one at a time. Measure the results against your baseline, and you’ll soon see what works.


4. Implement the changes

Now you’ve saved and assessed your data, it’s time to put it into action. Which test had the biggest impact? Bear in mind that a very minor change (less than 5%) could just be random chance for larger samples in the many hundreds and thousands.

To get into the realm of what statistical boffins call “statistical significance” for these bigger samples, you ideally want to see a change of more than 5% as a rule of thumb.

However for a smaller business, if there is a small and steady improvement, it isn’t to be sniffed at. A 1% increase (to 1.5%) would mean 4 extra customers per month on our original example. That would be 3 times as much customer contact!


5. Rinse and repeat!

As we keep on stating in our blog, website optimisation isn’t a goal, it’s a journey. If you improve one area of your site, it’s time to pat yourself on the back, deal with the extra business that’s hopefully generated, and then go on making improvements to your website.

Try looking at as many areas of your site as possible, whether that means your eCommerce shopping cart journey or copy used for your special offers. Try looking at your site with the eyes of a stranger: you don’t want to make your customer’s journey too complex, as in this video.

There are virtually endless ways where your site could potentially be improved, as this blog of 100 CRO case studies from Kissmetrics shows. Just remember to pursue them one at a time, so you can accurately track the outcomes.


Trendzer users: try out our CTA builder

A visual Call to Action button is a great way to guide your visitors down your customer journey. You can make a graphic with great visual impact just by following our help and support guide for the CTA builder.

It’s a simple way to add a customised button with your site’s design and text style in mind. Give it a try, and then apply some CRO using different colours or page positions.

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