— May 29, 2018
To those who are unfamiliar with the world of conversion rate optimization, more commonly known as CRO, the goal of these types of endeavors may seem obvious. After all, it’s in the name . . . Wouldn’t you simply be trying to improve a website’s overall conversion rate?
As a matter of fact, the end goal of conversion rate optimization varies widely depending on the purpose of an organization’s website or, on a more granular level, a webpage itself. Before you select the website metrics that you should be focusing your efforts on and using to report on your success, it’s imperative you determine the end goal of the webpage.
Despite the variance in goals across companies and their websites, there are a few common purposes for webpages, and a few common metrics you should be monitoring and measuring.
We’ll cover the metrics below. First, here are some of the most common webpage purposes:
- Answer a visitor’s question
- Allow a visitor to easily navigate deeper into the website
- Perform a specific on-page action
Answer a Visitor’s Question
Regardless of how a visitor arrives at a specific page of your website, you want to be sure that your webpages answer questions in two specific ways.
First and foremost, make sure the on-page content matches what a visitor expects to see. Secondly, be sure the answer can be easily found. You never want your website’s visitors to have to put in effort to find the information that they seek; chances are, if they do have to, they’ll bounce.
Which brings us to our first critical metric: bounce rate.
A website’s bounce rate is defined as a single-page session on a website. Essentially, this means that a visitor arrives at your website, takes zero on-page actions, and navigates away. Now, before you panic and make lowering your website’s bounce rate your number one priority, it’s important to note that high bounce rates aren’t always bad.
For example, let’s say that I google “what are the best places to work remotely in Dublin?” A website that looks like it will answer my question pops up in the search results, so I dive in. The website’s layout and copy are easy to navigate, directly written, and allow me to quickly find my answer (K.C. Peaches seems like a great place to start my work week). However, let’s say that this website was written for college students of Dublin; unfortunately, the majority of the other articles are not relevant to me. So, I leave.
Now, if you’re the creator of this website and you have no direct insights into your visitors’ exact searches, but you’re seeing that this page has a bounce rate far higher than the industry average, how do you know that this website page is in fact written in line with the best practices we mentioned above?
While you can’t use this metric with exact certainty, you should take a look at the time spent on the page. If it looks like visitors are only spending about 10 seconds (or some amount of time far lower than what you’d expect given the amount of copy) on the page, you might be able to infer that there is a disconnect between a visitor’s query and the information that you provide. However, if you see that visitors are spending an amount of time on the page that is in line with your expectations, yet they still exit without taking any action, this might be indicative of another problem altogether.
A visitor’s time spent on specific pages of your website will most likely not be a specific metric of your CRO initiatives’ success. However, you should continue to look at this metric to provide context and insights into your visitors’ browsing behaviors.
Facilitate Further Navigation
This goal is most applicable to a website’s homepage, the pages that are primary elements within your website navigation, or even your “About” page, as new website visitors tend to direct themselves here when they need additional high-level information about an organization. Essentially, these pages should speak to various components of the website’s owner, components which are most likely showcased in other pages and sections of the website.
Once again, we want to eliminate the need for visitors to take additional actions and expend any unnecessary effort. Showcasing information within the primary navigation (“Solutions,” for example) is a good practice, but it may not be good enough.
If these solutions are mentioned on your homepage, they should link to relevant interior pages. The same is true with your more interior pages: If individual solutions are mentioned on your “Solutions” page, for example, those individual solutions should be linked in a way that allows for visitors to easily navigate to those specific pages to learn more.
Perform a Specific On-Page Action
Now, you might be wondering . . . What specific metrics should you be measuring here? As with most things in digital marketing, it depends. Read on for some common metrics that may be useful to you:
- CTA click-throughs: If these navigational elements are set up as calls-to-action (CTAs), I find looking at the CTA’s views, clicks, and submissions to be the best way to measure this goal’s success. Not only can I see the performance of the individual element (are visitors using this navigational feature?), but depending on where the element is directing visitors, I can see the success of the next page as well.
- Events: Events are a functionality of HubSpot that allow you to understand your visitors’ specific behaviors, specifically clicking on a URL or element on the page.
- Conversion funnels: Certain tools, such as Lucky Orange, offer these capabilities that allow you to track the path a visitor takes up to a certain point—such as clicking on a link, an element, or even navigating to a specific page.
- User path: Within Google Analytics, you have the ability to look at visitors’ paths through your website. While this may not help you in terms of the success of specific on-page elements (comparing one link to another), this tool helps to provide insights in terms of visitors’ overarching behaviors.
- On-page clicks and scrolling: Whenever possible, I try to look at qualitative performance as well as quantitative performance. Perhaps I can see that a CTA’s click-through rate (CTR) is particularly low for a page with a certain number of views. If I’m just looking at the CTA’s CTR, I might (wrongly) assume that the CTA is poorly written. However, by looking at visitors’ on-page behavior, I might see that few visitors are even scrolling to the section of the page that contain the element in question. Again, while click maps may not be the most effective in terms of developing a smart goal for your CRO initiative, they help to provide insights and context as to why visitors do what they do.
While on-page conversions tend to be most commonly linked with the success of landing pages, many middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel webpages (product specifications and pricing, for example) offer relevant opportunities for on-page lead generation.
In these cases, there are two specific metrics that you can look at to understand the success of your website page: the page’s conversion rate and the form submission rate.
In looking at a page’s overall conversion rate, keep in mind that this should really only be used when a page only has one form. After all, if the page has a “Schedule a Demo” form as well as a “Subscribe to the Blog” form, this overall page conversion rate will take both into account.
In that case, you should look at the form submission rate. However, just like when looking at a landing page’s performance, you need to remember that the form submission rate is a culmination of many different factors on that page. Is the offer relevant to the on-page copy? Is the offer properly explained? Are you asking for too much information within the form itself?
CRO and Inbound Marketing
As with most experiments, specific data points are nothing without context. Be sure to leverage the qualitative information available to you, not only to provide context to the metrics mentioned above, but to develop relevant and realistic hypotheses, draw correlations and causations, and tie these findings back to your organization’s overall KPIs.
Just as these metrics need context (you can’t simply look at a number and infer what it means!), so do the experiments you’re running. Take these metrics back to your organization’s purpose, its customers, and its buyer personas, and be sure that the CRO initiatives you’re running, as well as the metrics you’re measuring, support your overall corporate goals.