The best way to approach conversion rate optimization (CRO) is with a user-centric CRO method that takes a big-picture look at your website pages and their users before drilling down into concrete actions that increase each page’s effectiveness.
In this chapter, we’ll showcase how one conversion expert used Hotjar in combination with analytics to optimize a landing page and make sure users would follow the path laid out for them.
Landing pages are often the first, and sometimes the only, page on your website that a visitor sees—which means they are your most powerful chance to make a pitch for your goods or services.
Unlike a homepage, landing pages exist specifically to convert traffic into customers or repeat users; they are designed to either capture sales leads or directly sell a product.
A highly optimized landing page can be extremely effective at converting visitors, but one that misses the mark is a huge wasted opportunity.
A ‘successful’ landing page can look very different depending on your business model. Common landing page goals include convincing users to:
The internet is full of conversion rate optimization rules and best practices, but in reality there is no one-size-fits-all optimization approach because every website has unique users, products, and business models to account for.
We believe that the best way to improve your landing page performance is by getting to know and understand your customers. It's not rocket science, and you can do it by following the 3-step program to increase conversion rate we outlined in the previous chapter:
By fully understanding what’s driving, convincing, and persuading your users to take action, you should be able to come up with your own unique plan for optimization.
We’ve created a chart to help you organize this information:
Focusing your efforts on optimizing your landing pages, as opposed to your entire site, can help you quickly improve conversions and increase revenue. To illustrate this point, we’re going to use a real example of a company who boosted their revenue by $14,000 a month through landing page CRO.
Divorce Online is a leading online divorce facilitator in the UK that helps couples arrange amicable divorces. They’ve been offering affordable legal services online since 1999 and, by their own estimation, they are the largest filer of divorce cases in England and Wales.
While Divorce Online is already doing very well in the online legal services space, new competitors pop up all the time, and competition is fierce. To maintain their edge, they brought in a conversion-focused strategist, Joel Klettke, to help optimize their conversion rates.
They wanted to increase conversions on the landing pages of popular products and generate more sales and sign-ups from first-touch customers. They asked Joel to audit the homepage, as well as some of their major landing pages, most notably the Managed Divorce Service page.
The first step of the CRO action plan is identifying what brings people to your landing page and what they are hoping to take away from your website.
To do this, you need to learn about who is coming to your landing page and why. A standard option is to dig into website analytics to help determine who is visiting a website; a companion option is setting up an on-page survey to ask users who they are and why they’re here.
When Joel started digging through Google Analytics data, he found that:
Based on analytics data, Joel deduced that the Managed Divorce option was so popular because people did not want to navigate their divorce without some help: they wanted the peace of mind of having someone else take care of the process for them, without the hefty price of hiring a solicitor.
In other words: since the Managed Divorce option was the best one for people who wanted a speedy, straightforward divorce, but didn’t want to manage the process on their own, the primary drivers to the Managed Divorce Services page were:
From the data, Joel was able to gather that “our customer is busy, they're under pressure, they're tight on time, and they want to talk to a person because this is an emotional situation.”
➡ Using the 3-step CRO plan, this is where Joel’s information could be collected:
Pro tip: once you know why people are coming to a landing page, you can use their motivations, along with demographic information, to create user profiles or personas. User personas are realistic representations of your visitors that help you get a better sense of who your users and customers are and what they need.
The second step in the CRO program is to focus on what’s preventing visitors to this specific landing page from converting. What turned them off, scared them, or annoyed them into moving on?
Session recordings and heatmaps are two powerful tools that can help you follow the specific actions of real (anonymized) visitors on your webpage, and pinpoint exactly when they navigate away. By looking at a series of these recordings, you will start to see patterns that indicate when and why people failed to convert.
Joel used Hotjar’s user recordings feature to track user actions on the Managed Divorce Services page shown above. To do this, he watched nearly 200 session recordings, while taking detailed notes on user behavior and the time they spent on specific sections of the page.
By studying user behavior and combining it with analytics data, Joel was able to identify three major barriers that users frequently encountered during their time on the page:
➡ Using the 3-step CRO plan, this is how the information would be added:
The third and final step of the CRO program and landing page optimization involves polling your customer base to figure out what ‘hooks’ them or persuades them to take action. Knowing what is already working to draw in conversions can help you figure out what to double down on.
One way to do it is with post-conversion surveys or polls that specifically ask people what convinced them to convert; you can then simply analyze the results and categorize the main hooks based on how frequently they appear.
Another way to discover hooks is through reading website reviews and the transcripts of user chats. Joel followed this approach and, through his research, he discovered several features that were frequently mentioned by users:
➡ With this information, you could easily complete a CRO Action Plan one-sheet:
Identifying the most prevalent barriers and hooks that your users encounter should help bring major conversion issues and opportunities into focus. The next step is to come up with strategies to minimize the barriers to conversion and maximize the hooks, all while keeping in mind the unique concerns and desires of your key user personas.
Based on his findings, Joel recommended that Divorce Online do the following:
Divorce Online immediately adopted a handful of Joel’s most easily implemented recommendations and has long-term plans to integrate others. Already, just a few months out, the site has seen their Revenue per Visitor increase by 50p per month—if this doesn’t seem like a lot, that’s an extra £132,000 or $168,000 USD per year.
Remember that optimizing your landing page is not something you do one time, then move on. Keep testing user experience and reiterating the 3-step process to improve conversion rate even further as your products and the needs of your users change.