September 18, 2013 By BJ Cook,
As the digital realm continues to expand and e-commerce becomes a more common means of consumption, the sea of competitive websites will grow even larger. So how do you know if your website will outperform your competitor’s? The secret is in the optimistic acronym, CRO. The multitude of options for online acquirement have created a very short tempered behavior prevalent amongst online shoppers. Considering how the rise of mobile shopping will only increase this decline of patience, you might begin to wonder how to convince visitors to commit to your site all the way through the research process and ultimately through checkout. Before the flood of e-commerce sites, businesses could survive by focusing on acquisition. Increasing traffic had significant results on revenue generation as the visitors were limited by their options to shop elsewhere. In today’s market, there are so many digital purchasing platforms that businesses must shift toward retention focused objectives to stay competitive. Once traffic hits a site it is imperative to do everything possible to increase the chance of converting those visits into sales. This process must merge a visitor’s past, present and future expectations with highly intuitive and navigable design features. The process does not condone cookie cutter techniques, but rather encourages a complete understanding of how your vertical functions and what your target demographic expects via competitive analysis. This is the first step in an ongoing process called Conversion Rate Optimization. While blind adjustments might reveal micro gains, we have found that a systematic approach leveraging information can help develop a strategic vantage point when implementing alternative solutions.  After thorough analysis of your market and target demographics via research and surveys, you should consider how your site has been performing by studying its analytics and sales records. If your site is properly tracked, you might find some very revealing information. Once you have identified your site’s strengths and weaknesses you will be ready to implement business objectives and goals into scripted off site user tests for unbiased feedback. The micro goal here is to further identify strengths and weaknesses in your site’s navigation and overall flow. After analysing the user tests you should have solid focal points for A/B testing. My suggestion for strong A/B and multivariate testing would be to reanalyze the entire picture after everything you have learned along the way. Your original thoughts and predictions concerning the project may have changed significantly, but this is a good thing so embrace it. In an unpredictable era, you must question assumptions and cater to evolving visitors. So test. Programs featuring WYSIWYG website editing software with integrated analytics have changed the game. Those of us who lack fluency in code now have the power to test site redesigns with tracked goals and analytics from live portions of traffic. Be sure to consolidate steps, remove barriers and provide useful information to facilitate their shopping experience. One of the greatest thrills of working with the Strategy Team at Digital Operative has been to see this process come to life. There is no better feeling than to tell a client you have improved their conversion rate and increased their revenue. When it comes to CRO, the process simply continues. As Winston Churchill said, “to improve is to change; to perfect is to change often”. Conversion Rate Optimization will always be crucial to digital strategy. Those who approach it with a balance of art and science should have the best foundation to implement incredibly innovative solutions. By focusing on demographic behavior and intuitive design, while intelligently testing with visitor and business objectives in mind, your site will transgress from adapt to survive to e-flourish and thrive. Erik Davignon was DOs Summer Strategy Intern

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