Marketing is always changing. Each year, new technologies and tactics become available. Smart marketers are quick to jump on new opportunities. Content marketing, ad retargeting, customer success… These are all relatively new ideas that became mainstream seemingly overnight.
Conversion rate optimization certainly isn’t new. Businesses have always worked to improve the rate at which they close sales. But like any other marketing field, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve.
The best CROs identify trends and pounce quickly. If your website can’t make the sale, another website will.
Even though we haven’t quite reached the end of 2016, it’s time to starting looking ahead. What’s in store for conversion rate optimization in 2017?
As more businesses depend on online revenue, there’s a greater need than ever to squeak out every sale. Businesses want to see optimizations faster than ever.
Multi-variate testing is systematic experimentation of website elements at scale. It allows you to rapidly increase the speed you test your optimizations because it compares multiple variables at the same time. Furthermore, it reveals how variables interact with one another, which eliminates the occurrence of high-converting elements somehow creating a low-converting page.
This image from Optimizely explains the process. Multi-variate testing is used on pages where multiple elements are up for experimentation. A version of a web page is created for each variable combination. Traffic is divided to each version.
The downside here is that multi-variate testing requires a lot of traffic. Since the experiments are factorial, adding multiple elements quickly increases the number of combinations to be tested.
You need a sufficient flow sent to each version of your website so there’s enough data to draw conclusions. Even the most popular websites don’t have enough traffic to test six or seven variables on the same page. You might be forced to let a multivariate test run far longer than you would a standard A/B test to collect enough data.
The robots are rising
The biggest bugbear for low traffic sites has been the inability to run A/B tests, let alone multivariate tests. But this is all about to change.
Machine learning has been slowly getting more and more attention.
New tools on the landscape such as Sentient Ascend are using machine learning and evolutionary algorithms to predict and automate the testing process. As one of their customers put it “Sentient Ascend is allowing us to test all variables at once without human intervention, fear of contamination or traditional timelines. I see this type of solution sending tremors throughout the entire industry and ultimately shifting all conversion related benchmarks into hyper-drive”
Whilst this is still early days, it holds some promise and we are going to see a lot more of this in 2017.
OK, I know. You’ve heard this one before. But it’s truer every year and worth mentioning.
1.2 billion people use mobile devices. Since 61% of people judge a business by the appearance of their website, having a crisp and fast mobile site is important.
This year, optimize your entire mobile experience. Build a website and serve content (through your blog, email, or social channels) that’s suitable for 300 pixel screens and cellular service.
Here are the three big ways you can optimize for mobile.
- Responsiveness – Naturally, your website should collapse cleanly when viewed on a mobile device. Make sure all of its content is usable in the smaller format. Adjust font sizes, colors, and content structure appropriately.
- Abandon that slider – Sliders are popular still, even though there’s plenty of research that they don’t improve conversion rate. On mobile devices, they look and function poorly.
- Oh, and don’t forget to optimize your apps. Users spend 89% of their mobile time using apps.
Content is tremendously important for many businesses. It’s used to attract traffic, gather leads, nurture those leads, and turn them into buyers. “Well-crafted content can draw traffic to your website and social media accounts, boost your performance on search results pages, and give audiences the opportunity to share your content with their friends,” says content marketing specialist Sarah Smith at Campaignium.
You’ve probably spent some time adjusting the structure of content – location of calls to action, sidebar vs. no sidebar, size of images, etc. With a careful CRO process, however, we can experiment with the base copy itself.
As Google and Facebook work to weed out click-bait headlines and push out weak content, it will become important for content marketers to pack as much value into their content as possible. Skilled copywriters can test introductory paragraphs, conversion-leading sentences, links, headlines, or in-content offers.
We have near-constant access to the Internet these days. We wear devices like the Apple Watch or Fitbit. We spend a majority of our day in Wi-Fi zones. Our refrigerators, cars, stop lights, and hundreds of other devices connect with one another. Plus we all keep a smartphone in our pocket. As Wired says, “The Internet of Things is far bigger than anyone realizes.”
Each of these devices are “access points” into customers’ lives. New marketing opportunities will open that will require constant A/B testing. There will be new technologies to learn and touch points to build into your marketing funnels.
Conversion testing will become more complex. You’ll integrate more tools, examine new types of data, and vary your workflow. As more devices and more contexts become available, you’ll be forced to experiment across multiple platforms. Over time, testing complexity will increase exponentially as you include more and more technologies.
Personalizing the customer’s web experience is an excellent way to generate more sales – by about 20%. Personalized calls to action improve the conversion rate by a whopping 42%! It’s no wonder that, according to Econsultancy, 52% of marketers see personalization as critical to their strategies.
Simply put, personalization means delivering a web experience that speaks directly to your customers. It’s about serving content that’s specific to them.
Think about it like this: There are a lot of websites to buy things. In many cases, prices are similar. Personalization creates a connection between you and the customer so they develop a preference for your company.
Personalization can be achieved in several ways. You’ll have to be creative, but these tactics are the most common and are expected to gain widespread use.
1. Personal emails – Email marketing is still one of the most powerful sales channels. Use segmentation to divide customers into groups and provide targeted content that meets customers’ expectations. You could also pair emails with built-in triggers so content is served depending on the customer’s use of your website or application (for example, an automated “Can we help?” email is sent if the user makes three searches in your knowledge base.
2. Product recommendations – If you’re optimizing an ecommerce site, personalization can be used to recommend products that match with users’ purchase history and browse history.
3. Dynamic pricing – Generally, dynamic pricing is used by airlines and large enterprise businesses. Depending on outside conditions (like the availability of a commodity, for instance), you could adjust pricing across your entire site. You could also automatically adjust shipping information depending on the user’s location to make them aware of total costs before checkout.
4. Location-specific content – Use the data you gain from your customers to serve content that relates to their location in the world. For instance, if you rented office space, you would want to populate a page with rentals in the customer’s area. This quickly convinces the customer that you have something they might want to buy.
How does CRO affect personalization? Well, like all things, there’s a limit. Too much personalization is creepy and invasive. Your customers might be happy with an email addressed by name, but ultra-targeted ads might make them uncomfortable. Or, they might not respond to personalization at all. CRO has to find the balance.
Don’t feel compelled to implement all of these trends. Choose the ones that are right for your business. If, for instance, your app or website isn’t available on a coffee maker (yes, Wi-Fi enabled coffee makers exist), there’s no reason to run tests for that device. Focus on the experiments that will foster results.
When you’re ready to supercharge your testing, request a free demo of Effective Experiments, a comprehensive conversion rate optimization platform.