CRO Foundations, Best Practices

Teddy Andrei - Digital Growth Consultant
May 31, 2024
7 min read

CRO Foundations and Best Practices

The mindset of growth and CRO professionals should not always be focused strictly on how to increase conversion rates. This may seem counter-intuitive, but think about it like this: if our main goal was to increase conversions, we could simply introduce a large discount resulting in a sky-high conversion rate. But when you are slashing prices, it will naturally lead to a major loss in profit. CRO is about creating and sustaining long-term growth, increasing revenue and the return on your investment (in marketing and other aspects of your business). Sustained growth is the result of product-market fit and reaching your target audience in the most effective way possible.

In digital marketing, new trends appear and old trends become ineffective at a rapid pace. One of the best ways to reach your target audience effectively is to constantly stay on top of these trends in order to get the most out of new channels, tools, and strategies. CRO isn’t about silver bullet solutions or the “best” strategies, it is highly dependent on your own case. There are many ways to reach your ideal customer, but finding 2 to 3 top channels and optimizing their entire journey for each case should be your goal. So, how do you do that? As mentioned before, there is no single best way to go about it, but there are methodologies that you can use consistently to gradually improve your marketing funnels. A growth specialist is responsible for implementing these methods to discover the best conversion opportunities for different contexts and in a constantly-changing digital sphere.

One of the most popular universal frameworks growth marketers use is the Lean Startup methodology (which you can read more about in Eric Ries’s highly-praised book “Lean Startup’’). The main principle behind this methodology is that you should implement a circular process of discovering and testing new ideas for improvement. This can be applied to digital marketing as well, but also to your entire startup, product or service. It is difficult to get everything right from the very beginning, this is why 9/10 of startups fail. But if you have a process that allows you to evolve constantly in a structured way, and according to the feedback and data you receive, you can improve your chances drastically. The Lean Startup process is very simple on paper, it involves forming ideas about how you can improve, choosing a relevant KPI, and defining a range that defines whether your idea for improvement is successful or not. By analysing the data that results from this change, you can determine if it has a positive impact. Afterwards, if this change had a positive impact, you can implement it. Additionally, you can use your learnings to form new ideas. This circular process ensures that you have a constant process of improvement.

Here are a few places you can start to identify potential improvements:

  • Functionality: Does your website perform well from a technical perspective?
  • Accessibility: Are all visitors able to read the information on your website and navigate through it with relative ease (especially your target audience)? Can visitors with visual challenges who rely on screen readers also use it properly?
  • Usability: Is your website experience intuitive and user-friendly? Are you tracking how people are interacting with your website according to heatmaps and session recording?
  • Persuasiveness: Does your website properly convince people about the value of your product or service through the use of copy and imagery?

By asking yourself these questions, you can make sure that you make your online presence relevant and tailored to your target audience. You want to reduce any kind of friction and frustration as much as possible while keeping only persuasive elements that drive conversions.

CRO Best Practices for Websites

Now that you have an overview of the principles that you should be mindful of, here are a few specific best practices to guide the design of your websites and landing pages. Keep in mind, best practices are only useful as starting points. Test everything as they may or may not work for your situation:

  • Online forms should always be as short as possible. Only collect the bare minimum of what you need. Don’t ask for names if you won’t be using them in email personalization, and don’t ask for phone numbers if you will never call them. Ideally, having a single field such as their email is enough. If you have longer forms, always think of how you can shorten them, since shorter forms are equal to more form submissions in almost every case.
  • Category pages should be made practical and should organize items on your website logically based on how people differentiate products. Breadcrumbs (or the path that you navigate through your website) should always be included on all pages so people can easily go back if they need to.
  • Important buttons and CTAs should always have a high-contrasting color (that is different from other colors on your website) so they stand out and attract attention. Also important to note: CTA buttons should only lead you closer to conversions.
  • Hero sections (the first and most visited part of your homepage) must always be around 700px in height and should show a clear headline that includes the main form of value that your product or service can provide, with a few sub-headlines presenting unique selling points and a contrasting CTA button that can lead visitors further down the conversion path.
  • Imagery, which is noticed by our (reptilian) brains much faster than text, should also convey the value of what you sell. Make sure to include clear pictures with a high-quality format while also not adding too much load time to your website. You can compress images to make your website load faster. Ideally, you should keep your page below 2MB. Be mindful of mobile data users.
  • Keep font sizes at a minimum of 16px to ensure that visitors can read your content. Research suggests that larger font sizes generate a stronger emotional response, so you can also use very large sizes for your most important titles. Avoid adding too much text, walls of information are not fun and will not be read by most visitors with a short attention span.
  • Pricing should always be kept very clear, next to the list of features associated with specific pricing plans. Comparison grids that clearly show different payment plans that are easy to differentiate typically have the best performance. People should easily understand what they get for what they pay for.
  • A FAQ section should be avoided if possible. If you’re not answering all the questions that a visitor or potential buyer may have, you have not designed the copy and imagery properly on your pages.
  • Search bars must always be included on sites where there is a large variety of products (more than 20+).
  • Adding items to your cart must be made clearly visible. An animation or pop-up of the cart should appear as soon as you add something to your cart as a visual confirmation.

Please note that these are starting points. Most of this advice can be applied universally and successfully, but you must always confirm your assumptions with a structured testing framework. Never assume something works just because it seems like it will, otherwise you will be wasting money on designing and driving traffic to an online experience that doesn’t drive conversions.

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