Getting started on a CRO audit can seem like a daunting task. Where do you start with a large site? Should you focus your attention on one area, or do you need to spread yourself far and wide?
At Erudite, we would say the best approach you can take is to let the data guide you. It can be easy to get distracted by individuals giving you their opinion on how you can improve their patch of a website, but does the data agree with their anecdotes?
Starting with the data allows you to identify areas of your site that underperform against your own baseline, allowing you to test, build and learn from what works and what doesn’t. Read on to see how you can get started on your CRO audit.
Step 1 – Does the Site Work?
This may seem like a strange place to start, after all, if your site was not working as expected you should know about it already? But beyond the obvious, does your site really perform at its best?
There are some amazing gains that can be made on any site just by checking the fundamentals. These are quick wins that often require minimal technical changes to implement.
For every second delay in site loading on mobile, conversion rate decreases by 20%. In fact, the average mobile page takes over 15 seconds to load. That’s a lot of opportunity to see improvement!
Crawl your site and see how many links lead to 404 pages. If users are clicking links and met with a 404, their need has not been met and you may now lose them. Go through and send users to appropriate pages where previously they were greeted with a ‘page not found.’
Step 2 – Analytics
Now that you have improved the UX sitewide, you can start to find the areas that need more focus. Make the most of your site analytics programs and take a look at the following metrics to identify issues in users journeys:
Channels / Sources
Understanding what channels are responsible for getting the traffic to the site can help us pinpoint differences in behaviour, whilst also highlighting what the core channels are, their intent and what pages they’re landing on.
The navigation summary allows you to see how traffic is flowing through the site. Start at the homepage, and follow how traffic is flowing through to conversion. You can repeat this step each time you identify a key source of traffic and follow it through to completion.
Device Split, Conversion Rates & Revenue
Understanding which devices users chose to visit the site from helps you to know the value of improving your mobile or desktop UI. High device usage with low conversion rate or revenue is an indication that there are issues for users on the device.
Search terms help tell us what users are looking for. The intent to purchase can be very high and it can often highlight opportunities for navigation optimization. Think about what page a user is landing on based on their intent. Where do you want them to go next?
Device Models / Browsers
A careful look through these reports can highlight device model or browser that is performing poorly. Look at the higher traffic ones to see if any are performing anomalously badly.
Understanding the site’s product performance can help identify flagship products that consumers often buy. This can help support navigation optimization, make it easy for users to reach key products.
Step 3 – Page Review
You’re now equipped with everything from GA. You know the device that most users visit on, identified exit rates and journey progressions that don’t seem right. Now it’s time to use the site from the POV of a potential customer. Our aim is to get to know the site inside and out.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. Using the user journey map you created in the previous phase, progress through the site on mobile and desktop, interacting with the various page elements.
Copy and Messaging
What is the sentiment of the page? What does the content give the user that they didn’t already know, and is it something that is likely to help them decide to purchase?
How do pages link together? Where are these links located? Think about where the user will be in their thinking at each point in the stage? Where is the CTA? Does it take them to the next stage of their journey or to something unrelated?
Are there any issues with how the page displays? Is it hard for users to see where they should click, or how to find a page? It is very important to consider the accessibility of your site, so make sure html is marked up for screen readers and colours have enough contrast.
Step 4 – Summarising Your Results
So now you have gathered together all of your findings, identified where your bottlenecks in the user journeys are and you are ready to optimise your site! Well not so fast. What your results are showing you is what’s happening, but your proposed fixes are only theory.
To be sure that you have identified the cause of the effect we saw in our data we must measure the changes that are made. Testing is a key part of CRO, and will provide you with answers to questions that you didn’t know you should have asked.
The most important thing for a test is a well-defined hypothesis of what you believe is the issue, how your changes will make a difference, and how you will measure the effect of your changes. This clear structure will help you learn more from your testing, as you can change the variables and compare results again.
Summarise your findings as hypotheses for tests using our format here:
- Observation: We know from the data that users do something that is not optimal.
- Hypothesis: By making the following changes we can meet the users need better.
- Variables: We are going to test these changes by testing the original page against 1 or more variant pages.
- Measurement: Success of the test will be measured by increase in clicks/conversion rate/time on page/fewer exits/more product page views per session/etc.
Taking it Further
You should now have a CRO audit which clearly lays out performance issues with the site, an examination of your user data, identification of on page issues and proposals for tests to improve the user journey and continue your learning.
If you want to take this learning further, surveys are a great way to find the true cause of issues. Your data tells you what is going on, but you need users to tell you why. Consider adding short surveys with a scaled response (1-5) or a very short written answer to pages where you are seeing users exit. You can uses the results to inform your hypotheses for future tests, and conduct more surveys after a successful test to ensure you have genuinely improved the user journeys and keep that uplift in conversion rate!