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What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?

E-consultancy defines CRO as the process of optimising your site to increase the likelihood that visitors will complete that specific action. So basically, CRO looks at making more efficient your website.

CRO is an extremely powerful and you’ll agree with me as look as we do a quick math exercise.  Let’s say your site get 5,000 visits a month, and your conversion rate is 1%. With CRO methods in place, you could increase this conversion rate to 1.1%. This means that CRO would help you get 5 extra sales every month, from 50 to 55.

CRO is a relatively new digital marketing tool, however I believe that the principles behind CRO are not that new and come from traditional advertising, specifically from Merchandising.

What is Merchandising?

 Merchandising is the activity of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets

Even though the definition is quite broad, it mentions presentation of goods in retail stores. Now, let’s just think about how you show goods online in a e-commerce site. CRO is a way of Merchandising your online store using the learnings from good old merchandising.

Common Techniques – What CRO learnt from Merchandising

Related products

Every time you buy a product in, they would always show you products that others have also bought to complement what you just bought. This makes total sense as they want to increase the value of your basket tempting you with products that make sense to buy. In the store, we also find this recommendations in the checkout areas, but instead of products related to what we have in our basket (that obviously the retailer can’t predict) we just find generic products that are always “useful”. Batteries, chewing gum, chocolate bars, etc.

Tracking users

I’m sure that you know how many websites use tracking systems that record everything you do on the site. They study your behaviour with heatmaps to understand how you scroll the page, what areas you look at, where you click, etc. What happens in stores? Exactly the same. Don’t you think that security cameras are just there to scare thieves, they are also there to track where you go, what products you pick up and what areas of the store you ignore. Analyse, learn and test!

No all merchandising works in CRO

One cool technique in merchandising used in many stores is the use of cold and warm areas. Warm areas are those ones where there is a lot of traffic (the area next to the entrance, checkout area, milk area). One of the goals of a merchandiser is to keep clients in store for as long as possible to they pick up products that they didn’t intended to buy in the same place. With this aim, some stores change the usual location of basics products like bread and milk so that clients need to search for them and walk longer which increases the likelihood of dropping additional products into the trolley.

Replicating this online would mean changing menus and checkout process which would definitely get users frustrated and eventually would end up leaving the site. The users online have many options and it would take them less than 3 seconds to “jump” from one store to another one.

Offline Vs Online

As a digital marketer I believe that online advertising techniques are a very powerful way to market your products due to the granularity of the data which helps you understand what works and what doesn’t, however I always keep in mind the traditional marketing principles that are the foundation to digital marketing.

Image with credit to Wendy via Flickr

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