Overlooked Mistakes while Optimizing WordPress for Conversion Rate

User-experience still eventually boils down to one thing, i.e., Conversion.

Broadly speaking, conversion rate is The most tangible way of mapping ROI in UX. For developers’ /designers’ clients, that’s the endgame. That’s the one thing that matters, regardless of what anyone preaches.

By definition, conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who carry out a task that invariably benefits the site owner. It’s quantifiable and yes, it can be optimized. Conversions can be improved by “widening the funnel” so to speak (increasing the number of landing pages and/or site traffic to give you a statistic edge); or by rewiring the interface and creating an experience so compelling it drives visitors to convert.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the ways you can optimize the conversion rate on a WordPress website. Why WordPress? Because you are likely already on it (more than 1/4th of all websites on internet are), and because the steps outlined below are easier to carry-out with an admin interface as intuitive, friendly, and freeing as WordPress’.

Understanding Goals and Journeys

Read, subscribe, download (anything), sign up, buy… What is it that you want your users to do? Or more specifically, what do you need your users to do first?

I have seen so many great designs fail spectacularly by trying to achieve everything at once. Not only is it not possible, it’s overwhelming. It’s distracting, annoying, and reeks of desperation.

You must be familiar with (and usually irritated) with popups by now. Here, look at these:

This is from Wall Street Journal:

I came to read an article about a 93 year old woman and ALS, WallStreet!

WhatArmy’s blog:

Oy Vey!

These popped up before I could even get a chance to go through the content. Apparently there free t-shirt is more important than someone looking up their service.

Reebok Crossfit:

This shows up the second I arrive on the products’ catalogue page.

And these are the examples from the good websites!

Overlooking the message, the popup does not tie in with the user-journey and is likely guilty of driving visitors away. So even if WhatArmy’s goal is distributing free t-shirts to their subscribers, they are preventing people from looking up their own service. This is the highest-echelon of self-blocking if there ever was one.

Take a look at this:

This shows up when I am done reading the entire post

This popup isn’t designed with zings and sparkles or anything, but it has a long message (the blog’s entire audience is made of avid-readers) but it ties up rather well with the user-journey. Instead of being thrown in the user’s face the second they arrive on the page (Is that how you welcome visitors at your home?), it waits to showcase the relevant message at the right time.

For the sake of effective CRO, you have to trace back the first steps of UX:

  • Identify the goal (your business goal, that is)
  • Create a User-journey that prompts (not pushes. Prompts!) users in that direction
  • Map the journey in the interface

Don’t clutter your website with an almighty-chaos of messages. You have their attention, but that’s no excuse for exploding with excitement. Embrace the attention and use it to propel visitors forward. Whether it’s a pop-up, above-the-fold design, forms and CTAs, you cannot hope to do everything through a single, limited page at once. Prioritize your goals, and create an interface that revolves around those. One page at a time… Once you know which page is best suited to accomplish which goal, you can use plugins like Icegram or OptinMonster to create custom popups or landing pages.

Remember, “It’s a journey, not a destination.”

  • Analytics: Knowing What to test

Another big mistake designers and developers make in the name of CRO: testing things without a specific hypotheses based on whims and personal opinions instead of solid data.

For effective CRO, you’ll need to pay special attention to metrics like Bounce rate (visitors coming, looking at the page, and leaving forever), SEO and referral traffic (where are visitors coming from?), interaction and events, form submission, cart abandonment, etc.

You can implement Google Analytics in WordPress via plugin (Google Analytics by Yoast), or via Google Tag Manager itself (as detailed here).

Once you have analytical insight into problem areas, work to fix those and test them with A/B multivariate testing, straight from Google Analytics.

This is how it’s done.

Test Scenario: I found out that my landing page isn’t getting many pageviews. So I am testing my “original” landing page against 2 variations on pageview metric, with a 99% confidence threshold (for accuracy).

1.In your Google Analytics dashboard go to Reporting Tab >> Behavior >> Experiments and click ‘Create Experiment’.

  1. Fill in the fields to create an experiment. Note: If you have eCommerce enabled, you can experiment on Revenue and Transaction pages too.

Note that for this to work you need to have Google Analytics code added to Original + All Variation pages (supports up to 10 variations only).

You then get a choice to manually insert the experiment code on Original page (it goes in your theme’s header.php template file).

Or you can use a plugin like Google Content Experiments (yes it works in 2016 even though it hasn’t been updated for so long) and use it to paste the code. Make sure to read the installation notes as the plugin used to have some issues with certain themes, but the author has given 1-2 lines of code in the installation notes that could fix the problem in a jiffy.

The other option is to send the code to the webmaster tools, which I haven’t tried yet.

Review and start the experiment. You’ll then see this message:

You’ll see the results in 24-48 hours based on the confidence threshold you set for the experiment.

That’s just a silly example. You can do so much more with Google’s Universal Analytics. Remember to prioritize the tests based on significance, interaction levels, and solid numbers.

Landing Pages

Landing pages used to be synonymous with the homepage in the previous years, but that’s not the case today, despite many people still following the route to creating homepages and Single-page Web-apps using landing page best practices. That’s well and good, but now the CTA buttons on other parts of website and links from your advertising initiatives should take visitors directly to what they came here for.

Landing page is the narrowest point of your funnel: A clutter (and distraction) free, simply put-together page which clearly describes what you’re offering and why users should be interested in it.

Services like Inbound Now are built especially for WordPress to let you create landing pages as well as track them for results (without additional analytics’ integration) via split testing. This involves in-built landing page and CTA templates that you can use to create your own specialized page, 3rd party lead generation services like MailChimp, etc.

If you are unsure about designing your own page, you can check out the vast numbers of templates and themes built for WordPress landing pages instead on Envato marketplace (just search for what you need). JavaScript is great but make sure to use it in moderation, and keep the design simple and distraction-free to keep the attention focused on your product.

Performance Optimization

This wouldn’t even be on the list if it weren’t for many clients’ severe lack of awareness on this topic, which is baffling in 21st century.

Website speed (how fast your pages load when a visitor arrives there for the first time) is called performance. In the age of Instant Gratification, no-one thinks it’s worthwhile to wait for a silly page to load. It’s frustrating and distracting, and frankly your users have better things to do than stare at your “loading” animation. It should also be common knowledge that website loading speed can also impact your search-results ranking.

Apply the 80-20 rule here: Optimize the heck out of your WordPress website’s frontend and backend to improve perceived performance (80% effort) and querying times (20% effort). Any WordPress development company worth its salt will focus on both, and it takes some tinkering.

First, find out how deep you’re in by testing your website URL on Pingdom or PageSpeed Insight. Once you have your performance score and an entire list of everything that’s adding to your load-time, roll up your sleeves and get to work addressing those. The easiest ways to optimize performance can be found all over the internet: caching (plugins like W3 Total Cache), CDN (like MaxCDN, CloudFlare, etc.), and image and Gzip compression (EWWW Image Optimizer, WP Smush.it, etc.), but it also goes beyond that, and you will need to hire WordPress developer for the real thing.

You will have to optimize your query load times and database for a speedier experience overall (especially if you’re working with high-traffic and membership-based system), and you’ll need to minify your stylesheet and JavaScript (some caching plugins have this feature built-in). Keep the number of plugins and widgets to a bare minimum, based on requirement. The fewer plugins you have, the lesser the number of scripts your page has to load.

  • UX pointers:

Say no to auto-forwarding sliders and embrace dynamically rendered and personalized banners instead.

Keep the wireframe as simple and familiar as possible. You can go nuts on the details, but the layout itself should put people at ease so they can find what they need.

If you’re an eCommerce vendor, look up Tablet-first design for real conversions.

Remember post-conversion experience too: don’t just abandon your customers after they’ve clicked your CTA.

CRO on a WordPress website is actually easier than anywhere else, simply because the platform and the community of developers will provide you with most of the tools and resources you need to get the job done. As long as you keep a clear head and are willing to put in a few hours of research and effort, you should be alright.

And this is my parting advice for everyone: This post is advice, not word-of-law. Short forms, images, cards and corporate-ified blocks of text may seem indubitable, but they might not be the correct choice in your case. Evaluate your ideal users for the best mix of right elements and keep Implementing >> Testing >> Improving

Author Bio: Lucy Barret is an expert web developer working for a leading WordPressDevelopment Company – HireWPGeeks. She is also a blogger and loves to write articles on web development and WordPress. You can follow her Company on Facebook.

Tags : increase conversion rate, Conversion and Experience Optimization Techniques

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