Test it. Test it. Test it. When talking conversion rate optimisation, the mantra is ‘let the data do the talking’. Running tests is the most reliable way to be totally sure that any changes you make to your site in an attempt to improve user experience and increase conversion rate, will actually have the desired effect. But what happens if your site doesn’t meet minimum traffic requirements?
Visual Website Optimizer offers a tool for calculating the predicted duration of an A/B test or a multivariate test on your site, as does Optimizely. So long as you know your current conversion rate and the number of visits your site sees per day, you can get a pretty good estimate of the duration of your test. Very convenient, unless the tool tells you you’re going to have to wait 683 weeks for a statistically significant result. Imagine trying to sell that sort of service in to your manager? Yeesh.
How low is ‘low’ in terms of traffic?
Industry, sector, competition and historical performance will all have their part to play in whether your site is considered low/medium/high traffic… but in terms of CRO, and therefore science, we ought to clarify what ‘enough’ traffic is in order to run a successful test.
Rich Page, self-confessed website optimizer junkie, offers the following insight:
“… you need at least 5,000 unique visitors per week to the page you want to run an A/B test on. If you don’t have this much traffic, it will take a long time (3 weeks or more, if ever) for your testing tool to gather enough data to find a statistically significant result.” – via rich-page.com
So anything below 5,000 unique visitors and we’re talking not-enough-traffic. Also, as ironic as it sounds, your site ideally needs a certain number of conversions in order to improve conversion rate through a/b testing. Yep. Page had this to say about minimum conversion numbers:
“… you also need enough ‘conversions’ on your website to run an A/B test. This is because to run a test, you need to tell the A/B testing tool what determines success, and this is usually a major goal like a purchase, a sign-up or a form completion. And the less conversions your website gets per week, the longer it will take the testing tool to find a winning result. As a guideline, your website needs at least 500 conversions per week for a simple A/B test (250 per test version).” – via rich-page.com
Conversion rate optimization on low traffic sites
Ok, so we’ve established that running tests on a site with anything less than 700-odd unique visits a day is going to take time. Serious time. And serious time is serious money. How then, do we rock some CRO on a low-traffic, low-converting site?
Forget big numbers and top-level insight, and consider a handful of people providing very detailed feedback instead. At Browser Media, we sing the praises of Usertesting.com – a bank of real people who you can invite to your site in order to watch and listen as their visit is recorded. Set tasks, ask questions and understand first-hand how they move through your site, providing commentary and highlighting the joys or frustrations of their experience.
I’ve written about user feedback before, because it’s one of my favourite methods for gathering insight into visitors’ perceptions of a site. A survey sent out to your customers post-conversion allowing them to evaluate their experience will reveal anything they particularly enjoyed about their dealing with you (and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of positive feedback?) but will also give those visitors the opportunity to sound off about anything they didn’t like… that’s where you’ll find your actionable takeaways.
Consider ‘best practice’
Ergh. I don’t really like this one. Depending on your level of experience with CRO, and your site’s performance, you may be able to identify some quick fixes and make improvements based on tried and tested best practices… approach with caution as this isn’t the most scientific way of conducting CRO:
Be clear – Make sure your visitors understand what you’re offering and why it’s so darn good. Succinct but informative content is key, so ask yourself if your calls to action (CTAs) are strong enough and whether your copy could describe your value proposition better.
Be streamline – Too much on a page can put visitors off and distract them from the main goal of that page. Remove anything that doesn’t add value to, or directly encourage, the desired outcome. For example, a little animation can help draw attention, but too much and your visitors will become overwhelmed.
Be obvious – I’m talking simple navigation, short forms and intuitive user journeys. Don’t make your visitors work too hard to get to where they need to in order to convert. Too many hoops to jump through and they’ll bail to find a competitor.
Be transparent – If visitors understand you’re a trustworthy, secure site, they’ll be more likely to convert. Tackle any potential concerns with security and cement them with proof of a great user experience with social proof and case studies.
CRO: No excuses
That’s enough of this “I can’t do CRO because my traffic’s too low” stuff. You absolutely can, but split testing may not be for you. Taking an unscientific approach and downplaying the importance of sample size and statistical significance isn’t something I’m quick to recommend, but done carefully, and measuredly, it can certainly work, and it’s likely a heck of a lot better than doing nothing at all!