If you are an entrepreneur, I assume you analyzed your competition in detail before creating your new startup, as it helps you to:
- Know where and with whom you really compete: identify your most remarkable competitors and know who’s doing things right, who isn’t, and what the market trends are.
- Detect where to differentiate yourself and new business opportunities: if you enter a market where other competitors are already there, you have to offer something different, innovative, and better, so that you can acquire your own customer base. During this process, you might even be able to identify a niche market that your competitors are not serving.
- Forecast the future in the market: analysing what your competitors and your possible partners are doing, who’s making investment rounds, or which are the current consumer trends can help you to anticipate problems and opportunities and act accordingly.
In fact, this last point has in our case been the key precursor in the creation of our products Nelio A/B Testing and Nelio Content. Knowing that there were very new companies with already good products on the market (products that we thought could be improved), with an incredible growth forecast (due to recent large investment rounds) and other additional information that we could observe, served to validate that (1) there was a big market and (2) our competition was focusing on large companies, leaving smaller customers unattended. And this is where we saw that we could fit in by providing WordPress plugins that were very easy to use without the need for technical knowledge and that could be useful and practical for any blogger or company with the aim of improving their website and increasing their audience with few resources.
The analysis of your competition is not only done when you want to set up your own company or you must decide what products to create. It is a continuous process that you must carry out throughout the life of your company. To analyze how your competition is doing, you have two options: either you become one of their customers or you use tools that allow you to “spy” on them (how they advertise, what keywords they use, what’s their popularity of external links, their web ranking, their mentions on the Internet or social networks, etc). Unfortunately, there’s one thing you won’t be able to know using any of these methods: what they do to optimize the conversion rate on their website.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
As you know, the fact that a website has many visits is no guarantee that it will have more sales. Optimizing the conversion rate and user experience is as important as (or even more important than) increasing the number of visits to your website. Remember that the conversion rate is the metric that tells you the percentage of visitors to your website who end up doing a certain action or achieving a certain objective (i.e. “they convert”); for example, those who end up buying a product, subscribe to your newsletter, click on an ad, etc…
You probably already know that the best known techniques for optimizing your website’s conversion rate optimization (CRO) are heatmaps and A/B tests.
Heatmaps help you to detect the weaknesses of your web design. As you see in the image above, the baby is so cute that he gets all the attention, even though that probably wasn’t the goal of the website. On the other hand, A/B tests allow you to have two versions of a page on your website simultaneously, showing different content to your visitors (half of your visitors would see version A and the other half would see version B) and allowing you to evaluate which version is working best.
As you know, our Nelio A/B Testing plugin for WordPress allows you to easily create heatmaps and A/B tests of pages, posts, themes, widgets, products, custom types, headlines, and menus and view the results on your WordPress Dashboard. Well, here are some of the tests that worked the best for our customers to optimize their websites. I’m sure they can inspire you to improve yours.
All, and yes, I’ve said all of our Nelio A/B Testing clients run heatmap experiments. But, what information do heatmaps provide? The most important thing is that they allow you to see where readers are focusing their attention and what areas of the web they click on. Most customers have heatmap experiments on the main page and on the pricing page. Some also use them on the blog, but they are a minority.
What kind of A/B tests do they perform? And, above all, what experiments are giving them the best results? Below I’ve selected some of the ones that have had the most impact on CRO.
The A/B page test allows you to create two or more different versions of any page on your website to analyze what works best. This type of test is the most popular among our customers. What experiments were the most effective among our customers?
- Page title: there are titles that are much more attractive than others. For example, a security company got a 21% conversion rate with the headline “Don’t leave your digital doors unlocked” compared to 3.75% of the alternative “How hackable is your family?”
- Changing images: that’s a pretty common test on home pages. One company carried out this type of experiment four times (they showed a group of people, an office, a desktop…) and, even though the first three attempts didn’t result in statistically significant test, the fourth did. The latter experiment showed an image of a nice team of three youngsters working and it proved to be overwhelmingly successful. Does this mean such an image will always work better? I’m afraid it doesn’t—another company with a similar experiment had as a clear winner the image in which it was shown, simply, the computer screen with the image of the software. You have to try everything every time!
- Changes in the copy: some customers, after only changing the description of the service they offered, improved their conversion rate from 7% to 11%.
- Change the call to action text: a car rental company achieved a conversion of almost 5% with “Signup in 30 seconds” over the 2.5% they had with “Request a call back”.
- Positioning of the CTA button: a customer was able to improve a conversion rate from 6.25% to 50% just by positioning the “Get Access Now” button almost at the top of the page.
- Positioning the product clip: for one of our customers, positioning the video at the top of the main page meant doubling the conversions.
- Order in which products are displayed: companies that offer 2 or 3 plans play with the order in which they show their plans. Usually, heatmaps show how people tend to focus on the one on the left, but it is not necessarily the one that ends up generating the most conversions. Ordering them from cheaper to more expensive has proven to be, in general, the order that has a higher success ratio, but you should run you own test and draw you own conclusions.
- How prices are shown: a classic among our customers (even we ourselves have done it several times)! For example, one of our customers was a company that offers hourly services and run a test to compare a usual price per service or the cost per hour and you know what? The version indicating that the price of the service starts from a price had a conversion three times higher than the one showing cost per hour!
- Steps to fill out a form and make payment: a customer who offers documentation services for registering ships discovered that a shorter, one-page form represented 5% conversion, compared to the low conversion rate of the multi-step form they originally had.
Post Headlines Tests
This type of test allows you to test the headline (i.e. title, extract, and featured image) of a post so that you always see the same headline throughout the web—in the post itself, in your home page, in a search result, and so on—and analyze which one generates more clicks. It’s mostly used by news websites and the results they get are very varied. If you need some advice, test headlines that are very different one from another—from what we’ve observed, experiments with similar headlines don’t usually give clear winners.
This type of test is also, along with the page test, one of the favorites of many of our customers. Why is that? Because it allows you to homogeneously test widgets throughout the whole web. For example, a customer tested two different color and layout versions of the text in the footer to subscribe to their product. The alternative was to double the number of subscriptions.
By analyzing the experiments carried out by our clients, we confirmed some of the hypotheses we already had. The first is that the impact of converting a website is much more important than the number of visits received. We’ve seen that some designs that do not generate any conversions will get impressive results by simply applying small changes to them. The second is that our intuition or hypothesis about what works and what doesn’t is often wrong—you have to create an experiment and validate your beliefs before committing to any specific designs. Third, remember the following: what works for the rest of the world might not work for you. Run your own tests and draw your own conclusions. The more tests you do, the more chances you have to improve your website—we’ve seen that precisely those customers with the highest number of tests are the ones who make the most significant conversion increases. So, what are you waiting for to run your own A/B tests? 😉