Conversion Rate Optimisation Glossary
The Conversion Detective’s CRO Glossary offers you a simple explanation to the terms we use on our site, in our CRO reports and while working with clients.
We’ve also involved the most useful Search Engine Optimisation terms. SEO terms crop in while discussing Conversion Rate Optimisation on a regular basis as they are the foundational element of making your Website a success.
Please contact us via our Contact Page if you would like more information.
A/B Page Testing
Testing alternative pages, page A and page B against each other. The page that wins is then test against another and so on.
Also known as ‘Bounce Rate.’ All pages on your site will have this rate and sometimes it can be a good thing eg a customer visits your Customer Service page or FAQ and gets what they want quickly.
Testing the creative (the words and pictures) of banner adverts. The key here is not to concentrate just on the click through rate but also on the Landing Page results and subsequent conversion.
Google Pay Per Click advertising programme see at the top and the right of the Search Engine Research Page
An affiliate markets products or services sold by a merchant on a commission basis. Also known as Performance Marketing.
Clever mathematics that work out what result is shown by a search engine.
A ‘tag’ that describes what is on a picture. It’s vital for screen readers that allow visually impaired people to ‘hear’ what the picture is and also an important part of good SEO practice.
Google analytics is a free analytics programme and widely used. GA is very useful in conversion best practice to track essential actions like your site’s ‘sales funnel.’
See Link Text.
This is a pretty new term used by Anne Holland’s site ‘Which Test Won?’ It sums up what a potential customer may feel on your site. They might get anxious if they don’t feel ‘secure.’ They will be looking for confirmation of security (familiar signs of trust like testimonials and secure trading icons).
A website which has many incoming links from other expert or authority sites. An Authority Site will also have high Pagerank, and search results placement.
Average Order Value (AoV)
What is the Average Order Value for your customers? It’s a key to the success of any Web site and should be tracked as a vital measure. You can look at Up-Selling (encouraging customers to increase the AoV with more products or more expensive ones) or Cross-Selling (selling another item with the order).
A link to a page or site from any other page or site.
Big Idea Testing
If you want to be radical you make big changes. Yes there can be huge gains but these types of test can also result in big failures. Look to do incremental changes (small gains that add up) alongside or instead of the more radical tests.
A website which presents content in a chronological series. Blogs stared as online diaries but now are a very broad church covering every possible niche of interest. Most blogs us a Content Management System like WordPress or Blogger.
The percentage of visitors who enter a site and then leave it without viewing any pages. A ‘Bounce Rate’ will vary from analytics programme as the calculation varies. In a programme like Google Analytics a visitor is counted as a ‘bounce’ if they are on your site for less than 30 seconds.
This is a fun turn and refers to the Web site navigation that tells the visitor exactly where they are on your site. It’s a best practice in SEO terms as well as it aids the search engines to understand the hierarchy of your site (that means which are the important pages).
Call to Action
The classic marketing term which just means signposting what the visitor should do next. It’s one of those myths that all you have to do to increase conversion is get the colour of the ‘Call to Action’ button right. It’s more to do with the clarity of copy around the button or text link.
(duplicate content) canon = legitimate or official version. A way of telling the Google Search Engine ‘Spider’ which content to use when you have similar content on your site.
Testing the checkout and looking at ‘Shopping Cart Abandonment’ is one of the first places to start in any testing programme. Ideas and tests can include:-
- Reducing the number of pages
- Highlighting required fields,
- Removing any need to “start an account” or “register” prior to checking out,
- Adding trust icons such as Secure Trading icons,
- Showing the number of steps/not counting the number of steps left
Some or all of these can work for your site.
A simple word that offers an approach to your testing; is everything clear on the Web site? Have you made sure the steps through to the Conversion are clear? Steps to help you understand if everything is clear for the visitor include Usability Testing, talking to your sales staff and examining your internal search (what can’t visitors find)?
The list of pages a visitor clicked on during a single visit to your site.
This is when a visitor clicks on a hotlink.
The percentage of people who viewed a hotlink and then clicked on it.
These are valid results that you can safely draw a conclusion. Also known as Statistically Valid Results. In order to achieve this, you need a volume of conversions –few hundred – within a short time period – at maximum perhaps four-six weeks. Use your current conversion rate to calculate how much unique traffic you’ll need to the test for the estimated time period.
Content Management System (CMS)
This is a type of software that allows non technical people to add words and pictures (content) to a web site. We love WordPress at ConversionDetectives.com but there are lots of others to choose from on the Web.
Content means anything that can be put on a web site and refers in the main to text and copy. Rich Content refers to video and audio.
Sometimes call the Control Page or the ‘original.’ This is the existing page, the one you should have a lot of data on and wish to improve the conversion for. The goal of the test is to see if any changes to the control – or completely different variations – will work better than the original control. The control is considered the baseline that you want to beat.
Conversion is the goal for your Web site. A goal (conversion) can be what you define it so a sale, a sign up to a newsletter or filling in a form.
Other conversion actions:-
- Clicking on an advertiser’s banner –
- Dialling your sales or customer care phone line or emailing you directly -
- Posting a comment or review
- Starting a quiz or survey
- Forwarding the page to a friend (or using social bookmarking like Stumbleupon)
- Clicking on a navigational link to visit elsewhere on your site
An aid to conversion either an offer or an ad on or some element that overcomes resistance to the conversion. Like free shipping or a customer review or testimonial could be considered as Conversion Drivers.
The percentage of your visitors that convert to the goal you define.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
The process of creating an experience or best practice for a website (or landing page) visitor with the goal of increasing the amount of visitors that convert into paying customers or leads.
Cost Per Click or Cost Per Conversion.
Cost per Thousand impressions. The cost of Pay Per Click advertisements.
M = the Roman numeral for one thousand.
Customer Relationship Management really means a database that allows you to gather and track all the different ‘touches’ your customer has with your organisation. A good CRM system will allow you to segment your customers for marketing campaigns and give them the best possible service.
Is your site credible to a visitor? If you are an established brand you are half way there. If you don’t have the brand then you’ll have to work harder. Professional design, confidence boosters like ‘trust icons’ and testimonials will all help your site be more credible.
Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA)
Classic jargon meaning what are your customers thinking when they are on your site. If you want to find out then use Usability Testing and ask your panel.
This really means looking at the opposite of conversion ie what is stopping customers convert? This will come about after your research and you start to form the hypothesis that you are going to test and confirm. Examples include lack of signs of trust, is it ‘bad traffic’ coming to the site?
I’m easily distracted by working on the Web and so are you. How can you remove the distraction from your pages, what can you take out and still impress the visitor into a conversion?
This is a big no as your Web site can be penalised for having the same content on the site twice or more. See ‘Canonical Tag.’
Various rules are used to build a page for a specific type of visitor. Usually a page is described as ‘static’ that is one page that does not change (also known as hard coded).
Buying stuff online. Here’s a selection of the type of tests and ecommerce site will look to do:-
- Shopping cart optimisation
- PPC landing page matching keywords in headlines and copy
- Internal search
- Product page optimisation, eg design, typography, images, offer copy and buttons
- Category page optimisation
- Home page optimisation
- Entry pages for email newsletters
Where a visitor enters. Duh!
Why are you leaving my site! Keep it simple. There is a lot of good software out there. Our recommendation would be iPerception’s 4Q.
Visiting a Web site is not just a journey; it’s not just figures and analytics it’s about making a judgement about what the experience is like for your visitors and potential customers.
Pick the page with the highest traffic and a pretty bad abandonment rate and A/B or multivariate test your way to better conversions.
Everything off your site that might affect conversion including your competition.
How your eyes ‘travel’ over the page. Different from print and something a good designer will take into account when building the page.
Software that’ shows you where a person looks on the page and in what order they look. Usually presented as a ‘heat map’ a page will look very different to a visitor.
Factorial Test Design
Any factor affecting conversion can be checked with multivariate testing software.
Specifically how is a site performing and different from a survey.
A feed delivers customers information via websites or programs such as news aggregators.
Often referred to in the phrase ‘beneath the fold’ meaning a visitor has to scroll down the page. Originates from the newspaper publishing industry.
Funnel, The Sales
You start with a large amount of prospects and end with conversions.
Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO)
If you start without knowing your conversion goal you’ll results will be rubbish.
You may have many goals in mind for a certain page. You need to have one primary goal. Focus your goal and make all others secondary.
Google Dance, The
Google is always trying to improve searches for its users therefore the algorithm is being updated and tested often and so your site may jump up and down positions on the Google results page.
The trust and authority (can be expressed as pagerank) that Google gives and which flows through outgoing links to other pages.
Google Website Optimizer (GWO)
It’s a free tool for A/B page testing. Compare with some of the newer software like Visual Website Optimiser.
Software like CrazyEgg, that overlays your site pages and shows, by colour, which parts of the page are clicked on the most.
This is a term only to be used by technical bodies and referes to each part of a page being downloaded. Therefore a single page that is downloaded will create several ‘hits’ as documents (like PDFs) images and sound files each count as one ‘hit.’
A rather expensive online intelligence system and one of the most valuable tools you can use for finding out about competitors. It can tell you where customers come from and where they go to and opportunities for certain key word terms.
You know what that is don’t you? It’s the front door to your site, a shop window on what you do.
A trusted page with good quality content that links out to related pages.
= Hyper Text Markup Language. This is what a search engine is reading on your site. HTML tells the story of the page and the different elements on that page.
Before you can start a page test, you must create a hypothesis that explains what you are testing. Make sure you are happy with the fact that you will, on occasions, be wrong.
Is one page (or advertising banner) view.
Inbound links from related pages are the source of trust and pagerank according to search engines.
Is about the process of testing. Your testing programme is a routine and occurs on a regular basis. Incremental testing should work hand-in-hand with the opposite philosophy of ‘Big Idea’ testing. ‘Big Idea’ testing is about making large-scale changes. You may gain huge wins but the downside is…
Pages on your site that have been ‘crawled’ and added to a search engine’s database (index) of pages.
A fun way to show information with pictures. Figures can be boring (you agree) and using funky graphics appeals and gets a message across in a fun manner.
It is vital to have an internal search facility on your site. A visitor who searches is around 12% more likely to buy (eConsultancy Report 2008).
What is the intent of your visitor? This not what you want them to do. Visitors have a clear idea of what they want. There is no magic that will turn a visitor into a sale. You can influence, make things easy and remove obstacles but it is not possible to totally change Intent.
Jargon. You want all your visitors to ‘interact’ with your pages don’t you? I suppose it’s a way of looking in a different way. Perhaps you want to ‘engage’ visitors, make them active on the page by clicking on slideshows or watching video or clicking on a call to action button. How do you ‘interact’ with pages? Your visitors will most likely be just like that.
‘Kaizen’ is usually translated as the process of continuous improvement. Another overworked term; you want your site to keep improving, don’t you?
Or ‘Keyword Phrase’ The word or phrase that a potential visitor to your site enters into a search engine. Visitors rarely use a single word (unless it is a brand name). Visitors are much more likely to use 2, 3 or 4 words or more.
The amount the Keyword is used on a page (you get penalised by the search engine if you over use them).
Keyword research can rely heavily on Keyword Search Tools. There are many on the market including Google’s free tools. It’s handy to look at the variations of words. See ‘Long Tail’ for more about this aspect of SEO. These Keywords can be added to the copy on the page and that will aid natural search traffic.
There is another aspect to Keyword research. Writing copy that appeals. Which words work best in your copy? We all scan pages don’t we? We become very adept at finding the word. That word can make a sale.
How do you give your site the best chance of influencing your visitor? Employ a decent copywriter. Where do you find the best words to use? We’ll Keyword tools are a start, a copywriter is an excellent source and your Web Analytics package is very useful but the best is to invest in your internal search engine. With internal search you’ll find what your visitors are looking for and in a lot of cases not finding.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
The most important measures of your business; usually presented in the form of a spreadsheet.
The Landing page is the page that a visitor lands on.
Landing Page Optimisation
Testing a page to establish which tweaks make that page more likely to convert.
If you change your pages in anyway you should be monitoring how it affects your conversion (and quality score for search engines)
Visitors that don’t convert immediately; they go deeper into your site, go off and do something interesting and purchase some time after. We’ve seen figures and had experience of ‘latent conversion’ being 40% or higher. Do you always buy on your first visit to a site? Most people don’t unless driven by an offer.
The jargon for creating a possible customer; a whole industry revolves around this term and many agencies and individuals specialise in creating lists of possible customers.
Life Time Value
How much a customer will spend with your company of the term of your relationship.
How much increase you have had when compared to a control. Lift Analysis can only be an approximation as there are so many factors involved when working on conversion. You’ll also find that the ‘lift’ is likely to fall back as other factors take affect.
Anything on a web page that can be clicked that takes you to another part of the page or another page entirely.
This can take various forms but it is in the main a way of attracting other sites to link to the bait. Link Bait is usually something interesting but it can also take the form of something contentious.
Encouraging incoming links to your site.
A link swapping- scheme.
Also known as Anchor text, this is the visible text of a link. Google et al use anchor text to indicate the relevancy of the referring site and link to the content on the landing page. It’s best practice to use your key words in your Link (Anchor) Text.
A list is a database and can refer to any list you care to name. In testing terms it usually refers to an email list, either a bought list or your own customer list (opt-in).
One of many solutions that allow a visitor to use Instant Chat to talk to the business.
These are the more obscure Key Word Terms visitors will use when searching. A good Web site will have plenty of copy (words) that will capture this ‘free’ traffic and should have a programme of putting fresh content (words and images) on the site at regular intervals.
The Marketing Funnel is a way of looking at the process of your sale. In testing terms you are going to be making the biggest difference at the top and the bottom. But now at least you know you have a funnel.
Audit your marketing on a regular basis. What are you getting for your money? It’s really common sense ‘how can I make things better?’
In the SEO sense this is collecting different bits of content (words, images, video, audio and small applications like widgets) in a page. The content may exist separately on your site but you can combine it into a ‘Mashup’ and therefore create something new for little effort.
Meta is data about other data. It tells the search engines about the page. Spammers used to hide or repeat phrases in the meta data, a trick that no longer works.
I’ve always found this word a bit silly. It’s just jargon for measure.
Microsites sit outside your main site. They can be two pages or hundreds. A microsite has a defined purpose. It’s either for a particular marketing campaign or other purposes such ad creating SEO benefit (an external blog for example). If may even use a microsite for CRO testing.
Multivariate Page Testing
Testing multiple pages and different elements from Headlines to buttons.
Natural Search means not paid for and therefore a ‘free’ source of traffic for your site.
This tells a Search Engine to ignore a link.
This tells the Search Engine not to place this page in the search engine index.
It’s a fact of testing that sometimes you won’t have a conclusion. Experience will tell you which elements on a page will be worth testing. Toying with how to write a tag line or the shade of Azure blue for your call to action button is best to avoid.
Google and all the search engines give more value to a one way link. This means a site links to yours but you don’t link to theirs. Google etc see that as ‘a vote of confidence.’
What are you offering your visitor? Why should they purchase from your site? Why should they fill in their contact details? Is the product or service strong enough? Can you give something useful for free? What are the features and benefits? Are these a compelling offer?
The process of testing different versions of a web page, emails or banner advertisement in order to discover which gains the best response. Optimisation can be trailed on smaller, significant groups before rolling out a larger campaign.
Links that come about naturally. You have not paid for them. This is a very good thing.
In CRO the original is your control page. The page that exists and which you want to optimise. You’ll have statistics related to this page and it will act as the benchmark for your changes. What you are looking for is a new original page, a winner.
Page Rank (PR)
Google came up with this idea of rating a site on many factors and then ranking it on a scale of 0 to 10. It is a rough idea of a site’s strength and should be seen as a broad measure of the site’s success.
This is the path your visitors take through your site. It’s the visitor’s journey from the landing page to purchase. Viewing journeys can be daunting. Another way to use this information is to look at visitors who do convert? What do their journeys have in common? What, if anything, helped them buy? These pages can be a good place to start your optimisation programme. They work. Can you make them work even better?
Persona marketing means creating fictional customers from your known marketing segments. You give them a name and as much detail as possible. For example Jane is 32, she works as a graphical designer, she only buys when a promotion is right for her.
It’s a fun, rather unscientific way of writing and designing for Websites. It is worth doing as it can give an insight to how to focus on a particular page or path through the site. The downside is you can generalise about customers but they are all different and then you fall into the trap of trying to please all customers.
There’s an old saying in marketing about the most important sound in the world being the sound of your own name. We all respond to our name. Campaigns and sites can gain from this approach. But you can put up a barrier, a customer will go elsewhere if forced to register. Personalised email can look tawdry if the name has been misspelled and the only way to clean your data is by someone reading every customer record.
PPA (Pay Per Action )
Like Pay Per Click except publishers only get paid when click-through results in conversions.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
A prospective visitor clicks on an advert and arrives at your site. Google is the biggest then Yahoo and then Bing (Microsoft).
PPP (Pay Per Performance)
A form of performance marketing that means you only pay for responses to your advert (banner).
Using your current data to predict future results. It really is a finger in the air approach. Better to test and test often than make assumptions on how well a test is going to perform.
Visitors will be sensitive to different elements of the page. When deciding on what to test evaluate the page for the most sensitive elements. It’s a way of seeing the priority to test. Most visitors are going to be sensitive to prices, features and benefits.
Statistics tell a great part of the story but there are something’s that statistics cannot tell. That is the human factor. A focus group talking about your product or service can give valuable insight for a copywriter or a product manager and this can be fed into your testing programme.
Quantitative simply means the data that you build your insights on (the numbers). If you don’t understand the data then ask or learn exactly what it means. It’s very easy to make assumptions that can lead you down a blind alley.
Two sites which link to each other.
Used when a page moves or no longer exists, the search engine is ‘Redirected’ to another relevant page.
Instead of starting at the top or your Marketing Funnel you start at the end with your successful conversions. Did all these successful conversions come from the same source? What do these conversions have in common? What parts of the site helped them convert. You will need advanced statistical help and a large sample to draw any conclusions.
How relevant is your landing page to your visitor? If a page is relevant then a visitor is more likely to be converted. Not only does a page have to be relevant to the visitor it must be obvious. Visitors won’t hang around if they decide the page is not what they are looking for and therefore abandonment increases.
A small file created at the root of your site that can restrict the Search Engines from certain pages.
Return on Investment (RoI)
Is your investment returning enough revenue to make it worth while. Sometimes confused with ROAS or Return on Advertisement Spend.
Once you have the best version of your page you may roll-out your findings to other pages.
The total number of people who visited the page or the total number of recipients of your email.
Google is said to place ‘untried’ Web sites in the Sandbox for a period of time as a trail. No one believes this anymore.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM includes search engine optimisation, paid listings and other search-engine related services.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is all about best practice and is aimed at getting your Web site the most amount of traffic by making it appeal as a quality site to the Search Engines. SEO includes making sure your pages conform to a certain standard, your images have ‘Alt Text’ and your site is being linked to.
Search Engine Results Page (SERPs)
What you see after keying in your search words.
The act of grouping the different types of visitor so as to address their needs and market to them accordingly. The more targeted you are with your groups of segments the higher the conversion rate is likely to be. For example common segments could be prospective customer, new customers, loyal customer. You can use one page as a template or guide to address the different needs and relevancy of your segments.
A particular visit from a single visitor is referred to as a ‘session.’
A map of what’s on your site and used by Search Engines.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Using social media from Facebook to LinkedIn to promote your site.
An automated programme used by search engines to find and add web pages to their indexes.
A page created to appeal to humans, usually created for a specific campaign.
Another way of saying A/B page testing.
A web page without dynamic content or variables such as session IDs in the URL.
Quite an old-fashioned term meaning how long the visitor stays on your site.
Originally created by Mr Genichi Taguchi, a Japanese engineer in the 1950s to help improve the quality of manufactured goods. Most CRO exponents rely on other methods as these tests need expert analysts and for some there use for advertising is not certain.
Also known as a Test Panel. This is the particular version of a test for a specific list or traffic source.
A plain HTML link that does not involve graphic or special code and more trusted than a banner or graphic link.
Thank You Page
The page your customer will see immediately after they have converted. If your visitor has bought then they are highly likely to perform another action especially if you give them an offer for purchasing. An offer code for a complementary Website, filling in a survey or sending an offer to a friend is worth testing.
Time on page
How long a visitor stays on a page.
Simply the number of visitors that come to your site but not all traffic is the same. Segmenting your traffic and testing what works for that segment is the norm in Conversion Rate Optimisation (when you have the volume of traffic). Traffic from different sources can convert at radically different rates. Relevancy is often the key. Is that segment seeing what they want to see? If you have different sources of traffic then it is worth testing each independently.
The place where the traffic is coming from, for example PPC, organic, email list, banner advertising, ePartnerships, affiliate programmes. Be wary of making assumptions about your traffic sources. The source of the traffic is the last click the visitor made and the potential customer may have been influenced by other factors, for example a newspaper article or a recommendation from an influential Twitter user.
Unfortunately this term is not as precise as it sounds. A unique visitor should be one person who visits your site any number of times. But a ‘cookie tracks this uniqueness some visitors may refuse to accept a cookie or delete their cookies. A visitor may use another computer or Smart Phone to view your site and so be counted twice. It is best to view Unique Visitor (UV) as an indicator of visitors and not an absolute.
How ‘urgent’ is your offer to a visitor? Urgency is a factor in considering your offer to a visitor. Using offers that stress time discipline ‘Offer ends midnight 12th of March’ or limited stock ‘only 10 Sproggets left’ can instigate urgency. Auction sites are the keenest example of instilling urgency in a visitor.
A Usability Laboratory is a room dedicated to carrying out user tests.
There are a number of sites offering to carry out usability tests and they are well worth doing. Most people who work on Websites access usability by their own standards. It is a good policy to use a hired cross section of visitors to test how easy a page is to use. Tests can be carried out before and after a redesign.
User Interface (UI)
This term stems from programmers describing how the screen on the computer looks to the user. In CRO terms this acronym can be used to describe the look of the web page. A tester may refer to ‘tweaking the UI’ by changing the layout of the page.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
A Web Address.
A marketing term for increasing the spend of a customer; usually by making a great offer.
How an unbiased visitor uses your site. These tests can be commissioned from 3rd party sites for a reasonable amount of money. A very useful before and after test for your Web site changes.
User Generated Content (UGC)
Visitors write content for your site or leave video or pictures. Your FaceBook page is User Generated and services like BazaarVoice enable a site to have USG in the form of product reviews.
Value Per Lead
To calculate your ‘Value per Lead’ start with your marketing budget (but omitting general branding advertising) and divide it by the total number of leads generated. Now you can put a value on how much each conversion is worth to you and your company.
The Value Proposition is for the visitor. What particular benefit will they gain from a page? Also in this realm is the Unique Value Proposition, which means how do you differentiate your business from your competition and also the Online Value Proposition, which means why should a visitor buy from your Website?
Variables are the elements on a page that can change during testing. Everything from your headlines, calls to action, navigation, and button size and colour.
This is a term used in multivariate testing where different versions of your page and many variables of the elements on the page are tested. Highly complex such methods demand complex software and trained analysts.
Web Analytics Audit
Web analytic software produces vast amounts of data but the key is what can you action? A skilled auditor can identify which data is worth pursing and where you are lacking in reports. It’s easy to be blinded by numbers that have no bearing on your conversion.
Online marketing is awash with people telling you how to optimise your site. The truth of the matter is you shouldn’t be making your site. Your opinion is an opinion and is valid because you can use experience and knowledge. But it’s your visitors that build your Website and it is working with them and the mix of designers, copywriters and external experts that will optimise your site and increase your revenue.
Put simply how easy is it for a visitor to use your site? Can they navigate with ease? What is the journey you wish them to take? See ‘Usability Testing.’
A small applications used on web pages to provide specific functions; used a lot by CMS software like WordPress to add interest to the sidebar.
An outline design of a Web page showing where each element is placed.
Conversion Detectives March 2011