What happens when you give a world-class chef a set of knives from the dollar store?
Despite his experience and skills, he struggles.
He still might get an okay result, but not a great result, and definitely not consistently great results.
Even if you have all the knowledge and skills you need to do something (say optimizing your website…), if you don’t have the right tools, your success will be limited.
Fewer conversions, less profit, less growth, and less success.
I’ve put together a list of the essential tools you need in your conversion optimization toolkit. I’ve divided them into 4 categories and provided multiple options for each, so that you have a few good options without an overwhelming amount
We’re going to start at the foundation of the conversion optimization pyramid (shown below), and work our way up:
Customer Profiling Tools – Who Are Your Customers
In order to design a good experience for your customers, you need to learn as much as you can about them.
There are various ways to learn about your customers, like surveys, interviews, and polls. Look for opportunities to utilize one or more of the following tools to flesh out the persona of your ideal buyer.
Price: Basic plan is $63/month, Professional is $199/month
Qualaroo is a robust in-line survey product that can be used to ask your visitors about specific questions and thoughts they might have while they are on the site. It appears as a little popup at the bottom of the screen, and you can customize the design.
It is easy to install, and if you go with the professional plan, you can use advanced features like exit intent to only have the survey box pop up when a user is about to exit.
In addition, it comes with basic analytics stats to help you optimize your use of surveys and polls.
Price: $33/month for the most popular “team” plan
There are hundreds of live chat options out there, but LiveChat is one of the recognizable. It has all the features you’ll want in a chatting software, like letting you store chat history, incorporate it with your team, and assign tickets when needed.
Price: Levels based on number of operators. $15/month for 1 operator. $44/month for 4 operators.
14 day free trial
Olark is another extremely popular live chat software. You can customize the design of the chat box to match your site easily, and customize everything from messages shown to polls.
One neat feature is that you can show the chat box only to visitors who have attempt or complete a specific action (like abandoning their cart).
One of the best ways to get insights into the mind of your current prospects or customers is to ask them to fill out a survey or poll. Typically this works best if you send it to subscribers through email or social media. Below are 3 great survey options that you really can’t go wrong with.
Price: Free with limited options. $200/year (~$17/month) for pro version.
PollDaddy is a versatile product that allows you to incorporate custom images and videos into your polls. This could be handy if you’re looking for opinions on a new product or logo. It has all the basics you need in a survey tool, although note that you can’t export results on the free plan.
Price: Basic free plan. $19/month for Select plan and $29/month for Gold plan (most popular)
Survey Monkey is the most well-known survey tool out there. All basic survey creation features are included, and surveys are easy to create.
There are 2 features that may make SurveyMonkey a great option for your business.
The first is that it supports A/B testing, which allows you to randomly present variations of survey questions to different users.
The second feature is SurveyMonkey Audience, which allows you to survey people that aren’t on your list or in your community. This is separate from the survey tool and costs a different amount, but is an invaluable tool to validate products.
Price: $25/month for basic, $65/month for professional.
A final survey option is SurveyGizmo. It’s a bit more robust than PollDaddy, with over 30 question types (compared to 19), but a bit more expensive.
It’s extremely flexible and easy to customize, so it’s a really good option if you want to brand your surveys or you want to create advanced surveys. The reporting functionality is also very comprehensive and user friendly on all plans.
Analytics – What Are Your Users Doing?
Analytics software is part of the foundation of any conversion rate optimization (CRO) process. It tells you what your average user is doing by giving you useful metrics like:
- bounce rate
- number of unique visitors
- average time on page
…and much more.
It will allow you to segment users and help you identify any weird dropoffs in your funnel that could be hampering your conversion rate.
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful analytics platform, and it’s free to use. You can easily track multiple sites in a single account.
Analytics are divided into the following categories:
- Real-Time: See what users currently on the site are looking at
- Audience: Learn about your audience demographics
- Acquisition: See where your traffic is coming from
- Behavior: See what pages your visitors read most, and how they interact with it (time on page, bounce rate, etc.)
- Conversions: Set goal activities and track which types of visitors convert best
KISSMetrics is another popular analytics tool that can be used in conjunction with Google Analytics.
KISSMetrics is mostly focused on tracking how your users behave, and how they are moving through your sales funnel. While Google Analytics can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it, KISSMetrics is designed with conversions in mind and is much simpler.
You can easily break down your sales funnel, or even run A/B tests without any complicated or time-consuming setup. The dashboard is also beautiful and intuitive, great for beginner CROs.
Note that KISSMetrics can be pretty expensive and is really designed for established businesses rather than those just starting out. You may want to hold off for now if you don’t really have the traffic to optimize yet and are on a tight budget.
Price: Free to 25,000 data points, then $150+/month
Mixpanel is another analytics tool dedicated to tracking visitors through your sales funnel to help you optimize conversions. It is probably most comparable to KISSMetrics.
The main difference is that Mixpanel focuses more on tracking by events (clicks on certain links or certain actions), while KISSMetrics focuses more on tracking by individual user. Overall, neither is necessarily better than the other, although one may work better for your specific business.
Mixpanel is also very intuitive to use and has a very attractive and simple dashboard. It’s a very solid option for tracking how your users interact with your site and what events lead to the most conversions.
User Interaction Tracking – How Are They Using Your Site
After talking to your visitors and learning about them, you can likely make some improvements to your website. However, this is only part of learning about your users.
The other part is to see how they actually interact with your website, because you’ll often find results that contradict what users have told you.
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs
While you can use analytics software to gain some insight in this area, you’ll get more meaningful results with detailed user interaction tracking software.
1. Crazy Egg
Price: Basic plan is $9/month. Plus plan (most popular) is $49/month.
I’m not exactly impartial, but there’s a reason that Crazy Egg has been one of the top heatmap tools for years.
You can see which elements of your page attract the most attention and how much time visitors are spending on each section of your page, and get reports that make it simple to see where improvement can be made.
Price: $49/testing video
UserTesting is an interesting concept, as users record their interaction with your site and speak their thoughts out loud. This makes it to identify any user experience issues that are causing visitors frustration.
Test Creation Tools
After you know more about who your visitors and customers are, what they’re looking for, and how they are interacting with your site, the fun part of conversion rate optimization can begin.
Use the data from your other tools to create a hypothesis. For example: “Our users are looking for pricing information but have trouble finding it. If we change the color of the pricing button, users will see it easier and our conversion rate will increase.”
Once you have a hypothesis, it’s time to test it. Even if you don’t know how to code, these tools will make it easy to test your theories and track your results.
Price: Free Starter plan, custom quote for Enterprise.
One of the great things about Optimizely is that it takes care of tracking visitors that are shown each option. This way you know if something like screen size is affecting your results.
2. Visual Website Optimizer
Price: $49/month for small sites, $129/month for medium-large sites.
30 day free trial
Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) is another excellent testing tool that is very similar to Optimizely. It allows you to easily pick the elements you’d like to split test, and then gives you a line of code to do it. The report interface is also intuitive and it’s easy to see when you have a winner.
You’ll have to try out both Optimizely and VWO to decide which you like better, but you can’t really go wrong either way.
3. Google Content Experiments
Google Content Experiments is a useful free tool, but takes more work from your side than something like Optimizely.
It integrates right into Google Analytics, which is nice if you’re trying to improve a certain goal, but you’ll have to make a custom page for each test you want to run (i.e. website.com/page1 and website.com/page2).
Price: $49/month for small sites, $99/month for medium-large sites.
30 day free trial
Unbounce is the complete landing page designer and optimizer. Even if you have absolutely zero coding knowledge, the simple interface makes it easy to build a landing page and split test any elements you’d like.
5. Five Second Test
Price: Anywhere from $0-200/month depending on # of tests run.
Five Second Test is a brilliant way to test if users are seeing and understanding the most important messages on a page quickly. When a user comes to your homepage or landing page for the first time, it should be clear what you offer and how it can help them.
Here’s how it works: You upload a page design to their community, along with any questions you’d like to ask (e.g., “What service do we offer?”). Community testers will be shown your page for five seconds when ready and be asked to answer.
This is a tool you’ll want to use in conjunction with any of the other tools in this section. It’s a great starting point if you’ve just created a page from scratch, but after you’ve fine-tuned your initial message, you can then dig deeper and test other elements.
Building Your Conversion Optimization Toolkit
Remember that you don’t need to be limited to just one tool from each phase. For example, most marketers who use Google Analytics also use an additional analytics tool like KISSmetrics or MixPanel. Determine what you need for your specific business and try out a few options here.
Finally, know that all tools are just tools. It takes knowledge and experience to maximize their effectiveness. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get incredibly results right away. Keep learning about conversion rate optimization and testing, and the results will come.
Join us for a Crazy Egg Hard-Boiled Conversion Webinar
Featuring Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences
May 28, 2pm US Central Time
Sign up here (it’s free!).
How to Reverse-Engineer a High-Conversion Landing Page
Read other Crazy Egg posts by Dale Cudmore
- Your Visitor Has Multi-Personality Disorder: How to Talk to Each Side of the Buying Brain - July 20, 2015
- 6 Common Ways Your Split Test Results Could Be Off - July 14, 2015
- Why Ugly Website Design Often Converts (Better) - July 7, 2015