Conversion Rate Optimization Research Strategies for Low-Traffic Websites 

  • Magda Baciu

    Magda Baciu

    CRO & Data Specialist

If you’re just starting an online business, chances are resources are spread thin, and hiring a CRO specialist is a luxury you can’t afford. During this period, you’re pretty much a one-man orchestra. It’s not uncommon for you to handle tasks such as advertising, customer support, research, and even conversion optimization. 

Conversion Rate Optimization Research Strategies for Low-Traffic Websites 

Yep, that’s pretty much you up there!   

But don’t beat yourself up. This is still the case even for more mature businesses. When this happens, the task of optimizing the conversion rate falls in the hands of the marketing manager or the ad specialist. 

And let’s not forget B2B websites offering high-end solutions. While such businesses are definitely not lacking resources, they are suffering from a rather low number of new clients. Due to these low numbers (we’re talking about businesses that have between 200 and 2000 new customers every month), running an A/B test can take months. 

Regardless of which side of the spectrum you find yourself in, this article comes to the aid of both those with little to no experience in the art of conversion rate optimization and those low-traffic businesses who struggle with their conversion optimization strategies. 

The goal is to transform you into the linchpin of your organization – someone your team can look up to and feel inspired. Because increasing the conversion rate brings excitement to all your marketing peers. 

And let’s be honest, it also means improved morale and employee satisfaction from seeing the fruits of their labor and learning more about the clients they serve.  

As you start acting based on insights instead of assumptions, you’ll begin feeling more and more in control and more confident in your actions. 

So, stick with me as we go through: 

  • The #1 element of a solid conversion rate optimization plan
  • How to prioritize research tactics for a low-traffic website
  • How to build a bridge between your product and your target market

The Key to a Solid Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like it a lot better when things are under my control. I like knowing that I’m in full control over delivering the expected results just as much as I like the certainty that I invest my time it into things that bring me value and joy.

What can I say? I love knowing that my time is invested in something that is worth it.

Anyway, I’m telling you this because I believe solid research is the only way to be in control of your CRO strategy. After 7 years of work on increasing conversion rates for many clients, iIt is my firmest belief that you can not build a healthy CRO strategy without it and it’s the only way to stay on top of your CRO strategy. 

I remember that in 2015 when I took the first steps into this universe, I used to conduct very basic research, look at best pratices and what others did.

Sure, we would get a win now and then. 

But was a bit random. And I hate randomness. 

It’s perhaps one of the reasons I decided to investes thousands of hours to put together CRO research methodologies that so I could trade randomness for a systematic approach. 

One where  A/B tests only come after a nerdish customer research process, and a good understanding of what customers expect, think and speak like. One where we know how to position the product in a way that is instantly appealing to the customer. 

Fast forward to today, each CRO project we undertake starts with substantial research – both qualitative and quantitative, and I love sharing the knowledge with you. It will give you a rock-solid foundation upon which you can build your A/B testing strategy. 

Now, as you can imagine, there are plenty of factors to consider when constructing a CRO strategy, such as: 

  • Business model
  • Industry
  • Allocated resources 
  • The amount of traffic and conversions the website gets.

Arguably, the most challenging of all is a website with low traffic and a low number of conversions. 

Why is that? 

Well, for starters, making a decision based on a total number of 20 conversions per AB test, is not the most relevant decision you can take.  Because of it, you may even have to consider applying changes without testing them. 

So, let’s see how I would handle a hypothetical client – let’s name him John – whose website averages 40,000 sessions and 400 conversions a month. Those numbers place John’s website in the low-traffic business area. 

How to Prioritize Research Tactics for a Low-Traffic Business 

John’s got himself a very successful B2B business, and you see, he wants to do his due diligence and conduct proper user research. 

However, with so many tactics to choose from, the paradox of choice hit him, and he’s currently suffering from paralysis by analysis. 

Let’s help him with it, shall we? 

For starters, let’s list the research methods he’s eyeing:

  • Heatmaps
  • Website surveys for prospects/clients
  • Google Analytics data
  • Customer interviews
  • Interviewing competitors’ clients
  • Conducting moderated user testing on his website or his competitors’ websites
  • Running a UX heuristics audit of his website
  • Analyzing customers reviews
  • Analyzing customer support messages
  • Interviews with his team to understand if the internal perception is the same as his client’s perception of the product
  • Looking for usability bugs
  • Focus groups
  • Eye tracking software
  • And many more.

Yep, he’s certainly not short on options. 

So, which of the research methods listed above brings John the best investment/value ratio? 

#1. Analyzing Customer Reviews 

If I were in John’s shoes, I would start with this. 

Customers reviews describe the user’s language.

They indicate their frustrations with the product or service. 

They also hint at what’s essential for them and how you can help them become better… a better specialist, a better colleague, a better-dressed person, smarter.. just an improved version of themselves in one way or another. 

And to make it easier for you, here’s what you should be looking out for when sifting through your customer reviews:

The situation that triggered the search for a solution; 
Experiences with using other similar products/services;
What other alternatives did they look into before coming across this final solution;
What triggered a search for a new solution;
Anxieties and desired outcomes;
Attributes that mattered most during the search.
In what ways your service/product ease their life

Writing landing pages and campaigns that match the insights above, will give your prospects the feeling that you understand them – that you know what’s important and that you’re one of them. 

Now that’s all fine and dandy – but what if you don’t have any customer reviews to go through? No need to panic. The first thing you should do is check out the reviews your competitors are getting. 

If you still can’t find enough reviews, it may be worth talking with your customer support representatives. 

These are the people biting the bullet and having real conversations with real users. Because of it, they’re often more in tune with your audience than anyone else on your team. 

Now, let’s move on to the second research method I’d look into if I were John. 

#2. Customer Interviews

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or your business is already well-established – if you’ve never run customer interviews before, this will feel outside your comfort zone at first. 

Don’t worry about it, though! We’ve all been there. However, if you want to identify the exact problem your product helps your customers out with, there is no better way to do so than by running user interviews. 

This is not a problem web analytics can solve. 

If you want to get things done the proper way, you need to go into the trenches. 

You need to actively engage with your audience. And what better way of doing so than talking with those who actually spent their money on your solution?

Sure, it’s not scalable

And yes, it will take time. 

But it’s all sooo worth it and eye opening!

Conversion Rate Optimization Research Strategies for Low-Traffic Websites 

The truth is, interviews are the best way of learning your customer’s vocabulary and discovering their needs and pain points. They’ll give you all the materials needed to help you build that bridge between your product and your target audience. And that’s not all. Customer interviews will also inspire you to improve your product, identify new target audiences, and ultimately make better business decisions. 

Bottom line: they’re fantastic! 

Make sure you give yourself time to think about how you will reach out to these people. Are you going to offer an incentive to those who wish to participate? How many people are you aiming to talk to? (a minimum of 5 customer interviews is necessary)

Don’t forget, quality trumps quantity, and interviewing your ideal customer profile is extremely important otherwise the insights might lead you the wrong way. 

You also have to decide upon a template. You can’t just show up without having a clear picture of what you want to ask them. The rule of thumb here is not to ask questions your users can answer with a simple yes or no. 

Remember, the goal is to listen, learn, and discover. They need to do the talking, not you. 

For reference, here’s a list of questions I always start with when conducting user interviews. 

1. Tell me a bit about yourself. What does {X} mean to you? 
2. Can you recall what was going on in your life that made you interested in our product? Was it something specific? (How did you feel about this?) How long had this been an issue?
3. What stood out to you about us? How was it different compared to other solutions?
4. What other solution did you think about? Did you consider or try any other brands before you bought from us? Why did you decide to go with our product?
5. When you read our website, was there anything that connected with you?
6. Was there anything that made you hesitate before hitting the buy button?
7. Now that you’re using {INSERT PRODUCT NAME} what’s the number one thing you can do that you couldn’t do before? Anything else?
8. What would you say if a friend asked whether they should go with {INSERT PRODUCT NAME}?
9. Is there anything you wish the {INSERT PRODUCT NAME} did that it doesn’t do?

Now, you don’t want the interview to last more than 30 minutes. However, if you feel like the interviewee is engaged, or if there’s time left, you could also throw in questions such as:

10. Could you walk me through a typical day for you?
11. What are you reading and/or binge-watching?
12. What else do you do with your time?
13. What apps do you use most?

And here are some of the insights I got from running a similar interview with one of my clients offering camera-carrying solutions: 

Customer language examples

“On the strap, it was dangling. I couldn’t kneel down – it would hit the pavement if I tried to get on my knees.”

“I’d never seen one, but I did a Google search – because out of all the body parts to carry a camera, it makes sense to carry it on your chest.”

“Comfortable when you are out shooting long hours while having hands free and not worrying about camera bumping into things. Having hands free feels liberating.”

“Super easy to twist and lift and be shooting fast, and easy to return to locked position.”

It’s easy to see how such insights can lead anyone down the path to improving the conversion rate by targeting the audience’s pains and problems. I found out what’s essential for them when looking at this type of solution, and I got it in their own words.

Now, let’s move on to the following research method. 

#3. Website Behavior

This type of analysis aims to identify how users interact with your website and how different aspects of it drive engagement. As you go through the entire user journey, you’ll discover how people navigate through the website.

But going back to our objective in this article, and finding insights for low-traffic websites, I’d recommend you to not spend more than a couple of days on it. Because the data sets are limited and you cannot go into very granular analysis. 

Ok, but how do you actually conduct this type of research? I, for one, mix an analytics tool – Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or Mixpanel – with a tool that allows heatmaps and recordings – such as Hotjar. 

By the time I’m done, I will have learned the answers to questions like: 

  • What devices do they use? The answer will highlight which user base you should focus on. If 90% of your traffic is mobile, then your next step should focus on mobile.
  • What are the top 5 pages by sessions? What are the top sessions by conversions? (only consider the top-of-funnel pages for now). Once you’ve identified them, look at these pages by channel to understand what type of traffic each one receives. 
  • What are your best-converting pages? The next step is to analyze them. Try to identify the elements that persuade users to buy. Think about how you can replicate them on other pages as well. 
  • Which pages are converting the lowest? Why? How are they different from your best-converting pages? Is it because of the type of traffic, or might it be due to faulty design, usability issues, or bad copy?

Once you’ve identified all these answers, you’ll clearly understand which of your landing pages help pay the bills and which are money-guzzlers. 

#4. Checkout Analysis

The last research method I’d look into if I were John switches attention towards the bottom of the funnel. 

If you think your job ends when a user clicks the buy button, you’ve got another thing coming, mister. 

The checkout page is one of the most important aspects of your funnel. Identifying at which step of this checkout process you’re losing clients will show you exactly where you need to rethink your funnel to stop them from abandoning it. 

Imagine a being on a treasure hunt. The insights you’re getting from analyzing the checkout process are clues that lead you closer to digging up that precious treasure chest. The more insights you get, the greater your chances of achieving success. 

The first thing you should check when doing this type of analysis is to make sure your process is bug-free. Only once you’ve eliminated that possibility should you move forward with it. 

Surveys and heatmaps are some of my favorite tools for getting real customer feedback on the reason that keeps them from buying, whereas Google Analytics will reveal the abandonment rate throughout each step of the checkout. 

Final Thoughts 

By now, you should have more than enough ideas about where to kick-off your website optimization process.

Remember, the goal of this article is to stay practical on the journey of conversion optimization on a low-traffic website and see results within a few weeks. 

I’m not going to be one of the gurus telling you how to double the conversion rate in 5 hours.

But a few weeks is definitely a realistic period for you to see a significant improvement.

Maybe not double the conversion of your whole website, but surely double the conversion rate of your homepage or product pages for example.

All that’s left for you is to put on your working boots, be curious and have fun!

Analyze reviews and run interviews to learn your audience’s language. 

Identify their biggest problem and see what’s important for them when looking for solutions. Make sure to analyze their behavioral patterns once they land on your website and keep an eye out for friction points and usability issues. 

Do all that and you’re virtually guaranteed to boost your conversion rate and take your business to the next level. 

Nonetheless, if these tactics adobe don’t make you feel excited, conversion rate optimization is one of the three areas that Growth Savvy can help you out with – so set up a free consultation to see how we can help your business thrive. 

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