Is your website giving students the information they need, in the best and fastest way possible? Are they engaged in the content and format you’re displaying it in? Or could style over substance be hindering your chances of optimal conversions?
These are all questions digital, marketing and recruitment teams should be asking if they’re to put user experience at the heart of your website.
Thankfully, there are a huge range of tools out there to drill down into the science behind the clicks, enabling you to collect valuable data you can act on, regardless of the Digitial Experience or Content Management Platform you use.
So without further ado, here are our team’s selection of the top CRO tools to experiment with and use to optimise your site.
#1 Google Analytics and Data Studio
Google Analytics was one of the first tools out there for digital marketers to measure success and take a deep dive into user behavior, conversions, bounce rate and page sources.
We all know it’s value, and it remains fundamental to tracking and analyzing data, even though its accuracy over time has been hindered by industry changes such as cookie policies and the latest iOS update.
Data Studio, meanwhile, which is in essence a supercharged version of Google Analytics, allows you to customize and present the data in far superior reports and displays, including those that demonstrate user flow paths. While Google Analytics only allows 12 widgets per dashboard, Data Studio can act as a center for breaking down and sharing complex data, with intel from social media platforms, CRM and ad platforms all feeding into it.
While Data Studio or Google Analytics might provide intel such as bounce rates, user behavior software like Hotjar is crucial for analyzing the reasons why.
This interactive tool allows you to track individual URLs and produce heatmaps of usage, a color-coded, visual representation of how users spend time on your page. It’ll show you where people are or aren’t clicking, and how far they scroll down pages before losing interest and leaving. There’s also the option of session recordings to better identify pain points and in-page surveys to ask for user feedback on design. All this is invaluable in assessing the popularity and useability of the content and call to actions (CTAs) needed for recruitment conversion.
#3 Crazy Egg
This is another heatmapping tool, which offers similar features to Hotjar, but specifically promotes its ability to help education providers streamline websites for desktop and mobile. It also gives you the ability to set up A/B tests, which is an effective way of trying out different versions of your key landing pages among users after you’ve identified the poorly performing pages with the tools above.
#4 VWO Testing
This is a dedicated testing and optimization tool, allowing you to build simple tests in minutes to establish which designs and layouts optimize conversions. As well as A/B testing, it offers multivariate testing and split URL testing, to build an even more accurate picture of what works and what doesn’t. You can see all the results in one place, with multiple widgets and visitor segmentation. Like Hotjar and Crazy Egg, it also offers session recordings and heatmaps.
This intuitive tree testing tool, part of Optimal Workshop, can provide vital insights for building an information architecture that works for prospective students.
It can show you where people are getting lost in the content and struggling to find the right path to the information they need. The program uses real-life participants (with demographics defined by you), who are given a text-only version of your site and a set of tasks that will establish how easy (or hard) it is to get where they need to be with the information architecture as it is. The data can then be brought to life in visuals.
Make sure your website doesn’t fall short of accessibility standards and alienate potential students with disabilities or learning challenges with this suite of tools. The WAVE (Website Accessibility Evaluation Tool) is run by WebAim, an organization devoted to improving the web for those with disabilities. But this isn’t just about identifying barriers to using web pages, tests can also show up broken links and content hindering all user journeys. It’s a free tool, but its upgraded version, PopeTech, allows tests on multiple pages, reporting and tips on fixing issues.
A first-click testing tool, Chalkmark shows where on an interface people would first place their mouse to complete a task. It’s thought that 87 percent of people who find themselves on the right path to where they want to be will successfully convert, so this tool provides the insights needed to ensure interfaces can be navigated with ease.
UserZoom is another all-round user testing tool, which includes screen-sharing capabilities for observing real-life user journeys. As well as behavior data, you can get verbal feedback through setting up interviews with users remotely. Meanwhile, card sorting with audiences can be utilized to see how they group together items in information architecture, in a way that makes sense to them. Tree testing and click testing are also available on this platform.
Nobody wants to land on a slow and clunky web page, especially students browsing multiple sites looking for the course that suits them. Poorly loading content or pages can increase bounce rates and hit conversion rates hard. PageSpeed Insights allows you to analyze loading speed and identify issues, with suggestions on how to improve.
Of course, you won’t necessarily need all the tools listed above, as there is plenty of crossover between them, but combining a few key pieces of software will reap rewards in terms of data driven decision making.
Are there any other CRO tools you swear by to analyse and improve your website? If so, please share your recommendations in the comments below, on social media or directly email our team. We’d love to hear from you.