Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of optimizing your landing page or website experience to increase the percentage of website visitors who perform desired actions. A user’s desired action can be purchasing a product or service, signing up for a service, clicking on a link, or otherwise.
Understanding how your users move through your website, what actions they take, and the aspects preventing them from completing your goals are all a part of the process.
How to Calculate Conversion Rate
You can calculate the conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of site visitors and multiplying the result by 100. For example, if your web page had 30 sales and 600 visitors last month, your conversion rate is 30 divided by 600 (0.05), multiplied by 100, which equals 5%.
Benefits of Doing Conversion Rate Optimization
CRO enables you to optimize your site’s functionality while helping you to understand why and how your site visitors behave the way they do. The truth is your website never reaches its maximum potential until you rigorously experiment with it. Broadly, CRO has two main benefits.
Improving Marketing ROI (Return on Investment)
A well-thought-out and well-structured CRO program based on concrete analysis can significantly improve the return on almost all your marketing activities. The following explains how this is attainable.
Improving the Speed/Quality of Experiments Run on Your Website
CRO allows you to analyze your site’s performance by running tests and looking for the best possible variations that promise conversions. By experimenting with the various elements on your landing pages, you can use the gathered information as a benchmark for your subsequent experiments/tests and also check the areas yielding the best results.
Incremental Business Returns/Better Revenue with the Same Results
One of the most significant benefits of running a CRO campaign is that the changes you implement on your site eventually increase your conversions.
Enhancing (UX) User Experience
The benefits of a CRO program extend beyond marketing ROI to provide an improved user experience across all stages of a visitor’s lifecycle, whether they are a regular client or first-time visitor.
Personalizing the Experience for Your Site Visitors
Visitors nowadays expect a seamless experience. Unless you’re offering your visitors a site they can easily navigate with fewer clicks and make the entire process effortless, they will leave your site and eventually look for alternative options. Personalizing sections of your website based on their previous browsing history, local time, device, or geography can help you make your site much more relevant to your visitors.
Better Insights into Your Visitor Behavior
The CRO process begins with understanding customer behavior using tools such as click maps and heat maps. These tools will tell you which sections of your site visitors spend most of their time. Other CRO tools, such as website surveys and form analytics, help you to understand a visitor’s overall experience with your site.
Meanwhile, session replays and session recordings provide insight into your visitors’ overall experience. They highlight the exact journey visitors took to accomplish a specific goal on your site and the friction areas that caused them to drop off and abandon your site altogether. Such qualitative data contributes significantly towards creating a better user experience, paving the way for conversions.
The Process of Doing Conversion Rate Optimization
Multiple CRO optimization frameworks exist to help you effectively plan and execute optimization campaigns. There are five steps in the CRO process.
Stage 1: Research Phase
Generally, most marketers will copy CRO strategies that yielded positive results for other companies assuming the same strategy would work for them. However, this is not always the case.
Understanding What Users Do
You should begin by getting familiarized with the basics.
Analyze What Your Visitors Are Doing?
Analytics allows you to make decisions based on factual data rather than gut instinct. You can derive data in multiple ways to understand your results in the CRO process. For instance, you can seek relevant information from web analytics tools such as demography, audience, site behavior, real-time data tracking, bounce rate, and more.
Leverage Google Analytics to obtain in-depth quantitative data on what people are doing on your site.
How Page Features Shape User Behavior
Visitor behavior analysis tools such as customer surveys, net promoter score, analytics, interview feedback, session recordings, heatmaps, and so forth will enable you to see how different features on a page influence user behavior. Getting such insights can help you focus on features that convert users better and eliminate unwanted elements.
Understanding User Behavior
Understanding how users behave lays down fundamental ground rules for CRO elements. Essential elements that aid in understanding customer psychology are:
Principles of Persuasion
Human beings are highly susceptible to cognitive biases and suggestions. An item that is popular among the masses grows in popularity regardless of its actual worth. Similarly, the more exclusive an item is, the more valuable it becomes.
Understanding such human psychology helps define your goals and draft a CRO plan that converts. Consider adding social proof in the form of testimonials and reviews on your landing page or wherever it is relevant. Social proofing aids in increasing conversions.
Studying your target audience’s behavior will provide you with more information on why users behave in certain ways over the internet and how you can use that information to improve your website’s conversion rate. You can study the behavior of your target audience by:
- Conducting in-person interviews and tests
- Following guidelines on user behavior and reading case studies
Combining both strategies can give you a better understanding of how your customers behave on your site.
Understanding the Data Gathered
Data and consumer psychology studies can help you identify why users do what they do on your website. Gather all the data and use it to guide the improvements that could ultimately benefit your business in the long run. You also want to arrive at an expected conversion rate to give your testing efforts direction.
You don’t want to improve the conversion rate on a page by 1% and then stop and relax without realizing its actual potential.
Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Data
While quantitative data provides insight into your business’s performance, it falls short in some areas. That is why you need to collect qualitative data as well. Qualitative data provides better insight into how customers perceive your brand, why they buy or don’t buy your product/service, and other crucial information.
Stage 2: The Hypothesis Phase
You can now construct an educated hypothesis with the information you gathered in the research phase. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation of your research that typically comprises:
A particular change is based on insights derived from the data collected.
A particular effect is a conversion metric, desired goal, or similar effect that needs improvement.
A particular reason is the reasoning behind why a specific change can bring about the desired effect.
The best way to take the next step forward is to run an actual test. Next, form a hypothesis, state it, and decide how to change your pages. When you have a well-structured hypothesis, you can make necessary changes to your product pages. A reasonable hypothesis also paves the way for more optimization efforts.
When stating your hypothesis, be as comprehensive as possible and note all the necessary information.
Typically, you have two main ways to run a CRO test. You can change one or more page elements and change the page or test a completely different page.
Once you’ve uncovered your optimization opportunities, schedule your test strategy.
Stage 3: The Prioritization Phase
Choose a testing order that will lead you in the right direction.
Stage 4: The Testing Phase
Before running a test, understand the basics:
- What should you use – A/B, Split or Multivariate testing?
- How long do you need to run a test?
- What is statistical significance, and why is it critical?
Before assessing if your hypothesis is correct, you must ensure that you reach statistical significance. Many Split testing tools will take some of the hard work out of the process by notifying you of statistical significance.
Predicting how long it could take to reach statistical significance can be hard to predict, but some CRO tools can help you with that.
Businesses often confuse A/B, Split, and Multivariate testing. To understand which kind of testing method will best suit your needs and demands, here are some points to note:
- A/B, Split, and Multivariate testing methods differ, and they all come with their own set of pros and cons
- A/B testing is majorly used in cases with simple design changes
- The decision to use one of these testing methods should purely depend upon the task at hand
Split testing is used when:
- Testing pages that already exist on different URLs
- Back-end changes are needed
- Design changes require heavy modifications against the original version that it’s easier to create a new, separate page entirely.
Multivariate testing is used when multiple changes are suggested on a page, and you want to test each combination separately.
Stage 5: The Learning Phase – Analyzing A/B Test Results
In this phase, you draw conclusions about your tests, close the loop for CRO, and note all the new data gathered for future testing. As an optimizer, you need to dig deeper than merely reviewing the test results to see whether a variation was a winning or failed one, then go back to create more hypotheses. Consider the two possible outcomes of a test you’ve run.
When Your Variation Wins the Test
At this point, your efforts have paid off well. But what follows? It’s time to seek answers to the following questions:
- What is the cost of implementing the change(s) in labor hours and the like?
- Is the expected revenue increase doing justice to the actual cost involved?
When Your Variation Loses the Test
In this case, make sure you:
- Re-evaluate your research, check your hypothesis and try to find loopholes
- Study your test data and dissect it further to examine the insights
- Validate your research data
- Review relevant case studies since they give you new insights and perspectives you may have missed before
- Accommodate your initially missed insights into a new hypothesis
- Go back and test again
Remember, CRO is an ongoing process that demands constant analysis. No matter how many tests you’ve run, there’s always room for improvement. Make sure you have a well-designed CRO process that will effectively help identify improvement areas and implement optimization efforts to drive more revenue further and get better conversions.
Mistakes You Should Avoid in CRO
CRO is a delicate process that requires constant refinement. So, before you get overwhelmed and lose hope, it helps to take note of some common CRO mistakes you should avoid.
Testing Without a Roadmap
When you’re running a CRO program, pay attention to your timing. Testing your SaaS, or Software as a Service, business during the holidays, for example, will likely yield unreliable results. While conducting your research, you will want to set up stages for your experiments. A CRO roadmap allows you to track your experiment’s timelines and progress at every step, which can promise reliable results. Consider creating a roadmap for at least a quarter for a smooth sail.
Unorganized One-Off Testing
Testing is a crucial part of CRO. Many marketers, however, test without analyzing the performance of their current site or backing their results with research-based hypotheses. Companies and agencies with organized CRO processes yield better results because:
- They design a testing roadmap for methodical testing
- They create benchmarks for KPIs from current website performance
- They analyze the reason behind drop-offs using CRO tools such as surveys, recordings, and heatmaps
- They develop hypotheses backed by data
- They run tests based on these hypotheses, increasing the chances of success
Not Having a Clear Understanding of KPIs
Without understanding the KPIs, objectives, milestones, benchmarks, and roadmap for experiments or campaigns, you might have difficulty thinking analytically, which impacts the entire campaign. Some KPIs to have in place include:
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- Customer Retention/Loyalty
- Average Order Value (AOV)
- Current Revenue and Projected Uplift
- Lifetime Value (LTV)
Not Tracking Micro Conversions
When optimizing for conversion, you might focus all your attention on macro conversions such as revenue, purchases, checkouts, bookings, free trial signups, etc. You also need to keep track of micro-conversions such as clicks on CTAs, scroll depth, element visibility, etc., that play a crucial role in determining your user experience and website performance.
Micro-conversions enable you to analyze customer behavior as they browse your website.
Testing with an Inadequate Sample Size
Companies starting with CRO programs make the mistake of running A/B tests on pages with low traffic. Testing with low traffic doesn’t provide reliable results because the test lacks sufficient data to get a high confidence score. With low traffic, you can take a long time to achieve statistical significance. You will either have to wait until the test reaches statistical significance or stop the testing altogether.
Misreading Result Reports
Studying and understanding test reports can be challenging if you’re still new to CRO. An ideal test report has at least three goals to monitor closely. People tend to get excited when they see an uptick in one of the goals and ignore other metrics and goals that might impact experiments holistically.
Components of Successful CRO
CRO is a comprehensive process that involves numerous components, from the design of your landing page to your website copy and Call-to-Action. To run a successful CRO campaign, you must first conduct an in-depth analysis of your target audience, then run multiple tests to measure performance, and continue to optimize to maximize results. You’ll need to address several critical elements throughout the process that you can optimize for higher conversion rates.
The appearance of your website and landing pages plays an essential role in CRO. An easy-to-navigate and aesthetically pleasing design will likely improve usability and make it easier for users to convert. In designing your website, work with a website designer with a detailed understanding of CRO.
Your site should include interactive menus and readable fonts, be accessible on mobile devices, and make it easy for visitors to find what they’re seeking.
Fast website load speed is a component of CRO and an essential part of any search-engine-optimized website. The longer your website takes to load, the more likely users are to drop off and go to another website. Remove slow-loading site elements and decrease image file size to ensure fast load times. This alone can significantly increase site conversions.
Web copy refers to the writing users read on your landing pages and website. Skilled copywriters can craft copy that speaks to your target audience’s unique needs. You must do more than simply write content and hope for the best.
Audience research becomes essential here. If you want to understand your audience and the solutions they seek, you’ll have an easier time communicating the value of your offer – the features, benefits, and more. Ultimately, you’re trying to persuade users that your product or service fits their needs best.
A call-to-action is a concise invitation or appeal to site visitors to take the desired action. A best practice for CTAs is to make it obvious what users will get when they submit their information or click on a link. Commonly used phrases are “Contact Us,” “Work with Us,” and “Buy Now,” but you can be more creative.
Design your site structure to make your website easy to navigate. This structure consists of where your pages exist on your site and how they interact with each other. Most sites have the most important pages in the main menu and subpages in the dropdown menu.
Ideally, you don’t want to bury web pages more than three clicks away from the homepage. Analyze how typical users navigate your site and consider their journey from one page to another. Overall, creating an easy-to-navigate website is crucial to increasing conversions, building customer trust, and improving customer loyalty.
Most popular website owners use contact forms to collect user information, particularly for agency and service sites. Ecommerce sites might have a standard shopping cart function and individual product pages. Make your contact form easy to use and functional. Users should submit their information easily, and your website should connect with the form fills to ensure quick follow-up.
When using contact forms, consider customer privacy and invest in a good design.
Example of Companies That Uses Effective CRO
CRO benefits all business types and sizes, regardless of their industries. Examples of businesses taking advantage of CRO include:
- Bizztravel Wintersport increased its conversions by 21% after decluttering the homepage
- BluTV increased its mobile conversion rate by creating a more service-friendly homepage
- Continuous testing helped POSit improve its demo requests by over 50%
- By making its checkout page more CTA-centric, PearlsOnly increased its revenue by 12%
Tools That Can Help You Analyze Conversion Rate
Your brain, ears, eyes, and mouth are your primary tools to understand your customers, empathize with their experience, draw data-based conclusions, and ultimately make the changes that improve your conversion rates. These free tools enable you to:
- Watch how people use your website
- Listen to what people have to say about your site
- Draw connections between different feedback sources
- Speak to the staff that supports and sells your product/service
- Talk to whoever built your website and your product/service
- Immerse yourself in the market
Any other traditional optimization tools optimize your site in three ways.
Quantitative Tools Uncover What’s Happening
Quantitative tools allow you to collect numerical data and track what is happening on your site. They include:
- General analytics tools such as Google Analytics
- Funnel tools that measure when site visitors drop off of the sales funnel
- Website heatmap tools that gather data on the number of scrolls, clicks, and movements on a page
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) tools that measure customer satisfaction levels on a scale of one to ten
- Form analysis tools that track form submissions
- Tools that the Net Promoter System uses to measure how likely people will recommend your website/product to someone else on a scale from zero to ten
Qualitative Tools to Uncover Why Things Happen
Qualitative tools help you collect non-numerical data to understand why your website visitors behave in a particular way. They include:
- Online reviews to learn more about people’s experiences with your product and brand
- Usability testing tools where a panel of current or potential clients can air their thoughts and opinions on your website
- Website session replay or recording tools that show how individual users navigate through your site
- Website feedback tools where visitors answer questions about their experience
Tools to Test Changes and Measure Improvement
Once you have collected quantitative and qualitative data and developed a clear sense of what is happening on your site, testing allows you to make changes or report on them to determine if your CRO efforts are going in the right direction. They include:
- A/B testing tools to test different page variations to find the best performance (works well for high-traffic sites, so you can be sure your results are statistically valid)
- Conversion tracking analytics tools that track and monitor website conversions
- Website heat map and session recording tools that allow you to compare different page variations and the behavior on it
- Website feedback tools that allow you to collect qualitative feedback and then quantify it, so you can compare the responses before and after making changes
What Is a Good Online Conversion Rate?
A good online conversion rate can be anywhere between 1% and 4%. The truth is, however, this figure may not be accurate for a few good reasons:
- Every website, audience, and page is unique
- Conversion rates vary dramatically depending on the conversion goal (checkout completions, ad clicks, newsletter signups, etc.)
- Most people do not publicly share their conversion data
Averages can come in handy as benchmarking starting points, but they have little to do with your website. There is no ultimate or actual industry figure you can compare yourself against or rely on with complete assurance. Sticking to an average percentage and trying to fit in as many conversions as possible to stay in line with it may not be the best way to optimize the conversion rate.
Instead, develop an in-depth understanding of your user’s true interests, so you can deliver. Conversions will flow organically after this.
Why Is Conversion Rate Optimization Important?
CRO is important because it allows you to lower the costs of acquiring new customers by getting more value from new site visitors and current users. Optimizing your website or mobile app for conversion can increase your revenue per visitor, expand your customer base, and grow your business. Truthfully, most websites never reach their full potential until they are tested rigorously.
What Are the Common Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?
The most common CRO strategies include the following:
- Influencing and persuasion
- Maximizing on-page elements
- Creating simple and informative content
- Leveraging images and video content
- Ensuring mobile compatibility
- Social proofing
- Creating a seamless user experience
What Are Some Metrics That Can Help You Analyze Conversion Rate Optimization?
You can track a plethora of conversion metrics to help you analyze CRO. Some of them include the following:
- Customer Retention/Loyalty
- Return on Investment
- Lifetime Value
- Traffic sources
- Interactions Per Visit
- New Visitor Conversion Rate
- Cost Per Conversion
- Value Per Visit
- Exit Pages
- Bounce Rate
- Return Visitor Conversion Rate
What Is the Most Used Testing Method for Improving Conversions?
A/B Testing is the cornerstone of conversion rate optimization. It is akin to conducting a research study. You split your website traffic into two groups. One group (group A) gets to see a different version of your site than the other (group B).
You can test different factors, like headlines, font size, calls-to-action, website design, buttons, and colors. The best way to derive meaningful results from an A/B test is to change one thing from one variation to another. This way, you can attribute the changes in conversion rate to a specific alteration.
A/B testing requires you to collect sufficient data. Otherwise, the results won’t be statistically significant. Some of the things you can A/B test include:
- Page layout (sidebar vs. no sidebar)
- Colors of design elements
- Media (text vs. images vs. video)
- Call-to-action (try now vs. buy now)
- Copy (how do you describe your product?)
How Long Should You Let Your Conversion Optimization Experiments Run?
There is no average regarding how long you should let your conversion optimization experiments run. The short answer is that it depends on a few factors. For example, doing A/B tests with a low-traffic site may result in misleading data, or it could take months or even years to gather accurate measurements.
Depending on your steps of conversion optimization, you can calculate the average time to let experiments run by analyzing the following:
- Existing conversion rate (estimate)
- Minimum conversion rate increase you want to see
- Number of combinations or variations towards control variation
- The percentage of visitors included in the test
- The average number of daily visitors to the page you are testing
Do Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices Work?
CRO best practices have worked for plenty of companies in the past. These practices, however, might not be relevant to modern-day businesses or even apply to your particular business. That said, a business should only adopt CRO best practices after an in-depth understanding and proper measurement of its target audience.
Most people, for example, believe that improving conversions requires no more than a few simple tweaks. Just because something worked for one business doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours. Pay attention to what’s working with your particular audience, and then use your creativity to make adjustments to improve your conversion rates over time.