Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Basics

Posted on 24.07.17 by Andy Bayer in Conversion Rate Optimization, Data Analysis clock 4 min read

How Does CRO Work?

Everybody wants to get more visitors, leads, and sales, right? (If you don’t, just leave now).

But how do you actually get more of those things?!

Well, I think a lot of people underestimate the impact of simply increasing the rate at which your site visitors complete desired actions (like calling, filling out a form, or buying). We call this process of increasing your conversion rate ‘Conversion Rate Optimization’ (CRO), and doing it can dramatically increase your bottom line!

Check out Figure 1 to see that if your business has an average order value of $50, 500,000 visitors per year and a 2% purchase conversion rate, you can increase your revenue by $125,000 per year by increasing your conversion rate by only 0.5%!

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 4.34.08 PMFigure 1: Scientific Proof that CRO Works

And this is even without accounting for the SEO rank and PPC quality score benefits of having more visitors staying on your site longer and converting more.


How to Conversion Rate Optimize

Now that you know why you should improve your conversion rate, HOW on earth do you do it? Essentially, there are five basic things you can do to improve your conversion rate: test, test, test, use custom landing pages, and track the right metrics.

I’m only half joking by including “test” 3 times. This really is the most important part of CRO. You can follow all the best practices or blog tips you want, but your site is unique, your audience is unique, and you therefore have unique problems.

You can only find these problems by testing. Testing means comparing two different versions of a webpage or ad with one important element changed, splitting the traffic 50/50, and seeing which one performs better.

The CRO Process

Now, there are all kinds of subtleties in how to do testing the right way and I would encourage you to read an in-depth guide to testing like this one from ConversionXL before embarking on CRO. The most popular form of testing is called A/B testing because you test two different versions (an “A” version and a “B” version).

There are several tools that ensure you don’t have to touch any code on your website to test, such as VWO, Optimizely, and Google Optimize.


Testing Tips

There are many tips for creating a scientifically sound experiment (and that’s exactly what we’re doing here), but the most important tips for A/B testing are:

  • – Set a sample size beforehand with a sample size calculator and don’t stop the test until you reach            that number,
  • – Run for 2 full business cycles,
  • – Only test one element on the page (call to action button, headline, etc) so you know any                          improvements are a result of that change, and
  • – Set your accepted level of statistical significance before the test and only make the change                      permanent if you reach that level.


Custom Landing Pages

Another important thing to consider with CRO is to use custom landing pages for your campaigns. This is because you can maintain messaging consistency between your ads or emails and your landing page. Customers click on your ad because they expect to find what the ad tells them they will get.

If they then get to an irrelevant homepage or product category page with a bunch of strange links they will probably be confused or annoyed and hit the back button. It’s like going for a door-crasher promotion on Boxing Day that’s available for the first 200 people but being the 201st person in line. Not getting what you hope or you expect to get is annoying.

There are also many landing page builder tools that do not require coding, including Unbounce or Pardot. A few things are important to remember with custom landing pages. Make sure you keep your company’s branding with a logo and proper colours so users know it’s your page. Make sure it is mobile responsive, which Unbounce makes easy. Make sure your headline text and call to action (CTA) button are above the fold (can see without scrolling) so it is obvious to the user how to get the offer.


Tracking The Right Metrics

Lastly, make sure you are tracking the right metrics to find issues in your CRO process. Google Analytics and other analytics software have made tracking data on your website users a breeze. But with this influx of data it can be hard to know what to focus on.

Metrics Can Be Misleading
Many marketers focus on metrics that are not directly related to conversion rate, such as bounce rate, time on site, and revenue. The problem with these metrics is it’s hard to know the reasons behind them.

For example, high bounce rate may be bad because the user doesn’t like what she sees, so she quickly leaves. But it could also be for a good reason, like the user quickly found what she needed and didn’t need to look any further. A high time on site could be good or bad for similar reasons – people who can’t find what they need but are persistent look like engaged prospects! Revenue could be higher because you have a large increase in the number of visitors to your site, but you could still be converting at a measly rate.

The Most Important Aspect
For these reasons, testing and testing some more is the most important aspect of CRO. But beyond testing, you should track as many actions on your site as possible. Actions tell you what a user is actually doing on your site and if they are finding what they need. Obviously, the most important actions to track are macro conversions like purchases or email signups. But micro conversions are also important, such as clicks to an information page, video views, form submits, and in-site searches. The way to track these metrics is by setting up goals in Google Analytics which may involve event tracking using Google Tag Manager.

So go test, build landing pages, set up goal tracking and improve your conversion rate now! Or better yet, let us do it for you! And watch your profits soar.


About the author Andy Bayer