Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
In this guide you’ll learn the basics of conversion rate optimization, how it can benefit your business and a step-by-step roadmap to get started with your own CRO program.
What is conversion rate optimization (CRO)?
In marketing, conversion rate optimization is the process of improving a website or app to increase the number of visitors that perform an action that results in a conversion. CRO can help businesses understand what persuades or discourages website or app visitors from converting, how to improve performance, and in turn, gain more conversions. CRO can also result in better-qualified leads, reduced acquisition costs and a revenue boost.
What is the importance of conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is an essential strategy for a website or mobile app. It can help businesses gain new customers with the same number of visitors, lower customer acquisition cost (CAC) and improve the UX experience to convert new customers.
What is a conversion?
A conversion is when the website or app visitor performs the action that is desired. It can be a purchase or when the person takes action in a conversion point that the business considers important to the customer journey. For instance, a conversion can be a shopper adding items to their cart, a case study download, newsletter sign-up or other predetermined metric.
What is a micro conversion?
A micro conversion is a smaller, less significant action that a visitor takes on your website or app, which is a step toward a primary or macro conversion. It represents a visitor's engagement with your website or app, but it may not directly lead to a sale, sign-up or other major goal. Micro conversions are often used as intermediate indicators of user interest, intent or progress along the customer journey.
What is a conversion rate?
A conversion rate is the percentage of users that completed a desired action compared to the total number of visitors. The higher the conversion rate, the better the CRO achieved.
There are different kinds of conversion rate measurement, depending on the objective and type of website or app:
When a visitor completes an action you are measuring on your website or app, for example product page view goals
When a visitor of a website or app purchases a product on an e-commerce store.
When a visitor submits their contact information and it is captured on a form.
What is a good conversion rate?
The average conversion rate is between 2% and 5% across all industries, while industry specific conversation rates vary. However, measuring a good conversion rate also depends on your industry, niche, target audience and other factors specific to your business.
Marketing wisdom is that conversion rate industry benchmarks can be helpful, but focusing on your company’s business goals and key metrics will keep you on track for your CRO program.
Tips on how to set a “good” CRO goal for your business
Use historical conversion rate data
Track your historical conversion rate data, identify your business goals and calculate what your conversion rate goal would need to be to achieve your goals. Find the end goal and track what is “good” CRO accordingly.
Identify CRO goal per number of website visitors (percentage)
Be specific about setting a goal and correlate it with the number of visitors. For example, “Get 100 more conversions for every X number of visitors.” The idea is to improve the user journey to maximize the number of conversions per number of visitors.
How to calculate conversion rates
The method you use to calculate the conversion rate depends on what you’re defining as the conversion and how you measure traffic. Examples include:
User sessions: The length of time a visitor is active on a website or app. Sessions are typically measured in 30 minute increments.
Conversion rate = Total number of conversions ÷ total number of user sessions x 100
Unique visitors: The number of unique individuals who visit one or more web pages or mobile app in a specific time interval, regardless of how many times they request it
Conversion rate = Total number of conversions ÷ total number of unique visitors x 100
Number of leads: The number contact information captures in a specific time interval on a website or app
Conversion rate = Total number of conversions ÷ total number of leads x 100
Here’s a more detailed example using email newsletter sign ups:
If 100 users visit a page and 20 sign up for the newsletter, the conversion rate is 20%.
Benefits of conversion rate optimization: Why is it important?
Below are five key reasons why putting effort into CRO can benefit your business.
Lower customer acquisition costs (CAC)
Increasing conversion rates mean there are more users converting with the same amount of site traffic and your customer acquisition cost decreases. Turning a one-time visitor into a customer means higher ROI on your CRO efforts and building more loyal buyers long term.
Of course, the more conversion roadblocks opened, the more you can lower CAC with new customers going through the sales funnel to purchase and more revenue for the company.
Continually improve UX
The effort you put into CRO also translates into a better user experience on your website or app for everyone. Not only will this lead to more conversions, but a more streamlined, consistent approach to UX overall.
Conducting a CRO audit will proactively identify areas of improvement–from a confusing button, to navigating to the shopping cart or a broken link on a landing page. All of these improvements add up to customer-focused UX.
Positively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
CRO and SEO work better together than they do alone. CRO focuses on high quality, user-friendly content. SEO helps increase traffic, find potential customers, promote visibility for your website and generate backlinks.
There’s key overlap between the two: your search ranking will increase with the number of engaging, high-converting pages. Ultimately, a powerful CRO program, combined with strong SEO can “seal the deal” by converting those visitors into customers and drive sales.
Learn about your audience
Many times, website or app visitors find issues before you’re aware of them. But when you take a proactive approach to understanding user pain points through A/B testing, experimentation, surveys and other methods, you get a more comprehensive picture of who’s interacting with your website and how they’re doing it.
With actionable insights from your CRO efforts, you can gain a deeper understanding of your visitors and better plan for future website changes, email campaigns and other marketing initiatives.
Improve your brand reputation
CRO can also help create a positive perception of your brand. It starts with consistency on design, colors, messaging and other brand elements on each page. Beyond that, improving UX and other functionality creates a better user experience.
Another way your brand benefits is that when a website or app visitor achieves their goals, they build more trust in your company, which can be a powerful differentiator for your brand. And when happy visitors turn into happy customers, they’ll likely spread the word, which means more business for you.
Various cross-industry stats support the importance of conversion rate optimization for websites and apps. For instance:
Almost 60% of B2B marketers say CRO is the most useful metric for landing page performance
70% of marketers who engage in CRO work use the outcome of their experiments to inform other marketing decisions
Those businesses using CRO tools increased an average ROI of 223%
Who can benefit from CRO?
CRO for e-commerce
The purpose of an e-commerce site is ultimately to convert visitors to a sale. Optimizing conversion points along the customer journey, finding and fixing UX errors and other improvements will help increase purchases and return customers.
CRO for B2B/SaaS companies
Much of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) sales is based on the experience of other product users. Social proof is one of the main CRO strategies, such as reviews, customer logos, user counts and success stories, along with other website and app elements.
CRO for banks and financial services institutions
When visitors come to a financial-related website or mobile app, they have a specific goal in mind, whether it’s signing up for an account or a customer transferring money. CRO efforts around navigation, ease and trust signals can increase customer loyalty and reduce CAC.
CRO for travel sites
The travel and hospitality customer journey requires a lot of decision-making, which means more opportunities for abandonment if there is confusion or frustration. The most effective CRO efforts focus on improving search, navigation, forms/buttons and showcasing reviews.
What is a conversion rate optimization strategy?
A conversion rate optimization strategy is a systematic approach aimed at increasing the percentage of website or landing page visitors who take a desired action, known as a conversion. Conversions can include making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form, downloading a resource, or any other specific action that aligns with your website's goals. The primary objective of a CRO strategy is to maximize the effectiveness of a website or landing page in encouraging users to complete these actions.
The next section takes a deeper dive into the components of a conversion rate optimization strategy.
What tools do you need to get started?
Conversion rate optimization tools are an integral part of any successful CRO program. They provide key website and visitor data analysis about how people are using your site and identify areas that need work. CRO tools help to understand why visitors aren’t converting to a lead or buyer, come to conclusions about what changes you should make to increase conversions and test those improvements to optimize for the conversions.
As noted earlier, there are many CRO tools that measure conversion rates, but a combination of quantitative and qualitative data analysis will result in the most meaningful and actionable insights. Quantitative measures key performance data across the website and app. User behavior/interactive ones capture interactions and engagement with a website or app. And testing tools enable an experiment with your CRO changes. Learn more about CRO tools.
Benefits of integrating Google Analytics with digital experience intelligence
Integrating Google Analytics with digital experience intelligence tools can offer several benefits for conversion rate optimization (CRO). Digital experience intelligence tools provide deeper insights into user behavior and interactions on your website and can tell you why users behave the way they do. When combined with Google Analytics, these tools can enhance your CRO efforts in the following ways:
1. Granular user behavior analysis: Digital experience intelligence tools often provide more detailed and granular data about user interactions. These advanced insights help you understand how users are navigating your website and where they encounter obstacles or friction points.
2. User engagement insights: You can gain a deeper understanding of user engagement by understanding how long users stay on specific pages, which content they interact with and whether they complete desired actions. This information can inform your CRO strategy by highlighting areas where users are most engaged and where they drop off.
3. Segmentation: Many DXI tools allow you to segment your audience based on various criteria, including demographics, location, device type and behavior. Segmenting your audience can help you tailor your CRO efforts to specific audiences, creating more targeted and personalized experiences.
4. Conversion funnel analysis: You can analyze user journeys and conversion funnels to pinpoint the specific steps where users tend to abandon the process. This data is invaluable for identifying optimization opportunities within the conversion path.
👉🏻 Check out the blog Conversion funnel optimization: A guide to optimizing funnels for conversion to learn more.
5. A/B testing and experimentation: By connecting DXI tools with Google Analytics, you can seamlessly integrate user behavior insights with your A/B testing and experimentation processes. This enables you to test variations of your website or landing pages and track how users respond.
6. Real-time user monitoring (RUM): Some digital experience intelligence tools offer real-time data, allowing you to react quickly to emerging trends, issues or opportunities on your website. This can be especially helpful for time-sensitive CRO adjustments.
7. Error detection and issue resolution: DXI tools can help you identify technical issues, such as broken links, slow-loading pages or form submission problems, that might negatively impact conversions and prioritize based on business impact.
8. Data validation: Combining data from Google Analytics and digital experience intelligence tools can help validate the accuracy of your conversion tracking and ensure that you're measuring conversions correctly.
9. Customer feedback/voice of customer (VoC) integration: DXI platforms typically offer feedback mechanisms, such as on-page surveys or feedback widgets, which can provide qualitative insights that complement the quantitative data from Google Analytics.
10. Comprehensive data for informed decisions: Integrating data from multiple sources provides a more comprehensive view of user behavior and website performance. This comprehensive data can inform your CRO strategy and help you make more informed decisions.
Connecting digital experience intelligence tools like Glassbox with Google Analytics can provide a holistic view of your website's performance, user behavior and conversion processes. These advanced insights enable teams to make data-driven, informed decisions to optimize your website for better conversion rates, leading to improved user experiences and increased business outcomes.
Conversion rate optimization best practices
The best place to start your website conversion rate optimization efforts is on your highest-traffic pages, taking advantage of the interest and increasing conversions. Conduct a web traffic audit and assess how your key website pages are performing, such as your homepage, landing page, products, solutions, pricing, blog posts or other areas with high conversion potential.
Conversion best practices can take many forms–from redesigning a page to changing a CTA or removing steps in the sales process. The key is to define a structured, ongoing program to increase your conversion rate in multiple ways on your website or app, using actionable and meaningful insights from your customers.
Improve the customer journey
One of the best places to start your CRO efforts is to fix problems that can be identified, analyzed and corrected along the customer journey. This requires an understanding of where users are engaging, play-by-play interactions and technical errors. Through these digital analytics tools, the user experience is more seamless, making it easier for users to convert.
Ensure consistent brand messaging
Even though it may not come to mind as a CRO strategy, your brand messaging on all pages should be consistent and resonate with your reader in a way they understand. If messaging is confusing, they likely won’t convert.
Automate conversion points
While CTAs often function as the main point of converting, one of the biggest opportunities for CRO is at the shopping cart when it’s abandoned, sometimes caused by purchasing anxiety. Send an automated message to the potential buyer encouraging them to follow through with the purchase.
Embrace mobile shoppers
Mobile buyers fuel more than half of e-commerce sales, but many app and website users have a poor experience, like slow loading times, crashes and technical glitches. Worse yet, about 25% think less of a brand and will likely move to a competitor–even after one bad experience. Many companies focus CRO efforts on website performance, but should equally focus on growing mobile opportunities. It’s also true that mobile apps are a more complex landscape than websites, with multiple operating systems, versions and other differences.
CRO tools that offer comprehensive mobile app analytics can show where users are struggling including dead taps, tilts and more. You can also track performance analytics for real-time insights and take steps to improve conversions. Proactively monitoring app screens, forms, CTA buttons and other features can help you get ahead of mobile user pain points.
Personalize the shopping experience
A great way to boost CRO is by personalizing the digital buying journey. In fact 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers a personalized experience. The three general types of data to gather are demographic, contextual and behavioral (note: be clear with visitors about what data you’re collecting, how you’re using it and any third party usage.)
With customer data from your martech stack and behavioral insights from a CRO tool, you can trigger personalized offers, dynamic content, customize product recommendations and develop a tailored experience overall. Understanding your shoppers’ needs and responding to them has a direct impact on buying more from your business and being a loyal customer.
Showcase social proof
Social proof is an excellent way to increase conversions on an e-commerce store. Originating from the concept that people are more likely to do something if others are doing it, it’s a proven technique in marketing. A customer speaking your praises is a better messenger than your brand to win trust and credibility that your products or services are worth buying.
Each type of social proof layers more confidence onto the shopping experience, from testimonials to user generated content (USG) to case studies, award logos and more. One of the most powerful social proof techniques is the review. Almost 90% of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Common CRO mistakes
The foundation for a successful CRO program begins with goals specific to your business and driven by relevant quantitative and qualitative data. Time and resources spent on website/app revisions based on other factors could detract from your efforts to scale a CRO program and continuous development.
For example, getting derailed from a well-formed hypothesis, such as comparing with a competitor (“Let’s change this CTA copy because X company did”), or taking action based on a hunch (“The sales cart field form is old and could use an update”) or reacting to negative feedback from an executive (“I don’t like the font style in the app”).
Here are other common mistakes that can hinder your CRO work, ultimately impacting customer revenue opportunities:
No CRO roadmap
A CRO program relies on a strategy plan based on your objectives and KPIs such as average order value (AOV), Lifetime value (LTV) and other marketing metrics. There also needs to be relevant milestones to drive campaign efforts for next week, six months and beyond.
Focusing only on macro-conversions
It’s easy for companies to get caught up in the big moves like a sale, free trial or demo request, and forgo the importance of the micro-conversions, those steps in-between to get to the purchase. Keeping your eye on the prize is important, but it can also be that optimized form, stronger CTA copy or other improvement that can eventually lead to a sale.
Not tracking guardrail and secondary metrics
One of the biggest testing misses is having a primary metric, without capturing guardrail metrics, also known as “counter metrics” or “health metrics,” which do a cross check on potential impact that can interfere with other business objectives. Likewise, not capturing secondary metrics can mean missing other relevant data insights that could be used for further customer journey improvements.
Ignoring segments of your audience
In testing, sometimes there are surprises in the results, such as one variation is converting well with web visitors but doing poorly with mobile users. Finding out the “why” behind these different testing segments is important and can have big implications for further experimentation and decision-making.
What is landing page optimization?
Landing page optimization is the process of improving and fine-tuning a specific web page, known as a landing page, to maximize its effectiveness in achieving a particular goal. Typically, the primary goal is to encourage visitors to take a specific action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, downloading an eBook or filling out a contact form, increasing the landing page conversion rate. Landing page optimization involves various techniques and strategies to increase the likelihood that visitors will complete the desired action.
12 key components of landing page optimization include:
1. Clear and compelling CTA: The landing page should have a prominent and persuasive CTA that clearly tells visitors what action to take.
2. Relevant and high-quality content: The content on the landing page should be relevant to the visitor's expectations and provide valuable information. It should also match the messaging of the ad or link that brought the visitor to the page.
3. Minimal distractions: Remove unnecessary elements, links or navigation options that can divert visitors' attention away from the primary goal of the landing page.
4. Strong visual elements: Use eye-catching images, graphics and videos to enhance the page's appeal and communicate your message effectively.
5. Mobile responsiveness: Ensure the landing page is mobile-friendly and displays properly on various devices and screen sizes.
6. A/B testing: Conduct A/B or split tests to compare different versions of the landing page to determine which design, copy or elements perform better.
7. Page load speed: Optimize page load times to prevent users from bouncing due to slow loading.
8. Trust signals: Include trust-building elements like testimonials or security badges to increase user confidence.
9. Form optimization: If a form is part of the conversion process, optimize it for simplicity and clarity. start by minimizing the number of required fields.
10. Analytics and tracking: Implement analytics tools to measure the performance of the landing page and track conversions and user behavior.
11. SEO best practices: Ensure the landing page is optimized for search engines to increase its visibility and organic traffic.
12. Personalization: Tailor the landing page content to the specific audience or segment that will be visiting it.
Landing page optimization is an ongoing process, and it involves data analysis and iterative improvements based on user feedback and performance metrics. The goal is to create a highly effective landing page that maximizes the desired conversion rate and delivers a positive user experience.
Check out the Conversion Rate optimization FAQs if you’re short on time or are looking for a quick cheat sheet on heatmaps.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving a website or mobile app to increase the number of visitors that perform an action that results in a conversion. CRO can help businesses understand what persuades or discourages website or app visitors from converting, how to improve performance, and in turn, gain more conversions.
Improving CRO is a combination of strategy and tactics to understand the user experience through quantitative and qualitative testing methods and improve the website and app UX.
CRO is an iterative and continual cycle of researching, testing, deployment to achieve the best conversion rates possible.
A “good” website conversion rate falls between 2% and 5% across all industries and the average is 3%. However, a good conversion rate is also dependent on your industry, niche, target audience and other factors specific to your business. The most important factor in evaluating whether it’s good is that it aligns with your company’s goals and success metrics.
The method you use to calculate the conversion rate depends on what you’re defining as the conversion, for example a sale or unique visitors, etc. but the general formula remains the same:
Conversion Rate = Total number of conversions ÷ Total number of (sessions, purchases, etc.) x 100
To measure conversion rate optimization, track the CRO changes you made to the website or mobile app and calculate the conversion rate frequently to determine if the revisions made increase conversions.
A CRO strategy involves developing a program to maximize the conversion rate of a website or mobile app based on goals and objectives of the business, informed by relevant data. The critical piece of a CRO strategy is that you’re creating a “big picture” roadmap to improve the digital experience instead of random tactical, one-off tests.
CRO techniques are targeted methods to improve conversion rates on a website or app for leads, sales or other goals. They can include optimizing forms, improving CTAs, increasing page load pages and other tactics. CRO techniques are most effective when they’re based on objectives and research.
A CRO test is based on a hypothesis about how to improve a specific conversion rate for an element on a website or app. It could be an A/B test, experiment or survey, depending on the CRO goal. CRO tools are integral to testing analysis of results and next steps.