What is CRO? A Beginner's Guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation
The battle for digital supremacy (sounds extreme) unfolds in two parts. There are indeed several stages in the ‘marketing funnel’ but for simplicity, we’ll condense them into two sections.
The first part revolves around the strategies companies use to draw customers into their brand, these would be things like social media advertising, appearing high-up on Google search engine results and so on. This is the initial touch point or first contact that your customer has with your company.
The second part then is all about taking this online traffic and encouraging the desired action. So when a person clicks through from a social media post or Google Ad, they land on your website where you’ll hope that they sign-up for something, make a purchase or complete any number of other actions.
This is the crucial second stage we’ll be discussing today; the point at which we optimise the conversion rate of our visitors. Welcome to conversion rate optimisation or CRO for short.
What is CRO?
Specifically, conversion rate optimisation refers to the process of increasing how many visitors take the desired action to produce the desired outcome. Optimisation happens as a result of improving key elements of your website.
Typically, these are things like:
- UI and UX design - the imagery, interface and navigational elements
- Website responsiveness - improving slow-load times
- Copywriting - the text-based content displayed on the site
Through optimisation, you’ll increase revenue, improve the quality of leads that your site generates and lower the acquisition costs for future customers.
What is a conversion rate?
A conversion rate is the percentage of people who take the desired action. The simple formula for calculating a conversion rate is as follows:
The total number of conversions is divided by the total number of visitors and multiplied by 100.
For example, let’s say you have 100 visitors to your website and 10 of those visitors complete a purchase. Your conversion rate then is 10%.
What are examples of conversions?
Not all conversions equal purchases or actions that immediately generate more revenue (although that's the end goal!). Your company might want to increase the overall amount of visitors to the website, the visits to a specific page, or increase the number of new accounts created.
Conversions can be split into two categories: Micro and macro conversions.
- Adding a product to a cart
- Downloading an e-book
- Subscribing to a blog
- Time spent on site
- Creating an account
These are milestones in the customer journey that will hopefully lead to an eventual sale or conversion.
- Purchasing a product
- Downloading a free trial
- Upgrading plans
- Requesting a quote
These actions have a direct impact on revenue or generating leads that can convert. Both micro and macro conversions are hugely important in understanding the customer journey and highlighting any barriers or frictions that might be preventing more overall conversions.
How CRO benefits a business
Granted, the obvious answer is that a better conversion rate means more revenue but the benefits of conversion rate optimisation stretch far beyond the bottom-line numbers. Let’s look at how CRO helps different aspects of a business:
The first benefit is the one most people are concerned with. Making more money! Yes, a well-optimised website will absolutely increase the percentage of customers who buy something. But even in the case of micro conversions like free trials or blog subscriptions, these actions place your customer on a conveyer belt of sorts, where they’ll encounter your brand at different stages and be prompted to purchase.
If you can optimise each of those stages, you’re more likely to get a sale at one point or another.
Improved customer experience
Higher conversion rates mean that your site is meeting customer expectations. People are happy engaging with your brand and find the customer experience pleasant.
This could be down to the design elements like colours and typography, the navigational ease for finding menus and products or the frictionless loading times. Improving the customer experience is paramount in setting your business apart from the competitors and promoting loyalty from your fanbase.
Happy customers = loyal customers = more likely to buy again.
Creates more traffic
A natural byproduct of happy customers is that they will share their experiences with others. Reviews and testimonials strengthen your brand credibility. When potential customers see that your product or service is well-received and spoken about positively, this reinforces their decision to commit.
Referrals are another great source of traffic. Happy customers tell friends and family about a brand which drives more traffic to your site. Not only that but because these new customers are being recommended by a trusted source, someone they know and respect, the leads will be of a much higher quality.
Keeps the business focused on the customer
Conversion rate optimisation is about looking at things through the lens of the customer. We’re dissecting the customer experience to establish which areas are causing friction or negatively impacting the completion of an action.
Our ability to continuously assess these factors from the viewpoint of our customers, rather than our own, means that we put their experience first. This human-centric approach is vital for improving CRO.
Better data for analytics and insights
When we dig into the drivers for conversion rate optimisation we’ll naturally uncover what works and what doesn’t. Let’s say you decide to make a change to the copy on the homepage of your website. The tone, length and messaging change and you see a 15% increase in how long customers are spending on the homepage.
This has clearly worked, so then we start breaking down why and using that data to inform our messaging on other pages and platforms to drive more traffic. Small changes can have big impacts. The data helps us to better define our audience and their motivations, ultimately leading to an improved conversion rate.
Where to implement CRO on your site
Conversion rate optimisation, in theory, can be applied to everything but here we’ll list some key areas that deserve your attention.
The homepage of a website is the holy grail of CRO. This is where customers get an initial feel for your brand and what it can offer them. You’ll want to prioritise elements like making navigation simple, having a clearly defined message with CTAs (calls-to-action), using sign-up forms and emphasising links to products and services.
Whereas a homepage has multiple goals like establishing credibility, encouraging exploration of the site, linking to other pages and so on; the landing page has one true purpose: getting customers to take action! You’ll want to include key elements like CTAs, forms and graphics to make it pop. Test different versions and see what gets the most traction.
Optimise pricing and product pages to generate more conversions. If you offer a tiered subscription model, show each plan and its features/ benefits. For products, describe them in non-mundane ways and promote the benefits. Add contact numbers, chatbots and email addresses so customers can ask any questions they may have.
Your pricing and product pages need to make the information clear and simple to understand, these pages are directly related to customers taking the next step and making a purchase or signing up.
Your blog is both a useful resource for customers to stay apprised of industry developments and topical interests but it also serves as a great conversion tool. Optimising your blog to include links to your products is a simple but effective way to generate leads and sales.
A simple overview of CRO strategy
Now we understand what CRO is, why it’s important for your business and where you can implement CRO on your website, let’s look at the general process for conversion rate optimisation.
Decide on the KPI you want to measure
CRO happens in lots of ways as we know. So you’ll need to define the goal you are trying to accomplish before anything else. Is it micro or macro changes you want to see? Defining the type of conversion you’re aiming for informs everything that follows.
Collect data and map the customer journey
CRO analytics tools tell us how customers are interacting with a website. Once we understand how customers are experiencing their journey we can use that data to create strategies for how to improve conversion rates at each of the touch points.
Common data types include:
Analyse why conversions are being affected
There are a bunch of reasons why a page might not be converting customers the way you would like it to. Keeping the customer experience at the forefront of your hypothesis, think about the granular influences that impact this experience.
Here are some common examples that impact conversion rates:
- A slow or unresponsive site - creates frustration causing visitors to leave
- Poor copy that doesn’t engage readers - lacks clarity, relatability and emotion
- Lack of or poorly placed CTA - easy to miss or non-existent
- Poor UI - hard to find menus or information
- Lack of credibility - no reviews or testimonials from customers
- Poor design - themes, fonts and imagery doesn’t compliment one another
Run a test
Once you’ve decided on the culprit for poor conversions, begin testing a solution to see if it will improve. Tests are run using two methods:
- A/B testing (or split testing)
Here you’ll test two versions of an optimised site but only change one variable, so you know exactly which one performs better.
- Multivariate (MVT)
Here you’ll test multiple versions with changes to multiple variables.
Be sure to track the data as you test so you know what’s working!
Analyse the data
Did it work?! Using your results from the tests, can you see that the conversion rate has improved and satisfies your KPIs? Conversion rate optimisation is unlikely to succeed on the first go-around so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t get the results immediately.
Go back to your list of potential reasons for low conversions and run another test changing another variable this time. See what results come back and keep repeating until you get it right!
Conversion rate optimisation is an iterative process that boasts massive benefits for your business if you get it right. These include:
- Helping you understand your customer better
- Improving customer experience
- Increasing revenue
- Generating better quality leads
- Driving more traffic
- Informing wider marketing strategies
Want to increase your conversions?
Growth Tribe offers fully-certified training on Conversion Rate Optimisation. We’re one of Europe’s leading platforms for career advancement and business success through our suite of certified learning.