Definition:

Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

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Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

Ask any business owner what they'd like to improve on their site, and conversion rate will probably be at the top of the list.

And why wouldn’t it be? After all, your conversion rate reveals the percentage of your visitors who complete a desired action, whether that be buying one of your products or filling out a form. 

These actions help transform your potential clients and website visitors into actual customers. Because of this, adopting a good conversion rate optimization strategy is important to maintaining a healthy site. 

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action(s). CRO strategies involve changing elements of your website or app to generate a more favorable (and profitable) user experience.

Going one step further—CRO is, by nature, the process of getting to know your customers better. As you investigate what’s hindering visitors from converting, you’ll need to dig under the surface and better understand how your customers feel as they move throughout your site. 

How do you calculate your conversion metrics?

Step 1: Establish your conversion goals

Conversion goals can come in many different forms, and your conversion rate will greatly depend on what you define as a conversion. A conversion can be defined as:

  • A completed purchase
  • An app download
  • A request for a quote
  • A newsletter signup
  • A social share on your content
  • Adding a product to the shopping cart
  • Creating a free account

Of these examples, it’s generally easier to get a visitor to sign up for a newsletter than to purchase a product, so your conversion rate for the former will likely be higher than the latter. 

Step 2: Calculate your conversion rate

Once you’ve established the type of conversion you want to track, you can calculate your current conversion rate using the formula below: 

Conversion rate = (successful conversions/total visitors) * 100

So, if you’re tracking the number of people who signed up for your newsletter and had 40 conversions from 1,000 interactions, your conversation rate would be 4%.

Is that a good conversion rate? As noted earlier, “average” conversion rates will vary by goal type and industry, with some rates averaging around 2% and others well over 10%. Regardless, there’s almost always room for improvement. Benchmark your progress against your own historical data and take steps towards improving your rates. 

9 tips for improving your conversion rates

So, how should you go about optimizing your conversions? Here are nine proven tips.

1. Study your customers’ needs

The best way to understand why your conversion rates aren’t as high as you’d like them to be is to get inside your customers’ heads.

This could mean requesting users to fill out customer satisfaction surveys, or using software like HotJar and SmartLook to record user sessions. You essentially want to keep the line of communication open with your clients to understand what pain points you need to address to improve your conversion rates.

2. Run A/B tests

A/B testing, aka “split testing,” is an effective way to test the effectiveness of your web pages, emails, ads, and other properties. 

When you conduct an A/B test, focus on creating two versions of the same asset with one specific change. For instance, you could create two identical landing pages that each have a different banner image. Or, try changing the heading that people see when they first land on your page. 

While some of the tests may not yield conclusive results, a series of well-organized A/B tests will help you see if any specific components of your page moves the needle. 

3. Add a pop-up to your site

Pop-up ads can be instrumental in creating a sense of urgency and incentivizing customers to complete a desired action. For example, customers might be more willing to sign up for a newsletter after seeing a pop-up advertising an extra 10% off their order by subscribing. Pop-ups can also be effective in presenting time-limited offers or free delivery options.

That said, some customers find pop-ups intrusive, which is why you should test various formats (e.g., timed pop-ups, exit pop-ups, and scroll-in banners) and offers. See if the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

4. Improve your copy

It goes without saying that keeping your website and marketing copy clear and concise is important. Visitors should be able to understand what you’re saying at first glance and easily find answers to their questions. 

Common copy issues include:

  • Not enough detail - Failing to describe your products in enough detail on product pages can make it difficult for customers to trust your products or to understand their benefits.
  • Excessive jargon - Too much technical language may confuse readers and deter them from inquiring more about your company. 

Hiring professional copywriters to update your website copy and then testing different versions to see if they convert can aid CRO immensely.  

5. Simplify the customer journey

Make sure that the customer journey is as smooth as it can be. If customers need to perform too many manual actions—such as clicking multiple links or filling out too many forms—to get to what they need, they may quickly give up. 

To help, simplify and automate key parts of the journey. Experiment with open forms on your site that allow customers to book a call with your sales team (as an example) without having to leave the page. Implement self-service quizzes or guides to help customers select the right product options. Send automated emails to customers who abandon their shopping carts, making it easy for them to complete their purchases. 

These are just a few of countless ways that you can optimize the customer journey to potentially increase conversion rates. 

6. Clean up your site

Cluttering up your web pages with too many flashy images, text, and calls-to-action (CTAs) can overwhelm your visitors and make your site difficult to use. Keep your website neat and organized by only keeping the most essential components. 

Pay attention to how certain animations or assets affect site speed. The last thing you want is for your site to take too long to load and thereby hurt conversion rates. 

7. Keep your site mobile friendly

Nearly 60% of all website traffic now comes from mobile devices, according to Statista. This underscores the importance of optimizing your website for mobile visitors. Make sure that text is legible on a small screen, and that everything is accessible with a tap or a swipe. Avoid exhaustive forms or pages that require a lot of scrolling, and ensure that your website loads quickly on mobile devices. 

8. Shrink your forms

Getting your customers’ information is important, but if you try to collect too much data all at once, your users may get frustrated and abandon your forms. Keep your customer forms concise. Split them into multiple forms or a single multi-step form if you really need to collect a larger amount of information.

9. Test your CRO strategies objectively

Simply relying on gut instincts to determine your CRO strategies is a bad move, especially when there are ways to objectively test your strategies and learn about your customers’ preferences. Leverage tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, and more to accurately measure results. You should even consider speaking directly with your customers—either through quick calls, surveys, or polls—to get an honest understanding of how they feel. 

Moving forward

Developing your own best practices for conversion rate optimization requires you to clarify your conversion goals and understand your customer needs at the deepest level. Improving your marketing copy, conducting A/B tests, and taking advantage of marketing automation are all good ways to improve your conversion rates.

Once you’ve built a good CRO strategy, you’ll find that it comes with plenty of benefits. You’ll not only be able to attract and convert new customers, but also learn how to provide your existing clients with a better customer experience. As you learn how to grow and sustain your clientele, you’ll additionally learn how to create more profitable business practices.