Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of increasing the number of users that take a specific action on a webpage, such as making a purchase. CRO improves page performance, making sites more effective at generating on-page conversions. Businesses looking to make their website a more efficient lead generation and sales tool should use CRO.
It’s important to note, however, that CRO can be difficult and time-consuming as it requires a lot of data analysis and testing. That’s why many businesses opt for using an all-in-one CRO platform such as Freshmarketer. It makes CRO easy and more effective, increasing conversion rates quickly. Try Freshmarketer today.
How Conversion Rate Optimization Works
A conversion is an action a site visitor takes that often involves the submission of some kind of information, such as filling out a form or submitting an email address. Conversion rate optimization is the process of collecting and analyzing data about what conversions visitors make on your site, finding areas to improve, creating new variations of webpages, A/B testing the pages, and analyzing data to improve conversions and, ultimately, overall marketing efforts.
Before launching into CRO, calculate your current conversion rate. To do this, divide total conversions on each page by total page views. Then, determine what elements on your page are getting the most conversions by collecting visitor data using a tool like Google Analytics. Review the analytics, noting the conversion point that has the most room for improvement. This is where you should begin improving your conversion rate.
Once you have determined which area to improve, consider the issue surrounding it. For example, a high bounce rate indicates that a webpage didn’t provide the information that visitors were expecting and, therefore, they didn’t convert. In this case, look to improve page relevancy. Make a change to your landing page to ensure it delivers what visitors expect, then test your new version against the old, known as A/B testing, to see which performs better.
Take at least a month to collect data on your new version, then compare that to your old version to see which yields a better result. Using the example above, you may find that your new version reduces bounce rate but still doesn’t increase conversions. In this case, you should focus on other areas of improvement like changing conversion elements, such as forms and buttons, on the page. Successful testing will ultimately yield higher conversions.
How to Do Conversion Rate Optimization in 5 Steps
Before starting conversion rate optimization, calculate your conversion rate by dividing total conversions by total page views. With this as a benchmark, collect and analyze page visitor data, looking for an area to improve. Update an underperforming element of your page and A/B test the new version. After collecting sufficient data, analyze it to determine if the change improved your conversion rate. Repeat this process to increase conversions continually.
Here’s how to optimize and improve your conversion rate in five steps.
1. Calculate Your Current Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors who take the desired action on your page. For example, if a business’s conversion point is event registration, then it’s the ratio of many people register for the event to how many visit the site. It’s calculated by dividing your number of conversions by page views. Let’s say, a page gets 1,000 views or visits per week and 51 of those visitors sign up for the event on average. This equates to a 5.1% conversion rate.
Conversion rate formula: Conversion rate (%) = Total conversions / Total page views x 100
2. Collect & Analyze Data
The first step in conversion rate optimization is to collect and analyze page visitor and engagement data. To do this, you will need to have website analytics set up, such as Google Analytics, which tracks visitor actions on your site. Once this is set up and a sizable amount of data is collected, you will then evaluate and analyze the data, seeking to discover which conversion elements need the most improvement.
Set Up Website Analytics
Before you can begin optimizing your conversion rate, you must start by collecting data on your webpage. There are many different data analytics tools, but the most popular―and also available for free―is Google Analytics. If you haven’t already linked your website to Google Analytics or another analytics platform, start by doing so. Learn how to set up Google Analytics in just seven steps.
Collect & Evaluate Website Data
Give your site sufficient time to collect visitor data; the amount of time will depend on the volume of traffic your site gets, but most will want to give it one to three months. After collecting data, look at metrics such as the number of page views, time on page, and conversions. Figure out which of these needs the most improvement.
Here are the five primary analytics metrics to consider:
- Keyword relevance: If you’re driving site visitors through organic search such as Google, check that your keywords are relevant to the products and services you offer. For example, a business that sells high-end sunglasses should not tout themselves as affordable. In doing so, they may appear in search results for affordable sunglasses, though once a visitor sees the high-end price, they will exit the page.
- Impressions: Those driving traffic through paid ads should consider the clickthrough rate, which is the ratio of times that your ad was shown to the number of times it was clicked on. If an ad gets a high number of impressions but a small number of clicks, this indicates that the ad copy or call-to-action (CTA) is not effective. It shows that the messaging doesn’t resonate with its audience or is not being shown to the right audience.
- Bounce rate: Bounce rate represents the percentage of page visitors who visit only one page and then exit. It indicates that the page did not provide them with what they were looking for or expecting. It shows that there is likely a disconnect between what was promised to the visitor via an ad or other promotional source and what your page provides.
- Time on page: Time on page indicates how much time a site visitor spent on a page. A short time on page is similar to a high bounce rate, where the page isn’t providing the information they were seeking. A long time on page without a conversion indicates that visitors were interested, but either lacked the motivation to convert or didn’t know how to convert.
- Number of pages viewed: The number of page views reveals the level of interest from page visitors. If people are motivated enough to click on multiple webpages, they are likely interested. However, without it leading to a conversion, it also shows that either they didn’t find the information they were looking for, or the CTA wasn’t compelling enough.
These metrics can be found within most website analytics dashboards, such as Google Analytics. Those using paid ads will also have ad-specific traffic data available within their advertising dashboard, such as Google Ads Manager or Facebook Ads Manager. Review each of these metrics and work to identify which is hindering your conversion rate the most.
3. Choose a Metric to Improve & Create a Variation
After analyzing your site’s visitor data, determine which metric is performing the worst and focus on that for initial conversion rate optimization. Identify what features/functions are directly related to this metric—such as page design, messaging, graphics, the offer, or the CTA—then select one to update. Create a copy of the page and make your change to the copy so you can test it against the original version and determine which performs better.
Here are five on-page elements that impact conversions:
- Design & layout: A well-designed page will be simple and straightforward yet also compelling. All information, including messaging and your CTA button, should be concise, easy to read, and above the fold. Test design and layout variations to see which yields the most conversions.
- Messaging: Your message should resonate with your audience and should include information on what your offer is and why a user would want the offer. Testing out different versions of headlines with varying verbiage, selling points, or pain points will help businesses determine which messaging connects with their audience best.
- Graphics: Something as simple as the graphics used on the page can impact the number of conversions a page gets. Just as you might try different messages to see what resonates, consider testing different graphics.
- Offer: An offer, such as a free trial, webinar signup, or discount, needs to be valuable to the user. Test different offers—including the verbiage and associated images—to see which gets the most conversions.
- CTA button: As a baseline, CTA buttons need to stand out from the rest of the page, should be above the fold, and be sized appropriately for all devices. A change as small as updating the color of a CTA button can influence the number of conversions. Also, consider the number of fields a user must complete to convert. Generally, the more required fields you have, the lower the conversion rate.
While all of these elements can be considered when updating a page, they won’t always apply to the metric you’re focused on. For example, if your visitors’ average time on page is good, but the conversion rate is low, work to improve your page’s messaging or CTA. Be sure to consider both the value of your conversion (“What does my customer get out of this?”) and the ease of conversion (“How much work does taking my desired action require?”).
4. A/B Test Pages
In CRO, A/B testing is an experiment that runs two versions of a webpage simultaneously to determine which captures more conversions. Every page that is updated should be tested against its original version, and only one element should be changed at a time to show its impact on conversion rates definitively. To run your own A/B test, set up an A/B testing tool, define test parameters, then collect and analyze data.
Set Up & Run A/B Test
The easiest way to create variations of your landing page is by using a conversion optimization platform such as Freshmarketer. With this tool, businesses can monitor and analyze performance data on any two webpages, showcased side-by-side. This makes conversion optimization easier and more effective, helping businesses make CRO decisions with real data. Get step-by-step instructions on how to set up A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing.
Once your test is set up, give it time to collect data. The amount of time the test needs to run will depend on the volume of traffic your page receives. For example, a business that gets 2,000 clicks a month should wait longer than a business that gets 2,000 clicks per week. In general, the more time you give it, the more accurate your testing results will be. If you’re not sure how long you should give your data, try Freshmarketer’s free A/B testing duration calculator.
Analyze Data & Determine the Better Version
After sufficient data is collected, review, analyze, and compare the data for each variation. Look at the metric that framed your changes and, based on the results, determine which version helped improve your conversion rate. Select this version as your default moving forward.
For example, if you were focused on conversion rate and decided to update the text on a CTA button, then examine clicks on the CTA in both the original and new versions of the page. If the clicks increased, then the change was successful. If they were the same or less, then revert to the original CTA and try another test.
5. Repeat the CRO Process
Conversion rate optimization should be repeated to continuously increase your conversions. After selecting a variation with a higher conversion rate, begin the CRO process again. Analyze the page based on a new metric, create a new variation to test, set up an A/B test, and examine resulting data. Finally, roll out the successful changes on your live site or scrap failed tests and start again.
“Start by looking for barriers that get in the way of the conversion action. The most common barrier is trust. Your website needs to earn the trust of your visitors. To overcome this barrier, use social proof by adding reviews and comments from customers, gain credibility by adding awards, certifications, industry affiliations to show that you’re qualified and reputable, and add assurance by offering a quality guarantee such as a return policy or a money-back guarantee.”
—Shane Griffiths, Website Designer, Clarity Online SEO
6 Best CRO Tools
The best CRO tools are those that enable businesses to increase their conversion rate easily and affordably with little effort. These include comprehensive data and testing platforms such as Freshmarketer, landing page builders such as Leadpages, and website speed tests such as Google PageSpeed Insights.
Here are the six best CRO tools:
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics provides free visitor data, including the number of website visits, page views, bounce rate, visitor location, and more. It’s available for free and is the global standard in website analytics.
- Mixpanel: Mixpanel is another analytics tool that is generally used in conjunction with Google Analytics. It breaks down data, making it more digestible and easy to understand, allowing users to gain quality insights from otherwise complex data.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: This is a free tool from Google that tests and scores websites based on load speeds. The reason why speed matters is because if your page loads too slowly, many users will exit before ever even viewing it.
- Leadpages: Leadpages is a landing page builder that enables businesses to create highly effective landing pages with optimized conversion elements, like forms and buttons. Plans start at $25 per month. Learn more about Leadpages.
- Freshmarketer: Freshmarketer is an all-in-one CRO platform that gives businesses an easy way of optimizing conversion rates with CRO-specific tools, including data analysis features, dynamic heatmaps, and A/B testing modules. Learn more about Freshmarketer.
- Lucky Orange: Lucky Orange is a conversion funnel tool that gives businesses the ability to track site visitors and their journey through your sales funnel. It records site visitors’ journeys automatically from the first visit through final purchase, creates heatmaps to show where they click, and provides analytical data on specific page elements such as form analytics. You can try Lucky Orange with a free seven-day trial.
CRO tools are immensely helpful to businesses looking to improve conversion rates more strategically. They not only make it easier to change page elements but also make the process of CRO analysis more efficient. Using tools such as Leadpages to build better landing pages, Freshmarketer for an all-in-one CRO suite, and Google PageSpeed Insights will help remove some of the guesswork involved in testing and optimizing pages.
Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization
The main benefit of successful conversion rate optimization is increased visitor conversions, such as placing orders, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting quotes. There are many benefits beyond this, however, such as gaining a better understanding of your customers, which helps to improve overall marketing efforts, decreasing costs per lead, and even improving search engine optimization (SEO).
Here are the top benefits of conversion rate optimization:
- Better understanding of customers: By analyzing data and testing changes on a website or landing page, businesses learn a lot about their customers, including which messaging resonates the most and what design is most effective at capturing leads. This information can then be applied across many other marketing channels and campaigns.
- Increases customers: While conversion points vary from business to business, more conversions generally mean more customers. Even if your conversion point is not a sale, the introduction of new customers into your sales funnel will likely mean more sales down the road.
- Decreases cost per lead: Increasing your conversion rate will also decrease cost per lead as you end up capturing more leads via the same conversion point. This makes overall marketing spend go even further, which increases sales potential without increasing overhead.
- Improve SEO: Search engines such as Google look at several factors when determining how to rank sites, one of which is the perceived value of a site. That value is determined, in part, by the amount of visitor engagement. Effective CRO can improve a site’s ranking, then, by increasing visitor engagement.
Conversion rate optimization is so much more than just increasing conversion rates. It also helps businesses create more strategic marketing campaigns, increase the likelihood of being found in search, and get a leg up on the competition. For these reasons, CRO is an important and worthwhile element in marketing for all small businesses, but especially those that depend on site-based conversions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a good conversion rate?
Conversion rates vary by industry, but the average conversion rate is around 2% to 2.5%. The top 25% performing pages see conversion rates of more than 5%, and the top 10% see conversion rates of 10% or more. This shows that there’s always room for conversion rate optimization. No one gets a 100% conversion rate.
What is the difference between SEO and CRO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) are both digital optimization strategies, but at different levels and with differing goals. SEO works to increase organic traffic through better search engine ranking, whereas CRO works to increase conversions through a website. In short, SEO gets people to a website, and CRO gets people to convert or become leads or customers on a website.
How do I build and optimize landing pages?
Landing pages are a type of single webpage that is used to promote a specific product, service, or offer. The easiest way to create one is with a landing page builder, such as Leadpages or Unbounce. With landing page builders you can choose and customize a template, then create variations to be tested during the CRO process easily. Get step-by-step instructions on how to create a landing page.
Bottom Line: What Is CRO?
Conversion rate optimization is the process of increasing the number of visitors who perform a certain action on your site, such as downloading an e-book, scheduling a demo, or making a purchase. It involves an ongoing cycle of collecting and analyzing site visitor data, creating page variations, A/B testing, and implementing successful changes. Businesses that focus on website-based conversions should regularly engage in CRO.
One of the biggest challenges businesses face with CRO, however, is logically analyzing data to make informed and meaningful changes that improve conversion rates. To avoid wasting time and money on shots in the dark, try using a CRO platform such as Freshmarketer. It takes the guesswork out of CRO and improves conversion rates at an affordable price. Try Freshmarketer today.