What is CRO?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the act of improving the percentage of conversions on a website or app. At a very basic level it generally refers to converting visitors into users or customers, but there is a wide range of conversion actions and strategies for getting more people to take those actions.

Funnels report showing how many users converted in a specific time period

CRO From the Basics to Advanced Concepts

Conversion Rate Defined

Conversion rate is simply the number of users who take a desired action divided by the total number of users who visit a website, web page or app. 

# of users who take an action  / total # of users = conversion rate

For instance, if you have a 100 people view a product page in a day and 10 people purchase the product that’s a 10% conversion rate.

Common Examples of Conversions

Making a sale is just one type of conversion. A business can define various actions as a conversion. Some of the most common types of conversions include:

  • Filling out a form
  • Signing up for an email list
  • Becoming a follower on social media
  • Downloading an app
  • Moving from a free to a paid subscription
  • Creating an account
  • Scheduling an appointment

What CRO Isn’t

Conversion rate optimization isn’t about increasing traffic or the number of offers in the hope of generating more revenue. CRO is focused on getting more out of the current user base that already exists. 

CRO also isn’t a one and done process. It’s an ongoing process to the point some companies are continuously taking steps to optimize their conversion rate.

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Why Does CRO Matter?

Companies that aren’t increasing their conversion rate experience stagnant growth. For a business to grow, conversions need to be continuously improving. Conversions are also directly tied to revenue. CRO is a revenue booster using what you already have, which is positive for customer acquisition cost.

Steps to Initiating CRO

Before CRO can happen you need to get a few things in order so that you can analyze data and implement strategies effectively. 

Establish Goals 

What are your conversion goals? The first step to CRO is establishing goals for every page that’s being optimized. These goals will become your benchmark for knowing when CRO strategies have worked. 

Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

What do you consider a success in terms of meeting goals? Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics that tell you if you’re hitting a goal. Examples of KPIs include sales by product category, average cost per lead and customer lifetime value. Sourcing this data may seem intimidating and time consuming, but a variety of KPIs can be easily tracked with a data analytics solution like Mixpanel. 

Portion of the Funnel to Optimize

CRO can happen at any stage of the conversion process. Before beginning the process figure out what part of the funnel you want to optimize. A good place to start is where users are bouncing or leaving your site/app most frequently. Again, this information can be gained through the use of an analytics platform.

Consider All Channels

How do people get to your website or find your app? The route that users take is the channel. For CRO you want to include users from all channels, and it can be beneficial to separate them into cohorts. User cohorts can help you identify CRO opportunities and figure out which channel is converting the best/worst.

CRO Strategies

CRO largely comes down to improving user experience. Factors that affect user experience include:

  • Web page layout
  • Load times
  • Ease of navigation
  • Responsive designs for mobile

When you’re deciding what to measure and test consider what impacts your users’ experience the most. Look for answers to questions like why does the user care about the product/service, are we building trust and do users know how to take the steps to convert?

CRO With A/B Testing

A/B tests are a CRO tactic that is used often to test whether a change actually increases conversions. A/B tests can also tell you which of two options is the best for conversion rates. 

How A/B tests work:

With an A/B test users are split into two groups (A and B). Group A will see one version of the site and group B will see another version. The goal is to determine which version converts the best. But the trick is there’s only one key difference between the two versions. That way you know what caused one version to outperform the other.

Calls to action, color scheme, button placement – virtually anything can be A/B tested.

You have to let the test run long enough to collect a meaningful amount of behavioral analytics data. Once the results are in the A/B test isn’t done. You can adjust the share of the traffic to further test the versions and make sure the results hold up. Or you can add another element to see if the winning version can be further improved.

Messaging That Expresses Value

A key component of CRO is analyzing the messaging, particularly above the fold. It’s the first thing to look at when you want to increase conversion rate. The messaging should tell the user what you offer and why they should convert in a very clear, compelling way. Often a message that speaks in laymans terms and taps into emotions is the most effective. 

Reduce Friction to Increase Conversions

Friction is anything that keeps users from converting. It could be lack of trust, too many choices or a form that’s too long. Behavior analytics and customer feedback can help you identify the sticking points. Think of every possible objection and address it head-on. Once you have an idea of what’s causing friction A/B tests can be done to know for sure.

Putting the CRO Pieces Together

It’s easy to see why top performing companies put so much emphasis on conversion rate optimization. If you have traffic and a way to analyze user data you have the means to boost revenue and grow your business by winning over more leads. 

Start the CRO process by defining what you consider a conversion, analyzing your current conversion rate and figuring out if it’s close to hitting your goals.

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