Digital marketing encompasses multiple different but equal parts worthwhile end goals. Search engine visibility, brand awareness, brand trust, and other metrics will converge to inform your campaigns’ effectiveness.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) typically handles many such goals, from search engine results pages (SERPs) rankings to user engagement. However, SEO arguably seeks to drive lead generation more than directly increase conversion rates. While that is a worthy goal, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) focuses explicitly on the latter part. But what is CRO, exactly? Let us devote this article to exploring all you need to know about it.
What Is a Conversion?
Before delving into Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), it is vital to define our terms–starting with conversions themselves.
We typically define conversion as any desirable action a user takes due to our online marketing effort. These actions by potential customers naturally include completed purchases but extend far beyond them, depending on a website’s or marketing material’s goal. Google Analytics identifies two distinct conversion types:
- Micro conversions–activities that push the user down the sales funnel, such as form completion and email signups, and
- Macro conversions–completed transactions
It also divides them into four distinct conversion groups:
- Acquisition: creating an account
- Inquiry: actions that denote purchasing intent, such as product detail views or interest, to estimate requests.
- Engagement: engagement with on-site media, including viewing infographics and product demo videos
- Revenue: actions that finalise purchases, such as appointments and reservations, and completed transactions
Therefore, CRO efforts will need to specifically focus on the conversion type in question. Seeking to increase engagement conversions, for example, requires an entirely different approach to get visitors to enter your conversion funnel than increasing revenue conversions, despite the fundamental overlap.
Calculating Conversion Rates
Finally, let us explore how one typically calculates conversion rates on the front of definitions.
The general calculation is fairly simple; (leads/visitors) x 100 = conversion rate %. So if a website has 1,000 visitors and 25 of them convert, that would be (25/1,000) x 100, thus a 2.5% conversion rate. That’s the percentage of visitors to the website that converts.
However, there are two distinct types of websites regarding conversions; sites where your target audience/visitors can convert manifold and sites where visitors may only convert once.
In the former case, one may calculate a user’s conversion rate (unique orders/sessions) x 100. So a user who visited a site ten times and converted 7 has a conversion rate of (7/10) x100 or 70%. In turn, a site’s overall conversion rates would be (all unique orders/total number of sessions) x100.
In the latter case, a visitor cannot convert in multiple sessions. Therefore, in this case, the calculation needs to be the general calculation above essentially; (unique orders/unique users) x 100. So a website with 1,000 unique visitors and 50 unique orders has a conversion rate of (50/1,000) x 100 or 5%.
Rather than stressing yourself to calculate all these conversion metrics manually, it’s best to use any of the many conversion rate optimization tools available. But in general, landing pages have the highest average conversion rate of all pages on a website.There are two distinct types of websites regarding conversions; sites where visitors can convert manifold and sites where visitors may only convert once. Click To Tweet
What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Having covered these definitions, we may now better contextualise CRO.
As the name suggests, CRO is a series of practices that seek to optimise conversion rates. It typically overlaps with Landing Page Optimisation (LPO), focusing on the on-page elements that drive conversions. Doing so focuses on increasing the number of visitors that convert instead of merely growing visitors.
Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimisation
The benefits of CRO are plentiful, but we may safely merge them down into two major categories. Namely, an enhanced overall User Experience (UX) and better marketing Return on Investment (ROI).
1 Enhanced UX
CRO delves into all converting factors, from page loading speed and more straightforward navigation to refined Call to Action (CTA) buttons. In doing so, it enhances the UX across all four stages of the sales funnel:
- Discovery–improving the initial contact through an optimised website
- Research–highlighting a value proposition over the alternatives
- Conversion–facilitating easier conversions through simplified processes
- Post-sale engagement – personalising the experience for better post-sale communication
CRO synergises with and can be informed by various analytics and marketing tools. Examples include:
- Audience Segmentation through such software as Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Remarketing and retargeting through email marketing tools and Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, respectively
- Further content optimisations through website analytics tools like click, scroll and hover heat maps
This kind of synergy, its marketing benefits aside, can offer many UX improvements through personalisation across customer journeys. By acting on such insights as that Google Analytics gathers, you may provide your visitors to your ecommerce website or app with tailor-made experiences.
2 Better ROI
The process of CRO facilitates much better ROI for your existing marketing endeavours. Among other benefits, consider the following:
- Email marketing personalisation — audience segmentation allows you to personalise outreach to existing qualified leads, from newsletters to follow-up emails.
- Better revenue without extra traffic — optimising conversions yields more revenue for existing campaigns without needing more qualified leads to do so.
- More valuable page insights — focusing on high-value, high-converting pages allows web admins to focus their tests on more lucrative modifications.
Elements of Conversion Rate Optimisation
Finally, before delving into the process itself, let us briefly highlight the elements that warrant it. While CRO professionals may focus on multiple elements, the primary ones are arguably 5.
1 Page speed
The very first contact a visitor has with your website is, in fact, its loading time. Research has shown repeatedly that page speed directly correlates with bounce rates. For an example, Search Engine Journal reports the following, based on Google/SOASTA’s research:
- “A 3 seconds load time increases bounce rates by 32% (when compared to a one-second load time).”
- “A 5 seconds load time can increase your bounce rates by 90%.”
As such, conversion rate optimisation can only begin with trying not to lose potential leads over slow loading speeds.
2 Ease of Navigation
Other vital metrics inform final conversions once visitors have chosen to stay on your website. Among them, consider ones that SEO stresses, such as the following:
- Time on site
- Pages per session
These are primarily informed by the ease of navigation. Indeed, users who can’t quickly and easily navigate from one useful page to another will typically leave without converting. A solid, clean structure will address such concerns, improve conversion rates, and enhance overall UX in the process.
3 Landing pages
Landing pages are where CRO and LPO overlap by definition. The one aspect of landing pages they converge on most strongly is aesthetics; how visually pleasing a page is. This can include many on-page elements but will frequently focus on layout and the psychology of colours. How colours and secondary elements incite engagement, facilitate better content absorption, and pronounce CTAs. Other elements commonly include copy and CTAs, extending beyond landing pages alone.
This element will ultimately allure your visitors to convert on the subject of a copy. In this regard, CRO may overlap with SEO and address the following:
- Formatting — is your content well-formatted, with headings, subheadings, bullet lists, and other elements breaking up large texts?
- Readability — does your choice of font, size, and colour match your website’s design and your brand’s identity?
- Style and tone — does your copy’s style effectively represent your brand and resonate with your audiences?
- Accuracy — is your copy factually accurate and up-to-date?
- Relevant — is your copy relevant to your audiences, and does it attract their interest?
Finally, CTAs are your direct calls for visitors to convert. As such, CRO must optimize them to drive more conversions. Here, consider such factors as the following:
- Visibility — are your CTAs immediately visible, or does visual clutter obscure them?
- Clarity — are your CTAs crystal-clear about what they offer, and do they present your propositions’ value?
- Urgency — does your CTA copy incite urgency to incite more conversions?
Naturally, much like the overall copy, some elements of CTAs will strictly depend on your unique audiences. For example, a tone that may work for another industry may not resonate with audiences for yours. But other elements, like visibility and clarity, are arguably universal.
The Conversion Rate Optimisation Process
Having highlighted the above, let us conclude by following the typical CRO process. While exact steps will vary from one campaign to the next, the process is conceptually identical in all cases.
1 Audience Research
Every such process must begin with research, and CRO does not differ. Here, you may use data from Google Analytics, heat maps, and other tools to gain insights into your audiences’ behaviour. Doing so will allow you to identify areas that may warrant improvement.
With such insights in hand, you may then form hypotheses. Your data may suggest, for example, that you need to make CTAs more compelling or that users lack purchasing confidence. The point of this step is not to reach concrete conclusions yet, but only to make educated guesses. Even if proven wrong, you will have informed your subsequent CRO efforts.
With a solid hypothesis, you may begin to apply modifications to areas of potential value. However, to ensure your implementation doesn’t hamper your current conversion rates, you should conduct controlled tests to gauge efficiency. Depending on your site and goals, you may consider one of the three types of tests for this step:
- A/B testing
- Split testing
- Multivariate testing
Your tests should soon yield some preliminary results. These will help you measure your theories’ validity and your efforts’ efficiency. However, even if your modifications pay off, you should still measure ROI; does their benefit justify the implementation investment? If not, you may need to turn your attention elsewhere.
5 Monitoring and Readjustments
Finally, once you’ve committed to modifications, you should continue to use your analytics tools to monitor their long-term performance. As with all marketing efforts, the need for readjustments to meet new market demands may arise. When it does, you will need to engage in CRO anew.
To summarise, CRO is an overarching set of practices to optimise conversion rates. Increased revenue aside, it yields the distinct benefits of an improved UX and better marketing ROI. Your optimization effort typically concerns on-site elements, including loading speed, navigation, landing pages, copy, and CTAs themselves. However, your conversion rate optimization strategy is a long-term endeavour that requires diligence and consistent monitoring to remain effective and meet your conversion goal.
About the Author
Dylan Jacobson is a copywriter, editor, and digital marketing enthusiast working with Convert More. He frequently authors articles discussing the ever-changing digital marketing landscape, from Google’s algorithms to conversion challenges across industries. He spends quality time with his family of 4 and their two dogs in his free time.
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