What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving your website for users and making it easier for them to take actions that benefit your business and its bottom line, like purchasing your product or signing up for your newsletter. Learn more about CRO in our CRO guide.

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Every company that wants to grow needs to earn (as well as retain) customers. That’s why conversion rate optimization is essential for businesses. No matter your industry, size, or specialty, you can use and benefit from conversion rate marketing.

What is conversion rate optimization, though?

Great question, because in this CRO guide, you’ll learn everything about conversion rate optimization. From CRO’s definition to its benefits, this guide offers an easy-to-follow handbook for your business. Start reading now to learn what conversion rate optimization is, how to calculate it, and more!

If you're ready to improve your online conversion rates, give us a call at 888-601-5359 to learn how our conversion rate optimization services can help your site earn more conversions and revenue!

What is conversion rate optimization (CRO)?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) tailors your site for conversions, like filling out a contact form or purchasing a product. When you practice CRO, you try to understand what motivates or stops website users from taking an action or completing a goal. Then, you use that understanding (and data) to make informed changes to your site to provide users with a barrier-free process to converting.

What is a conversion?

To understand the meaning of conversion rate optimization, you also need to know the definition of conversion.

A conversion describes any action that completes a goal specific to your website.

You can classify conversions as either macro- or micro-conversions:

Macro vs. micro conversions
  • Macro-conversions: A macro-conversion describes a bottom-of-the-funnel conversion, like purchasing a product, requesting a service quote, or contacting a team member. These conversions have immediate value to your business.
  • Micro-conversions: A micro-conversion describes a top- or middle-of-the-funnel conversion, like subscribing to an email newsletter, adding a product to a shopping cart, or creating an account with your company. These conversions have less immediate value, but massive potential.

When you practice conversion rate optimization, you’ll often focus on tests that target both macro- and micro-conversions. While you can focus solely on macro-conversions, this limited view prevents your company from tapping into a valuable market of users.

What is a conversion rate?

Your conversion rate is a percentage that describes the number of website goal completions, divided by your total site traffic. The average conversion rate for organic traffic (or traffic that comes from search engines like Google) is around 16%.

Conversion rate = Number of Goal Completions / Total Website Traffic

You can also look at your conversion rate from other channels, like social media and paid advertising.

In most cases, your conversion rate optimization efforts will focus on helping every user (no matter where they came from) complete a goal, like subscribing to a newsletter or buying a product. Looking at the conversion rates for specific channels, though, can help you uncover bottlenecks and barriers.

How to calculate your conversion rate

A conversion rate calculator can expedite the entire process of calculating your conversion rate.

Conversion rate optimization formula

If you want to calculate your conversion rate on your own, though, you can use the following formula:

Number of Goal Completions / Total Website Traffic

Let’s look at a few examples of how to calculate your conversion rate.

  • Example 1

In the scenario, you’re looking to maximize your product purchases. People can buy your product, say shower curtains, as much as they want. That means every time someone visits your site, they can make a purchase.

Here is a summary of your website and conversion data:

CRO example
  • Total Traffic: 100
  • Total Purchases: 50

Let’s input this data into the conversion rate formula:

50/100 = 50%

You have a conversion rate of 50% — pretty impressive!

  • Example 2

In this scenario, you’re still looking to increase your product purchases. The difference, however, is that users can only buy your product, say a monthly subscription to bath bombs, once. That means website visitors can only convert one time, versus multiple times.

Here is a summary of your data:

CRO example
  • Total Traffic: 100
  • Number of Unique Visitors: 50
  • Total Purchases: 25

Let’s input that data into the conversion rate formula. This time, however, you’ll divide your total purchases by the number of unique visitors since each user can only convert once. If they could convert more than once, you would use the total website traffic value.

25/50 = 50%

Great! You have a conversion rate of 50%.

Why is conversion rate optimization important?

What is conversion rate optimization used for? CRO’s primary purpose is to increase the number of customers you attract on your website.

Its secondary purpose is to increase your company’s overall revenue.

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While it may sound like these objectives are the same, they don’t always go hand-in-hand.

You can get more customers for your business — which reflects overall growth — that may only purchase your most affordable goods or services.

You could also attract a handful of new customers who only buy your most expensive goods or services.

However, both objectives aren’t always mutually exclusive. You can improve the conversion rate optimization for your most affordable products and your most expensive ones to get the best of both worlds. That gives you more customers and more revenue to grow your business better than ever before.

That kind of forward momentum can also help you become a big contender in your industry, ensuring you get more customers than your competition.

But these advantages are all well and good, but how do you incorporate CRO onto your website?

The conversion rate optimization process

At its core, the conversion rate optimization (CRO) process is relatively simple. However, many variables affect how your CRO process turns out.

What is the CRO process like? Here’s a look at the basic steps of the process.

1. Identify important elements

The first step is identifying important elements — ones that are likely to influence whether users will convert. Common elements to test include:

2. A/B test

Next, choose an aspect of the element to test. For example, if you selected a CTA, you could test its placement on the page, its size, its color, or the wording used.

You’ll then conduct an A/B test, which involves creating two variations of a page and showing them to different sets of users to see which version results in the most conversions.

3. Implement winner

The next step is to implement the version that won the A/B test as the permanent version of the page.

4. Repeat

After you’ve implemented one test on a page, you can move on to test a different version of the page. You can change the same element again or test a new element.

You can repeat this process as many times as you want. The more you do it, the more optimized for conversion your pages will become.

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Conversion rate optimization tools

Having the right tools is essential to successful conversion rate optimization. You can use web analytics tools, A/B testing tools, and various other kinds of tools in your CRO process.

Web analytics and audience analytics tools tell you how users interact with your website. This information can help you determine which pages and elements to work on and help you evaluate conversion performance.

A/B testing tools, of course, play a crucial role in the CRO process. These tools make it easier to conduct your tests and ensure you get accurate information.

Some of the most popular tools include:

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics tools in the world, and it has numerous features that are useful for CRO. You can use Google Analytics to track your conversions, see which pages on your site are most popular, and track how users move throughout your site.
  • Google Optimize: Google also offers a tool made specifically for testing and optimizing your site. Using Google Optimize, you can conduct various types of tests and personalize your website experience for users.
  • Hotjar: Hotjar helps you understand how users interact with your site and how that affects your conversion rate. With Hotjar, you get heatmaps, screen recordings, and other visitor behavior analysis tools.
  • VWO Testing: This tool makes it easy to conduct A/B tests and other types of experiments as well as analyze your results.
  • MarketingCloudFX: MarketingCloudFX is our digital marketing platform here at WebFX. It offers numerous web analytics and visitor behavior analysis features, such as screen recordings.

4 tips for improving your conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization starts by testing and improving individual parts of your website.

By tweaking the various elements of the sales funnel, you’ll be able to start affecting conversion rates, ideally toward a higher level.

Some techniques that have worked well for businesses in the past include:

Tips for how to improve CRO

1. Use calls to action

example of cta button on a page

Calls to action (CTAs) are some of the most effective ways to increase your website’s conversion rate.

CTAs are short, concise, and verb-oriented phrases that tell someone what they can do next to get one step closer to become a customer.

That might include signing up for a newsletter, downloading a software trial, or buying a product.

Regardless of your objective, you need to tell potential customers what to do next so that they can stay on your site and eventually convert.

2. Offer personalized deals

It’s critical that you track the people who enter your site with cookies so you can see when they return.

By watching each user’s behavior, you can get valuable information about what they want and what they do on your site.

So say someone came to your ecommerce site and looked at running shoes multiple times. They want to buy, but something is holding them back.

Take that opportunity to send them an email (if possible) that offers 10% off of their next shoe purchase. That will resonate with them since they want to buy shoes, and it’ll get you another sale with minimal loss in profit.

You can also do this by adding friendly on-page popups or popunders that display coupon codes for similar deals. And, if you’re a B2B company, you can offer a similar deal for your services.

3. Use large, rounded, and colorful buttons

Buttons are one of the most effective ways to encourage site visitors to become customers.

That’s because buttons are large, noticeable, and fun to click.

The best buttons for CRO will be a different color from your site’s background, include a short CTA, and link to a page where someone can convert.

With those qualities on the same site element, you can quickly and easily take more people to your conversion pages and get more customers.

4. Use short, simple language

One of the hardest things to do online is to write the way people talk.

But using that conversational language and tone is essential to getting good conversions.

After all, people like to feel like you’re talking to them — not selling to them.

To do this, try writing with short, easily-understood verbs, like:

  • Get
  • Discover
  • Earn

You should also write short paragraphs (four sentences max) that cover one topic quickly.

Bulleted and numbered lists are also helpful since they’re easy to scan. That way, you can convey information quickly without delving into extensive explanations or long walls of text.

CRO Resources: Learn More About CRO

Get started with conversion rate optimization

At WebFX, we have a whole team of experienced and knowledgeable CRO experts. They’ve worked with lots of clients in the past, including B2B and B2C companies, and they know the tried-and-true conversion strategies that help companies grow. We’ve helped other companies grow by leaps and bounds in the past, and we’ll do the same for your business!

Request a free quote today or call us at 888-601-5359 to learn more about our conversion rate optimization services!