What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the ongoing process of increasing the probability that a website user will take a desired action—or, convert—based on their customer experience. There are two types of conversions—macro and micro.
Macro conversions are the top-priority desired actions for your website users.
For ecommerce websites and service-based businesses, examples of macro conversions may include:
- A website sale
- A lead form completion
- A phone call
- Another type of touchpoint actions, such as a visitor sending an email inquiry to the sales team
Micro conversions are user actions that are worth tracking, yet may not hold as much value to the business as a macro conversion would.
For an ecommerce website, examples of micro conversion can include:
- A catalog request
- A dealer locator request
- A cart addition
- An email newsletter signup
For a service-based business, a micro conversion may include:
- A PDF download
- An email newsletter signup
- Other non-direct communication with the business
Micro conversions often signal steps toward a macro conversion, such as a cart addition (micro conversion) signals intent to complete the purchase (macro conversion).
The Importance of Conversion Rate Optimizations
Good conversion rates mean that your website is reaching the right people and getting the most value from those visitors. Companies with good conversion rates generate more leads or sales with less money, keeping customer acquisition costs down. Sites which don’t optimize for conversions must spend more to reach and convert their desired clientele. Additionally, improved conversion rates help you grow your customer lifetime value by forming better relationships and ensuring you are offering a better customer experience.
How to Calculate Your Conversion Rate
Companies must calculate a baseline conversion rate before they can optimize. To do so, take your website’s number of conversions within a fixed period of time (often described as a “session” for website users) and divide that number by total users from the same period of time. For example, if a website had 1,000 visitors and saw 10 conversions, the conversion rate would be 10%.
Comparing performance from different periods of the same length can give you a better idea of the average conversion rates for your business, giving you something to measure against as you begin optimization efforts.
Factors that Influence CRO
Personalization can be a great way to increase conversion rates. 80% of users are more likely to conduct business with organizations that deliver personalized experiences. These personalization tactics can include product recommendations, coupons based on previous purchases, or featuring specific messaging that resonates with the customer.
Organizations need to consider their website design and optimize these for conversions. Site architecture and mobile design fall under this umbrella. Users need to be able to find what they are searching for quickly, whether on desktop or mobile. Creating a clear navigation that leads the user to checkout should be the web designer’s goal.
Compelling website copy and headlines draw users in. Be clear and concise in your marketing copy and avoid industry jargon that could deter users from moving forward.
For sites looking to improve their conversions, considering where CTAs are placed can be a great starting point. Consider what actions are important on your website. Good CTAs could lead users to specific website pages or encourage users to sign up for email updates.
For ecommerce businesses, an optimized checkout experience is what drives the most sales. Consider how many steps it takes for a user to purchase an item. Be sure to check out our tips on reducing cart abandonment rates to see how drive more sales and increase conversions.
What Can Benefit from Conversion Rate Optimization
So where can you begin with CRO and what elements of your website will receive the most benefits? Consider the following:
By applying product information, chatbots, or personalization techniques, you can make it more likely that users will convert. For companies that don’t focus on this aspect of their website, they miss opportunities to engage with new or existing users and drive them to high value pages.
Blog/ Educational Pages
Blog pages and educational pages tend to be high traffic drivers for most websites. How do you convert these visitors into leads to drive sales at a later point? Consider adding CTAs to your site or encouraging users to sign up for a free coupon. Using these pages to organically build your database can deliver big rewards further down the line.
The main goal of these pages is to either directly sell products or generate leads lower in the sales funnel. These pages need to be optimized with the right information, with ways to get in touch with your sales team or an easy way to add items to the cart. These pages need to be easy to navigate on desktop and mobile.
What is a Conversion Funnel?
Most websites have multiple conversion funnels. A conversion funnel is the journey the user takes from the initial landing page all the way through to the conversion. When creating conversion funnels, the marketing and development team will build pages to address the needs of users on various parts of the website that will drive them toward a conversion.
Top of the Conversion Funnel
Users in the top of the conversion funnel are generally beginning the research phase for a specific product or service. Users in this part of the conversion funnel are generally not yet ready to convert, and need to be guided through further stages of the journey before being presented with detailed product or service differentiators.
These users probably have not yet committed to the idea that they need to make the purchase or buy the service, but are becoming aware of the reasons for doing so. These users can be “window shoppers”, and need more information about the options available to them, your brand identity, and what your business has to offer. A micro conversion is often the goal for this part of the funnel.
Middle of the Conversion Funnel
Users in the middle of the conversion funnel have generally identified what type of product or service they want. They have gathered enough information to begin making an informed decision, and are more reliant on product/service differences, reviews, and testimonials to help them make a decision. The probability for a micro conversion is higher in the middle of the funnel. The resources needed to create a micro conversion in these users’ paths are less intensive than at the top of the conversion funnel.
Bottom of the Conversion Funnel
Users in the bottom of the conversion funnel are ready to purchase a product or service. They have likely finished their research about the offerings available, but are paused in a moment of final consideration before action. They may need a conversion driver to push them to one seller or another, such as price advantage, free shipping, a promotion, or another “hot” reason to encourage conversion.
How Conversion Rate Optimization is Performed
CRO is more than paying attention to your conversion rate reports and adding an offer to stimulate conversions on an ad hoc basis. Conversion rate is often a function of other measurable behavioral patterns that could be the root cause of a problem or the driver of success.
Performing a path analysis to identify which KPIs need to be optimized to boost conversions is the first step in crafting a conversion rate optimization plan. Influential KPIs that marketers seek to improve include:
Once your team has analyzed the customer path and determined which KPI(s) should be the main focus for optimization, you are ready to compile ideas for adjusting the user interface and improving the customer experience.
Conversion Testing, A/B Testing & CRO
Instead of directly implementing edits to a website, app, email or other digital property to see if the changes spark the desired lift, marketers employ A/B and multivariate testing to trial their theories before rolling out the changes to the intended audience. Testing changes allows teams to gather data before committing to the change so that they can make sure the experience will perform well, and tweak details of the offer, the designs, or the audience depending on the test results.
By segmenting website traffic and serving different experiences to each segment, marketers can determine which version of content, media, call-to-action, or other variant is most appropriate for different audiences. This gives them the best chance of delivering a positive experience to a diverse audience, and creating broad improvement in the KPI they are looking to optimize for.
Constantly testing changes to the user experience based on qualitative research is a faster, more accurate method of CRO than making a change live and hoping for the best. Monetate Test & Segment™ assists hundreds of companies as an A/B & Multivariate testing solution.
Common CRO Mistakes
There are a few mistakes those optimizing their conversion rates may encounter. Here are some common ones:
Conducting Tests that are Too Small
Conducting tests that are too small can lead to false conclusions. Before making any decisions, your organization should wait for statistical significance. If the sample size is too small, conclusions should not be drawn.
Not Optimizing Your Best Pages
If you have pages performing well in search or in ecommerce sales, you should still focus CRO efforts here. These high traffic pages present an opportunity to connect with more customers and slight improvements can lead to more revenue.
Not Basing Your Strategy in Data
A gut feeling does not replace the need for data. Each decision should either be backed by data or in the pursuit of learning something new about the visitors to your site.
Personalization & Conversion Rate Optimization
With recent developments in technology, marketers are now employing personalization (especially 1-to-1 personalization) to improve conversion rates. Personalization aggregates data for each visitor and serves the best dynamic content based on their individual profile, which improves conversion rates throughout the funnel.
The Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine™ aggregates and analyzes cross-channel data for each customer to provide an Omnichannel Personalization solution utilizing machine learning. This method of CRO improves customer experience and builds consistent relationships across every touchpoint, including websites, apps, email, in-store, and call center activity.