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What is conversion rate optimization?

modern digital marketing

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO for short, is the process of implementing different strategies in order to increase percentage of website visitors to perform a certain action. What that action is, of course, depends on what your goal is.

For example, your conversion rate goal could be boosting the number of people who purchase a product from your site, or the amount of people who sign up for a newsletter (or other service) and click on a call-to-action link. You may have thousands of people visiting your site every month, but if none of those visitors buy a product or a service, the result is a low conversion rate, which isn't great for business — I think it's safe to say we all want to see more profit.

To get a better understanding of conversation rate mechanics, let's start with some basics:

How to Calculate Conversion Rate

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If you're wondering how to calculate your own conversion rate, here's a simple formula. Divide the rate of desired action (let's say the number of people who moved from your landing page to a sign up form) by your sites total number of visitors. Then, multiple by 100 for your conversion rate.

So, if your web page had 25 people who clicked on a sign up form from your land page, and you had a total of 500 visitors, your conversion rate for that variable would be 5%.

Understanding User Behavior

There's a variety of ways to test strategy and gauge how users interact with the content on your site. Keep in mind, people are complex, and as a result understanding user behavior is complex and an ongoing process. There's often no apparent rhyme or reason to conversion rate, BUT the more data and statistically significant information you have around your conversion rates and users, the better equipped you are to improve your optimization efforts.

If you want to increase conversions, you'll need:

  1. Qualitative data. Non-numerical information for better understanding why your visitors act in a certain way.
  2. Quantitative data. Numerical information to understand what is going on across your sites.
  3. Change & improvement data. Numbers around any changes in both qualitative and quantitative data.

The good news is, in our increasingly tech-savvy world there's so many testing tools (and so many free tools) out there to help you track and manage all of this.

Qualitative CRO Tools

There's a range of testing tools you can use, such as website feedback (including built-in customer testimonials, opinion forms and more) to help better understand customer behavior. There's also usability testing tools, online reviews and even website replay options so you can physically see how users interact with page elements.

Quantitative CRO Tools

Tools like Google analytics and and website heat map tools help manage website visitors and their activity including clicks, scrolls and more nuanced website traffic details. Conversion funnel tools can also help measure when visitors drop off a sales funnel while customer satisfaction apps can gauge overall visitor satisfaction and measure the likelihood of a recommendation.

How to Manage Conversion Rate with Web Analytics Toolsstatistics, finance, stock exchange and accounting business. 3d graph, diagram, chart. financial annual report illustration

There's a lot of built-in applications out there that can help you manage and access your site's conversion rate. One of the best is Google analytics. There is a bit of leg work involved. For starters, you'll need to set up your Google analytics goals which fall into four categories:

  1. Destination. This goal will help you manage all the website visitors to all the URLs on page. Your destination goal, for example, can be a certain number of people who reach a “Thank You” page, which would indicate that the visitor filled out a form, bought a product, or signed up for a service.
  2. Duration. This will help measure how long site visitors stay on your website. Your duration goal can be a visitor who stayed on a page for 5 minutes. Of course, this can be adjusted, but it can help establish a base point for user behavior.
  3. Pages/screens per session. This goal will assess how many pages a user visits before leaving your site. So, for example, a goal here could be 2 pages per visit.
  4. Event. The event goal manages how many users physically perform an action: watching a video, sharing a post to social media or clicking specific buttons. Your Event goal can be X-amount of video clicks, web form submissions, or shares per week/month.

Once you have that set up, you can check back to review each conversion goal and keep an eye on your overall conversion rate. Simply follow these instructions:

  1. Login to Google Analytics
  2. From the menu, select Conversions>Goals>Overview
  3. From the dashboard, you can review the overview of your conversion rate goals. Typically the page will default to the average conversion of all the goals, but you can select each goal for more specific insights.

Implementing Conversion Rate Optimization, (or Improving Conversion)

Aside from conversion rate optimization tools, there's a few other things you can do to make sure you get as many conversions as possible. Here's a few other strategies that can really boost your conversion rate and make sure you keep getting more website traffic:

  1. Chart your CRO process with a planner. Use a planner to not only chart, but manage and strategize any and all CRO tools and the results of a CRO test. You may want to check out the HubSpot CRO planner to get started.
  2. Evaluate your target audience. This is one of the basic tenets of digital marketing… but the truth is your conversion rate may be struggling because you haven't nailed down exactly WHO your audience is. It's important to really understand your target market and what their pain points are so you can tailor your product and service in a way that convinces them you have the solutions to their biggest obstacles. It's critical to do your user research and to do it often (your optimization strategy relies on having enough data.)
  3. Keep the customer experience in mind. While there's a lot of technical assessments you can do in the background, at the end of the day, optimization efforts all start with improving the customer experience. You may want to:
    • Add live chat
    • Streamline forms and customer surveys
    • Improve page speed
    • Minimize unnecessary clutter and distractions
    • Look for ways to enhance the purchasing experience
    • Clean up website copy
  4. Don't forget to mobile optimization. Whether you have an ecommerce site, blog articles, directory or contact pages, or just a single page, you can't forget about mobile users.
  5. Test your site. When it comes to increasing conversions you'll need to make sure to keep up with your testing.
    • Multivariate testing (or split testing, A/B testing) is one approach you can to test certain hypotheses in which multiple variables are modified and adjusted to land on the best combination. With this approach you'll do randomized experiments to improve website metrics
    • CRO page speed testing can help make sure your load time is smooth, which also makes sure your customers don't get frustrated and leave your page
    • Social proof testing can help you evaluate the impact of testimonials, user feedback and Google reviews
  6. Abandon-proof your site. To help reengage existing traffic, implement an abandoned cart email campaign, which emails a reminder about the products in their cart so they revisit your product pages and hopefully follow through with that sale!
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