“A website without the conversion rate optimization is like a car without wheels – it will go you nowhere“
— Jeremy Abel, chief strategist at rDialogue
Driving tons of traffic to your website but not getting the desired results? It’s time to start thinking about the actual business growth engine, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Optimizing websites to convert visitors into paying customers is the most valuable skill businesses must learn in the digital age. Even minor improvements to a website’s ability to convert visitors into customers can translate into enormous revenue and growth gains.
However, many businesses fail to prioritize CRO, missing out on quick wins requiring no extra advertising or traffic acquisition spending. So, where do you start? What should you optimize? And how do you know your changes are working? We will walk through a step-by-step framework for planning, executing, and optimizing highly effective website conversion rate optimization strategies.
We will discuss:
- How to define conversion rate optimization
- How to set up tracking to diagnose conversion issues
- High-impact areas like landing pages to focus CRO efforts
- Conversion rate optimization best practices
- Tools and approaches for testing CRO changes
- Tips for continually improving through analysis and iteration
Whether entirely new to CRO or looking to improve current efforts, these actionable insights will boost conversions, lower acquisition costs, and unlock growth. Let’s dive in!
What is the Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is defined as the percentage of website visitors that complete a desired action. It measures how effectively the website turns visitors into customers or leads.
A high conversion rate indicates the website is optimized to guide users toward completing key actions like purchases, downloads, signups, etc. On the other hand, a low conversion rate suggests the website needs improvement to remove friction in the user journey.
How to Measure Conversion Rate
First, define critical goals, including purchases, downloads, newsletter signups, contacting sales, etc. Afterward, calculate the conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of visitors to the website in a given time and multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage.
- Conversion Rate = (Total Conversions / Number of Visitors) x 100
For example, if you had 200 conversions and 4000 visitors in a month, the conversion rate would be (200 / 4000) x 100 = 5% conversion rate.
Here are more examples from Wall Street Prep:
The timeframe used to calculate the conversion rate can be daily, weekly, monthly, or other durations.
What Is a Good Conversion Rate?
The ideal conversion rate will vary significantly depending on the industry, business model, and goals. Rather than focusing on arbitrary targets, build a conversion rate optimization roadmap tailored to your website.
Focus on continuously testing and improving specific pages and processes to increase conversions. However, the following average conversion rates can provide general guidance on what’s typically achievable:
- E-commerce: 2-3%
- Lead generation landing page: 5-12%
- Freemium SaaS: 2-10%
However, don’t get fixated on industry averages. While industry averages provide context, conversion rate optimization priorities are ultimately driven by business goals and customer journey data. Analyze your analytics reports to establish a baseline conversion rate across key funnels. Defining the starting point enables measuring optimization impact in the future.
How to Track Conversion Rate
Implementing accurate conversion rate tracking is crucial for monitoring the impact of your optimization efforts. Follow these best practices:
- Use analytics software: Platforms like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics can view and analyze conversion rates over time. For example, Google Analytics allows setting up goals to monitor key conversions and visualizing funnels to assess drop-offs. On the other hand, Adobe Analytics provides features like a conversion scorecard to track daily performance and a fallout overview to uncover roadblocks. Mixpanel excels at analyzing user journeys across devices to identify high-value segments.
- Set up goals: Configure goal completions for key desired actions like purchases, form submissions, content downloads, signups, etc. It provides conversion rate data for each goal.
- Segment data: Filter conversion rate reports by traffic source, campaign, page, demographics, and other factors; this reveals optimization opportunities for specific segments.
- Track funnel performance: Use funnel visualization to see conversion drop-off rates across multi-step processes like checkout. Afterward, identify and resolve friction points.
- Compare variations: When A/B testing, properly track each version’s conversion rates to determine which performs better.
Monitor changes over time: Regularly analyze conversion rate reports, ideally daily, to spot trends and quickly catch any declines needing attention.
- Optimize mobile: Ensure tracking works across all devices. Check conversions by device to address mobile issues.
Proper tracking fundamentals allow you to continually gain the data visibility required to enhance conversions through ongoing optimization.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?
“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.”
– Jeff Eisenberg, President, and CEO of EVR Advertising
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the strategic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who complete the desired goals. It uses data, testing, and analysis to systematically remove friction and optimize the user experience to boost conversions.
The main goal of CRO is to help more visitors complete key actions that provide business value, such as:
- Purchases and sales
- Email newsletter signups
- Free trial signups
- Lead form submissions
By removing hurdles in the user journey, CRO makes converting visitors easier, leading to higher sales, lower acquisition costs, and faster growth.
Why is Conversion Rate Optimization Important?
Implementing an effective CRO strategy delivers tangible business benefits that directly impact key financial metrics and KPIs. However, what exactly are those benefits? And why should you prioritize CRO?
- Drives business growth: More visitors convert into paying customers by removing friction and optimizing user journeys. Higher conversion rates directly translate into faster business growth and higher revenues.
- Improves cost efficiency: Optimizing conversion funnels yields more customers from existing traffic; this lowers customer acquisition costs since businesses spend less for each conversion.
- Enhances decision-making: Detailed conversion data reveals gaps in the user journey, enabling informed decisions on optimizations and improvements.
- Creates competitive advantage: Companies lagging in CRO have a less refined user experience; this is why excelling at CRO sets businesses apart.
- Boosts customer lifetime value: Customers acquired through optimized funnels have higher retention rates and lifetime value.
- Enables scalability: Efficient conversion processes are essential for scaling up cost-effectively as businesses grow.
- Maximizes ROI: Every marketing dollar spent drives more conversions and sales through optimized conversion paths, which in its turn maximizes ROI.
Hence, making conversion rate optimization a core focus will directly impact top and bottom-line business results.
Where to Implement a CRO Strategy
With an entire website to optimize, it is essential to identify key pages and conversion funnels to focus CRO efforts where they will have the most significant business impact.
For e-commerce sites, the primary goal is driving online sales through the website funnel. Therefore, heavily prioritize optimizing each step in the purchase process:
- Homepage and promotions: As the first touchpoint, the homepage has a significant influence in driving conversions. Optimize hero banners, messaging, product recommendations, customer stories, and other elements to capture attention and draw users toward purchase opportunities.
“When you focus on benefits with plain and simple copy, people end up converting because of how easy it is to understand what your product can do for them. Simple copy converts better—and also tends to be much harder to write.”
Hiten Shah, Co-Founder and CEO of FYI
- Product pages: Thoroughly test page titles, product descriptions, specs, images, pricing, promotions, recommendations, customer Q&A, and calls-to-action to maximize conversions.
- Shopping cart and checkout: Minimize steps in the purchase process, offer promotions at checkout, provide reassurance like security badges, highlight customer service availability, and test simplifying forms to reduce abandonment.
- Category and listing pages: Use compelling and benefit-focused calls-to-action to guide visitors to high-intent product pages—test layout, filtering, and sorting to display products best.
For SaaS companies, the priority is guiding visitors through free trials and, ultimately, paid subscriptions:
- Landing pages: Analyze site analytics to identify top landing pages that attract the most visitors from campaigns and links. Run A/B tests on elements of these pages, like headlines, copy, layouts, images, calls-to-action, etc., to maximize conversion rates.
Pricing and plans pages: Thoroughly test pricing page design, transparency, payment options, higher-tier framing, and feature comparison tables to convey value. Offer free trials or demos.
- Registration and onboarding flow: Remove unnecessary steps and fields, provide reassurance, explain benefits, simplify forms, add progress trackers, and test minimizing data entry to reduce abandonment.
- Blog and resource library: Identify high-performing posts that attract organic traffic. Insert relevant offers, promotions, and calls to action within content to capture interest.
Lead Generation Sites
For lead generation sites, optimize pages involved in capturing visitor information. Lead generation sites must guide visitors to become contacts by downloading offers, requesting quotes, or submitting inquiry forms:
- Contact, quote, and service forms: Reduce unnecessary fields, provide clear instructions, and test design. Ensure forms are mobile-friendly.
- Service and solution pages: Craft pages focused on communicating value, relevance, and results. Insert compelling calls to action.
- Blog and content: Within articles, include calls-to-action to guide interested visitors to contact forms or service pages to convert visitors. Ensure the blog content addresses the audience’s questions and concerns to build trust and credibility.
- Calls-to-action: Vary wording, design, placement, and prominence to determine what converts visitors best.
To summarize, continuously analyze data to identify more high-opportunity areas. Maintain a testing pipeline to keep optimizing for conversions.
Getting Started with Conversion Rate Optimization: A Step-by-Step Strategy
Implementing an effective conversion rate optimization strategy requires a structured, data-driven approach.
Follow these tips for effective optimization of your website conversion rate:
Conduct Optimization Based on Hard Data
The first step is gathering data to identify areas for optimization. Analyze user behavior, surveys, page traffic, and the conversion funnel to pinpoint problems:
User Behavior Analysis
Analyzing how visitors navigate and interact with your site provides invaluable conversion insights. Track key metrics like clicks, scroll depth, button hovers, and page journeys to uncover usability issues, confusion, and exit points. Identify on-site struggles to inform optimization priorities.
“Your metrics influence each other. You need to monitor how. Don’t just measure which clicks generate orders. Back it up and break it down. Follow users from their very first point of contact with you to their behavior on your site and the actual transaction. You have to make the linkage all the way through.”
Lloyd Tabb, Founder, CTO at Looker
User Survey and Form Analysis
Well-designed user surveys and inquiry form analysis are essential for gathering direct feedback about the customer experience and perspective. In order to increase the form conversion rate, ask about pain points, desires, suggestions, and overall site satisfaction. Funnel insights, provided by web form conversion rate tracking, can ultimately enhance user journeys for better conversions.
Page Traffic Analysis
Conducting traffic source analysis helps identify your highest-converting landing and product pages. Study visitor behavior flows on these high-impact pages to uncover drop-off points in the conversion process, like abandoned carts.
Bottlenecks and Conversion Funnel Analysis
Visualizing the end-to-end conversion funnel with analytics reveals major bottlenecks and high abandonment areas. Assess checkout completion rates and identify steps creating friction.
Optimize Website Elements for Better Conversions
With problem areas identified, you can improve website conversion optimization by optimizing conversion-critical elements:
Use Clear Call to Action (CTA)
Strategically place clear, concise, and benefit-driven calls to action across all pages to guide visitors toward desired conversions. Ensure CTAs are prominently visible through design and placement. The language should target where users are within the conversion funnel to compel action.
Simplify User Flow and Improve Page Speed
Minimize unnecessary steps and clicks needed to reach important pages and complete desired actions. Reduce form field to increase web form conversions, keep only essential information, provide clear next steps, and avoid clutter to minimize abandonment.
Use Lead Capture Forms
Collect user emails early in the process via lead capture forms. Then, nurture leads through targeted email campaigns. Use progress or conversion tracking on multi-page web forms. Set up smart autoresponders and workflows upon submission.
Optimize High-Performing Blogs
Double down on your best-performing blog posts. Ensure the content directly addresses the target audience’s questions, concerns, and objections to build trust and credibility. Optimize critical on-page elements of top posts such as headlines, preview images, layout, content structure, and calls to action for increased engagement and conversions.
Optimize the User Experience (UX)
An inconsistent user experience across devices can negatively impact conversions. Ensure the website is fully optimized for responsive design across all screen sizes. Check that navigation, CTAs, conversion forms, and content formatting work seamlessly on both desktop and mobile. Identify and fix mobile pain points.
Optimize Forms for Better Conversions
Optimize form structure by simplifying fields, providing clear instructions, only requesting essential info, and ensuring mobile friendliness. Additionally, to increase form conversion rate, you can enhance the optimization process by leveraging web form tracking tools that can help identify potential issues and streamline the user experience for even higher conversion rates.
Display Trust Signals and Social Proof
Build trust and credibility by prominently displaying social proof elements like testimonials, customer reviews, case studies, security certifications, and badges from reputable brands and institutions—feature user-generated content like ratings, videos, and images to highlight satisfaction.
Use Videos to Explain Your Product Visually
Explainer and demo videos allow you to showcase the product and explain its value visually and effectively. Add videos to landing pages, listings, and campaigns. Ensure they quickly communicate benefits in a compelling way that motivates action.
Prioritize Mobile Optimization
With growing mobile usage, providing an optimized experience across mobile devices is vital for conversions. Avoid awkward vertical scrolling, tapping, and typing. Streamline workflows with mobile in mind—target underperforming pages and campaigns.
Leveraging personalization in your website conversion optimization efforts can be highly effective as personalized, on-site experiences boost relevance and conversions. Use data like past behaviors, clicks, purchases, demographics, and interests to tailor each visitor’s content, product recommendations, offers, and messaging.
Test your CRO strategies and insights
Continuous testing and iteration are required to validate improvements as you build an effective conversion rate optimization strategy. Properly testing CRO changes confirms they deliver the expected result, avoiding guesswork. Disciplined experimentation also provides fresh data and insights to fuel further optimization. Practical testing approaches include:
Split testing (A/B testing)
A/B split testing allows you to compare a new version of a page (variation B) against the existing page (control A) to determine which version performs better. To run a valid test, only make a single focused change between versions, such as a different headline, hero image, call-to-action, or page layout.
A/B testing tools split the website’s traffic evenly between versions A, and B. Visitors are randomly shown one variation to eliminate bias. After sufficient traffic over a set time period, the tool analyzes the results, comparing conversion rates, transactions, lead captures, or other goals between variation B and control A. If variation B significantly outperforms control A, the change made will likely improve conversions.
Proper A/B testing provides data-backed validation that CRO changes like new CTAs, page copy, or layouts lift performance metrics. Testing one change at a time allows appropriate assessment of the impact of each change. A/B testing enables continuously refining page elements through ongoing experimentation to maximize conversions.
A/B/n testing expands on standard A/B testing by comparing multiple page variations simultaneously. For example, you could simultaneously test 3 different headlines, two hero images, and two call-to-action variants on the same page.
Traffic is evenly distributed across all variations, and analytics will indicate the optimal combination that delivers the highest conversion rates. This allows testing many changes simultaneously to uncover the best-performing variation.
However, too many variations can still make it difficult to determine which specific changes had the most impact. Start with 3-5 thoughtful variations focused on key elements. Over time, continue refining through additional A/B/n tests.
Multivariate testing enables running controlled experiments on multiple elements of a page. To find the optimal page variation, you can test combinations of headline changes, body text, images, CTAs, offers, etc.
This reveals insights like how a long-form sales page performs compared to a short-form page or how video vs. image impacts conversion when combined with different headlines.
The key advantage of multivariate testing is understanding those interaction effects between page elements; this provides more insights than changing one factor at a time. However, more advanced analytics knowledge is required to configure tests effectively and analyze the complex results.
Ultimately, disciplined testing validates that conversion rate optimization changes achieve a positive impact. Continuously develop and prioritize new tests based on the latest data and insights.
How to Collect Data for CRO Testing
Collect relevant user data through both quantitative and qualitative sources to drive informed conversion rate optimization. Valuable data types to fuel CRO testing include:
User Survey Forms
Craft thoughtful questions to gain feedback about difficulties, desires, satisfaction, and opportunities to optimize the user experience. Offer surveys on-site or via email to collect conversion data.
Powerful analytics tools are essential for customer journey monitoring to uncover optimization opportunities. Platforms like the aforementioned Google Analytics, Adobe Experience Cloud, and Mixpanel, Amplitude, as well as specialized tools like FormStory that focus on providing in-depth analytics for website forms, crucial behavioral data on clicks, conversions, abandonment, and more.
For instance, Amplitude provides useful reports like cohort analysis to analyze groups of users over time and funnel conversion by source features to assess bottlenecks. Kissmetrics also specializes in cohort reports, which show metrics for specific groups of users based on shared traits; this reveals high-value segments. Additionally, Heap enables retroactive tracking of past user actions to capture missing data. It also automatically tracks interactions like clicks to reduce implementation work.
As for web form tracking tools, FormStory offers valuable information that identifies fields that may need improvements based on user interactions. It keeps a close watch on form abandonment rates, providing crucial insights into where users drop off and why. FormStory also offers valuable user behavior data specific to form interactions, helping businesses fine-tune their forms for maximum effectiveness and ultimately boosting form conversion rates.
For critical actions like video views, chat clicks, etc. you can implement Google Analytics event tracking. Assess reports frequently and configure customized dashboards to surface actionable insights into optimization areas. Robust analytics is foundational to an effective CRO strategy.
Implementing an effective conversion rate optimization strategy takes work but pays enormous dividends. By following the step-by-step methodology outlined in this guide, you can dramatically boost your website’s ability to turn visitors into satisfied customers. The key takeaways include:
- Continuously optimize the user experience to remove friction and boost conversions.
- Focus on high-traffic pages like homepages and landing pages for optimization.
- Gather data through analytics, surveys, and forms to find issues.
- Test changes through A/B testing to validate improvements.
- Monitor conversion rates to gauge impact and find new optimization opportunities.
The time to start is now. By following a rigorous, metric-driven approach to CRO, you can maximize conversion rates to amplify your business growth.