Jan 30, 2023
What Is CRO? A Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
Every website has different purposes, from selling products to growing audiences. To achieve your goals, you need to compel website visitors to take a specific action. In particular, an action that brings visitors closer to a business’ goals is called a conversion.
CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization. It is the process of improving a website’s performance and user experience to increase the marketing conversion rate. CRO efforts complement Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and marketing to help reach your business objectives faster.
This article will cover CRO’s definition, importance, and four main principles. We will also provide the steps and recommended tools to help optimize your site’s conversion rate.
What Is CRO?
Conversion rate optimization is the process of improving a website’s performance and user experience. Its purpose is to get visitors to perform a specific action that benefits the business. The action may be purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, or clicking a call-to-action button.
How to Define a Conversion
When a visitor accesses your website, they may leave without doing any significant action. Conversion occurs when a visitor performs an action that puts them closer to your business goals, such as:
- Clicking a call-to-action (CTA) button.
- Adding a product into the cart.
- Purchasing a product.
- Subscribing to a newsletter.
- Signing up for a service.
- Filling in a registration form to read the full version of an article.
What counts as a conversion varies depending on the website. For example, for an eCommerce site, conversion happens when a visitor makes a purchase. Meanwhile, clicking a CTA button may already count as a conversion for another website.
Conversion is closely related to the marketing funnel. It is a marketing concept illustrating the customer journey, from being a target audience to a paying customer.
There are two conversion types in the marketing funnel – micro and macro.
A micro conversion is a small action that furthers a user down the sales process. An example is signing up for a newsletter.
Meanwhile, a macro conversion is an action that affects sales, like buying a product or subscribing to a service. It is the end goal of the marketing funnel.
How to Calculate Conversion Rate
The conversion rate in marketing is the percentage of conversions per total visitor.
To calculate a conversion rate, divide the number of conversions by the number of visitors and multiply it by 100.
Before calculating the conversion rate, define your conversion goal. It can be purchasing a product, clicking a CTA button, or downloading a leaflet.
For instance, your conversion goal is for visitors to fill out a newsletter subscription form. In this case, only count pages featuring the form. Therefore, if you have 500 submissions and 40,000 people visiting the web pages, your conversion rate is 1.25%.
You may also calculate your website’s overall conversion rate. The calculation is similar, but the number of conversions includes all goals. Then, divide it by the total number of visitors on all pages.
Why You Should Care About CRO
For a business, driving traffic is only half the battle. You should also know how to prevent your site visitors from leaving.
Website visitors usually leave due to a lousy user experience. Slow loading, poorly designed landing pages, or complicated navigation may contribute to this poor experience.
CRO acts as an instrument to convert visitors by improving the website’s user experience. Moreover, it brings several benefits to your business:
- Complements SEO. CRO and SEO go hand-in-hand. CRO can improve page experience by reducing bounce rate and increasing dwell time. Since Google ranks websites partly based on user experience, CRO can help your site rank higher.
- Maximizes traffic. Optimizing conversion rates allow you to make the most of your traffic. With CRO, sales can increase even with the same number of visitors. This is because CRO improves the percentage of converting users.
- Lowers customer acquisition costs. Optimizing the conversion rate lets you leverage your existing traffic to acquire new buyers, helping reduce customer acquisition costs.
- Helps understand customers better. An effective CRO process uses accurate data. To acquire this data, you must learn about your customers. This includes who they are, how they interact with your website, and what prevents them from converting.
- Improves online revenue. A higher conversion rate means more visitors are taking the targeted action, getting you closer to making more sales.
What Are the Fundamental CRO Principles?
There are four main CRO principles to get an optimal conversion rate:
Study and Adapt to Your Customers
Since every customer is different, understanding them is crucial for developing an effective CRO strategy.
You need to know who your customers are, how they interact with your website, and what prevents them from converting. Use a tool such as Google Analytics to help you with the task.
This information will help you adapt your website according to your customer profile. This way, your visitors are more likely to take the desired action.
Build Trust With the Clients
To build trust, make your clients feel secure when visiting your website. Visitors who trust a website will stay longer and are more likely to convert.
In contrast, visitors tend to leave an untrustworthy website immediately. This action increases the site’s bounce rate, harming its search rankings.
There are many ways to make a site more trustworthy, such as using the secure HTTPS protocol. Web pages that use the less secure HTTP protocol are deemed as not secure by most browsers.
Additionally, display testimonials from satisfied customers to convince visitors of your site’s credibility.
Adding an “About Us” page is also a good idea to give visitors more information about your business. Displaying an address, email, and phone number is also important – 40% of visitors abandon websites with no contact details.
Understand How to Grab Attention
Website visitors only need 2.6 seconds to decide which part of a page influences their first impression. A positive impression will make them stay longer on the website.
Make your site – especially the landing page – stand out. An attractive landing page usually displays an action-provoking CTA and a concise value proposition.
Another effective method is to use a pop-up window for your CTA. However, some visitors may find pop-ups annoying. Don’t overdo it to the point where it harms the user experience.
You may also highlight your product’s price or special offers. This lets visitors find your offers faster, improving the page’s conversion rates.
Keep Your Message Consistent
Your website and all marketing channels must consistently convey your business value, products, and services.
A consistent message helps customers understand how your business can meet their needs. It reduces bounce rates by delivering what visitors want from your site.
For example, your landing page should display the same product a visitor may see in an advertisement.
Message consistency also establishes a positive relationship between you and your customers. This can result in increased loyalty and conversions.
You may need to create multiple landing pages according to your leads. This strategy aligns your page with the users’ expectations, compelling them to take the desired action.
10 Effective Steps to Optimize Your Website’s Conversion Rate
Let’s explore 10 steps to improve your conversion optimization efforts.
1. Set up Conversion Tracking Tools
The first step of the CRO process is installing conversion tracking tools. These tools allow you to gather data based on your website’s key metrics.
Conversion data gives you valuable insights to plan a data-driven strategy. For instance, you can determine how visitors interact with your website and what page yields the most conversions.
A conversion tracking tool also helps conduct CRO testing on your website. For example, it allows you to compare A/B testing results and conclude which change improves marketing conversion rates.
There are various conversion tracking tools with different use cases and features. Make sure to choose the ones that suit your needs best.
2. Test Usability
Checking your website’s user experience is the next step. Visitors may cancel their purchases if they face difficulties during the buying process.
Conduct usability testing to see how users interact and navigate through your site. This can help identify aspects of your website that may confuse visitors and how you can improve them.
Analytics measure your website performance, while usability testing tells the reason behind it. One of the most common methods to check usability is A/B testing. A/B testing compares two ways of presenting the same web page and asks which one converts better.
Another option to test usability is by going through every web page yourself. Check each page’s navigation and user experience. Can visitors easily find out who you are, what you do, and how to contact you? Note which areas you need to improve.
3. Use Trustworthy Hosting
A fast and secure website is essential to gain visitors’ trust and increase conversion rates. Therefore, make sure to use a reliable platform.
If you use a website builder, choose a plan with sufficient storage and excellent security features.
If you use a CMS like WordPress, choose a trustworthy web hosting provider. Pick a plan that provides enough resources to scale. Check how much RAM, CPU, and bandwidth the plan allocates.
Hostinger is proud to offer unlimited bandwidth and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with most of our plans.
4. Increase Mobile Conversions
Mobile devices generated 58.99% of the global website traffic in the second quarter of 2022. Learning how to increase mobile conversion rates will help improve your overall CRO strategy.
Responsive design is one of the foundations of a mobile-friendly website. Ensure that each visitor using a mobile device has an equally high-quality user experience as a desktop user. Pay attention to these elements:
- Optimize button placement. Visitors need to see a CTA button right away. For mobile users, it is a CRO best practice to place a CTA button in the middle of the screen.
- Enable AMP. Enable the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework to speed up your mobile site. In addition, Google increases the visibility of sites using this framework.
- Responsive theme. Use a mobile-optimized theme. Test your design’s mobile responsiveness using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
5. Optimize Landing Pages
The next important CRO step is to create landing pages – static web pages that focus on getting leads using CTA. Companies with 30+ landing pages generate 7x more leads than those with less than 10.
There are three steps to creating an effective landing page. First, define what you want visitors to do on your site. Second, use a short, specific, and direct value proposition. Third, write an actionable CTA with a clear and engaging design.
For example, the Google Search Console landing page has a clear value proposition and a CTA button. It encourages visitors to use the Search Console tool to improve their site’s performance on Google.
After making changes, conduct A/B testing to see whether the new strategy improves users’ landing page experience. Use CRO tools to identify which page areas still need improvement.
Lastly, consider including testimonials and social proof to build trust with potential customers.
6. Increase Website Sales Conversions
For online stores, knowing how to increase website sales conversions can attract more customers. Some of the most common eCommerce marketing strategies include email and affiliate marketing.
Another strategy is promoting your website for free through blogging, social media, and online forums.
Increasing website sales conversions is all about knowing your target audience. You can learn more about your potential customers based on their demographics and psychographics.
Demographics refer to their age, gender, salary, or location. Meanwhile, psychographics includes their personal interests and lifestyle choices.
7. Personalize Your Content
Personalizing content means building your website and its content to suit your audiences. You should base your website content on the information you have gathered about your potential customers.
Personalization aims to target a specific user preference efficiently. As a result, your visitors can quickly find the answers to their needs on your website. This can increase customer satisfaction, which leads to conversions and repeated visits.
Consistently fulfilling your audience’s needs will increase customer loyalty. Therefore, content personalization is also crucial for establishing a brand.
8. Secure the Site
For an online business, having a secure website is essential to building client trust. Especially when the website collects sensitive personal information, such as credit card numbers, emails, or home addresses.
Insecure websites can frighten prospective customers and prevent them from converting. Research shows that 18% of shoppers abandon their purchases due to data safety concerns.
A secure website URL starts with https:// and has a padlock icon next to it. Install an SSL certificate and enable the HTTPS connection to secure your website.
SSL encrypts the data exchanged between a website and its visitors. In addition to security, SSL also provides other benefits for your website.
SSL types and prices vary. But regardless of the cost, all SSL certificates give the same level of protection. Remember to buy an SSL certificate from a reliable provider to ensure their safety and validity.
Here at Hostinger you can get a free SSL certificate with our hosting plans.
9. Pay Special Attention to CTAs
In digital marketing, a call-to-action (CTA) is a website element that prompts visitors to perform a particular activity. It can appear as a text, image, or button.
However, simply displaying a button on your website will not provide much value. You must put more thought into your CTA to increase conversions.
Consider the following to make a compelling CTA:
- Make it stand out. Your site’s visitors should be able to recognize a CTA immediately. Put it where it is easy to see and use colors contrasting the background. Additionally, don’t put too many elements that may divert visitors’ attention.
- Create a sense of urgency. Write a copy that encourages visitors to take action. Accompanying CTAs with countdowns is also a viable strategy. Therefore, visitors may feel like they are missing out by not clicking the CTA.
- Target different audiences. Create CTAs that serve diverse audiences. For example, create different CTAs for new visitors and recurring customers. This way, your CTAs will cater to a broader range of preferences.
- Include a direct value proposition. A compelling CTA shows the benefits of your product or service. It is essential to give customers more context as to why they’d want to take action.
An example of a CTA button is the red “Start Now” on one of Hostinger’s landing pages. The countdown gives a sense of urgency, compelling visitors to take action.
10. Increase the Site’s Load Speed
Improving your website’s loading speed is crucial for increasing conversion rates. Customers are more likely to convert when they find the answer to their needs faster.
Reducing website loading speed by only one second can increase conversions. A longer loading time will result in an unpleasant user experience and a higher bounce rate.
Analyze your website performance to see which areas need improvement. Use analytics tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights to accurately check your website’s loading speed.
PageSpeed Insights provides an in-depth analysis of your website speed. It also compares the performance of your mobile site to the desktop version. If you are unsure how to speed up your site’s loading speed, follow our tutorial on website optimization.
6 Best Conversion Rate Optimization Tools
There are plenty of paid and free CRO tools with different features. To get more comprehensive data, you may need to use multiple tools.
We have listed the best optimization tools to help you pick one that suits your needs. The following list covers CRO tools for both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
Best Quantitative CRO Tools
Quantitative optimization tools provide measurable, statistical data. This data type is beneficial for developing data-driven strategies and proving hypotheses.
Quantitative tools for CRO have different functions, including general analytics, heatmap, and sales funnel analysis. Based on their functions, our recommendations are:
Google Analytics is the most popular tool for general analytics. It gives an in-depth understanding of your site’s performance, including its page views, conversion breakdowns, and visitor demographics.
The tool is also helpful for conducting CRO tests due to its integration with other tools, such as Convert for A/B testing.
The free version of Google Analytics offers basic functionality. Upgrade to the premium version starting from $12,500/month to unlock more advanced features.
We recommend Mixpanel for analyzing your sales funnel. This tool gives you information about when a customer abandons their conversion.
Mixpanel lets you conduct a CRO test, create a conversion funnel, and produce reports. You can review the funnel’s conversion rate and performance in different stages. Mixpanel is a freemium tool, and the premium version costs $25/month.
Crazy Egg Snapshots is a popular heatmap analysis tool. It tells you which areas your website visitors interact with the most. Crazy Egg Snapshots also includes other analysis features such as scrollmap, confetti, and overlay reports.
Crazy Egg Snapshots can also provide real-time results while your CRO test is running. This tool starts at $29/month and offers a 30-day free trial.
Best Qualitative CRO Tools
Qualitative tools analyze non-statistical data which are not numerical nor measurable. This data type provides valuable insights into user behavior on your website.
Some of these qualitative tools include tools for website feedback, visitor session replay, social proof, and online reviews.
Based on their purposes, here are our recommendations for qualitative CRO tools:
For the website feedback tool, we recommend Hotjar. This tool helps you improve your website experience based on what customers respond to.
With Hotjar, you can create an on-site feedback widget that targets a specific audience. It can track and present survey results on one dashboard, making the data analysis less complicated.
Hotjar offers the basic version for free, but it has usage limitations. The premium plan starts at $31/month.
For session replay analysis, we recommend Glassbox. This tool allows you to automatically track and review users’ cursor movement across an entire page.
Session replay analysis helps understand user behavior and assess areas for improvement. It can also identify the struggles and errors visitors may face on your website.
Glassbox’s pricing varies depending on the usage. Contact Glassbox’s sales representative to get a price quote.
TrustPulse is our pick for a social proof tool. It notifies a website visitor about what others are doing in real-time. The purpose is to increase their trust and confidence to convert as other people are doing it, too.
TrustPulse is easy to set up and customize as it requires no technical knowledge. It is a premium service that starts at $5/month.
Improve users’ confidence by displaying customer testimonials on your site. For an online review tool, we recommend Reviews.io.
Reviews.io collects user reviews about your brand and displays them on your site. Its integration with 25+ platforms allows you to aggregate reviews more effectively. Reviews.io offers a free 14-day trial with the full version starting at $45/month.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is an online marketing effort to maximize your website’s conversion rate. CRO marketing involves improving your site’s performance and user experience. This way, more visitors will be more confident to convert.
When implementing CRO, there are primary principles you should follow. You must study and adapt to your customers, build their trust, and grab their attention. It is also essential to keep your message consistent.
We have provided ten steps to do conversion optimization:
- Set up conversion tracking tools
- Test usability
- Use trustworthy hosting
- Increase mobile conversions
- Optimize landing pages
- Increase website sales conversions
- Personalize your content
- Secure the site
- Pay special attention to CTAs
- Increase the site’s loading speed
Lastly, we listed recommended tools to help you perform conversion rate optimization.
What Is CRO? FAQ
We will answer several commonly asked questions about website conversion rate optimization to deepen your understanding.
What Is the Average Conversion Rate?
It depends on various factors, such as the type of website you run and the industry you belong to. The number also fluctuates throughout the year.
For instance, the average global conversion rate for a food and beverages eCommerce site in 2022 is 4%.
Is CRO the Same as SEO?
No. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing strategy that improves a website’s ranking on search engines to drive more traffic.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is also a marketing strategy. But unlike SEO, it focuses on turning web traffic into conversions.
Is ROI the Same as Conversion Rate?
They are different. Return on investment (ROI) is the calculation of sales relative to the marketing cost. A high ROI means a marketing effort generates more money than its cost.
The conversion rate represents the percentage of visitors taking the desired action. Unlike ROI, it is not directly related to costs and sales.