Optimization glossary

Conversion rate optimization

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of increasing the percentage of conversions from a website or mobile app. CRO typically involves generating ideas for elements on your site or app that can be improved and then validating those hypotheses through A/B testing and multivariate testing. Ultimately, its about improving the user experience to increase conversions.

Why is conversion rate optimization important?

Conversion rate optimization is important because it allows you to lower your customer acquisition costs by getting more value from the visitors and users you already have. By optimizing your conversion rate you can increase revenue per visitor, acquire more customers, and grow your business.

For example, if a landing page has a conversion rate of 10% and receives 2000 visitors a month, then the page will generate 200 conversions per month. If the conversion rate can be improved to 15% by optimizing different elements on the page, the number of conversions generated jumps by 50% to 300 per month.

There is always room for improvement when it comes to increasing conversions, and the best companies are constantly iterating and improving their sites and apps to create a better experience for their users and grow conversions.

Not all ideas improve your website conversion rate 

In the lessons learned from 127000 experiments report, only 12% of experiments run actually produced a winning result. This showed us that there are tonnes of ideas folks want to implement on their website, all of which seemed like a great idea at the time or even been based on hard research, roughly 9 out of 10 didn't work. This means that without experimentation and the right marketing strategy, 88% of what you do to improve your average conversion rate and the money you spend to do it, is a waste. 

Most teams come up with benchmarks and ideas, push them to production, and then try and measure the results through a CRO test. Because they've already invested in the process, the focus is on making it work. But what if the wrong ideas were being tested from the start?  

Change gears a bit. Testing isn't about finding winners. This is a legacy way of thinking about CRO. Experimentation is about learning. The only way your optimization efforts 'fail' is if you fail to learn from it. For example, changing a call-to-action and product page design and messaging is a great way to see how potential customers interact on the page. Some even prefer seeing the pricing upfront.

Focus on analyzing the data at every step and learn from it afterward. Having Google analytics functionality can help you here. User behavior gets sorted when you focus on taking your target audience on the buying moment. 

Establishing conversion metrics

Conversion rate optimization begins by first identifying what the conversion goals are for any given web page or app screen. The success metrics of your website or mobile app will depend on the type of business you’re in, and what your goals are.

For example, If you sell products online, a conversion for you may be purchases, or the number of website visitors that add a product to their shopping cart. If you sell products or services to businesses, you might be measuring the number of leads your website collects or number of white paper downloads.

Some common conversion goals organized by industry type:

  • Media - pageviews, ad views, newsletter subscriptions, recommended content engagement
  • Ecommerce - product sales, add-to-carts, shopping cart completion rate, e-mail newsletter sign-ups
  • Travel - booking conversions, ancillary purchases, social shares
  • B2B - leads generated, deals closed

Once you have established the conversion metrics for your digital interactions with your audience, you can begin to try to improve your digital customer experiences through conversion rate optimization.

Identifying areas to optimize

Once your conversion metrics have been identified, the next step in the conversion rate optimization process is to identify which part of your conversion funnel you want to optimize.

Typically, you will want to begin optimizing the portion of your conversion funnel that receives the greatest amount of traffic or generates the greatest numbers of conversions. By focusing on these pages you will be able to see the results of your changes faster and have a larger impact on your business.

Other potential places to start include your highest value pages or pages that are underperforming compared to the rest of your site. Again, improving these areas can have the greatest immediate impact on your conversion goals.

For example, a clothing retailer may find that their page for hats receives a lot of traffic but has a conversion rate that is much lower than the rest of the site. By improving the conversion rate of that page, the retailer will be able to see a big improvement in sales for their CRO efforts.

You can read real life examples of how companies such as DocuSign, Tapestry, Calendly, and Hunter Engineering Company took the desired action to improve their websites and mobile apps on our case studies page.

CRO best practices

When it comes to CRO, great results aren’t possible without experimentation. Here are some of the tactics you can use to get started.  

  • Research your target audience.  
  • Test clear Call-to-Action (CTA)Do not rush your visitors. Anticipate how ready they're to buy and send them to the next step accordingly.  
  • Don't add too much information on every page. Each page should lead to a clear next step.  
  • Optimize for mobile devices. Ensure all functionalities and CTAs work.   
  • Reduce load time for your slow-loading web pages to reduce bounce rates. 
  • Use trust signals like customer testimonials, case studies, social proof, industry badges, etc. 
  • Personalize content and product recommendations based on user behavior.  
  • Identify areas of a page that are most (or least) engaging with heatmaps and improve wherever required. 

Getting started with conversion rate optimization

Getting started with conversion rate optimization is straightforward and simple with Optimizely, the top tool for building A/B and multivariate tests.

The Optimizely web experimentation visual editor allows you to quickly easily make changes to your site or app without any programming required, and the stats engine clearly shows the results of your tests.

Start improving your conversion rate today with Optimizely web experimentation!