What is conversion rate optimization?

A great deal of work goes into creating a great digital experience, but the work doesn’t really end when the project launches — it’s actually just starting. When the project is live the next step is optimizing the user experience.

The primary goal is to optimize the conversion of visitors into active users as they engage with your digital experience. In the realm of digital marketing this is called conversion rate optimization (CRO).

CRO is the process of using analytics to optimize user experience and improve conversion rates — whatever you consider a conversion to be. CRO is used to incrementally improve any metric that’s important to your business. It is often closely tied to things like acquiring new customers, registrations, requests for demos, downloads, and even purchases for example.

Why CRO is important

It is critical to measure, and improve the return on investment (ROI) that a digital experience represents. A higher conversion rate equals a better ROI. Many businesses will pay for at least some of the traffic to their website one way or another, and it’s much more cost-effective to convert a higher percentage of visitors than it is to attract more visitors.

The Benefits of CRO

  • Higher conversion rate = better ROI
  • More cost effective than finding more visitors
  • Defends against limited patience of visitors

In essence, conversion rate optimization is about figuring out what a user is looking for when they engage with your digital experience — at whichever point of the journey they’re at.

Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies

CRO takes many different forms, based on the KPI you’re trying to improve. The basis of any strategy is to increase the percentage of user that take a specific action. It comes down to generating more business without investing more in acquiring additional website traffic.

Conversion rate optimization has several different methods, such as split testing, multivariate testing or A/B testing. Basically it enables you to test and monitor elements such as headlines, copy, images, social proof elements, and content to determine what helps improve conversion rates.

Typically a CRO project will include understanding how users are currently engaging with your digital experience. This generally starts with the analysis of data that can be, for example geographic, contextual, frequential, demographic, behavioral, and customer based. For most organizations this starts with a platform or tool like Google Analytics.

The next step is to form a hypothesis — based on observation and deduction — about why changes should be made. Note: it is important that each hypothetical situation is associated with a measurable goal.

Forming a hypothesis, and coming up with a goal can be pretty straightforward, but what should you be testing?

To get you started with a conversion rate optimization experiment here are the basic elements you can think about testing.

CRO — Things to Test

With CRO you can literally test anything in your digital marketing: headlines, calls to action, copy, images, etc. If you can change it, you can test it. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily be testing everything. Here are four variables that you can start conversion rate optimization testing today.

Colour
Color invokes feelings. Feelings set the emotional mood for acceptance or rejection. The response to colour is subjective and culturally influenced. It is also both an unconscious and involuntary response. When used in pleasing combinations colour can attract attention. Colour can also impact the comprehension of other elements, such as text, objects or images. Testing different combinations allows you to maximize the results you want to get.

Images
Images can convey a wealth of information — a picture is worth a thousand words. Images help to set the tone — serious, professional, playful, objective, humorous, etc. Images instantly establishing an emotional connection. They also have the power to create a barrier that can instantly cause a disconnect &mdash think bounce rate. When it comes to images, don’t guess. Test.

Layout
The layout of a page involves colour, images and text and can have a dramatic impact on user experience. This is even more of a consideration when you take into account the different devices, or screens, used to engage with your digital experience. In terms of the Internet, this is an ages-old debate about what’s better – graphics or text. No two cases are exactly the same because your users, their expectations of, and experience with your brand all contribute to their response. Testing layouts is the prudent way to gauge your users’ preferences.

Words
This one has been left for the last because language is tricky. It’s also incredibly important. Different shades of meaning hide around every syllable. There’s also cultural nuances. This is why having thorough personas is crucial for successful conversion rate optimization. Testing different words and phrases can be some of the most complex — but rewarding — tests you do in pursuit of achieving the greatest possible conversion rates.

Testing can help to pinpoint and discover changes that can optimize your digital experience and lead to higher return on investment.

Main photo by Matthew Cabret on Unsplash