Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the method of using analytics and user feedback to improve the performance of your website.
CRO can be used to improve any metric on your website that’s important to your business–often called key performance indicators (KPIs)–that you’re trying to improve, but it’s often associated with acquiring new customers, registrations, downloads, etc. Put another way, it increases the percentage of website visitors who experience the “aha moment” (or the must-have user experience) that turns passive browsers into valuable conversions.
At its most fundamental, CRO means figuring out what users are looking for when they arrive at your site and then giving that to them. CRO takes many different forms, based on the KPI you’re trying to improve. Sometimes this involves making your call-to-action more apparent or placing it on a traffic-heavy (but under-optimized) page. At other times this means removing or relocating unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming steps from your conversion funnel, as the added friction can prevent conversion from ever happening.
Why should you care?
You should care about CRO for a few reasons. First, you are most likely paying for traffic to your site in one way or another, and a high conversion rate means a better return on that investment (ROI). It’s also much more cost-effective to convert a higher percentage of the visitors you already have than to attract more visitors. In addition to improving your ROI, optimization helps to defend against the limited attention span of your average visitor by giving them what they want before they tire of looking for it and move on.
CRO is important!
Higher conversion rate = better ROI
More cost-effective than finding more visitors
Defends against limited patience of visitors
It’s important to understand, however, that optimization is about getting more of the right kind of customers—not just blindly optimizing the conversion rate of a given page or campaign. It won’t do you any good if the people you’re acquiring are the wrong fit for your business. It’s important to keep the focus on optimizing to find more customers who will love your product and help you grow by spreading the word. Everything else is a waste of your time and resources.
Homepages are prime candidates for CRO. In addition to making a first impression on visitors, the homepage is also an opportunity to retain those visitors and guide them further into your website. You can do this by emphasizing links to product information, offering a free signup button, or even incorporating a chatbot that solicits questions from visitors at any point during their browsing experience.
A website’s pricing page can be the make-or-break point for many website visitors. CRO can help a pricing page convert visitors into customers by modifying the pricing intervals (e.g. price per year vs. price per month), describing the product features associated with each price, and including a phone number for visitors to call for a price quote.
The blog is a massive conversion opportunity for a business’s website. In addition to publishing thoughtful and helpful content about your industry, a blog can use CRO to convert readers into leads. This process often includes adding calls-to-action (CTA) throughout an article, inviting readers to learn more about a topic by submitting their email address in exchange for an ebook or industry report.
Landing pages are inherently designed for people to take action. An event landing page, for example, can be optimized with a video of last year’s event to encourage visitors to register for this year’s. A landing page for a free resource can be optimized with preview content from that resource to encourage users to download it.
Conversion rate optimization is a huge, often untapped opportunity for marketing teams, and you might be surprised by the oversized impact you could deliver by fine-tuning your website for conversions.
How to Calculate the Conversion Rate
You can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions a webpage generated by the number of people who visited that page. Marketers can find the conversion rate of ad clicks, blog posts, websites, and landing pages.
Once you determine the threshold of your customer demand, it’s time to nail down how to get more out of your existing website traffic. But setting a conversion goal isn’t as easy as, “this page converted 50 people this month, so we want 100 next month.”
To improve your business’s conversion potential, you need to look back at the term we defined at the beginning of this article: conversion rate optimization. You don’t just want 50 more conversions from a webpage — you want 50 more conversions for every X amount of people who visit it. This is your conversion rate — it’s the percentage of people who convert on your website based on how many people have touched it.
Below are three formulas to help you figure out how to tackle CRO at your company, and what goals to set:
New revenue goal ÷ average sales price = # of new customers
# of new customers ÷ lead-to-customer close rate % = lead goal
Leads generated ÷ website traffic X100 = % conversion rate
To help you understand the impact CRO could have on your business, here’s an example of the formulas in action:
If your website has 10,000 visitors per month that generate 100 leads — and subsequently, 10 customers each month — the website visitor to lead conversion rate would be 1%.
What if you wanted to generate 20 customers each month? You could try to get 20,000 visitors to your website and hope that the quality of traffic doesn’t decrease. Or, you could get more leads from your existing traffic by optimizing your conversion rate.
If you increased the conversion rate from 1% to 2%, you’d double your leads and your customers.
The table below shows the impact of increasing your website’s conversion rate:
The key point here? Trying to generate more website traffic isn’t necessarily the right approach. Think of it like a leaky bucket. Pouring more water into a leaky bucket won’t fix the root cause — you’ll just end up with a lot of waste. Conversion rate optimization is about getting more from what you get and making it work even better for you.
Ready to take the first steps toward CRO at your company? Check out the strategies below, and start testing.
CRO Marketing Strategies to Try
1. Create text-based CTAs within blog posts.
While it’s good practice to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your blog post, these sometimes fail to entice people to take the desired course of action. Banner blindness is a very real phenomenon as people become accustomed to ignoring banner-like information on websites. This lack of attention, coupled with the fact that website visitors don’t always read to the bottom of a blog post as they “snack” on content, means a new approach is required.
That’s where the text-based CTA comes in handy. A standalone line of text linked to a landing page and styled as an H3 or an H4 — to see if they would convert more traffic into leads than regular CTAs at the bottom of a web page. Here’s one of ours below:
A regular end-of-post banner CTAs contributed an average of just 6% of leads that the blog posts generated, whereas up to 93% of a post’s leads came from the anchor text CTA alone.
2. Include lead flows on your blog.
Another test you should consider is including lead flows on your blog. Essentially, these are high-converting pop-ups designed to attract attention and offer value. You can select from a slide-in box, drop-down banner or pop-up box, depending on your offer. With the slide-in box, and it achieved a 192% higher clickthrough rate, and 27% more submissions than a regular CTA at the bottom of a blog post.
3. Run tests on your landing pages.
Landing pages are an important part of the modern marketer’s toolkit. A landing page is where a website visitor becomes a lead, or an existing lead engages more deeply with your brand. These pages play an important role on your website, so you should run A/B tests to get the most from them.
But what should you A/B test? We know that a high performing landing page can have a tremendous impact on a business, so at Sooner Marketing Solutions, we make it easy to test variants and eke out more conversions. You can quickly and easily test website copy, content offer, image, form questions, and page design.
4. Help leads to immediately become a marketing-qualified lead (MQL).
Sometimes, your website visitors want to get straight down to business and speak with a sales rep, rather than be nurtured by marketing offers. You can make it easy for them to take this action (and immediately become a marketing qualified lead) with a combination of thoughtful design and smart CTAs.
Writing compelling, clear copy has the ability to drive action and increase conversions for your business. But which actions do you want to encourage so visitors can become MQLs?
Visitors who sign up for product demos convert at higher rates than visitors who sign up for free product trials, so by optimizing your website and conversion paths for people booking a demo or a meeting with a sales rep. Admittedly, this depends on your product and sales process, but our best advice is to run a series of tests to find out what generates the most customers. Then, optimize for that process.
The key takeaway is to look for ways to remove friction from the sales process. That being said, if you make it easy for people to book a meeting with sales reps, we do recommend further qualification before the call takes place, so the sales rep can tailor the conversation.
5. Build workflows to enable your sales team.
There are a number of automated workflows you can create that your colleagues in sales will thank you for. For instance, did you know it’s possible to send emails on behalf of sales reps, so leads can book a meeting with them at the click of a button? Or that sales reps can receive an email notification when a lead takes a high intent action, such as viewing the pricing page on your website? And if you work in e-commerce, you can send an email to people who abandon their shopping cart.
All of this is possible with marketing automation. Want to learn more? Master marketing automation with our helpful guide.
6. Add messages to high-converting web pages.
With HubSpot’s messages tool, it’s now possible to chat with website visitors in real-time. To increase conversions, you should add messaging capabilities to high-performing web pages, such as pricing or product pages, so leads convert rather than leave.
You can also make chatting action-based. For example, if someone has spent more than a minute on the page, you may want to automatically offer to help and answer any questions they may have (HubSpot’s live chat tool, now available, makes this easy).
7. Optimize high-performing blog posts.
If you’ve been blogging for more than a year, it’s likely you’ll have some blog posts that outperform others.
To get started, identify the blog posts with high levels of web traffic, but low conversion rates. It may be that the content offer you’re promoting isn’t aligned with the blog post’s content, or your CTA could be unclear.
In one instance, we added a press release content offer to a blog post about press releases and saw conversions for that post increase by 240%.
Additionally, you should look at blog posts with high conversion rates. You want to drive more qualified website traffic to those posts, and you can do that by optimizing the content for search engines or updating the content to ensure that it’s fresh and relevant.
8. Leverage retargeting to re-engage website visitors.
It doesn’t matter what your key conversion metric is: The cold, hard truth is that most people on your website don’t take the action you want them to. By leveraging retargeting (sometimes known as remarketing), you can re-engage people who’ve left your website.
Retargeting works by tracking visitors to your website and serving them online ads as they visit other sites around the web. This is particularly impactful when you retarget people who visit high-converting web pages.
The normal inbound rules still apply — you need a well-crafted copy, an engaging image and a compelling offer for retargeting to work.