Written by Jessica Foster –
Right now, the internet has more than 1.1 billion websites operating across more than 271 million unique domains. That’s a nearly unfathomable number of pages competing for a finite amount of traffic, views, and clicks.
If you’re getting your fair share of them, congratulations – you’re on the right path. But just getting visitors to your website isn’t enough, particularly if you’re running any type of business.
No, you need to convert those visitors once they end up on your site. And you need to do this effectively and efficiently.
One of the best ways to do that is by implementing a conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy.
If you do this right, you’ll not only improve your quality of leads, but you’ll also increase revenue and lower your customer acquisition cost. In other words, it will help you grow.
In this piece, we’ll dig deeper into CRO, discuss why you should care about it, and provide some best practices for maximizing your conversion rate.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of users and visitors who take a specific action on your website, social channels, or other online marketing campaigns.
To successfully improve your conversion rate, you must deeply understand your users. You need to understand how they navigate your website, interact with your content, and ultimately take action.
Examples Of Conversions
Conversions can be any number of things, but some of the most common are:
- Making a purchase.
- Filling out a form.
- Signing up for a newsletter.
- Adding a product to their shopping cart.
- Clicking a link.
- Downloading a piece of content.
- Turning an occasional customer into a regular customer.
In other words, a conversion can be any action a user performs that results in you collecting their information, making a sale, or otherwise gaining insight into how they interact with your campaigns.
Key Benefits Of Conversion Rate Optimization
Okay, you might be saying right now, I get the importance of CRO as an overall part of a digital marketing strategy, but what does this have to do with SEO?
A lot, actually, both for SEO professionals and the businesses they work for.
Some of the benefits of CRO include:
Increased User Engagement
Conversion rate optimization improves the way visitors interact with your website and within your campaigns, leading to better engagement and, ultimately, conversions.
An increase in engagement metrics can provide valuable insights into your campaigns’ performance and what entices users to take action.
CRO leads to higher conversion rates, which means you are getting more bang for your marketing buck.
It allows you to land more customers without necessarily generating more traffic or increasing your marketing budget.
Valuable User Insights
The process of CRO requires you to develop a better understanding of your audience. And this, in turn, improves your overall marketing efforts and content.
It helps you be better prepared to reach the right types of customers with the right messaging at the right time.
Enhanced Customer Trust
Many conversions require users to provide their contact information (email address, name, phone number, etc.) in exchange for content like an ebook or information about your services.
But before they’re willing to hand over their info, they need to trust your site. CRO helps you build customer trust and leaves a positive impression on potential customers.
Even the biggest markets only have a finite pool of prospects you can tap into – and the more specialized your niche, the smaller that pool is. CRO allows you to make the most of your existing audience (i.e., traffic) to attract new customers.
By improving your conversion rate, you’ll scale your business without running out of potential customers.
How To Calculate Conversion Rate
Before we can get optimizing, we need to first discuss how to arrive at your conversion rate. Don’t worry – no higher math is required.
The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of users or website visitors, then multiplying this figure by 100 to generate a percentage.
For example, if your website generated 20 contact form fills and 1,000 visitors in one month, your conversion rate would be: 20 / 1,000 = 0.02 x 100 = 2%.
Calculating your conversion rate enables you to set a benchmark for how your webpage or campaign is currently performing.
This means you can compare the results of any changes you make and the corresponding results you generate to your original conversion rate, letting you know what’s working – and what isn’t.
What’s Considered A “Good” Conversion Rate?
There is no single, universal figure that qualifies as a “good” conversion rate. What’s even considered an “average” conversion rate varies across industries, niches, campaigns, and specific conversion goals.
Depending on who you ask, however, a rough global average is anywhere from 1-4%.
This might not necessarily be true for you. In reality, the best measure of what’s considered average is to calculate your past and current conversion rates and compare them to future results.
Instead of obsessing over what’s considered a “good” conversion rate (most businesses don’t publish this information, anyway), you’re better off digging into what drives your particular audience – and then delivering the value they’re searching for.
What Is The CRO Process?
Now that we have that all out of the way, let’s talk about the CRO process.
Conversion rate optimization is the process of optimizing your website, landing page, or marketing campaign to improve the probability of a user taking a desired action.
This optimization process is informed by past user behavior, customer insights, and CRO best practices.
The basic process is as follows:
Surveying your audience and digging into past customer behavior analytics to understand what users are interested in, what they’re struggling with, and how they interact with your brand.
Using these new insights to optimize your campaigns or webpages for conversions.
Most CRO changes are not one and done. You will want to measure your adjustments against different components to see which ones truly move the needle.
For example, you may test one call-to-action versus another to see which performs better (i.e., has a higher conversion rate).
It may be tempting to skip this step, but don’t – that can lead to false positives.
Let’s say, for example, you changed your CTA like we just described, but you also changed your product descriptions. Which one do you attribute your sales increase to? A/B testing lets you know.
Use analytics software (like Google Analytics) to measure the success of your campaigns.
Create goals to track conversions and then calculate your conversion rate by comparing this to your total traffic numbers.
Monitor your analytics to track the success (or failure) of your campaigns or webpages. Make adjustments as needed to improve your conversion rate.
Components Of Successful CRO
CRO is a comprehensive process involving various components, from the design of your landing page to the contact forms you use.
A successful CRO campaign requires an in-depth analysis of your target audience, multiple tests to measure performance, and ongoing optimization to ensure maximum results.
There are a limitless number of things you can experiment with to optimize your conversion rate. Still, throughout this process, you’re likely to address a few core elements, regardless of industry:
How your website and landing pages look plays an important role in CRO. An aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-navigate design will improve usability and make it easier for users to convert.
When designing your landing pages, work with a web designer who understands CRO and how users typically navigate a website.
Your site should be responsive and accessible, making it easy for visitors to find what they want. Your fonts and include interactive menus should be easily readable to anyone.
Fast website load speed is an essential part of both SEO and CRO. The longer it takes for your website to load, the more likely users will drop off and go elsewhere.
Ideally, your website should load in under three seconds on both desktop and mobile devices. Decrease image file sizes and remove slow-loading website elements to ensure fast load time. This alone can increase conversions to your site.
Web copy refers to the words users read on your website and landing pages. Skilled copywriters can craft copy that speaks to the unique needs of your target audience. It’s not enough to simply write “off the cuff” and hope for the best.
This is another place where audience research comes into play. If you know what your audience is struggling with and the solutions they’re looking for, you’ll be able to communicate the value of your offer.
Ultimately, you’re trying to convince users that your service or product is the best solution for their needs.
A call-to-action is an often short, concise appeal to users to take some sort of action on your site. The most commonly seen phrases are things like “Contact Us,” “Buy Now,” and “Work With Us.” However, you can get as creative as you like as long as you’re asking the visitor to perform an action.
For example, if you know your audience is interested in a particular offer, your CTA can be more obvious, like “Buy X Here” or “Download Y Now.”
A best practice is to make it obvious what users will get once they click on a link or submit their information.
Your site’s structure should be built with the primary goal of making your website easy for users to navigate. You should have a logical layout of where your pages exist on your site and how they interact with each other.
Most sites adopt a hierarchical site structure, with the most important pages living in the main menu and subpages in the dropdown menu. Ideally, your web pages should not be “buried” more than three clicks away from the home page.
Consider how a typical user might navigate your site. Even better, look at a content drill-down report of your site to see how users journey from one page to another.
This might look something like:
- Services page.
- Individual service page.
- Contact page.
- Goal completion (form fill).
Or, for an ecommerce site:
- Products page.
- Product category page.
- Individual product page.
- Add to cart.
- Cart checkout.
- Thank You page.
Overall, creating an easy-to-navigate website is key to increasing conversions, building customer trust, and improving customer loyalty over time.
Contact forms are the most popular tool website owners use to collect user information, particularly for service and agency sites. Ecommerce sites, on the other hand, might have individual product pages and a typical shopping cart function.
Your contact forms should be functional and easy to use. By this, we mean that users should easily be able to submit their information. These form fills should be collected within your website to ensure quick follow-up.
Here are a few CRO best practices for using contact forms:
- The fewer the fields, the better (typically). At the very least, you should collect information that allows you to follow up with leads promptly. If you want to better qualify your leads, you can add additional fields, like Industry or Budget.
- Design matters. Good-looking forms typically equate to a better user experience. Make your text easy to read, use consistent styling, and make sure the submission button is clickable.
- Consider customer privacy. With the introduction of GDPR and other consumer privacy laws, it’s become increasingly important to let users know how their information will be collected and used. You should always include a disclaimer that states what users are subscribing to, how you will be in contact with them, and whether they can unsubscribe at any time.
How To Measure Conversion Rate
Several quantitative tools allow you to collect data to track conversions on your website. These include general analytics tools like Google Analytics, website heat map tools like Hotjar, sales funnel tools, and contact form analytics tools.
Basically, any tool that allows you to:
- Track conversions or goal completions
- See website traffic data (which can be used to calculate your conversion rates).
By measuring your conversion rate, you’ll have data on how your site has performed in the past and how it’s performing now.
Then you can use a variety of CRO tactics to generate even more leads, customers, and revenue for your business.
Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices – Do They Work?
CRO best practices are, by definition, practices that have worked for businesses in the past. This means that the quick CRO “hacks” may not necessarily apply to your business, nor might they be relevant to businesses in the modern day.
With this in mind, businesses should be wary of adopting any CRO best practices without proper measurement and an in-depth understanding of their target audience.
For example, it’s commonly believed that a few simple tweaks are all it takes to improve conversions. These “tips” often include:
- A/B testing headlines.
- Changing the color of CTAs.
- Including contact forms on every page.
- Always adding customer testimonials.
- Offering discounts.
Just because something worked for one business doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
Your best bet is to focus on what’s working with your particular audience and then use your own creativity to make adjustments that will improve your conversion rates over time.
Uncommon CRO Tactics
Today’s most progressive brands aren’t following trends – they’re setting them.
To stay ahead of the curve, you might want to adopt some uncommon CRO tactics and measure their impact on your business.
At the same time, keep a close eye on how users interact with your site and use these insights to make adjustments over time.
For example, some CRO-related technology and tactics to look into include:
- AI-driven CRO tools.
- Keyword research tools.
- On-site customer surveys.
- Mouse tracking and website heat maps.
- Personalized product suggestions.
How To Improve Your Conversion Rate
By this point, it should be clear: CRO depends on carefully monitoring your customers, tracking their behavior and how they interact with your site, and comparing that information over time.
And while there are tools available for measuring traffic, engagement, and goal completions, no single CRO strategy will work for every site.
No, what works for your website depends entirely on your target audience, what you’re promoting, and user experiences.
For example, you wouldn’t expect a target audience of upper-middle-class men shopping for luxury sedans to behave like teenage girls looking for hoodies.
So, what works for the first audience may have no impact on the second, and vice versa.
But I will promise you this: If you fine-tune your UX, implement A/B testing, improve your website copy, and experiment with CTAs. Eventually, you’ll hit on the conversion formula you need.
Featured Image: 3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock