What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is a marketing optimization process that follows a framework to increase the percentage of visitors who complete a website’s goal. Conversion optimization analyzes the behavior of visitors and focuses on what motivates a particular market segment to engage in a certain way with specific marketing elements.
Conversion Rate Optimization is focused on persuading more of your website visitors to take the desired action you want them to take on a webpage, website or within a campaign.
The right Conversion Rate optimization methodology can provide incredible results, but you’ll be just as amazed by the process to achieve these results through the fact-based, data-driven scientific approach we will bring to you in this guide.
At a very high level, the CRO process involves:
- Conducting a heuristic evaluation for the site
- Conducting qualitative research and user behavior analysis
- Conducting quantitative research
- Conducting competitive analysis
- Prioritizing problem areas on the site and creating a conversion roadmap for your website (what pages need to be fixed)
- Creating a testing hypothesis
- Creating new designs based on the testing hypothesis
- Conducting AB testing (or multivariate testing)
- Analyzing the testing results
As you read through the different chapters in this guide, you will learn about each of these steps in depth.
Let’s start with basic definitions for online conversion rate and conversion rate optimization.
What is Online Conversion Rate?
Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action on a website, during a time period. Any valuable engagement your visitors make may count as a desired action, as long as it fulfills your webpage’s goal. Remember, every page should have a primary goal.
Video Source – What is Conversion Rate Optimization? | In 7 Minutes!
You can choose to measure the number of visitors who:
- purchase a product
- sign up for a newsletter
- subscribe to a software
- hire a service
- download a free e-book
- fill out a ‘contact’ us form
- answer a survey
- give a feedback
- take any action a page is designed to encourage.
By measuring conversion rates , you find out if your pages are persuading visitors to take the action you want them to take on the page. The higher the conversion rates, the better your design and copy are reaching out to qualified prospects.
There are many goals, thus conversions rates, that you can track on your website.
If you are an ecommerce website, your website conversion rate is the number of monthly orders your receive divided by the number of visitors that come to your website.
At the same time, each page on your website has at least two conversion rates (if not more).
Let’s take your product pages on an ecommerce website, the goal from these pages it get visitors to click on “the add to cart” button. And of course, the final goal is to get these visitors to place an order (convert on the website). So, product pages have two conversion goals:
- Micro conversion rate for product pages is total clicks on the “add to cart” button divided by the number of visitors who visit the product pages.
- Macro conversion rate for product pages is total orders for the website divided by the number of visitors who visit the product pages.
In numbers, you need to determine a period and account for the total numbers of visitors and desired actions they took in this same period. Let’s say your e-commerce receives 200,000 visitors in one month and processes 20,000 orders in the same period.
Your website conversion rate = 20,000/200,000 = 10%.
Of those 200,000 visitors, only 50,000 make it all the way to the product pages. Of these 50,000 visitors, 10,000 visitors click on the “add to cart” button.
- Product pages micro conversion rate = 10,000/50,000 = 20%.
- Product pages macro conversion rate = 20,000/50,000 = 40%
The same concept applies if you are SaaS website. Your website conversion rate is the total number of monthly subscriptions divided by the total website monthly visitors. The SaaS pricing page, where you list the different plans for your product, has two conversion rates:
- SaaS pricing page micro conversion rate: total number of visitors to click on the “subscribe” button on the page divided by the number of visitors who visit the pricing page.
- SaaS pricing page macro conversion rate: total number of visitors who “subscribe” divided by the number of visitors who visit the pricing page.
Let’s say that your SaaS website gets 20,000 visitors per month and generates 500 subscriptions.
Your website conversion rate = 500/20,000 = 2.5%.
Of those 20,000 visitors, only 1,000 make it to the pricing page and of these 1,000 visitors, 750 click on the subscribe button.
Your pricing page conversion rate is = 750/1,000 = 75%.
- SaaS pricing page micro conversion rate = 750/1,000 = 75%.
- SaaS pricing page macro conversion rate = 500/1,000 = 50%
So, what is Conversion Testing?
Conversion Testing is the process of conducting an AB or multivariate test to increase the website conversion rate.
An iterative process by nature, CRO helps you in making assumptions about your website visitors and then testing these assumptions to measure how your market actually responds.
As a long-term process, CRO achieves sustainable, repeatable, and consistent increases on conversion rates through researching, testing, and analyzing visitors’ behaviors on your website. A good CRO program increases your site’s revenue month to month, reaching significant cumulative annual growth.
The best part? This result optimizes your current website traffic. More conversions, without the need of increasing site traffic.
The annual uplift in profits alone
could should justify a CRO program implementation.
But conversion optimization goes beyond the metrics and profits.
When performed correctly, CRO becomes a way of discovering more about your visitors and customers as well as your website and your company. A good program can give you precious insights to apply to other areas of your organization.
CRO is a new mindset. If you think you know everything about your customers, then CRO is not for you.
CRO is also not for you if you don’t set the right expectations. Don’t expect to change the color of a button and instantly receive more orders, forever. It is not going to happen overnight. You won’t set up a test or two and immediately achieve a permanent monthly uplift. CRO is a process to enable data-driven choices to increase conversions. No guesswork. No magic.
CRO is a culminating feature to your overall marketing strategy.
Summing up, CRO is
- a system to increase the percentage of visitors who take the desired actions of a webpage
- data-driven and focused on results
- researching, testing, and analyzing visitors’ behaviors on your website
- a way of discovering more about your visitors and customers
- a new mindset
- a long-term commitment
CRO is not
- for you, if you think you know everything about your customers
- for you, if you don’t set the right expectations
What is a Long-term Commitment in a CRO Program?
If ‘long-term’ has been mentioned too many times already and started haunting your plans of increasing conversions, check the short video below. You’ll understand that you may see initial uplifts, but the long-term commitment to CRO will help you continue to gain increases overtime, never missing a beat with your visitors.
In this video, we talk about long-term commitment in CRO programs, during one of our webinars, and provide a timeframe to kick start projects.
What is More Important: Increasing Website Traffic or Converting Its Existing Traffic?
So, you are looking for ways to improve the revenue your website brings in every month. It sounds all too familiar: limited budget, limited resources and a website that does not generate enough revenue. What marketing budgeting meeting hasn’t suffered through figuring it all out? But where does all that place CRO in the hierarchy?
Some things to consider:
If your online conversions are low, conventional wisdom tells you to bring more people to your site. It is a numbers game.
The more visitors your website has, the greater the revenue it generates. Companies that provide conversion optimization services would disagree with this premise. But, just like many other realities online, the truth is somewhere in between.
Though bringing more traffic works as well to improve your website revenue, this chapter of our guide explains why converting current traffic is a better option and lists five reasons many online companies still neglect increasing website conversion rates.
Needing help to decide whether increasing traffic or site conversion rates is the best option to improve your bottom line at this point in your business? This chapter will also explain the four rules of thumb to help you make the best decision.
Why Bringing More Traffic Works?
There is no disputing the fact. Assume your current site only converts 2% of its traffic to customers or leads. If you are able to keep the same conversion rate when more potential customers visit your site, doubling your current site traffic will double your revenue.
At least, that is the theory.
You need to keep a couple of things in mind when trying to acquire new traffic. You must maintain the same quality of traffic when bringing new visitors to your website. If you just attract any traffic to your site, you can severely lower your conversion rate.
Are you able to maintain the same quality traffic? That will depend on what you are currently doing in terms of traffic generation. If you are already ranking in the top three for most of your key terms, both organically and in paid, acquiring new traffic may require your focus on possible broader new terms. In that case, you run the risk of spending money in SEO and PPC and not seeing immediate results from that investment (lots of trial and error involved).
How About Bringing More Social Media Visitors to the Website?
Would bringing in more visitors from social media channels help increase conversions on your site?
“Social media traffic is junk traffic. It simply does not convert,” you might have heard. Social media brings a different type of traffic that represents lower conversion rates compared to other traffic sources. But it still is a relevant marketing commitment.
Social media users are surfing websites and interacting socially on these websites. They are not thinking about converting. When they click on your ad or post, they are rarely in the mindset that allows them to convert. The browsing mindset does not make them less valuable. They are just in a different stage of the buying funnel.
As valuable as social media is for your business, in terms of effective, sustainable and consistent increase in sales, you should focus on an approach to convert current visitors, not on bringing in more browsers.
Why Converting Current Traffic is a Better Option?
Invesp research indicates that 70% of your site visitors are interested in your product or service. The remaining 30% either landed on your website by mistake or are merely looking for information and not interested in converting.
If 70% of your visitors are interested in converting, it is just a matter of persuading them to become actual customers instead of mere browsers.
In traditional brick-and-mortar stores, the primary focus is on converting current traffic. Why? Increasing conversion rates for an offline store usually involves salesforce training, incentives, merchandising, and store design. It would not make sense to suggest that the store should try to generate more foot traffic because sales are too low for the current levels of traffic.
Online, the story is quite different. Over the last fifteen years, most online marketing has focused on increasing website traffic as opposed to converting existing traffic. That does not make it the right thing to do. And it actually remains as a perplexing paradox for the CRO industry.
As companies try to acquire new traffic and bring more visitors to their website, they find themselves expanding their targeting. They either:
- Target untested new traffic sources or
- Target more general terms
In both cases, they are driving more visitors to their website, but they are doing so at the expense of the quality of these visitors. So, as the traffic increases, their conversion rate drops.
10 Reasons Why Converting Current Traffic is Better Than Acquiring More Traffic
1. Learn more about yours visitors’ behavior. Hypotheses and testings give you a better panorama about customers’ behavior on your page.
2. Discover more about your customers. Deeper than recognizing just the activities on one page, you can develop insights on how to address customers’ needs in multiple touch points.
3. Keep track of user’s’ behavior. You can gather important data on all stages of the buyer’s journey.
4. Provide to customers what they want. From de-cluttered design to clear copy, you can find how to offer the best experience to customers and visitors.
5. Improve your website. With all the information you gather, you can update your site.
6. Position your brand on the market. Strengthen your brand with sharp design, effective copy, and higher conversion rates.
7. Get more qualified leads. Reach the right prospects, not random browsers.
8. Spend less. To increase traffic, you need to invest more money in your campaigns.
9. Increase in profit. Increase revenue with more conversions.
10. Continue growing. The right CRO approach can bring sustainable, repeatable, and consistent increases.
So, Where Should You Start? Increase Traffic Or Increase Website Conversion Rates?
Simple answer: what has a better impact on your bottom line?
If you have the budget, do both for maximum benefit and growth. However, we are not going to leave you hanging. Here are some good rules of thumb that you should consider:
1st Rule: If your website, landing page or campaign gets less than 200 conversions per month, you should focus on increasing your visitors.
Why is that? As you see in the steps we outlined above, conducting split testing (AB testing) is a critical step to determine if your new website designs increase conversion rates or not. With less than 200 conversions a month, you will not be able to conduct an effective split testing program.
2nd Rule: If your website, landing page or campaign gets more than 200 conversions but less than 500 conversions per month, you should start with a conversion rate optimization program.
Why is that? Because, with that many conversions, you will be able to start A/B testing, by introducing one to two challengers against the original design.
3rd Rule: If your website, landing page or campaign gets more than 500 conversions but less than 1,000 conversions per month, you should definitely focus on increasing your website conversion rate.
Why is that? With more than 500 conversions, you are able to start a solid A/B testing program introducing four to seven challengers against the original design.
4th Rule: If your website, landing page or campaign gets more than 1,000 conversions per month and you have not done any conversion optimization, then you have made a huge mistake! Remember, a whopping 70% of your visitor’s come to your site with some sort of intent to purchase. You’re missing out on a lot of convertible, targeted traffic.
Why is that? With more than 1,000 conversions, you are able to start a solid A/B or MVT testing program. Every month you do not focus on CRO, you are leaving money on the table. It is money that will never come back.
As I wrote this article with the different recommendations, one of our junior staff members came to ask me if the recommendations above are correct or not.
I told him, yes these are the recommendations we have been giving companies for over 10 years. He says, “but that is not the industry standard.”
I ask, “why?”
He says,” There are many of our competitors who publish case studies showing clients with less than 200 conversions per month”
Does my recommendation mean that if you have less than 200 conversions per month, you should never consider CRO?
No, you can still do CRO. However, you must understand that you will not be able to run AB testing at a fast scale. Most of your testing will be done to optimize micro conversions. That is not necessarily a bad thing. But, you must have the right mindset.
Why Don’t Many Online Companies Focus On Increasing Website Conversion Rates?
These are the five main reasons many online companies do not focus on increasing their conversions:
1. Increasing website traffic is easier than increasing website conversion rates: To increase your offline sales, you train your staff, re-organize the store, run incentives, and conduct customer surveys. In contrast, it is a lot easier to increase your PPC campaign budget or daily spend; thus increasing the traffic to your site. Setting up paid campaigns requires little effort for most companies. Converting the new traffic these campaigns bring is much more challenging and requires a person or team to put together all the pieces.
2. Many companies failed at conversion optimization: We see it all the time. Companies launch a new conversion rate program hoping to increase their online revenue. They jump into testing right away. They do NOT follow a methodology in optimization. They randomly select pages to test, randomly test elements on these pages and do not analyze the results of their testing program. A few months later, after a few failed experiments, they shut down the program. If you think about it, there is not a problem with optimization in this scenario. There is a problem with the way these companies approach conversion optimization. Random marketing does not work in any campaign. Good results require consistent and repeatable methodology.
3. Increasing conversion rates is complex: Increasing your website revenue requires you to anticipate and understand visitors’ cognitive progression (what information your visitors are expecting to see) as well as to provide them with that information. It requires you to focus on human behavior on your website, which is not an easy task. Many companies shy away from addressing this problem. However, would you stop doing something you know can help your business just because you think it is complex? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the time and effort to understand it and reap the benefits from it?
4. Increasing conversion rates requires commitment: Just like any other type of marketing program, conversion optimization is a long-term commitment.
No shortcuts here.
CRO is not a light switch you turn on and off. Many companies fear pursuing a new activity unknown to them, but, ultimately, this is a numbers game. It is about calculating how much money CRO will require you to invest and what return you should expect. And that’s why every company should ask themselves: does the return justify the investment?
5. The Ego problem: CRO gives your visitors a voice in the design process of your website. The more analysis and testing you conduct, the larger the voice of the visitor will be on your website. That is a good thing. Well, most of the time. Someone in your team (might be you, your designer, your CEO) may discover the vast contrast between his ideas of what works best and the visitors’ actual interests. That is not always an easy pill to swallow. What’s worse is when the visitor’s voice points to solutions that go against the current trends. Do you still give them what they want or keep your site trendy and following the latest developments?