What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the process of persuading your website users to take a certain action. That action can be a sale, filling out a form or downloading a whitepaper, or even just opting in to learn more about your company. CRO involves creating a compelling user experience that enables them to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for and sells them on the benefits of your service if they’re not already sold.

CRO typically involves making it as easy as possible for your visitors to take the action you want them to take. With that in mind, it’s usually a good idea to make your on-site navigation intuitive and well laid out, so visitors can find what they’re looking for without a lot of hassle. You should also include things like call to action (CTA) buttons prominently on the site, so that once visitors are convinced to act they easily can.

Elements of CRO

The below isn’t an inclusive list of CRO elements, but if you design your website with these factors in mind, you’ll probably convert your existing web traffic at a higher rate than you were before.

Understand your visitor’s thought process

In order to persuade your website visitors to take action, you need to understand their psychology. This means putting yourself into their shoes and figuring out what they want from you and, more importantly, what their objections are to taking the action you want them to take. Do they want the new shoes you sell, but they’re concerned shoes bought online might not fit and they won’t be able to return them? Emphasize your fair return policy. Do they want your service, but they’re not sure how to sign up? Make it easy for them with prominent sign-up buttons. The key is to understand your user so you can understand how to handle their objections and sell them on something that will benefit them.

In order to understand your user, it’s important to get to know them. Focus groups and surveys of your existing customers (or of people who didn’t convert into customers) can be a great way to understand their goals and concerns around your product.

Optimize your Call to Action (CTA)

The call to action (CTA) is usually in the form of a button, and is how you ultimately drive visitors to take the action you want them to take—whether that’s buying new shoes or downloading your whitepaper. Use actionable language to help users convert (ex: Buy Now, Get Started). The language you use in your buttons or form submissions is a critical part of getting users to convert. Also, it’s important to make the call to action stand out. A good CTA catches the visitor’s eye right when they navigate to a page.

If you’d like some examples, here are 30 great CTA’s you can see and learn from.

A/B Testing

It’s important to not just assume that what you’re doing is the best way to convert visitors into taking action; instead, you should constantly be testing. A/B testing involves creating two different pages that vary in one way (ex. the text of the CTA), and showing each of them to half of your website visitors. Then the A/B test will tell you which page is performing better in terms of getting visitors to take a certain action (ex. download a whitepaper).

You can A/B test the layout of your pages, where the call to action button is, what images and text you show visitors, and a host of other elements in order to figure out the best way to persuade visitors to take that key action.

CRO and SEO

Conversion rate optimization has a very close relationship to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A strong SEO campaign can drive a lot of traffic to your site. However, it’s vital to convert that traffic into customers so that you can see that traffic improve your bottom line.

Additionally, Google wants to make sure that it’s serving up relevant listings when people search for something, so it takes into account the user experience of a site. If lots of users enter your site but then immediately bounce because your site has a bad user experience, then that will likely hurt your rankings. A strong inbound marketing campaign relies on both CRO and SEO in order to move the needle and deliver results where they count—to your bottom line.

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