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What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

In simple terms, conversion rate optimization (CRO) or conversion optimization is the process of finding out why your website visitors are not taking the desired action(s) and fixing those reasons, or issues, to achieve a higher conversion rate.

At a process level, conversion optimization is achieved by the following scientific process :

Research Phase

Tracking metrics and identifying what parts of conversion funnel needs fixing


Hypothesis Phase

Constructing educated hypothesis based on your research


Prioritization Phase

Planning and prioritizing your hypothesis


Testing Phase

Testing the hypotheses against the existing version of the website


Learning Phase

Deploying the winning hypothesis and/or gather learning for subsequent tests


At a strategic level, CRO is an ongoing practice of learning and optimizing. Unfortunately, the “continuous” aspect often gets ignored while discussing conversion optimization. To help optimizers see the larger picture, we’ve structured this guide according to the “strategy” of conversion rate optimization.

Are You Ready for Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization isn’t a unicorn. Ultimately, the only reason why visitors buy from you is because of the value the product/service you offer. Before you invest in an optimization program, make sure you are providing value that has demand.

Have Analytics in Place

Before you start your optimization program, have an analytics engine in place. Analytics is what tells you why visitors aren’t converting. Even as far back as 2012, 60% of the world’s top businesses were using Google Analytics. The pitfalls of not having analytics in place are that your optimization efforts will be akin to throwing darts in the dark, hoping for some darts to stick. Having analytics integrated with your testing engine is important for post-test analysis and learning.

Understand the Language of Metrics

Metrics are the language in which visitors talk to you. Unless you understand this language, you’ll not be able to interpret the signals and see the symptoms that lurk in plain sight.

Make Sure You Have Relevant Traffic

The very term “optimization” implies that CRO is associated with making something better. The first step to making revenue is to have people know about your product and drive relevant traffic to your website. Conversion optimization can kick in only when there is traffic that can be converted. And what’s worse than poor traffic is bad traffic.

Remember: CRO can’t make visitors buy; it can only help them do it easier.

Know Your Website Flow

Every website that exists to make revenue has a user funnel that visitors need to travel through to become a paying customer. Understanding the way users browse your website tells you the relative importance of each page on your website and what improvements can be expected by optimizing any of these different stages in the funnel.

Chances are that you’ve come across a variety of conversion funnels while exploring online content. It is necessary to understand that these funnels help map out a user’s journey to become a customer, but these are not the same. A funnel could be consumer-focused (a purchase funnel) or website-focused, showing how users flow through different pages of your website. For the purpose of this guide, when we talk about a conversion funnel, it is how users flow through your website.

An AIDA framework is one such method to outline the different stages a customer goes through before making a purchase decision.

Here are the basics you should know. What are your main landing pages? How do users flow from there to pages deeper on your website?

Know What Metrics to Improve

It’s a no-brainer that before you can measure and improve, you need to know what you want to improve. This one completely depends on your business and your goals. Are you looking for more free trial sign-ups, more average revenue per visitor, or top-of-the-funnel ebook downloads?

Here’s the interesting part. Not all visitors to your site are in the same buying decision stage . Some are looking to learn things, some are actively prospecting, and some others are ready to buy. The idea then is to track and optimize for conversions at different stages from each of these users.

Enter micro conversions and macro conversions.

Micro conversions are typically low-involvement commitments from the user like an ebook download or subscribing to a newsletter. Macro conversions, on the other hand, are actual sales conversions like a checkout for an eCommerce business.

It may seem that macro conversions are all that matter. However, micro conversions are the baby steps that visitors start with, eventually leading them to become customers. Track both.

Find Out Your Baseline

The baseline is the current number that you are receiving. So you may have a baseline of 30% checkouts on your checkout page. Having this number is important because it tells you what kind of improvement you can expect and should drive toward.

Who Can Do Conversion Rate Optimization?

One question you’ll find yourself asking when you decide to do conversion rate optimization is whether it can be done through an in-house team or if you should outsource it to an agency.

As with everything in life, it is simply a matter of horses for courses.

And if you do decide to go in-house, what qualities do you go for?

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