SEO & Content Marketing

What is CRO? Conversion Rate Optimization Broken Down [2022]

March 22, 2022

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Everyone wants more traffic to their website.

Traffic coming in from organic search, referrals, or social channels is the lifeblood for many businessess.

Without traffic, no one can find your business online, especially if you’re running an eCommerce store.

It makes sense that there’s such a big focus in most business’s marketing strategy when it comes to marketing on how to get more traffic to a website.

More traffic is great, we can all agree on that.

But what often gets overlooked is how do we optimize for existing traffic and drive more conversions from those visitors?

Enter conversion rate optimization.

If you’ve been focusing too much on simply driving more and more traffic with the likes of search engine optimization, its time to start to consider:

What is CRO and how can I implement a CRO strategy to convert existing visitors and to increase sales.

Time to dive in.

What is conversion rate?

In the simplest terms, conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action on your website.

We break down conversions into two categories:

  • Micro-conversions: steps users take along the way when interacting with your website that shows interest (clicking a newsletter CTA, leaving a comment, watching a video)
  • Macro-conversions: the final the final main goal which you’re pushing users to complete (completing a sale, requesting a demo)

When a user completes a desired action, this is considered as a conversion.

The desired action is determined by you, and what you’re trying to drive the user to do, which can include the following examples:

  • Signing-up for a newsletter
  • Picking-up the phone and calling your business
  • Completing a contact form
  • Requesting a free trial of your service
  • Purchasing your product or service

And the list goes on.

We calculate the conversion rate by dividing your total number of conversions by the total number of visitors and multiplying that by 100.

Example 📎

15 total conversions
2000 total visitors

(15/2000) * 100 = 0.75% conversion rate

This simple calculation should be one of your most important marketing KPIs that you are tracking on an on-going basis.

Conversion rate is crucial to understanding the performance of your content and key actions on your website.

What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

If you already have existing traffic coming to your website, it’s time to switch gears a bit and start thinking about how you can achieve a higher conversion rate for both micro and macro-conversions.

CRO is thinking about how we take existing traffic and honing in on what we can do to improve their visitor’s experience when it comes to content and messaging to drive them to convert.

If you’re not successful in getting visitors to entering your sales funnel on their first visit, which can normally be the case, the chances of them coming back at a later point in the future drop drastically.

Optimizing conversion rate will help to reduce your spend on other marketing efforts as you start to more effectively convert already existing visitors that are coming in from your SEO or paid advertising efforts.

Taking a deep dive into CRO will help you understand how users interact with your website and give you crucial insights into your visitor’s behavior patterns.

With these insights in hand, you can then start to come up with a strategy on how to improve the user experience to meet your conversion goals.

The end goal here is turning more visitors into leads or customers.

Why is CRO important?

If you’re operating a PPC campaign and driving 10,000 visitors per month, but none of those users are converting, your hard earned money is going to waste.

CRO is important because driving more sign-ups, more downloads, more sales is important.

Whatever metric is most important to you, insert is in that last sentence.

There needs to be a clear goal of what desired action you want to achieve users who visit your website to complete.

There also needs to be a clear measurement of your traffic that is actually converting and taking the desired action.

Without this, you have no clear way of understanding if your PPC campaign is ROI positive, or not.

CRO is also important because traffic is expensive.

Whether you’re driving visitors with SEO, or running ad campaigns, both of these require the resources of time and money to achieve.

What’s a Good Conversion Rate?

When determing what’s a good conversion rate, you should be looking at past data to set a benchmark. Look at your conversion rates from last month, and focus on how you can increase that rate by 5%.

It’s important not to set a goal too large, but to work in increments not to get discouraged.

If you continue to plow through month-after-month and increase conversions by 5%, you’ll be on your way to success.

CRO vs. SEO – What’s the Difference?

SEO is the process where the focus lies on increasing both the quality and quantity of visitors to your website from search engines such as Google.

CRO focuses on how to we optimize existing content and messaging to drive those visitors to complete a specific action.

SEO can act as the pipes which hold and carry water to your home. CRO acts as the facet and determines if you can turn that water on or not, and at which pace you drop that water into your funnel where you’re collecting the water.

You can use SEO to rank a web page on the first page of Google. But if that page is not answering the user’s query, it’s going to slowly drop in rank as users prefer other pages and click-through to those instead of your page.

If users are coming on-site and are bouncing because the page’s content and messaging is not relevant, you will also begin to lose rank over time.

And if those users are finding the page through search, but the messaging and content is not driving them to complete a desired action, you need to re-think how to properly optimize these pages.

Both CRO and SEO are quite intertwined with one another, yet at the same time play their own roles when it comes to marketing.

The CRO Process

We like working with processes.

This makes everything easy-to-digest and gives structure to the implementation of changes to improve conversions.

There are three key focus points when it comes to the CRO process:

  1. Understanding the behavior of your website’s visitors
  2. Experimentation through testing
  3. Analysis and iteration

Understanding the Behavior of Your Website’s Visitors

The first key piece of the puzzle is to start by understanding the current state of the website and the behavior of visitors.

Understanding how visitors interact with the website will give us insights into how we can provide a better overall experience that will lead to conversions.

During this stage, you want to focus on key pages including:

  • The homepage (conversion rate)
  • Landing pages (conversion rate)
  • Product or service pages (conversion rate)
  • The checkout process (bounce rate and cart abandonment)

For each of the pages in the above category, we want to look at current conversion rates and find clear outliers.

If one particular product page is converting only at 0.25% and the other pages on average convert above 5%, this is a great starting point as to where we can find a potential big fix and big win.

Once we start working with the larger problems first, we can focus in later on the smaller wins.

Now that we know what pages we want to target to start with, we need to work to identify issues on these pages that are causing users not to convert.

A few ways to identify issues include the following:

All three of these tools combined can provide a powerful experience in better understanding exactly how visitors behave once on different pages of your website.

During this phase, you might find out that your messaging is too vague and visitors don’t understand what exact service you’re providing.

Or there might be a bug on your product pages that only occurs on Internet Explorer that’s causing visitors to bounce from the website.

Once you’ve found some of the big wins, keep digging.

Review pages that are performing well, and consider how they can be further improved.

Talk to you visitors, get their feedback, and consider what you can further do to optimize these pages.

Experimentation Through Testing

After you’ve got the quick wins out of the way, it’s time to really start to experiment and try to find additional areas for improvement.

Even for the most experienced CRO expert, it can be difficult to know exactly how changes will impact your conversions.

In the end, someone who knows CRO and has experience will have a good idea but still there will be some trial and error involved to get to the other side of the rainbow.

Enter the testing phase.

A/B testing (also known as split testing) is one of the many ways you can start to test one version of a page against another, and review those results.

What’s a better way to find out what will convert better than putting two pages up against each other in an all-out boxing match to determine the winner?

Let’s assume your primary landing page is converting at 15%.

You determine that the content is a bit lacking, and you could make your value proposition a bit more clear to visitors.

To implement A/B testing, you’d follow these steps:

  1. Get an expert copywriter to re-evaluate the value proposition of this page.
  2. Use A/B testing software such as Crazy Egg to show the original page to 50% of visitors, and the new page to the other 50% of users.
  3. Run the testing for long enough to determine the statistical significance of the end result.
  4. Evaluate the end results and determine a winner.

Conducting an A/B test in essence is simply taking a page, making changes to it and comparing the results to the old page, then making a decision based on the outcome.

There’s other type of testing as well, including multivariate testing where you’d be testing multiple pages with all new configurations.

This gets a bit more complicated, and will require some additional resources to accomplish.

Analysis and Iteration

Now it’s time to take a look at the results from the testing phase and make some decisions.

Let’s assume for example sake the following scenario:

Page A: 10 out of 200 people converted (5%)

Page B: 50 out of 200 people converted (25%)

This is a statistically significant result, and you’ll probably go with Page B.

a/b testing

What’s next?

The conversion optimization process is never over. It’s about constant iteration and squeezing out additional performance over-time with continual testing and analysis.

You can create another value proposition, and run a test against Page B.

Maybe you re-write the entire page’s content and layout, and again test against Page B.

There’s no limits to the possibilities here, as long as you keep testing and iterating. You shouldn’t expect results from one single test – rather it’s an on-going process over-time that will achieve the best result.

Measuring CRO Success

Understanding just how many visitors you’re converting is definitely an important metric to understand.

At the same time, it’s also about the quality of the users you’re converting for your desired action.

Increasing conversion rates and driving more conversions overall isn’t the best way to measure CRO success.

CRO should be focused on increasing ROI.

Outside of just improving conversion rates, you should also be looking to improve the value of each conversion.

If you decrease prices on your services by 30%, you might see a sharp increase in conversions, but if those sales are not profitable this is not helping you reach the end goal.

Don’t Ignore Conversion Rate Optimization

Whether you’re paying-per-click to drive visitors to your website, or if you’ve undertaken a big SEO and content marketing effort to drive organic users on-site, if visitors are not converting you’re throwing money out the window.

Getting traffic to your business is great, but it doesn’t provide any value if these visitors are not converting.

Don’t let those hard-worked hours you’ve put into your SEO or PPC campaigns go to waste.

By whichever means you’re driving potential customers to your website, by implementing a solid CRO strategy, you’ll see much bigger returns on your investment.


  • Avatar Madeleine says:

    Nice advice! Social proof is essential for getting visitors to make a purchase on your site.

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