What is CRO? And Why You Should Care

Written by Dale Hart

What is CRO?

Blog » What is CRO? And Why You Should Care

As an online marketer, it is highly likely that one of your KPIs (key performance indicators) is to drive traffic to your company’s website.

Once people arrive, they’ll discover more about the products or services your company offers.

Then, if there’s a match between consumer and provider, visitors are guided to specific landing pages where they are then encouraged to make a purchase.

This is basic marketing 101, applicable to the vast majority of online businesses. 

However, there’s a slight problem with this model’s scalability. 

Increasing website traffic and eyeballs on ad campaigns can be both difficult to do and extremely expensive – depending on the competitiveness of the keywords you are targeting.

So what can marketers do? Is there a cost-effective alternative to simply turning on the money tap?  

This is where the marketing tactic CRO (conversion rate optimization) comes into play…

CRO Marketing Definition

“CRO marketing, or Conversion Rate Optimization marketing, is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors taking the desired action while visiting a website or online advert.”

This can be anything from clicking an ad CTA (call to action) button that takes you to a payment page, signing-up to a mailing list, subscribing to a blog, registering for a webinar series, downloading an eBook, etc.

Essentially it’s about making your marketing actions work smarter, not harder.

Why Is CRO Marketing important?

CRO marketing is important because it’s the most cost-effective way of increasing the efficiency of your marketing campaigns. 

This means that the budget previously dedicated to boosting website traffic or advertising campaigns can be reallocated to other, perhaps more ambitious marketing actions.

 Let’s look at a quick example.

Imagine you work for an e-commerce site that receives around 500,000 visits a year with 15,000 of those making a unique purchase. 

This gives you a conversion rate of exactly 3%.

Your CMO then sets you the goal to increase sales by 10% over the next, that is, you need to make sure 1500 more website visitors make a unique purchase.

Now there are three ways to achieve your goal:

  1. Drive more traffic to your website through advertising campaigns or SEO (you need more investment in marketing).
  2. Expand your catalog with new products (increased production costs).
  3. Optimize your website to convert current visitors into customers (no additional costs).

Which of the three options would you choose?

Options 1 and 2 are definitely riskier

You are asking for a significant increase in your allocated budget knowing that driving more traffic or launching a new product line does not guarantee more sales.

Option 3 on the other hand is safer (requires little financial investment) and the most likely method to achieve your goal since all you need to do is optimize the website and increase your conversion rate to 3.3%. Easy, right? 

Hmmm…we didn’t say that!

But is definitely the most efficient AND worthwhile mastering.

How to Calculate CRO

Now, this part is fairly simple (assuming you have the available data).

To calculate your conversion rate simply:

“Divide the number of conversions by the total number of visitors.”

To get a percentage you can multiply the resulting figure by 100.

For example, imagine you convince 500 people to sign-up for an upcoming webinar series. Throughout the month-long campaign, a total of 10,000 people visited the webinar series landing page. So if 500 people signed-up from a possible 10,000, our conversion rate would be:

“(500 ÷ 10,000) x 100 = 5%”

CR = 5%

CRO vs SEO

While the two strategies CRO and SEO (search engine optimization) often cross paths their focus is on different stages of the marketing funnel. 

SEO focuses on the optimization of content for search engines, so how Google bots read, interpret, and rank your site. 

This happens at the very beginning of the marketing funnel when trying to get visitors “through the digital doors”.

CRO then takes the baton to the bottom of the funnel and looks at how people interact with your site. Now that they are here, how can we convince as many visitors as possible to take the desired action, whether that’s a download, sign-up, or product purchase? 

There is a natural synergy between the two as by optimizing keywords and site architecture you simultaneously improve the user experience for visitors. In fact, 53% of mobile users will abandon a web page if the site speed (a key SEO ranking signal) takes longer than 3 seconds to load.   

When and where should CRO be applied to a website?

Great, now that we’ve covered the basic principles of CRO it’s time to look at where exactly it should be applied to your website.

As a marketer, you should have Google Analytics up and running on your site. If you don’t, it’s something I’d look at doing ASAP. It’s, without doubt, the most powerful tool for monitoring and analyzing a website’s traffic providing insight into who is coming to your site, where are they visiting from, what are they looking for, and to which particular pages.

The last point is especially useful for CRO. 

Determining where the majority of visitors arrive at your site is where your CRO strategy will have the biggest bang for its buck.

To do this head into your Google Analytics account and go to:

Site Content >> Landing Pages Report

Export the report to cross-check the URLs that bring in the most traffic but with the fewest conversions. This is where you can start some A/B testing (we’ll get into exactly how a little later on).

Barring that, some other common areas to start a CRO strategy are the:

Pricing page

For most online businesses (particularly SaaS – software as a service) is the most important landing page on the entire site. 

If a visitor has got to this point it is highly likely they are considering, or at the very least comparing, your product as an option against competitors. These are extremely “warm” visitors who with a bit of coaxing could end up being your newest customers.

Blog

Another great place to consider implementing a CRO strategy is your blog. 

Typically, apart from the home page, this is where the majority of the organic traffic will be entering your site as blog posts look to answer specific search queries on Google.

As a result, these visitors are unlikely to be looking to buy your product just yet, so instead look at building an email marketing list through blog subscriptions. These leads can then be warmed using a drip campaign.

It’s equally important to remember that not all site visits are conversion opportunities.

There are certain pages where CRO strategies need to be applied (like the two we’ve just mentioned) but somebody simply combing through the terms and conditions page isn’t necessarily looking to convert. 

It’s something to keep in mind when deciding which areas of your website to focus on.

Knowing What To Analyze and Measure

As the famous American business management consultant Peter Drucker once said:

“If you can’t measure it, how can you improve it?” 

This certainly holds true for any CRO campaign. Before you start tinkering around with things you must have a solid framework in place for understanding exactly:

  1. What the end conversion goal is
  2. How are you going to measure success?

Let’s look at a typical SaaS marketing funnel to explain exactly what we mean.

The end goal (macro conversion) of the website is to turn visitors into customers. This can be understood by looking at the following graph:

CRO Macro-conversion

 So going back to our formula from the section on how to calculate opportunity win rate our macro conversion rate would be:

How To Calculate Conversion Rate

However, to improve the macro conversion you must first conduct a thorough analysis of the entire customer journey. 

This is done by marking the necessary actions taken between each stage of the funnel, and then measuring these micro-conversions. This will identify exactly where along the funnel you should target a CRO campaign.

Let’s take a look at this example from a typical eCommerce company:

CRO for eCommerce Company

As you can see this particular customer journey is broken down into four steps:

  1. Product Page
  2. Item Page
  3. Shopping Cart
  4. Purchase

The large drop-off in conversion rate between the pricing page and making a purchase is to be expected. You’re asking visitors to part from their hard-earned cash in exchange for your product (likely via a tiered subscription service) – not an instantaneous decision for everybody.

However, our analysis clearly shows us that there’s a bit of work to be done at this stage of the funnel.

So first, we need to identify what the micro-conversion is:

(Number of sales ÷ Pricing page visits) x 100

And then take a look at the page and brainstorm ideas as to why it’s not converting. You can then think about A/B testing improvements/changes to the page and measuring their outcome.

Remember this needs to be specific to YOUR business and campaign end goal. 

In this example, we’ve looked at the entire customer journey of somebody visiting a SaaS website to understand where to target our campaign. 

However, if you are looking to increase the number of subscribers to a blog, for example, then the metrics and goals you’ll analyze and measure will be different.

Just something to keep in mind. 

How to Improve CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies)

Using the same example as above (SaaS pricing page conversion) let’s look at some tactics we could A/B test to boost this page’s conversion rate.

For those unfamiliar with the term, A/B testing is the process of comparing two different versions of the same page, with changes to a SINGLE variable. 

Both versions will then be shown to similarly-sized control group audiences over a specified time range (1-2 weeks, for example) to see which version converts better. 

Remember to change only one variable of your landing page at a time. If you start tinkering with multiple variables it will be impossible to attribute any improvements to a specific change made.

A/B testing is great because the final changes you make to the design, copy, or layout of a landing page are backed by data, not just intuition.

Money-back guarantee or Free trial

Going back to our SaaS pricing page, one variable we could change to try and improve the conversion rate is to offer a money-back guarantee or free trial period for our product.

Consumers (especially those unfamiliar with your brand) are going to have some minor trust issues. 

They’ll be asking themselves, what if I don’t like the product? What if it doesn’t solve the problems I’m facing? Do I really need the top-tiered pricing option? 

By giving customers the option to try before they buy or a full refund if the product isn’t what they’re looking for, you alleviate some of these trust-based issues and potential risks in buying your product.

Secure purchasing 

Sticking with the topic of security, something potential customers are aware of is online fraud. 

Bogus websites (especially in e-commerce) are notorious for advertising popular products at discounted prices, enticing people to leave their credit card details only to later discover it was a hoax. 

One thing companies can do to generate additional confidence in their brand is to display security badges during the checkout process, demonstrating that your business is safe, legitimate, and secure.

 

CRO Security

Although it might seem a minor detail, adding an accredited security badge can really boost the conversion rate of a pricing page.

Social proof

While many companies are aware of the power social proof has across their site, very few think to place it on the pricing page. Yet the reasons why it helps other landing pages convert apply to a pricing page, too.  

Potential customers like to see that a product has helped other people in similar situations to themselves. It provides 3rd-party proof that it works while substantiating claims made by the brand.

It’s a tried and tested CRO marketing tactic that almost always has a positive effect on pricing page conversion rates.

Powerful CTA

When people arrive at a pricing page they only need the smallest excuse to back out at the last minute. To avoid that, try changing up your CTA.

Now it’s two goals are to firstly tell potential customers what they need to do and secondly, provide them with sufficient motivation to take action. So you’ll want to play around with the copy to make sure both of these points are covered in your CTA. 

Also, don’t be scared of trying out different fonts, colors, sizes, buttons, etc. The smallest of changes to any one of these can often have a bigger impact than changing the entire page layout!

We hope that this post on CRO has been useful to you and that you have learned how you can optimize your website, e-commerce, or advertising campaign to boost your on-page conversion rates.

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