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The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) In 2021

Neil Andrew

Neil Andrew

April 23rd, 2020

Neil is Scottish so when he's not writing for PPC Protect he's eating haggis and watching Braveheart.

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In today’s marketing world, driving massive amounts of traffic to your website is no longer good enough. If that’s the ultimate goal of your online marketing strategy, then you’re missing out… BIG TIME.

Just because a website receives thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of visitors a month, doesn’t mean that it’ll be profitable. Of course, having a large amount of traffic increases your chances of it being so, but what’s the point in traffic if it doesn’t convert?

Luckily, marketers have a trick up their sleeve that can help turn worthless visitors into paying customers.

Conversion rate optimization, also known simply as CRO, is an extremely powerful technique that can help companies bring in thousands of extra revenue. No matter if you’re a marketer, blogger, founder or website designer, conversion rate optimization can help turn more of your website’s visitors into actual paying customers.

If you’re looking to increase your sales and conversions without spending an extra dollar, then you need to master the art of conversion rate optimization. With so much additional revenue and sales up for grabs, getting yourself familiar with CRO is essential if you want to make more money from your website.

In this guide, we’ll be covering the basics of conversion optimization and how you can start putting things into practice on your site. No matter if you’re a complete beginner or experienced pro, we’re sure you’ll find something new and useful in this guide.

To get things started, let’s explore exactly what conversion rate optimization is and what it entails.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

conversion rate optimization landing page

If you’re new to internet marketing, then the terminology used can often be confusing to many. With acronyms such as SEO, SERP and CRO, these terms usually go over people’s heads and leave them feeling dumb. But don’t fret, most of these abbreviations have obvious phrases that make sense. To make sure everyone’s on the same page, conversion rate optimization or CRO can be defined as:

The process of using analytics and user feedback to turn visitors on your website into customers by changing different aspects of your site.
To dive a little deeper into the definition above, CRO usually involves cosmetic changes to a website such as the colours and position of buttons.

However, it can also include a whole range of complicated and technical things such as website overlays, including trust factors and faster website loading speeds. All of which changes the feel and experience of the website which in turn, hopefully, increases the number of conversions from users.

Although conversion rate optimization is mainly used to increase the number of conversions on a site, it can also be used to improve other key performance metrics. This can be anything from an increased number of registrations, downloads, or even just reducing your average bounce rate. If there’s something on your website that you’re currently not happy with, then CRO can help you improve your site and make it better.

Now you understand the foundations of conversion rate optimization and the logic behind it, why should website owners care about improving their conversion rate?

The Importance of Conversion Rate Optimization

importance of cro

Conversion rate optimization is extremely important for every website owner, even if you don’t sell any products or services. No matter if you want someone to sign up to your mailing list, donate to charity, or like your Facebook page, conversion rate optimization can help in every scenario.

The main reason why CRO is so important is that it saves businesses and website owners money. The reasoning is that it’s usually a lot cheaper to try and convert your existing visitors into customers than generate more traffic to your site.

Not to mention that it’s entirely possible to increase your conversion rate by just moving a few buttons around and changing their colours. With some simple changes offering huge improvements to your conversion rate, there’s a clear advantage of using CRO to improve your website.

Compare this to starting an entirely new SEO or paid traffic campaign, and you can see why CRO is so beneficial for businesses. To summarise, a better conversion rate equals a higher return on investment.

Examples of CRO

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When it comes to understanding the power of conversion rate optimization, nothing helps better than a detailed case study explaining the process and results.

A great example of a CRO case study has to be the “famous” red vs green button case study by Hubspot. Ever since internet marketing became popular, there have been many debates over which colour performs better on call to action buttons.

Many people say red, while almost the same amount of people say green. To settle it once and for all, Hubspot decided to run a test on their site to see which colour performed better and brought in more results.

In this example, Hubspot wanted to boost their conversion rate and customer engagement on their website. In layman’s terms, this means that they wanted more people to sign up to their service. After looking at all the variables they could change, they decided on changing the colour of their call to action button to see what effect it had on users.

Here’s a picture of the two landing pages that they came up with:

Notice the only thing different between the two is the colour of the call to action button. Before running the test, just like any good data analysts, Hubspot came up with a hypothesis they wanted to prove.

The hypothesis was that the green button would perform better than the red button as it suggests the idea “go” just as it is used in traffic lights.
Once they had the changes setup, Hubspot performed an “A/B Test” on the new pages. For those of you that don’t know what an A/B test is, you can think of it as a real-time comparison between two different pages.

50% of website visitors land on variation A of the website, while 50% of web visitors land on variation B of the website. The results are recorded for each variation of the landing page and then can be compared after the test to see which page performed the best.

In the Hubspot case study, they collected data from over 2,000 visitors to the page and recorded what actions took place on the page. The result? The red button surprising outperformed the green button by 21%.

From looking at the test beforehand, many people would “assume” the green button would have performed better. But clearly, that wasn’t the case. It’s only by experimenting with these different colours that you can find some interesting results.

Tips For Successful Conversion Rate Optimization

Now you have a solid idea of what conversion rate optimization is all about; it’s time to do some CRO on your own website.

Below is a step by step guide on how to do successful conversion rate optimization yourself. From the initial setup of funnels and monitoring tools, to making the final changes and testing them, follow these steps to help boost your site’s conversion rate.

Not all of the changes might be applicable for your website and business, so skip the steps that don’t make sense.

1. Set Up Funnels

The first step is to set up your funnels and find out where people don’t convert. By tracking the journey of users, you’ll quickly be able to identify where people are leaving your site. To find the weak pages on your site use, the following tools:

  • KissMetrics
  • Google Analytics
  • Omniture

2. Collect Data

Once you’ve identified the main pages of concern, you’ll want to see how users are interacting with these pages. This can give you a good idea of things to potentially change in order to improve the user experience and conversions. To track user interaction on your website use the following:

  • CrazyEgg
  • HotJar
  • ComScore

3. Get Feedback

Collecting direct data from users is the best information when trying to solve a problem. Exit surveys, live chat and feedback questionnaires help collect data from real visitors on how you can improve the user experience. Find out why people don’t convert by using tools like:

  • PopSurvey
  • KissMetrics
  • SurveyMonkey

4. Ask Colleagues

When collecting data about your website, it’s always best to do an internal review. This means speaking to other colleagues and members of staff, most notably sales and support staff. By getting their feedback on the most common questions users ask, you can help incorporate answers into your new changes.

5. Read Review

Reading past reviews left by customers is a great way to see how you can enhance their online experience. If a user struggled to use the checkout, or had trouble selecting their size, then this is important feedback that can be incorporated into your new designs.

6. Wireframe the Solution

Once you’ve collected enough information from different sources to work with, it’s time to make a mockup of your new page. This means moving elements around, changing their color and shape, and introducing new ideas to the page. Some of the most popular wireframe and design tools are:

  • Adobe XD
  • InvisionApp
  • Sketch

7. Test The New Change

After the new solutions have been completed, you’ll want to test them against the original design to see how well they perform. Once you’ve collected enough visitor data, you can decide whether to keep it or not. You can use A/B testing tools to compare their performance such as:

  • Unbounce
  • Optimizely
  • KissMetrics

8. Keep Or Revert

Now you finally have results from the A/B test; it’s time to inspect them and decide if the new design is a success. Don’t worry if the results are worse than before, CRO is an ongoing process, and it might take several attempts to get it right.

Once you have a successful variation that’s performing better than the original, it’s time to make the change permanent and do the CRO process all over again!

Bringing It All Together

As you can see from the steps above, conversion rate optimization is nowhere near as hard as it sounds. By continually testing new ideas you’ll be amazed at how the weirdest and smallest changes can make the biggest difference to your conversion rate.

You never know how changing the colour of a button might increase your conversion rate by double figures.

Now you have everything you need to create your first conversion rate optimization test, get out there and start testing!

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