What is CRO? Get Started With Conversion Rate Optimization (Part 1)

Conversion rate optimization - An image of arrows going upwards until a target is hit.

If you are an eCommerce business all the great SEO and acquisition strategies in the world make no difference if you cannot convert browsers into customers.

So it’s vital to have a proper conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy.

But optimizing for conversion rate can be a little bit confusing. What exactly is CRO and what should you start doing to increase conversions to make the most of your acquisition spend?

Unsurprisingly optimizing for conversion rate crosses a number of disciplines and practices. It touches on many different areas of a business. It also provides huge benefits beyond that all important conversion rate stat. 

So here are some tips to help you get started.

Conversion rate optimization - An image of someone working on a process at a desk with an iPhone.
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the process of enhancing your website or app to increase the number of sales or leads you generate, so your overall conversion rate from the traffic you have acquired goes up.

CRO itself is a large subject with diverse practices, much like search engine optimization. There are also a lot of crossovers with UX, UI, CX, paid ads as well as technical factors like site speed.

But how do you start trying to improve your conversion rate?

Conversion rate optimization - Image of someone working on a process on a whiteboard.
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy – Take A Holistic View

You might have a preconception that CRO is just a tweak of copy here and changing the color of a button there.

To some extent there is a bit of truth in that. But a proper conversion rate optimization strategy takes everything to another level, and it starts with looking at things holistically. You need to think more in terms of a process than a load of little “hacks” that do not deliver any value. Hacks and tweaks are more glamorous, but the real worth in CRO is in building a proper CRO process.

But why is a process better? The simple reason is that there is no magic bullet for CRO, much like SEO. What works for a competitor might not work for you. Your site and business has its own context. It has its own successes and pain points. Building a proper CRO process helps you identify what you are doing right now, what works and where improvements need to be made. 

What your CRO process could look like

Because you should be thinking about your own unique challenges and successes, a good CRO process looks a bit different for everyone. But it will usually involve the following steps –

  • Conduct research on your site to identify problems
  • Analyze the findings
  • Use that research to come up with measurable experiments
  • Order those experiments by importance
  • Run the most important experiment
  • Analyze the results
  • Record the findings
  • Use those findings to conduct better tests for your next experiment
  • Record insights from successes and failures

Taking an experimental approach will help you not only see where your problems are, they will also help you to understand your customers. Ultimately a good CRO strategy does not just make your conversion rate number go up; it helps to give you a customer first mindset.

Through experimentation you will develop a better understanding of your customers. Which is valuable across the whole business, whatever your niche.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Think of CRO as a process, not a series of sexy “hacks” or one-off changes
  • Prioritize your experiments by importance
  • Record your findings as much as possible, archive your test data

Image of lines going up.

Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy – Know Your Customers, Know Your Market

Knowing the wider context of the market you operate in and what your customers actually want, is another unique business factor that only you and your colleagues can understand. An agency won’t have the knowledge that you have.

If you want people to convert from browsers to customers, you need to actually give them something they want. Conversion is essentially a “desire” mechanic. People have to want what you are offering them. 

That requires that you know your customers and the market you operate in. Do not make the mistake of giving them what you think they want. If you do that then all then the solid CRO processes in the world will not be able to help your conversion rate!

So, what is the best way of finding out what people want? You ASK them!

Talk To Users!

User research is an underutilized tool. While CRO testing can provide you with lots of data on what works and what does not, user research gives you something else. Spending time with your users, or target users, is the easiest way and most direct way to becoming truly customer centric.

Users will tell you what your brand perception actually is, not what you would like it to be. They will have great ideas on features they are looking for. Users will know exactly where your competitors are delivering a more interesting value proposition. They will also give you a lot more ideas to test with your new CRO testing process.

Talking to users, or the types of users you are targeting, is the most powerful addition to any conversion rate optimization process. It steps away from hypotheses you or your team might have and gives you actual intelligence to work with. Data will provide a certain amount of this intelligence but only talking to users will give you the full picture.

MAQE offers user research services where we talk to your target customers to find out what they want and what they think of your brand. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Research your market, what trends are driving it? Are there wider factors at play you are unaware of?
  • Give people what they want, not what you think they want!
  • Talk to your users or target users. MAQE can help with that

An image of a board with blank post it notes on it illustrating simplicity.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy – Be Clear and Simple

For every page where you want a user to convert, whatever that conversion action is, you need to be simple and clear.

You need to be clear about what you are offering, the value it provides and be clear about the action that you want the user to take on the page. All these things need to seem simple and less self-evident to the user.

On landing pages your primary request to the user needs to be “above the fold”. Most users will need more encouragement to convert, but getting to your main request as quickly as possible keeps things simple.

You should also focus on only having one goal per page. Do not distract the user with other requests, give them what they want on one page.

You should also make your primary request as frictionless as possible. Do not add in steps to completing the goal. Every step or barrier you add makes it more likely that the user will abandon their cart or whatever action you want them to take.

When the user does complete the goal that you have asked them to complete, they should be rewarded! A simple thank you, congratulations or welcome gives the user a bit of positive reinforcement and a good impression of your brand.

Actions You Can Take:

  • One goal per page at all times. Focus on your primary conversion request
  • These primary requests should be testing as part of your CRO process
  • Do not distract the user or put barriers in front of them
  • Thank the user at the end of the flow!

Read on for part 2 of our look into conversion rate optimization! Next week we will look at the value of testing your message, the power of collaboration and the ideal balance between research and experimentation.

Contact us via hello@maqe.com.

Talk to MAQE

If you need help improving your conversion rate, talk to MAQE. We conduct user research, apply thorough testing strategies and create engaging customer experiences that are simple and clear. Reach out now via [email protected]!