Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming paying customers, or otherwise. The CRO process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from taking the actions you desire them to take.
A conversion is the general term for a visitor completing a goal you’ve set for your website. Goals come in many shapes and sizes. If you use your website to sell products, the primary goal (known as the macro-conversion) is for the user to make a purchase. There are smaller conversions that can happen before a user completes a macro-conversion, such as signing up to receive emails. These are called micro-conversions.
Examples of micro-conversions:
Your site’s conversion rate is the number of times a user completes a goal divided by your site traffic. If a user can convert in each visit (such as by buying a product), divide the number of conversions by the number of sessions (the number of unique times a user came to your site). If you sell a subscription, divide the number of conversions by the number of users.
Conversion rate optimization happens after the visitor makes it to your site. This is different from conversion optimization for SEO or paid ads which focuses on who clicks through to your site from the organic search results, how many clicks you get, and which keywords are driving traffic.
Imagine you own an ecommerce site — Wampum Wobotics. A user could make a new purchase each session. We want to optimize so they make as many purchases as possible. If a user visited the site three times, that would be three sessions — and three opportunities to convert.
Let’s take a closer look at your user’s three sessions and how they behaved:
To figure out your conversion rate, we would take the number of unique purchase orders and divide it by the total number of sessions.
For your imaginary user, they converted two out of three times they came to the site:
To find out the conversion rate for your site, you’ll look at all unique orders divided the total number of sessions.
Now imagine you owned a second site — Wampum’s Monthly Gear Box. Your site sells a subscription for a monthly delivery of wobot parts. A user could come back multiple times, but once they purchase a subscription, they won’t convert again.
Let’s look at an example user’s behavior:
Your user here can’t convert each time they visit the site. So instead of looking at the number of sessions, we need to measure conversion success by the number of visitors:
To figure out your website’s conversion rate, we would take the number of unique orders and divide it by the number of unique users.
While not necessarily directly related to attracting organic website traffic or ranking on a search engine results page (SERP), conversion rate optimization has distinct benefits for SEO. Those include:
To optimize for conversion rates, you have to know where, what to optimize, and who to optimize for. This information is the cornerstone to successful CRO strategies.
If you don’t gather data, then you’re left making changes based on gut feelings alone. Guts are awesome! But making decisions on just gut feelings instead of rooting assumptions in data can be a waste of time and money.
This method, also known as quantitative data analysis, gives you hard numbers behind how people behave on your site. Start with a solid web analytics platform, such as Google Analytics. Next, add tracking for your conversions.
Using analytics based CRO can answer important questions about how users engage with your site. Quantitative analysis provides information like:
This information will let you know where to focus your efforts. By putting your effort into the pages most engaged with and valuable to your users, you’ll see the largest impact.
Doing your quantitative analysis first is especially valuable if you have a large site with diverse content as it lets you know, from a numbers perspective, where to focus your efforts. But now that you know how users interact with your site, you can investigate the “why” behind their behavior.
This people-focused method, known as qualitative data analysis, is more subjective. You’ll need the quantitative data discussed above to identify who you should be asking. You can’t optimize for all users, so optimize for your ideal user — that is, the user it’s most important to have as a customer.
Ways to get this data:
Qualitative analysis helps optimize for conversions by providing information about users such as:
There are certain things that raw data alone can’t tell you about what brought a user to your site or how to make their experience better. But when you combine this information with your analytics data, you can gain a much better understanding of the pages on your site that present the best opportunities to optimize and engage the audience you’d like to target.
This comes in many forms. Some not-so-effective CRO methods include:
All these examples have something in common: they’re not data-based and might as well be random shots in the dark. It’s better to spend the time gathering and analyzing the data so you can create meaningful tests based on clear insights. Nobody loves running tests that fail.
Would you like Sapient eCommerce to help in your CRO efforts? Our CRO services have been carefully developed over the years, helping our clients convert more of their target audience than ever before through features like:
We do everything to optimize your website so that you can convert at a higher rate than ever before.
It’s time to bring in the experts at Sapient eCommerce.