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Conversion Rate Optimization

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What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) refers to the practice of boosting conversion percentage from a website or mobile app. CRO usually entails generating ideas for website or app features that can be enhanced, and then verifying these hypotheses through A/B testing and multivariate testing.

The standard definitions of CRO, such as the one above, emphasise conversion percentages, medians, and benchmarks. This focus on a numbers-based approach has a drawback – the more you peer at spreadsheets packed with conversion data points and actions, the less you think about the people behind them.

The following is an alternative, a more holistic and user-focused approach to defining CRO: consider it as a process of concentrating on understanding what drives, retains and persuades your users, so you can deliver the best user experience possible – which in turn is what makes them convert and ultimately boosts your site’s conversion rate.

Why do we think the latter definition functions more effectively? Well, because the focus on the final action – conversion – is vital, of course, but there’s actually a lot going on before that point:

  • Specific MOTIVATORS bring people to your site
  • Specific BARRIERS make them leave the site
  • Specific HOOKS convince them to convert

Whenever you work to boost conversions, it is not every problem that is quantifiable, supported by fixed numbers and with a straightforward solution. Yes: sometimes an obvious mistake blocks 80% of your users from actually doing anything and remedying that one bug will save your whole business; sometimes, your website works superbly, yet people still do not convert. Whenever this happens, you need to delve further to understand the causes beyond the data you have – in other words, you need to focus on your users first.

Whether you own an ecommerce site, manage online marketing or SEO (search engine optimization), CRO will constantly be a topical issue to help your organisation grow. 

Conversion rate optimization – why is it important?

 The conversion rate can be defined as a metric of eCommerce effectiveness. It indicates what percentage of visitors to a site perform an action desired by a site owner. This could be adding products to a shopping cart, filling in a contact form, downloading an e-book, etc. The higher the conversion value, the better a website performs. The optimization strategy therefore seeks to achieve an increase in the conversion rate through the streamlining of on-page elements, which will translate directly into tangible benefits for a e-business owner. Conversion rate optimization covers many eCommerce elements. This is because the optimization measures should be individually tailored to a website and the nature of an e-business. This can include components, such as the UX and UI of a website, an online store layout, a customer path, content marketing, the usability of a website in the after-sales support process, the functioning of forms, sales, booking or payment systems, and so on. 

Conversion rate optimization – how to improve CR?

 Conversion rate optimization is a systematic process that involves understanding how users navigate a site, what actions they take and what stops them from achieving the goals a site owner desires. CRO encompasses many elements that affect the effectiveness of operations. Conversion rate optimization includes, for example:

 CTA – Call To Action. It is a short, clear message prompting site visitors what they should do to move on to the next step. A CTA can take the form of a message such as “Buy”, “Download”, “Add to cart”, “Proceed to checkout” or “Subscribe”

a conversion path – i.e., a series of steps that must be followed on a page in order to achieve the main goal of a website

 A/B testing – is a common practice for checking conversion enhancements. Two (or more) versions of a site are displayed to an audience. CR is measured in each version so that a site owner can assess which version is more effective. MVT testing, a version of A/B testing that test multiple variables simultaneously, is also a recommended solution for conversion rate optimization.

Usability – or website usability – a set of methods and processes to make a website more user-friendly and functional for a visitor. Often, small changes are sufficient to significantly boost the conversion rate

persona – i.e., defining a model of a potential customer with its needs, habits, problems, expectations, and objections. Persona helps to better understand customers and therefore to better respond to their needs, adapting a site so that it is not only visually appealing to them, but also intuitive and addresses the issues that are most relevant to them.

 Analytics – this is where tools to measure visitor and user behaviour are essential. This is a key issue directly affecting the conversion rate improvement.

 Heatmaps – a report form demonstrating how and where users click on a page using hot and cold colors. It is a helpful tool at the stage of compiling ideas to boost conversions.

 Conversion rate optimization is a process involving various factors depending on the objective to be achieved. However, before the appropriate measures are introduced, an analysis must be conducted, i.e., all areas related to conversion must be known. These include customers, market, competition, product/service offered and sales effectiveness. The most essential point is to know your customers’ expectations and needs. To acquire it, it is worth using not only the aforementioned personas, but also data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console. This provides information on, among other things, the effectiveness of customer acquisition channels, the length of visits of converting users, their journey, the most frequently visited subpages, the search phrases searched by users, or the CTR, elements that directly affect CRO.

Conversion optimization best practices

The best practice of CRO in the world of digital marketing is the commonly shared belief that a given optimization will ensure, for example, a higher conversion rate:

  • Use a bright colour for all CTA (call-to-action) buttons
  • Position CTAs above the fold.
  • Leverage urgency (e.g., limited-time deals) to boost sales
  • Display testimonials at all times
  • Use fewer blanks in forms

Do these best practices work for boosting YOUR conversion rate? Questionable.

Firstly, best practice is – by definition – past practice: something that worked in the past for somebody else. However, there is no way you can guarantee that it will be effective today.

Secondly, just because it worked for someone else does not mean it will work for you.

Applying existing best practice blindly leaves businesses in a constant state of ‘catch-up’ – while the more forward-thinking and innovative companies are preoccupied with perfecting and implementing developments that will be acknowledged as ‘best practice’ in a few years’ time.

However, there is one fundamental rule that we can highly recommend as always applicable: take the time to understand your users and customers or build a customer-centric philosophy by being obsessed with your users and customers. They are actually those who are meaningful to your business and have the answers that you need to upgrade it. Concentrate on their specific requirements and desired outcomes, find out as much as you can about their concerns and hesitations, and then provide solutions to satisfy them.

In the long run, not blindly following the best practices you see on other blogs or hear from your boss(es) is what leads to growth. The winning strategy is to invest in understanding and learning from your users and using that insights to develop an optimization approach that continuously enhances the business.

Conversion rate optimization tools

Your brain, ears, eyes, and mouth are the essential tools you require to help you understand your customers, get a feel for their experience, draw conclusions from the data and eventually implement changes that will enhance your product’s conversion rate.

So how do we use these free tools?  

Listen what your users have to say about your website

Observe how people use your website

Delve into your market

Have a conversation with whoever designed and developed your website (and your product/service)

Talk to the staff who sell and support your product/service

Figure out the connections between different sources of feedback

All other conventional optimization tools are merely resources to assist you in doing this. And they help in three ways:


Quantitative tools enable you to collect quantitative (numerical) data to track what is happening on your website. These include:

  • General analytical tools that track website traffic (e.g., Google Analytics)
  • Website heatmap tools that aggregate the number of clicks, scrolls and website movements
  • Funnel tools that measure when site visitors drop out of the sales funnel
  • Form analysis tools that track form fill-outs
  • Customer satisfaction tools (CSAT) that measure customer satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10
  • Tools using the Net Promoter System to measure the probability that people will recommend your website/product to someone else on a scale of 0 to 10


Qualitative tools support the collection of qualitative (non-numerical) data to understand why website visitors behave in certain ways on your website. These include:

  • Website feedback tools (on-page questionnaires and external links) where visitors are asked questions about their browsing experience
  • Web session recording/playback tools that demonstrate how individual users navigate your website
  • Usability testing tools, in which a panel of potential or existing customers can express their thoughts and opinions about your website
  • Online reviews where you can learn more about how people experience your brand and product


Once you have gathered quantitative and qualitative feedback and developed a clear picture of how things are going on your website, testing tools allow you to make changes and/or report on them to check that your conversion optimization efforts are going in the right direction. These include:

  • A/B testing tools that help you test different variations of your website to find the best performer (recommended for high-traffic websites to ensure your results are statistically valid)
  • Website heatmap + session recording tools that help you compare different website variants and website behaviour
  • Conversion tracking analytics tools that track and monitor conversions
  • Site feedback tools (such as visual feedback widgets or NPS dashboards) to help you gather qualitative feedback and quantify it, so you can compare the response before/after any change you make.

How to Calculate Conversion Rate?

The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of visitors and multiplying this number by 100 to obtain a percentage. Provided you know how you define a conversion, then calculating the conversion rate is straightforward. Just combine the two values and then multiply by 100.

Say you define a conversion as a newsletter opt-in, and you have an opt-in form on every page of your website. Then, divide the total number of newsletter opt-ins by the total number of visitors to the website and multiply by 100. So, if you had 500 opt-ins and 20,000 visitors in the last quarter, your conversion rate would be 2.5%.

This is a process you can repeat for every conversion option on your website. Just ensure that you are counting the number of visitors on the pages where the offer is listed. So, for example, if you want to calculate the conversion rate of your e-book offer, then divide the total number of downloads by the number of people who visited the web pages where the e-book offer is featured.

Alternatively, you can calculate the overall conversion rate of your website by dividing the total number of conversions for each conversion option on your website by the total number of visitors to your website.

What is the Average Conversion Rate?

The average conversion rate is somewhere between 1% and 4%. However, take this figure with a grain of salt. Conversion rates may fluctuate significantly depending on several factors:

What is the purpose of the conversion? Ad clicks? Newsletter sign-ups? Conversion rates vary from goal to goal. All sites are different. The average conversion rate will depend on the industry, product, and type of visitor you are targeting. Many sites do not provide conversion data.

To answer the question “what is a good conversion rate”, we must stress that conversion rates often vary by channel or medium. These determinants affect what qualifies a conversion rate as “good.”

Sellers on Amazon, for example, earn and retain an average conversion rate that would leave them behind what the industry considers “good.” The benefits of the platform; Amazon also boosts their conversion rates from organic search, which exceed 10%.

Regardless of these differences, however, 10% or higher conversion rates are still best to aim for.

Below is a table covering paid and organic average conversion rates across channels such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft Advertising.

Channel Average Conversion Rate
Organic 16%
Amazon 10-15%
Amazon Advertising 9.47%
Microsoft Advertising 2.94%
Google Ads 3.75%
Paid 2.5%
Social Media 0.71%

How Do I Implement A CRO Strategy?

CRO is vital for any type of online business. The reason for this is that regardless of how big your business is, you want to convert your website visitors into qualified leads, customers, and brand followers – and you want to do this in the most efficient, influential, and reliable manner available.

By optimizing your conversion rate, you will gain more from your existing website traffic while ensuring that you are driving qualified customers to your website.

Although a simple concept, setting a conversion target is not as simple as saying: “This website has converted 50 people this month, so we want to convert 100 people next month.”

What you do not want is simply 50 more conversions from a given website. Instead, you want 50 more conversions for every X number of people who visit it. (This is your conversion rate – the percentage of people who convert on your website based on how many people have interacted with it).

For a better understanding of where you stand at any point in time in terms of conversion rate, here are three commonly applied formulas that your business can use to understand, analyse, and enhance.

The following are four specific areas of your website that have the potential to benefit greatly from conversion rate optimization.

  1. Homepage

Homepages are the first candidates for CRO. Other than making a first impression on visitors, a homepage is an opportunity to retain those visitors and lead them further into your website.

You can do this by highlighting links to product information, offering a free sign-up button, and even incorporating a chatbot that prompts questions from visitors at any point during their browsing experience.

1. Pricing page

The pricing page of a website can be the touchstone for many website visitors. CRO could aid the pricing page in converting visitors into customers by modifying price ranges (e.g., price per year vs. price per month), describing the product features associated with each price, including a phone number for visitors to call for a quote or adding a simple pop-up form.

2. Blog

A blog is a huge conversion tool for a website. As well as publishing well thought-out and informative content about your industry, a blog may use CRO to convert readers into leads.

This process often involves adding calls to action (CTAs) throughout an article or inviting readers to learn more about a topic by sending their email address in exchange for an e-book or an industry report.

3. Landing Pages

As landing pages are designed intrinsically for people to take action, it is reasonable that they have the highest average conversion rate of all sign-up forms at 23%. For example, an event landing page might be optimized with a video from last year’s event to encourage visitors to sign up this year. Conversely, a landing page that offers free content could be optimized with preview content from that content to encourage visitors to download it.

Having now figured out where you can optimize for conversions, you may wonder just how you know when your business is ready to start this process.

What can help you analyze conversion optimization?

There are several key metrics you can use to analyze how well your site performs. These include bounce rate, time spent on page, and conversion rate changes. In addition to these metrics, you should also look at customer feedback via surveys or social media comments.

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