How Conversion Rate Optimization Works

Guest article from Robin Nichols, Content Marketing Manager at AB Tasty. Interested in the crossroads of technology and culture, her aim is to produce practical, on point content to help marketers of all stripes improve their conversion rates.

If you Google ‘CRO’ right now, you’ll probably get some hits on ‘Chief Revenue Officers’. Perhaps also a Croatian sports team. But the definition we’re concerned with today isn’t any of those - it’s a marketing and customer experience acronym referring to Conversion Rate Optimization.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

You might be asking yourself this very question. It’s quite simple, really - Conversion Rate Optimization is any modification that encourages your digital audience to complete a desired action on your website or app.

Frequent ‘conversions’, i.e. desired actions, can be anything from ‘micro-conversions’ like clicking on a button or filling out a form, to ‘macro-conversions’ like finalizing a purchase or subscription. The goal? To create a smooth, positive customer experience, all the while pulling prospects down the sales funnel.

If done well, Conversion Rate Optimization is a win-win for both customer and business.

For example, have you ever tried to buy something online and found the check-out process confusing and ridiculously long? Conversion Rate Optimization could streamline it. How about a product page that isn’t clear? Or a call-to-action that’s too discrete, or grotesquely flashy? CRO can help with all of this.

Website personalization, which can be considered an offshoot of CRO, goes a step further. Website personalization involves creating relevant, contextual experiences based on a website visitor’s profile and behavior.

A simple example is a woman in Miami who visits an e-commerce website and sees women’s swimwear on display, while a man in Toronto is presented with men’s winter wear on the same website. That’s definitely a much more positive user experience. And it’s really only the beginning of what’s possible with personalization, with the right data and tools in place.

From a business standpoint, Conversion Rate Optimization can have a drastic effect on important KPIs like audience engagement, transaction rates and sales. There’s a reason why 90% of businesses say their CRO program is valuable or ‘extremely’ valuable to achieving their strategic goals.

So, how can an eager marketer get started with Conversion Rate Optimization?

It’s all about insights, data and experimentation.

CRO: Get to Know Your Audience

First, you need to know where your digital audience’s pain points are. Where are they experiencing friction on your website or app? What are the forms, pages or navigation bars causing them trouble? The checkout funnels holding them up? For this, you need to get to know your audience.

There are a host of online solutions out there to help you better step into your customers’ shoes and better understand the user journey from their vantage point. Heat mapping, session recording, page flow analysis, eye-tracking…all are excellent ways to get a glimpse of how your customers are experiencing your site. Crucially, they allow you to find the UX areas that have room for improvement.

And of course, it’s best when possible to actually get information directly from the horse’s mouth: organize client feedback sessions, surveys, focus groups, or talk to your customer-facing teams about the feedback they receive on a daily basis from your clients.

To convert: Test and Learn

Once you know what areas need to be addressed, you have to decide how to improve them. This is where experimentation comes in. Techniques like A/B testing, multivariate testing and split testing are great ways to put an optimization idea ‘to the test’, so to speak.

Perhaps you’ve identified a checkout form that needs improvement. How can you be sure the new version is performing any better? You need to run an A/B test, where you send half of your traffic to version A and half to the supposedly ‘new and improved’ version B. If you’re using a good, statistically reliable testing solution, you should know in a few business cycles if your idea for improvement is actually performing better.

By setting up a virtuous cycle of uncovering user insights and testing variations for improved performance, you can continuously improve your website.

Personalize the user experience

As mentioned above, another great way to increase conversions is to personalize the user experience. And we don’t just mean by offering monogrammed towels.

Data from a CRM or DMP, or simply your website’s data layer, can go a long way in helping you personalize the user experience, from product recommendations to website copy, look and feel.

Millennials are especially open to personalization, even expecting it in many cases. Indeed, Salesforce noted in their State of the Connected Consumer report that, “Sixty-three percent of Millennial consumers and 58% of GenX consumers are willing to share data with companies in exchange for personalized offers and discounts.”

Conversion rate optimization : Takeaway

Conversion Rate Optimization is about continuous improvement.

It’s about building a better user experience through data-driven experimentation. And it’s about getting better business results. It’s a tactic any savvy marketer should at least be familiar with, whether they work in e-commerce, media, travel, or other any other industry.

At the end of the day, CRO works because it puts the customer, and their experience, at the center of your business.

About the Author, Robin Nichols

Robin is a Content Marketing Manager at AB Tasty.

LinkedIn: . Email: