What is CRO? The complete 2021 guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation

12 minutes to read • Published 15 November 2021 • Digital strategy, Marketing

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      Any company can benefit from implementing a conversion rate optimisation campaign to save time and money in the long term. An attractive, user friendly website will increase sales but a business needs a strong online presence that it gets to know inside and out to improve sales.

      CRO is the process by which you get to understand how visitors use and move through the pages of your website but if your UX needs improving; customers are unlikely to enter the “conversion funnel” and perform the actions you wish them to take; whether that’s increased sales, booking appointments, filling out a form, becoming a customer etc.

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      If the “first go” is not successful then the chance of visitors returning to or recommending your website is quite low. Here, we look at what CRO involves and how you could optimise your website accordingly.

      Contents

      What is CRO?

      CRO, which stands for conversion rate optimisation simply means the process by which you can increase or “optimise” traffic to your website based on existing user behaviour.

      Why is CRO important?

      If your CRO is not effective in persuading visitors to do what you want them to do, then your bottom line will be affected. If you’re converting well, this could help to boost your social proof too – another way to further increase your sales.

      How to measure conversion rate?

      Conversion rate = conversions divided by total visitors x 100% in any given time frame.

      What are the best CRO tools?

      Popular conversion rate optimisation tools include Heap Analytics, GT Metrix, Unbounce, HotJar, and of course Google Analytics.

      What is a good conversion rate?

      Opinions vary in the world of commerce but in general; a good conversion rate falls between 2 and 10%.

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      How much does CRO cost?

      You will get a huge assortment of prices dependent on a huge amount of variables such as whether you are hiring an agency or going it alone. To give a ball park figure, agencies often charge in the region of £250 per hour or £800 per day.

      What are the steps in the CRO process?

      CRO is a journey with six broadly identified stages which include the exploratory phase, data research, hypotheses, design and development, setting up the test, monitoring and findings.

      How to hire a CRO expert?

      There isn’t a one size fits all approach to being a CRO expert as every business is unique. However, there are specific characteristics you need to look for that a general marketer is unlikely to have. These include a multidisciplinary approach, and ability to think critically and creatively.

      What is CRO?

      CRO, which stands for conversion rate optimisation simply means the process by which you can increase or “optimise” traffic to your website based on existing user behaviour. CRO can apply to your landing page or any part of your site to encourage visitors to take some kind of desired action known as “conversions” with the rate optimisation referring to assessing the results.

      CRO is not a one time event. It needs to be a natural ongoing part of your company’s marketing growth-strategy applied to the different stages of the optimisation journey; each stage acting as a feedback loop to ensure the continual improvement of your conversion rate.

      Why is CRO important?

      The answer to this question is obvious but many companies set up a website and run it for years without exploring whether it actually works to increase sales! It may look good on screen and do brilliantly in some areas, but the ultimate goal of a business is to make money (including a healthy profit) whilst keeping the cost of resources as low as possible.

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      If your CRO is not effective in persuading visitors to do what you want them to do, then your bottom line will be affected. If you’re converting well, this could help to boost your social proof too – another way to further increase your sales.

      CRO is important all of the time but especially during times of economic downturn when web traffic (inconsistent at the best of times) – can dramatically drop off and put your business and employees under threat.

      Customers can be fickle and even when they appear loyal to your company; they themselves will likely be keeping an eye out for the best deal as they too will want to save time and costs where they can – there is nothing more frustrating for a customer who visits a poorly optimised website!

      CRO is vital because the more successful your conversion strategy; the more you actually increase value from the users you already have as well as gaining new ones to grow your business. An effective CRO campaign more than pays for itself when you see an upward turn in revenue alongside a downward turn in the time, costs and other resources involved in conversion.

      How to measure conversion rate?

      So now you know what CRO is and why it is so important – how do we measure the actual conversion rate? First of all you need to consider the conversions you want your web visitors to make such as:

      Examples of conversion goals
      Making a purchase
      Filling out a form such as a contact form 
      Phoning/emailing your business on the strength of your CRO marketing
      Entering into online chat
      New customer sign up or registering for a subscription/newsletter
      Downloading something such as a trial or app 
      Using a new feature on your website
      Generally engaging on your site such as the number of repeat visits, time spent online etc

      The conversion rate is actually quite simple with the formula being:

      Conversion rate calculation
      Conversion rate = conversions divided by total visitors x 100% in any given time frame

      This can be worked out manually, but any website will benefit from tracking and an analytics platforms interface where the CRO can be viewed at a glance. 

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      The beauty of measuring CRO is that it can used as specifically or broadly as you like from assessing the conversion rate of individual ads to measuring which of your website pages is better at converting traffic. Many clicks on your website is a good start but if those clicks don’t produce the results you are striving for then your CRO needs to be addressed.

      What are the best CRO tools?

      Even if your CRO strategy is top-notch; you are unlikely to achieve a strong conversion rate without the right tools to help you during every stage of the optimisation journey. Working out statistics with a pen and paper is a no go when there are literally hundreds of apps and other software to help you assess, test and track your CRO.

      Here are 5 of the best on the market:

      Data Analytics

      Your website is data but you need to be able to interpret that data when you feel your web landing page, sales funnel etc is not converting as it should. Google Analytics 360 is a free tool with the premium version offering more detailed insights. You can choose anything you would like to monitor, add a tracking code so the software can obtain the required information and in just a few hours you can start to see the results and learn about your audience.

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      Heap Analytics

      This is one of the best tools for beginners due to its no manual code installation and the fact it captures every action taken by individual visitors to your website.

      GT Metrix

      Website speed can be a problem with many visitors not moving past the landing page due to slow load up, and this handy tool also enables you to test your speed from different locations too.

      Unbounce

      If you use Google Ads or similar then this tool integrates your website seamlessly with paid marketing and automatically builds your landing page based on search engine keywords where you can choose pre-designed templates with pop ups and other features.

      HotJar

      This is a “heatmap” tool which reveals the hot and cold spots on your website so you can pinpoint exactly what needs improving. Funky colour coding reveals the most visited pages and the least clicked sections and exactly at what point your web visitors leave before making that desired conversion. 

      What is a good conversion rate?

      Opinions vary in the world of commerce but in general; a good conversion rate falls between 2 and 10%. On the surface of it these figures seem quite low but even a jump of less than 1% can pay dividends depending on the action a visitor takes on a smaller company’s website. Ensuring your SEO is top notch means you will achieve maximum visitors in the first place – after all – you can’t get clicks from fresh air! This is why tools such as Bounce can be invaluable in optimising your landing page to actually improve clicks to conversions.

      The best conversion rates climb up to 30% and because the CRO represents the percentage of website visitors who take action on your website due to the offers and features you present to them – the more you can track the effectiveness of your messaging and the products/services behind that messaging – the more you can convert clicks to leads, closed sales and repeat business.

      Obviously the higher your conversion rate, the better your messaging and general marketing strategy is. Sometimes all it takes is a more enticing picture on a landing page, a quicker load up speed and more effective calls to action (CTAs) to achieve the results you are looking for.

      How much does Conversion Rate Optimisation cost?

      This will naturally be the first question on every business owner’s lips when they are considering implementing a CRO campaign. After all, even though CRO can do wonders for increasing profits it’s important to budget accordingly. It’s a waste of time to enter into lengthy discussions to then have to walk away because the price is out of your range. 

      Asking how much a CRO campaign costs is akin to asking how long is a piece of string. You will get a huge assortment of prices dependent on a huge amount of variables such as whether you are hiring an agency or going it alone. If you outsource the work, then the cost will depend on the track record of the company – the insights a junior CRO can provide will rarely match those who have years of experience.

      One factor that can be overlooked is the AB testing involved. The ultimate aim is to provide new designs for the different areas of your website that need to be overhauled or tweaked. Using testing software that splits web traffic between your existing benchmark versus the new designs will measure the conversion rate to see whether these are likely to be successful.

      To give a ball park figure, agencies often charge in the region of £250 per hour or £800 per day. The best way forward is to work with a company that will prioritise your goals, review your landing page and general website design before coming up with hypotheses for AB testing.

      What are the steps in the CRO process?

      As mentioned before; CRO is a journey with six broadly identified stages which include the exploratory phase, data research, hypotheses, design and development, setting up the test, monitoring and findings. These stages are not always separate events but do in fact piggyback onto each other. In short they can be summed up as:

      • Accurately assessing the situation
      • Developing testable theories
      • Choosing the most effective testing method
      • Selecting your test groups
      • Drawing preliminary conclusions
      • Instigating action, repeating and evolving

      The most important stage is assessing data – you need to know what is and isn’t working and a scientific approach using statistics wins hands down over intuition and hoping for the best. This is where Google Analytics comes into its own by truly providing a bird’s eye view on visitor behaviour and at what point the customer stops clicking, scrolling and leaving your website. This collected, irrefutable data can then be analysed to develop testable solutions which can be thought of as an x, y, z process. By making changes to the x factor, visitors will hopefully do y which is the behaviour you want to result in the desired effect – z.

      Although the CRO process can feel a lengthy and intimidating process at times (not every business likes to see their findings and figures in black and white!) it is well worth the commitment and patience to achieve wonderful benefits as the end result.

      How to hire a CRO expert

      CRO is all about revenue growth for your business and so it’s natural to need pointers if you’re a newbie to improving your UED and looking to bring in outside support. More and more companies are realising that data in an increasingly e commerce market is key to increasing profits and hiring a CRO expert will certainly be money well spent. 

      So what does a good CRO hire look like? There isn’t a one size fits all approach to being a CRO expert as every business is unique. However, there are specific characteristics you need to look for that a general marketer is unlikely to have. 

      Multi-disciplinary approach

      A CRO expert is someone who never stops learning due to ever changing business needs and advances in information technology. Basic coding skills are a must in JavaScript, JQuery, HTML and CSS as well as proficiency in copywriting, design, analytics and testing.

      Discerning

      A good CRO will not waste time pontificating about analysing and tracking every single change but like a heat seeking missile will be able to pinpoint the hot and cold spots that need to be addressed.

      Critical and curious thinkers

      Whilst examining the data in front of them to improve conversion rate is the ultimate aim; a CRO expert also needs to be a people person who can show empathy whilst “digging deep” to truly get to the heart of their customers’ needs.

      Hopefully, you now recognise the importance of CRO. Is it time you found an expert to help you increase your conversion rate so you can capture more of your target market than ever before?

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