Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): How-to Guide

/ June 22, 2021 | 10 Mins Read

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): How-to Guide

Do you want to take advantage of your sales leads? Selling Revolution is here with a handy how-to guide for conversion rate optimization.

In the race to sell successfully, many companies focus on attracting new leads. The more potential customers you have, the more likely you are to meet your conversion goal. 

If you can attract enough qualified leads to your landing page, it stands to reason that customer conversion will occur. You can collect the quantitative data necessary to justify this method of operation. It’s effective. If it weren’t, no one would be doing it. 

Unfortunately, this method ignores one critical group of people. They are the leads your company has already attracted via social marketing or other methods. This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play. CRO increases the number of conversions that occur without increasing the number of leads. 

Here is everything you need to know about conversion rate optimization, including but not limited to: 

  • The conversion rate formula that is necessary to measure your success.
  • How to use your conversion data to make data-driven decisions.
  • How your conversion funnel can benefit from micro-conversions. 

With conversion rate optimization and CRO marketing, you can start making your existing leads work for you.

Recommended: 5 Benefits of CRO Dashboards to Help Improve Conversion

1. What is Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO?

Conversion rate optimization is the process of changing your website, so visitors are more likely to do what you want them to do. That can mean anything from signing up for your email newsletter to making a purchase.

In an increasingly digital world, you don’t have any time to waste. Potential customers have dozens of options, if not more, at their fingertips. Therefore, it’s essential that you draw potential customers into your conversion funnel as soon as possible.

While the concept is simple, putting ways of optimizing your conversion rate into practice can seem challenging. But, you don’t have to change everything about your website and how you operate to optimize your content for conversions. 

Instead, you can start by focusing on micro-conversions. These are the conversions that draw potential customers closer to your end goal for them. Sometimes called a macro-conversion, your end goal would be something along the lines of making a purchase. 

Think of micro-conversions like baby steps. Instead of making a purchase, a customer might navigate to a different page on your site that lists your services. They could look at your pricing guide or browse your shop, too. 

In addition to making conversion rate optimization feel more manageable, micro-conversions provide valuable data. Namely, you can identify the micro-conversion step where you lose the most customers.

2. Why is CRO Important to a Website?

Your website has the potential to benefit immensely from conversion rate optimization. There are a few pages in particular that you should target when you start.

Your Website’s Home Page

The first and most critical page to focus on is your website’s home page. Often, it’s the first page visitors will see. Think of it as your company’s virtual lobby. You want to make an excellent first impression with it. 

In general, it should be aesthetically pleasing, responsive, easy to navigate and accessible. These qualities should apply to the rest of your site too. They’re essential on a home page because of how much traffic it receives, so we’ll outline them now. 

You can tell when a site is aesthetically pleasing simply by looking at it. Clean lines and colors that complement one another are a must. Avoid anything that will make your website look dated. 

When we say responsive, we mean mobile-friendly. A lot of your website visitors will be using mobile devices. Let’s say they visit your site and see that it’s not responsive. The odds are good that they’ll immediately hit the back button. Responsive web design, while a pain, has the added benefit of contributing to SEO in addition to CRO. 

Navigation is another crucial element of your home page’s design. If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they’re going to leave. Your competitors are waiting for that to happen. 

The final element is accessibility. You’re not technically required to make your site accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 and did not specifically address online accessibility. 

However, failing to make your website accessible results in you losing potential customers. It’s also far easier and more affordable to create accessible infrastructure online than in a physical space. 

We like to use the WAVE website accessibility evaluation tool. It’s free, and it provides the information you need to improve your site. 

Your home page is also your first chance to incorporate micro-conversions. Here are just a few ideas: 

  • Implement an eye-catching button inviting visitors to sign up for your mailing list.
  • Have a chatbot that offers to answer any questions visitors may have.
  • Highlight links to the product information you feel visitors will be most interested in.

The Page Where You List Pricing Information

If you’re selling something, your potential customers and clients will want to know what you’re charging. This is true across industries. 

Your pricing page should have all of the features that your home page does with a few additions: 

  • A display with different pricing intervals. Show customers how much they could save by purchasing a yearly subscription rather than paying every month.
  • A description of what makes each price point unique. Tell your potential customers why the more expensive option might be worth the added expense.
  • Contact information if potential customers want to reach out to you for a quote. For potential customers with requests outside the norm, this can be helpful. 

Make sure your pricing information is easy to find. Visitors who can’t find the information they’re looking for won’t become customers.

Your Blog and Its Content

These days, it seems like everyone is running a blog and starting a podcast. That’s because they’re both effective ways to spread the word about your business. Between the two, blogs are the easiest to implement.

If you don’t have a blog already, you’re missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. The content you publish on your blog lets potential customers get a feel for your company. 

When you publish helpful, factual information, the people who visit your blog will appreciate it. Generally, you should use your blog to address questions rather than advertise yourself. 

People often think of blogs as a way to boost a website’s search engine ranking. That’s part of why writers frame posts as questions. However, they’re beneficial for CRO, too. 

Scroll to the bottom of just about any blog post you find online, including this one. Unlike the papers you wrote in high school and college English classes, they don’t end with a summary. Instead, they end in a call-to-action. 

Because the marketing industry loves its acronyms, you’ll often see the call to action called a CTA. It’s a sentence or so encouraging readers to do something. 

We’re going to tell you to get in touch with us. That way, you can learn more about what we can do for you. Other blog posts might encourage you to sign up for a mailing list or a free trial or quote. 

CTAs might feel a little bit mercenary. However, they’re not just for the benefit of whatever company is publishing them. 

It’s safe to assume that anyone reading your blog is busy. They have personal, professional and occasionally academic obligations. They do not have much time. 

A CTA lets people know what your company can do for them. It also helpfully directs them to where they need to go to access further information or services. 

Some CTAs involve encouraging readers to sign up for a mailing list. If that’s the situation you’re in, it’s helpful to offer them a free e-book or guide in return.

Any Additional Landing Pages

At this point, it might be helpful to define exactly what makes a web page a landing page. A landing page is any web page someone might land on for a specific purpose. 

Your home page, pricing page and every blog post you publish are all potential landing pages. Other pages on your site might be too. 

As you grow and update your website, keep in mind where potential customers will likely land when they visit. The first page a visitor sees needs to make a good impression. That means following web design best practices and including a way for visitors to take action.

3. The 6 Primary Elements of CRO

Conversion rate optimization has six primary elements. Each is critical to successfully boosting your conversion rate:

Landing Page Design

We cannot emphasize enough how crucial the design of your landing pages is to CRO. For example, Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world. 

Every single product page on Amazon is a potential landing page. That’s a little overwhelming to think about, but most of us aren’t operating on quite that scale. Still, we can learn from them. 

Each product page has a brightly colored button that says “Add to Cart.” Some products go further than that. The Kindle version of books includes an easy-to-spot “Buy Now with 1-Click” button. 

Amazon has successfully removed almost every point of resistance potential customers might have before converting. Now that is an impressive landing page design.

Website Copy

You might be annoyed if an error in web page copy impacts what you’re trying to do. Otherwise, you might be amused or judgemental or both. Either way, you probably lose a bit of respect for the owner of the site. 

Compelling website copy isn’t just about having written content free from spelling and grammar errors. It also has to be engaging and persuasive. 

You need to have the best possible headline to do with your copy. Because it’s the most prominent text on the page, your readers will see it first. If it isn’t interesting, you’ll lose them. 

The other aspect of website copy is the written content itself. It needs to be precise. Don’t talk in circles. Readers won’t spend the time trying to unravel what you’re saying. 

Instead, make sure it’s easy for them to tell what your company does. Specifically, tell them what you can do for them.

Call-to-Action

Every CTA you have on your site should be direct and to the point. Don’t equivocate. A brief, action-oriented sentence is often enough. 

If you’re offering something for free, whether it’s a quote or consultation, include it in the CTA. The difference in conversions between “get in touch today” and “get in touch for a free quote” is astounding.

Site Structure

Think back to the last time you visited a site with a truly baffling organizational structure. Maybe the company logo is linked to their blog. Perhaps their navigation menu was so full of links it was overwhelming to look at. 

There’s a lot that can go wrong with a site’s structure. If you don’t have a ton of web design experience, it might be best to hire a professional. 

Even if you design the site yourself, we recommend doing extensive usability testing. What seems intuitive to you may not be for someone else. This is particularly true if you’re not in the same demographic as your target audience. 

Your site’s structure is a critical component of your CRO strategy.

Forms

Love them or hate them, online activity revolves around forms. Often, they’re a critical piece of your sales funnel. The forms on your site need to be effective. 

Designing forms is both an art and a science. There are some exceptions, but in most cases, CRO best practices for form design include: 

  • The fewest possible number of fields. No one wants to spend half an hour filling out a form.
  • A neat appearance.
  • Help with password creation.
  • Allowing visitors to connect with Facebook or Google for additional ease.

Page Speed

Respecting the value of their time will make them think better of your company, even if it’s only subconsciously. 

Part of that is how fast your pages load. This is another instance where SEO and CRO overlap. 

If your pages don’t load quickly enough, Google and other search engines will give your site a lower rank. That’s not the only issue. 

If the page a visitor is trying to access takes too long to load, they’ll leave. They probably won’t come back.

4. How to Calculate Conversion Rate

Now, we’re getting to the exciting part. This is where we talk about how to calculate a conversion rate. We love having quantitative data to work with, and you probably do too.

Calculation 1: Conversion Rate

To calculate your conversion rate, you’re going to need three numbers: 

  • The number of leads you’ve generated.
  •  The amount of traffic your website receives.
  • 100. 

Take the number of leads, divide it by your web traffic and multiply by 100. That gives you your conversion rate percentage. The formula will look like this: 

Leads Generated ÷ Website Traffic x 100 = Conversion Rate percent.

Calculation 2: Number of Net New Customers

You might also want to calculate the number of new customers you’re attracting. This formula will give you the net number because that’s the most useful. You only need two numbers to do this calculation: 

  • Your new revenue goal.
  • Your average sales price. 

Take your new revenue goal and divide it by your average sales price. You’ll get your net number of new customers. Here’s the formula: 

New Revenue Goal ÷ Average Sales Price = Number of New Customers

Calculation 3: Lead Goal

Calculating your lead goal is another two-number formula. You’ll need: 

  • The number of new customers from our last calculation.
  •  Your lead-to-customer close rate percentage. 

Dividing the number of new customers by the close rate percentage will give you your lead goal. The calculation itself looks like this: 

Number of New Customers ÷ Lead-to-Customer Close Rate percent = Lead Goal

6. Getting Started With CRO

We’ve covered just about everything you need to know about conversion rate optimization. The only thing left is how to get started.

The CRO formula for success involves several steps. With time and dedication, you can complete all of them and transform your business. 

Before you begin, ask yourself a few questions: 

  •  How much improvement is possible?
  • Will the modifications you make add value?
  • How difficult will making the improvements be? 

These three questions can help you decide what actions are right for you.

7. 5 Steps to Execute Optimization Campaigns

When you break down the process of executing a CRO campaign, it gets easier. Sales leads will convert to customers, and your business will thrive.

Step 1. Research Phase

As with many business activities, research is the first step to executing a successful optimization campaign. It would be nice to look at what other companies have done and copy their strategies. However, every company is unique. What works for them may not work for you. 

You will need to do research. Find out what your visitors are doing and what they want. Look at how different design elements influence them. Take both qualitative and quantitative data into account. 

Listen to your sales team, too. Every sales rep will have a different and potentially helpful insight into customer behavior.

Step 2. Hypothesis Phase

The next step you should take is to form a hypothesis. This part is relatively straightforward. What do you think will happen when you take a specific action? 

Think of it as an elementary school science fair project. Unfortunately, you probably won’t have as much fun as a third-grader making a baking soda volcano. However, the principle is the same. 

Step 3. Prioritization Phase

You have the basics. Now, it’s time to prioritize. This takes us back to the questions you should ask yourself before getting started with CRO.

Weigh the potential improvement, value of improving and ease of doing so. Prioritize what comes out on top.

Step 4. Testing Phase

It’s time for CRO testing! That’s exciting. 

There are several tests you can choose from. We’re not going to get into the weeds describing statistics. There are three main types: 

Each has benefits and drawbacks. The one that’s right for you will depend on your company’s circumstances. A/B testing tends to be the easiest, so it’s a common choice.

Step 5. Learning Phase

After you run your tests, you’ll have to analyze your results to learn from them. It’s not as easy as pointing at a click-through rate and saying, “let’s go with Version A.” 

Instead, go back to the three questions you asked during the prioritization phase. Ask them again. Look at the costs and benefits. 

Just because Version A performed better than Version B in a test doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. 

We promised you an example of a CTA at the end of this article, so here it is. Our company, Selling Revolution, builds selling systems for home services companies. 

To do so, we focus on channel alignment. By that, we mean getting your advertising, sales team and website all working together for your benefit. Conversion rate optimization is a big part of that. 

Ryan Chute is a sales savant, rainmaker, master persuader, and the founder of Selling Revolution. Very few people understand the psychology, nuance, and science of sales and behavior like Ryan Chute.

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