What you need to know about conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) draws in new customers, gives existing customers a better user experience, and ultimately, increases profits. It’s one of the most effective tools at your disposal, doing the heavy lifting in turning casual website visitors into loyal customers. 

But what is CRO? And how can it be improved for business growth?

Conversion Rate optimization leads to increased sales.

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization might sound like an intimidating phrase, but it simply translates as the process of getting visitors to your website to do what you want them to do – be it buy a product or service, sign up to a mailing list, or simply stay long enough to read about what you provide.

CRO requires you to continuously improve your web presence and sales processes, in order to align your offerings with what visitors want. It necessitates having a strong understanding of how potential customers navigate your website and interact with your company as a whole. 

If you have a high conversion rate, that means your website is designed in an attractive and user-friendly manner, formatted in an effective way, and utilizes SEO properly — and that your sales process is effective following the initial website contact. But the average person’s attention span only lasts eight seconds and anything that sours the online experience – such as broken links, slow loading times, or a hard-to-find CTA – will mean they leave and possibly never come back.

Why is this relevant to sales?

How your website looks and operates makes or breaks a business relationship. That eight-second attention span is more than enough time for a user to decide whether they’re going to:

  • Follow a link
  • Schedule a demo
  • Sign up for a free trial
  • Subscribe to a mailing list
  • Download content
  • Book a call
  • Add an item to their cart
  • Purchase a product

While only the last point on this list includes directly making a purchase, these other actions may play a role in your sales process. Improving your conversion rate makes all of the above far more likely to happen, which sends users down your funnel to the eventual sale.

How to calculate conversion rate

Your conversion rate is easy to calculate. Simply divide the number of conversions (people taking a specific action) by the total number of unique visitors, then multiply that number by 100 to create a percentage. For example, if 100 people visit the page to book a demo and 10 of them fill the form in, that’s a conversion rate of 10%. 

Understanding your current conversion rate gives you a benchmark for the performance of that part of the website, making it straightforward to measure against in future. 

How to increase conversion rate

The first stepping stone toward getting customers to take action is simply having a good website. The UX has to be positive and straightforward, and the site itself must be easy to navigate — as well as being simple to scan-read, quick to load, and use as few steps as possible to guide the user through the experience. 

A tried-and-tested way to increase conversion rate is through calls-to-action (CTAs) that are clear, appealing, and work properly. Even more important to remember is that CTAs are far more effective above the fold (i.e. before a user has to scroll). Research shows that only 28% of web copy actually gets read, so you need to place the CTA in clear view if you want users to make that all-important click.

Another great sales tool is urgency. You can create a sense of urgency in a number of ways, including:

  • Adding a deadline (e.g. ‘free trial ends on the 14th – don’t miss out’)
  • Inviting visitors to consider the worst-case scenario if they don’t learn about your product
  • Using words that suggest time sensitivity

Additionally, most people are going to trust others in their position more than the company that wants their business, so customer testimonials are an ideal way to promote trust in your organization. We’ve all scrolled straight to the reviews on an e-commerce site at some point, so we know this works.

Clear testimonials on a product page, or even the checkout page, can help to increase conversions. This kind of content is even more powerful if the testimonial touches on the typical objections of a customer, as this can help to reassure a buyer before they take the leap.

Continuous optimization

Know your audience

Improving your conversion rate is slightly more complicated than knowing what CRO is and what the average web visitor wants. Again, you need to understand your customers – not just the general online habits of the average person, but the needs of the specific users you want to attract.

It’s often easier, faster, and more cost-effective to increase engagement and sales in your existing customer base than to attract new customers. Learning from the people who already know they want what you’re offering benefits everybody, including future customers.

There are two elements that are key here when thinking about your conversion rate:

  1. What problem or pain point the customer has
  2. Why they buy from you

If you can understand the emotional reasoning behind a sale and the problem your product helps solve, this will help you create CTAs and other copy that really resonates with future buyers. You can find this information out by talking to your customers (perhaps even get some testimonials while you’re at it!).

While this qualitative information is important, you can look to your sales data too, as it’ll tell you more about your existing customers. It unlocks the ability to understand them and what you’re doing better than the competition – as well as what you could be doing. Sales data tells you:

  • Which products and services customers are buying
  • How often they’re buying from you
  • What they are spending in an average order
  • Which avenues they found you through

Ultimately, while implementing best practices into CRO will undoubtedly improve conversions, market understanding is the most important part of that optimization. Understanding customer habits helps you steer your CRO in the right direction; from there, simply watch your conversion rate and ROI grow.

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