What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

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Many website owners spend a lot of time, energy and money on driving customers to their website. Whether through search engine optimisation (SEO), social media or pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns, the process of getting potential buyers to visit a website is taken very seriously, and rightly so. However, what is often missing at this stage is any kind of systematic approach to engage with the site visitor and get them to make a purchase.

Having a high number of page views and a slot at the top of the search engine results page may be gratifying but it does not pay the bills. What your site visitors do when they arrive at your website is just as important as attracting them there in the first place, and this is where conversion rate optimisation (CRO) comes in. Whether you want people to buy your product, sign up to your mailing list or follow you on social media, getting prospects to take the action you have as your goal equals a conversion. It can boost your sales and lead generation figures considerably, without the need to invest more in attracting extra, new traffic. However it is often overlooked.

So as well as optimising for search engine suitability and planning social media strategies, optimising a website’s rate of conversions is an ideal way to increase sales and get more from your web traffic. It involves improving the way a website is presented and designed, the words and images used, and the offers presented to visitors, and doing so via a process of scientifically testing different options to see which get the best results. Even a fraction of a percent of conversion rate improvement can make a considerable difference to a business’s bottom line.

The two main types of testing involved in CRO are A/B testing and multivariate testing. A/B testing displays one of two versions of a webpage to each customer, and calculates the conversion success of each. Different wording in a call to action, a blue versus a red “buy now” button, the placement of a Twitter link, or a “free postage and packaging” versus a “10% off” offer can all be tested, and when a statistically significant number of visits have been recorded and measured, the site owner will know which of the two options performed the best and returned the highest number of conversions. At this stage, another test is carried out, testing a different aspect of the page, and this can be carried on indefinitely to ensure the most accurate and in-depth results.

Multivariate testing is more complicated, involving a combination of different variables, all being tested at the same time. Like with A/B testing, website traffic is randomly assigned to one particular test page and the conversion rates are measured. While multivariate testing takes more expertise and more work, it also provides more comprehensive results, comparing not just individual elements of a page, but also how they work in combination.

Rather like other online marketing activities, CRO is not something that just needs to be attempted once and then abandoned once a marketer sees results. Customer tastes and behaviours change, and what is appealing at one period of time may become less effective a year later.

CRO is a worthwhile process for any business with an online component to undertake. An added bonus is that the results tend to benefit other aspects of a website, as well as simply conversions, for instance there is often a significant improvement in website usability when webpages have been optimised for the best conversion rates. CRO can increase sales and improve lead generation activities without the need to find and draw in more and more traffic, and wise online marketers are exploiting its possibilities to grasp the very best results.