What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Last Edited September 11, 2023 by Garenne Bigby in Blog

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of using analytics and user feedback to increase the number of active visitors to a website. It is used to improve key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics, with the sole intention of getting users to actively take part; whether by filling out forms, making a purchase, or registering. CRO helps you to understand how visitors use your site—what they do and what is preventing them from "going all the way". In other words, it helps creates valuable conversions.

Conversion rate optimization tells you what a user wants when they visit your site and then give it to them. The process takes many forms. It can mature simply by placing your call-to-action where there is heavy traffic or just making it more eye-catching. It can also mean removing complicated steps from your conversion funnel that can hinder success.

What is a Conversion?

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion is the point at which a user performs a desired site action or getting someone to respond to a call-to-action. It's like fulfilling a goal. If you’re a running an ecommerce site, the primary goal is to get your products sold. When that happens, conversion takes places. If the user only completes a minor task such as signing up for your newsletter—that is still a conversion, but a minor version.

The Types of Conversions

There are two types of conversions.

  • Macro conversion involves getting a user to go all the way—achieving the ultimate goal of your site. Examples can be making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or requesting a quote.

  • Micro conversion, on the other hand, is when a visitor does something that does not instantly bring in cash or accomplish the major goal of your site. Things like getting a subscription to your email list, a user adding a product to the cart, or creating an account.

Why Conversion Rate Optimization is Important

Unlike paid advertising, CRO is essentially free and works with what you already have.. Instead of spending money to get additional traffic to your site, CRO helps you to turn the ones you have into better conversions. Getting a higher return from your present customers is more beneficial than finding new ones.

More profit means more resources to spend on acquiring new customers, and not only will you make more, but so will your partners and affiliates. It also creates momentum—before you know it, you'll be dominating your market or niche.

Identifying Barriers

As highlighted above, conversion is figuring out why users aren't making the right move on your site. Therefore, developing a strategy should involve identifying what they need—putting your foot in their shoes and examining your site more carefully as as to fulfil their needs.

  • Is your call-to-action clearly defined?

  • Is your site user-friendly? Content should be neatly organized and graphics clearly seen and well-organized despite the device used to view your website.

  • Do you have a search bar so users can find what they are looking for without having to scan through your entire site? If you're selling something, is the check-out process easy and straightforward?

  • Is your site secured? Can visitors trust that their information will not be misused or exposed in any way?

  • Are you keeping up with the current trends in SEO? Titles should be clear and descriptive so as not to mislead people. What users see should be what they get.

How to Calculate Conversion Rate

If a user can convert every time he or she visits your site, why not optimize to make it happen? Your goal should be to reach the point where your site is able to turn as many sessions as possible into conversions. Four sessions mean a user visited four times—an opportunity to sell something or convert four times.

To calculate your conversation rate, divide all unique orders by the number of sessions. So if a user visited your site three times (the number of sessions) and bought an item on two of those visits, it would count as a single conversion (2 unique orders divided by 3 sessions equal 66% conversation rate).

For cases where a user can only convert once—say, if you owned a subscription service—conversion success would be measured by the number of visitors. If a user came to your site three times, browsed on the first visit, subscribed on the second, and came back to read articles on the third, you'd have to calculate it using the number of subscriptions and users. For example, 500 subscriptions divided by 2500 users equal 20% conversion rate.

Building and Testing an Optimization Plan

Before you begin your strategy, you have to figure out exactly what you want to optimize. Lay the groundwork for conversions. For example, if you run a software Company, offer a free trial so that persons can have a feel of what your product is like. Your goal is to get them to make a purchase in the end or after that trial period. These are the key areas you’ll utilize:

Analytics. This is where you'll use tools such as Google Analytics or similar, to isolate trouble spots and produce user data to use in your conversion funnel.

User Surveys. This will gain you insights or feedback from users by allowing them to express their opinions in their own words.

User Testing. Observe, test, and document how users are interacting with your site through the use of software like Optimizely.

Identifying barriers is a key area in this process. Take the data you acquired from the tests and surveys and use it to make an analysis as to why users aren't sticking around. After doing all that, you now have to design a strategy. If you feel that you have a high bounce rate that results from the lack of internal linking or brand information on a page that is drawing a lot of traffic, it means you need to reorganize.

Create a strategy that makes users aware of the services you offer—perhaps an "I'd like to help" button or "click here for a free consultation", sending them to another page on your site.

How CRO Benefits SEO

Conversion rate optimization doesn't actually draw organic traffic or relates to the ranks in search results, but it does benefit SEO. The key areas in which it does, include better ROI, improved customer insights, better scalability, better user experience, and trust.

A higher conversion rate leads to a better return on investment (ROI) because it makes better use of the resources you have. By studying how to make the most out of your acquisition efforts, you'll garner better conversions without having to invest in potential customers.

With improved customer insights, CRO can help you better understand your audience as to the avenue that opens up to them or the language that they speak. This process seeks to find the right customers for your business. Getting a lot of traffic will not do your business any good if they are unresponsive. It's like having a Facebook page with 100K followers and having only a handful like or comment on your daily shared posts..

CRO provides better scalability as it lets your business grow without running out of prospective customers and resources. By turning sessions into conversions, you'll be able to build your business without having to depend on audience size or scaling for potential customers.

If users feel that your site is too sophisticated, they tend to leave. But, if they feel smart and empowered getting around freely, they will stay. Conversion rate optimization studies what works best for your site. Making use of what works and expanding on it will create a better user experience which can lead to solid conversions and even to brand mentions from happy users.

To gain users' trust with personal information such as credit card details or email, they have to genuinely trust or feel secure on site. Just as how an organization has a sales team, your website is your salesperson, so it needs to be trustworthy, ready to answer questions, and professional in all aspects.


By now you should realize that CRO is not about following best practices such as making your call-to-action red or changing the way things are positioned. Your conversion will not increase if you simply change colors on your site. Things like those will not remove barriers such as a slow website, lack of trust, a call-to-action that is filled with unnecessary images or links, and tags that lead users to believe you offer a product or service that you don't.

It's also not about guessing what a user wants. While a hunch can be an important part of figuring out what someone is after, you have no way of knowing for sure unless you gauge the importance of the page to help users in making their decision, and how those users will react when the changes are made.

A lot of persons think that if they replicate a competitor's website, they can be a successful as them, and their conversion rate will sky-rocket. That's a big myth. Not only is it a rip off of another person's design, but the change is also merely a cover-up. Deeper issues that might be hurting your conversion will remain at large—like security barriers, inappropriate keywords, and so on.

All your effort should not be about getting users to convert. It should not be about manipulating them to make a purchase or accept your proposal, despite it being beneficial or not. It should be about converting engaged users to make a genuine decision because they love what you offer and see where it can benefit themselves and others.


If you're wondering how to test your conversion, this section will highlight some basic tools that can get the job done correctly.

Analytics Software

The most essential tool that you'll need is an analytic software. This tracks and reports on everything that is happening on your site. Tools like Google Analytics, Mixpanel, or KISSMetrics provides the basics—bounce rate and visitor scale, as well as advanced analytics like audience segmentation and conversion tracking.

User Testing Software

If your users aren't able to express the problem they're having; there are tools that allow you to observe how these ones are relating to your site. You can use the feedback you get to better understand the functionality of your site, and to test potential changes to see how they'll convert. Much like surveys, tools like Crazy Egg, Balsamiq, and Click Tale, can help you to figure out how users engage with your website so you can improve their experience.

The Key to Success

To optimize conversion rates, there are a few essential elements that must be in place. Your site should be the friendly type—mobile friendly, browser friendly, privacy-friendly, language friendly, user friendly, video friendly, click friendly, and so forth.

Nowadays, the majority of internet users arrive at your site via tablets or phones, and if it is not mobile-friendly, you may be 70% behind your competitors. If visitors cannot navigate your site, they cannot convert to customers. In addition to that, fixing browser issues could result in the rise of conversions. Your site might be loading well on chrome, but is very slow on Firefox. Figure out your browser issues and make the adjustments, so user arrival remains solid.

Gaining the trust of your users is most important when selling a product or service. Get your signals out—SSL https:// images and trusted badges will turn away fears. What about your target audience? Is your site in the main language that they speak? Even though you might be in an English-speaking country, it doesn't mean that there aren't people who don't speak other languages. Getting your site language-friendly could earn you a lot more money.

A visitor will leave in an instant if they find your site completed to use. Ensure that you have a simple website design and the navigation process is easy. In addition to that, the load time should be fast. No one wants to wait forever for an image or video to load, let alone the checkout page for a potential sale.

There you have it. We have just highlighted what is conversion rate optimization and how to establish a basic plan that is right for the success of your business. Good luck on your journey!

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite:
Founder of DYNO Mapper and Former Advisory Committee Representative at the W3C.

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