What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Across the digital universe, most websites and apps have a big job to do: Turn visitors into customers to grow the business. The rate at which this transition happens, called the conversion rate, is a key performance metric for every brand — and one that almost always presents opportunities for improvement. Whether your home page is converting at below-average rates, or your e-commerce store falls short of internal expectations, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) could provide the elusive growth you seek.

CRO might sound like experimental guesswork at first. But it’s actually a systematic process by which digital marketers take steps to improve a site in ways that will increase the percent of visits that result in a desired action. The intended action can be any meaningful step forward, such as engagement, lead generation, and ultimately sales.

“At its core, optimizing your conversion rate boils down to building trust and confidence with your visitors as they move along the different stages of their customer journey,” says Jay Sanderson, Global Experience Commerce Product Specialist at Sitecore.

Chapter 2

Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization

When it’s done well, a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) strategy creates a cascading effect of business benefits that looks something like this:

  • CRO begins by removing friction from the buying process, so that visitors can find what they want more easily
  • An improved user experience often results in higher engagement and better-qualified leads
  • Using the insight from these engagements and wins, you can begin delivering targeted offers and extending cross-sell/upsell opportunities, so that you increase average order value and maximize the overall value of the existing customer base
  • Over time, these improvements lower the cost of customer acquisition, so that you can drive growth without having to rely as much on attracting new traffic into the top of the sales funnel

Chapter 3

Planning your Conversion Rate Optimization strategy

Before attempting to launch a full-blown CRO initiative, you’ll want to do some prep work. Follow these steps to plan your optimization strategy:

  1. Map the customer journey: Use analytics and customer feedback to make sure you understand the main paths that customers take through your digital properties. Does every visit start at the home page? Where else might the journey begin, and what are the calls to action (CTAs) along the way?

  2. Prioritize one touchpoint: Your home page may be an obvious place to optimize; however, if another page gets higher traffic or has a lower conversion rate, you may decide to focus the CRO effort in that place. Blogs, landing pages, and digital storefronts often make good candidates for improving conversion rates.

  3. Select your KPIs: Most sales are preceded by a series of incremental steps and interactions. For example, you could choose to measure newsletter subscriptions, click-throughs from a landing page to a solution page, registrations to gated content, customer accounts created, or social engagement metrics.

  4. Establish a benchmark: To measure success, you’ll need to calculate the current conversion rate for each metric that you want to track on the page(s) you’ve selected to optimize. This is easy math: First get the number of conversions (how many times a visitor took the desired action during a specific period). Next, tally up the total number of visits to the page(s) that have the CTA you’re measuring. Divide the conversions by the total visits and multiply by 100 to get the percent. Now you’ve got the starting conversion rate.

  5. Identify elements to change: The most creative part of the CRO process is thinking about what could be improved or enhanced. Here again, you can draw on customer feedback, analytics, and input from internal stakeholders.

    Common fixes include:
    • Modifying headlines and other display copy to prompt action
    • Moving graphics, CTAs, or other design elements to a different place on the page
    • Changing the CTA wording or design
    • Changing navigation for a more streamlined user experience
    • Improving searchability so users can find the products they want
    • Adding new payment methods to the check-out page

  6. Personalize the experience: Savvy digital marketers know that each visitor’s journey will be unique in some way. Personalization is a powerful tool for optimizing conversion rates. Take full advantage of this technology, so you can tailor every digital experience to in-the-moment needs.

At its core, optimizing your conversion rate boils down to building trust and confidence with your visitors as they move along the different stages of their customer journey.

Jay Sanderson

Global Experience Commerce Product Specialist,

Chapter 4

Ready, set, CRO!

When the prep work is complete, you’re ready to put the CRO plan into motion. Remember to test only one change at a time, and use an A/B Testing tool, so you can compare the results of each change you make. Track and share the findings as you work your way through the list of targeted elements.

How much of a conversion rate improvement is realistic? Although every business has unique circumstances, these three case studies paint a picture of what you might expect:

  • The R&A experienced a 126% conversion rate increase for The Open Championship website by making it easier and quicker for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
  • EasyJet Holidays achieved a 100% increase in its website conversion rate and an honorable mention for Best Digital Experience Transformation of 2021.
  • Lane Bryant of Ascena Brands increased conversions 6% to 11% across its digital shopping platform by changing a one-size-fits-all shopping experience to feature individualized landing pages that change dynamically in real time.

Conversion rate optimization is about making the most of the audience you’ve worked hard to build. It prioritizes quality over quantity to help you deliver an optimal experience to the people who are most likely to engage further with your products and services. Take the time to understand their intent and enhance their individual experiences, and your digital performance is sure to climb.