What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

April 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

What is conversion rate optimization?If you own, or work on a website for a living, you’re probably obsessed with driving traffic.

You employ SEO best practices throughout your website, slave constantly to pump out blog posts, spend countless hours engaging with people on Facebook, tweet till your thumbs go blue and even spend a few, if not many, thousands of dollars advertising with AdWords.

If you’re diligent it’s most likely working and you’re producing traffic, which is awesome! Keep up the great work :)

However, unfortunately while most marketers and business owners place a huge emphasis on traffic and pageviews, very few take the time to focus on how to convert their visitors in to leads and ultimately customers.

The fact is, most websites convert about only 2-3% of their visitors, so when it all boils down, on average 97% of visitors are not converting… which ultimately means you’re leaving money on the table.

That’s where conversion rate optimization comes into play.

The Definition of Conversion Rate Optimization

Wikipedia defines conversion rate optimization as follows:

“The method of creating an experience for a website or landing page visitor with the goal of increasing the percentage of visitors that convert into customers.”

For the most part I think this definition does conversion rate optimization justice, however I personally would edit it slightly as follows.

Conversion rate optimization is a structured method of creating a highly targeted experience for a website or landing page visitor, with the goal of increasing the percentage of visitors that take a desired action.

Let’s take a closer look at this definition.

A Structured Approach

First off, with conversion rate optimization I believe it’s important to have a structured approach. This way you can avoid getting sidetracked with tests based on intuition that tend to lead to small incremental improvement rather than big wins that have the ability to fundamentally change your business.

Of course, the structured approach you choose should be defined by you. As with most internet marketing activities there isn’t necessarily one single right way to do it, but there are some great templates that exist which you can use to form your own process.

For example, take a look at the Conversion Rate Experts CRE Method. They are a professional group of optimizers that have taken great pains to develop a process that works for them.

And while they don’t spill the beans on every last detail of their process it should provide you with a solid framework.

Bottom line… they produce big results. Why not learn from the pros?

Now, that’s not to say that if you have an idea for something to test that you shouldn’t. There will likely always be a wealth of small incremental improvements you can make to your website.

However, typically conversion rate optimization doesn’t aim for incremental. Instead, it aims for big bold wins.

A Highly Targeted Experience

Next, and my favorite part about the definition, is that conversion rate optimization is all about building a highly targeted experience for your visitors.

That’s right. It’s not about you!

That means you first need to understand what parts of your website aren’t working.

Once you’ve done that the only way you’re going to be able to create a highly targeted experience for your customers is by learning as much as you can about them. Then, and only then, is it possible to create an expereince that will knock the socks right off your customers.

All Conversions Aren’t Created Equal

Last, but definitely not least, is that conversion optimization isn’t always about generating leads or sales.

WHAT!!!

Yep, that’s right. Many internet marketers simply focus on driving high quality leads and sales, which makes sense, but if you choose to exclusively focus on these goals you’re likely going to miss the boat.

That’s because the majority of your visitors simply aren’t ready to buy.

This means that you need to find a way to get past the lead and sale mentality and find ways to engage and develop relationships with the users that found you by accident as well as those who aren’t ready to by or are just looking.

Avinash Kaushik post, “Stop Obsessing About Conversion Rate” and it’s follow up post “Excellent Analytics Tip#5: Conversion Rate Basics & Best Practices” are two great articles that follow up on this topic.

So, there you have it. Hopefully you found this definition and explanation of conversion rate optimization helpful.

Have questions? Please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to help out.