Small business resources are tight and focusing those limited resources into the projects and initiatives that produce desired results can be tricky. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is one of those business initiatives that can drive significant improvements to your bottom line.

What Is It & Who’s It For?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors to a website (or mobile app) that take a desired conversion action. Examples of conversion actions include: signing up for a newsletter, downloading or requesting a resource (ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, etc.), contacting your business via a form or phone call, or registering for an event (webinar, demo, tradeshow, etc.).

CRO is traditionally accomplished through A/B tests in which an original and variation of your website or webpage (often called a landing page) are tested and compared. A typical test might include changing headlines, content, forms, or call-to-action buttons for your desired conversion action (ebook download, contact form submission, etc.).

CRO is for any business who wants to increase the rate at which their website (or mobile app) visitors convert. One important caveat to keep in mind is that your website must have visitors in order to test an original version vs. a variation. Depending on the number of visitors you attract for a particular landing page being tested, it may take a few weeks or more to reach statistical significance with your test data (the amount of visitors needed for a conclusive test to declare a winner–the original or variation).

The Tools

There are a number of tools and software that can be used for CRO. Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely are both excellent choices. Specifically, we work with and recommend Optimizely because of its ease of use and functionally. If you are just starting out, the free 30-day trial option and Standard pay-as-you-go pricing will work great for most of your needs.

Enhancing Engagement

One of the key benefits of CRO is the ability to drive higher engagement with your visitors and ultimately customers. As you begin to hypothesize your CRO experiments, a good first step is to list your landing pages in order of importance and see which page has a high bounce rate. Having a high bounce rate, the rate at which visitors immediately leave the page, can suggest the page may be confusing, is not clear and concise, or provides a generally poor user experience. All of which can be improved using a simple framework for assessing and testing landing pages which will discuss later on.

A helpful tool for evaluating your landing pages is Google Analytics (a free tool every small business owner should use to measure critical metrics: website visitors and the channels they use to discover and engage on your website). Once logged into Google Analytics, in the left-hand menu, navigate to Behavior -> Landing Pages. Here we can review all landing pages and also filter them by bounce rate and conversions. The sweet spot for CRO is identifying the landing pages that drive important conversions, but have a high bounce and low conversion rate.

Screenshot of Google Analytics

Driving Higher Success Metrics

Once you have selected a landing page for CRO, the next step is to apply a simple framework for evaluating the landing page and constructing your test. One CRO framework we recommend is the LIFT Model by WiderFunnel.
LIFT Model

LIFT Model by WiderFunnel

The LIFT Model operates on a basic CRO principle which is that you should always strive to reduce conversion friction through improving clarity and simplicity.

With a solid framework, you can now move on to developing your hypothesis, which essentially boils down to the specific landing page elements you want to test (headlines, forms, buttons, colors, etc.). For example, if your landing page is designed to drive leads via ebook downloads and your form has too many fields requesting name, email, address, and phone number in order to download, you are probably leaving leads on the table. In this example, you might remove some of the unnecessary fields and simply stick to the basics: name and email.

As you begin to incorporate CRO into your website and marketing strategy, you can begin to improve the success metrics that matter most to your business. If ebook download leads are a key success metric, focus on the landing pages and elements that directly influence that metric. If contact us form submissions are a key success metric, focus on the landing pages and elements that drive this metric.

As you continue to progress down the CRO path, you will gain valuable insights into your target market and messaging. Lessons learned from CRO on your website can ultimately be applied to your other marketing initiatives, such as how a certain ebook, call-to-action, or message resonated with your audience can be implemented into your blog content strategy.

Darin Brooks