If your business website is getting significant traffic but not enough conversions, you could benefit from conversion rate optimization (CRO).
While high website traffic is important, a high conversion rate — i.e., the number of visitors who take a desired action — is the true metric of success. Whether you want to enhance your website’s performance or a client’s, an effective conversion rate optimization strategy can help convert a significant number of site visitors into paying customers.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the basics of CRO, explore its benefits and provide a roadmap for effective implementation.
Overview of conversion rate optimization
Conversion rate optimization is a system of methods aimed at increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action.
The action in question could be making a purchase, signing up for a service, filling out a form or downloading a file.
What is a good conversion rate?
When it comes to eCommerce conversion rates, there’s no magic number. Conversion rates are highly contextual, so what counts as a good or bad rate can vary depending on your target audience, traffic source and the type of action being measured.
At 3.1%, the food and beverage sector had the highest eCommerce conversion rate in the first quarter of 2023, followed by the health and beauty sector, with just under 3%. While conversion rates vary across eCommerce sectors, the average conversion rate for May 2023 stood at 2.02%.
If your site’s conversion rate is higher than your industry’s average, it’s a sign you’re doing something right. However, to fully optimize your conversion rate, you must first learn how to calculate it.
How to calculate conversion rate
Conversion rate calculation is a straightforward process that involves two primary steps:
- Tracking website traffic over a specific period.
- Tracking the number of conversions.
Here’s how to calculate your conversion rate:
Conversion rate = No. of conversions/total visitors * 100.
If 10,000 people visit your eCommerce site in 30 days, and 250 of them make a purchase, your conversion rate for that period is:
250/10,000 * 100 = 2.5%.
If you’re using a web analytics tool like Google Analytics, you don’t have to calculate your conversion rate manually. Google Analytics will calculate your conversion rate automatically for you.
Benefits of conversion rate optimization
Here’s what your business stands to gain if you optimize your conversion rate:
1. Reduced customer acquisition costs
Acquiring new customers can be expensive, especially if you rely on paid digital marketing methods, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
CRO makes your online marketing efforts more efficient and cost-effective. You can acquire new customers with the same marketing budget and the same amount of traffic. This significantly reduces the cost of acquiring each new customer.
2. Higher return on investment (ROI)
Optimizing your website’s conversion rate improves lead generation, maximizes sales and boosts profitability, all from the same traffic. And since your marketing expenses also remain the same, this directly translates to a higher ROI.
3. Improved brand perception
A core aspect of CRO is making your website more user-friendly, navigable and compatible with all devices. It also involves ensuring website usability across all browsers.
Such convenience improves brand perception through positive customer experiences. This encourages word-of-mouth recommendation and ultimately boosts sales.
4. More website traffic
While CRO is primarily about making the most of your existing website traffic, your optimization efforts could drive even more traffic to your website.
Website speed optimization is a proven CRO tactic. But faster load times doesn’t just increase conversions; it also has a significant impact on search engine optimization (SEO). A fast-loading website increases your chances of ranking high on search engines. This strengthens your online presence and attracts more visitors.
According to Backlinko, moving just one spot higher in the search results can increase your click-through rate (CTR) by as much as 2.8%. The first result on SERPs has an average CTR of 28.5%, while the 10th result has an average of 2.5% CTR.
5. Better customer insights
CRO can help you gain better insights into your customer base. By analyzing how visitors engage with your website and what drives conversions, you can understand your customers at a deeper level.
This enriched understanding can help you refine your content, offers and marketing strategies to align with the needs of your target audience.
The CRO process
Conversion rate optimization involves careful planning and execution. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide you can follow for the best results:
1. Define your goals
As with any other business venture, start by outlining your goals. Depending on the kind of business you run, your goal could be boosting sales, increasing newsletter subscriptions or generating quality leads.
Whatever they are, clear goals provide direction for your CRO strategy and help you quantify success.
When setting conversion goals, follow the SMART model. Your goals must be:
2. Understand your audience
This step entails gathering relevant information about your site visitors.
Conversion rate optimization tools like surveys, feedback forms and web analytics provide helpful insight into who your primary visitors are and what they need.
Dive deep into their demographics, buying behavior and pain points. These insights form the foundation upon which you’ll build your optimization strategies.
3. Analyze your website
Now that you know what you want to achieve and who your audience is, the next step is to scrutinize your website. This helps you identify roadblocks in the conversion process, such as slow page load times, confusing navigation and unappealing calls to action (CTAs).
By identifying these friction points, you can strategize how best to eliminate them.
4. Implement changes
Based on your website analysis, identify ways to increase conversions.
These include revamping your copy to make it more relatable to your target audience, redesigning your CTA buttons to make them more compelling and overhauling your website’s design to ensure user satisfaction.
The key is to use the insights you’ve gathered from the steps above to make data-driven changes.
Pro tip: When optimizing your conversion rate, start with the parts of your conversion funnel that get the highest amount of traffic. This enhances your CRO efforts and helps you get fast results.
5. Test and optimize
The final step involves testing your changes. Compare outcomes against your predefined objectives, bearing in mind that it may take time to see results if you’ve made significant changes to your website. If the outcome doesn’t align with your expectations, fine-tune your strategies and retest.
Remember that optimization is not a one-and-done process; it’s a continuous process of tweaking and testing until you achieve the desired outcome.
Conversion rate optimization best practices
- Leverage web analytics tools.
- Run A/B tests.
- Improve your website’s speed.
- Use compelling CTAs.
- Offer support via live chat.
- Showcase customer reviews.
- Use compelling visuals.
- Retarget engaged visitors.
- Use fewer form fields.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices.
- Optimize your web copy.
Now, let’s explore the best practices for effective conversion rate optimization.
Leverage web analytics tools
Data is the compass that guides conversion rate optimization. Web analytics tools like Google Analytics offer invaluable insights into the behavior and preferences of your website visitors. These CRO tools enable you to determine:
- Your traffic source (e.g., search engines, affiliate websites or social media).
- Where your visitors land first.
- Where they spend the most time.
- Their demographics (e.g., age and gender).
- The devices they use to visit your website.
- Where they mostly abandon your conversion funnel.
Using the data gleaned, you can determine where to focus your CRO efforts and the changes that will significantly impact user behavior.
Run A/B tests
A/B testing (also called split testing) involves creating multiple versions of a webpage (or another element of your website) and testing them against one another to see which performs better.
By testing different website elements (e.g., headlines, CTAs, form designs and page layouts) and functionalities, you can identify the variation that improves conversion rates.
Note that A/B testing should be an ongoing process. Even minor improvements can have a significant impact on overall conversions.
Improve your website’s speed
Boosting website speed is a top conversion rate optimization tactic. All web users naturally expect fast-loading websites. Even one-second delays can cause high bounce rates and reduce your conversion rate. Consider these stats:
- For every second a website loads faster, conversion improves by 17%.
- A website that loads in one second has three times the conversion rate of a website that loads in five seconds.
Use CRO tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to assess your website’s performance and improve by:
- Optimizing images.
- Leveraging browser caching.
- Minifying code.
- Using content delivery networks (CDNs) for global audiences.
Use compelling CTAs
A CTA is the bridge between content consumption and desired user action. To encourage more clicks, ensure your CTA buttons are visually appealing and specific.
A CTA must clearly communicate the desired action. For instance, precise prompts like “Sign Up Now” or “Grab Your Deal Now” are more compelling than ambiguous prompts like “Click Here.”
For added effect, create a sense of urgency around your offers where applicable. For example, indicating availability and stock levels or using labels like “Only X Items Left!” or “Limited Stock” can prompt quicker purchases due to the fear of missing out.
Limited-time offers or countdown timers can also push potential customers to act immediately.
Offer support via live chat
Real-time support can quicken purchase decisions, turning contemplation into conversion. Embed chat boxes or live-chat features on critical conversion points like checkout pages.
Use real-time support to swiftly address concerns, offer personalized recommendations and help prospects overcome any barriers that might deter them from making a purchase.
Showcase customer reviews
Trust is essential to building a strong customer relationship. You can establish trust by showcasing the experiences of satisfied customers.
Build social proof by displaying reviews, ratings and genuine testimonials on different parts of the conversion or sales funnel. Seeing others vouching for your business can alleviate any concerns prospects have and encourage them to take desired actions.
Use compelling visuals
Visual elements such as images and infographics illuminate product features and benefits in ways that text alone can’t.
For example, consider a product demonstration video. In only a few seconds, it can reveal a product’s features, design and appeal. Compelling visuals create narratives that attract prospects and nudge them toward conversion.
Retarget engaged visitors
Not every visitor converts on their first visit, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never convert.
Run retargeting campaigns to reach prospects who showed interest in particular products.
Retargeting campaigns involve showing engaged visitors personalized ads across different platforms (e.g., Facebook and Instagram) to remind them about the products they left behind. These ads gently nudge prospects back into the conversion funnel.
Use fewer form fields
Embrace the “less is more” mantra when it comes to website forms.
Fewer form fields increase the chances of website visitors taking a desired action. A 2023 Baymard report reveals that 18% of shoppers abandon their carts due to a time-consuming and complicated checkout process.
Every extra field is a potential friction point that deters users from completing the checkout process. Stick to the essentials — if only a name and email suffice, avoid asking for more details. Where possible, implement autofill features to make it easier for prospects to complete forms quickly.
Simplified forms signal respect for your visitors’ time and can positively influence user behavior, leading to more conversions.
Optimize your website for mobile devices
With mobile devices fast becoming the primary means of consuming digital content, optimizing your website for mobile devices is no longer optional; it’s imperative.
Mobile responsiveness means your website adapts to mobile devices. Visitors are more likely to convert if they receive a browsing experience that’s tailored to their devices.
Optimize your web copy
Words wield immense power. They can inform, persuade and even drive action. To optimize your conversion rate, make sure to invest in compelling web copy.
Whether it’s your home page, landing page or product pages, use clear and concise language that speaks directly to your target audience and addresses their concerns, questions and pain points. Focus on conveying the value of what you’re offering — highlight product benefits rather than just the features.
How to measure CRO results
Once you’ve implemented your conversion optimization strategy, the next step is to evaluate the impact of your changes.
The best way is to compare your website’s previous conversion rate with the rate you get after implementing your optimization strategy. If all other factors remain constant, a higher conversion rate means your strategies are working, and more website visitors are taking the desired action.
While conversion rate is the most important key performance indicator (KPI) for CRO, there are several other benchmarks that offer useful insights and highlight areas for further strategy improvement.
For example, if you’ve recently optimized your website for mobile devices, see if there’s a decrease in the bounce rates among mobile users.
Even if you’re yet to see a dramatic increase in conversion rate, a lower shopping cart abandonment rate suggests you’re making headway. With a few more tweaks, you can turn engaged visitors into buyers.
Micro-conversion is another KPI worth monitoring. A micro-conversion is a secondary action a website visitor takes to indicate interest in your products. Such actions include adding products to a shopping cart, creating an account and signing up for newsletters.
With small tweaks, you can turn these into checkouts, which means a higher conversion rate.
Remember, the goal is continuous improvement. To achieve the best results, regularly track these KPIs and use them as a guide for fine-tuning your CRO strategies.
Final thoughts: Conversion rate optimization — how to make your website work better for conversions
Conversion rate optimization involves enhancing user experience (UX) and increasing conversions. This offers numerous benefits such as lower customer acquisition costs, better brand perception and a higher ROI.
However, even the best conversion rate optimization strategies must be accompanied by reliable web hosting solutions to achieve optimal results. If your website is slow, insecure or prone to downtime, no CRO strategy can compensate for these deficiencies.
At Bluehost, our web hosting plans provide the speed, uptime and security your website needs for optimal performance, allowing your conversion rate optimization strategies to truly shine.
Sign up for Bluehost’s web hosting solutions today to unlock your website’s full conversion potential.
Conversion rate optimization: FAQs
SEO focuses on increasing website visibility and traffic, while CRO is all about getting visitors to take a desired action. Both are crucial for business success and work best when used together.
Absolutely. Conversion optimization translates to lower customer acquisition costs, increased ROI and improved brand perception. This makes it a valuable tool for businesses looking to maximize their online potential.
Any digital business can benefit from CRO. Whether you’re a blogger aiming for more newsletter sign-ups, a service provider looking to get more appointment bookings or an eCommerce store owner wanting to increase sales, CRO ensures more of your visitors take the exact action you want them to take.
CRO involves fine-tuning different elements of your website to increase the likelihood of a visitor taking a desired action. The most important components to optimize are website design, website speed, website copy, navigation, visuals and forms.