However, before we begin, let us learn what conversion actually is.
What is a Conversion?
A conversion is the general term for a visitor completing a site goal. Goals come in many shapes and sizes. Conversions can happen all over your website (e.g. homepage, pricing page, blog, landing pages, etc.).
If you use your website to sell products, the primary goal (known as the macro-conversion) is for the user to make a purchase. There are smaller conversions that can happen before a user completes a macro-conversion, such as signing up to receive emails. These are called micro-conversions.
As a business, you want your website to be designed in a way that converts website visitors into paying customers. With so much potential throughout these areas of your website, you must optimize each location to allow for conversions.
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Examples of conversions
• Someone purchasing a product from your website
• Another person requesting a quote
• Or someone elseSubscribing to a service
Examples of micro-conversions:
• Signing up for email lists
• Creating an account
• Adding a product to the cart
What is Conversion Rate?
Your site’s conversion rate is the number of times a user completes a goal divided by your site traffic. If a user can convert in each visit (such as by buying a product), divide the number of conversions by the number of sessions (the number of unique times a user came to your site).
If you sell a subscription, divide the number of conversions by the number of users. A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action (in other words, convert). For instance, a desired action may be completing a web form, signing up for a service, or purchasing a product.
Conversion rate is calculated by dividing your number of conversions by your number of visitors and multiplying that number by 100 to get the percentage.
CR = Total number of conversions ÷ total number of visitors
Example: You sell a downloadable e-book to 100 people. Divide the total buyers by the number of visitors to your site. If 100 people bought the e-book and 800 visited your site, your CR would be 12.5% (800 ÷ 100).
How to Calculate Conversion Rate
If a user can convert each time they visit the site:
Imagine we own an ecommerce site. A user could make a new purchase each session. We want to optimize so they make as many purchases as possible. If a user visited the site three times, that would be three sessions — and three opportunities to convert.
Let’s closer at our user’s three sessions and how they behaved:
• Session 1: No conversion — user was familiarizing themselves with the site and poking around.
• Session 2: User bought a shiny new antenna. This is a conversion!
• Session 3: User came back and bought a new set of gears and a blinking light — another conversion! Even though they bought two items, this is a single unique order and thus counts as a single conversion.
To figure out our conversion rate, we would take the number of unique purchase orders and divide it by the total number of sessions.
To find out the conversion rate for your site, you’ll look at all unique orders divided the total number of sessions.
Calculating Conversion Rate by Sessions:
If a user can only convert once
Now imagine we owned a second site. Our site sells a subscription for a monthly delivery of e-books. A user could come back multiple times, but once they purchase a subscription, they won’t convert again.
Let’s look at an example user’s behavior:
• Session 1: User came to the site for the first time to explore the service. No conversion.
• Session 2: User subscribed to our monthly service– this is our conversion!
• Session 3: User came back to read blog articles and poke around.
Our user here can’t convert each time they visit the site. So instead of looking at the number of sessions, we need to measure conversion success by the number of visitors:
To figure out our website’s conversion rate, we would take the number of unique orders and divide it by the number of unique users.
Calculating Conversion Rate by Unique Users:
What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming customers, or otherwise. CRO is the process of enhancing your website and content to boost conversions.
A high conversion rate means your website is well-designed, formatted effectively, and appealing to your target audience. The CRO process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from completing your goals.
Conversion rate optimization is the practice of raising your conversion rate by compelling visitors to your site to take specific actions like buying a product, downloading a PDF, or subscribing to a newsletter. The process of optimizing for conversions allows you to boost your number of highly-qualified leads, increase revenue, lower acquisition costs, obtain greater value from your current leads and customers, and, simply, grow better.
Although CRO is often used to make small, incremental improvements, its broader purpose is to optimize your entire marketing process—to make everything work smoothly. And the more optimized your marketing, the higher your conversion rate.
Conversion rate optimization happens after the visit makes it to your site. This is different from conversion optimization for SEO or paid ads which focuses on who clicks through to your site from the organic search results, how many clicks you get, and which keywords are driving traffic.
Conversion Rate Optimization and Search Engine Optimization aren’t the Same
CRO and SEO (search engine optimization) are slightly connected but essentially very different strategies. The distinction is that CRO is concerned with how humans experience your website, SEO is only concerned with how machines, algorithms, and Google bots interact with it.
CRO and SEO focus on different stages of your sales funnel. Optimization for search engines happens earlier in the funnel—getting visitors to click through to your store. CRO takes it from there—visitors are here, now let’s convert them to clickers, shoppers, scrollers, and subscribers.
CRO and SEO do interlap at times. For example, if you optimize your blog copy for specific keywords, you simultaneously improve its readability and clarity for human readers, too. Streamlining your website architecture is another example of CRO and SEO working together.
Ways Conversion Rate Optimization benefits Search Engine Optimization
While not necessarily directly related to attracting organic website traffic or ranking on a search engine results page (SERP), conversion rate optimization has distinct benefits for SEO.
Improved customer insights
Conversion rate optimization can help you better understand your key audience and find what language or messaging best speaks to their needs. Conversion rate optimization looks at finding the right customers for your business. Acquiring more people doesn’t do your business any good if they’re not the right kind of people!
Higher conversion rate means making more of the resources you have. By studying how to get the most out of your acquisition efforts, you’ll get more conversions without having to bring in more potential customers.
While your audience size may not scale as your business grows, CRO lets you grow without running out of resources and prospective customers. Audiences aren’t infinite. By turning more browsers into buyers, you’ll be able to grow your business without running out of potential customers.
Better user experience
When users feel smart and sophisticated on your website, they tend to stick around. CRO studies what works on your site. By taking what works and expanding on it, you’ll make a better user experience. Users who feel empowered by your site will engage with it more — and some may even become evangelists for your brand.
In order for a user to share their credit card, email, or any sort of personal information, they have to genuinely trust the site. Your website is your number-one sales person. Just like an internal sales team, your site needs to be professional, courteous, and ready to answer all of your customers’ questions.
Begin Using Conversion Rate Optimization
There are many “best practices” out there when it comes to CRO but, ultimately, you need to find out what your customers respond to, and what drives results for your business.
Keep these three follow-up actions in mind when getting started with CRO today:
• Use the three formulas to start the CRO conversation.
• Experiment with CRO strategies to discover what works for your business.
• Leverage the PIE framework to help prioritize your strategy.
How Websites Benefit From Conversion Rate Optimization
Here are four areas of your website that have the potential to largely benefit from conversion rate optimization.
Homepages are prime candidates for CRO. In addition to making a first impression on visitors, the homepage is also an opportunity to retain those visitors and guide them further into your website.
You can do this by emphasizing links to product information, offering a free signup button, or even incorporating a chatbot that solicits questions from visitors at any point during their browsing experience.
A website’s pricing page can be the make-or-break point for many website visitors. CRO can help a pricing page convert visitors into customers by modifying the pricing intervals (e.g. price-per-year vs. price-per-month), describing the product features associated with each price, and including a phone number for visitors to call for a price quote.
Landing pages are inherently designed for people to take an action. An event landing page, for example, can be optimized with a video of last year’s event to encourage visitors to register this year. And if a landing page is being used to share a free resource with visitors, it can be optimized with preview content from that resource to encourage visitors to download it.
A blog is a massive conversion opportunity for a website. In addition to publishing thoughtful and helpful content about your industry, a blog can use CRO to convert readers into leads.
This process often includes adding calls-to-action (CTA) throughout an article or inviting readers to learn more about a topic by submitting their email address in exchange for an ebook or industry report.
Why Conversion Rate Optimization is important
CRO gives you better control over how your customers interact with your website and the paths they take toward conversion. But what are the actual benefits? Here are three:
CRO Increases Your Traffic
Higher conversion rates mean customers are finding it easy to navigate your site, locate the right products, and make a purchase. Higher converting visitors spend more time on your site, leave more positive reviews, and leave as satisfied customers. More importantly, these happy shoppers will convince their friends and family to visit your store. More traffic for you.
CRO Gets You Higher Profits
If your conversion rate rises, that means more of your customers are making it to your product pages, opening your emails, and subscribing to your service. By making small marketing CRO tweaks, you pay the same amount to attract customers but raise the number of actual buyers.
CRO Keeps You Focused on Customers
CRO always puts the customer front-of-mind. When you make a design change to your website, taking a CRO approach helps you look through the eyes of your customers, not the preferences of your web designer or your own proclivities. Customer-centric decisions about design, copy, or ad placement have a better chance of increasing your conversion rate.
Steps in the CRO Process
Much like the scientific method, optimizing your conversion rate includes gathering data, running tests, and making conclusions. The insights you collect add to your overall understanding of your marketing plan and your customers. Here are the steps of the CRO process.
• Gather Data. Gather what customer and website data you have now. Identify what conversions you are trying to achieve. Establish a baseline for your future changes.
• Form Hypotheses. Using your data, make an educated guess about what you expect will happen. Identify the audience and metrics you need to measure (e.g., click-throughs, downloads).
• Run a Test. Prepare a test of your hypotheses and make your changes. Make sure you’re accurately tracking your conversion data.
• Analyze. Given the outcomes, can you say your hypothesis was correct? If not, what happened? Was your prediction flawed? Maybe something went wrong with the test.
• Repeat. Gather your new data and form a new hypothesis.
CRO is a process that’s self-correcting, transparent, and honest. It keeps you from injecting your own biased perspectives about what’s working and what isn’t.
When is Conversion Rate Optimization right for your business?
Simply, if your business is attracting website visitors, then you should take CRO into consideration. That’s because, no matter how established or large your company is, you want to convert your visitors into qualified leads, customers, and brand advocates — and you want to do so in the most effective, impactful, and reliable way.
With the process of conversion rate optimization, you’ll get more out of your existing website traffic while ensuring you’re targeting qualified leads.
Although this is a straightforward concept, setting a conversion goal isn’t as easy as saying, “This page converted 50 people this month, so we want to convert 100 people next month.”
You don’t just want 50 more conversions from a webpage. Instead, you want 50 more conversions for every X amount of people who visit it. (This is your conversion rate — the percentage of people who convert on your website based on how many people have touched it).
To provide a better understanding of where you stand at any point in time in regards to conversion rate, here are three commonly-used formulas your business can use to understand, analyze, and improve.
CRO Calculation 1: Conversion Rate
As we mentioned earlier, to calculate conversion rate, you must divide your number of conversions (or leads generated) by your number of visitors (or web traffic), and then multiply that number by 100 to get the percentage.
Leads Generated ÷ Website Traffic x 100 = Conversion Rate %
CRO Calculation 2: Number of Net New Customers
To calculate your number of net new customers, you’ll want to divide your net revenue goal by your average sales price.
New Revenue Goal ÷ Average Sales Price = Number of New Customers
CRO Calculation 3: Lead Goal
And lastly, to calculate your lead goal, take your number of new customers and divide it by your lead-to-customer close rate (which is your total number of leads divided by total number of customers) percentage.
Number of New Customers ÷ Lead-to-Customer Close Rate % = Lead Goal
Here’s an example of these formulas in action:
If your website has 10,000 visitors per month that generate 100 leads — and subsequently, 10 customers each month — the website visitor-to-lead conversion rate would be 1%.
What if you wanted to generate 20 customers each month?
You could try to get 20,000 visitors to your website and hope that the quality of your traffic doesn’t decrease — although, that’s a risk you’ll likely want to avoid. Rather, you could obtain more leads from your existing traffic by optimizing your conversion rate. This is less risky and is more likely to produce better results for your bottom line.
For instance, if you increase your conversion rate from 1% to 2%, you’d double your leads and your customers. The following table is proof of this — you can see the positive impact that results from increasing your website’s conversion rate:
Company A B c
Monthly Site Traffic 10,000 10,000 10,000
Conversion Rate 1% 2% 3%
Leads Generated 100 200 300
New Customers 10 20 30
Notice the drastic increases in number of leads generated and net new customers when you boost your conversion rate.
Not only that, but it’s clear that generating more website traffic isn’t necessarily the right approach when trying to improve your conversion rate — in fact, this chart shows you that you can grow your business substantially without increasing traffic at all.
Hard to believe? Think about this way: Pretend you were trying to fill up a leaky bucket. If you pour more water into the bucket, you won’t fix the root cause of the issue — instead, you’ll end up with a lot of water that’s wasted (not to mention, a bucket that will never fill up all the way).
Are you ready to take the first steps toward CRO at your company?