Conversion Rate Optimization Guide

Conversion Rate Optimization Guide

Conversion rate optimization getting more popular each day. In this ultimate guide you’ll learn

  • What is conversion rate optimization
  • How to calculate your conversion rate
  • Elements of conversion rate optimization
  • How to get started with conversion rate optimization
  • Landing Page CRO
  • E-Commerce Store CRO
  • Conversion rate optimization tools
  • A/B Testing for conversion rate optimization
  • Personalization for conversion rate optimization
  • FAQs

What is Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion is the desired action on a website like completing a form, subscribing email list, downloading the PDF document, adding a product to cart or completing order. It should be business related.

Conversion rate is the percentage of users who perform that desired action.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the all activities you done to increase percentage of users who are performing desired action.

How to Calculate Your Conversion Rate

Calculation of conversion rate is very simple. I recommend to calculation based on unique visitors approach.

Conversion Rate = # of Desired Action / # of Unique Visitors

Let’s say your website has 100 unique visitors and 10 of them complete a form and request more information about your products. Then your conversion rate would be 10%.

Elements of Conversion Rate Optimization

CRO is convincing people to take an action on website or mobile apps. There are 3 main elements of conversion rate optimization.

  1. Visitor Intent: This is the only thing you can’t control in CRO process. This is highly related with the marketing strategies. Let’s say you want to sell clothes for babies. If the visitor doesn’t have any kid or doesn’t looking for any baby clothes then simply you can’t convert them. Check out ideal customer profile article to learn more about this.
  2. Value Proposition (Offer): Conversion optimization process starts with the value proposition. It’s the promise you made the customer. Let’s continue with our previous example, an online store that selling baby clothes and you’re selling high-end, organic, eco-friendly, and style baby products. There is free and fast shipping, 30 day return and full refund policy. This makes your offer stronger when compared to a store that has lot’s of one star reviews, complains, out of fashion products with high prices. Check out value proposition article to learn more about this.
  3. Usability: You have great products, your brand has five start reviews everywhere. Your prices are just great for your customers. However your visitors spend too much time to browse your store, find products or information they’re looking for. As you can guess this will creates a huge barrier for the conversion.

If your conversion rate is lower than expected there should be an issue with one of the these three elements. Here is a quick checklist to learn more about this.

  • Check your Google Analytics data. Our first control is about visitor intent. Most basic indicator of low customer intent is bounce rate and average session duration. Check traffic acquisition report to control your marketing channels. If there is a marketing channels with high bounce rates (can change based on business but in general it should be less than 60%) or low session durations (less than 1 minute) then your conversion problem can be highly related with your marketing strategy.
  • If all of your marketing channels has low conversion rates, then it can be highly related with the landing page experience.
  • If there is no problem with marketing channels and you still have low conversion rates, then it can be related with your value proposition.
  • Let’s say people get value proposition, they do some micro-conversions (like adding product to cart) but don’t complete their ultimate conversion, then this can be related to usability issues.

How to Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization?

There are three steps in CRO process.

  1. Research and Analysis: You need to use qualitative and quantitative research and analysis tools to find insights about conversion. When you find insights you can move to second step.
  2. Hypothesis: Based on the insight hypothesis should be created. Hypothesis has two part. First one is the insight, second one is the change you’re making on your marketing, value proposition, or user experience and the change you expected.
  3. Testing: Final step of the CRO, testing your hypothesis. It doesn’t have to A/B test, it just observing the result of your hypothesis.

It’s never ending process. You just need to do it over and over again until you have the perfect solution.

Now let’s start with deep dive into research and analysis step.

Research and Analysis For CRO

Success of your CRO process depends on the data you have and how you analyzed it. It’s important to have a data collection strategy and implementation before starting the CRO.

Qualitative Data

All non-numeric data classified as qualitative data. Surveys, customer interviews, support tickets, session recordings, heatmaps… All of these can be classified as qualitative data. I always start with this step. Here are things you can to do collect data.

  • Session Recording and Heatmaps: UX and usability problems can cause lot’s of missing conversion. One of the best way of finding these problems checking your users recording and heatmaps. Clarity is a free tool that cover all of your traffic for session recording and heatmaps. Check out my article to find more information how to install and use it.
  • Surveys: Surveys are the goldmine of the CRO process. I’m fan of the open ended questions. For the e-commerce example here are a few surveys you need to run constantly;
    • After purchase survey: Just ask them what makes them think before completing their order.
    • Checkout abandonment: Most of time checkout abandoners don’t leave the store. They abandon checkout but still browse store to find answer their questions. Use this as trigger and learn what makes them to leave checkout process.
    • Product page: Some visitors will spend much longer time on product detail page than others. It’s natural. Just ask them what they’re looking for. There are lot’s of elements on average product detail page. Some of the elements may don’t clear.
    • Exit survey: Trigger an open ended question when just visitor about the leave your website. Ask if they have any questions.
  • Support Tickets/Live Chat Messages: Support tickets and live chat messages are also great resource to learn what makes your visitors think. There can be lot’s of messages but I personally use AI to group these messages based on context and let AI to summarize it for me.
  • Online Research: Check out YouTube, Reddit, Quora, Trust Pilot and any other platform you may find your customers will online. Try to understand their pains, needs, how do they decide.
  • User Interview: Talk with your (potential) users to create an empathy map. Understanding your target users is the great way to get insights for CRO.

Quantitative Data

All numeric data classified as quantitative data. Since we’re working on website or mobile apps tools like Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Woopra can be used in this step.

Start checking your data collection setup. Is there any missing event? Do you send the correct data for each event? Do you enrich the data collection with the data you have like user id, user’s preferences, etc.

After completing checkup and making sure there is no problem with data collection, you can start data analysis. For the e-commerce projects I start with funnel analysis. It looks like this;

  • Product view
  • Product add-to-cart
  • Checkout start
  • Shipping information entered
  • Payment information entered
  • Checkout completed

This analysis gives big picture of your conversion flow. When you find the conversion blocker step such as too low add-to-cart on the product page, then you can explore more in there with qualitative data.

CRO Hypothesis

Here is the formula for the CRO hypothesis: “Based on the insight that ….(your insight here)…, I predict that ….(change you’ll make), will result ….(metric changes)….”

Example #1

You have a Shopify store selling high-end, organic baby clothes. Checked out your funnel analysis and you saw that only 1% of people adding product to their cart. It’s too low.

After checking user recordings, live chat messages and heatmaps you saw a few problems arise.

  1. Email collection popup destroy UX for mobile visitors. They can’t close it easily and most of the traffic just bounce from the store.
  2. Some of the live chat messages about the proof regarding to organic. There is no proof on product pages regarding to organic products and your visitor find it hard to believe.
  3. You checked your heatmaps and there was a population scrolling down to footer and clicking on return policy link. You check the page but it all contains hard to digest text written by lawyers for the lawyers. Then you understand why some of the visitors asking “Can I return if I don’t like it?” again and again.

We have three great insights, right? Now let’s continue with our hypothesis.

  1. Based on the insight that email collection blocks the whole page and most of the visitors can’t close it, I predict that removing popup from mobile visitors will result increased average session duration, decreased bounce rate and increased add-to-cart for mobile visitors.
  2. Based on the insight that lack of organic product proof makes visitor thinking, I predict that putting organic certification with the friendly explanation on the product page will result decreased live chat messages about the proof and increased add-to-cart rate.
  3. Based on the insight that visitors checking return policy page and spend more than 1 minute on the policy page, I predict that putting simply explaining return policy on the product detail page will result less visit to return policy page and increased add-to-cart rate.

Now it’s very different from “I think we need to change our button colors from red to blue, because our competitor does that”, right?

CRO is process for learning from your visitors and making the whole experience better for them. It’s super important to keep record of your experiments. Each experiment is an investment you make to learn. I personally use Google Spreadsheets for it. Simple and whole team can access it, see what’s going on for the CRO process.

When you don’t have enough insights, it can be hard to create hypothesis. After some research and analysis, number of hypothesis will increase rapidly. When it happens, prioritizing hypothesis will become an important issue. When it happens, you have to prioritize these hypothesis.

I use I.C.E. framework. I.C.E stands for Impact, Confidence and Ease. Score each hypothesis over 5. 5 is for very strong and 1 is for very weak. Get the average score and start testing your hypothesis from highest score to lowest one.

Landing Page Conversion Rate Optimization

Landing pages commonly used for only one desired action, like collecting leads, PDF download, getting quote, etc.

It’s simpler compared the overall conversion rate optimization. Let’s start with analytics research step.

Google Analytics For Landing Page CRO

I mostly use Google Analytics for landing page optimization. Step by step analysis I run for the landing pages;

  • Scroll amount for user type and device category
  • Button clicks
  • Average time on the page
  • Bounce rates
  • Screen resolution, devices and OS based conversion rate, exit rate, time on page and scroll amounts

Qualitative Research For Landing Page CRO

Qualitative research for landing page is straight forward.

  • Check heatmaps to learn where customers clicks and checkout scroll depth.
  • Watch recordings to understand where visitors spend most of the time on the landing page
  • Survey with visitors who take the action. Ask them what makes them think before taking the action.
  • Survey with visitors who spend more than average time on the page. Ask them what they’re looking for.
  • Survey with visitors who’re about the exit page. Ask them what makes them to quit instead of taking the action.
  • Check competitors landing pages, their value proposition, hero images, call-to-actions.

Essentials Tips For Higher Conversions on Landing Pages

  1. Value Proposition: All landing pages start with a value proposition. Landing page conversion rate highly depends on the it. Testing only different value propositions can show huge effects on the conversions.
  2. Hero Image/Video: Most of the time landing pages has a hero image or video. This visual should be parallel to your value proposition. Higher quality visuals can increase your conversions a lot.
  3. Above the Fold: It can change based on your target audience but it’s highly likely that most of your landing page visitors using mobile devices. Check your landing pages on your mobile device to see if texts are easily readable, CTA visible and hero images understandable.
  4. CTA: Your CTA text and position worth to testing. Different options, designs, positions can help you to get more conversions from your landing pages.

E-Commerce Store CRO

Conversion rate optimization for an e-commerce store is more complex than landing pages. E-commerce funnel contains multiple steps and its more complex process.

As I mentioned before running detailed analysis before starting e-commerce CRO process is vital. Check your Google Analytics data to see conversion killer step on your store. After finding the step you’re losing most of your conversion, you can start collecting qualitative data.

During whole process, based on your ICP, don’t forget to check your competitors. Let’s say one of the different brand can be running a huge discount campaign at the same time. Even your product detail page, home page, all of the checkout pages perfect, this will affect your sales.

Or let’s say you had problem with your operation and there are some negative comments about your brand lately.

You can’t solve conversion problems by only focusing design or page elements on your store…

Conversion Rate Optimization Tools

During CRO process you’ll need certain type of tools. Tools can make your CRO process easier and faster. I’ll mention my general toolset.

  • Google Analytics: I mainly use Google Analytics for all data analysis issues.
  • Google Data Studio: It’s great to analyze funnels and deep dive into segments and find outliers and behavioral patterns.
  • Bard: Bard is Google’s AI tool. I use Bard for summarizing research, grouping and making easier to understand complex, non-numeric research.
  • Clarity: It’s a free session recording and heatmap tool. Great to identify UX and usability issues.
  • Growth Suite: There are two main use-case to use Growth Suite. First I can run any survey I want with it, secondly it makes super easy to personalize website widgets.

CRO is a big market and there are lot’s of different tools. Main idea tools can’t increase your conversions by themselves. In the CRO process we need to understand our customers, their needs, pain points and triggers. Instead of focusing on toolset, focus on the process and try to solve bigger picture. When you get an idea for the big picture, choosing your toolset becomes much easier.

Conversion rate optimization is a long run and it can make huge effects on your business growth. If you’re looking for more information about growth process, check out the growth guide and marketing guide.


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