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What is CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization for Dummies

Craig Schoolkate Updated on June 17, 2021

What is CRO Conversion Rate Optimization for Dummies

When talking about revenue increasing opportunities for your online business, conversion rate optimization (CRO) has to get a mention.

CRO is low-hanging fruit for revenue generation, a way to get the largest amount of returns from your traffic-driving campaigns.

The best way to define CRO is to think about your last shopping experience. You went to the store looking to purchase a product. Think about your whole experience and how that influenced your decision to make the purchase or go elsewhere. Was it easy to find the product? Did you like the look of the store? How was your experience interacting with the staff?

This whole experience is what CRO represents in the online world. The core question is: what is the experience like for users of your website?

The fact about CRO that most business owners don’t know about is the hidden losses.

If your site isn’t optimized for conversions you’re leaving money on the table, and you’ll be surprised by how much.

Imagine if a user visits your website and they want a pair of blue men’s running shoes in US size 11. How easy would it be for them to find that item?

If the search bar doesn’t work or shows irrelevant results, or the search filters don’t work or have few options, or if it isn’t clear where the user can search for products, then it will be a poor experience for them and they’ll go to another website that’s easier to use.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that millions of dollars are lost every day because of poor website experiences. Not long ago I was trying to purchase a pair of trainers online and the “buy now” button didn’t work so I couldn’t complete the purchase! That was for a large brand, so you can imagine how much money they’re losing when you consider how many visitors to their store they have every day.

That’s just one aspect of CRO: user experience (UX). There are three other key elements of CRO that individually and collectively determine how much money your site makes.

The Four Key Elements of CRO

1. User Experience (UX)

First up is the important element that we just mentioned. If your website doesn’t work, then users can’t become customers, plain and simple.

You would be astonished at how many websites have unnoticed errors like the trainer shopping example I talked about. This is why you should be regularly testing your website and keeping an eye on customer support requests. You need to stay on top of site bugs. After all, how would you know if your “buy now” button isn’t working if you don’t check?

If you want to outsource this, try user testing. This is a service where testers navigate through your website to see if there are any bugs or functionality issues. The testers will also give you feedback on how easy your site is to use, which is worth its weight in gold.

Under the UX umbrella is the load speed of your pages. If it’s slower than 5-10 seconds, you’ll be losing customers, guaranteed. There are thousands of other websites that offer what you offer; in other words, there are always alternatives. If your site is slow, the user will go to a site that is faster.

The next level of UX is the ease of use. You might think your site is easy to use, but you know your website inside-out if you built it. A new user doesn’t.

Again, user testing is the best way to get insights on how easy your site is to navigate. Have the testers find a particular product or piece of information and see how they navigate through your website.

2. Copy

Just behind your website functionality in the CRO ranking of importance is your copy.

Your website copy is your best salesperson. It influences how much your site users know about your service, how clearly they understand it, why they should use it, and above all makes them want to use it. In sales they say you get three seconds to make the right impression on a lead or you’ll lose the sale. With copy it is no different.

Your copy should match your branding. If you have a fun, playful brand, you should have fun, playful copy on your website. It gives the user a feeling about who you are, what you stand for, and what their experience will be like.

The first rule of copywriting is clarity.

The specific audience you’re targeting needs to understand your service and what you’re offering 100% without any questions in their mind because questions are barriers to the sale.

The type of language you use in your copy should be based on your target audience. For example, if you run a SaaS for developers, you will be able to use industry terminology in your copy that any joe bloggs wouldn’t understand. Speak the language of the customer!

I worked with a CRO agency that helped a business owner get a 419% increase in revenue in just two months with a website redesign. At the core of that redesign was the sales copy. Everything else is secondary, but if you write compelling website copy or contract a freelancer to do it for you, then your sales can skyrocket.

3. Design

Great website design amplifies site UX and copy. We’ve had customers say they chose us over the competition because they thought our website looks more professional than our competitors’ sites.

Your design very much depends on what type of business you run and what type of message you want to send to your audience. Do you want to tell the world you’re a luxury brand that takes care of its customers? Are you focused more on the everyday individual with a more direct message about what you do and who you do it for? Think about how you want people to feel about your brand and use that to build your site design.

There are some exceptions, like for blogs, however, where users aren’t concerned with the site design and sometimes a low-quality design makes the user trust the site more because it lacks a corporate “feel.”

For most websites, especially if you have a service-based business, quality design can be the difference between making and losing a sale.

4. Sales Elements

These are the features of your website that convince users to become a customer.

The best example of this is testimonials. You’ve probably heard of the concept of social proof, whereby we’re more inclined to trust a product or service that others have used and rated highly before. Adding testimonials to your site helps users trust your brand and inclines them to become customers.

Another example of a sales element you can add to your website, is to use a software like Proof. This is a pop-up feature where users of your site get a notification when another person has become a customer. It shows the location, the time they signed up, and even their name. It’s a powerful social proof element that helps users trust your brand.

Another example of a sales element is one that we have had great success with and that’s a tool. The aim of a tool is to give some kind of value to the user. The concept of reciprocity plays a role here, whereby we’re more likely to want to “‘return the favor’” to someone who has given to us. In this case, the user would return the favor by becoming a customer. It might sound sneaky, but there is nothing wrong with giving helpful information or products for free!

Our free valuation tool allows users to get a valuation figure for their website in minutes, without having to speak with anyone on a scary sales call.

Iteration Is the Key to Success with CRO

CRO isn’t a one-time fix. Even if you do a big website redesign, you will need to keep on top of the conversion optimization of your site because with new designs come new errors.

We’ve mentioned User Testing as a way to maintain your site’s functionality. The next step with CRO is to optimize your site by testing designs, copy, visuals, and other elements.

A/B testing

You’re at this stage when your conversion rates are at a decent level and your site is well designed with good copy and UX. Now you’re testing different designs, copy, and UX features.

A/B testing is where you present two versions of your website to your audience. Facebook A/B tests their platform every day, down to the smallest details like button color or a few words of copy. Luckily, you don’t need to create 2 websites — you can do this using A/B testing tools like Crazy Egg.

For example, if you want to test your homepage headline, you would use the software to produce two versions. The software will randomly present one of the two headlines to visitors. Half of them will see version A, and half will see version B. You can then compare the conversion rates of each variation and implement the one that ranks highest.

You can test pretty much anything: copy, buttons, visuals, CRO sales elements, and more. What you test is up to you, but the copy is often the best place to start because this is the element that gets you the most sales.

Give Your Site a Quick Value Increase

When preparing your site for sale, CRO is a fast way to increase your earnings and the value of your site.

Start by testing the navigation and UX to make sure everything is working, including affiliate links if you have an affiliate site. Then move onto the copy; make it crystal clear what you do and who you do it for, especially in your headline because this alone is responsible for the majority of your sales. If you haven’t convinced the visitor to see the rest of your website in the first two seconds, you’ve lost the sale. Then, if you want, make your site more aesthetically pleasing with quality images or graphics.

If you haven’t carried out any CRO work, there are many buyers out there with this experience who would like to purchase your site and use CRO as a means to grow their earnings. Use this as a selling point for your site.

If you’re curious about what your site is worth now, you can even carry out some CRO quick wins and check again later, then use one of our sales elements: free Valuation Tool.

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