conversion rates optimization, tactics and principles to follow

You have a fully SEO optimized website, the traffic is good, and a decent percentage of visitors are converting. Now what? Some would say the hassle ends here, but a growth driven marketer knows there’s plenty of room to improve.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) means using data to understand why people are stumbling in their conversion process and testing variables to fix those roadblocks. The focus should always be on the customer and how you can make the experience more pleasant in his buying journey.

CRO baseline

1. Know your Conversion Rate

You cannot improve something if you are not familiar with where you are right now. Understanding your starting point is key in optimizing your conversion rate. The first steps in your CRO process should be about analyzing your baseline. This will help you in planning your next move.

Each business describes conversions differently. For some it might be when the client purchases their product, while for others it could mean submitting a form or signing up for a subscription. Decide what conversions represent for you and calculate your conversion rate.

The formula looks like this: Conversion rate = (conversions / total visitors) * 100%

You don’t have to do this manually, though. There are many websites that offer this service for free, like this one from Entrepreneur. Better yet, you can find your conversion rate in Google Analytics if you set up goals on your website.

The next step in the optimization process should be comparing your conversion rate with the industry’s benchmarks. Every business is different, but it helps to have some guidelines when you embark in this journey.

This table from Econsultancy shows average conversion rates according to industry. If you are in retail, then striving for a conversion rate over 1.5% should be your goal. Comparing your results to these statistics also acts as a motivator for growing your business.

2. Analyze the data

CRO requires analyzing the data and tracking key metrics so that you can decide on what to test and optimize. There’s a strong chance you are already mastering your Google Analytics, where you can find the insights you need.

Start looking at your traffic from a CRO point of view to decide what you should optimize. If the bounce rate is high, then you should optimize the landing page that is causing this. Or perhaps you notice that users are stumbling in the conversion funnel due to a specific page on your website.

There are many KPIs that you could be tracking depending on your business. Here are the most important ones you should be tracking:

  • New and returning visitors
  • Entrance source and landing page
  • Exit rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Time spent on page
  • Cost per conversion

Observe how well each metric is performing, what channels bring you the most conversions and at what cost to determine your strong suit as well as your weakest links.

3. Strategy

Now that you know your starting point, you can start putting the pieces of your strategy together. Having a strategy to begin with trumps all the tactics you will employ in your optimization process. That is because what you are looking for is constant improvement based on the insights of each previous test and not just randomly testing variables.

Keep the customer in mind when you are creating your strategy as every test you will run should focus on making his experience more pleasant. After all, your conversion rate depends highly on how the users perceive your website and what they are trying to achieve with your business.

List all the landing pages that need optimization and choose the specific elements that need improvement. The next step is to form your hypotheses, which would look like this:

“By [making X change], the conversion rate will increase because [it fixes X problem].”

Make sure you have all the tools you need to test your hypothesis. Depending on your goals, there are a variety of instruments you can use, such as Hotjar’s heat mapping or Unbounce for creating landing pages.

CRO principles

Whether you have massive traffic or just starting out, there are some CRO principles to keep you on the right track. Here are the most customer-focused factors to follow. These should be the foundation of any tactic you implement.


As a customer who enters a website, you don’t want to be bombarded with 3 calls-to-actions and several offers on a single landing page. No one has the time to decipher the benefit they are getting from a business.

Keep it simple and clear as if you customers have no idea about your product and industry. Focusing on their needs will help you avoid confusions.


You don’t want people to leave your site as soon as they arrive, but you also don’t want them to simply navigate without taking action. Conversion rate optimization has an end-point to it: yes, you guessed, conversions.

Think about how you can create a sense of urgency for your customers. What are they missing if they are not taking your offer now? How should you address them, so they know your product is a game changer?


Desire is what drives customers to convert. What benefits can your business offer them? How is it making their lives easier?

You value propositions should be the first thing they notice on your website. This will help reduce bounce rates and keep them interested in your offer until they convert.


Establishing trust is one of the most important aspects of your business strategy. There are so many choices nowadays, that we tend to quickly discredit any business that doesn’t ooze professionalism and truthfulness.

Be aware of how your design and copy influence the users. The aspect of your website should be pleasant, and the copy should infer that you are to be taken seriously. Another way to build trust is to be as transparent as possible. List your address, phone number and any other useful information so users will know they can reach you in case of any issue. The last one to try out is to emphasize testimonials. Social proof wins trust in no time.


Are your users receiving what they expect from your website? Does it match their needs?

Or the more important question: Do you know your audience? They key to being relevant is to learn everything you can about who your buyer personas are. This way you can craft better copy, prioritize CTAs and make offers that address their problems.

CRO tactics

The pool of conversion rate optimization tactics is infinite, but there are some methods that will get you ahead faster than others. There is no standard approach to CRO; that’s why you should evaluate which one will have the most impact on your business goals according to the strategy you designed. Let’s go through 3 broad categories:

A/B and Multivariate testing

The foundation for CRO is to test, test and test again. This way, users get to “choose” their preferences and you get to make informed decisions on what changes should be done.

The most common form of testing is A/B which involves testing two variables at the same time to see which one performs better for the goals you are trying to achieve. A more complicated approach would be to run a multivariate test which lets you evaluate several variables at the same time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. A/B tests are easier to perform and need less time, but they also need thorough planning to render significant insights. Multivariate tests are more complex and require many website visitors to be relevant, but you can test multiple variables at the same time with more detailed results.

Depending on your business, you can choose one or implement them together for the best results.

Optimize your conversion funnel

It is a no-brainer that conversion rate optimization and funnel optimization go hand in hand. Think about the user experience when designing your funnel and try to remove any friction or distraction. The process should be as simple as possible.

How could you make it easier for your customers to convert? Are there too many form entries that they must fill? Could you use auto-fill forms? Is there a way to reduce the number of pages they must go through to get to the last step? Think about the measures you can take to make sure everything is consistent and runs smoothly for them.

Website personalization

A new research from CMO indicates that 67% customers expect the content and messaging to be personalized and 42% get annoyed if the content is not personalized.

Here’s another statistic that reveals how important website personalization is for CRO: 93% of the companies observed a rise in conversion rates after implementing personalization.

It is only logical that personalization boosts conversion rates as it focuses on the customer’s needs with the purpose of building trust and loyalty. This increases sales in the end. In a digital world where we consume roughly 10.000 brand messages a day, you cannot afford to ditch website personalization. It is a sure way to stand out and stay relevant for your customers.

There are many ways that you can personalize you customer’s experience, from location, to offers, messaging and recommendations. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to website personalization, so be mindful of your business model and goals when choosing a personalization solution.

“When you do successfully deliver hyper-relevant, right-moment, right-channel content, you’re more likely to be the email they’ll click on, the website experience they’ll engage with, or the social post they’ll share.” – Michael Brenner, CEO Marketing Insider Group

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