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Conversion Optimization: A Beginners Guide to CRO in 2019

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The time is 9 AM and the numbers showing in analytics spike. You shift in your chair, enthusiastic about the sales primed to roll in. And yet, your site’s visitor count starts dwindling and the office phone remains stays silent… nothing.

What gives? You can help but think.

Getting traffic to your site is something you know how to do. You’ve got the SEO, social media, and content marketing down. You have ads and paid marketing campaigns running — they seem to be doing well.

What you’re lacking is conversion optimization.

CRO is an all-together valuable investment akin to your digital marketing. With it, you increase the total people taking the desired action. You do more with what you’re doing well — but this is easier said than done.

Stick with us.

You’ll learn the conversion rate optimization basics in this guide. So, get your notes ready because is the most important guides you’ll read all year.

Conversion Optimization: A Quick Overview

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is a process of improving outcomes. Most refer to improving sales with CRO but it can include a lot of things. This could include getting more newsletter sign-ups to social media shares.

Why Conversion Rate Optimization Matters

Many owners do one of two things:

  • Throw more resources at bumping up the traffic to increase engagement
  • Doubling down on what works and getting more from existing users

The fallacy of the first (traffic) is that it’s an infinite struggle. You can drive as much traffic as you want to a site but your conversion rate remains the same.

The other lets you save money on traffic generation.

CRO leverages analytics and data-driven decisions to convert more users. In doing so, acquisition costs plummet because you already have user attention. An owner could then use freed-up capital to offer more to those interested.

Setting a Conversion Rate Baseline

Knowing your conversion rate is the first step in its improvement.

Your conversion rate is this: (Conversions / Visitors) x 100% = CR %

You can apply this conversion rate formula to any trackable goal. This could include conversion rate for product pages to the individual add. So, in total, you’ll find what isn’t working for each stage of the marketing funnel.

Take this time to calculate your conversion rate (or use this calculator).

Setting Goals for Conversion Optimization

Since CRO applies to everything — you’ll want to set goals to stay on track.

Goals could include:

  • Improving lead quality
  • Lowering the site bounce rate
  • Increasing sales on product XYZ
  • Getting more social likes, shares, and comments
  • Improving page performance
  • Making the site more accessible

…and the list goes on.

Pick one item and dedicate your resources without overlapping efforts.

Put Conversion Optimization into Action

Now we’re into the juicy parts of the post: putting CRO into action.

The concept of CRO is quite simple: Compare A to B, then use the better one.

Inching an extra 1% conversion rate out of a goal may not seem like much. But, think of the value on a large scale. A 1% bump could spur thousands of more social shares, profits, and the like.

Central to CRO is A/B testing — let’s explore into how it meshes together:

1. Set Up Your Conversion Tracking Tools

There are many conversion tracking tools to choose from:

  • Google Analytics
  • KissMetrics
  • CrazyEgg
  • Click Meter
  • Facebook Insights

…and any platform you’re using offering detailed campaign data. These provide reports you’ll use in directing your CRO strategies and resources.

You could also use:

  • Session recordings
  • Surveys and polling
  • Heat mapping tools

Pick one (or several) and begin recording data. With them, you’ll identify well-performing pages, offers, and campaigns. You’ll also get insights on what isn’t doing well to which you could choose to improve it.

2. Define Your Intention, Goal, and Hypothesis

You’re answering these questions:

  • What do I want to improve?
  • What’s not working with it at this moment?
  • What could I do to make an improvement?

There are several items you could test — here are examples:

  • Headlines — Testing the copy, tone, and even the size
  • Usability — Removing elements to prevent distractions
  • Layout — Reworking the structure so it’s easier to understand
  • CTA — Trying a new colour, copy, or placement
  • Open Rates — Using different timing, emotion, and formatting
  • Quality Control — Comparing and removing low performers
  • Media — Swapping in/out photos or videos

Think of the end goal of your conversion efforts and work backwards. Set the goal, form a hypothesis how you’ll achieve it, then make a plan.

3. Run the Tests

Have your target for testing? Great, now you’ll break it in two:

  • Variable A
  • Variable B

A few ways of creating variables include:

  • Landing pages to test on-page elements
  • Scripts to test social media shares and ad copy

Create the two variants of a page and begin driving traffic split between them. Gather as much data as you can to later make an informed decision. Then, compare the results between the two — choosing the higher performer.


  • Variant A: The existing page
  • Variant B: The same page with a new headline

If you noticed an uptick on the later then it becomes your new baseline. You can return to this testing for further improvements. You’ll repeat this process over and over until satisfied with your conversion rate.

Quick Note for Success

Go for “big wins” when starting CRO versus inking out fractional changes. These are likely items like bounce rate and shopping cart abandonment.


Drive quality traffic to your tested items else your data becomes skewed. Organic search traffic delivers the best data since it’s natural user discovery. But, paid traffic does work given you’re targeting the right audience.

Conversion Rates and Desired Actions: Wrap Up

Conversion optimization lets you get more out of traffic and lead generation. In doing so, you’ll increase profit margins while saving resources.

That is… if you are willing to commit.

We shared an overview, strategies, and tools for CRO. We can’t guarantee you’ll see it effective if you only took notes and put it off on your “to do” list.

It’s time to make things happen — chat now with our CRO experts. We’d love to share how we can improve your bottom-line.

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