Conversion Rate Optimization Guide: How To Drive Users to Conversion

Oleksandr Rohovnin
Content Marketer
12 minute read
Oleksandr Rohovnin
Content Marketer
12 minute read

A steady stream of high-intent customers is what every business dreams about. But it only matters if you are crafty enough to convert them without losing many down the road – and this is where conversion rate optimization comes into play.

Depending on the industry, you are expected to convert from 0.5% to 3% of website visitors.

Here are some conversion rate optimization statistics:

Source: Statista
If you do more – congratulations, you’ve likely built an engaging website that hinges on high-quality content and a superior value proposition. It might even be that you’ve already done the conversion rate optimization job and are now reaping the benefits of a well-designed conversion funnel.

But don’t feel you can squeeze more out of your website? If so, we have 5 conversion rate optimization best practices to convert more users at no extra cost.

Sounds good?

Then let’s dig right into it!

What Does CRO Stand for in Marketing, and What Does It Mean?

For starters, let’s define conversion rate optimization:

  • In marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a set of strategies, methods, and techniques focused on increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a target action, such as creating an account, filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, or making a purchase.

Important: Conversion rate optimization isn’t necessarily about increasing purchases directly. The term “conversion” can mean any target action a user takes on your website, and it’s up to you to assign the meaning. Random example: a conversion can be an app download.

Here’s the conversion rate formula:

For example, if 50 out of 1,000 website visitors created an account, the conversion rate is 5%; if 12 out of 1,000 purchased an item, the conversion rate of the checkout page is 1.2%.

The ambiguity of the term “conversion” makes things tricky. Every time, you must clearly define what you mean under “conversion.” For example, the email list CRO practices list will differ from the form CRO practices and other CRO practices for that matter.

Long story short, know your goals before taking action.

And now to conversion rate optimization best practices.

via GIPHY

1. Conduct a Conversion Rate Optimization Audit

The first step towards improving your conversion rates is the hardest: a comprehensive conversion rate optimization audit that evaluates the effectiveness of your on-site conversion funnel across the board, from the homepage to lead generation forms to technical issues.

But there’s no way around it: screening your website is the only way to identify the underperforming elements. It is not out of the question that your initial optimization ideas might be outright wrong or differ significantly from what a website conversion optimization audit shows.

Here’s an example: Suppose you’re selling electronic gadgets, with traffic driven from social media and paid search. Your traffic grows, but the conversion rate is unexpectedly low. In this situation, you might blame targeting or product pricing. However, a CRO audit may show the true reason: poor mobile optimization, lengthy checkout, and lack of customer trust. Now, you can revamp your website for mobile users and double down on reviews and feedback.

The only fly in the ointment is that a well-thought-out CRO audit requires exactly the same set of skills as building a conversion funnel itself.

If you lack CRO knowledge, you have three options:

  • Educate yourself about the crucial CRO metrics (this article is a good starting point)
  • Resort to third-party conversion rate optimization services or CRO experts
  • Synergize your marketing, sales, and development teams for a quality CRO audit

The good news is that you’ll learn almost everything you need to know about conversion rate optimization strategies if you just continue reading.

2. Unlock the Truth About the On-Site Journey

Hitting home runs at the climax of the customer journey is a pleasure, but it’s not going to make up for the rest of the customer journey and leads who left you for good because of…the reasons you must identify with your CRO screening.

Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist: Basic Metrics

Conversion Rate The conversion rate alone won’t tell you much, but it can indicate where you stand against competitors and what you need to work on. Knowing conversion rates for various marketing goals – registration, subscription, purchase, etc. – can show you the problem and how big it is.

For example, if users make purchases on your website but don’t subscribe to your newsletter, you will know it from the conversion rate. Then you can zero in on the problem: either the form location is bad, or the perceived value of the newsletter is low, or the timing is wrong, or else.

Bounce Rate If a user leaves your website after interacting with one page only, it’s considered a bounce. A high bounce rate can stem from poor website structure, slow page load times, and suboptimal targeting. That said, the absolute values of bounce rates are high even for the world-known website. For example, the bounce rate of Apple.com is 55.16%; the bounce rate of YouTube is around 50%.
Exit Rate Exit rate shows how frequently users leave your website from a specific page. The exit rate for your major pages can help you understand how users navigate your website and where their journey typically ends. For example, if your goal is driving purchases and many users are stuck in the shopping cart, you might lack some crucial payment or shipping options, or the checkout process might be too complex.
Click-Through Rate Click-Through Rate (CTR) shows how many users clicked on a link from the total number of users on a webpage. The average CTR value for display ads across industries is around 0.5%; a significantly lower value might indicate bad wording, weak value proposition, or lack of triggers like urgency.
Page Load Time Users hate slow websites, with 16% of users willing to wait only 3 seconds before leaving. Slow page loading usually results from technical issues like inefficient code, large file sizes, or poor server performance.

Without a doubt, conversion rate optimization starts from knowing your customers and how they behave on your website, not to mention it would help to know where they came from and their interaction points along the way.

Now, the truth is that it’s almost impossible to list all the CRO metrics you might need. There are dozens of metrics besides the ones from the table, all viable under specific scenarios.

For example, if you want to optimize your form conversion rate, you need to know:

  • Current form conversion rate, the average form conversion rate for your industry, and the target form conversion rate
  • Form abandonment rate – how many users abandon the form midstream
  • Drop-off points – fields where users typically abandon the completion of the form
  • Time spent on filling out the form
  • User demographics, psychographics, device, browser type, etc.
  • Field autofill usage

Each of these factors might decrease the form completion rate, and there’s no other way to find out the truth than analyzing all of them. The same applies to other optimization avenues – you need a bird’s-eye view of the problem and hard data to rely on.

Good thing you don’t have to analyze user behavior manually but can bolster your CRO campaigns with advanced conversion rate optimization tools like HitMetrix. HitMetrix tracks, documents, and visualizes every on-site interaction so you can see the big picture.

3. Make Your Website Engaging

Sometimes, the optimization requires more than updating a glitching button, with the most probable problem being the overall low quality of the website. It takes only 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about a website, so you have only an instant to impress them.

Website-centered CRO best practices include creating pre-purchased videos, live-streaming, creating interactive content, influencer marketing, user-generated content, and more. Engaging future customers is crucial: 38% of them will leave a website because of unengaging content or unfriendly layout.

Source: Statista
It’s important to know your audience’s preferences to convert more of them. For example, B2B conversion rate optimization for a company that sells software might cater to the specific needs of B2B tech buyers, 67% of whom engage with content to stay up to date on the industry trends, and 39% – to compare similar product solutions.

Speaking of price comparison websites, here’s a guide on conversion rate optimization on your review and price comparison website.

Video Content

Video content is King, accounting for 82% of the global internet traffic volume. Video ad spending in the United States is constantly rising, and there’s no reason to abstain from posting high-quality videos on your website.

Here are some video formats that can help you with conversion rate optimization:

  • Product demonstration and explainer videos
  • Tutorials and how-to videos
  • Case studies and customer testimonials
  • Behind-the-scene videos
  • Virtual tours

For some projects, you can even use stock video sites:

 

Enriching your content with quality videos will surely increase engagement and conversion rates. Around 88% of people get convinced to buy a product by watching a brand’s video, with 87% of video marketers saying videos grant them a good ROI.

Interactive Content

It’s no secret that active content acquisition – when users can interact with the content while consuming it – increases engagement and drives sales. Around 96% of people who start BuzzFeed quizzes finish them, with 71% of shoppers using augmented reality if available.

Here are some types of interactive content for conversion rate optimization:

  • Quizzes
  • Calculators
  • Clickable infographics
  • Polls & surveys
  • 360-degree product views

One of the best interactive elements you can use is branching narratives. This concept has long been used in video games, and you can revitalize it within your content marketing strategy, driving different buyer personas to different outcomes.

User-Generated Content

Have you ever heard of social proof? People tend to buy what other people like, use, or recommend. The average online shopper expects to see at least 112 reviews for a product in question, with 92% of buyers double-thinking the purchase if they lack customer reviews.

Here are some user-generated content types you might find effective:

  • Profound product reviews & recommendations
  • Ratings based on real reviews
  • Customer-generated photo and video content with the product in action
  • Content pulled from social media

You can combine user-generated content with influencer marketing, cross-posting videos on your website. Or – if you’re on a tight budget – you can partner with micro- and nano-influencers who charge less and grant higher follower engagement.

Educational Blogs

Another important aspect of conversion rate optimization is showing users your expertise, product knowledge, and how your product can make their lives better. You can achieve this by creating in-depth blogs.

Here are some popular blog formats:

Source: Statista
Educational and informative blogs will help you win the audience’s trust and draw some SEO conversions, especially if you take time to SEO-optimize your content so it reflects user requests.

Live Chat

Real-time communication is paramount for conversion rate optimization, helping convert customers that would otherwise bounce. Live chats have incredibly high satisfaction rates of 80% to 85%.

That said, live chat functionality requires a human touch, even if you implement automatic responders as a part of your CRO strategy. The average live chat session lasts around 12 minutes and is only getting longer.

CTA Buttons

Updating your CTA buttons is the first thing that comes to mind in the context of conversion rate optimization, and rightfully so. The art of crafting and placing a CTA button deserves a separate article, but let’s try to condense it to a single table.

How To Make Your CTA Buttons Convert

Location There are over a dozen types of CTAs, each with unique features to account for, but it’s clear that the user should be ready to take action when they see the call. For example, if you’re embedding CTA buttons in a blog post, you might want to locate them in the most valuable paragraphs.
Design The website design must be visually appealing and well-structured so users can quickly locate CTA buttons. Likewise, customers must smoothly slide down the pages until they are on the checkout page.
Wording The CTA’s intention must be clear, action-oriented, and personalized. Personalized CTAs perform 202% better.
Value Proposition Sales prospects never make the decision based solely on what the CTA button says, so you need a supporting element that articulates your unique value proposition.
Technical Issues Broken links, JavaScript errors, overlapping, and technical issues alike might hinder CTA performance, calling for rigorous testing before putting it online.

Creating CTAs is as much art as it is science, with most rules derived from empirical evidence. There’s research on the best color for CTA buttons, business cases around CTA placement, and more.

At the end of the day, though, there’s only one way to find out what works: test it.

4. A/B Test the Website Elements You Want to Improve

With around 77% of companies A/B testing their website and some 60% split-testing testing landing pages, there’s no doubt that continuous website CRO testing is a must to squeeze the most out of your website.

The question is: what are your priorities in CRO testing? You can’t test everything at once, so you should develop a grounded hypothesis about what is worth optimizing.

Here’s the simplest CRO algorithm:

  1. Use the conversion rate optimization checklist to identify what needs improvement
  2. Describe the current performance and the expected change (for example, a change in the color of the CTA button is expected to grow clicks by 20%).
  3. Determine the duration of the test and track the results at the end of it.

You can apply these three basic CRO steps to pretty much any website element, with the main idea being to identify what you want to improve and quantify the expected results.

5. Go Beyond On-Site Interactions To Maximize Your Conversion Rates

Nothing of the above worked?

Then you may have to go beyond website performance metrics, analyzing the full lifecycle of your leads, starting from where they came from. You can do it with Phonexa’s lead management software suite, in particular LMS Sync.

LMS Sync will uncover the customer journey from A to Z across touchpoints and interactions, helping you with lead management and sales closure.

 

Order the all-encompassing lead management software suite now or schedule a free consultation to learn more about how Phonexa can grow your conversion rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization includes practices to maximize the conversion potential of a website and its elements like landing pages, forms, etc. In the context of CRO, a conversion can be any user action you’ve agreed to count as a conversion.

What is conversion rate optimization software?

Conversion rate optimization software and CRO tools help improve on-site conversions through tools like heatmaps, session recording, A/B testing, etc. For instance, HitMetrix visualizes user behavior, provides session replays, and identifies friction points.

What are the most important CRO metrics?

The most important CRO metrics are the ones that fully cover your particular conversion optimization case. For example, the CRO metrics for improving a checkout process will differ from the CRO metrics for improving the form conversion rate.

What are the benefits of conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization is beneficial all around, from increasing conversion rates to improving ROI to enhancing user experience. CRO pertains to many website pages and elements, so you can continuously use it to maximize your website performance

Got Questions?

Get in touch! We are available 24/7.

Oleksandr Rohovnin avatar
Oleksandr Rohovnin
Content Marketer

Oleksandr Rohovnin is a Content Marketer at Phonexa. His passion is digital marketing, innovative technologies, and – above all – distilling vast amounts of complex information into engrossing narratives anyone can relate to. At Phonexa, Oleksandr stokes passion for marketing automation and lead generation in every story he curates.


Education: Zaporizhzhya National Technical University

Expertise: Digital marketing, affiliate marketing, call tracking, lead tracking, insurance

Highlights:

  • 8+ years of writing and editing experience in B2B and B2C

  • Unconventional synergy of writing talent and technical knack

  • Avid proponent of sports, gaming, and reading

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