Important: This article is an extension of our conversion rate optimization guide, where you can find all the CRO basics and a 5-step CRO algorithm. Check it out if you want to know more about on-site CRO fundamentals.
When you have an online business, your ultimate aim is to convert. For instance, as an e-store, you convert leads to buyers, while online media outlets convert users to paid subscribers. Even blogs, membership platforms, and design portfolios that don’t directly engage in selling aim for conversions, making money through ads, affiliate marketing, or adding products or services along the way. Growing an audience is essential, one way or another, and it is all due to conversions.
Success in converting largely depends on two processes: attracting masses of potential customers to your website or dedicated landing pages and ensuring prospects engage in actions, converting them into customers. Two factors impact the number of conversions — how many people visit the entry point of the customer journey funnel and the percentage of visitors that convert. In simpler terms, to be more successful at selling a particular product, you must either attract more potential buyers or optimize your selling techniques.
In this situation, a conversion rate optimization (CRO) steps in as the essential strategy for making more conversions from a given audience that came to see what you offer. The main instrument used by CRO is the CRO audit — an evaluation of a multitude of factors contributing to the conversion rates.
If your online platform were a physical store, a CRO audit checklist would not check your products or pricing. Instead, it would make sure that:
- The entrance doors are not too heavy, and the door hinges are oiled and don’t squeak.
- The store is clean, well-lit, and well-taken care of.
- The products are well-organized on display and available for check.
- The consultant doesn’t forget to offer discounts if there are any.
So, instead of evaluating the product itself or the pricing, a CRO audit aims to make the buying process free of any possible friction while showcasing your product’s advantages to visitors. In many cases, a CRO audit offers the smallest money investment to increase conversions.
Though the word “audit” may sound a bit intimidating, after reading this article, you will know everything about conducting a CRO audit and making the valuable data assessed by it work for your company.
What Is a CRO Audit?
Conversions are the lifeblood of businesses with an online presence, whether customers are making product purchases or signing up for membership sites. CRO, or conversion rate optimization, acts as the magician that enhances the efficiency of your conversion tools, be it a website or a specific landing page. Essentially, it enables you to increase income without altering your product, making substantial investments, or changing marketing strategies. Instead, it fine-tunes what you already have.
Now that’s crystal clear. We’re fans of conversion rate optimization. But how do we determine what needs fine-tuning? How can we be sure that the adjustments are effective? Are there specific guidelines to follow, or is it just a fleeting concept without practical application? These are all valid questions, and experienced marketers have the answer: conduct a conversion rate optimization audit.
A CRO audit, or CRO analysis, has a fundamental purpose – to elevate your conversion rates by addressing these goals:
- Identifying flaws in your conversion tools that lead prospective customers to bounce.
- Offering solutions to rectify errors and alleviate pain points customers may encounter on the path to completing a conversion.
- Analyzing the results of adjustments made to the website or landing page by repeating the CRO audit.
Businesses have long understood the importance of investing in CRO and conducting thorough CRO audits. The market size for CRO software was $771.2 million in 2018 and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6% from 2019 to 2026, reaching $1932.2 million.
While there are numerous steps to undertake in conducting a conversion rate optimization audit, don’t be discouraged. You’ve already taken the first step by delving into the intricacies of CRO explained in this guide. Let’s dive into the details, break down the CRO audit into bite-sized paragraphs, and absorb these pieces of knowledge until we master it all.
10 Steps To Conduct a Conversion Rate Optimization Audit
Step 1: Define the Right Time for CRO Audit
Let’s set the record straight from the outset – in the dynamic world of online business, the need for a CRO audit is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Whether your clientele comprises purchasers, subscribers, or avid video consumers, the quest to elevate customer numbers through strategic optimization is perpetual.
Now, here’s the crucial juncture: determining the right moment for a CRO audit. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. There are instances when embarking on a CRO audit might not yield the anticipated benefits. Take, for example, the scenario of a nascent landing page eagerly awaiting its first conversions. Attempting a CRO audit at this stage would be akin to evaluating an artist’s work before the brush has touched the canvas – there’s simply no substance to evaluate. After all, how can one optimize a conversion rate when the conversion count hovers at zero?
When starting new conversion endeavors, the priority should be on kickstarting those initial conversions before diving into the nuances of a CRO audit. The question then becomes: when is the right time to unveil the CRO audit playbook? It’s a matter of strategy and timing.
Perhaps it’s after a specific volume of conversions, a designated period post the maiden conversion, or upon reaching a particular revenue milestone. Chart your course with precision. Establish a roadmap that aligns with your business objectives. This proactive approach ensures that your CRO efforts are not just timely but maximally impactful.
As we navigate through the subsequent steps of this CRO audit guide, remember that the essence lies not just in optimizing but in optimizing at the right moment.
Step 2: Getting Straight With the ROI Metrics
Imagine your site boasts 100,000 monthly visitors, resulting in 1,500 conversions and a conversion rate (CR) of 1.5%. The average conversion value is $20, culminating in a substantial $30,000. Now, it’s imperative to delve into calculating your Return on Investment (ROI) if you haven’t done it yet. Marketers who compute their ROI regularly have a 1.6 times higher chance of getting budget increases for their campaigns.
If this critical analysis reveals that the total investment equals or falls below the profit, the business is not performing optimally; it’s treading water. Yet, now you are armed with these figures and can ideate a clearer trajectory for optimization.
An essential consideration is whether attempting to raise traffic to your site proves profitable. ROI encompasses more than just landing page conversions. It factors in human labor and hosting services. Increased traffic might enhance ROI, but it won’t necessarily boost CRO.
However, attracting more visitors demands investments, including ads, with the risk of drawing non-converting individuals, thereby diminishing both CRO and ROI metrics. In such a scenario, prioritizing CRO audit and improvement becomes the better choice.
Returning to our numerical example, two distinct scenarios unfold: optimizing the conversion rate by a mere 0.5% would result in a $10,000 monthly income boost. Conversely, simply increasing traffic necessitates fresh investments, with no guaranteed income upswing.
Armed with this insightful data, you are now poised to set a tangible goal for CRO and proceed to define the objectives of your future CRO audit.
Step 3: Getting Hold of Essential Conversion Rate Optimization Audit Tools
After deciding that your business requires a CRO audit, and now is the right time for it, a crucial question arises, shaping many subsequent actions and potentially influencing the efficiency of your conversion rate optimization audit. So, the decision lies ahead – will you conduct the CRO audit yourself or seek assistance from professional CRO analysis services?
While the appeal of CRO audit services is evident for reasons like their expertise and ready-made tools, consider this: investing in a DIY CRO audit promises a hundredfold return. Instead of spending on conversion rate optimization services, you can procure your own online CRO audit tools for performance monitoring, understanding your site visitors’ behavior, and utilizing heatmaps and survey tools.
These multitasking tools extend beyond CRO, serving as everyday analytical management tools. Trust me, when you get the taste of CRO analysis, you’ll conduct audits more than once.
Here’s the deal – no one understands your business as intimately as you do, and engaging in the conversion rate optimization audit will deepen your knowledge, providing essential control over conversions.
Remember, your business growth matters to no one as much as it does to you. Embracing involvement in the conversion rate optimization audit will not only enrich your understanding but also grant you crucial oversight of your business’s smallest details.
Step 4: Define Objectives and KPIs
In 2023, online consumer behavior is shaped by unprecedented digital competition and evolving user expectations. To stay ahead, businesses must align CRO efforts with overarching goals. According to recent studies, companies with well-defined objectives are 377% more likely to achieve successful outcomes in their digital initiatives.
The different types of businesses with online presence have distinct goals, and the types of goals differ according to the currently employed marketing strategies. Similarly, CRO audits must benefit different goals on the way to the company’s growth and may require multiple steps.
CRO audits work by gaining valuable knowledge about how your business functions by collecting specific information, including quantitative data — KPI. Key Performance Indicators form different sets of cumulative data that are optimal for assessing CRO for specific types of businesses.
|Type of Business
|Recommended KPIs for CRO Audit
|Conversion Rate, Average Order Value (AOV), Cart Abandonment Rate, Revenue per Visitor
|Conversion Rate, Free Trial Sign-Up Rate, Customer Retention Rate, Churn Rate
|Pageviews, Time on Site, Ad Click-Through Rate, Social Media Engagement
|Lead Generation Website
|Conversion Rate, Cost Per Lead (CPL), Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate, Form Completion Rate
|Online Service Provider
|Conversion Rate, User Engagement, Subscription Renewal Rate, Customer Satisfaction
|Click-Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate, Revenue per Click, Affiliate Sales Growth
So, your business type and current marketing strategies will dictate the conversion rate optimization audit structure. To select the right KPIs, outline specific goals for the CRO audit.
Here’s an example: if you’re trying to get people to sign up for your creative blog, including a piece of your writing on your landing page is a good strategy. In this case, you expect visitors to engage with your writing, which may convince them to convert to your site members. Thus, metrics that show visitors’ time on site may be the key to revealing the problems with the conversion rates.
On the other hand, when the CRO audit’s objective is to explore your business’s selling capabilities, you want to focus on user pain points (cart abandonment rate) and $-related metrics (average order value).
When you’ve specified the types of metrics you’ll be targeting, leverage analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to delve into audience demographics, geographic locations, and device preferences, and use tools like HitMetrix to learn about user behavior on your site and uncover your platform’s friction points. This granular data assists in tailoring KPIs for specific CRO audits.
Step 5: Website Usability Assessment
This crucial step is all about making sure that your digital place is not only easy to use but also well-designed so that users have a great time. Here’s how to do a user test for your website CRO audit:
- Mobile responsiveness: Since mobile users make up a big part of online traffic — just over 57% of all internet traffic — it’s important to test your website’s response on several devices. Use tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find and fix any problems that make it hard for mobile users to use your site.
- Page load speed: The speed at which your pages load directly affects how happy your users are, which in turn affects your sales. Google says that a three-second page load time makes it 32% more likely that someone will leave the site right away. Use tools like Google PageSpeed to look at load times and make changes to load your content quickly.
- Navigation and structure: For a smooth surfing experience, make your website’s navigation easy. Clear and organize your menu items to make them easy to grasp. Consider how intuitive the navigation flow is, reducing clicks. Breadcrumbs help people navigate the site and grasp its organization. Organize pages logically and prioritize them.
Place a prominent search bar with auto-suggestions to improve search functionality. Navigation consistency across pages creates familiarity. Usability testing and surveys may help you detect navigation issues and improve your site’s structure. A well-organized navigation system improves user engagement and conversion rates.
Step 6: Focus On Content Relevance
Ensuring coherence between entry-point content and subsequent landing pages is imperative. The harmony must extend seamlessly from the initial ad capture to the final interaction. It is essential to avoid deviations from the expected content, as even minor disparities can induce a bounce.
You’d be surprised to learn about the impact that even small differences in the product description can have. For instance, presenting a yearly subscription on the landing page when a monthly subscription is anticipated can trigger a customer retreat. It would be a real pity if you offered both plans but figured there isn’t a difference in which one to display where.
The repercussions of content dissonance are twofold. Firstly, it prompts the assumption that the offered product does not align with the customer’s needs, leading to a swift retreat. Secondly, any noticeable shift erodes the trust initially established. If the promised content diverges from the landing page reality, confidence falters, increasing bounce rates and making your CRO analysis numbers weep.
In essence, content relevance in the conversion rate optimization audit ensures that the focus from the first interaction of a potential customer to conversion remains seamless and aligned with customer expectations.
Step 7: Visual Content
Many researchers support the importance of visuals in marketing. For example, in the research conducted by Venngage in 2022, 63.6% of marketers responded “very important” or “my strategy is nothing without visual content” when questioned about the importance of visuals for their strategies. The reason behind the uniform acknowledgment of visuals is in the anatomical nature of human perception of various types of information. Visual information is stored longer in our memory than speech or text and is processed much faster due to what scientists call the Visual Superiority Effect.
- Users can absorb the provided visual information faster and more efficiently.
- Visuals can convey emotions and mood, while text cannot do it with comparable precision.
- Visuals can reinforce corporate branding, increasing conversion rates.
The visuals you select must align with the message threading through your marketing efforts and be relevant to the text on the landing page and the conversion you want your potential customer to achieve. If you just use an eye-appealing image unrelated to the reason the person came to your page, it will only frustrate the customer and deter user experience. Additionally, optimize media files for faster loading times.
Step 8: Ideate on Changes for CRO
Now that you have analyzed various aspects of your website or landing page crucial for conversions, you should come up with hypotheses about what needs to be changed to improve conversions. Save your ideas to try them out later during A/B testing and categorize them into several groups:
- Ones that are going to make an impact on CRO (the easily identified flaws and the changes that involve product price),
- Ones that may make an impact (the ideas that you’ve gathered from running usability tests and website analytics tools),
- Ones that may or may not make an impact (layout, design, wording).
If you’ve identified obvious flaws in your website or user pain points that almost certainly result in increased bounce rates, go ahead and implement the changes without hesitation. This is a common situation when conducting a CRO audit for the first time: you thought you had a great product and a fair price, but the bounce rate on your landing page is over the top.
As soon as you start the conversion rate optimization audit, you identify that the add-to-cart button is hard to find, the page load time is more than three seconds, and the product description is written in a beautiful but hard-to-read cursive font.
Identifying surface flaws is easy and usually brings the most noticeable results. But, in most cases, you’ll need more tuning action and A/B testing, which we’ll discuss next.
|Categories of Changes
|Fixing surface flaws
|Improve user experience, including load speed, usability, and accessibility.
|Immediately fix the identified flaws
|Changes to the pricing or value of a product
|Change the shipping policy or add a volume discount
|Calculate how ROI may change, conduct another CRO audit to assess the results
|Changes suggested by usability tests or analytical tools
|Tune in less noticeable details for better UX
|Optionally do A/B testing to confirm these changes are needed, conduct another CRO audit
|Design and layout variants
|Try out different designs that seem equally attractive
|Do A/B testing to verify whether these changes are making an impact on CRO
Step 9: A/B Testing
We’ve hit a turning point: the world of A/B testing. Marketers who want to systematically optimize their digital presence, enhance overall user satisfaction, and improve the conversion rate by 49% should strategically incorporate A/B testing within their CRO audit process. A/B testing has many benefits for CRO audits, especially when you’re not fixing the apparent bugs but comparing different options:
- Hypothesis testing: A/B testing lets companies test their website hypotheses. You can use the actual user data to prove or disprove your hypothesis, like if you think a red CTA button will get more clicks than a blue one.
- Data-driven decisions: A/B testing delivers user behavior data instead of intuition. This method helps make educated website improvements that increase performance.
- Improved user experience: Testing layout design, content, pictures, and navigation determines what works best for the target audience. Higher engagement and conversion rates frequently result from improved user experience.
- Smaller risk: Using A/B test results to make adjustments decreases the chance of making choices that hurt user experience or conversion rates. Making modest modifications without rebuilding the site or feature based on assumptions helps you stay on the safe side.
- Continuous improvement: Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process of every successful business. By evaluating and improving website aspects, A/B testing helps to develop continuously. This strategy keeps the digital platform current with user preferences and market changes.
Step 10: Implementation, Monitoring, and Iteration
Now that you’ve identified customers’ pain points caused by design flaws, gathered information from usability testing, and tried out different variants with A/B testing, it’s time to implement the changes and set your conversion horses loose once again.
Collaboration is crucial during this stage. Relevant teams must leverage their specialties – designers create engaging imagery and restyle, web developers build responsive layouts and optimize performance, and marketers adjust shipping policies and discounts. Another essential approach is precision – ensure you implement the changes your conversion rate optimization audit checklist identifies as necessary. Don’t take half-measures; you might be disappointed with minimal results, leading to a repetition of the entire procedure.
Once the changes are live, monitoring begins. Use analytics tools to track ongoing performance. Be vigilant for any changes; categorize them as either due to the alterations suggested by the CRO audit. Most importantly, monitor your conversion rates, ensuring a timestamp before and after implementing the changes.
Remember, optimization is an ongoing process. If your new CRO numbers show the desired change, focus on other ways to grow your business, such as increasing traffic or developing new products. If the results fall short, gather more data and return to the CRO audit workshop to form new ideas. Create a conversion rate optimization audit template to streamline repeated CRO audits.
Finally, be agile in any scenario. Conduct CRO audits regularly, as new ways to optimize your marketing strategies and conversion tools may arise.
Make the Best Out of CRO Audits With Phonexa Tools
A CRO audit is crucial for all businesses that depend on conversions. In a way, it’s like an X-ray scan for your conversion machine: it examines every little gear, ensures they are well-oiled, and points out the ones that need reinstallation. Going through a CRO audit agenda is, in fact, the best way to optimize all marketing efforts for selling your product most effectively without inflating your budget.
When you’re putting together the audit plan for a CRO, select analytical tools that can retrieve essential data. For the CRO website audit, use Phonexa software tools, such as HitMetrix for user behavior recording and analytics and Lynx for click tracking.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CRO analysis?
A conversion rate optimization audit (CRO audit, CRO analysis) identifies factors contributing to your site’s efficiency in turning visitors into customers.
Is a CRO audit a one-time process or ongoing?
While a thorough initial CRO analysis is crucial, optimization is an ongoing process. Regular CRO audit adapts strategies to evolving business priorities and market dynamics.
Can I conduct a Conversion Rate Optimization audit by myself?
While professional CRO analysis services are an option, conducting a DIY CRO analysis provides many advantages. It allows you to reduce the budget, master essential tools that will assist you with monitoring the optimization processes, and deepen your understanding of how your company works. Additionally, conducting a conversion rate optimization audit on your own might be more effective than if done by a third-party company.
Can a CRO audit improve ROI metrics?
Yes. Conducting a conversion rate optimization audit will provide you with the data that can increase the number of conversions while not increasing the budget. This approach will result in an increased Return on Investment percentage.
Is it hard to learn how to audit CRO?
Conducting a conversion rate optimization audit is not difficult, especially with the right resources. Begin by reading the essential guide on the best CRO audit practices, which provides valuable insights, CRO audit templates, and CRO audit examples.
What are KPIs, and why are they essential in CRO audits?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are crucial metrics that help gauge the success of CRO audit efforts. They vary based on business goals and the conversion rate optimization audit type and may provide data about conversion rates, time users spend on the website, cart abandonment rates, average revenue per buyer, and more.
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