What is conversion rate optimization?


Business owners who invest a lot of time and money in search engine optimization don’t have to wait long to see the first results: their website appears at the top of the search results and the number of visitors increases. But what to do if there is no revenue improvement ?

Having many visitors browsing your pages does not necessarily mean a large number of orders, downloads or requests of real interest. The visitor contributes to making your web project economically profitable ( useful and lead ) only by interacting with it, or by subscribing to the newsletter service offered, filling the digital cart with products or entering their data in a contact form.Index

When this happens we talk about conversions (from English conversion). Conversion analysis and optimization is one of the most important tasks for many online marketers. In particular, it is a question of measuring and lastingly improving the relationship between traffic and conversions, a value that is called the conversion rate . For the analysis tools such as Google Analytics are used and the improvement affects usability, content and page layout as well as many other factors. But more specifically, what is a conversion rate optimization process really? Definition

Conversion optimization (CRO) is one of the most important subdisciplines of online marketing and mainly focuses on the observation, analysis and improvement of the conversion rate , which serves as one of the various KPIs ( Key Performance Indicator ) for the control of the web project, especially in e-commerce. The goal of conversion optimization is to increase turnover : an objective that is achieved through the adaptation (ie improvement) of various components such as usability, layout and content of the pages of a website.

Conversion optimization: the key factor for success on the web

Although advertising is a lucrative and highly regarded business, it remains a secondary source of income for many website operators. Today, the diversity of web offers is closely linked to commercial interests, which make the sale of products and services or the subscription of subscriptions pass first. Convincing users to subscribe to the newsletter is often seen as more meaningful than selling advertising space. NB

The conversion rate is expressed as a percentage value and calculated as follows: Conversion rate (%) = Number of conversions * 100 / Number of website visitors .

Regardless of what goal you have set for your project in terms of conversions, the average number of users is clearly decisive. An online shop with 100,000 visitors per month is clearly much more promising than a web shop that is visited by only 10,000 potential customers during the same reporting period.

However, if the latter were to be able to push users to purchase better than the former is able to do, the potential advantage due to the greater flow of traffic will not pay off expectations (on the contrary, traffic means in fact higher expenditure for making resources available). The same applies to particularly expensive newsletter campaigns and also to the preparation of good quality whitepapers , etc. A good conversion rate is essential to achieve the desired result.

The potential of conversion rate optimization is certainly clearer by having a concrete example to refer to. In the following table we show what the frame data for a fictitious online shop looks like before and after the 1% conversion rate optimization:

  Before Optimizing Conversions After conversion optimization 
Monthly single visitors 100,000 100,000 
Conversion rate 2 % 3% 
Orders concluded 2,000 3,000 
Value of the digital cart for a single order 100 USD 100 USD 
Revenue 200,000 USD 300,000 USD 
Margin 20% 20% 
Proceeds 40,000 USD 60,000 USD 

In this case, the optimization of the conversion rate by only one percentage point leads to an increase in revenues for an amount of 20,000 USD per month, or 240,000 USD per year.

The key elements of conversion rate optimization

Web projects are clearly very different from each other and therefore it is not possible to find a universal solution for conversion optimization. If for a website it is a question of improving navigation within its pages, for another for example it may involve pushing users to purchase ( Call-To-Action ), transforming them into buyers, subscribers, etc. A third site, on the other hand, might be okay with regards to these two components, but suffer from bad button positioning to actually achieve conversions.

It is therefore important to know what needs to be optimized to actually improve the conversion rate. Otherwise, the risk is to go to work on well-functioning elements with a consequent loss of time, money and energy.

To achieve satisfactory results for your project, it is therefore good practice to base the conversion optimization process on the following five key elements:

  1. Status quo analysis
  • What is the goal of conversion optimization?
  • What elements of the website are relevant to achieving the desired conversions?
  • What are the expectations and motivations of users?
  • What is the bounce rate and when / at what point do users leave the pages?
  1. Hypothesis and optimization planning
  • Where are the weaknesses of the process leading to conversions?
  • What effects do these weaknesses have on users’ motivation to make purchases?
  • How do you improve user interaction?
  • Prepare a work plan for optimizing the conversion rate.
  1. Draft and creation of alternatives
  • Creation of alternative pages, interactive elements, designs and contents.
  • Two viable options: simple refinements or a renewal from scratch.
  • The live version remains functional (the optimizations must initially be applied on trial versions).
  1. Optimized component testing
  • In what period of time should the test be conducted? The longer the test duration, the more accurate the data collected will be.
  • Implementation of components tested through various procedures, such as A / B testing  or multivariate testing .
  • Observation of the test in progress through the use of specific analysis software such as Google Analytics or Piwik .
  • Interpreting the data obtained from the tests and choosing the most promising conversion optimization variants.
  1. Roll out
  • Integration of optimized components within the live version of the website.
  • Observation of the performance of the new variants, in case of emergency return to the previous / original version (technical problems or worsening of the conversion rate).
  • Documentation of acquired knowledge.
  • Use of the obtained data for the future optimization of the conversion rate.

What optimization methods are there?

Depending on the type of web project, there are various aspects that favor or otherwise prevent success in terms of conversions. Operating characteristics can influence user behavior on your pages as do content, visual and structural characteristics. Below are the most important methods for optimizing the conversion rate to choose from, even when combining more than one.

Shopping cart optimization

The optimization of the shopping cart appears obvious for e-commerce sites, but not so much for other types of sites. The conversion goal in this case is the processing of the purchase, i.e. the check out of the cart, but at the base there is the moment in which the user adds one or more items to the cart . If only a handful of users use the shopping cart, then optimization is necessary, as well as in the case of a high bounce rate by users who have already selected the goods for their shopping cart. Among the various possible causes is a too complicated process to complete an order, inadequate payment possibilities or the lack of reliability of your site. Here are some measures that can be taken:

  • Integration of elements that inspire trust in users (for example various reliability certifications).
  • Offer additional payment options (PayPal, credit / debit cards, automatic debit, etc.).
  • Simplification of the purchasing process , for example allowing the user to order even without registering.
  • Pop-up notifications if an item has been in the digital shopping cart for some time but the purchase is not completed.

Usability optimization

A user-friendly website, i.e. with a good degree of usability, is not only one of the most important criteria for search engine rankings, but also of inestimable value for the conversion rate, regardless of the type of web project (online shop , news portal or website of your company). Put simply by usability we mean the intuitiveness with which a user is able to move on your site and the comprehensibility of the information contained therein . In optimizing the conversion rate it is important to look for weaknesses in the layout of the pages, the hierarchy of the website as well as the interactive elements used.

The more harmonious the individual components are to each other within a website, the more likely it is that the desired conversions will occur. The fundamental components that must absolutely be verified for the usability analysis are the following:

  • The navigation menu that links together and presents users to the various themes / sectors present on your website.
  • The interactive elements such as buttons, forms, etc.; on which users must click to complete a certain conversion.
  • The legibility of the texts and of the integrated textual elements (including highlights, text color contrast, style, etc.).
  • The internal search function .

Content optimization

Even the content of a website often offers optimization potential, starting from the setting of the content of the snippets (the meta tags ). Clearly there are keywords that if used attract users, words like « free » or « offer ». However, care must be taken not to create expectations that are not then met. Otherwise the user, disappointed, would end up leaving the site prematurely, making any possibility of conversion vanish.

Particularly significant is the quality of the content on the site. High-quality content that meets visitor expectations is the most promising in terms of conversions. Therefore it is worthwhile to focus on different types of content (textual, video, image, etc.) to offer as much diversity as possible, in the most appropriate ratio. The aforementioned Call-to-Action also plays a central role, whose formulation and positioning represent one of the most important tasks in optimizing conversions. Here are some measures for promising content optimization:

  • Implementation of personalized content , related to user behavior, such as product and article proposals.
  • Well calculated keyword frequency , especially in those steps highly relevant to desired conversions.
  • Integration of tutorials in video format that help visitors understand and discover your web offer and that explain the purchase process or the functioning of the internal search function.
  • Use of figurative elements such as headings, bold and lists

Design and layout optimization

On the same level of content and usability at the level of importance there is the aspect of the web project. It is proven that layout and design have a great influence on user behavior , which is why they should never be forgotten in terms of conversion rate optimization. In this regard, the so-called neuromarketing , which deals with the functioning of the decision-making process in relation to the purchase, has become increasingly important in recent years . There are many ways of manipulating the visual elements of a website: arrangement, positioning and color choice; these are just a few examples. What is certain is that they contribute in a decisive way to the optimization of conversions.

Possible optimization steps for layout and design :

  • Test and use of different color samples.
  • Provide users with multiple web project designs to choose from.
  • Seasonal designs, such as Christmas-specific designs.

Optimization for mobile devices

Mobile devices now account for the majority of Internet traffic and therefore cannot be excluded from either the conversion rate optimization process or from search engine optimization: the attention that is spent on ensuring correct mobile viewing is not it must be less than that invested in desktop playback. The ‘ optimization Mobile includes all the methods presented so far , the digital shopping cart usability, until you get to content, layout and design.

While there is no basic need to distinguish between desktop and mobile versions, it is still advisable in some cases. Particularly if you make use of interactive and multimedia elements, it cannot be forgotten that users from mobile devices often access your website with a limited connection. Relying on lean, quick-to-load code is significantly more important for mobile than for the desktop variant. We therefore recommend the following optimization measures:

  • Image compression , including fitting to smaller displays.
  • Limit the number of multimedia elements.
  • Secure CSS and JavaScript (compressed) in separate files.
  • Develop mobile apps so that the service adapts to mobile devices.
  • Using the ( Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

Optimization of conversions in the SEA sector

Conversion rate optimization also plays an important role in search engine advertising or SEA . In fact, those who deal with advertisements and work with Google display networks and beyond, have great interest in being clicked on their banners. In this way it is possible to attract new visitors to your web project , which can later lead to the desired conversions; thus making the optimization of advertising banners potentially very profitable.

On the one hand, the goal is to make advertising texts interesting and compelling, but always without creating false expectations. On the other hand, it is to find suitable placements (placements) within the display network and choose these as the place for their advertising campaigns. Here are some of the possible optimization actions:

  • Reset the advertising texts used.
  • Change the strategy of active bids (redistribution of the budget available for campaigns).
  • Individual choice of the positioning of each single ad instead of the automatic assignment of the specific service of the search engine.
  • Optimize SEA ads, especially those of products that work the most.

Conversion optimization should include continuous improvement processes , which only end when you decide to abandon the project in question. While individual optimizations lose their effectiveness with the passage of time, on the other hand it is possible to always find new elements to work on and which can positively influence the optimization of the conversion rate. It does not necessarily have to be components of the website. There are also external factors such as advertising on radio, print and television . These factors also contribute to improving one’s conversion rate, as well as the work on one’s image or through specific campaigns on social media.