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A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Converstion Rate OptimizationWhat the Flaming Heck is CRO?

You probably don’t need another three letter, jargon acronym in your life but CRO should be one that all online marketers need to be aware of. CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization, which in short, is the practice of improving the performance of your web pages. By improving performance, we mean improving a web page’s conversion rate. And by improving the conversion rate we mean getting more visitors to a web page to do what you want them to do.  You do want them to do something don’t you?

Presumably you want visitors to sign up to your newsletter, share your content, fill in an enquiry form, click on an advertisement, call you on the phone and maybe even buy something. All these activities are conversions and every business wants more of them. CRO is the science of getting more visitors to do what you want them to do. I’ll explain later why I think CRO is akin to science.

It’s Nothing New

Long before the web came along, marketeers have been pulling tricks to make people do what they want them to do. They may have used a ‘special’ price, a scare tactic, the promise of a better life or a maybe even a risqué image.

On a website, all you have are web pages. But some web pages convert better than others. If two pages attempt to make visitors take the same action but one manages to convert a greater percentage that the other; then understanding what makes that difference is pure CRO gold.

The difference online is that so much analytical data is produced by the visitors to your web page that it means we can measure what works and what doesn’t work, in the minutest of detail.

More Visitors vs CRO

If a web page signs up 2 out of every 100 visitors to a newsletter then 2500 visits are needed to achieve 50 signups. But if the same page can be changed to signup 5 of every 100 visitors then only 1000 visitors are needed to achieve 50 signups. This is especially important when you have paid to get the visitors to the web page.

So, what makes some pages work better than others?

Nothing’s for Nothing

If you want visitors to your website to give you something, they will usually want to know what’s in it for them? What can they expect in return? Some information, to be kept up to date with industry news, a discount, a service or a product. But before they decide to trade with you, they’ll have to trust you. And that’s where CRO comes in.

                                       Easy to Action

There’s a great deal to learn and although mastering CRO can get a little geeky at times, most of the techniques are easy to action. As a brief introduction; here are some CRO tips that have been proven to increase the conversion rate of a web page.

Fewer Options

Simply put, pages with fewer options convert better. Known as page ‘leakage’ the more options you offer on a web page, the more likely visitors will take an option that you least want them to. Practically speaking, it means decluttering a page to leave only the essential options. Reduce, reduce, reduce.

Form Fatigue

The longer the form you want filled in, the less likely that it will be completed. Ask only for the bare minimum to make the exchange and don’t be a greedy marketer. The more you ask for, the less you’ll get. Get the conversion first; ask for more data later.


Saying how good your product or service is has a lot less impact than if your customers say it. Use endorsements and testimonials to get your message across. Prove that others have already taken the steps that you’re asking new prospects to take. 


Keep the continuity flowing for your visitors. If you make a promise or set their expectations with a link, then make sure your visitors don’t become confused, misled or underwhelmed when following the trail that you lay for them. Surprises are not always welcome.

Avoid Great Walls of Text

People read differently online especially when reading your web page on a mobile device while on the move. Text is often scanned rather than read and so unless you’re imparting academic or technical information, keep it short to reduce the likelihood of loosing their attention   

It seems like common sense, and most of it is but it's surprising the number of websites that don’t consider the benefits of CRO. Believe me, these quick tips are just scratching the surface of the CRO tools that can help your web pages perform better. 

CRO is like doing science

As I said, CRO is like science because all the tips provided here can be backed up by data. Controlled tests have proved that making the types of changes listed here get results. When comparing pages that have been optimized with those that haven’t, the conversion rates speak for themselves. CRO means continually experimenting with changes to your web pages and finding improvements. Some optimization delivers immediate results, whilst others need to be continually tested to find optimum performance. It's true that applying CRO can improve profit margins by getting better returns from your marketing spend.

By the way, if you clicked the a big 'press me' button to get to this article, then you have just seen CRO in action.


Have you ever made a simple change to a web page that really made a big difference?

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