24 Jan The Beginner's Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Today, most marketing teams are structured to drive traffic toward websites, which then converts into leads for the sales team to close. Once this process starts to deliver results, marketers then seek to generate even more traffic, and hopefully even more success.
It might be an oversimplification, but that’s the standard marketing playbook. Few marketing teams focus on getting more from existing traffic. That’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in.
In this blog post, we’ll teach you all about CRO — what it achieves, why you should do it, and how your team can execute it.
We’ll explain how you can drive more results from your existing traffic so your content can work smarter, and not harder, for you.
What is conversion rate optimization (CRO)?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of enabling people to take an action when they visit a website. By designing and modifying certain elements of a webpage, a business can increase the chances that site visitors will “convert” into a lead or customer before they leave.
Many websites are designed to convert website visitors into customers. These conversions occur all over the website — on the homepage, pricing page, blog, and landing pages — and all of these can be optimized for a higher number of conversions. The process of optimizing those conversions is exactly what CRO entails.
Here’s a little more detail on how the above website elements can benefit from CRO.
Homepages are prime candidates for CRO. In addition to making a first impression on visitors, the homepage is also an opportunity to retain those visitors and guide them further into your website. You can do this by emphasizing links to product information, offering a free signup button, or even incorporating a chatbot that solicits questions from visitors at any point during their browsing experience.
A website’s pricing page can be the make-or-break point for many website visitors. CRO can help a pricing page convert visitors into customers by modifying the pricing intervals (e.g. price per year vs. price per month), describing the product features associated with each price, and including a phone number for visitors to call for a price quote.
The blog is a massive conversion opportunity for a business’s website. In addition to publishing thoughtful and helpful content about your industry, a blog can use CRO to convert readers into leads. This process often includes adding calls-to-action (CTA) throughout an article, inviting readers to learn more about a topic by submitting their email address in exchange for a ebook or industry report.
Landing pages are inherently designed for people to take an action. An event landing page, for example, can be optimized with a video of last-year’s event to encourage visitors to register for this year’s. A landing page for a free resource can be optimized with preview content from that resource to encourage users to download it.
Conversion rate optimization is a huge, often untapped opportunity for marketing teams, and you might be surprised by the oversized impact you could deliver by fine-tuning your website for conversions.
When is conversation rate optimization (CRO) right for your business?
Once your sales and marketing engine consistently attracts website visitors — and at progressively high amounts — you should start thinking about CRO to convert those visitors into leads for your sales team.
Businesses typically have a finite demand for products and services, so it’s imperative that you make the most out of your existing website traffic. Tools like Google’s Global Market Finder can show you online search volume to give you an idea of your potential customer demand.
How to Calculate Conversion Rate
You can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions a webpage generated by the number of people who visited that page. Marketers can find the conversion rate of ad clicks, blog posts, websites, and landing pages.
Once you determine the threshold of your customer demand, it’s time to nail down how to get more out of your existing website traffic. But setting a conversion goal isn’t as easy as, “this page converted 50 people this month, so we want 100 next month.”
To improve your business’s conversion potential, you need to look back at the term we defined at the beginning of this article: conversion rate optimization. You don’t just want 50 more conversions from a webpage — you want 50 more conversions for every X amount of people who visit it. This is your conversion rate — it’s the percentage of people who convert on your website based on how many people have touched it.
Below are three formulas to help you figure out how to tackle CRO at your company, and what goals to set:
- New revenue goal ÷ average sales price = # of new customers
- # of new customers ÷ lead-to-customer close rate % = lead goal
- Leads generated ÷ website traffic X100 = % conversion rate
To help you understand the impact CRO could have on your business, here’s an example of the formulas in action:
If your website has 10,000 visitors per month that generate 100 leads — and subsequently, 10 customers each month — the website visitor to lead conversion rate would be 1%.
What if you wanted to generate 20 customers each month? You could try to get 20,000 visitors to your website and hope that the quality of traffic doesn’t decrease. Or, you could get more leads from your existing traffic by optimizing your conversion rate.
If you increased the conversion rate from 1% to 2%, you’d double your leads and your customers.
The table below shows the impact of increasing your website’s conversion rate:
|Company A||Company B||Company C|
|Monthly website traffic||10,000||10,000||10,000|
|% conversion rate||1%||2%||3%|
|# of new customers||10||20||30|
The key point here? Trying to generate more website traffic isn’t necessarily the right approach. Think of it like a leaky bucket. Pouring more water into a leaky bucket won’t fix the root cause — you’ll just end up with a lot of waste. Conversion rate optimization is about getting more from what you get and making it work even better for you.
Ready to take the first steps toward CRO at your company? Check out the strategies below, and start testing.
CRO Marketing Strategies to Try
1. Create text-based CTAs within blog posts.
While it’s good practice to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your blog post, these sometimes fail to entice people to take the desired course of action. Banner blindness is a very real phenomenon as people become accustomed to ignoring banner-like information on websites. This lack of attention, coupled with the fact that website visitors don’t always read to the bottom of a blog post as they “snack” on content, means a new approach is required.
That’s where the text-based CTA comes in handy. Here at HubSpot, we ran a test with text-based CTAs — a standalone line of text linked to a landing page and styled as an H3 or an H4 — to see if they would convert more traffic into leads than regular CTAs at the bottom of a web page. Here’s one of ours below:
In HubSpot’s limited test of 10 blog posts, regular end-of-post banner CTAs contributed an average of just 6% of leads that the blog posts generated, whereas up to 93% of a post’s leads came from the anchor text CTA alone.
2. Include lead flows on your blog.
Another test you should consider is including lead flows on your blog. Essentially, these are high-converting pop-ups designed to attract attention and offer value. You can select from a slide-in box, drop-down banner or pop-up box, depending on your offer. We experimented with the slide-in box on the HubSpot blog, and it achieved a 192% higher clickthrough rate, and 27% more submissions than a regular CTA at the bottom of a blog post.
Head over to the HubSpot Academy to learn how to add lead flows to your blog posts. They can dramatically increase conversions on your website.
3. Run tests on your landing pages.
Landing pages are an important part of the modern marketer’s toolkit. A landing page is where a website visitor becomes a lead, or an existing lead engages more deeply with your brand. These pages play an important role on your website, so you should run A/B tests to get the most from them.
But what should you A/B test? We know that a high performing landing page can have a tremendous impact on a business, so at HubSpot, we make it easy to test variants and eke out more conversions. You can quickly and easily test website copy, content offer, image, form questions, and page design. Check out these tips for effective A/B testing and our A/B testing calculator.
4. Help leads to immediately become a marketing-qualified lead (MQL).
Sometimes, your website visitors want to get straight down to business and speak with a sales rep, rather than be nurtured by marketing offers. You can make it easy for them to take this action (and immediately become a marketing qualified lead) with a combination of thoughtful design and smart CTAs.
Compelling, clear copy has the ability to drive action and increase conversions for your business. But which actions do you want to encourage so visitors can become MQLs?
Here at HubSpot, we discovered that visitors who sign up for product demos convert at higher rates than visitors who sign up for free product trials, so we optimized our website and conversion paths for people booking a demo or a meeting with a sales rep. Admittedly, this depends on your product and sales process, but our best advice is to run a series of tests to find out what generates the most customers. Then, optimize for that process.
The key takeaway is to look for ways to remove friction from the sales process. That being said, if you make it easy for people to book a meeting with sales reps, we do recommend further qualification before the call takes place, so the sales rep can tailor the conversation.
5. Build workflows to enable your sales team.
There are a number of automated workflows you can create that your colleagues in sales will thank you for. For instance, did you know it’s possible to send emails on behalf of sales reps, so leads can book a meeting with them at the click of a button? Or that sales reps can receive an email notification when a lead takes a high intent action, such as viewing the pricing page on your website? And if you work in ecommerce, you can send an email to people who abandon their shopping cart.
All of this is possible with marketing automation. Want to learn more? Master marketing automation with our helpful guide.
6. Add messages to high-converting web pages.
With HubSpot’s messages tool, it’s now possible to chat with website visitors in real-time. To increase conversions, you should add messaging capabilities to high-performing web pages, such as pricing or product pages, so leads convert rather than leave.
You can also make chatting action-based. For example, if someone has spent more than a minute on the page, you may want to automatically offer to help and answer any questions they may have (HubSpot’s live chat tool, now available, makes this easy).
7. Optimize high-performing blog posts.
If you’ve been blogging for more than a year, it’s likely you’ll have some blog posts that outperform others.
The same is true at HubSpot — in fact, the majority of our monthly blog views and leads come from posts published more than a month ago. Blog posts are a big opportunity for conversion rate optimization.
To get started, identify the blog posts with high levels of web traffic, but low conversion rates. It may be that the content offer you’re promoting isn’t aligned with the blog post’s content, or your CTA could be unclear.
In one instance, we added a press release content offer to a blog post about press releases and saw conversions for that post increase by 240%.
Additionally, you should look at blog posts with high conversion rates. You want to drive more qualified website traffic to those posts, and you can do that by optimizing the content for search engines or updating the content to ensure that it’s fresh and relevant. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can drive traffic to these pages from LinkedIn and Facebook using the ads add-on.
8. Leverage retargeting to re-engage website visitors.
It doesn’t matter what your key conversion metric is: The cold, hard truth is that most people on your website don’t take the action you want them to. By leveraging retargeting (sometimes known as remarketing), you can re-engage people who’ve left your website.
Retargeting works by tracking visitors to your website and serving them online ads as they visit other sites around the web. This is particularly impactful when you retarget people who visit high-converting web pages.
The normal inbound rules still apply — you need well-crafted copy, an engaging image and a compelling offer for retargeting to work. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you should take a look at how the AdRoll integration can improve your conversion efforts.
How to Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
We’ve shared a ton of information in this post, and at this point, you may be thinking, “where should I start?”
Here’s where the PIE framework comes in. Before starting a CRO project, we recommend prioritizing through the lens of PIE — rank each project based on its potential, importance, and ease. We used this framework at HubSpot with great results.
You should use this framework to answer the following questions for every strategy outlined in the previous section. Assign to each strategy a score between one and 10 (with one being the lowest and 10 being the highest):
- How much total improvement can this project offer?
- How valuable will this improvement be?
- How complicated or difficult will it be to implement this improvement?
Once you’ve assigned a score for each strategy, add up the numbers and then divide it by three — this gives a score which shows what project will have the greatest impact. Then, work on the projects with the highest scores first. The framework isn’t perfect, but it’s easy to understand, systematic, and a great way to communicate to the rest of your colleagues which CRO projects are being selected and why.
Want to learn more about the PIE framework? Take a look at this explanation from WiderFunnel.
There are a lot of “best practices” out there, but ultimately, you need to find out what your customers respond to, and what drives results for your business. Here are three follow-up actions to get started with CRO today:
- Use the three formulas to start the CRO conversation.
- Leverage the PIE framework to help prioritize your strategy.
- Make CRO someone’s responsibility.
What CRO strategies does your business leverage? Share with us in the comments below.