The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is an in-depth tutorial designed to help you convert more passive website visitors into active users that engage with your content or purchase your products.

This guide will walk you through the basics of CRO—from why it matters in the first place to how you can go about building your own testing and optimization plan. You’ll find information that will help you improve the performance of your website, including: optimizing your landing pages and user experience, as well as the tools you’ll need to be successful.

First, a quick definition…

CRO is the method of using analytics and user feedback to improve the performance of your website. CRO can be used to improve any metric on your website that’s important to your business–often called key performance indicators (KPIs)–that you’re trying to improve, but it’s often associated with acquiring new customers, registrations, downloads, etc. Put another way, it increases the percentage of website visitors who experience the “aha moment” (or the must-have user experience) that turns passive browsers into valuable conversions.

At its most fundamental, CRO means figuring out what users are looking for when they arrive at your site and then giving that to them. CRO takes many different forms, based on the KPI you’re trying to improve. Sometimes this involves making your call-to-action more apparent or placing it on a traffic-heavy (but under-optimized) page. At other times this means removing or relocating unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming steps from your conversion funnel, as the added friction can prevent a conversion from ever happening.

Why should you care?

You should care about CRO for a few reasons. First, you are most likely paying for traffic to your site in one way or another, and a high conversion rate means a better return on that investment (ROI). It’s also much more cost-effective to convert a higher percentage of the visitors you already have than to attract more visitors. In addition to improving your ROI, optimization helps to defend against the limited attention span of your average visitor by giving them what they want before they tire of looking for it and move on.

CRO is important!

  • Higher conversion rate = better ROI
  • More cost effective than finding more visitors
  • Defends against limited patience of visitors

It’s important to understand, however, that optimization is about getting more of the right kind of customers—not just blindly optimizing the conversion rate of a given page or campaign. It won’t do you any good if the people you’re acquiring are the wrong fit for your business. It’s important to keep the focus on optimizing to find more customers who will love your product and help you grow by spreading the word. Everything else is a waste of your time and resources.

Actionable is the key word here. Collecting data for data’s sake is not the end goal of user surveys. Rather, it’s the ability to analyze the responses and find new areas of opportunity to improve the performance of your business that counts. Collection without action is a cardinal sin.

The next chapter is devoted exclusively to the importance of surveys, so we won’t delve too deeply into that here. Instead, let’s review the distinct types of online user surveys.

Chapter 1. What is Conversion Rate Optimization

In the introduction, CRO is defined as the method of using analytics and user feedback to improve the performance of your website. In Chapter 1, we’ll discuss CRO in simpler terms and what it may look like for you.

Chapter 2. Why Conversion Rate Optimization is Important

You might find yourself in a situation where you can’t immediately dive in to tackle what you know to be your biggest optimization issue without first making a case for CRO.

Chapter 3. The Basics of Conversion Rate Optimization

Many people choose to use Unique Visitors when determining their Conversion Rate. But whatever metric you ultimately decide on, consistency is key. Read on to learn the basics of Conversion Rate Optimization.

Chapter 4. Building & Testing an Optimization Plan

When it comes to constructing a Conversion Rate Optimization Plan, people typically take one of two approaches: applying popular Conversion Rate Optimization tactics or building a Conversion Rate Optimization plan.

Chapter 5. User Experience & Funnel Optimization

When we talk about user experience (UX), there’s more to it than just looks. We are referring to the totality of visitors’ experience with your site.

Chapter 6. Landing Page Optimization

Chances are, if there’s an under-optimized page on your site, your landing page is it. Yet many users’ first impressions are based predominantly on this page.

Chapter 7. Reducing Bounce & Exit Rates

Despite the depths of the Internet and the billions of pages offered, users are arriving at your website, and then without any explanation—they’re leaving. Why?

Chapter 8. Myths About Conversion Rate Optimization

In this guide we’ve touched on the many Conversion Rate Optimization myths. In this chapter, however, we’re going to discuss them in a bit more detail.

Chapter 9. Tools to Test & Optimize Conversion

If you’re looking for a basic explanation of which tool does what and how, you’ll find that here. If you want recommendations, you’ll find those as well. To say there is a tool for every job is an understatement.

Chapter 10. Measuring Conversion Efforts & Calling Winners

How do you know which tests are improvements and which ones aren’t moving the needle? And more importantly, what will you do once you’ve called the winners and optimized your first set of tests?

Chapter 11. Bonus Advanced Tips & Hacks for CRO

Here is a composite list of additional hacks and tips that we have collected to keep you on top of the game.

Chapter 12. Conclusion

Now that you’re a CRO pro, what’s next?

We’ll use a lot of terms to describe conversions and the people that visit your online property. They are meant to provide an example in each instance, and are not meant to be definitive. For instance, if we say “improve the performance of your website” that could also be applied to improving the performance of your: website, landing page, web application, registration form, etc.

Likewise, when we talk about a visitor or user, we use them interchangeably (unless otherwise noted) to denote a person who is using your online property.

We’ve taken these liberties to improve the readability of the document and maintain flow. Please know that when the authors land on a word like users they routinely say in their head, “or visitors, or registered users, or…” Thank you for obliging us in this liberty.

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