The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
Chapter 3: The Basics of Conversion Rate Optimization
You operate a brick-and-mortar storefront and a customer comes in to check out one of your products. The clerk does a good job, and she seems pleased with the quality. She gets an important phone call, however, so she goes outside to take it. Or she forgets her wallet in her car. Or she goes to the shop down the street to see how their product compares.
She may eventually come back to your store and each time she does so counts as a single visit. If she stops in three times, she’s made three visits. She is, of course, still the same person–one unique visitor making three visits back to the store.
Let’s start with those basic metrics we discussed briefly in Chapter 1. We defined conversion rate as the total number of conversions divided by the number of visitors to your site.
But are we talking Total Visitors or Unique Visitors?
Think of it this way…
This is similar to how people shop online.
They sometimes look around a bit, they often get distracted and check out the competition. And just like it wouldn’t make sense for a salesclerk in the above scenario to be reprimanded for not making a sale during each of the customer’s several visits, online stores shouldn’t expect to make a sale for each visitor represented by the Total Visitor count.
For this reason, many people choose to use Unique Visitors when determining their Conversion Rate. But whatever metric you ultimately decide on, consistency is key. It you decide Total Visitors gives a more accurate measure of your conversion rate, be sure to use it consistently or your trends will be off.
But there is a caveat: Currently “uniqueness” is measured by setting a persistent cookie, which isn’t perfect or always reliable. 
You must also determine what time period you want to use in determining your Conversion Rate. Again, consistency is key here. Dividing a week’s Unique Visitors by the number of people who converted that week, and you’ve got that week’s (or day’s, or month’s) conversion rate. It’s not a good idea to add up daily unique visitors to make up a week or month. 
Now that you know your current Conversion Rate, you can begin looking for barriers in your Conversion Funnel.
Identifying barriers in your conversion funnel
As we discussed in Chapter 1, at its most basic level Conversion Rate Optimization is simply finding out why visitors aren’t converting and fixing it. Rather than a series of guesses and hunches, CRO is a “process of diagnosis, hypothesis and testing”.
Any CRO strategy should begin with you putting yourself in your visitors’ shoes and looking closely at your site—specifically your Conversion Funnel. Where are the confusing or difficult points? These are the barriers standing in your visitors’ path to conversion.
Here are some areas you should take a look at:
But this list is by no means comprehensive; and what succeeds for one site might actually hurt the user experience (and therefore conversion rate) on another. This is because each site has its own unique mission, strengths and challenges. You may read reports of amazing success from changing button colors but it’s important to realize that generalized tweaks like this don’t resolve more serious problems like the ones listed above.
Barriers in your Conversion Funnel will still exist, and there’s only so much you and your team can do to identify them. Ultimately, you will have to reach out to your users and ask them what about your site isn’t working (more on that in Chapter 5).
For both types of conversions, your conversion rate hinges on 6 factors:
Chapter 3 Notes