Prioritizing Conversion Rate Optimization

November 5, 2018

Many marketers don’t understand their Web-site visitors. But boosting Web-site traffic is usually high on their list of goals—if not their highest priority. How can they increase their site’s traffic if they don’t know what visitors want or need? And will simply growing the number of visitors lead to higher profits?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that your Web site looks amazing. If you’re asking the wrong people to do the wrong things at the wrong time, your conversion rates will suffer. Conversion-rate optimization (CRO) requires understanding your audience, which, in turn, requires conducting research, asking visitors for feedback, and experimenting with messaging—among other things. Having a CRO strategy is the best way to ensure your site visitors turn into loyal customers.

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Avoiding Major Mistakes

When you’re creating a Web site, don’t fall into the trap of designing for aesthetics alone. While it’s true that your site says a lot about your brand, so you want it to look good, form should never supersede function.

As a UX professional, you rarely hear from nonconverting visitors. But, to understand why visitors are hesitant to convert, you need to understand what types of visitors they are and what intentions they had when they came to your site. You can identify problems with your user experience by gathering and dissecting visitor objections.

Finally, avoid basing your Web site’s construction on simple guesswork or so-called best practices. Instead, learn from your company’s mistakes and apply the insights you’ve gained when creating new content. What makes a CRO strategy effective? With a well-devised strategy, you’ll be following a systematic process that results in measurable outcomes, not flying blind.

Committing to CRO

By prioritizing CRO, you can increase the percentage of your site visitors who perform a desired action—whether it’s making a purchase, downloading a whitepaper, or signing up for an email newsletter. CRO requires having a keen understanding of your customers, including how they navigate through your Web site and what’s preventing them from taking the actions that would allow you to meet your conversion goals.

Getting to know your visitors well can take a lot of research, but even small gains in your conversion rates can have a big impact on your business success, starting with your top-line revenue, and ultimately, increasing your bottom-line profit. Trying to boost your site traffic would likely increase your customer-acquisition costs, but CRO lets you make more money from the visitors you already have. As a result, CRO can have enormous impact on the profitability of your business.

My company recently worked with a venture-backed client in the travel-and-hospitality space who wanted our team to drive greater booking revenues by focusing on search-engine optimization (SEO). However, keeping the goal of increasing revenues in mind, we suggested improving the conversion rate on their most-visited page instead. We believed optimizing that page would be a better investment. With a new plan in place, we collected customer objections through numerous surveys and tests, then made some simple changes to the page that yielded a 46-percent increase in conversions.

Our results are far from unusual. VentureBeat’s “Conversion Optimization” report, which assessed 36 CRO tools, with almost 3,000 tool users, and 3.1 million US Web sites, found that using a CRO tool increased return on investment (ROI) by an average of 223 percent. For the top 5 percent of companies, that increase in ROI was greater than 1,000 percent.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a complete Web-site overhaul to see significant conversion-rate increases. In fact, after simply adding a photo of a smiling customer next to its call to action, the lead-management company Highrise experienced a 102.5-percent increase in conversions.

Of course, you shouldn’t implement just any CRO strategy that you read about in a case study. A particular strategy might not be appropriate for your site. Although, if your research discovered that visitors aren’t converting because they feel your site is cheerless, maybe a photo of a smiling customer would work. In most cases, you’ll need to follow a scientific method based on research.

Integrating a CRO Strategy

If you’re building a new Web site or need to increase your current site’s conversions, follow these five steps to integrate a CRO strategy into your project.

1. Diagnose your design.

Things start to go astray when you make design decisions based on a hunch—even a hunch from a trustworthy source. Instead, use the data that you’ve collected when diagnosing your site and its visitors. This data can come from Web analytics, heat maps that measure clicks, session recordings, surveys, eyetracking studies, and many other diagnostic tools, including those for marketing research.

2. Pinpoint problem areas.

What is preventing visitors from converting? If you’re having trouble persuading visitors to make a particular purchase, perhaps that product doesn’t meet your visitors’ needs, but it’s also possible your offering fails to provoke a sense of urgency. In cases of particularly bad design, users might simply be having difficulty locating a product or service they’re interested in, or they might feel that your Web site isn’t sufficiently trustworthy to make a credit-card purchase or provide their contact information. Once you know your visitors’ objections, you can begin to correct the problems on your site.

3. Formulate a testing strategy.

Next, create hypotheses about how you could eliminate visitors’ objections. You should come up with a good list of potential fixes for an issue, then prioritize them. The most important strategies to test are those with the greatest potential for impact. Go big or go home. Then, test the ideas that are relatively easy or inexpensive to implement, because they can provide quick wins. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of ideas that have worked before, even if they don’t seem to be immediately applicable. Even small tweaks might result in improvements in surprising places.

4. Design, develop, test, repeat.

Start by running tests with low-fidelity wireframes or sketches. Once you receive feedback and improve the usability of your wireframed solution, the next step is to develop high-fidelity mockups and commence usability testing. Having obtained feedback from actual users, you can develop further mockups based on your results. Implement prototypes and start testing them on your site. Evaluate your success, then keep the optimization going by testing additional variations. CRO is a journey, not a destination.

5. Use the transitive property.

The experiments that increase your Web site’s conversion rates may be applicable elsewhere as well. Transfer those wins to other marketing channels whenever possible, including paid search, social-media marketing, display ads, and any other advertising channels that make sense. For example, if you made a change to your Web site’s copy that increased conversions on a product page, you might make a similar change in print marketing materials or social-media advertisements for that product.


While conversion-rate optimization can be an intensive process, it’s also a gift that keeps on giving. Increasing any conversion rate is a significant win. It also lets you invest more of your budget in generating additional Web traffic with the confidence that you’re already making the most of each Web-site visitor. Of course, boosting traffic is important—just make sure that CRO comes first. 

Founder and CEO of Teknicks

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, USA

Nick ChasinovNick is CEO of Teknicks, an agile Internet marketing agency that specializes in adaptive and analytics-driven strategies that are based on research, client collaboration, and goals. Teknicks is certified by Google in Analytics and Tag Manager and is a Google Premier AdWords partner.  Read More

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