What is CRO and How Does it Work?

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For the uninitiated, CRO might mean a few different things. In the ubiquitous rabbit hole of cryptocurrency, it’s a form of crypto that we’re not going to even attempt explaining. Elsewhere, attempting to hashtag the three letters on Twitter throws the Croatian flag up beside it. If previous attempts to familiarise yourself with the process have confused you, we don’t blame you. 

In the digital marketing world, however, CRO stands for conversion rate optimisation, which, you’ll be relieved to know, is what we’re focusing on here. Like SEO, UXO and any number of other digital disciplines, CRO is concerned with optimisation, a word that marketing types like us are pretty obsessed with.

With that said, conversion rate optimisation is a bit of a dark horse. While strengthening your SEO, creating traffic via social media, and using paid search might all feature in your current strategy, you might have overlooked what can be a hugely powerful part of your digital marketing toolbox.

So, what exactly does this unsung hero of site optimisation involve? And how can it get more out of your existing traffic and leads? Over the course of this article, we’ll define CRO in more detail, take a closer look at its benefits and see why it might be right for your business’ website.

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What is CRO in Marketing?

CRO is the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. These include things such as purchasing a product, clicking ‘add to cart’, signing up for a service, filling out a form, or clicking on a link. Basically, they’re the things everyone visiting your site would do in an ideal world.

When your visitors perform these actions, your conversion rate increases. What is conversion rate, you ask? Basically, it’s the number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors.

So, if an e-commerce site receives 200 visitors in a month and has 50 sales, the conversion rate would be 50 divided by 200, or 25%.

And though measuring these quantitative results is still important, there’s more to it than simply bumping up the numbers through something like a well-timed social post.

CRO is also concerned with understanding what drives, encourages and dissuades your users, so you can create the best user experience possible. These qualitative aspects go a long way to knowing what’s going to convert them into customers and improve your website’s conversion rate.

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What do we mean by converting?

In marketing, we use the word to refer to people who engage in any activity which furthers your business goals. This could be anything from turning readers into subscribers or making fully-fledged paying customers out of casual browsers.

The mechanism by which we attract and convert your target audience into customers is called the sales funnel. Like a piping funnel you’d use to decorate a cake, it gets narrower as it reaches the end. And rather than sugary icing squeezing forth, it’s your desired result (purchasing a product, signing up to a newsletter, etc.) which is the final step of the sales funnel.

Remember, however, not every action a user takes is a conversion. For example, conversion is not:

  • Users clicking through to your site from a search engine or a social media post
  • Users clicking around your site

These are still desirable actions, but unfortunately, neither of these examples would provide you with a sign that users are subscribing to a mailing list or purchasing items from you.

What are the Benefits of CRO?

In converting users into customers and improving your conversion rate, you stand to gain numerous benefits from CRO, including:

It improves decision making

Rather than going with your gut when it comes to making changes to your website, CRO grounds your decision making in data produced by testing out alternatives and evaluating the response.

This is where A/B testing comes in. You can glean insights and opinions from customers and visitors preferring one thing (whether it’s a colour scheme or a certain type of messaging) over an alternative or not, without having to permanently implement them. With data to back things up, imprecise decision making becomes a thing of the past. And when you know what works, you can help to reduce costly risks as a result too.

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It improves results

Likewise, by trusting the data gleaned from carrying out tests, the decisions you make tend to obtain better results from the changes. Say, for example, that you changed the colour of a particular on-site button since your testing showed that 5% more visitors clicked it. Now you’ll get a 5% increase in click-throughs compared to an unknown amount of conversions as a result of changes made without testing.

It has the potential to make more money over time

CRO is more tortoise than hare when it comes to making money. Anyone expecting thousands in additional revenue after a few weeks should look elsewhere. Slow and steady is very much CRO’s remit.

CRO is incremental in its approach, helping you identify small areas of opportunity that increase conversions – and revenue – over the course of a few months. Even if your efforts earn you an extra couple of leads every month, these changes certainly add up year on year.

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It improves your SEO

Although they’re different disciplines, CRO can help with your SEO efforts too. Depending on what you’re testing on your website, you can improve the amount of time visitors spend on your page. By doing this, you can reduce your bounce rate (i.e., the percentage of visitors that leave a webpage without taking an action), which Google considers when ranking. Basically, if your bounce rates drop, you could have a better chance at outranking your competition.

Additionally, if your conversion rate increases, there’s a chance your website traffic, social media activity, and overall popularity online all get a bump in numbers too. All these increases correlate with search engine ranking increases. A good rule of thumb: the more you test and the more changes you make, the better you could perform in search.

It’ll teach you more about your visitors

Crucially, CRO is key to learning more about the qualitative aspects of what and why people visit your site. And since no customer is the same, carrying out tests and exploring different preferences lets you know what specific users gravitate towards.

Through this, you can find out the ways they like to communicate with you, their preferred payment methods, and even what design elements they like. And when you can understand visitor behaviour, it’s easier to design a website that converts a large percentage of your visitors.

frustrated businessman looking at his laptop

Why Might I Need CRO for My Business?

If your business maintains a dedicated newsletter following, has a strong social media presence, and has well-written on-site copy then you may be asking yourself whether you actually need CRO.

Compared to other practices like SEO and paid media, CRO’s reputation is a little more low key. And while elements like strong SEO are obviously important, they’re only half of the puzzle. If users are finding your site, clicking through to it, but ultimately aren’t parting with their cash then something is wrong.

Marketing teams that use CRO go a long way to creating long-term, sustainable successes for both themselves and their clients.

If any of the below instances look familiar, then it may be time to investigate integrating conversion rate optimisation into your future strategies.

  • Plenty of traffic, but not many conversions – Users are having no problem finding you and clicking through to your website, but when it comes to sales, all that traffic seems to be in a jam. That sales funnel we mentioned earlier? Your users are backing out before they hit the conversion stage, which clearly needs rectifying.
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  • You’re not sure where people are leaving your sales funnel – Incomplete sign-up forms, abandoned carts and users unsubscribing at a rate of knots: the tell-tale signs of poor conversion rate. And if there’s no discernible pattern to why it’s all happening either, then it might indicate a lack of analytics tools, along with confusion over the customer journey on your part too.

  • An outdated website – If you’re expecting your users to slog through the same old website you designed years ago, then don’t expect them to become customers. Put simply, if your site doesn’t work, people won’t stick around.

  • Your customers are complaining – Whether it’s Yelp reviews, forum posts or emails directly from them, seeing customers drag your name through the mud is never fun. Learn from what they’re saying so you can optimise your site and correct these pain points accordingly.

Looking to turn your visitors into valued customers? Banc’s CRO experts can help, using detailed, data-driven insights to improve your site’s performance and user experience. To find out more, check out our CRO offering here or get in touch at office@banc.digital today.

Avatar for Oliver Urwin
Oliver Urwin
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