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What is conversion rate optimisation?

CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimisation. This term refers to any activity that improves the online user experience to increase the rate at which people buy/become customers. Organisations commonly associate this marketing activity with their digital platforms, such as their website or emails. 

Let’s look at the buying cycle and think about how CRO comes into play at each stage.

I want to get a new bike/recruit a new member of staff/go out for dinner
The first part of any buying cycle is recognising the need for a new product or service. CRO will look at the catalyst for this need – whether it’s the result of an email campaign, social media activity, an advert in the paper, or driving traffic online.

I’m going to search for the product/service I’m looking for
Unless their need is the result of a direct piece of marketing activity (email taking them to the product page), it’s likely you user groups will head to a search engine to look for the product/service they’re after. This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) starts to merge with CRO activity. If you rank well against the terms your users enter into a search engine, you also want to ensure your listing has the best chance of converting that user, i.e. they click through to your site. To do this, the CRO activity comes into play as the words used should be informative, persuasive and inspire confidence to make the user want to know more. 

Once they’ve arrived on your site, users need to search for the product/service they’re interested in, unless the search result has already them to the specific page. At this stage of the buying process website usability becomes more important. You want to make buying your product/service as simple as possible. Usability testing can give great insight into how visitors perform online and can tell you how intuitive the navigation experience really is.

I’ve found the product/service I’m looking for and now I’m deciding if I want to purchase
We know that product or service pages are where visitors evaluate how unique, specific or relevant the offering is in relation to their needs. Communicating the value of the product or service is paramount here, and design is a big influencer. A well-designed product page gives the visitor the information and incentive they need to convert, but a great page will do much more. For example, things that encourage user confidence and a well-spaced layout are key elements of this stage in the process. Online consumers need to trust a brand and learn about the product in an unclutted space. Poorly designed pages with tonnes of additional information crammed in create unnecessary noise for the user and they’ll get distracted, feel overwhelmed and be likely to go elsewhere.

I’m going to buy this product/service
Once the user has decided to purchase your product, they’ve not converted yet as the purchase process isn’t complete. Online checkouts have a high rate of abandonment for a number of reasons, which is why this is another area of focus for CRO activity. Measurement tools like Google Analytics can highlight where your users are abandoning their basket. If there’s a common theme, you can look at ways in which to improve this specific phase and see what works best by split testing with sample size audience groups.

The way checkout processes are designed and built has a significant impact on the rate at which users finally convert. Depending on the nature of your business, and the platform your website it built on an enclosed checkouts might be a good option. These are stripped down compared to the rest of the site, with the header, footer and unnecessary navigation removed in favour of a simple logo link to the home page or a security, delivery or privacy information. This approach removes distractions and builds confidence. By numbering the steps in the checkout process, visitors are completely clear about where they are and are encouraged to move towards the end point, or conversion. 

I’ve received my product/service
Once the user has bought the product, we enter the after-sales period. CRO can continue after a user has bought your product/service as they’re now in a position where they’ll decide whether or not to continue to convert with you. Segmented, audience-specific email marketing can be a powerful CRO tool here as you now have the data you need to re-target this customer with offers or related products to encourage their repeat business.

For more information about how CRO could improve your website’s performance, get in touch with our team by calling 01787 388038 or send us an enquiry today.


Natash Clarke

“Looking at how you can improve the rate at which your customers convert online by overlaying web experiences with the traditional buying funnel can provide valuable insights and return on investment.” – Natash Clarke, Communications Lead

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