What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Definition: Conversion Rate is when a visitor to your website takes a desired action, for example, when they click on a link or an ad, create an account with a login and password, sign up for a newsletter, download an eBook or whitepaper, or simply order from your website.

Whatever action you want your visitors to take, that action is what you will measure and what you will optimize.


Few Key Terms You Should Be Aware of…

  1. Call to Action (CTA): It could be a link, a button, or any other form of user interface that asks a visitor to take an action that leads to the conversion. A call to action button could be a “Buy Now” button on eBay.com, or a “Sign Up” button on your email registration form, or a “Download Now” button on your landing pages.
  2. Conversion Funnel: A journey a visitor takes from the search results page, navigating to the e-commerce site or product landing page, and finally converting into a sale. The funnel is a metaphor used to describe the decrease in number that occurs at each step of the sales process.
  3. A/B or Split Testing: The comparison of two versions of the web page to find out which one performs the best is A/B or Split Testing. You compare two web pages by displaying two variants of a web page (A and B) to similar visitors at the same time. The one that delivers a better conversion rate will win.


What is Conversion Rate?

The conversion rate is the total number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors to your site. Your Total Conversions is the number of people who took your desired action (signed up for your e-newsletter, created an account, or made a purchase, etc.).

For example, a site with 10,000 visitors and 100 conversions has a conversion rate of 1%.


Total Visitors vs. Total Unique Visitors: Which One Should You Count? Let’s look at it this way….

You have a brick-and-mortar store, and a visitor comes to see one of your products on display. She seems to like the product, and the customer staff does a wonderful job explaining all the benefits and features of the product.

However, she gets an important phone call from her mother and goes to pick up her phone, left inside her car. Or perhaps, she forgot her credit card in her car. Or, she simply checks out other stores along the street to see how your product (its features and price) compares with other similar products.

She may return to your store several times, and each time she does counts as a single visit. That means, if she stops back in your store five times, she made five visits to your store, although she is the same person, i.e., one unique visitor making three visits to your store.

Which is Exactly How People Shop Online…

They look around to check out the competition, often get distracted, and visit several times before finally converting into a buying customer. That is why you should not count the Total Visitor count to determine the conversion rate.

Instead, count the Unique Visitors when finding the actual conversion rate of your website.

So, your New Conversion Rate = Total Conversions / Total Unique Visitors

Besides using total unique visitors, you must also determine what time period you want to use to find the Conversion Rate of your websiteIf you divide a week’s unique visitors by the total number of conversions for that week, you get that week’s conversion rate.

Barriers to Your Conversion Funnel

As explained in the intro of this lesson, the conversion rate optimization (CRO) is finding why visitors to your website are not converting and then fixing it. Conversion Rate Optimization is a process of diagnosis, testing, and optimizing.

Conversion Rate Optimization strategy begins when you put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and look closely at your site – or your sales funnel to be exact – to determine barriers (confusing and difficult points) standing in your visitor’s path to conversion.


Here are few areas in Conversion Rate Optimization that you should look at closely:

Ask yourself:

  1. Call to Action: Is your Call to Action button or text clear and easy to find?
  2. Graphics and Text: Are you using relevant, well-placed, unique, and clean Graphics on your landing pages? Or are they distracting and overwhelming in number? Do you have a lot of unwanted (or maybe misplaced) text on your landing pages or posts?
  3. Site’s Usability: Can visitors to your site easily find/search what they are looking for? Is the checkout process easy? Is your website mobile-friendly? Make sure your contact form, sign up form, registration process, and payment process is clean and easy to find and use.
  4. Security: Is your site easy to trust for your visitors? Do they know that Security is your top priority?
  5. Search Engine Optimization: Are your SEO efforts relevant, up to date, and accurate? Are you using relevant and accurate titles, Metadata (titles, descriptions, and tags, etc.), and keywords in your copy? Titles must be clear and descriptive, the image must have alt text tags, and keywords must be properly used throughout the copy (headlines, sub-headlines, first and last sentences, etc.). If these things are not relevant, then you might drive traffic looking for something that you do not offer, while those seeking you might not even find you online.
  6. Customer Testimonials: Are you using Customer Testimonials to let visitors to your site know how happy and satisfied others are with your services? Social proof boosts conversion rate on your site.


Best Conversion Rate Optimization Practices


No matter if you are running a brick-and-mortar business, an e-commerce storefront, or a blog, we are sure you will love this comprehensive conversion optimization guide.

Copy Techniques to Improve Conversion Rate

Propose value in your Call to Action (CTA)

Replace plain and boring calls to action with calls to action that offer something valuable to your readers in your conversion rate optimization process. For example:

  1. Replace the CTA “Sign Up” with “Get Started for a FREE Trial.”
  2. Replace the CTA “Click here” with “Yes, Send Me My Free Report On How to Make $300 a Day.”

Demonstrate social proof on your CTA

Social Proof is a powerful conversion rate optimization booster. If your pages or posts have Facebook Likes, comments, and shares, show them to your users. In addition, display customer testimonials, the number of users, the number of downloads, or any other proof that shows people trust and love your brand.

Add numbers in your headlines

Using numbers in your headlines increases readership. When you use it in your blog post, an email subject line, or even on your ad copy, you immediately hook your reader’s interests. Try using “7 Ways to Be a Better Sous Chef” than the ordinary “How to Be a Better Sous Chef” as the former yields 12-25% more traffic to your site.

Add reassurance copy around your CTA

Mention a money back guarantee, free shipping, free trial, or your privacy policy around your CTAs. These “Click Triggers” make the user comfortable about their decision to take action. Booking.com is full of “Click Triggers”, as they are found everywhere on their site. Just one hotel listing has four Click Triggers.


Create a sense of urgency in your CTA

Creating a sense of urgency to your call to action is another great way to boost conversion ratio on your website. For best results, add numbers to your CTA. Using phrases, such as, “Order in the next 24 hours to get 50% discount” or “Hurry up! Limited seats available” or “Only 2 hours left” doubles conversion rate on your website.


Ask for micro-commitments

Micro-commitments are like going on a “date” before marrying. It can be used in two ways:

  1. At the top of your sales funnel – Offer a free trial or a monthly membership.
  2. In your sales copy – Use a call to action, such as “See a Sample”, instead of using high pressure “Get a FREE Quote” CTA.


Demonstrate Social Proof

Bestselling products and viral content with 100s of shares, likes, and comments demonstrate social proof, which can boost conversions.


Do not advertise the numbers on your subscriber’s list

Removing the text “25,000 people already subscribe” improves conversion, Derek Halpern found in his experiment. Several other marketers discovered the same result. Why? Perhaps, people want to feel they are part of a small, yet intimate, email list. Showing off a giant email list makes them feel as if they will only be slammed with generic sales emails.

Hide negative social proof

You know that social proof (testimonials, shares, likes, comments, etc.) can significantly boost conversions. But if you have 2 positive reviews and 10 negative reviews about your product or services, your social proof can backfire you. So, remove any indicators of negative social proof from your website.

Feature profitable products above the fold

Place them in the front and center (above the fold) of your website. The same principle applies to your home and categories page.

Engage your audience, even if they do not buy right away

If you only have two CTAs (“buy” or “not buy”) then you are losing all those potential customers, who might not be ready to buy, today. Even if they do not purchase from you today or sign up for your list, you can still engage them in some small ways. It could be something as simple as offering a free trial to your products or services, asking them to watch a video, or uploading their avatar. However, measure whether more engagement leads to more sales. Remember, there is a fine line between engagement and distraction in conversion rate optimization.

Offer lot of information

Do you have an expensive or complex product to sell? Create a landing page with lots of information to boost conversion. Why the long sales letters? Because your people need a lot of convincing, before they are ready to invest in a pricey product or service (e.g., SEO 101 Online Course). Landing pages designed to capture leads (email addresses) need not have a lot of information. A free eBook offer is a common trick used in conversion rate optimization.

Increase the number of landing pages

Did you know that simply increasing your landing pages (with 10+ landing pages) on your website will generate 55% more leads than using 5 or fewer landing pages for a company? Check out this screenshot:


More landing pages equal opportunity to promote more offers and send more traffic to search enginesBe careful: That does not mean you should create 30 designs for the same offer. Each landing page must be unique (at least 90%), promote different offers, target different customer segments, among other things.

Make Your Headlines Very Specific

Shady headlines do not sell (it is a fact). So, do not feel shy or afraid of being super specific about what your product or services do for your customers. Yes, you might lose some people, but your target audience will eat everything up. Rather than using the headline, such as “Semen Retention Increases Testosterone,” try using a specific headline, such as “Semen Retention Increases Testosterone Levels by 45.7% after 7 days.”

Use bullet points instead of large chunk of text

Your people do not like to read huge blocks of text (especially if you are promoting expensive and complex products). Include bullet points in your landing pages that break up a large piece of text and make them easy to read and digest, which leads to more conversion.


Use plain English, instead of jargon

When crafting sales copy, leave your MBA and Ph.D. degree behind your door. Hyped up jargon, such as “We are a software company that is determined to provide excellent customer service with revenue-driven solutions throughout our sales cycle”, does not work in the world of marketing. Instead, craft a copy that everyone can understand and relate to: “We will help you get more sales.”

Replace “Buy” CTA with feature- or benefit-rich CTAs

The word “Buy” creates commitment pressure for the customers, which is not a good practice for conversion. Instead of using “Buy”, use feature- or benefit-rich phrases, such as “Reserve my seat” or “Start my 30-Day Free Trial”, which is much more likely to get clicked.


Use action-oriented copy

Copywriters have long known that action-oriented copy is more persuasive and, therefore, more powerful for conversions. So, rather than outlining facts (“Our software builds backlinks from high-quality sources”), use active voice copy (“Build backlinks from High PR sites and drive hungry customers to your website”).

Use guarantees

Anything you do to reduce risks will boost your conversion rate optimization outcomes. Risk reversals have been working for centuries and will continue to work like gangbusters today and years to come. This is because guarantees build credibility, trust, while reducing risks on consumer’s end – three things necessary to get your potential buyers to pull out their wallet.

Use price anchoring


Do you want to make your offers affordable, without slashing the actual price? Try price anchoringHow does it work? Well, when you display a certain price, your potential customers are “anchored” to that price for a short while (that is why you see infomercials showing higher prices before revealing the actual price). In the conversion rate optimization example above, Crazy Egg shows the most expensive plan first, which sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations.

Use specific numbers and stats in your CTA

Sprinkling stats and figures in your copy boost credibility. The phrase “Drives 1000 visitors a day within 30 days” is much more powerful than “Bring more traffic to your site.”

Here is an example from the Hubspot homepage:

Make your deal more attractive with bonuses

Adding a bonus to your product gets more value than selling those two items bundled together. This is a fact, backed by science. According to research conducted by Dr. Jerry Burger, people preferred to buy a cupcake that came with two free cookies than a bundle that contained a cupcake and two cookies.

Use scarcity to boost conversion rate

Scarcity always works. We always crave what we cannot have. We want to be the owner of that rare item or be a part of that private club. For that, we are also willing to pay a lot. When something is restricted (either by being scarce or exclusive), the value of the offer and demand for it increases proportionally. Here is an example of how Amazon uses the principle of “scarcity” to boost their conversion rate.


If you are running a brick-and-mortar business, a blog, or an e-commerce site, you will love this guide. Before, these Conversion Rate Optimization techniques were scattered all over the Internet. Now, with the help of our marketing researchers and writers, we have put together the best Conversion Rate Optimization practices. Based on your individual goals, you can apply any of these conversion rate optimization techniques.

In our next lesson, we will talk about Web Analytics and its importance in improving your online marketing results.