CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization, which in Portuguese means Conversion Optimization. The strategy consists of a set of practices that increase conversions on a given site, making better use of the traffic that the pages already have without necessarily attracting more visitors.
Of the many acronyms that are part of the Digital Marketing vocabulary, the CRO is one of the most unknown. But, not for that, the strategy is less important or efficient. The results obtained using CRO can bring benefits to your pages, contributing to your company’s growth.
Let’s take an example: imagine that you have a Landing Page that attracts 1000 visitors every month, but only 100 of them download your offer, which is an eBook.
You then apply CRO techniques to the page, and the next month the number of conversions rises to 200. You didn’t have to build another page or produce new material, just improve what you already had.
On this page, you’ll learn the concepts of conversion and optimization, the variables that make up this strategy, how to generate hypotheses and run tests, and much more. Good reading!
What is a conversion?
Before moving on to conversion optimization, you need to understand one of the words that are part of that term. In CRO, conversion is something much broader than turning a visitor into a Lead: it involves the various actions that the visitor can take on a website. In addition to the classic filling out of a form, actions such as:
- Click on a banner
- Navigate and understand the contents of the site’s key sessions
- Make a purchase on the online store
- Start a software test
- Make a contact request with a seller
Defining the type of conversion that makes sense for your site requires knowing what your results are. It is these types that must be optimized using CRO techniques. If it’s lead generation, Landing Page forms make perfect sense. If the idea is to increase sales of products in the virtual store, on the other hand, consider optimizations aimed at e-commerce, such as buttons that encourage registration in the store, for example.
In addition to knowing which type of conversion will best suit your goals, it’s important to know which variables are part of a conversion.
With that in mind, MECLABS , an American institute super specialized in the science of conversion optimization, created a formula that dissects the characteristics of a conversion:
C = 4m + 3v + 2(if) – 2nd ©
- C = Probability of conversion;
- m = motivation;
- v = conversion value;
- i = incentive;
- f = friction;
- a = anxiety.
C is this user’s conversion probability, and it represents the interaction between all the other variables, which Blue World City will explain individually below.
M = Motivation
This user’s motivation to perform the conversion. The greater your user’s interest in your offer and the alignment between the two, the greater your chance of a conversion.
The motivation weight in the formula is 4, which makes it clear that making an offer that is in your audience’s interest is one of the most important factors for a successful conversion.
For example, no matter how good the offer of a travel package to Rio de Janeiro is, it will hardly sell to a resident of Rio, as he has no motivation to do so.
V = Value proposition
The value proposition is the answer to the question “why exactly should I convert here?” It is the value that the user sees in your offer, how much it adds or improves his life, and what differentiates your offer from a similar one from your competitor.
When talking about an offer that involves purchase, the price, cost-effectiveness and appeal of the product are examples of value proposition.
As for a Landing Page conversion of free material, we can consider the quality of the content and material, the credibility of those who produced the material and the clarity of the added value in the offer.
The weight of the value proposition in the formula is 3, being the second most important factor in the conversion: even if the user is motivated for your offer, he needs to see the value and the positive differentials it offers.
I = Additional incentive for taking action
The added incentive involves features that can be added to your offering to give your conversion a little extra push.
A discount is the most common type of incentive we see out there, but we can go further. Guarantees (lowest price, results achieved, on-time delivery), urgency aspects (“buy now and pay less”, “last unit in stock”) and social proof (“these companies are our customers”, “more than 10,000 people downloaded our content”) are also examples of additional incentives that bring conversion results.
F = Friction
Friction elements are those that make conversion difficult and may encourage the user not to convert. Therefore, in the conversion formula, friction is subtracted from the additional incentive, being a variable that decreases its probability. Your site’s usability issues, disconnected content and lengthy forms are all frictional elements.
It is important to note that it is impossible to eliminate all friction from a conversion: eliminating form fields to improve a Landing Page conversion is valid, but we must pay attention to what information is important to the strategy. The focus should be on not over-using elements that cause friction and balancing them with the incentive elements and value proposition of our offering.
A = Anxiety
Like friction, anxiety elements are subtracted from the conversion formula as they are detrimental to the likelihood of conversion.
They involve all aspects that can generate insecurity in the conversion: “is it safe to put my credit card number on this site?”, “will my personal information be protected?”, “if I fill in my email, will I receive a lot of spam?”.
Obtaining security certificates for your website, giving the user information about your email sending policy, and entering testimonials from successfully converted customers are ways to lessen anxiety and improve conversion.
In addition to the conversion concept itself, another idea to be mastered by anyone interested in CRO is the conversion rate. Understanding your conversion rate is important to know how efficient your pages are and to track your company’s results in general.
To illustrate, let’s take an example of calculating the conversion rate of website visitors to Leads. The objective is to capture the contact of those who browse the site and understand who these people are, in order to nurture them later.
Let’s say that a site with a volume of 10,000 hits had, in a given period, 598 forms filled out, at conversion points strategically distributed across pages and pop-ups. What is the conversion rate?
- Numbers of accesses: 10,000
- Number of conversions: 598
- Calculation: 598/10,000 = 0.0598 = 5.8% Converting Visitors to Leads
The conversion rate can be calculated at every step of the sales funnel: top to middle, middle to bottom, and so on. Thus, it is possible to have a diagnosis of where the bottleneck is, the weak point of the strategy that needs to be optimized. It is possible to measure the percentage between each of the steps, like this:
- Visitors to Leads
- Leads for opportunities
- Customer Opportunities
- This is a more classic example. If you feel the need, in your company’s strategy you can adapt this funnel, breaking it into more steps, or reducing it.
- It’s important to know the metrics you want to analyze at each stage and have an overall diagnosis of your site’s performance. Thus, it is easier to direct efforts to the right point.
What is CRO?
With the concepts of conversion and conversion rate in mind, it’s easier to understand what CRO is. This acronym comes from English Conversion Rate Optimization, conversion optimization in Portuguese, and gives its name to a structured and systematic way to improve the performance of a finished website. The goal is to extract more of the traffic that the address already has, increasing conversions without necessarily increasing the number of visitors. In other words, make better use of what you already have!
The goal is to extract more of the traffic that the address already has, increasing conversions without necessarily increasing the number of visitors. In other words, make better use of what you already have!
And it’s not just the site that can be optimized: CRO techniques also apply to Landing Pages, Test Orders and Calls-to-Action in general. Consider the example of a law firm whose website has a contact link located at the bottom of the page. The address receives an average of 2,000 visitors per month, 20 of which convert, that is, only 1%.
With this information in hand, the site can, instead of trying to increase the number of visitors, boost the click rate on the Contact Us button. Thus, it is possible to get more customers with the same average monthly visits.
At Digital Results, we do this in several tests. For example, when we had a problem with few points of contact on our website, which made it difficult for anyone wanting to request a quote or test RD Station Marketing, we resolved the issue by placing several contact options, with Calls-to- Actions varied, at different points in the user’s journey on the site.
CRO is not SEO
The difference is big, but it can confuse those just starting out. Therefore, it is worth remembering: CRO and SEO are different concepts. The names themselves say: while CRO is conversion-oriented optimization, SEO is focused on search engines.
The main purpose of CRO, in addition to conversions, is the user experience. SEO is aimed at improving the ranking of website content in search engines.
With SEO, you can find potential customers based on what they’re looking for on Google, providing them with answers that lead them to visit your site. On the other hand, CRO allows us to offer the best experience as soon as the user enters the page. The first focus is on traffic, while the second focus is on conversions.
Why is learning and implementing CRO important to your business?
If before being on the internet was a differential, today it is fundamental. The popularization of the web has increased competition in the digital environment, making companies look for ways to stand out on the internet. That’s where CRO comes in: optimizing your site’s conversion can be the differentiator that will put you ahead of your competition. Since it increases results without increasing costs with acquisition channels, a good CRO strategy impacts and reduces the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).
But even so, there are those who think that they already have an impeccable website, that converts well and, therefore, there is no need to invest in CRO. But not quite. There is always room for improvement. Their quantity and quality will be determined by your ability to dig deeper into your site’s data.
How to start optimizing: 3 steps to running a marketing experiment
Now that you know what CRO is and why invest in the strategy, you might be wondering, where do you start optimizing?
The best digital marketers achieve so many results because they see conversion optimization as a scientific process, where the basis is experiments with a well-defined process to execute them.
Digital Results itself follows this philosophy and has been achieving results and growth outside the curve. So let’s share a little bit of what we’ve learned from taking care of this process in here: how to model and run marketing experiments and create a process of constant improvement.
We always prefer to keep the process simple and well-documented in order to gain agility and manage a much higher volume of experiments simultaneously, and guarantee (if not increase) the quality of the work.
Therefore, we summarize our process here in 3 steps, which you can follow to start carrying out the experiments in your company.
Step 1: Find optimization opportunities and prioritize
Raising ideas from experiments is a step with extremely variable complexity. For those who have never experimented, finding opportunities can be very easy, as there are several optimizations in places that “we know can be improved”.
However, first of all, it is important to raise which business metrics you want to impact: generate Leads, increase the number of sales opportunities, budget requests, etc.
Once this focus is defined, the first step is to brainstorm with the team to raise ideas for improvements in any scope: website homepage, product description page, pricing page, blog, email template, etc. – always thinking about the focus metric of the experiments.
Step 2: Modeling and execution
Modeling is especially important because, if it is not done correctly, it can generate a lot of rework. If that happens, the cost that was X could end up doubling, or even worse, making you not able to measure the results in the end, thus wasting, in addition to money, time.
It is at this stage that we will design the entire experiment to ensure that it has a clear objective, is well executed and measured. It is common in modeling to find that an experiment that looked easy is actually quite complicated.
Furthermore, this modeling ends up serving as a background in the future, as it contains all the most important information about the experiment. If you are going to carry out a similar experiment, you will know exactly which step-by-step instructions to follow, what difficulties have arisen, resources needed and also the results.
To learn more about the process, read the post Experiments: what they are and how they help your business grow.
Once the modeling is done, now you have to put your hands dirty and follow everything that was raised in the previous step. The main focus here is on paying attention to implementing the experiment exactly as modeled.
Step 3: Recording learning and implementation
After finishing the experiment, comes the essential step for growth – learning. Go back to the document where it was modeled and fill in the results, learnings and optimizations.
As stated earlier, knowing why the experiment worked or failed is equally important to the outcome of the experiment. If we don’t know what made the experiment work, we can’t repeat it. If we don’t know what made the experiment go wrong, we can’t improve it.
5 very common CRO errors
As a relatively recent topic, confusion in CRO is also common. There are those who try to sell specific success stories as if they were suitable for all sites, but it doesn’t work that way. Therefore, some techniques can end up being trivialized.
To help you avoid falling into false beliefs, we’ve put together some of the top mistakes of CRO investors.
1. It’s important to test changes in everything, every day
“To make a good CRO I need to test? Excellent! I will test new changes to everything, every day!”
Be very careful! Even tests need to be grounded in study and statistics. In order to do tests and experiments, it is necessary to plan.
It is also important to emphasize that the greater the number of tests taking place simultaneously, the greater the risk of inconclusive results. Determining the extent to which one experiment affects another experiment requires a great deal of skill and attention.
Even sites that have several professionals to work on this avoid performing tests at this level of complication.
So, before moving on to more elaborate tests, do the basics very well. This can give you knowledge and experience so that you can gradually improve.
2. The less text the better
Wrong! This is even an untruth that has spread like a virus in the Digital Marketing market. The user is able to read texts longer than the default, yes. What will determine whether this will happen or not will be the way in which he will be prompted to read the text and the way in which the page will arouse that interest in him.
3. Replicate the strategies that have been successful in the market on the website
Each market niche has its peculiarities. Thinking that CRO is 100% user-based, it’s nearly impossible to generalize a Conversion Optimization from a random business to your business.
A user of a different business from yours has characteristics and needs that are different from your business. Therefore, this type of action based on what others have done carries a high risk of not working for you.
4. To do CRO I need to use my Digital Marketing instincts to understand my user’s behavior
You can be sure that your Digital Marketing skills are extremely useful to apply CRO on a website, but not to make decisions based 100% on them, but to use them linked to data, study statistics and researches carried out by you.
Understanding the data and transforming them into actions based on them is something that requires knowledge of Digital Marketing. What we can never do is make decisions based on the much talked about guesswork.
5. You need to make a choice: either it’s usability or it’s aesthetic
Rest assured that the look and usability of a page can and should work together. What often happens is that, due to lack of expertise in web design and UX, we cannot combine the two things, leaving us to choose a path.
When it comes to this, be aware that it is entirely worthwhile to invest a lot of time and effort to find the best solution. Usability and aesthetics in no way compete with each other.
One of the best known and most efficient tests is the so-called A/B test, which consists of dividing the traffic of a given page into two versions: the current one and a “challenging” one, with modifications. Then, you measure which version has the highest conversion rate.
CRO and the A/B Test
A very important fact about CRO is that no changes to your site can be based on guesswork. More than that: it is important that any change is premeditated and mainly tested before being applied.
That’s because even if a certain change has worked for a certain person, it doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on you. This is because the main variable of CRO strategies is the audience that accesses your website, and this will always have its business-to-business peculiarities.
A very common and practical model of testing changes before applying them is A/B testing. To track test results effectively, you can use the A/B Test Calculator, a Digital Results tool that lets you know which of the two versions is the most successful.
There are some very important precautions before running an A/B test. In order for the data that you want to collect through the test to be as sure of you as possible, you need to pay close attention to some details.
One of them is to ensure that from “version A” to “version B”, the change made is the only one. That’s because, if you change several elements at once, how can you be sure why one version performs better than the other?
Another important precaution is seasonality. Make sure your tests last at least a full week, as the audience that visits your site on a Monday may not be the same audience that visits on a weekend. For this reason, testing becomes more reliable over time.
Also be careful with holidays, anniversaries, or any event that might influence the amount and type of traffic your site will receive.
Also read the post What is A/B Testing and what you can test (bonus: see how we increased a page’s conversion by 167%) .
The most common mistakes when running an A/B test that you should avoid:
- Do not let the test run for as long as necessary;
- Test elements that are very small or without significant impact;
- Test random items;
- False positives or partial tests;
- Not knowing when to take a test;
- Fail to optimize by traffic source;
- Focus on pure conversion only;
- Treat low-traffic pages or sites in the same way as high-traffic sites.
3 Sample A/B Tests You Can Apply This Week
To make the explanation more practical, we share some tests that we carried out here at RD and that we consider useful to be applied to make your Digital Marketing actions even more efficient.
1. Highlight the form color of a Landing Page
The idea of this experiment was to change the color of the form on the RD Station Marketing free trial page to make it stand out more. That’s because the form was practically the same color as the background. With this, we hoped to increase the Landing Page’s conversion rate.
We believed that by increasing the contrast of the form with the background, the form would be more prominent, improving conversions by 20% over the original Landing Page.
We then duplicated the original page, made changes to the second version of the page, and started testing. Finally, we evaluated the performance of the experiment, concluding that the challenging version (form with more contrast) had a conversion rate 27% higher than the original version (form with low contrast), confirming the initial hypothesis of the experiment.