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What Is Conversion Rate Optimization and How Does It Make You More Money?

By Snap Agency April 1, 2016

What improvement do you want for your business? If it is to increase your leads and gain more sales to increase your revenue, conversion rate optimization services might be exactly what you are looking for. Conversion rate optimization, or “CRO,” is a series of data-driven tests to reach your business goals. What impact would increased conversion rates have on your bottom line?

What we will cover:

  1. What is CRO?
  2. What are the different ways you can test?
  3. Why it’s important that consultation comes from someone with a background in design.
  4. How long do you have to wait for the data to be viable?
  5. Is it worth the investment?

What is CRO?

Conversion rate optimization is data-based testing for your website design to gain better conversions around your business goals. The point for most business owners is to increase the revenue earned from your online site or to gain more leads to gain a sale. The process begins by defining where your problem areas are, e.g., what parts of your business are underperforming and why? Chances are that you have a lot of preconceived ideas of why you’re not getting the conversions you want. It’s likely the true reasons are in areas you never thought to look. What are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you will use to define how you reach your goals?


CRO is not about shoot-from-the-hip guesswork. It is about defining goals, defining problems and creating strategic solutions that are measured and adjusted over time. You do not yet know why people are not converting, and any ideas you have to solve this problem are going to be more theoretical than based on evidence. Evidence-driven test are way more likely to receive improved results than theoretical tests. Put yourself in the minds of your customers; they are wanting or needing to buy your product or service. When they arrive at your site, what are their frustrations? Is it easy for them to gain and understand the information they are seeking? Is it simple for them to buy or contact you for the product or service they want? Do not start acting on these problems until your customers give you qualifiable evidence that your hypotheses are correct. Acting first would be testing based on a theory you made up in your head not with true evidence. Engage with your customers, get to know them, and in return they will reveal important details and gaps you never thought existed.


What are the different ways you can test your design?

There are many tools you can use to start testing your website. Here is a list of options I am looking to use myself:

  1. Adobe Target
  2. Visual Website Optimizer
  3. Kampyle
  4. Clicktale
  5. Google Analytics
  6. Optimizely
  7. Kissmetrics

Like I said, there are many tools you can use in the beginning, so don’t limit yourself to one option as each has their own unique values. Try them and learn which ones you prefer for your needs.


Now, let’s talk about the different types of testing. The best way to start is by looking at the analytics of your site; where are people going, how are they getting there and what are they trying to get to? Take the time to be the customer on your website. Think, “How do they get from point A to point B?” Prioritize your efforts on each page. What do users want? What do you want? Give them everything you can, if it is valuable enough, ask them to buy something and most will want to. If you don’t make it easy for them to buy your product or service, the process can be frustrating for people and you could be losing out on a customer. By tracking the traffic of your website you will gain insight to what is most important to your users. Once you start to gain an idea of what your users are doing, test your ideas by engaging more with them. Surveys, user testing and interaction tracking are all great ways to engage and monitor how your customers are using your website. What are their frustrations or pain points? User testing will likely bring something to your attention that you didn’t see before and can validate things you did. Gather qualitative and quantitative data before doing anything else. The more data the better.


With better evidence to support your decisions,  A/B or multivariate tests hold more weight against what truly optimizes your site. According to Snap Marketing Guru Tim Brown, “AB Testing involves serving up two different versions of a web page, or website, to different people in the same period of time and seeing which page gets more action out of users.” For more information, see his post here.


Why it’s important that consultation comes from someone with a background in design.

I have learned that people know when things look good or when something is of high quality. Not everyone understands how they know, they just know it is. Not understanding why something is designed a specific way is exactly why you want a good designer conducting  your tests. Experienced designers know how to provide high-quality content-supportive design and how to solve problems users are having by adjusting the design. Also, designers are great at execution: Consultation will be given and implementation will take place. To say it simply, if you want it to look professional, hire a professional.


So I hire a designer—great. How do I know if they are experienced enough to handle testing?

If a designer has been in digital marketing for any length of time, chances are they have come across CRO testing. You can tell that they know what they doing if they ask you a lot of questions about your brand’s demographic, your users’ frustrations, your frustrations, problems they have, what they are looking to receive from you to solve their problems—the list will go pretty deep. Additionally, you should be informed of their testing process and what they plan on doing for your bottom line.


How long do you have to wait for the data to be viable?

Statistical significance is the difference between two numbers, so is it actually showing an improvement or not? Many tools exist in order to learn what your statistical significance is and we will go over those in a bit. First, understand that statistical significance is reached by how many unique visitors you are getting to your website. If you have been running your test for awhile and have not reached statistical significance, it’s probably because you have scattered data over long periods of time.


The first thing you need to do in order to correctly measure if your tests are significant is to learn the sample size of your test. A sample size simply determines the traffic you will need for your conversion rate tests.


Here are some tools I am using myself:

  1. Evan’s Awesome A/B Tools
  2. Optimizely Sample Size Calculator


These tools take two inputs and tell you the sample size for both an original and variation test you are planning on running. The baseline conversion rate and the minimum detectable effect. The baseline conversion rate is the number of successful actions divided by the number of visitors who saw the page. Typically you can find this by using data found in analytics platforms like Google Analytics.


Now after you’ve entered the baseline, the next step is to learn how much you want to improve from the baseline and how big or small of a lift you want to be able to detect. The more traffic you garner, the better you will be able to detect small changes. Similarly, the less traffic you have, the better you will be able to detect big changes.


Once you input these two numbers, these calculator tools will tell you what sample size you need for your original and also for your variation. Both tools have a default set to a recommended level of statistical significance, but you have the option to change that depending on the level of risk you are wanting to take in your tests.


Now, how long will it take to run the test?

The last step is to translate sample size into estimated time. Take the sample size and multiply it by the number of variations you have in your test. This gives you the total number of visitors you need. Divide that by your average number of visitors per day, and you will have the estimated number of days you need to run your test.


Is CRO worth the investment?

Two things you need to have before you start are 10,000 visitors a month and $200,000 in yearly revenue, otherwise optimizing for conversion can be really tough. A/B or multivariate testing is only worth the investment if you currently have the traffic to gain viable data. If traffic is good, it’s worth it. Don’t leave money on the table—start testing! Ask yourself what an increase of conversions means for your yearly revenue goals. Understand, CRO requires a long-game mindset. Things change over time, and if you want to continue to stay up to date, start a yearly plan with an expert you trust. As Neil Patel the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar states in his blog, What Spending $252,000 On Conversion Rate Optimization Taught Me, “…if you have over $500,000 in yearly revenue, then you should consider making CRO a line item expense. Just like you would pay a bookkeeper or accountant each year, you should constantly pay a CRO consultant.”


If you don’t have enough traffic to start optimizing conversions, that’s OK. A CRO expert can still help. Since you will not be able to gain statistical significance without a solid sample size your efforts will be wasted. Instead, you should put your energy into learning who your audience is through user testing, surveys and interaction tracking. All three of these forms of testing will help you gain understanding and uncover special areas where you can help your audience in a different way than your competition. Once you gain enough traffic to start testing, you have all the qualitative and quantitative data you need to form evidence-based tests.


Interested in CRO yet? If anything I hope this post encourages you to look into CRO services for your online business.