Before we can talk about Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO) we need to understand what a “conversion” is. In very simple terms, a “conversion” happens when a visitor to your website takes some sort of action – for example, makes a purchase, subscribes to your email newsletter or requests information. Each one of these actions “converts” the visitor from being a passive reader of your message to actively engaging with it in some way.
By analyzing data around conversions on your website, you gain insights into what is working to draw in leads or customers so that you can replicate or leverage tactics that bring conversions. The reverse is true as well: understanding what doesn’t convert a visitor can help you correct or improve problematic issues on your website.
Conversion Rates are determined by taking the total number of conversions – let’s use an actual purchase as our example – and dividing by the Total Visitors to the site. So if we had 2,000 Visitors to the site and 20 of them purchased something, our conversion rate is 1%. You might want to use only Unique Visitors rather than Total Number of Visitors when thinking about conversion rates – after all, customers often visit a site multiple times before making a purchase. How you calculate your conversion rate metric is up to you, but use it consistently so that your data will be accurate and useful.
Measuring conversation rates starts with your Google Analytics or whatever tools you may be using to analyze user behavior on your website. It’s always a surprise when we come across clients who are spending a significant amount of their marketing budget online, but neglect to look at their website data available through the use of free Google Analytics. You may think you know what causes a visitor on your site to take a certain action, but without looking at hard numbers you’re really just guessing.
Start by setting up Funnels and Goals in Google Analytics so that you can start to see how customers are really interacting with your site. What are all the steps a visitor is required to take before making a purchase, and at what stage are non-purchasers leaving the site without making a purchase? By looking at the step-by-step behavior of visitors – both those that convert and those that don’t – you can start to identify problem pages – maybe a form is too complicated or a call-to-action button just doesn’t stand out enough or has the wrong messaging.
Some great reading about Funnels from the brains at KissMetrics and a very comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to CRO from Qualaroo.