Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Tips for Beginners

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You have two choices. When trying to increase the online revenues of your websites, you can either:

  1. Increase your traffic, or
  2. Increase your conversion rate.

As always, here we’ll concentrate on the latter.

What’s Conversion Rate Optimization?

In case you don’t know, a website’s conversion rate is the percentage of the site’s visitors that perform a desirable action: making a purchase, reading an article, submitting a form, calling a telephone number or engaging with a live chat function.

Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO for short, has been understood as the process and techniques of continuously increasing the conversion rate or, more popularly, improving website’s effectiveness in turning visitors into customers.

Why Conversion Optimization matters?

Going back to the beginning, is it better to invest in increasing your traffic or your conversion rate? Both options can have a major impact in your bottom line. However, we love to start increasing conversion rates. Why? Because it’s easier and cheaper.

Take a look at this fragment of the Conversion Rate Optimization Infographic by DPFCOC and you’ll clearly see why CRO matters.

CRO Infographic by DPFOC
Why CRO Matters? Extracted from the Conversion Rate Optimization Infographic by DPFOC

How to improve the Conversion Rate?

Conversion Rate Optimization means to analyze qualitative and quantitative data from your website and your competition, to drive a continual improvement in the online experience that your customers and potential customers have. In this post, I’d like to list the most common tips about CRO according to experts in this area.

This tip list has been compiled from the following sources published in 2014-2015. I’d recommend you to read them if you are looking for more examples:

Ready? Let’s begin!

Improving Conversion Tips

1. Test Small Changes in High-Impact Areas

I am sure you’ve already heard: “Start Small, Dream Big, Act Now!”. So, if you’re just starting out, it’s often better to keep your CRO initiatives small in your Top Entry Pages, the ones with high Bounce Rates. Why? Because usually you’re spending money acquiring traffic to your campaign landing pages and your search, email, and affiliate pages. Therefore, if you fix these pages you’ll increase revenues through higher conversions.

2. Improve the Copy in Your Landing Page

The reason why a landing page is highly convertible or has a high bounce rate can be determined by it’s copy. Thus, the information you show to your visitors is very important. Try to:

  • Use Power Words. Smart speechwriters, sprinkle their speeches with carefully-chosen power words, drawing the audience from one emotion to another as skillfully as any novelist or screenwriter. The most persuasive words: You, Free, Instantly, Because and New.
Use Power Words
Use Power Words from Nelio A/B Testing Landing Page
  • Focus on your benefits, instead of features. Don’t talk about what you do. Talk about why the customer needs you.
Advantages of Nelio A/B Testing
Advantages of Nelio A/B Testing
  • Write for scanners, not for readers. People skim. Bullet points, ordered lists, and highlighting text help a viewer to recognize important points and skim better.
  • Built trust and credibility. Add your client’s testimonials.
What Experts Say About Nelio A/B Testing
What Experts Say About Nelio A/B Testing
  • Use a call to action. Encourage users to finalize the sign-up process.
Call to action button
Call to action button

3. Improve the design

The design is responsible of the experience the user will have when visiting your web page. The better impression your website makes, the better the chance is that the user would convert. Try to:

  • Use colors aligned to your goals

Different colors mean different things and convey different emotions. I recommend the reading of Which Color Converts the Best by Antonio Villegas for more details about this topic. Also, take a look at this amazing graphic on the color emotion guide that put together the Logo Company. It’s fantastic!

Color Emotion Guide by Logo Company
Color Emotion Guide by Logo Company
  • Use easy navigation and don’t overdo your design. Be sure to provide clear navigation and fast loading times to support natural and intuitive flow on your website to improve overall on-page experience.

Use heat-maps to see valuable information about the areas in which your user pay more attention.

Example of Heatmaps in Our Pricing Page
Heatmaps show valuable information about the areas in which your users pay more attention.

4. Optimize through all the funnel

As I’ve already described in Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey, conversions not only happen at the top of the funnel but through the customer’s lifecycle: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue and Referral.

Marketing to sales Funnel

I also provided different ideas and examples to improve your website through all the marketing funnel in the following series of posts:

  1. Motivation – Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey
  2. Acquisition Optimizing Your Website for Customer Acquisition
  3. Activation (I)How to create a great first experience in Your website
  4. Activation (II)How to Improve the CheckOut Experience
  5. RetentionHow to Retain Your Customers
  6. RevenueHow to Increase the Revenues on Your Website
  7. ReferralsHow to Improve Your Customers Loyalty and Referrals

5. Don’t stop testing

According to Bryan Eisenberg, every website in the world has a problem with conversions, and he’s right. The job of split-testing and constantly improving your conversion rate will never end.
As I already described in Publishers: Increase your Conversion Rate, it’s about:

  • Analyzing, first, any of your landing pages and make hypothesis
Screenshot of WPrincipiante
Screenshot of WPrincipiante, a website for the WordPress Spanish-language community
  • Identifying your goals and mapping each goal to the elements that can help you reach it

Mapping Goals and Elements

Testing shouldn’t stop with your site. You should use A/B Testing principles with everything you do on the web. From testing your copy and design to testing which profile image on Twitter gets you more followers. Everything can be tested. Note also that A/B testing doesn’t hurt SEO; don’t be afraid of running A/B tests because you’re worried about what it will do to your rankings.

6. Don’t forget to Monitor and Evaluate the Impact

Website monitoring is the process of testing and verifying that users can interact with your website as expected. You should ensure that your website is uptime, and its performance and functionality are as expected.

On the other hand, evaluations are valuable sources of information on the short and long term for your CRO program. Evaluation activities are done not only to gauge how successful your program was in achieving the desired outcomes or goals, but also to identify unintended effects. You should analyze the authority and accuracy of the content of your website, understand if the regularity of updating information is well performed, and verify that the design follows the best practices and eases the use of the website.

Finally, remember: no matter where your traffic is coming from, there is a way to make it convert. Instead of just focusing on building traffic, spend a portion of your time on converting it. And the best way to maximize how many window shoppers you convert into customers is by following the previous tips over and over.


Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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