Conversion Rate Optimisation – The Fundamentals

Conversion Rate

When one thinks about improving the performance of a website, the general consensus is to improve acquisition and the marketing centred around gaining extra traffic to the site. Both SEO and PPC are high on the list of optimisations – how can we improve SERP rankings, or how can we lower our CPA to bring more in line with our target CPA in the AdWords system.

Whilst it has undoubted importance, traffic isn’t everything. What if traffic remained the same, but a website doubled its conversion rate? This would have the same impact on conversions as a site doubling its visitors – yet this seems to be understated and almost forgotten as a conversion strategy.

The fundamentals of CRO are simple: improve the conversion rate between number of people who visit your site and those who undertake an event we’d like – i.e. purchase a good, or sign up to a mailing list. We list the core aspects to consider:

  • Data – data is absolutely fundamental. Without understanding what is working, which pages are performing best, which types of users and from which acquisition channels are converting at the highest rate, we have nothing from which to hypothesise. The new Google Analytics platform has this data in abundance and is far more centred around conversion paths than its predecessor.
  • Testing – if we’re unwilling to test, then we won’t know what does and doesn’t work. Experts from conversion rate optimization agency Conversion rate store insist that testing and measuring are key to success and come in an array of different types. A/B split testing is very commonplace – showing one version of a landing page to a sub-section of all users and showing a different version to a vertical sub-section. It is widely reported that Amazon adopted this testing on their interface – showing Buy It Now in green to one half, and orange to another half.
  • Accessibility – something that is often overlooked in the world of CEO, automated accessibility testing is paramount in ensuring that conversions aren’t missed from those users who have some form of impairment. Checking that all pages are accessible is key to success in this area and ensures that the full diversification of the visitor base is catered for.

The mathematics behind it is simple and is often overlooked. An analysis of a simple working example is shown below, and highlights how marginal gains can lead to huge conversion increases:

A site has 20,000 hits at a conversion rate of 2.5%. The total number of conversions is 500.

  • By increasing traffic at a rate of 10%, but keeping conversion rate the same, the total number of conversions is 550
  • By keeping traffic the same, but improving conversion rate by just 0.5%, the total number of conversions rises to 600

CRO is fundamental to any website’s success. Whilst acquisition is essential, the theory of marginal gains dictates that a small increase to CVR can see significant benefits in terms of conversion numbers.

Image: Conversion rate by Robert Kneschke via shutterstock