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As marketers, we know our work is important. But I want more than that. I want a seat and a voice at the big table. One way to do that is to understand and be able to articulate how you and your team are tying marketing initiatives to ROI. Sure, it’s fun to report a huge increase in web traffic to your company’s site. But what if all your visitors get to your site and do nothing? Conversion rate optimization (CRO) gives you the opportunity to tie a dollar sign to each visitor.

You can use the concept of CRO many ways. I use it in my marriage all the time—more on that later.

Let’s start by quickly defining the components of CRO.


A conversion is when your website visitor accomplishes the goal you’ve set for them. Website goals can be anything that you deem important to your business. For example, it could be for your visitors to fill out a form, subscribe to your blog, complete a purchase, or engage with content on your site.

Conversion Rate:

Conversion rate is the percentage of your website visitors that successfully complete the goal you set for them. Generally, this is measured in a specific amount of time. Conversion rate is calculated by the number of visitors who completed the goal divided by the total number of visitors to that page.

For example, you have a landing page with a form that encourages visitors to download your latest e-book. One hundred people visited your landing page and 10 of them filled out the form. Your conversion rate for that page is 10%.


Optimization is the process of improving your resources to have the desired result in the most efficient way possible.

So, conversion rate optimization is the process of increasing the rate at which your website visitors accomplish the goal you have set for them in a specific amount of time.

CRO is Not . . .

I do want to quickly note what CRO is not. The process and outcome of CRO is not to be confused with that of search engine optimization (SEO). While SEO is focused on increasing the likelihood of pushing organic traffic to your site, CRO is focuses on increasing that traffic to act. In a perfect world of marketing, you’ll have a stellar plan for both! Need helpful resources for SEO? Check out this blog on 10 Essential Ranking Factors to Include in your SEO Strategy.

In simple terms, the process of CRO includes the following:

  1. Determine your goal
  2. Set your hypothesis
  3. Conduct A/B testing
  4. Analyze your results

Here’s an example,

I generally have a goal of getting my way without my husband knowing. So, I use the CRO method to help me determine how to best reach that goal.

1. Determine my goal

Every Saturday in the fall, my husband and I get dolled up in our Tennessee orange to watch our Volunteers play football. My goal is for my husband to get over a loss and move on with our lives as quickly as possible. Let’s face it, Tennessee loses a lot, so I have a decent amount of historical data here.

2. Set my hypothesis

If I change my reaction to my husband’s unfavorable behavior after a loss, he will get over it faster.

3. Conduct A/B testing

  • Scenario A: Football team loses and wife tells husband to calm down. It’s just a football game.
  • Scenario B: Football team loses and wife says something clever about Peyton Manning and then immediately leaves the room.

4. Analyze the data

I may not be able to say with statistical significance that Scenario B has a higher conversion rate to us moving on from being upset and towards my happiness. . . but I’d still put my money on it.

Now, this is not an exact representation of CRO, but you get the idea of the concept.


How Do I Get Started on CRO?

There are several small things you can do to dip your toes into CRO. Here’s a list of quick and easy things that you can try out on your website:

  1. Add explainer text to your forms—set the expectation for the user as to what they will get if they fill out the form.
  2. Test your calls to action (CTAs)—Try different contrast colors; manipulate the text on the CTA (submit vs download now!); try links versus buttons.
  3. Reduce form fields—Only include necessary fields for your user to fill out in order to submit.
  4. Change the location of your form—Test if your form performs better above the fold, as a part of the hero image, as a sticky form, etc.
  5. Images—Try different images: stock versus real, people versus buildings/scenery.
  6. Copy—Test headline copy as well as supporting copy versions. One word in a headline could make all the difference!

It is important to keep in mind that you only want to execute one thing at a time. This ensures that you are able to track what exactly is impacting your conversion rates.

CRO is a never-ending process. People that are visiting your site are always changing, and your site should be, too! Getting started with CRO can be a fun learning experience, so give it a try and you’ll be geeking out to your data before you know it!

Please don’t forward this blog post to my husband. My tests will no longer be valid if he knows about them.