Conversion Rate Optimization for Beginners

How to
Conversion Rate Optimization for Beginners

Conversion rate optimization issue is one of the most debatable among marketers. So many posts have been written, so many expert opinions have been given, that a newbie marketer may leap to a false conclusion that it’s easy-breeze to mock these 'effective' steps and skyrocket their own conversion rate. The nasty trick of this whole story is that there’s no one single way that can turn your website into a money-making machine. Each advice, hack, or tip should be thoroughly analyzed and tested. Maybe something is missing? Or your business speaks different words?

So in this blog post, we’re going to cover the basics of conversion rate optimization step-by-step.

  • 1. What Is Conversion?
  • 2. What Is Conversion Rate and How to Calculate It?
  • 3. What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?
  • 4. How CRO Benefits SEO
  • 5. How to Conduct CRO
  • Summing Up
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1. What Is Conversion?

Conversion is a flagship term for digital marketing that stands for goal completion. The goals vary from the niche, and they can be:

  • purchase
  • sign-up
  • subscription to a newsletter
  • shares on social networks (typical for info sites)
  • upgrade
  • review

This list can be a meter longer – conversions depend on the niche where you promote. However, every business has its macro- and micro conversions. More on those below.

1.1. Macro- and Micro-Conversion

Macro-conversion is the primary goal the company is heading to. For instance, a purchase on the website, subscription to a service, or request for certain information.

Micro-conversion is a smaller action that acts as a stopover before a bigger action, a primary goal. Micro-conversion can be sign-up, a product in a shopping cart, subscription to the newsletter, or the number of unique visitors, etc.

2. What Is Conversion Rate and How to Calculate It?

Conversion rate (CR) is the ratio of the number of website visitors who have performed the necessary action (completion of a goal) to the total number of visitors.

Marketer needs to understand which conversion rate is optimal and which is not. It's the metric that most website owners strive for. Calculating your conversion rate is easy. To do so:

  1. Choose the period you focus on: day, week, month, quarter.
  2. Divide the number of completed conversions by the total number of site visitors.
  3. Multiply by 100%.

Here’s a simple formula:

A/X * 100%


  • A is the number of website visitors who have completed the necessary action for a certain period of time (let’s say a week).
  • X is the total number of site visitors for this period.

3. What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

In digital marketing, you can take several paths to increase sales: drive more traffic, or work harder on the improvements of the website / app / software in order existing traffic brings more conversions. The latter one is what conversion rate optimization is about. The conversion rate optimization means analyzing and understanding how customers interact with your site. CRO and SEO are compatible if you know how to use them.

CRO can’t be based on gut feelings, snooping around competitors, or someone’s guesswork – it will take your money and time, resulting in a zilch in the end. To put it straightforwardly, it’s wrong to assume that just because it worked for someone else means it’ll work for you. Conversion rate is a personal thing. Effective CRO campaign takes place only when you:

  • consistently work towards increasing the number of leads without increasing traffic
  • support your steps by analytics

Let me elaborate a bit more on this. When it comes to quantitative data analysis, you’re driven by numbers in Google Analytics, track your results according to revenue, traffic, and other hard numbers.

Meantime, qualitative data analysis lurks behind this method and requires behavioral research to answer the ‘why’ questions. This method requires other approaches: surveys, interviews, usability tests, user satisfaction scaling, etc.

4. How CRO Benefits SEO

CRO is the evidence of how well the SEO and PPC campaigns have been implemented: the success of advertising, the value of the product for the consumer, the effectiveness of optimization efforts.

After calculating the conversion rate, you’ll be able to see the breaches in the work of your business, improve lagging indicators, and gauge the effectiveness of applied efforts. Or, for example, to predict the costs and ROI of future advertising campaigns.

To make the most out of this knowledge, check the conversion rate changes after performing any changes on the site. Thus, over time, you’ll be able to understand consumer preferences better.

And here we talk about the other side of the coin – how Technical SEO helps to increase conversions: ‘13 Easy Ways to Increase Conversions with Technical SEO.’

6. How to Conduct CRO

6.1. Define Goals

Establish specific goals you want to achieve through CRO:

  • traffic ramp-up by 10%
  • 15 more subscriptions
  • increase in revenue

Generally speaking, CRO for the sake of CRO is not that enticing at all. Identify how you’re going to measure success on the way to these goal achievements.

6.1. Gather Data

The goals defined for your business should be configured in Google Analytics. Set up both goals and funnels for better visualisation where your traffic leaks and where there are more hidden opportunities. These analytics-based data can give an understanding of:

  • where your visitors first land on the webpage.
  • at what moment they engage with your website, what their dwell time is.
  • what channel brought them on your page: organic, paid, social, direct, or mail.
  • what devices or browser they use – it’s a pervasive problem when the desktop version is fine-tuned when on mobile everything is toppled down.
  • customer appearance (country, age, interests).
  • at what moment of website journey they bounce off.

When you proceed with qualitative analysis, it’s time to sharpen your act in conducting surveys, usability tests, interviews, and many more. It’s not that easy and fast as watching the number, but it helps you spark such ‘aha’ moments as:

  • Why do your customers use your service and not the service of your competitor? What are your bright sides compared to competitors?
  • What irritates them when using your service? What do they love about it?
  • How do they describe your service, what does it mean to them?
  • How disappointed (or not) they’ll get if they no longer could use your service.

So the survey types are numerous, but you’ll definitely need some service to conduct them: classical Google Surveys, or any other. Or ask questions in the email newsletter. But remember not to overload your users with questions, think about your pain points in advance, and what answers you get from users.

6.3. Set Hypothesis

Before getting down straight to random testing, hold on, and hover a bit over the problem you revealed during surveys. A hypothesis is defined as a preliminary assumption according to the answers received in surveys, and usability tests.

Self-interview is a good way to make these assumptions:

  • What am I going to test? According to the users’ answers, ponder on what is their biggest objection? What deters them from proceeding with your website?
  • What is my test group? Making it through this question, it’s important to segment your users by newcomers and returning ones because their answers are based on different experiences.
  • How much revenue do I lose? You can check it in analytics.
  • What parts of my website am I going to test? According to the major obstacles your users used to face, you can define the pain points that need improvements: landing page, heading, CTA, shopping card, users fear your website is insecure, there’s no custom search and they simply feel like doing the work, and so on and so forth.

6.5. A/B Testing

A/B testing is a marketing method used to evaluate and manage the performance of a web page. This method is also called split testing. A/B testing allows you to assess the quantitative performance of two options for a web page, as well as compare them with each other. Split testing also helps evaluate the effectiveness of page changes, for example, adding new design elements or CTAs. The practical meaning of using this method is to implement changes that increase efficiency. To perform this evaluation technique at its best, you'll need A/B testing tools.

Summing Up

For the sake of brevity, I’ll recap the hallmarks of CRO campaign in one image:

Stages of CRO

Business does not stand still. To survive, you need to grow bigger, and constantly think about improvements. The conversion rate indicates the work of the campaign as a whole: the success of advertising, the value of the product for the consumer, the effectiveness of innovations. After calculating the conversion rate, you can see the shortfalls in the work of your business and take further steps to improve lagging indicators.