Define CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) is marketing shorthand for optimizing on-page conversion rates.

Conversion Rate Optimization

This is not a CRO

“Conversion” in this case generally refers to visitors providing their contact or other details to:

  • receive a content asset
  • have a sales person to follow up
  • sign up for a free trial
  • purchase a service/product

This is potentially a hugely complicated task with an infinite number of variables. Conversion rate optimization arguably encompasses the entire marketing and sales process from branding through product design.

However, people often refer to CRO with a more limited subset of optimization tactics in mind. Many marketers think of CRO as encompassing just on-page optimization and ignore larger issues around inbound traffic and corporate/product brand quality.

Some of the key conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies/variables include:

  • The offer. This is the number one factor that dominates whether or not your page will convert—yet many marketers completely overlook the quality of the offer. Get this right first, then optimize the rest. Despite what some A/B testing companies might lead you to believe, if your offer sucks, it doesn’t matter what color the submit button is.
  • The traffic. The right audience is as important as the right offer. Although not technically part of on-page optimization, this is a huge variable. Be sure not to muddy your A/B tests by accidentally mixing in different traffic sources.
  • The form (or other conversion method such as an OAuth login). Too many fields are deadly. The lack of the necessary ones will infuriate your sales team. And sales/marketing coordination of the resulting leads is crucial. Take the time to obsess over getting your forms right.
  • The headline. Most people never read past the headline. The rest generally skim the sub-heads and maybe a bullet list. Make sure that these elements, even if taken alone, tell your story.
  • The hero image. It turns out that a lot of people don’t even read the headline. Find an image that will incentivize them to read on.
  • The layout and content of the rest of the landing page. Is it important? Yes. Is it as important as all of the above? No. Will this be the only part that the rest of your company thinks about? Probably. But keep it in perspective—most of your visitors won’t notice.
  • Multivariate testing of all of the above. Strangely, many people think of this as the heart of CRO. It’s important, and tweaking around the margins can improve a good performing page into a great one but… if your offer sucks or your traffic source is irrelevant it doesn’t matter. Focus on this once you have the rest of the stuff right.

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Rich Quarles
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