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A lot of clients tell us they need conversion rate optimization while they drive a ton of traffic to the website but when the traffic enters the website it is not converting. Can you relate to this? Therefore it is always interesting to see how you can optimize your conversion. The process of doing so is called conversion rate optimization (CRO). In short it really means that you are optimizing for better value for your user and therefore better user experience. In the end this will lead to better conversions.

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversation rate optimization is probably one of the most important parts of digital marketing, while at the end, the ultimate target of any campaign is to convert. Conversion rate optimization, also known as CRO, is the process of positively manipulating the percentage of visitors to your website into an audience that increases in value for you.

The desired action and value dan be determined by your goal like filling out a form, becoming an email subscriber or for example buying a product from the site. Product purchase is widely known as the macro conversion. But for ensuring the macro conversion, you might have to go through several smaller conversions. The whole process is known as CRO and it is therefore super important to understand which micro conversions lead to a macro conversion.

Some examples from macro and micro conversions:

Micro conversions:

  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Creating an account
  • Add a product to cart
  • Download a pdf

Macro conversions:

  • Purchasing a product from the webshop
  • Requesting for a quote
  • Opt in for a service

For effective CRO, you need to optimize your site or its landing page based on the visitor behavior so that they are encouraged to take your desired action.

Why is conversion rate optimization important for your business?

CRO is important for making your website profitable. Let’s assume that you have a website that sells weight loss supplements. You might have a lot of informative content that drives thousands of visitors every month to your website and to this content. Still there is a possibility that you are not able to sell any products or services. Without CRO, your weight loss supplements visitors who are looking for informative content are probably not going to turn into customers.

Next to profitability CRO is focused on optimizing the user experience and hence there will be more conversions. So, don’t focus to much on conversion while this is the macro conversion. Please also focus on the user experience and make it better. When the experience improves the conversion will improve as well.

How to get started with CRO?

In general, there are four essential steps of CRO: the research phase, the hypothesis phase, the prioritization phase, the testing phase and the learning phase. For getting started with the process, you need to go back to the basic. That is to say, you have to conduct the research phase at start.

The research phase is the period where you identify the areas of improvement. You have to conduct an audit of your site, to understand if it lacks something that can attract the potential customers to take your desired action. For instance, you might make the call-to-action button more visible or give the visitors a pdf for free, to collect their email address.

The research phase

The research phase needs to be done with care and time, as the success of the following steps depends heavily on it. If you are starting with CRO it is highly recommended that you document everything that you are doing in the beginning and measure the outcome of it. Setting a hypothesis in the beginning is essential to test whether or not the optimization has the desired outcome.

The hypothesis phase

At the hypothesis phase, you need to construct a well-defined hypothesis. Here, you have to determine the strategy that you will implement to improve the areas that you have identified in the research phase. You need to be creative at this stage if you want to stand out from a plethora of competitors.

The prioritization phase

In the hypothesis phase, you can come up with multiple ideas and you need to prioritize the testing ideas in the prioritization phase. The resources and time are very limited for running successful campaigns, so you won’t be able to do everything you plan to. That’s why you need to filter the ideas to come up with the best ones.

The testing phase

Then you have to choose the right testing methods to run experiments. You need to be very patient here, as every test you run will not be successful, or at least will not give results immediately. Measure your tests properly and wait for them to become successful. A/B testing can be applied within this phase and it also depends on what you’ve defined as your hypothesis.

The learning phase

Lastly, the learning phase indicates analyzing the test results. Through the analysis, you will be able to understand which strategy is the most successful one and which one needs more improvement. Then you can emphasize more on the successful strategies and go back to the first phase for the ones that need more improvements.

Data and conversion rate optimization

For successful conversion rate optimization, data is very important. Tools like Google Ads and Google Analytics can provide you valuable insights where you can better understand the the source of your traffic, their behavior and the number of impressions on your different channels. With this information, you will be able to determine your most successful channels and the below par ones.

You also have to define the strategies to collect the data that you can use for better CRO. You can do this by providing the visitors with forms. With the data from the form, you can then create a targeted customer avatar and use it to come up with solid CRO strategies. Without enough data, your optimization efforts won’t be too effective as you will just hanker in the dark.

What metrics you have to check to start with CRO

Data, data, data but what metrics you must check to start with optimizing your website? We will explain you a couple of metrics that play an important role in the CRO process.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a crucial to check and to see whether or not people leaving your website directly without doing anything on that page. The bounce rate is defined as the percentage of people who visits your website and click away within a split second after landing on a webpage.

If the bouncerate is to high (approximately above the 60%) then you know that to many people are not getting the information that the looked for. Then you also know that you have to optimize to get better bouncerates on this specific page.

Average time on site

Average time on site is important to understand how your audience engages with your content on your website. If you have highly engaging content you can assume that people are staying much longer on your website.

Exit rates

You can monitor on which pages the exit rates are the highest within Analytics. This gives you good insights whether the pages offer your visitors the right information or not. It is defined as the percentage of people that are leaving completely.


This metric shows you how many interactions people needed before making a conversion. In some industries it is quite normal that people need more interactions before making a purchase. These insights tell you more about how to interact and persuade the visitor to drive a conversion.

These above metrics provide you already a ton of information and based on these insights you can already come up with a plan how to optimize your conversions and on which pages.

How does A/B testing work

A/B testing is also known as bucket testing or split testing. It is a method that compares two versions of your webpage or landing page to identify the better performing one. Two or more variants of the same page is shown to users at random, and with statistical analysis the better performing one is then chosen for conversion goal.

For A/B testing, you just need to take a page and ten modify it to create the second version of it. The changes can be major or minor. From changing a single headline to modifying the overall layout, everything falls under A/B testing.

The benefits of A/B testing

With effective A/B testing, individuals or companies can make proper changes that enhance user experience and also collect data . Thus, they can create hypothesis and learn better ways to use the site elements to impact user behavior in a desired way. It is not about what someone in the organization likes or not in a subjective way. It is all about what the user prefers and what converts best backed up by data.

A/B testing is used to improve user experience of the page or app on a continuous basis, in order to reach goals like increasing conversion rates over time.

Next to providing an objective way of testing your webpages and enhancing the user experience it is also a cost-efficient way to keep investing in your website to keep improving.

A/B testing is also a way to improve your website with small steps at a time. You are not completely changing a whole website and in this subtle way you are booking small progress which sums up to big progress over time.

Key takeaways

Conversation rate optimization is not rocket science, but it is no piece of cake either. You need to bring out your creative self to get the best out of CRO. Effective CRO can bring a business tons of value, while poorly planned CRO can result in losses. Always focus on improving the user experience and also optimize for that. When you optimize for a better user experience your conversion rate will increase as well.

Mathias Aaftink

Author Mathias Aaftink

Geïntrigeerd door klantgedrag, performance marketing en klantervaring en de manier waarop organisaties daarop inspelen. Met mijn ervaring voel ik me thuis in de wereld van (digitale) marketing en branding. Ik ga nieuwe uitdagingen met veel plezier aan en voel meteen een groot verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel om er een succes van te maken. Projecten waarbij ik mijn ondernemende vaardigheden en mindset kan inzetten geven mij veel energie en dit is waar ik voor u van toegevoegde waarde kan zijn.

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