What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Conversion Rate Optimisation is all about plugging holes.

The Aim of CRO is to plug the holes.

It’s a funny thing how, as business owners, we lose sight of the important things that really makes our businesses successful. It’s not just the day to day running of the business that actually makes it successful but the ability to step back and assess where you’ve been, we’re you’re going and where you want to go. Or as many business experts have stated over the years, ‘work on your business, not in it’.

The same is absolutely true when we talk about your internet presence and for most, the central part of that is your website. Over the past 11 years I’ve watched many businesses design, develop, add, amend, redesign and redevelop their websites ad nauseum. Then they invest in traffic drivers such as search engine advertising or PPC, search engine optimsation (SEO), banner advertising, backlinking, social media marketing and the list goes on but throughout all this one thing has largely been ignored, the conversion rate!

The conversion rate is essentially a mathematical term that describes the amount of website visitors that take some sort of action once they arrive on your website. That action can take many forms such as:

  • Clicking on a button
  • Visiting a page
  • Clicking on a link
  • Filling out a form
  • Downloading a PDF
  • Submitting Your details
  • Calling the business
  • Sending an email
  • Requesting a quote
  • and so on…
So if your website receives 1000 visitors a month and 30 of those request a quote, your conversion rate for people requesting a quote is 30/1000 or 3%. Easy right?
Now you can apply the concept of conversion rates to one of the above tasks (task or action-specific conversion) or to a number of these tasks (aggregate conversion), most people think in terms of aggregate conversions. eg. 30 people requested a quote, 12 people called and 7 downloaded our brochure, the overall or aggregate conversion rate is now 4.9% (30+12+7/1000). However it’s often worth thinking about conversions at the task level as some tasks or actions represent more value to the business than others, but we’ll delve into that further in a later blog.
Now that we’ve grasped the concept of conversion rate we can jump headlong into optimisation. Optimisation is bandied about in internet circles these days like there’s no tomorrow, in fact, I don’t even know if people used the word optimise before the internet was invented, I can’t recall Mum ever saying, “I’m trying to optimise my banana bread recipe”. Anyway, that aside, it simply means to improve something through a process of trial and error.
So in short, conversion rate optimisation is the goal of improving a websites conversion rate through a process of trial and error but this is where it gets scientific, the trial and error part is not really as unguided as it sounds, it’s actually based on TESTING.
Now while I’ve still got at least part of your attention, it’s time to pick apart the geeks who overuse the term optimisation. Search Engine Optimisation is actually false! You’re not actually optimising the search engines, that’s Sergey Brin and Larry Pages job! (at Google anyway), it should technically be search engine ranking optimisation or website ranking optimisation! Whoops, slipped off the soap box there.
So before you spend another cent on search engine advertising, seo, banner advertising, social media management or any other web presence improvement activity, stand back and look at your website. What was it designed to do? What do you want out of it? What do you customers want out of it? If you could rub a brass lamp and watch a genie emerge and he gave you one wish to have your website do anything you wanted, what would it be?
I’m hoping that your website developer asked these questions before they built the latest version of you site but I won’t be even remotely surprised if they didn’t. Now grab your web hosting stats, your Google Analytics reports or any other data you may have relevant to your site and crunch some numbers, what is your conversion rate? 1%, 3%, 7%? The answer doesn’t really matter the important thing is it needs to be improved and it can be improved sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot.

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