Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is a great way of helping to make every bit of marketing activity you do deliver better results. By analysing and improving key pages on your website good CRO will ensure that it doesn’t just deliver people to your website, but that they do what you want them to do when you get there!

To break that down further, to start out in CRO you need to:

1. Analyse and improve key pages on your website

First of all you need to gather data to allow a better understanding of how visitors behave on your website, what they like and importantly what they don’t like.

“User testing can quash assumptions you’ve made about how existing visitors use your site”


Qualitative methods, i.e. user testing, allows real feedback from real users. It can quash assumptions you’ve made about how existing visitors use your site or give you insights into what new users are looking for.

Quantitative methods, i.e. web analytics, give a much broader view of user behaviour, and the opportunity to see if there are patterns in unwanted behaviour such as abandoning a shopping basket once the shipping charges are revealed, or bouncing off of a page because there’s no clear call to action.

2. Encourage visitors to do what you’d like them to do

What’s the most important thing that a visitor could do once they’re on your site and is it different for your various company personas?

The answer to this varies tremendously. For some websites it’ll be a call to their sales team, for others it’ll be the completion of an online purchase. It could also be a smaller interaction, like downloading a product information sheet or visiting a specific page on the site.

3. Test your changes to see what works

Once research and analysis is done (for now), it’s time to start testing.

“Rather than a ‘throw it and see what sticks’ approach, A/B and multivariate testing methods are preferred”


search-star-doctorRather than a ‘throw it and see what sticks’ approach, A/B and multivariate testing methods are preferred. Control and test versions of the pages in question gather statistically reliable amounts of data to allow a robust conclusion to be formed. This, in turn, gives greater confidence in any final changes.

To make this more palatable for your web developer there are tools that help the A/B testing process enormously, completely negating the need to get developers to set up two versions of the page, change the wording on one button and ensure they are recorded correctly in your analytics package.

Starting Conversion Rate Optimisation

CRO can be started at any time, it doesn’t need to coincide with a new website build. In fact it can even be done just before you brief for a new website! It sounds counterproductive, but carrying out CRO on your existing website can help inform great decisions around the design and functionality of a new website.

Does it work?

The proof is in the pudding, or in Google Analytics, or your bottom line. Below are two case studies from a car parts supplier, showing how simple changes can make a big difference.

Case Study 1: What’s the best Call to Action?

User testing showed that visitors weren’t clear why they had to “find my vehicle” when they were looking for a replacement car part.

There were two options:

  1. Add messaging to explain why they needed to ‘find my vehicle’
    • This was disregarded because the site in question was a mobile version and additional messaging would have cluttered the page and moved the Call to Action further down the page
  2. Simplify and encourage
    • Remove confusion at this stage of the journey and encourage users to carry on.

So our testing hypothesis was:

“Find my vehicle” is making people think about the process too much, if we can make it easier for them to get past this first step then the onward journey becomes clearer and they will keep moving down the funnel.

Several variations of the button were tested: Search, Get A Quote and Continue. At the end of the test, Continue saw a 12.2% uplift in completed enquiries (not just moving on to the next step) compared to the original.


Case Study 2: Data Capture

On the same site, there was a short data capture form where entering a contact phone number was optional and as a result many visitors declined to enter their phone number.

To the car parts business, obtaining the phone number was of real value as they knew they could convert a higher number of prospective customers over the phone rather than via email. With this test we were anticipating a negative result, i.e. we knew the conversion rate would fall, what we didn’t know was how many people it would actually deter from completing the form.

At the end of the test, the overall number of enquiries of the form where the phone number was compulsory (the test version) dropped by 6.5% compared to the original form. Unusually, the negative result was considered positive – the overall number of phone numbers increased as did subsequent conversions as a result of phone contact rather than email.

Ryan-webb-search-starRyan Webb is CRO Director at Search Star, Bath-based specialists in CRO, Pay-Per-Click, Biddable Media and Analytics.

Interested in knowing more about CRO? Search Star are sponsoring our Techie Brekkie: Conversion Rate Optimisation: Using data to increase conversion on Tuesday 21 April, where you can share ideas and learn from others’ experience and techniques with CRO, and how it fits into the wider marketing mix.