A Primer on Conversion Rate Optimisation

Author Jarrod Carnegie
Read time 4 min
A Primer on Conversion Rate Optimisation

Conversion rate optimisation is a crucial factor that has the power to influence your company’s growth. Driving traffic alone to your website hoping that it converts into qualified leads can be tough but getting people to actually complete the desired action? Well, that’s even tougher.

What does it take to encourage someone to fill out a form, sign up for a newsletter, or even make a purchase? It takes a lot, to be honest. You have to factor in your website design and format, its performance and responsiveness, and overall optimisation.

How can you achieve your goal of getting more conversions and promoting growth?
The secret sauce here is conversion rate optimisation (CRO). Yes, it can be daunting at first, but it’s definitely worth your time and effort. To help you get started, we’ve come up with this guide that tells you what you need to know about CRO and how you can apply it to your business.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Before diving into conversion rate optimisation and how it can do wonders for your business, let’s talk about conversion and conversion rates first.

What Is a Conversion?

A conversion refers to the process where a visitor or a lead completes a desired action on your website. If your primary goal for your site is to promote a paid service, then you want visitors to sign up, say for a free trial, and you’d eventually want them to become paying subscribers. So, essentially, if a lead upgrades their status, that’s a conversion.

Conversions, like goals, can come in different sizes. We have micro-conversions, which are smaller conversions, such as creating an account or adding items to a cart, and then there are macro-conversions, or larger conversions, such as making a purchase or subscribing to a paid service.

What Is a Conversion Rate?

Conversion rate is the number of visitors who convert. To calculate your conversion rate, divide the total number of conversions by the number of total visitors. Multiply the quotient by 100 to get a percentage.

What’s a good conversion rate? Figures can differ depending on the industry.

  • The average conversion rate of global e-commerce sites in 2020 was 2.17%.

  • For new B2B sites, a good conversion rate would be 3%.

  • In 2020, the average conversion rate for SaaS firms was 3%. Subcategories such as analytics, and apps and devices enjoyed conversion rates of 2.9% and 6.2%, respectively, in 2021.

  • For landing pages across industries, the average conversion rate is 2.35%. Those in the top spot have an average conversion rate of 5.31% or higher. Those in the top 10% have conversion rates that average 11.45% or higher.

Keep in mind that conversion rates—and average conversion rates—will differ, depending on factors such as your conversion goals, audience, and your website itself. While these figures can serve as a benchmark, they’re not the be-all and end-all of conversion rate optimisation.

So, what is conversion rate optimisation?

Conversion rate optimisation is an approach used to increase the percentage of conversions or visitors who complete a desired action on your website. CRO can involve improving your website copy, modifying your UX, or basically any change that encourages a lead to progress from one stage to another higher stage.

Where do conversions happen? They can happen everywhere on your site, whether it’s the homepage, the landing page, or your product page. The key is optimising every location of your site to maximise the potential of converting your visitors.

However, this is a very technical definition of what conversion rate optimisation is. If you want a more comprehensive way of defining CRO, it’s about applying a systematic approach to gain a better understanding of what motivates or prevents your users from completing an action. What drives them to visit your site? What deters them from completing an action? What motivated them to take action?

This enables you to find ways to deliver better, if not the best, user experiences, which, in turn, pushes actual conversions that boost your conversion rates.

The bottom line of conversion rate optimisation is to increase your business’s revenue, which, consequently, drives growth.

Aside from increased revenue, CRO can benefit you in a number of ways:

It improves user experience

Leveraging conversion rate optimisation means making improvements to your site, so you can give visitors the best experience possible. For example, by improving your page load speed, you’re giving users a better experience. One of the most common deterrents to conversion is bad user experience brought about by faulty UX design like slow page load speeds.

It boosts customer retention rates

Customer retention is another critical ingredient for growth. While acquiring new customers has its advantages, being able to retain customers is relatively the easier and more cost-effective way to go. Plus, existing or returning customers tend to spend more and make more purchases. A small increase, even by 5% can drive your company revenue to increase by 25% to as much as 95%.

You want to keep your customers, not push them to churn. By applying CRO strategies, you’re able to address common causes of churn such as poor onboarding and poor customer service. 

CRO helps you better understand your customers

Adopting a more holistic approach to CRO helps you understand your target audience better. Prior to diving right into applying conversation rate optimisation strategies, you need to look at data to know who your customers are, what they need, how they interact with your site, and issues that keep them from converting.

It complements your SEO efforts

At the end of the day, it’s not about CRO vs. SEO or which is better. In fact, CRO can complement your SEO efforts. Offering a better user experience makes it more likely for your site to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). You’re making your site more engaging, pushing visitors to stay on the website longer and interact with it more. This can minimise bounce rates and improve dwell time.

CRO lets you enjoy increased traffic and better ROI

By optimising your site, you have the opportunity to rank better on SERPs, and we all know that ranking higher (or being on the first page) can bring in a lot of traffic. With CRO, you’re also able to optimise your strategies, such as email marketing and paid ads, to maximise conversions. Having higher conversion rates translates to higher ROI.

CRO Best Practices: Are They Good or Bad?

It’s common knowledge that best practices are largely beneficial. However, when it comes to conversion rate optimisation, CRO best practices are neither good nor bad.

Wait, what?

CRO best practices aren’t always guaranteed to work because you have to factor in your audience and their preferences. You may have nailed your messaging, but if your CRO best practices don’t click with your audience’s preferences, then it’s probably not going to work. And in some cases, what works for one company might not work for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula here. 

The best recourse is to not fixate so much on best practices and instead focus on your customers; use data to your advantage and see what works. Then, you can try out these changes and see whether they click or not. The bottom line is, when it comes to CRO, your best practices are actions that actually work for you and deliver concrete results.


Author Jarrod Carnegie