One of the biggest challenges facing any business today is getting people to visit your website.

How do you get them there?

Can they easily find you in an online search?

Once people do find your website, an even bigger challenge is getting them to convert into paying customers, or to sign up for a course, or to fill out a form — whatever desired action you’d like them to take before they bounce to another website.

So, how do you convert customers? How do you optimize conversion rates?

Let’s start from the beginning: What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process in which you convert website browsers into engaged (and ultimately) loyal customers or subscribers.

Technically speaking, according to Moz, conversion rate optimization is: The systematic process of increasing the number of visitors who take a desired action on your website.

More eloquently put in this Forbes article: It’s the art and science of getting people to act once they arrive at your site.

“Getting people to act” usually involves a combination of elements that add to the overall user experience, including visual design, copywriting, testing different marketing techniques, and so forth.

My interpretation of these definitions, based on my own experiences as both an online consumer and an online marketing professional, is that CRO is very much like doing business with people you like – that’s why there are both art and science elements involved.

There’s no cookie-cutter formula, but you can base your decisions on how to convert more customers on scientific data and some finesse.

For instance, if you’re like me, you shop at the same grocery store because: “The décor is pleasing, and the staff is super friendly and helpful.”

Or, you buy a car from the same sales guy every few years (and send all your friends and family his way) because, “It’s always a good experience, and he’s extremely knowledgeable about cars.”

The same can be said for website user experiences: people become customers when they have a good experience and because it’s easy to find what they’re looking for without sifting through too many drop-down menus to get to the “buy now” or “request a quote” button. And, even just because, “the colors are soothing.”

So, if you want to improve conversion rate optimization on your website, it certainly helps to improve the user experience, both aesthetically and functionally.

How can you do that? Gather data.

First, if you haven’t done so already, learn about your website’s current conversion rate. You can calculate the conversion rate with these two pieces of information:

  1. How many people see your call-to-action (CTA) to join, or sign up, or purchase each day?
  2. How many of those people take that desired action and join, or sign up, or purchase?

By dividing the number of people who take action by the total number of visitors to your site, you can figure out your conversion rate. For example, if 1,000 people visit your site today and 250 of them do what your CTA requested, your conversion rate is 25%.

To optimize your conversion rate, you need to figure out how to convince more traffic to take action. You can read more about that in our blog about split testing. Once you understand what your site visitors like, you can give them more of it and convert more people. Don’t just guess at it, or you’ll be shooting a bunch of arrows at a target you can’t see (read: wasting your marketing budget).

Instead, ask questions like:

  • What is the first page the majority of your visitors see first? What led them there, specifically — a particular product or service?
  • What feature or service makes buying from your company more desirable than getting that same product or service from a competitor?
  • How much of your business comes from referrals and others who’ve had a good experience with your company?

You can get this data from Google Analytics, customer surveys, and user tests. Understanding website visitor behavior and preferences is crucial to converting visitors into becoming loyal customers.

This is a lot of information, but there’s one more thing: Avatars.

It wouldn’t make sense to give you all this information about conversion rate optimization without at least mentioning avatars, or buyer personas. These are essentially your target audience(s); the people who come to your website to shop, or join, or learn something that only you can give them. Understanding who your ideal potential customers are is just as important as understanding their online behavior.

See how this all fits together? Just learn who your ideal audience is, track their online preferences and behaviors, and voila! — you’re conversion rates from browsers to buyers skyrockets.

The first time you dive into CRO and analytics might seem intimidating. That’s why we’re here to help. Give us a shout. Then, you can focus on running your business, while we apply our digital marketing expertise to increasing your conversion rates.