What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

posted this on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at about 1pm.
Marketing Checklist

For as long as business owners have had a location to hang their sign, they have tried to find more and more ways to get more and more people to buy from them.

What usually happens is that businesses (even experienced marketers) will simply create a punchlist of tactics that they think are important to do — if they do they’ll get sales.

The punchlist might look something like the list at the top right of this post.

In reality, the strategies to market your business have never changed but the tactics must be revised. Looking at marketing as a punchlist will never allow you to see success because you’ll not look at the most effective tactics now.

In my book, I break down your marketing into four key components. In parenthesis I’ve indicated how I relate them to the Web.

  1. Location (Web presence or website)
  2. Brand Awareness (Search Engine Optimization – SEO)
  3. Visitors (Traffic Generation)
  4. Transactions (Conversion Rate Optimization - CRO)

On the Web, if you have a Web presence, there is no guarantee people will find you — this is why you need search engine optimization.

If you are high in the search engines, there is no guarantee that people will go to your website — this is why you need traffic generation. (Note that sometimes people call this search engine marketing or SEM but I usually leave SEM to be one of the possible tactics of traffic generation.)

If you are getting a lot of traffic, there is no guarantee that people will buy from you — this is why you need conversion rate optimization.

In my book, I define CRO this way:

  • Conversion – Getting someone to do something you want (e.g. go to another page, fill out a lead form or buy something).
  • Conversion Rate - The percentage of people that do the thing you want versus those that don’t.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization - Making changes on your website that help increase your conversion rate.

One of the biggest misnomers is that CRO is lead or sales generation. CRO is not lead or sales generation. CRO is the process of testing and analyzing your website to hopefully generate more leads or sales.

Think of it this way. We don’t know what people will do on your website until we observe it. We have certain goals and we don’t necessarily know how to get there. CRO allows us to create tests to get a higher percentage of people to do what we want (fill out a lead form, buy a product or even just click on another page).

There is another, bigger part to CRO. That is getting the right kind of people to do what we want them to do. We can develop tactics that allow us to maximize the number of conversions we get. We can also develop tactics that will weed out all but the most serious. CRO allows us to figure that out. It allows us to analyze the results in such a way to know that what we do will produce the best results (however we define it).

How do you get started?

That’s the trickier part. While I won’t go into the tactics here (you know me, I’m a strategist) I will say that it requires a shift in your attitude about how things have to look. You must understand that your opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is what your website visitors do. If you get the conversion you want but the website doesn’t exactly match your design preferences, maybe you should look at your design preferences and figure out why you are wrong.

Bringing this concept back to the beginning of this post, it is through CRO that you can identify the marketing tactics that are actually producing the results. If they aren’t producing, get rid of them.

If you have interest, you can watch my interview on CRO in my post "Sell More Stuff Online."

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?