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Guide To Conversion Rate Optimization – Going Beyond Generating Traffic

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A lot of effort goes into generating and tracking the traffic to our websites. Seeing the number of people visiting the website grow day by day can be very exciting. Most of us get caught up in this excitement by believing that high traffic is an indication that people visiting our website, love it. This is not necessarily the case. High traffic is more a reflection of how well you are going about doing your SEO, SEM, etc. Studying data of other parameters, from an analytical tool linked to your website like Google analytics, will help you get a complete perspective on how the viewers are interacting with your website.

Bounce rate:

It indicates the percentage of people who leave your website after viewing a single page. Knowing this rate will help you realize how engaging or relevant your content is to the people visiting your website. For example if 500 out of 1000 people visiting a website leave after visiting just one page, the bounce rate of the website would be as high as 50%.

Exit rate:

Each page has an exit rate, which indicates how many times people have left the website after visiting that page. If a particular page has a very high exit rate it could indicate problems with that page. For example if out of 1000 visitors, 300 people visit the ‘about us’ page before leaving the site, then the exit rate of the ‘about us’ page will be 30%.

Average time on site:

Gives an idea of how much time a person is spending on the website. A high bounce rate will mean that the average time spent on the website will also be low.

Average page views:

Gives an idea of how many pages on an average a person goes through during a visit. More the number of pages viewed could indicate that either people are finding the content very engaging and hence want more information or that they are finding the content very confusing
and hence browsing more pages to get some clarity.

Conversion rate:

Every site is built with a purpose to either sell products or to get people to sign up for newsletters or to get people to fill forms. Conversion rate gives an idea as to how many people visiting the website are actually doing what you want them to do. For example if an e-commerce website is able to get 10 people to buy a product for every 1000 visitors, the conversion rate of the website would be only 1%. Conversion rate is the most critical parameter because having a website that doesn’t get its viewers to take the intended action, would defeat the point of having one in the first place. This is where conversion rate optimization comes into play. It is a process which focuses on improving conversions by reducing bounce rates, exit rates and improving on the average time, average page views. Simply put..

Conversion rate optimization or CRO is about improving the performance of a website, by finding out why visitors are not converting with the help of analytics and user feedbacks.

Benefits of conversion rate optimization (CRO)

  • Control over conversions:

Having a good rainy season doesn’t necessarily guarantee that there would be no water shortage problems. Implementing rain water harvesting ensures that no matter how much it rains, water gets collected for future consumption, thereby giving a better control over water shortage problems. Similarly implementing a CRO plan will ensure that no matter how much traffic comes to the website, the percentage of people who carry out the actions you want them to take remains high, thereby giving you control over the number of conversions.

  • Precise and relevant revisions:

Despite the traffic being high, if the conversion rate is not very good, most of us keep tweaking our websites based on assumptions, shooting in the dark till conversions improve. In the end there is no clarity on what has worked and what hasn’t. With CRO every assumption can be tested, ensuring that only the changes that are bringing in the conversions are implemented on your website.

  • Acquiring the right people:

CRO is not just about conversions. It’s about getting the right people to convert by assessing what is relevant to them and delivering it at the right time.

  • Costs nothing:

While getting visitors to your website through paid ads etc., involves some investment, CRO doesn’t require any additional investment as it is all about capitalizing on the traffic you already have.

  • Reduces amount spent on paid on-line advertisements:

By offering more relevant details to your viewers, the traffic to your website will organically grow and the quality score of your paid ads will increase. This will not just bring down the amount you pay-per-click, but even the overall amount spent on on-line ads will come down.

  • Ads get better positions on the search engine results page:

Improved quality score will also ensure that your on-line ads are shown at the top position on the search engine results page.

  • Reduces the cost per acquisition (CPA):

By Improving the conversions, more leads/profits can be generated from the same amount of traffic and by reducing the cost of paid ads, the investment required to generate the same amount of traffic will also be less. Both these will result in ensuring that the overall cost per acquisition or CPA is also lowered.

Building a CRO plan

  • Define what conversions mean to you:

Conversions need not always be in the form of a sale. Getting more people interested in your free services, can increase your chances of making the final sale. For example conversion for an interior company website could be the number of people who sign up for a free estimate. Determine if the purpose of your website is to generate more leads by making people sign up for free stuff or to make people buy things or to give them information. The number of people who fulfill the desired purpose would be your conversions.

  • Establish how you are currently performing:

Analytics –

Getting the above mentioned parameters will help you in determining how your website is doing overall by assessing the most visited pages, least visited pages, time spent and current conversions.

User interface testing

Softwares like CrazyEgg, Kissmetrics, UserTesting, etc. show the most clicked/ visited regions of each page. This will give you a deeper understanding into how viewers are interacting with each element on a page.


To gain further insights, you can get feedback directly from the viewers by creating on page surveys using tools such as Iperception’s 4Q.

  • Put down hypothesis of how you can achieve the desired conversions:

Once all the data is collected you will be able to identify your problem areas. Put down various ways you feel will help in combating these problems. For example an interior company could think of adding testimonials to boost the number of people signing up for free estimate. If they already have one and through the analysis they find that not too many people are seeing it, then they might consider changing the position of the testimonials to make them more prominent.

  • Design your test:
    • To improve conversions, start with the pages that are closer to creating revenue.
    • To improve traffic, start with the pages with the highest bounce rates.
    • Make a list of all the problem areas you want to test and test them one by one. If you try changing too many elements within the same test, it would be difficult for you to track what is working and what is not.
    • For each problem, create an A/B test, using softwares such as Optimizely, VWO etc. What A/B testing means is creating two variations that you feel will resolve a problem. For example the interior company to get more visibility to their testimonial, could make one variant with the testimonial placed higher on the page and another where the position is retained with just the font size being increased. Some visitors will be shown the A variation and some the B variation. This will help you in understanding which variation is getting you better conversions, so that you can retain it on your final page. You can create more than two variations, but keep in mind that the traffic to your website will get divided between the variations. Ideally at least 100 people should see each variant.
    • Keep screen shots of various variations for future reference
  • Things you can test on your website:
    • Headings and sub-headings
    • Navigation
    • Link labels
    • Forms
    • Images
    • Call to actions
    • Offers
    • Prices
    • Page layout
    • Page flows
  • Run your tests:
    • Run all the tests for the same amount of time to give consistent and accurate results.
    • Run the tests for at least two weeks.
    • Ensure that all variations are tested on the same segment of your target group. For example in a recent survey it was found that in India, people respond better to ‘buy now’ rather than ‘add to cart’, as using shopping carts is not something familiar to Indian audience. So if an ‘add to cart’ button were to be tested in India the click-through rates would be poor when compared to an overseas audience. If you don’t define your audience then the results will be confusing
  • Go back to the analytics and data:
    • Evaluate to see which tests are bringing in the numbers you wanted and implement them on the final page.
    • If a particular change improves the number of visitors to the website, don’t discard it just because it has not increased the conversions. Retain that change and come up with other variations to improve the conversion rates.
    • If tests fail, go back and try to figure out other possibilities, conduct further surveys and continue testing.
  • See if the results can be replicated elsewhere:

For example if by increasing the font size of your call to action on one page increases the conversion rates, then you can go ahead and apply the change wherever the call to action appears on all pages.

  • Keep an eye out for various case-studies:

Tests carried out by other companies, will help you get further insights on what works and what doesn’t. Something that works for others may or may not work for you. There is no harm in trying, especially if your own hypothesis has failed. Following is an example of one such case-study.


Work on building a good traffic to your website before implementing CRO, otherwise most of the softwares and tools will not work properly. While CRO will help in boosting traffic, keep working on building traffic as well to get the best conversions out of your website.

Listen to your instinct and back it up with data. CRO is the extra mile that will ensure there are no traffic jams in your road to successful on-line marketing!

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