How conversion rate optimisation can help squeeze more from your website

4 years ago by Arek Estall

What is CRO and why is it important? 

The premise of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is simple - optimise your website to increase enquiries and revenue. 

With every site, from a pool of visitors, only a few will go on to purchase or enquire from your site. The common thought process is that if you want to increase website sales, the traffic to the website must increase too. 

This is a good way to go and important, but it's important not to forget the importance of conversion rate optimisation (CRO). The focus should be on increasing traffic and optimising the conversion rate your website. That way you have more visitors and more enquiries - improving the numbers at both ends of the process. 

conversions example

Conversion rate optimisation is a big opportunity. It can almost be seen as profit for free. Think about it - every penny you spend on marketing and advertising is driving better returns and higher enquiries. 

Where to start with CRO

The first step sometime is getting conversions and data set up properly. So mand clients don't have Analytics goals or eCommerce data tracked - even those with their digital marketing looked after by agencies. (But that's a blog post/rant in itself!)

Assuming you have conversions set up, the start involves indentifying the specific issues that are going on with a site. These are usually identified through Analytics or eCommerce/conversion funnel data. 

As part of our process, we'll often run heat map tests too, mouse tracking recordings and other usuability tests. Once we have a good background on what's happening, we start analysing the conversino process in more detail. 

Testing the checkout/conversion process

Customers could be leaving your site within 10 seconds or abandoning their purchase in the checkout stages for many different reasons. 

The key is to tackle the process with a structured approach, from the homepage through to the end of the checkout process. It could be an issue with the homepage messaging, the category page filtering or the product page descriptions. For example, UK Tool Centre thought that by having an extra product filter on their category page would increase the likelihood of customers finding the right product. 


In the variation test, the filter menu was removed. 

By removing the filter menu, product page engagement increased by 27% - as visitors were now less distracted. The filter menu pushed products lower down the page, prompting the customer to have to scroll. This is an interesting result because many would consider filters on the category page to be necessary and more user-friendly. 

This experiment shows the importance of A/B testing. In simple terms, A/B testing is where you set up two different landing pages with each page having a different element than the other (in the case above a filter menu was visible or not visible). Your website presents one of these pages to half your traffic, and the variation page to the other half of your website traffic. This can be especially useful on the homepages, high-traffic pages or checkout processes. 

It's not just and eCommerce thing

If you're a B2B services company listen up - CRO isn't just for eCommerce sites. 

Vendio is a SAAS company that has a landing page with an embedded signup form  (i.e. the form is on the page). Fewer clicks is best right? 

Embedded Signup

Well, interestingly they removed it in a test leading to a 60% increase in visitor signups. The "Sign Up Now" button leads to the signup from within its own page. It's quite possible that adding steps to signup increases conversions - as proven by this case. It's sage to say that you should never assume what's best - A/B testing is always a worthwhile exercise for high traffic sites. 

CTA Button

How to increase form filling

Another example - Flying Scot provides airport parking in Edinburgh. They had the goal of increasing conversions through their website. The key lesson is that a form should not be hard work - make it as simple as possible. Here's their old form, which has all the fields on one page. 

Original Form

By breaking up the form into 3 sections, the result was a 45% increase in visitors moving to the next step and a 35% increase in form submissions overall. 

Test Form


It's all about trust

It's not just about website usability though. Sometimes the reason visitors exit your website, or bounce off landing pages is about that difficult to measure feeling of "trust". 

A compelling product/service description, unique value proposition, well place trust indicators, structured pricing and a controlled linear story line will often affect conversion more than simple usability corrections. 

Visitors need their questions answered before they buy from you. What's the product? It's features, prices, return policy, delivery, security? Am I making the best choice? A common mistake is focusing to much on how beautiful the website looks, or choosing the right colours. Sometimes the donkey work is what's needed to make a website work better. 

Often it comes to feeling secure, what helps is portraying the right messages and helping the customer down the right path for purchase or enquiry. Every element of a web page should address these questions, and conversion rate optimisation teaches us what combination of elements addresses those questions in the best way possible. 

In some cases, the website may be doing a perfect job for customers, and taking them through to the checkout. However it is the checkout process that is the barrier defying high sales. Take a look at this example: 

Old and new checkout pages

As you can see, the new design is greatly improved, featured a help section along with guarantees, live customer support, customer testimonials and most importantly they shortened and categorized the form to make it easier and quicker for customer to complete. 

The end-goal

The goal of CRO is not to manipulate visitors into converting. It's to ease the journey of already interested or engaged visitors through your website until they've achieved the outcome they desired themselves. And it makes you digital marketing efforts more likely to succeed.

If you want your website to work harder for you, get in touch on [email protected], fill in the form on our contact page or call us on 01792 739322.

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