By Emma Urbanek

You can update images and make fancy buttons or CTAs, but if you don’t have any research or statistics to back up your approach, all you’ve done is waste time and money on your latest conversion rate optimization (CRO) initiatives.

It’s like curling your hair and doing your makeup, but not having dinner plans (this never happens—I work from home so makeup is foreign to me now—but you get the idea).

Conversion rate optimization shouldn’t mean you jump on the bandwagon with industry standard updates and changes. Remember the peer pressure talk we all got as kids? It’s kind of like that—just because everyone else is using red CTA buttons doesn’t mean you should be.

Your conversion rate optimization initiatives should be solely based on your customers. Using your own data is important to diagnose why your personas are or are not taking action on your site so you can correct issues, create better hypotheses, and run better tests. But first, let’s cover the basics.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of encouraging people to take an action when they visit your website. By designing and modifying certain elements of a webpage, you can increase the chances that site visitors will convert into a lead or customer before they leave.

Overall, CRO initiatives give you the opportunity to tie a dollar sign to each visitor. For a deeper review of CRO basics, check out our previous article.

Where to Start with CRO

A tried-and-true approach to CRO is the PIE framework. Before starting a CRO project, rank each project based on its potential, importance, and ease. Hint, hint: HubSpot has used this framework and seen great results.

Use this framework to answer the following questions for every possible test you have and assign a score between one and 10 (with one being the lowest and 10 being the highest) to each of the following:

  1. How much total improvement can this project offer?
  2. How valuable will this improvement be?
  3. How complicated or difficult will it be to implement this improvement?

Once you've assigned a score for each strategy, add up the numbers and divide the sum by three. This gives a score that shows what project will have the greatest impact. Work on the projects with the highest scores first. The framework isn't perfect, but it's easy to understand, systematic, and a great way to communicate to the rest of your colleagues which CRO projects are being selected and why.

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As with any marketing initiative, goal setting and metric tracking should be taken into consideration. Make sure when you’re assessing possible CRO projects that you don’t forget your website’s main purpose. The most common webpage purposes:

  1. Answer a visitor’s question.
  2. Allow a visitor to easily navigate deeper into the website.
  3. Drive visitors to perform a specific on-page action.

Because you’ll have your purposes outlined, the next step is to make sure you’re tracking the right metrics. Here are nine of CRO’s most critical metrics to measure.

The Why Matters More than the What

The truth is that there are no one-size-fits-all best practices you can apply to your CRO strategy that are guaranteed to work.

We heard from HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan at Inbound 2018 that reducing friction is key to having happy customers. That framework is exactly what should fuel your CRO strategy. When you take your project ideas through the PIE framework listed above, make sure the center of your reasoning is reducing friction for your customers. Even if industry standards show that video should produce greater results, your customers may not care if you use a single image or b-roll video as your banner content—but they want their questions answered.

Remember, your focus should be on your specific customers and what will work on your specific website. If you’re familiar with inbound marketing—and you should be since you’re here—the method relies on research.

The first step in any CRO initiative should be conducting your own audience research to understand what your users really want. Follow that up with an audit to see where users are dropping off of your website. Then take those findings and implement your changes and A/B test them.

Every initiative should be based on proven results rather than the assumption that because a new CTA worked for another company, it will work for you too.

Now because I have no dinner plans, feel free to send me your favorite dinner recommendations. Better yet, send me your CRO questions and we can tackle those in the comments below.

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Emma Urbanek

About the author

Emma Urbanek Emma is a Marketing Consultant based out of Lincoln, NE. With experience as an account manager and content strategist at a B2B inbound marketing agency, she has a passion for writing and loves to share inbound and digital marketing best practices. Emma is fiercely dedicated to reaching goals and exceeding expectations, all while staying on time and on budget. Read more articles by Emma Urbanek.

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