Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a bit of a misnomer. When we analyze our websites and make changes, we should look at the conversion rate percentage as a success indicator – not as an end. Yes, a higher conversion rate is the optimizer’s desired outcome, but there is only one way to reach that goal.

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize User Experience: Focus on enhancing user experience to naturally increase conversion rates rather than relying solely on conversion tactics.
  • Avoid Gimmicks: Genuine improvements come from thorough research and enhancing user experience, not just from conversion ‘hacks’ like button color tests.
  • Incorporate Qualitative Data: Utilize customer feedback and qualitative data to better understand and meet user needs, complementing quantitative analysis.
  • Evolve CRO Practices: Shift the focus of CRO from merely increasing conversion rates to improving the overall user experience for sustainable growth.
  • Leverage Existing Resources: Use tools like Google Analytics and customer service insights to gather valuable qualitative data without additional costs.

Optimizing For The User Experience

Plenty of conversion tactics can help ‘game’ the system but don’t provide a beneficial user experience. Low-hanging fruit tests, such as button color tests, are a perfect example. Sure, there will always be a conversion variance between particular button colors. There is such a variation, one great tactic is to load several different button colors into a multi-armed bandit algorithm to squeeze the most money as you can out of the page.

This tactic will bring you some marginal gains, but you begin to see the real gains when you stop using conversion ‘hacks’ and start doing some good old-fashioned research.

When we optimize our sites we are not optimizing the conversions rate, but we are bettering the user experience to increase the likelihood of a converting action. The optimizer has become too focused on the what, e.g., increasing conversions, and is forgetting about the how, e.g., improving the user experience. 

An interesting concept has been born recently: ux consulting, or in other words, “user experience consulting”. Although it may sound confusing at first, it has come to life with the rise of product design and development methodologies. User experience deals with more than web design and the user interface; it adds value to the layout, the content, and the flow of your website as a whole.

A team of UX consultants will help you gain a new perspective on your product, market, business, and brand strategy. It all starts with a well-crafted audit! The whole process is based on your specific challenge and request that will eventually determine what service will be included in the project.

Back To Basics – What Is CRO?

Illustration of the concept Conversion Rate Optimization

By now we are all familiar with CRO or website optimization. Despite some of the many misconceptions around CRO, I think it is something marketers have finally started to take seriously in 2014.

For those of you who are not familiar with the CRO, it is the method by which marketers analyze and optimize their websites and campaigns through various means including but not limited to:

  • A/B Testing: When you split traffic between two or more page variations to see which performs better.
  • User Surveys: When you load a client satisfaction survey, either open-ended or with pre-selected choices, for a web user to complete. Great source of data, though pre-selected choices may add your own bias.
  • Personalization: When you dynamically change the content based on different user segments, e.g., geolocation, visitor type, etc…
  • Click maps: A report that shows where visitors on your site click. Very useful to make sure your CTA is getting attention and that other elements of your page aren’t confusing visitors, e.g., they click on an image that isn’t clickable.

What’s Wrong With CRO Today

Man standing next to text that says "CRO is not enough" with Omniconvert logo.

Unfortunately, CRO has been too focused on the quantitative data sets. I am all for split testing and data analysis, but most CRO professionals miss the crucial step of humanizing the numbers, i.e., applying the numbers and statistics to their visitor set.

What’s even worse is many optimizers shun qualitative data sources and believe they are at odds with quantitative data sets. This is a terrible way to approach CRO! To have any chance of increasing your conversion rates you have to learn as much as you can about your target audience! 

What CRO Needs To Become

Traditionally CRO has been about optimizing the conversion rate on sites. The simple problem with this terminology is that it is focused on increasing percentages and is inherently inhuman. If you really want to move the needle you need to focus your efforts on optimizing the user experience.

Qualitative analysis is still the least used data source for split test hypothesis construction. There has been year-over-year growth, but it is still at the bottom! I completely understand that these types of surveying tools might be out of your reach. Perhaps they cost too much or you can’t get on your IT department’s roadmap to add new code to your site.

Good news! You already have a lot of data at your disposal. Here are three tips to glean qualitative data that don’t require any tech purchases:

  • Ask Customer Service: If you have a customer service department, talk to a representative about the main questions/complaints that come in regularly.
  • Use What You Already Have: Look in Google Analytics for pages where people began an internal site search. Use the secondary dimension ‘search term’ to find a pattern. If you notice a search pattern on a page that often starts an internal search query – you’ve found a disparity between the page content provided and your user’s needs.
  • Go Old School: Pick up the phone (gasp) and call some of your best customers. Find out what worked for them, and try to highlight their suggestions.

CRO is intimately connected to user experience. Remember hearing in elementary school science class that form follows function? This motto should become every web developer’s and optimizer’s mantra.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between optimizing for user experience and conversion rate?

Optimizing for user experience focuses on improving the overall satisfaction and usability of the website, which can lead to increased conversion rates as a byproduct. In contrast, optimizing for conversion rate often involves specific tactics aimed directly at increasing the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, sometimes at the expense of the user experience.

How can I measure the effectiveness of user experience improvements?

Effectiveness can be measured through various metrics such as user satisfaction surveys, usability testing, session duration, bounce rates, and tracking user behavior changes after implementing improvements. Monitoring these metrics can help assess the impact on user experience and conversion rates.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when optimizing for user experience?

Common mistakes include neglecting qualitative data, making changes based solely on assumptions without user feedback, focusing too much on aesthetics rather than functionality, and implementing too many changes at once, which can make it hard to identify what works.

How does personalization contribute to user experience optimization?

Personalization tailors the content and experience to individual user segments based on factors like geolocation, behavior, and preferences. This targeted approach can significantly enhance user satisfaction and engagement, leading to higher conversion rates.

Can optimizing for user experience benefit other aspects of my business?

Yes, improving user experience can lead to higher customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, positive word-of-mouth referrals, and lower customer acquisition costs. A positive user experience can also reduce support inquiries and enhance the overall brand reputation.