Using digital marketing? Here’s why conversion rate optimization is important (and how to make it work for you).

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to calculate conversion rate
  • The benefits of CRO for digital marketing
  • Ways to create better user experiences
  • The importance of landing page and PPC ad optimization

Your competitors are out to get you.

Or at least that’s how it seems when you’re neck and neck on the search engine results page (SERP) trying to win traffic, leads, and conversions. 

Being on your A-game at all times is next to impossible. You’ve got to find ways to improve your site’s user experience (UX) and performance consistently to stay ahead. 

One way to achieve this is through conversion rate optimization, or CRO. Let’s explore what this is and how you can use it to sharpen your competitive edge. 

shaking hands

Conversion rate optimization is a tool to activate the digital marketing results you want. (Image: Unsplash)

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization consists of steps taken to optimize a website, product page, ad, or landing page to increase the percentage of visitors or viewers who complete a desired action (e.g., click, call, add to cart, make a purchase).

It involves testing and analyzing different versions of text, images, layouts, CTA (call-to-action) buttons, and other design elements to determine which combination will entice your audience to act.

By setting a conversion goal and optimizing towards that goal through CRO tactics, you could see results like:

  • An increase in purchases on your website
  • A jump in the number of people using the calculator or survey on your site
  • An increase in app downloads
  • A boost in free trial signups
  • An increase in the number of newsletter signups over the past quarter

Whatever your goal, be realistic. The average conversion rate varies from industry to industry.

Based on a survey by Invesp, the average global conversion rate is 3.68%. Then when you look at ecommerce, the average website conversion rate is 0.91%. So if you’re in that industry, don’t feel bad if you’re not reaching 2% or higher conversion rate.

And if you’re below the average, then you can always use CRO to increase conversions.

For instance, if your ecommerce site’s shopping cart abandonment rate is high, check the functionality of your checkout process to ensure there are no issues for potential customers.

After using a CRO process to analyze customer behavior, you may learn it’s an issue isolated to mobile devices that you can fix in one day.

Ready to master your online marketing program’s CRO efforts? Then let’s get to it.

What can you optimize for conversions?

Not sure where to begin? Landing pages with poor conversion rates, paid search ads, and engagement on your mobile website are just a few things you can optimize.

Generally, CRO efforts focus on converting your website visitors into qualified leads or paying customers. The conversion rate experts at HawkSEM can plan actions that optimize and improve your digital marketing and sales results.

How to calculate conversion rate

The math is pretty straightforward. Simply divide the number of conversions by the total number of visitors, then multiply by 100.

For example, let’s say your website had 1,000 visitors and 200 conversions last week.

Conversion rate = (200 / 1000) x 100 = 20%

Let’s say 500 people signed up for a free trial of your software. After using it for a month (and in conjunction with your email drip campaign), 100 of them upgraded to a paid plan. In that case, your free trial to paying customer conversion rate will be 20%.

These are simple calculations. Analytics platforms such as Google Analytics can do the calculation for you and show your goal conversion rate as well.

Goal conversion rate = (Total goal completions / # of sessions) x 100

Ecommerce conversion rate = (Total transactions / # of sessions) x 100

Benefits of digital marketing CRO

We’ve discussed the impact of CRO from a sales perspective. But optimization tactics can also be valuable for your digital marketing — here’s how.

Improved SEO efforts

Conversion rate optimization can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. By focusing your tactics on converting a site visitor, you’re keeping them on the website longer. As users get more engaged with the content, they start interacting with your website, which:

  • Reduces the bounce rate
  • Increases the dwell time (helping your website climb higher on the search engine results page or SERP)

Also, testing content improves its quality for your target audience, giving more authority to your website.

More recently, CRO and SEO experts have started to pay special attention to Core Web Vitals, which turned into Google’s ranking factors. These metrics aim to improve user experience and usability of your website, thus keeping the visitors happier and more likely to convert.

These days, all eyes are on the helpful content system algorithm, which is what Google has always been about — creating content that users will find trustworthy and valuable. Some of the factors include E-E-A-T (another algorithm released in 2022):


Content that demonstrates first-hand experience, such as showing readers a problem you had and how you overcame it (e.g., a marketing agency talking about a strategy they implemented)


Determines whether the author has topical expertise in the subject matter they’re discussing (e.g., SEOs talking about CRO shows expertise)


Based on the author, the website, and the content and whether it shows industry authority (e.g., a website about cars, discussing how cars are made, written by a mechanic)


Site consists of accurate information and is secure, especially for ecommerce websites (e.g., showing social proof like testimonials or social media reviews)

Google also plans to improve the helpful content system algorithm soon, so be on the lookout.

By understanding algorithms, you can ensure the content you create, writers you use, and strategies you implement are on par with delivering value to keep readers and search engines happy.

Higher marketing ROI

Digital marketing campaigns often focus on improving the company’s profitability. CRO testing can generate an impressive amount of revenue over time, thus increasing the digital marketing ROI.

Those in charge of a company’s CRO can identify different areas of opportunity, which in turn lead to conversions and higher revenue. For example, split-testing paid ads can increase CTR, generate high-quality website traffic, and support lead-generation efforts. Even if all you get is a couple of new leads per month, the benefits add up over time.

Plus, CRO tactics can cut marketing costs, which frees up the budget for other parts of your digital marketing campaign./explain the significance of data analysis in understanding user behavior/boosting conversion rates.

Better content quality

Since CRO focuses on improving user experience to drive conversions, it can help you create higher-quality content and power up your content marketing efforts. A CRO expert can provide guidelines for content creation related to format and context to improve user experience on your website.

This valuable insight can help tweak your content marketing strategy and create higher-quality content for your target audience.

More audience insights into customer behaviors

The customer journey map illustrates all touchpoints customers engage with online or offline. A website is an online touchpoint — perhaps the most critical in the customer journey.

CRO tools offer insight into how customers interact with your website:

  • How do they navigate your site?
  • Which pages interest them most?
  • How do they engage with the various elements on your website, such as your form, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, or virtual assistant?

Here’s how analyzing customer data can potentially improve your site’s conversion rate. 

Enhance the user experience with a better site design

Understanding visitor behavior on your website allows you to improve on-page and website design elements. It should be no surprise that these improvements can have a positive impact on conversions. They also expand your knowledge of user behaviors.

A CRO expert may use heat maps to determine which links are most often clicked. Say most visitors click the link that takes them to your site’s pricing page, resources, or case studies section. This insight identifies the needs and wants of your audience.

You can also use dynamic heat maps that visualize users’ mouse and finger movements as they navigate your website. This way, you’ll know if visitors are scrolling down your homepage or using the drop-down menus to visit key pages of your website.

digital marketing CRO dashboard

A/B testing is a popular CRO tool to determine the right layout, colors and copy that can motivate visitors to make a purchase, fill out your form, or call you directly. (Image via Unsplash)

Pro tip: Your landing page or homepage sets the initial impression of quality for visitors. If they like what they see, they’ll likely stay on your website longer. So pay attention to what’s happening on these pages (e.g., load times, annoying pop-ups, etc.) so you can make adjustments where necessary.

Validate what your customers find useful

You can validate or learn that your B2C or B2B customers are most interested in the things about your company that can help them decide to purchase or move forward to closing a deal.

In response, you could create compelling whitepapers or ebooks around these specific topics or make the more popular links or pages more prominent.

Optimize your pricing strategy

Studying consumer behaviors may reveal the price-value perception of your target audience. For example, maybe they lean more towards higher-priced products because they perceive them as higher quality.

Or maybe they have smaller budgets and frequently choose value packs and plans. Use this to optimize your pricing to meet the needs of your customers. 

Segment and personalize your content and offerings

Yes, personalization is still a big deal for consumers. According to McKinsey, 75% of consumers switched to a new store, product, or purchasing method because of personalization. And another 71% expect companies to offer personalization interactions.

The more you learn about your audience (demographics, location, preferences), the better you can segment your marketing campaigns and messaging to suit their interests and needs.

Landing page and PPC ad optimization

PPC ads can also benefit from CRO. Clickable, punchy PPC ads highly relevant to your audience’s search query can drive more quality leads to your website.

You also have the opportunity to target high-intent, long-tail keywords, helping you be found by people in the later stages of the buying cycle.

Prioritizing CRO can ensure relevance between your digital marketing ads and landing pages, taking prospects on a seamless, consistent journey that does justice to your marketing efforts while hitting your sales targets.

Pro tip: If your landing pages don’t fulfill your ad’s promise, your PPC investment will struggle to deliver the expected results.

Checklist for executing conversion rate optimization strategies

Ready to get started with your conversion optimization process? Here’s a checklist for you to follow to maximize your efforts:

Define clear goals

Conduct thorough research

Analyze your funnel 

Develop hypotheses

Prioritize testing opportunities

Design and implement A/B tests

Monitor test results

Analyze test data

Implement successful changes

Continuously iterate and optimize

Track and measure

Monitor user feedback

Remember, CRO is an iterative process that requires continuous testing, learning, and improvement. So use this checklist to plan and execute a successful conversion rate optimization campaign.

3 things to consider when tweaking your CRO strategy in 2023

Besides implementing Core Web Vitals and helpful content into your CRO strategy this year, here are a few other factors to consider.

1. First-party cookies

With the third-party cookie phase out on the way, marketers are rethinking their retargeting practices. Meanwhile, first-party cookies are gaining momentum.

The digital marketing team should give CRO specialists an opportunity to make the most out of first-party cookies without disturbing the user’s privacy (which is a hot topic with EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA).

First-party cookies don’t just provide a big volume of data for basic analytics and marketing strategies. They also generate data for predictive analytics and A/B testing opportunities, thus empowering your CRO tactics.

2. Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 creates tremendous opportunities for audience insights, cross-platform analytics, and data control. Tracking user behavior across different platforms can help CRO teams make decisions about conversion tactics and predict future user actions.

The earlier you start taking advantage of GA4 for both CRO and other digital tactics, the easier it will be to stay ahead of the competition in the future.

3. AI and ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming consumer experience with chatbots, paid ad optimization algorithms, pricing adjustments, and predictive analytics.

Implementing these technologies to streamline CRO practices makes it possible to improve marketing ROI and the company’s profitability. Just don’t lean too heavily on automation — having a hands-on expert can’t be replicated.

At HawkSEM, we use a mix of AI (ConversionIQ™) and hands-on experts to help our clients boost conversions. Just like we did for CDL Consultants, which saw a 124% increase in conversions after partnering with us.

Conversion rate optimization tools

Several CRO tools exist to analyze split tests and quickly determine how many clicks, form submissions, and other conversions occur (or not) after switching a site design. 

Let’s review some of the software you can use today:

1. Hotjar

Offers heatmaps, session recordings, and user feedback features. Heatmaps visually represent user behavior on your website, showing where users click, scroll, or spend the most time.

Session recordings provide video playback of user sessions, allowing you to see how visitors navigate your site. User feedback tools, such as surveys and polls, gather insights directly from your audience.

hotjar homepage

(Image: Hotjar homepage)

2. Optimizely

Allows you to create and run A/B tests, multivariate tests, and personalization campaigns. It enables you to test different variations of your website, landing, or product pages and measure their impact on conversion rates.

By experimenting with different elements, such as headlines, call-to-action buttons, or layouts, you can identify the most effective changes to optimize conversions.

Optimizely homepage

(Image: Optimizely homepage)

3. Crazy Egg

Provides heatmaps, scroll maps, and click reports to visualize user behavior. Heatmaps show where users click, scroll, or hover on your web pages, helping you identify areas of interest or friction.

Scrollmaps display how far users scroll down a page, giving insights into content engagement. Click reports show the number of clicks on specific elements, helping you understand user interactions and optimize accordingly.

Crazy Egg homepage

(Image: Crazy Egg homepage)

These tools can help you analyze user behavior, run experiments, and gather valuable insights to optimize your website or landing pages for better conversion rates.

The takeaway

Even incremental lifts matter. A 5% increase in the conversion rate can translate to significant additional revenue over a period of time. This is why it’s a good idea to align CRO strategies with your ongoing or most important digital marketing goals.

As you take data-backed actions, all of your CRO efforts will have meaning, purpose, and, if successfully executed, deliver the value amplification you seek.

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This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2019.

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