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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 18 , 2021

How conversion rate optimization (CRO) works hand in hand with your digital marketing efforts for strategies that lead to success

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

When it comes to opportunities from digital marketing, your business can’t afford to fall behind. Doing so could mean your loss is a more digitally-savvy competitor’s gain.

Whether you think your sales numbers could be better or your customer engagement scores could be higher, CRO is a tool to activate the digital marketing results you want.

shaking hands

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

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

Ready to master your digital marketing program’s CRO efforts? Let’s dig in.

What can you optimize?

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 site visitors into qualified leads or paying customers. Conversion rate experts can plan actions aimed at optimizing specific digital marketing and sales results.

How to calculate conversion rate

The math is pretty straightforward. Simply divide the number of conversions over a defined time period by the total number of visitors over the same period, 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%

If 500 people signed up for a free trial of your software and, after using it for a month and in conjunction with your email drip campaign, 100 of them upgraded to a paid plan, 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

E-commerce 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 visitor, you’re keeping them on the website longer. As users get more engaged with the content, they start interacting with your website, thus:

  • Reducing the bounce rate 
  • Increasing the dwell time (which helps your website climb higher on the search engine results page, or SERP)

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

In 2021, both CRO and SEO experts are paying special attention to Core Web Vitals, which are turning into Google’s ranking factors. These metrics are aimed at improving user experience on your website, thus keeping the visitors happier and more likely to convert.

With a CRO plan focused on improving user experience, your SEO can benefit from solid Core Web Vitals and higher rankings.

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 traffic to your website, 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.

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

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

Understand visitor behavior

An understanding of 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 find out which links are most often clicked. Say most visitors click the link that takes them to your pricing page, resources, or case studies section of your site. This insight can help you better understand the needs and wants of your audience.

You can validate or learn that your B2C or B2B customers are most interested in the things about your company that can help them make a decision to purchase or move forward to closing a deal. In response, you could create more compelling whitepapers or e-books around these specific topics, or make the more popular links or pages more prominent.

Perhaps your price list loads slowly or it isn’t formatted clearly, causing prospects to drop off after showing initial interest in your product. CRO tools can uncover these types of issues so they can be corrected, thus improving conversions.

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.

Your landing page or homepage sets the initial impression of quality for visitors. If they like what they see, they’re likely to feel encouraged to stay on your website longer.

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)

Create better user experiences based on data

It may seem obvious that a strong website is essential to running a successful digital marketing campaign. But when it comes to CRO benefits for digital marketing, improving your website design can help create the right perceptions about your brand in visitors’ minds.

Apply the insights gained from CRO tools to iterate and enhance the specific website elements that need fixing. In a nutshell, you can make data-driven decisions on improving the user experience.

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.

For instance, if you’ve created multiple landing pages for your latest marketing campaign, a split test can be performed to further drive conversions on high-traffic pages. This supports your marketing campaign and keeps you striding towards targeted business results.

Landing page and PPC ad optimization

PPC ads can also benefit from CRO. Clickable, punchy PPC ads that are 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 the promise of your ad, your PPC investment will struggle to deliver the expected results.

3 things to consider when tweaking your CRO strategy in 2021

Besides implementing Core Web Vitals 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 as well as 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. By implementing these technologies to streamline CRO practices, it’s possible to improve marketing ROI and the company’s profitability. Just make sure you don’t lean too heavily on automation — having a hands-on expert can’t be replicated.

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.

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

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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