CRO marketing helps increases the number of visitors who complete a desired action on a website by making data-backed updates. You can build your CRO marketing strategy by auditing your website, forming a hypothesis, leveraging testing tools, and implementing optimizations accordingly — this guide will show you how.

Here, you’ll find:

Most marketing methods focus on getting high-quality traffic to your website.

Conversion rate optimization marketing, or CRO marketing, is what gets that hard-earned traffic to stick around (and convert).

We caught up with Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM, to cover the most important elements of CRO marketing so you can build a strategy that turns prospects into purchases and leads into longtime customers.

What is CRO marketing?

CRO marketing is a digital marketing method focused on improving a brand’s website to increase the number of site visitors who take a desired action (i.e. convert).

A conversion can be anything from signing up for a newsletter to making a purchase. And while many businesses choose to hire a CRO marketing specialist or agency, you can implement your own strategy in-house.

How to build your own strategy

Creating your conversion rate optimization strategy is a two-part process. First, you need to nail down your key performance indicators (KPIs) and assess your website’s current performance.

Then, you can build your action plan.

Part one: Audit

This helpful guide walks you through how to perform a thorough audit to effectively assess your website metrics and goals to make the most of your CRO marketing efforts.

Don’t have time to read the guide? Here’s the TL;DR:

1. Define your top conversion actions

There are a lot of actions that can be considered conversions on a website. Here, however, we want to define your number one goal for website visitors. Typically, this will be completing a purchase or signing up for (or scheduling) a service.

2. Outline smaller conversion “wins” worth tracking

Next, outline all the other desirable actions that are still valuable. While these lesser actions alone don’t guarantee a boost in revenue, they are an important step in your sales funnel. Think: signing up for a newsletter or downloading a spec sheet.

3. Install and review Google Analytics and heatmaps

If you don’t already have Google Analytics or heatmaps installed on your site, make sure to get those set up and allow for some time to gather data. Once some time has passed, use this data to help prioritize your web page improvements.

Which pages receive the highest volume of traffic? The highest bounce rates? These pages are the “low-hanging fruit” that can make the biggest impact on your conversion rate overall. Similarly, HawkSEM Senior SEO Manager Vane Velkov recommends starting “with a lot of funnel pages to make an instant impact.”

4. Create a hypothesis

With this preliminary research at your fingertips, come up with a plan that you think will improve your conversion rate.

Part two: CRO marketing strategies

How do you make those conversion rate improvements come to life? Yadegar’s favorite first step is often adding “social validation that is thoughtful and will resonate with visitors.”

But here are all the CRO marketing strategies you have in your proverbial toolbox:

  1. Make your call to action (CTA) visible, enticing, and consistent
  2. Update your website’s messaging
  3. Ensure your landing pages align with marketing campaigns and target audiences
  4. Play with your website’s user experience (UX)
  5. Add personalization with product recommendations
  6. Integrate social proof
  7. Consider adding exit-intent pop-ups (sparingly)
  8. Perform A/B testing and multivariate testing

1. Make your call to action (CTA) visible, enticing, and consistent

Wording, placement, and design of your CTAs can make all the difference.

If you have multiple CTAs throughout your page or website with inconsistent messaging (like “sign up for a free trial” and “call for a consultation”), people are bound to feel confused about your offer.

With the help of A/B testing (which we’ll talk about below), you can try different wording and compare their performance to choose one CTA and stick with it. Similarly, if your CTA is hard to find, only in one spot, or sprinkled a little too liberally throughout your site, that can have a negative impact on your conversions.

CTA Example

Lean toward a recurring CTA that appears often enough to break up any text, remind the visitor what you offer, and gently nudge them toward a conversion.

Finally, colors play a big role in marketing psychology. Consider the colors you use for your CTA buttons carefully — A/B testing will be a huge help here as well.

2. Update your website’s messaging

The content on your website should reassure the visitor they are in the right place, answer any of their questions before they have the chance to ask, and provide lots of value.

If your messaging is unclear — like a confusing offer or outdated information — people are less likely to stick around. Spend some time updating and improving your website content so that anyone can understand what you do, who your product or service is for, and how to get started.

3. Ensure your landing pages align with marketing campaigns and target audiences

Beyond engaging and valuable content, a top CRO marketing strategy is to ensure the messaging of your landing pages is consistent with specific campaigns and target audiences.

If a person clicks on your ad, that (probably) means they’re interested in your offer. A landing page that fulfills the ad’s promise makes a high-intent visitor much more likely to convert.

On the other hand, spending money on a paid search campaign that sends users to a mismatched landing page can almost guarantee a missed conversion — and wasted ad spend.

4. Play with your website’s user experience (UX) 

If your target customer lands on your website, will they intuitively know where to go next? Is your website speed fast? Mobile responsive?

Enhance your website usability, navigation, and overall user experience to reduce friction and increase functionality to boost those conversions. And while you’re at it, polishing up your site speed gets those visitors to slow down and stay a while.

5. Add personalization with product recommendations

Give website visitors a nearly in-person customer experience with custom recommendations. By leveraging data-driven insights, you can deliver product recommendations or dynamic content to enhance relevance (we’ll talk more about this in a moment).

6. Integrate social proof 

Customer reviews, testimonials, recent customer activity, awards, and achievements displayed prominently on your site help build trust and credibility. In fact, social proof can increase conversions by a whopping 15%.

social proof example

7. Consider adding exit-intent pop-ups (sparingly)

Up to 15% of lost website visitors can be saved by using exit intent popups, according to MailChimp. Just make sure to offer something truly valuable (think discount code, free guide, or limited access). Remember, any kind of pop-up can border on the annoying side — so best to keep it minimal, valuable, and easy to exit.

8. Perform A/B testing and multivariate testing

At the end of the day, CRO marketing is all about experimentation — and the best day to do this is with A/B and multivariate testing. Each of the strategies above can be supported with testing, allowing you to identify which versions perform the best so you can make data-informed decisions.

Need to learn more about A/B testing? Check out our full guide. If you know the basics but aren’t sure where to start, this guide gives you 16 A/B testing ideas to get the ball rolling.

Where to implement your CRO marketing strategy

We mentioned earlier that it’s a good idea to start with the pages on your site that receive the highest traffic and bounce rate for the fastest results.

“Another angle is to focus in on the highest valued traffic,” says Yadegar. “Typically bottom-funnel traffic with commercial and purchase intent.”

Here are some other common pages to prioritize in your CRO strategy:

  1. Landing pages
  2. Pricing page
  3. Homepage
  4. Product pages (for ecommerce)
  5. Checkout page (for ecommerce)
  6. Service pages (for lead generation)

Landing pages

Landing page optimization is the bread and butter of any CRO marketing strategy. Mostly because if you don’t optimize the landing pages for your PPC campaigns, you’re actively losing money, instead of just missing opportunities.

landing page example

This landing page optimization guide walks you through how to implement CRO marketing strategies to your landing pages specifically. Or, you can download our landing page optimization checklist here.

Here’s the TL;DR:

  • Create a clear and catchy headline
  • Use one CTA throughout the page
  • If possible, use real photos
  • Design an intuitive navigation
  • Use high-quality content
  • Make your forms easy to fill out but spam-resistant
  • Keep the messaging consistent with the ad
  • Incorporate social proof
  • Ensure your contact information is easy to find
  • Make it shareable with social buttons
  • Check your page load time with PageSpeed Insights
  • Don’t forget mobile responsiveness

Pricing pages

We know that sharing the cost of a SaaS product or a service can feel scary (and sometimes complicated if your pricing varies depending on the customer’s needs).

But if you aren’t transparent about how much your product or services cost, visitors are more likely to bounce. This is doubly true if there’s no value proposition to support the price.

As a general rule:

  • Keep pricing clear and easy to understand
  • Marry your pricing information with social proof
  • Offer guarantees (if you have them), free trials, and return policies
  • Outline benefits and features
  • Embrace and respond to common concerns with an FAQ section
  • Read up on marketing psychology to utilize pricing techniques
  • Don’t forget to include a CTA (purchase or subscribe)


Your homepage is often your first impression: the entryway to your virtual store or office. Because of this, your homepage carries a big responsibility to let visitors know who you are, what you offer, and what to do next.

This means clear messaging (that includes your value proposition), an immediate and appealing call to action, and intuitive navigation so people can learn more about you.

homepage example

As for the visual design, make sure your images or videos are high quality and don’t slow down the speed of your site. Because this is your first impression, the look and feel should be consistent with your brand image across the internet. Use the same logo, brand colors, and messaging that users would find elsewhere.

While you’re at it, minimize any clutter in your main navigation. Highlight the most important features and next steps so it’s easy to move along the conversion funnel.

Product pages (for ecommerce)

In such a competitive industry, product pages are your chance to stand out. People who land on a product page are moments away from clicking “add to cart,” so long as you offer all the information they need to feel confident in their decision.

Here are some must-haves:

Include high-quality lifestyle images

Not only should you have a series of images of your product from different perspectives and angles, but you should also include your product “in the wild.” Show people wearing or using your product to increase your visitor’s ability to envision themselves after making their purchase.

Make sure the price is easily visible 

Don’t make your visitors work hard to find out how much they’ll have to spend on your product. This goes for shipping costs, too!

Include lots of detail in your descriptions

Color, fit, sizing, material, features, and benefits — the more detailed the better.

Leverage loss aversion and exclusivity 

For ecommerce brands, utilizing the marketing psychology method of loss aversion and exclusivity can push potential customers to convert. Consider highlighting inventory availability, scarcity alerts, and limited-time offers or sales on your product pages.

Add social proof

Reviews and ratings can go a long way, especially if they include customer photos. Similarly, you can feature recent customer activity (like how many visitors have added this product to their cart today) as a convincing form of social proof.

Add personalization with related products and “ways to wear”

Include related products at the bottom of your product pages to keep the visitor engaged. An awesome way to do this for clothing brands is with a “ways to wear” section, matching the current product with other pieces to create a full outfit.

personalization example

Make “add to cart” easy

Of course, our top priority is to get visitors to make a purchase — so it’s imperative to make your CTA for this page stand out.

Checkout page (for ecommerce)

For ecommerce sites, simplifying the checkout process is key to reducing cart abandonment (and boosting conversion rates). Here are some CRO strategies to help:

  • Offer a guest checkout option
  • Provide a visible cart summary for easy review
  • Keep checkout forms simple
  • Offer a wide range of payment options and express checkout
  • Use progress indicators
  • Reduce the number of steps to checkout
  • Be transparent about shipping costs upfront
  • Optimize your checkout for mobile
  • Display trust symbols, security badges, and SSL certificates

Service pages (for lead generation)

For lead generation sites, we need to make sure service pages are loaded up with your value proposition, answers to common questions, and opportunities to convert.

This looks like:

  • A clear offer (what you’ll do for the visitor)
  • Benefits (how your offer will change their life)
  • FAQs
  • Pricing information
  • Visible (and accurate) contact information
  • An enticing CTA
  • Simple forms
  • Social proof
  • High-quality images and videos

What tools do you need to start?

CRO marketing is only possible with the help of a whole lotta data. To implement any of the strategies above, you’ll need to use some pretty powerful tools — which can be broken into four categories:

  • Heatmapping tools
  • Web analytics tools
  • Lead capture and data collection
  • Testing tools

If you want to spend a little extra time understanding which tools are best for your business, this guide breaks down our top picks.

Otherwise, here’s a quick rundown:

Heatmapping tools

Heatmapping tools track the activity of a user on your website, like where people click or linger.

These platforms use colors to represent user activity (hot colors mean more engagement, cold colors mean less). This visual representation of a visitor’s journey throughout your site shows you what captures people’s attention and what slips through the cracks.

In turn, you can use this information to improve those “cold spots” and make sure the customer journey is fluid throughout your site with minimal drop-offs.

Our favorite heatmapping tools:

  • Hotjar
  • Microsoft Clarity
  • Smartlook

Web analytics tools

Analytics tools are software programs that track and analyze your website performance data, like how many people visit, where they come from, what they do while they’re there, and how long they stick around (or don’t).

These tools are critical to CRO marketing to determine where the conversions are already coming from — and where people are dropping off. This data fuels your CRO marketing plan and allows for smart, calculated steps to improve your conversions.

Our favorite web analytics tools:

  • Google Analytics
  • Kissmetrics

Lead capture and data collection

Looking to build out your email list? Lead capture tools give you the ability to collect contact information in exchange for something of value (a discount code, exclusive email offers, or a free guide, for example). With that contact information, you can nurture leads or reel in prospective customers who are close to converting.

Data collection tools take this a step further with more detailed behavioral information and demographic insights. This, in turn, is used for more broad audience research to make sure messaging and overall decision-making align with a brand’s audience.

Our favorite lead capture and data collection tools:

  • Intercom
  • HubSpot

Testing tools

Testing tools are a CRO marketer’s best friend. These software programs allow you to create different versions of website elements, test their performance simultaneously, and review which had the strongest impact.

A/B testing tools allow CRO marketers to compare the performance of two different elements at one time.

Multivariate testing tools test multiple variables at once.

The data these split testing tools provide allow you to make informed optimization decisions to improve your conversion rates faster.

Our favorite CRO testing tools:

  • VWO
  • Optimizely

Mistakes to avoid

We covered the CRO marketing dos, but we think it’s pretty important to talk about some CRO marketing don’ts as well.

Among the most common mistakes Yadegar sees in CRO marketing? Copying other businesses. Yadegar explains that losing what makes you unique should never be part of your CRO strategy.

Other common mistakes include:

  • Adding overbearing pop-ups
  • Using low sample sizes for tests
  • Going with your gut instead of data
  • Using unclear or general conversion goals
  • Not testing regularly
  • Over-testing variables simultaneously
  • Forgetting about mobile optimization
  • Getting conversion rate tunnel vision (instead of considering greater business goals)

Pro tip: We go over these common CRO marketing mishaps in detail in our guide to CRO audits here.

A refresher: CRO marketing basics

Before jumping into your CRO marketing strategy, make sure you understand the foundation of conversion rate optimization. Here’s a rapid-fire overview of the basics.

What is a conversion?

A conversion is a desired action a visitor takes on a website.

What are the different types of conversions?

The most desirable actions result in a sale or commitment — like making a purchase for ecommerce businesses or signing up for a service.

But other conversions can include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Adding to cart
  • Opting into a lead magnet (like a webinar or digital coupon)
  • Creating an account or registration
  • Engaging on social media

What is a conversion rate?

Conversion rate is the total percentage of visitors who convert on your site.

How to calculate conversion rate

To calculate your conversion rate, divide the number of website conversions by the total number of visitors. Then, multiply that number by 100:

Conversion Rate
Number of Conversions / Number of Website Visitors

What’s considered a good conversion rate?

Generally, 1%-3% is considered an average conversion rate for ecommerce sites and 2%-5% for lead generation sites. That means anything above these percentages could be considered “good.”

That said, a good conversion rate depends on the individual brand’s industry and goals.

CRO marketing FAQs

When do you need CRO marketing?

The simple answer? Any business with an online presence needs CRO marketing.

Those who need it the most, however, include businesses that are:

  • Launching a new product, service, or website
  • Experiencing poor performance and conversion rates (perhaps despite high traffic volume)
  • In a highly competitive market

Should you hire a CRO marketing agency?

CRO marketing is a highly specialized skill. So unless you have experience with digital marketing and the time and energy to dedicate toward CRO marketing learning and implementation, it’s a good idea to hire a specialist or an agency for help.

What does a CRO strategist do?

A CRO strategist is a digital marketing professional who focuses on improving conversion rates for their clients through analyzing user behavior with testing and data collection, potential improvements to minimize bottlenecks, and optimization implementations.

Learn more about what CRO strategists do in our guide: CRO Strategist: What They Do + How They Improve Conversions.

What is the cost of CRO marketing?

In general, you can expect to spend between $1,500-$5,000 on CRO marketing each month, depending on the type of specialist you work with (in-house, freelance, or agency), the level of experience, and the scope of optimizations needed.

Typically, these costs cover:

  • User data gathering and research
  • Landing page design (or redesign)
  • Heat-mapping and scroll tracking
  • Click map tracking
  • User session recording
  • Funnel analysis
  • Form interaction and drop-off analysis
  • A/B testing
  • Conversion tracking review and setup

What is CRO vs. SEO?

CRO and SEO (search engine optimization) are both optimization strategies that improve a website’s performance; however, SEO focuses on reeling in relevant organic traffic by increasing visibility on the search engine results page (SERP), whereas CRO focuses on turning that traffic into conversions.

Like most digital marketing strategies, CRO and SEO go hand-in-hand.

Helpful CRO guides

While this guide covers all the basics, these resources offer a deeper dive into the different strategies, methods, and how-tos of CRO marketing.

If you’re looking to learn more, look no further:

The takeaway

What good is an influx of high-quality website traffic if your visitors feel a little lost when they land on your site?

That’s why CRO marketing is essential for any business relying on online conversions to grow and scale. While most brands opt for a CRO marketing agency, you can take the reins as long as you have the data tools necessary to conduct a CRO audit, form a hypothesis, test, implement changes, and repeat.

Our library of resources above can walk you through every step of the way.

If you don’t have the tools, time, or experience — we got you. You can learn more about our CRO marketing services here or reach out to us to chat.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation