CRO testing reveals improvement opportunities for your website to turn more visitors into revenue. Learn how to conduct CRO tests to keep your site converting with these expert tips.

Getting a ton of traffic, but not enough conversions? It may be a sign that it’s time to conduct a conversion rate optimization (CRO) test.

A CRO test ensures your website (or individual web pages) are optimized to convert customers. Optimizing for conversions could boil down to your website copy, product images, and/or a checkout or signup process.

But to understand what to optimize, how to optimize it, and if your optimization ideas work, you must lean on CRO testing.

What is a CRO test?

A conversion rate optimization (CRO) test is an experiment designed to pinpoint the best ways to increase conversion rates on your website. In a CRO test, you create different versions of a page on your website — like your homepage, a sales page, or a product page — to discover which performs best.

Why is CRO testing important?

CRO testing provides key data and research to support a hypothesis on why one version of your website, product page, or landing page will be more effective over another. With this insight, you can make changes accordingly to boost conversions.

HawkSEM ran strategic CRO tests, monitoring performance and optimizing effectively, allowing Columbia Virtual Academy to increase conversion rates by 134% year-over-year while reducing cost per acquisition by 51%.

4 types of CRO testing

There are four main types of CRO tests that you can conduct. Let’s walk through each one and how they work.

A/A testing

An A/A test involves comparing a landing to an identical version of itself. Seems counter-intuitive, no? How will you learn anything by comparing two of the same pages?

This type of test is the first CRO test you should run. It helps you understand the natural nuances in user behavior and ensures your testing tools work before moving on to other tests.

A/B testing

A/B testing, or split testing, compares a landing page to a variation of itself. When visitors access that page, half will go to variation A and the other half will go to variation B. You’ll then see which page version performed better.

Your B variation typically has just one small difference, like a change in headline, header, product image, or button color or placement. This clearly identifies what worked, so you can implement the change. It’s ideal to continue A/B testing with different iterations of your landing page for further optimization.

Our team of experts here at HawkSEM say that, “In addition to running A/B CRO tests, it’s vital to track the performance of CRO campaigns and ensure you have the proper data so you can make informed optimization that lead to a higher ROAS MoM and YoY.”

Our proprietary ConversionIQ software allows us to track all aspects of a CRO campaign and also gives the marketer the ability to extract specific conversion/customer data that can be used to further optimize campaigns and increase the ROAS. ConversionIQ’s insights are data driven and ROAS focused.

A/B/n testing

A/B/n testing allows you to test three or more (the “n” here can refer to just “C” or “C” and “D” and so on) different variations of your landing page — the initial control page plus two different page variations. While this can help you try out multiple options, it also means the test needs to run longer to get the best results since each page gets a smaller percentage of your audience.

Multivariate testing

With multivariate testing, you’re testing several variables in a single test. For example, you can test a combination of copy, font, alignment, and imagery. And the test will showcase any combination of these elements to website visitors, then reveal the best version.
This test can take a while to ensure a sufficient sample size to make a clear judgment call.

How to perform a CRO test in 8 steps

So how do you conduct your own CRO testing? We’ve got eight steps to help you perform a comprehensive CRO test and improve your website’s performance.

1. Identify your goals

Start by identifying the goals you have for your website. Where do you feel the performance is lacking? What are you hoping to achieve?

Your goal(s) may include:

  • Product purchases
  • Software sign-ups
  • Form completions

Your conversion goals will direct your CRO test.

2. Pinpoint KPIs

Once you have your goals, pinpoint the appropriate KPIs to measure performance. The difference between goals and KPIs goals are the outcomes you’re looking to achieve and KPIs are the metrics that show how well you’re doing to achieve that goal.

Example KPIs may include:

  • Total conversions
  • Cost per conversion
  • New vs. returning customers/users
  • Bounce rate

These metrics can determine whether your optimizations work, how well they work, and if you’ll achieve your goals.

3. Gather your data

Now it’s time to do research and gather data. You need to know your audience and their behavior to decide what to optimize on your website.

There are three ways to gather audience insights: ask them directly, check out heat maps of your website activity, and peruse your website analytics.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Customer surveys

A customer survey is market research that provides direct feedback from customers and website visitors.

There are several ways to survey your customers. One is setting up a feedback survey to get metrics like your Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS measures the loyalty to a company and how likely your customers or website visitors are to refer others to your business.

You gather this by asking customers on a scale of 1-10 (or 1-5), how likely they are to refer your business.

Those who rate 1-6 are detractors who are unlikely to mention your business to others and may even spread negative information if they had a bad experience.

7-8 are passives who likely won’t refer you to customers but also won’t speak badly about your business.

And 9-10 are promoters who are likely to share your business with others. The goal is, of course, to end up with 9-10s, or 4-5s.

To get an idea of what this could look like, take a look at this example of a quick feedback survey on HotJar’s website:


Another option: conduct qualitative studies, like focus groups and observations, that give you direct insight into website behaviors and user experience.

Heat mapping

Heat mapping is another CRO strategy to gather data for user testing. Employ heat mapping software like HotJar, VWO, or LuckyOrange to see how website visitors use your website.

Which parts of your homepage get the most attention? What links are being clicked? Are there roadblocks preventing a higher conversion rate?

Analytics tools

Website and CRO analytics tools gather user data for your conversion rate optimization test. Pay attention to site metrics like your bounce rate, click-through rate, landing pages, and website navigation.

Google Analytics is a top website analytics tool for discovering all of this information. If you haven’t yet set up GA4, it’s time to get started. You can pinpoint information about how users access your site through this tool.

4. Create a hypothesis

You gathered research. Based on user feedback and website behaviors, it’s time to come up with a hypothesis. This hypothesis is an informed theory pulled from your data analysis that “guesses” how to improve your website to increase usability, clicks, and conversions.

For example, you may notice people don’t use the button at the top of your website. Maybe it blends in too much or the copy isn’t as compelling. So you hypothesize that a brighter button or more engaging button text will get more clicks.

Your hypothesis was a well-researched starting point, but might not be correct. So you’ll have to conduct a few different tests to get favorable results.

5. Design your experiment

Next, you need to put your experiment together. You can do this via user testing or A/B testing tools like Optimizely, Omniconvert, or Crazy Egg.

Design a second variation of the web page you’re testing and get the experiment fully set up in your software. To design the experiment, you’ll need:

  • The pages you’re testing (at least two, depending on the type of test you’re running)
  • The type of experiment you’re running (i.e., A/A test, A/B test, multivariate test)
  • The control page
  • The variant page(s)
  • Experiment duration (the average duration for an A/B test is two weeks)

Remember the goals and KPIs you set to ensure your test meets those goals.

6. Launch your test

Time to hit the launch button on your experiment! Keep an eye on your testing software to monitor the results as they come in. You also may need to look out for bugs or errors in the test to fix them early to prevent skewed results and a test reboot.

7. Analyze your results

It’s time to analyze your test results after two weeks or so. Did you reach your goals? Or will you have to run additional experiments?

If you’re happy with the results, move on to the next step. If not, revisit your research and hypothesis before starting another experiment to identify new variables and KPIs to test and aim for.

8. Implement findings

Once you’re happy with the test results, implement your findings. Put any changes from the variant page(s) onto the control page and make the changes live.

Keep an eye on your website analytics to ensure a continued statistical significance between the new page and the old page.

CRO test examples

Curious what a CRO test looks like? We’ve got 12 CRO test examples to give you ideas for experiments to run.

Headline testing

Test different headlines on your homepage or landing pages. Make sure your messaging is clear and concise and explains what your business does. You may decide to test multiple versions of your headline to see which generates more clicks or conversions.

Pricing experimentation

Not sure if your pricing is turning people away? Run price experiments. If you’re a SaaS company, you may test a monthly vs. annual price point and see which resonates more. Or for ecommerce brands, you may play with different price ranges.

Headline testing

Make your checkout process easy to navigate to reduce cart abandonment.

Steve Pogson, founder at First Pier, recently worked with a Shopify store that was experiencing high cart abandonment rates.

“We identified that the checkout process was cumbersome and needed optimization,” explains Pogson. “By implementing a one-click checkout solution and customizing its look and functionality, we saw a significant decrease in cart abandonment and a boost in conversions.”

Button color

Sometimes button color can have a major impact on how often people click. It could be that the button blends in too much with brand colors, or that certain colors entice people to click.

“In one campaign, we were trying to optimize the sign-up process for our platform,” shares SEO expert Dominik Mąka. “The original landing page had a 15% conversion rate, which we aimed to improve. We decided to A/B test multiple elements, including the call-to-action buttons, form fields, and even the color scheme.”

The results were eye-opening for his team.

“By simply changing the color of the CTA button from blue to green and reducing the number of form fields, we saw a 25% increase in conversions.”

Call-to-action variations

The call-to-action verbiage you use also has a significant impact. For example, “Click here” may not be as compelling as “Tell me more” or “I gotta know.” It all depends on where the button leads to and your brand voice, so test different versions to see what grabs the most attention.

Mobile optimization

In digital marketing, mobile optimization and designing a mobile-friendly website is a must-have. This means your website is easily accessible and usable on mobile devices. Test different forms of mobile responsiveness on your website to see which provides the best user experience.

Landing page design

Different landing page designs can have different conversion rates. Test a few versions of your landing page when launching a new design to see how your website visitors react. This might mean your headline appears in different areas, you use different header images, and more.

Copywriting adjustments

Your copy can also make a big difference in how people respond to your website. Try out different copy on your landing pages or product pages and see how they perform.

Free shipping threshold

Many ecommerce sites offer free shipping to encourage customers to add more to their carts. Testing the free shipping threshold (i.e., $50 vs. $100) can increase metrics like average order value.

Product descriptions

Your product descriptions can also help your products convert. Consider testing different descriptions to see what style works best.

“I once worked with a client in the ecommerce industry who struggled with low conversion rates on product pages,” explains Peter Michaels, the CEO of Yeespy. “We initiated a CRO testing campaign, changing the layout, optimizing product descriptions, and simplifying the checkout process. Their conversion rate increased by 25%, leading to significant revenue growth.”

Product images

Similarly, your product images impact conversions. Consider this: In some industries, product images against blank, white backgrounds can perform better as the customer can see the product better. Other times, seeing the product in action can provide a better understanding of what customers can expect.

Form optimization

If your marketing strategies involve lead generation through forms, test your forms to see what fields and design generates the most submissions.

“We have a B2B client whose website had a low conversion rate,” says Magee Clegg with Cleartail Marketing shares. We conducted a thorough CRO testing campaign, focusing on key elements such as the landing page design, call-to-action buttons, and form fields. After testing different variations, we found that shorter forms and a more compelling call-to-action improved conversions by 30%.”

CRO testing checklist

Don’t go into your next CRO test blind. Keep this checklist handy so you don’t miss any key steps.

Identify your goals

Pinpoint KPIs

Gather your data

Create a hypothesis

Design your experiment

Launch your test

Analyze your results

Implement findings

The takeaway

Don’t just settle for mediocre conversion rates. Conduct CRO testing to ensure your ideas and experimentation work and start making changes. Contact us to learn more about how our team can help.

Chloe West

Chloe West

Chloe West is a digital marketer and freelance writer focusing on topics surrounding social media, content, and digital marketing. She's based in Charleston, SC. When she's not working, you'll find her reading a book or watering her plants.