What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?
Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of increasing the percentage of users on your site who complete a specific action. This is typically done through monitoring data and interaction using analytics and observation tools and making subsequent improvements based on what your users are telling you.
Why should I care about it?
Websites are never done and, like gardens, require constant tending. By keeping a watchful eye for usability issues, aborted flows, obsolete content, and other impediments to the user experience, you can proactively address potential issues before they become a significant problem for your business and bottom line.
While analytics are critical to monitor the health of your site from a quantitative perspective, CRO goes beyond analytics. Observation tools like heatmaps, click maps, and recordings of how users interact with your site provide an initial set of qualitative data to help inform your decision-making process.
One example might be an ecommerce site struggling with shopping cart abandonment. Analytics will tell you about the abandonment, and there are steps you can take to recapture through practices like cart abandonment emails. But the real value is in the “why.” Why are you seeing so many users add these popular products to their cart, but then exit before they complete the purchase?
This insight into “why” is where CRO tools start to add real value. With session recordings, you can observe users interacting with specific pages, watch how they move through your site, see what they click on, where they spend most of their time, and where engagement trails off. You may find that users are abandoning their cart because an issue with the page interferes with them being able to continue.
Selecting a CRO tool
While you can optimize conversions without one, a specialized tool makes your CRO efforts easier and more effective. There are a lot of tools out there, ranging from simple services to highly customizable enterprise solutions.
Most tools are easy to install, simply requiring a small bit of code added to your page. Once installed, recording begins instantly, and screen recordings start coming in quickly. Heatmaps and scroll maps often take a little longer to generate statistically significant data but will also immediately reflect visitor activity.
If you're looking for a CRO service or tool, some things you'll want to consider:
- What are your CRO goals?
It's important to know what you want a tool to help you achieve in order to make sure the solution you ultimately choose both suits your current needs and supports future growth. At the same time, you don't want to be paying for more than you will use, or duplicating tools.
- What functionality will help you meet those goals?
Most CRO tools include heatmaps, click maps, and recordings, but some will also offer tools like funnel monitoring, surveys, A/B testing, and more. Align available functionality with your goals to avoid paying for options you don’t need.
- How much traffic do you get?
How many unique sessions are you seeing on a daily or monthly basis? Most CRO tools have tiered pricing and you can choose to fully cover your monthly traffic or gain savings via sampling, which only captures a percentage of your unique sessions.
- How much do you want to spend?
Budget is always a factor, and, as your requirements for a CRO tool grow, so will the ultimate cost. Support needs can impact costs as well. Does the CRO tool offer sufficient self-help support resources for you to feel confident getting answers on your own or do you need dedicated support available by phone or email?
Tools like Hotjar and Mouseflow offer robust functionality at a lower cost, while something like Virtual Web Optimizer (VWO) is better suited for enterprise level usage. It offers a wide breadth of tools and support but comes at a premium cost. Most services offer limited period free trials so you can see how they might work for your business before committing.
Something new on the scene for Microsoft Advertising users
Towards the end of 2021, Microsoft released MS Clarity to users of Microsoft Advertising. It is now standard on all accounts using User Event Tracking (UET) tags. Clarity is a CRO tool with heat maps, click maps, session recordings, and integration with Google Analytics.
Particularly notable about MS Clarity? Microsoft is promoting it as forever free, with no caps on sessions; a stark contrast with most other CRO tools.
Clarity is automatically activated for Microsoft Advertising user websites, so there's no additional work needed to install. Unless you opted out ahead of the rollout, any sites with Microsoft Advertising will have this tool running.
MS Clarity may be a good starting point to get some experience with heatmaps and recordings and a base understanding of how your users are interacting with your website. Depending on your needs, it may be just what you're looking for.
Ready to talk CRO?
Our experience has shown the best way to improve your conversion rates is a healthy mix of qualitative and quantitative data. This comprehensive picture allows you to layer human insights over raw results for a fuller view of your users.
Interested in learning how investing in conversion rate optimization tools can help proactively improve the user experience on your website, generate better leads, increase sales, and boost overall perception of your brand? Drop us a line; we’d love to help find the best fit for your needs.