Conversion is king

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Most successful companies understand the importance of getting as much traffic to pass through their website as possible. Traffic leads to sales, and sales lead to revenue (and profit). But now smart leaders in the world of business are starting to realise that having lots of website traffic by itself isn’t enough: it’s conversions that count.

Think about it this way: your website could have a tremendous amount of traffic going through it every day, with thousands of people exposed to your products. But if those people aren’t actually interested in what you sell - or if your website doesn’t entice them to buy - then whatever is driving that traffic to pass through your site is going to waste.

If all your traffic is organic, then fair enough - perhaps you’re not wasting a vast amount of money. But if some of that traffic comes from paid advertising or SEO, then you could be in big trouble: all those marketing pounds could be better spent, and you’re not getting the return on investment that you could.


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What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Enter conversion rate optimisation. Conversion optimisation is a strategy that focuses on maximising the rate at which visitors to your site do what you want them to do, whether that’s buy a product, sign up to a newsletter or hand over their email addresses. In short, it’s about converting someone from “user” status to “customer” status, depending on what that means to your organisation, encouraging them to take some kind of “action” that is beneficial for both them and you.

Conversion rate optimisation or CRO is sometimes confused with SEO - or search engine optimisation. These are not the same thing. CRO focuses the optimisations that you need to make to get customers to take actions while on your site, whereas SEO focuses on the required optimisations to convince search engines, like Google, to rank your website higher in search results.

How To Measure Conversion Rate Optimisation

When you make changes to your website, you want to know that those changes are having an effect: that they’re making a difference to how many products you sell or emails you capture. CRO professionals, therefore, use a range of metrics which enable them to track their site’s performance objectively. These metrics are simple to understand, even to the mathematically disinclined.

The first of these is total conversions. "Total conversions" is simply the sum of all of the people who take the “action” that you want them to take after they visit your site.

The second metric is the conversion rate. The conversion rate is the total number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors to your site. To get the percentage, multiply by 100.

Let’s take an example. Suppose that 350 people visit your website in any given week and that among those 350, 175 decide that they are going to buy your products. The conversion rate is 175/350 * 100% = 50 %. In the real world, the figure is likely to be lower than 50 per cent (which would be a very impressive rate of conversion), but you get the idea: it’s a proportion of the total number of visitors.

The reason the conversion rate is so important is that it’s an indication of how successfully you’re capitalising on website traffic. You want to ensure two things: that the traffic coming to your website is relevant - that is, visitors want what you offer - and that you’re successfully providing it by doing things that encourage them to take action.

How To Improve Conversion Rates

So the next question, therefore, is how to improve conversion rates. Let’s dive into some of the technical aspects of the CRO process.

Use A/B Testing

One of the great things about the modern data-driven world is that you’re able to fine-tune customer experiences based on real evidence. When a visitor visits your website, not only can you log that they visited, but you can also track what they did while surfing your site.

Smart businesses realise that they can use these data to test whether making changes to their sites increases conversions. Companies create two versions of, say, a landing page, and then funnel half of their traffic to one page and half to the other. The difference between the two pages could be something quite small, like a change to the call-to-action text. For example, the original page might say “Subscribe to our email list” while the new page could say “Get free advice delivered to your inbox.” Marketing professionals can then track which of these versions of the landing page generated the highest rate of conversions.

This process of splitting up visitors into two groups like this is called A/B testing. Website owners test one version of a page against another to see which yields the best results. Often the changes are small, such as changing the font or the background colours, but you could theoretically do it after making multiple changes. The problem with the latter approach, however, is that you don’t know which particular changes led to the difference in conversion rates. All you can say is that an ensemble of changes had an effect, positive or negative.

Use Heatmaps

Heatmaps are a great way to see which parts of the page your visitors are most interested in, and which they ignore. Heatmaps, generated by visitor clicks, show you where clicks are happening on the page, allowing you to get a sense of where the eye is drawn and what visitors find more exciting or compelling.

Get A “Usability” Tester

Tracking visitor metrics can be great for getting high-level data about what visitors like and what they don’t, but it doesn’t give you much information about their overall experience of your site. That’s where usability testing comes in. Usability testing is a process that involves paid testers using your site and providing feedback on the various features. You could ask testers to go through your conversion process, for instance, and then have them describe their experience.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing is similar to A/B testing in that you’re making changes on a page and seeing if these changes have a significant impact on the conversion rate vis-a-vis the unchanged, original page. However, multivariate testing involves making changes to multiple elements on a page, not just a single item.

Although multivariate doesn’t allow you to track individual changes, it is sometimes necessary. You could have changed your brand and corporate image: in which case, just making a minor change to your existing page wouldn’t be appropriate. You might also believe that the only way to boost conversions is by changing multiple elements on a page: it’s the synergy of many components that you think will make a difference, rather than the adjustment of a single component. In these cases, multivariate testing may help you boost conversions far more.

Use A Survey

Of course, if you want to increase conversions, you don’t have to leave your visitors out of the process. It can sometimes be a good idea to ask them what they think about their experience. Although surveys risk bias - it’s more likely that disgruntled customers will leave reviews - it can be an excellent way to find out what people don’t like, especially if the same issues keep cropping up. Common things to watch out for are slow-loading web pages, difficulties with navigation, and problems with copy.


So there you have it: why your business needs to focus on conversion and not just traffic. Conversions are where you make your money and this is why they’re so important.

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