Issue #11

What is conversion rate optimization?

Metrics Conversions
11 min read
In this Article

How do you get people to do what you want them to do?

Marketers have been trying to answer this question for hundreds of years. Through understanding your audience and optimizing your messaging for them, you increase the chance of turning a visitor into a customer.

The fast-changing landscape of digital marketing makes it easier to see how our audiences are reacting to content than ever before.

Advanced data mixed with qualitative research creates the perfect foundation for increasing conversions, which is called conversion rate optimization.

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization, commonly abbreviated to CRO, is the process of increasing how many people take an action by using different marketing and sales tactics. When we talk about conversions in business, we’re most often talking about product and service purchases because, well, money talks.

While earning money as an online business owner is important, there are other types of conversions to keep in mind. When a person converts, it simply means they’ve accomplished your set goal.

Here are a few types of conversions outside of customer purchases that you can optimize:

  • Converting landing page visitors into email subscribers with a content upgrade
  • Converting subscribers into potential customers with your product launch (which we talk more about in this article from our last Tradecraft issue)
  • Converting website visitors into account users (for membership sites, software providers, etc.)

Once you’ve chosen your objective, you can brainstorm ways to increase your conversion rates. CRO techniques can influence anything from the color of call-to-action buttons to sales copy headlines.

You may be asking yourself why colors, images, or slight changes in copy are worth testing. They can’t have that much of an affect on your conversion rates, right? You may be surprised just how influential they are.

In CRO, we often see marketers create split testing experiments. In split testing, multiple variations of a marketing material compete against one another to see which results in the highest conversion rate.

After putting both variations in place, keep a close eye on any shifts in your analytics and what’s influencing the change. CRO is all about the numbers, so familiarizing yourself with the metrics that are most important to your experiment will be crucial to your success.

To understand the metrics behind conversation rate optimization, Hubspot shares three CRO formulas to help you get started:


Now that you have a clear understanding of what the acronym CRO stands for, let’s talk about why it’s important to your digital marketing strategy.

Why is conversion rate optimization important?

When I struggled with my science or math classes in school, my dad would always say, “Keep your eye on the prize.” Sometimes the prize was the amount of time I wanted to spend on other projects, and other times it was the treat I rewarded myself with afterward.

Each time, I set a goal to relentlessly pursue until I accomplished what I set out to do. You utilize this same process with conversion rate optimization.

Focusing on increasing your conversions, your one call-to-action, helps you reach your goals more quickly than focusing your attention elsewhere. It’s really that simple.

Conversion rate optimization can help you grow your email list, social media following, blog readership, website traffic, and bank account. It does so by helping us better connect with our ideal customers, which in turn entices them to take action.

If creating cash flow isn’t enough of a motivator to pay attention to CRO, here are some additional benefits that may do the trick:

  • Better trust. The more you know what messaging connects with your audience, the better opportunity you have to gain their trust. Trust is one of the biggest motivators behind customer purchases, making CRO a no brainer.
  • Better user experiences. Without a great user experience, visitors will be tempted to click off of your website. Something as small as a background color or font size change could be enough to improve your user experience.
  • Better scalability. Tired of DIY-ing everything in your business, especially mundane tasks like sending invoices or doing your bookkeeping? CRO gives you insight into how to increase your profit so you have more money to outsource work. This frees your mind to think about the big picture rather than being stuck in the day-to-day grind.

There’s always room to optimize your marketing efforts, but don’t forget to take it one element at a time. It’s no use to test a change in copy length, sales page design, and button size all at the same time. You’d never know which change was influencing the conversion rate.

Just like in business, conversion rate optimization comes from taking small steps forward every day. There will never be a shortage of things to optimize, so look at it like an exciting challenge rather than a dreaded thing on your to-do list.

Six strategies to increase your conversion rate optimization

With so many conversion rate optimization opportunities available, how do you choose where to begin? Of all the elements you can change and test, we’ve narrowed it down to six of the most crucial areas to focus on.


One of the first things a visitor sees is your headline. Because it’s usually one of the boldest elements on your landing page, it’s worth optimizing. There are a few different elements to a headline that you can test.

Font type: While it’s best to use a font that’s within your visual branding guidelines, some typefaces perform better than others. We recommend using a bold typeface when possible for your headline. This will help it pop from the page and catch your audience’s attention before they scroll through the rest of your page.

Font size: “The bigger, the better” motto may not be true. You don’t want your headline to be so big that it overwhelms your audience, but you don’t want it to be so small that they pass over it. Test different sizes with your visual elements to see what performs best.

Headline language: Naturally, the words you use in your headlines are incredibly important. When you choose your words, try to cut any jargon or fancy terms. The more clear and simple your copy is, the better. You can really have fun with testing variations of headline copy. As a copywriter, this is my favorite thing to test!

Call-to-action buttons

Call-to-actions, or CTAs for short, refer to the primary action you want visitors to take. Your conversion rates increase dramatically when you give your user only one option.

Choosing your main goal may have been easy, but what about how to present it? Your CTA button actually deserves a lot of your attention. It’s one of the most crucial elements of a sales page because it signals the point of purchase.

When you’re ready to CRO test your call-to-action buttons, here are a few elements to pay attention to:

Button color: Although the most common button colors are yellow and red, it’s best to think about the emotions you want to evoke with your choice. It’s worth noting that increasing the contrast of your call-to-action button to your website background increases your conversion rate. To consider what color is best for you, take a peek at the diagram below or in our in-depth blog post on How to Choose the Right Color for Your CTA Buttons.


Button placement: Did you know where your button is placed can affect your conversion rate? Sometimes it makes sense to have the button placed above-the-fold, and other times it’s better to sprinkle multiple buttons throughout your web page. If you wanted to see if the placement of your CTA button changed your conversion rate, you’ll want to create two versions to test your hypothesis.

Button copy: Please, I repeat, please don’t use the “submit” button language that most website building platforms use as a default. Not only do submit buttons kill your conversions, but they don’t tell the customer what will happen after they click the button. Huge missed opportunity. Choose action-oriented language instead, like in the diagram below.

Call to action words for conversion rate optimization

Long copy vs short copy

Does long copy or short copy perform best? The answer is– it depends. I know, that sounds really vague, but it matters what the intent of each web page is. For example, a product sales page will often have longer copy than a simple opt-in landing page.

While true, it’s still worth testing how the length of copy affects conversion rates. You can do this by creating two different variations of your landing page, one with more copy than the other. From the results, you’ll see which version they preferred based on how many people converted on each.

Comparing different opt-in form styles

In ConvertKit, you can do this by creating multiple forms with different colored buttons, copy, and product previews. You could use these opt-in forms to test what works best for content upgrades before you launch your product to take what you’ve learned into your landing page.

Videos vs no videos

While it’s quite common to see a blend of branded graphics and photography, the use of videos on landing pages is really starting to climb. Do these pictures in motion help or hurt your business?

While many experiments have been done to determine how videos perform, the most important thing is for you to test how it affects your own rates. It doesn’t matter what anyone else’s audience thinks– it matters what yours prefers.

Whether you put videos in your header or embed them within the copy, use them wisely. But please don’t use auto play sound. No one wants to be bombarded with video sounds they didn’t expect.

Time-based vs evergreen launches

At times, the length of your launch may affect conversions. Time-based launches have a set timeline, meaning it has an end date for when you can purchase the product or service. Evergreen launches, much like evergreen content, can be purchased and consumed at any time with an “always open” shopping cart.

Before you determine which is best for your next product launch, test which launch type meets your audience where they currently are. You can do this privately by sending out a survey to your subscribers or putting it into action on your landing page.

Conversion rate optimization tools to get you started

Now that you’re ready to dig into your own CRO experiments, let’s add a few pieces of software to your toolbelt.

  • Google Analytics: To understand how different elements are affecting your website traffic, Google Analytics is one of the best tools out there. If you don’t currently have it synced with your website, we recommend installing Google Analytics as soon as you can. You can also create customized goals within Google Analytics to track your CRO experiments.
  • Email service provider: Your email service provider (ESP) should give you the power to increase your conversion rates within their platform. ESP powered analytics are essential in optimizing your email marketing. We include CRO opportunities with every email you send out so you’re able to optimize subject lines, email copy content, and more.
  • Need more tools? Here is an advanced list of CRO tools to help you with tests.

Ready to increase your conversion rates?

Now that you know how to take action and improve your conversation rates, where will you start?

Take a few minutes and look over your website, opt-in forms, product launch revenue numbers, or landing pages. Make a list of 10 of the different aspects of one of those pieces above to start making small, gradual changes to. Tackle them one at time, wait for the results, and then start testing your next variable.

Before you know it, you’ll find exactly what attracts and converts casual readers to subscribers, subscribers to customers, and customers to advocates.


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Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

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