The 4 essential steps for a carefully structured and considered CRO project

The 4 essential steps for a carefully structured and considered CRO project

Organisations are becoming increasingly interested in conversion ratio optimisation. Logical, because website conversion ratios are very important. Small improvements to essential moments of interaction (such as in the funnel), can generate huge increases in the number of conversions. Conversion optimisation is therefore a good way to gain more customers – without having to increase either your media budget or campaign activities.

Conversion ratio optimisation, or CRO, covers everything you do to improve website effectiveness and boost return. The idea behind CRO is to attract the maximum possible number of relevant visitors and convert them into taking a desired action. So CRO is about more than just improving websites. It’s about optimising the complete user experience by testing all the aspects of the user flow – technical, structural and content. 

All this means that to have any chance at getting maximum value from CRO, you must take a structured and systematic approach to it. A good CRO project therefore has four steps: implementation, analysis, setup and iteration. Let’s walk through them in detail:

+ Step 1 - Implementation: setup and conditions

The first step in ensuring the long-term effectiveness of your CRO process is to begin by mapping out the current situation. Form a clear idea of your target audience, objectives, market, KPIs and current results. Knowing in advance where you stand and what you want to achieve provides more context when it comes to thinking about what you need to optimize.

“CRO is more than website optimisation. It’s about optimising the whole user experience.” 

+ Step 2 - Analysis: research and insights

Once you’ve got an insight into your current situation and set objectives, it’s time to analyse. In the analysis phase, you employ web analytics and other sources of information to form a hypothesis that you can then test. It could be page heatmaps, previous tests, scientific insights and user feedback. This ensures that your insights are based on the actual behaviour of your users, and not on suppositions and gut feelings.

Next, you use the information you have gathered to segment your visitors. Through this, you create multiple customer journeys and user stories on different pages, each with their own hypotheses and testable aspects. The result of this phase is a backlog of improvement points. Plotting this backlog on an effort-versus-impact matrix reveals where the biggest opportunities lie and what priority they should have.


Fig. 1: Effort vs. impact matrix

+ Step 3 - Setup: tools and roadmap

The next step involves turning the backlog and matrix into a measurement plan. This is an essential part of the CRO process as this makes clear which part you are going to test when, and with what tools. Ideally, you examine your hypotheses using multiple tests. The actual number of tests depends on the number of website and page visitors you get. Also, to come to statistically valid and trustworthy conclusions, you need to have enough visitors per test condition as well. What ‘enough’ is depends, among other things, on the number of conditions being tested and the types of test being employed.

+ Step 4 - Iteration: validate and repeat

CRO is a continual process of learning and refining, as shown below. After setting up and running the tests, you analyse the results. This generates insights that you then subsequently test. Based on what you learn, any new insights and the previously formulated measurement plan, you devise and run follow-up tests. 


Fig. 2: The CRO process

Getting to work on CRO

Employing a structured and considered CRO process is key to improving the user experience of your visitors. However, don’t view CRO as a one-time hit. See it as a continual improvement process that covers a number of crucial conversion and other elements in the total user experience.

Now go for it!