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Conversion rate optimization – get a strategy!

Before you even think about implementing an A/B test or a design change you must have a strategy behind it. This is the difference between success and failure in implementing your conversion rate optimization campaign. By having a well thought out strategy or a structured plan; you will know exactly what you’re doing in a controlled manner. By following the steps below you will be on your way to creating the perfect strategy for you to implement.


The first part of the strategy is to analyse your current site. Don’t just jump right in and start creating tests; find out exactly what needs to be improved and where your weaknesses lie. Analysing your data will help you find out:

  • What are your KPI’s? (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Which traffic sources / pages have poor conversion rates?
  • How visitors interact with your site, what paths they take?
  • How different visitor types navigate throughout your site (e.g. new v returning)
  • What parts of your site are underachieving?

By analysing your site through tools such as Google Analytics, you will start to realise that different visitor types navigate throughout your site in different ways. You should also notice that visitors from different traffic sources will also interact with your site differently.

Understanding how visitors navigate from the point of landing to converting (or exiting) can be achieved by looking at visitor flows and funnels, these can be found within Google Analytics (I am assuming that you have your goals and funnels already set, if not you will need to set this up if you want to fully understand your visitors and their chosen paths).

First, look at your traffic sources and visitor types to see which landing pages are performing below par and which need to be improved.

Then, recognise which pages visitors are dropping off or exiting whilst navigating through your site. Once you have this data you can start to raise questions as to why, on both a landing page and navigational page level.

Once you have understood your sites performance throughout these different channels, you will have a good understanding of the certain areas that need to be improved and throughout which traffic sources.

The key point to take from this is that visitors react differently depending on what type of page they land on and what type of traffic source they come from. I must stress this point, as your strategy will become flawed if you read your data incorrectly.

Now you have got actual data from your site, you can go down another route and analyse the usability of it. One of the best ways is by simply browsing through your site, you can notice things like:

  • Site speed issues
  • Pop ups / error messages
  • Missing / incorrect data

No doubt you’re doing this anyway (as you probably use your site everyday) but it’s always good to reset and approach your site in ‘new visitor’ mind set.

The last part of the analysis is to benchmark. Whatever data you collect, make sure you record it in a spreadsheet. This will then help you to set goals and look at past results in the future. A good tip is to record as much information as possible as you don’t want to miss any key information that you may need to look back on in the future.

Research your competitors

Sometimes you can hit a bit of a stumbling block when you’re only looking at your site so my advice is to go out and research. Research best practises and studies as these will give you a different overview of sites like your own. Look at your competitors to discover how they set the page layouts and checkout process, as you might just recognise an element that your site is missing or something you can improve on.  Find out what users are saying on review sites  by creating surveys, as you may discover a group of visitors don’t like things like welcome screens, pop-ups, etc.

One word of warning on this: don’t assume that just because something worked on one site it will definitely work on yours. Every site is different and the research is to give you an idea of what other people are doing out there.

Sites such as FiveSecondTest.com can give you a great insight on what users think of your site and help you avoid key user experience mistakes. Basically, you upload a screenshot of your desired page; add some questions you want answered and then random users have five seconds to view your screenshot before they have to answer your questions. Check it out and see what people think of your pages.

Set targets

With the data you have collected, start to think about your short term and long term targets. First look at your short term target: how much do you want your conversion rate to improve in the first month? Then your long term target: how much do you want you conversion rate to improve in the first year?

Targets can also be set for specific tests or specific pages, it’s up to you so think about what you want to achieve.

The reason we set targets is so we can determine if a test or a campaign has been a success.


With all of the above data collated, create lists of your sites/pages issues and how you our going to improve them. Make sure you list what tests you’re going to run and the targets you what to achieve, as well as research tools that will help you run the test, like Google Website Optimizer and Clicktale.

Be creative in your solutions as it’s always good to try something unique so you stand out from the crowd.

Finally, prioritise your list so you can start with the ‘big win’ pages or ‘urgent attention’ pages.

Testing and development

Now you have reached the fun part. With your solution list at hand, start to run your tests!

Review and analyse

With your tests and developments completed, start to review the results. Have you met your targets or your desired goals?

If you have:

  • Can the change be applied to the page/site permanently?
  • Can it be further developed?
  • Can it be applied anywhere else on the site?
  • Do you need to re-run the test again?

If you haven’t:

  • Try again, don’t just give up.
  • Think of new solutions and new ideas that you can implement.

One good idea is to list of all the things that worked and didn’t work from the results. This is for future reference.


If you’re building a strategy for CRO (conversion rate optimization) for the first time, it isn’t going to be perfect. But the more times you repeat the process, the more you will improve.

One final note: improving your site’s conversion rate should always be ongoing, so make sure you keep improving and repeating your conversion rate optimization strategy.

Daniel Whittaker is the Website Content Administrator at CartridgeMonkey Ltd, one of the UK’s major suppliers of Ink Cartridges. Daniel is a writer keen on SEO, Data Analysis and Website Optimization.