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What Is Conversion Optimization?

M. Walker
M. Walker

Conversion optimization, which is sometimes known as conversion rate optimization (CRO), is a direct marketing technique designed to convert existing visitors into customers. This tactic is prevalent in Internet marketing, but conversion optimization is employed in many stores as well. Online CRO focuses on reducing the bounce rate, or the rate at which visitors quickly leave the site, by tracking and modifying the site layout, advertising and content. By contrast, in-store CRO will often attempt to boost sales by focusing on promotion or sale incentives for store visitors as well as customer service.

Website conversion optimization is generally considered a process, rather than a goal, and it involves consistent site monitoring and testing to develop the best marketing strategy. Different sites will focus on improving different statistics, which range from bounce rate and landing page optimization to traffic increase and branding. Landing page changes affect the visitor’s first impressions of the site, and they can help direct potential customers to relevant content pages or optimized sales pages. Increasing traffic can sometimes increase the conversion rate, depending on the source of the traffic and whether it’s relevant to the site's theme. The overall goal of conversion optimization is to increase revenue through sales as well as return on investment (ROI).

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

There are several methods for testing site layouts or content for conversion optimization. One of the main techniques, known as A/B testing or multivariate testing, involves testing two or more options simultaneously to see which one is more successful at converting visitors into customers. After enough significant data has been obtained, then the most successful layout can be implemented across the entire site. Another technique involves researching traffic patterns and visitor behavior on the site to develop a tailored strategy without spending as much time in testing mode.

Stores also implement conversion optimization techniques at varying levels. On a larger scale, stores focus on boosting ROI through store credit cards, rewards programs, email capture and other strategies that focus on relationship marketing. Moreover, marketing also involves windows and visual design, such as mannequins in clothing stores, display cases, photos and overall store atmosphere. Product placement also is a focus; by placing certain products in the front and hiding the sale section in the back of the store, stores are more likely to increase the price of each transaction as well as the conversion rate.

For first-time customers, promotions and sales can give them incentives to make a purchase or increase the price or number of units of their purchase. Conversion optimization also is a large focus of customer service. Sales associates and managers who are properly trained in promoting products in person are more likely to convince customers to make a purchase, thereby increasing conversion rates.

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