What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

what is conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization is a strategy for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers / donors, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage. Other desired actions can be categorized as “micro-conversions”, and include subscribing to an email list, downloading a white paper or even simply watching an embedded video.

What Does a CRO Specialist Do?

The CRO acronym has followed me around for years. As a former digital agency owner, I changed my title from CEO to CRO (Chief Responsibility Officer); Now, in my consulting practice I work as a CRO specialist—among other expertise in design, SEO consulting, digital marketing, donor conversion optimization for non-profits, web technology efficiencies, project management, scope definition and vendor identification / selection.

Conversion optimization specialists cover a range of skills that all affect conversions. From content management systems and survey tools, to web analytics, user experience and technical project management, CRO practitioners go beyond testing to constantly improve conversion results on an organization’s website. Martin Greif explains in Website Magazine:

CRO specialists are hybrids. They should understand search engine optimization software, Web analytics packages, content management systems, voice of customer (VoC) tools and testing programs. The more ecosystems one is familiar with, the more valuable they are to an organization.

Split and multivariate testing expertise are critical in the conversion field, but they are table stakes. [Those who] get far in CRO… have survey skills, heuristics and Web analytics knowledge, UX expertise, technology stack familiarity and IT project management abilities.

Beyond Content Management

CRO experts who go beyond basic familiarity of a content management system to fully understand the relationship between the different tools in an ecosystem—or entire technology stack—will see greater results. By ensuring tests run smoothly and iterations made quickly, a CRO can be the missing link between design, development, sales and marketing teams.

User Surveys

Exit surveys, for example, can provide tremendous insight into user frustrations—which are valuable to conversion optimization. If users tell you what’s not working for them, the CRO specialist can work with the team to prioritize improvements and enhancements.

Heuristics and Analytics

In computer science, artificial intelligence, and mathematical optimization, a heuristic is a technique designed for solving a problem more quickly when classic methods are too slow, or for finding an approximate solution when classic methods fail to find any exact solution. This is achieved by trading optimality, completeness, accuracy, or precision for speed.

Marketers familiar with Google Analytics can find underperforming areas of their websites and tweak those to find success. If CROs also understand web usability best practices and conduct heuristics reviews, they can drastically improve KPIs.

User Experience (UX)

Split testing is ideal for direct competition between sets of webpages, but prototyping and usability testing are best when testing a version of an entire new website section with a small user group. CROs can bridge that gap that may appear between design and development, speaking both languages fluently and resulting in collective success for the organization.

Technical Project Management

Working in lockstep with both IT and web development and applications teams is critical to CRO success. Greif highlights the importance of explaining the context of CRO projects, not just the goals. Ensuring that management understands the relationship between CRO and the role of IT is just as important because future projects will hinge on their collaborative efforts.

Author: Kelly Campbell
Kelly Campbell is an Integral Leadership Coach, helping creative, media and technology leaders transform life and agency. The former owner of a cause marketing agency for 14 years, she focuses on purpose, positioning, people, pipeline and profitability. She is a keynote speaker at leadership conferences across the country, has been featured in The New York Times, Woman Entrepreneur, Medium and Forbes.com — for which she most recently became a member of the Forbes Business Council. She is currently authoring her first book on redefining leadership in the emotion economy, and is the host of THRIVE: Your Agency Resource, a bi-weekly video podcast sponsored by Workamajig that helps agency owners navigate personal and professional growth.


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