The 7-Step CRO marketing strategy

The ultimate goal of any business is to increase revenue over time. This can be done in a number of ways, such as increasing price, adding new products, decreasing costs, and through conversion rate optimization (CRO) marketing.

What is great about CRO marketing is that it doesn’t involve creating new products or features, but simply maximizing what is currently in place in an effort to convert more visitors into customers. You spend time enhancing your website, copy, newsletters, and other marketing materials in an effort to secure more sales.

By way of example, you can do this by adjusting where “buy now” buttons are located on the page (so that they are easier to notice), improving page load times, and writing a clear Call to Action (CTA). Ultimately, these somewhat small changes add up over time to help in turning your website visitors into paying customers.

As the name implies, CRO marketing hinges upon the concept of conversions. So, before we jump into creating a CRO plan, let’s quickly review conversion rates in the context of your business.

How to understand conversion rates for your business.

CRO marketing website wireframe

Simply put, your conversion rate is the proportion of visitors to your website who you can convince into taking a desired action.

Most of the time, this means turning visitors into paying customers, but that’s not always the case. It can also be the rate at which you get people to click a button, sign up for an email list, or any number of other actions.

For example, if you say your homepage has a conversion rate of 5%, it means that five out of 100 website visitors become customers, or otherwise chose to take the action that you wanted.

Deciding on an acceptable conversion rate is up to you, but you should pick one that is generally acceptable for your industry (which may require you to do some market research). From there, you can decide what a reasonable goal is for your business.

TIP: For some extra guidance on performing market research, check out 3 Ways to Do Market Research with Google, and 5 Best Market Research Tools.

If you are still not sure on a conversion rate, then it is often suggested that a 2% conversion rate is a good place to start. Once you have your conversion rate determined, your CRO goal should also consider:

  1. Reducing the cost of acquiring customers or clients,
  2. Increasing your business’ sales, and
  3. Retaining as many customers (or clients) as possible.

The most effective marketing is backed by a solid strategy.

Organized sticky notes on the wall

A goal without a plan is a wish. If you want to increase your conversion rate (and therefore revenue), then you need to have a solid CRO strategy in place.

Your CRO strategy should clearly outline the tactics and changes that you plan to implement on your website for optimizing the all-important conversion rate. In addition, it needs to clearly outline how these changes will be measured. Establish baseline metrics, and measure against these over time as you implement your strategy.

What are the steps for a CRO marketing strategy?

  1. Research
  2. Analyze
  3. Identify opportunities
  4. Hypothesize
  5. Map customer journey
  6. Implement
  7. Measure

1. Research and Decide on Your Goal

The first step is to research your industry and decide on a reasonable goal for your strategy. Again, this is where market research can really help you in determining a goal.

Also, consider what Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is important to you. Maybe there are several. These are points that ultimately determine the success of your project. An obvious KPI is earned revenue, but others could be a number of contact requests, decrease in number of support tickets, and even amount of social shares of your content. Essentially, any metric that you deem important for your business.

2. Analyze Your Current Performance

Go over your current marketing strategy and analyze all the things. Leave no stone left unturned, so to speak. Your goal is to establish a baseline that you will measure against as you implement your strategy.

This is where using marketing tools is helpful. The three main kinds of tools worth considering include:

  • Analytics – Tools that help you collect and analyze aggregate data.
  • User behavior – These are tools like digital heat maps that can show you what actions your site visitors are taking and when.
  • A/B and multivariate testing – Site testing tools that display one or more alternate pages with your changes to a segment of your visitors.

The data that’s collected with A/B (or multivariate) testing tools show you if your changes are an improvement over the original because they converted more visitors. There’s no perfect testing tool out there, so don’t get caught up in trying to find one. Most of them do similar things, so it’s best to just choose one based on your budget and start implementing.

When you have tools that can collect relevant data for you, it’s a lot easier to move onto the next step.

3. Identifying Opportunities

Once you have enough data collected, and you’ve analyzed it, you can begin to brainstorm the ways you can improve upon your current marketing.

The idea here is to try and put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes. Think about what changes you can make, so they feel ready to say, “Shut up and take my money.” 

This is where analyzing the data from the previous step is helpful. You will be able to see where there are deficiencies. For example, by using a heatmap, you may find that your visitors keep clicking on an image of your product that doesn’t contain a URL. Adding a URL to the image that goes to the product details page may help to drive more sales.

4. Hypothesize

Create a theory for the changes you’re proposing in the previous step. Use the following structure to help you make a plan of action:

“If I change [this] to [that] then the result will be [your conversion goal] because…”

Decide what “this” is, which is what you want to change. “That” refers to the opportunity you found that you would like to test. Using the example from the previous step, this would look like:

If I add a URL to the picture of the product on the homepage that takes visitors to the product information page, then the result will be 1% increase in monthly revenue because over 1,000 people click that image per week, and the product information page currently has a 1.8% conversion rate.

Writing out each hypothesis in this manner holds you accountable and keeps you organized when looking at the changes you made and the metrics you are trying to measure based on the change.

5. Map Your Ideal Customer’s Journey

A customer journey is the path that you want potential customers to follow. It involves where they are coming from and the steps that you want them to take based on your marketing strategy.

For example, you may want people to find your site through search engine results, then watch a short video, read your CTA, and add an item to their cart.

Spell this out in great detail, and keep track of:

  • Where people enter the funnel
  • Where people leave the funnel
  • How many people are in the funnel per month, week, and day
  • What the revenue figure ($) is per person who completes the funnel

6. Implement Your Plan

At this point, you have researched your market and picked a goal, analyzed your current business standing, identified the opportunities, hypothesized improvements and their outcomes, and clearly described the desired customer journey (with key metrics).

You have your plan, all that’s left is to put the plan into action!

7. Measure Your New CRO Marketing Efforts

Once your plan is in place, you should continually keep an eye on the key metrics to see how it is performing. Keep in mind that the length of your test depends on how much traffic your site gets. If you’re only getting a few thousand visitors per month, then your test should last several months to accumulate enough relevant data. If your website gets hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors or more, then your test can last just a month.

Once your tests are complete, it’s time to take a look at the fresh data for analysis. Decide what worked and what didn’t by calculating the conversion rate for each change you made from your plan.

Don’t rush with your plan.

Now that you know what it is, and how to implement it with the plan above, it’s time to get out there and try it for yourself!

As some final advice, make sure that you have the following in place so that your strategy can be effective:

  • Readable font choice for your website
  • Speed up your page load times
  • Clear and visible CTA
  • Ensure pop-ups aren’t annoying and add value for visitors

Still have questions? Let us know on Twitter.

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Jenni McKinnon
Jenni McKinnon
Jenni has spent over 20 years as a copywriter, web developer and digital marketer. As the founder of a technical copywriting agency, Jenni spends her time writing and editing high-quality copy with personality and panache, as well as working on her new startup.

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