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Conversion Rate Optimisation: Where To Start

Where to start with CRO? In this blog, you will find 9 key steps and useful tasks to ensure your website will be a CRO success.

Written by

Paul Carolan

UX Copywriter

How to improve conversion rate optimisation

To most businesses a website is a meeting place to carry out transactions with potential new customers. 

Increasingly, we now refer to:

(A) turning customers into clients (acquisition) and 

(B) applying for, or selling something, as a ‘conversion’. 

The success of a conversion rate optimisation (CRO) strategy depends on how well you define, track and analyse your micro and macro conversions. Increasing conversion rates helps all website owners to improve trade, achieve more sales and develop a solid and successful business strategy. 

Micro conversions are the smaller steps users take on your website that paves the way for a macro conversion.

Eg. email clicks, blog subscription, quiz participation, newsletter signup, video play, pricing page visit, etc. These micro conversions can get your prospective customer one step closer to sign up or purchase (macro conversion).

When a user takes an action that meets the main goals of your website, we call it a macro conversion (also known as primary conversion). Eg. If you run a SaaS company, then a product purchase or free trial signup can be a macro conversion for you.

In this blog you will find 9 key steps and useful tasks to ensure your website will be a CRO success.

“Ensure your website generates the maximum return on your investment.” Rob Hufton 

In the B2B & B2C world people often judge a company based on their website: its ease of use, its visual aesthetic and its clear value to them as a potential customer. This is where Conversion Rate Optimisation plays an essential role.

How to increase conversion rates can be a complicated process. But if the right steps are taken, (by using our tried and tested methods from 20+ years of CRO Agency expertise) you will increase conversion rates and learn how to self-optimise your website and sustain user engagement; resulting in more enquiries to your business and greater confidence in your marketing strategy as a whole.

Quick Links to CRO Success

1. CRO initial review

2. CRO marketing strategy

3. CRO website audit

4. Content engagement

5. Calls to action

6. Sales funnels & Journey mapping

7. Testing user interaction - heat mapping & surveys

8. UX & UI design

9. Testing alternative pages

1. Establish what is important with a CRO review

  • Is your traffic of any value? What are you doing with it?
  • What type of lead or conversion do you want to improve?
  • Are visitors going to the right areas, or leaving at key points?

CRO analytics gives you the exact picture of how visitors behave on your site; otherwise, you would just be making assumptions. The analytical method for optimising conversion rates is also known as ‘quantitative data analysis’. This analysis gives you numbers about customers’ behavior. 

There are many ways to gather data to gain insights. Google Analytics is usually the first place to look, but other tools can also provide detailed pictures. However it depends entirely on what you want to analyse. SEO keywords are easier to analyse using auditing tools such as Ahrefs, or Google Search Central (formerly Webmaster Tools). 

Quantitative data analysis helps CRO experts formulate a picture of what is really happening, then gather focused insights to inform the correct steps needed towards increasing conversion rates.

Key metrics tracked and analysed by CRO experts often include the following:

  • The source of your website visitors
  • What website features they engage with
  • Where they spend most of their time
  • What devices and browsers they use
  • Where visitors found a link to your site
  • Who your customers are (their persona)
  • Why visitors abandoned your website


What are the top 5 really useful data feeds most often used by CRO experts?

When we asked Rob Hufton, resident UX and CRO expert and a Digital Marketing Specialist, he listed:

1. Pages most viewed (exit rate and time on page)

2. Lead sources, where they originate from (social, paid, organic)

3. Heatmaps and click tracking data

4. Lead types, quality, demographic and value

5. If you are starting from scratch, what you can learn from anything that does work well

CRO analytic tools help you to gather insights and data to look into every aspect of your website’s performance generally in the following report formats:


Real-time reports keep track of your active users, the users’ locations, the traffic, content, and the top lead generating activities like adverts, clicks and videos. Also, the reports show you the conversions you have achieved in real-time.


The audience reports display essential insights about your audience. It is not in real-time but does give you snapshots of the audience. With this function you can view the demographics, geographical location, devices and source of the users.


The acquisition reports give you valuable insights about the users’ pathway to your website. Here you can view the critical information about how your users landed at your website and know the total number of visits to your sites.


Conversion reports show you conversion goals, e-commerce reports, and multi-channel funnels. Ecommerce reports are probably the most effective tool of this package, where you can view the most popular products and their revenue; diving deeper into the analytics to understand how users are behaving and the reasons for drop-offs and abandoned carts.


What are the current top 10 most popular web analytics tools?

Web data analytics reports give you a panoramic view of customers’ behaviour, and are essential tools to analyse data and optimise business performance and growth.


Using one of the data analysis tools mentioned above, find which page of your website has the most views, and which page has the lowest viewing figures. Give 3 explanations for each.

2. CRO marketing strategy

  • Do you understand users’ behaviours: their driving wants and needs? 
  • Have you developed a strategy that closely aligns your business’ objectives to the customer’s needs?

Having a digital marketing strategy helps to give guidance to whatever online tactics a business intends to apply to meet its objectives. Each business requires a comprehensive yet tailored approach that works best for the particular range of products and services they offer, and the market they are targeting.

For a business to succeed, it is imperative to be distinguishable from other organisations in the same field. Being able to set your company apart from the rest makes you easily identifiable by existing and potential customers. 

You also need traffic! If you don't have much traffic, you won’t have many conversions. Explore areas of the internet to find these people, such as search engines and social media sites.

Online strategies help in cultivating new potential leads while also nurturing current leads. They provide direct channels through which businesses can market their products and develop personalised experiences for users.


What are the 7 most powerful digital marketing strategies for companies today?


SEO is the process of improving your website so that it ranks highly in search engine results for keywords and phrases related to your business. The more keywords you rank for — and the higher you rank — the more people will see and become familiar with your website and business.

Top positions are also crucial, so if your website is on page 2 for your chosen keyword. The chances are you wont be getting many quality visitors. The trick is to find high quality keywords and achieve high positions. It’s always achievable, but it always requires effort.


Paying for clicks using PPC can work for many businesses, but it can be very expensive and not for everyone. We always recommend investing in CRO before attempting PPC if you have never tried it before. 

PPC is a paid form of advertising that relies on an auction-based system where you bid on keywords that you want your ads to show up for. Your ad triggers when a user’s search includes your keyword. These ads then appear at the top of search results, above organic listings. If a user decides to click on your advertisement, you then pay for that click.

Content Marketing

Content marketing, focuses on reaching, engaging, and connecting via content that provides value. No matter what format you choose for your content - videos, blog posts, infographics - it’s critical that it’s relevant and of benefit. Create original and high-quality content that makes users want to share it with their friends, families, co-workers, and social media network.

Email Marketing

Email marketing focuses on retaining existing customers, as well as gaining new ones. It’s excellent for building brand awareness, keeping your company top-of-mind, and encouraging repeat purchases. The idea is that, while these users may not need your services or products now, brand awareness encourages them to choose your company when they are ready to buy.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing focuses on building brand awareness and increasing conversions. A social media marketing campaign can feature one or several social media platforms, depending on your target audience and their platform preferences. Social media marketing focuses on creating informational and promotional content, plus interacting with users on various platforms. A few of the popular platforms for this Internet marketing strategy include:

Voice SEO

With more people purchasing smartphones, as well as voice-activated speakers, voice search is becoming a popular way to find answers online. Various voice assistants, from Siri to Amazon Echo, use featured snippets to respond to voice searches. So, if a user asks, “Who is the best digital marketing company in Manchester?” Amazon Echo or Siri would reply with the featured snippet, “Higher Ground UX & CRO Agency, of course’’.

Video Marketing

Via video marketing, your company increases its reach. Like content marketing, as well as email marketing, your business focuses on creating informational videos of value to its target audience, in order to build brand awareness. Like social media, email, and content marketing, this brand awareness can lead to valuable conversions later. A few types of videos for video marketing include:

  • Instructional
  • Announcement
  • Behind the scenes
  • Event promotion
  • Edutainment

There are many useful online resources and tools to help in understanding how to integrate digital resources into a business. Get in touch with a valued and affordable, highly successful and experienced expert to help develop your digital strategies meet particular business goals and drive digital acceleration and growth.

User persona workshops

At Higher Ground, we find user persona workshops to be absolutely crucial to all CRO marketing strategies and clients. During our workshops we investigate with you to establish who your target users are, what their core objectives are, and how we can design experiences to better engage with them. Not just on your website, but in follow up contacts using CRMs and digital marketing

Workshop the solution with Higher Ground

All sites have various user types, each with different reasons they came to your website or another.

Making a decision to buy your products or use your services (or someone else’s) brings to light many questions, which when explored and defined, bring great potential value to you as a business owner.

 What are your clients objectives? How can you satisfy their objectives and answer their questions? How do you accommodate those objectives? And, how do we capture their imagination to turn those objectives into opportunities?

Workshop the solution

Task 2: 

Can you report your findings with a simple and clear explanation of what could be going wrong? Does the report summarise information easily? Can you corroborate that information easily? Are you able to formulate a simple improvement plan?

3. CRO website audit

Here we need to focus on documenting the core steps of the site so we can see the big picture. Doing this enables us to see where content is weak.

  • Where are pages not bringing value to you?
  • Where are lead generation opportunities missed?
  • Is the process to a macro conversion difficult? 
  • How many shopping cart steps are there? 
  • Does anything break in the conversion funnel? 

To map out a way forward, it is beneficial to gain an understanding of where your website currently is, and in particular, what works well and what doesn't. To gain this overview of the current state of things, you will need to review the website and document findings.


The easiest way we find to do this is to simply screen grab the website core pages. Then assemble these layouts into a design package. You will find many of the available tools useful, but we prefer to use Figma and Sketch. Once assembled, answer the 5 bullet points above.


Hey, grab screenshots of your main pages. Use Figma for this. Here is a video tutorial from We Deserve Less and beginners guide from Figma ▶️ Beginner 1: Explore ideas – Figma Help Center

We also use various tools such as heatmap, analytics and click data to formulate conclusions. Then get to work on designing user journeys and conversion point solutions in Figma.

4. Content engagement

  • Are you sending the right message at the right time? 
  • Are you simply saying too much to your audience? 
  • Does your content mean anything to your customers?
  • Does your content entice people into a conversion?

Content engagement is an approach that focuses on producing useful, persona-friendly material with high engagement potential in order to attract visitors to your digital channels. On Instagram, for example, the follower can like, comment, or share a post. By doing any of these things, the person starts a dialogue with the brand (and signals to Google) that they are interested in more content like that. 

Other common types of engagement are clicking on links and commenting on blogs. This interaction generates a connection between the brand and the consumer. The person starts to associate the company with the value generated by the content experience, creating extremely loyal and lasting relationships. 

Today’s top Content Marketing strategies include a lot of interactive materials and unique experiences that create extremely engaging situations for consumers, generate data that optimise strategy, and position the brand as an authority.


What are the 4 best ways to improve content engagement for CRO?

  • Build trust around the brand

The idea is not to promote the service itself but to show that the client can count on you. 

So, you should consistently produce quality content, making the public get used to your brand, your visual identity, and your channels. This way, when seeing your content on the internet, the user will have more reasons to trust it. 

  • Know your audience

The internet audience is vast and diverse, therefore, your content production should be focused on the audience that is really important to your company: the people with the potential to become clients. It’s essential to define a buyer persona - then

  • Offer quality experiences

Take as an example the various live performances that became famous during Covid-19 lockdown. Many brands sponsored these virtual events to engage their followers on social networks. With a good live stream tool, you can gather a huge audience in an environment extremely favorable to engagement. 

  • Use interactive content

Besides being excellent for informing the buyer persona, collecting customer data, and boosting your sales, interactive materials achieve incredible engagement rates. Eg. In the traditional format, the reader consumes all the content of an ebook without interacting with it in any way. However, you can add elements such as quizzes and calculators to make the ebook interactive, creating several points of engagement throughout. Interaction is key.

  • Use value propositions 

What is a value proposition?

Value propositions have enormous potential to help your business attract customers and increase conversions, but only when they are written effectively. If you’ve never heard of value propositions, they are like elevator pitches: 

  • clear, 
  • concise and 
  • convincing 

A synopsis or succinct summary of the core business idea.

Content Engagement is a central piece in any internet marketing strategy. If you can measure, analyse, and optimise your user engagement rates, you will considerably increase your company’s potential.


Do your headlines accurately sell your services? Or are they vague in description? Try writing a new headline which really sells your value proposition. Ask 3 people to choose which headline they prefer and why.

5. Calls to action

Where are you placing calls to action? Is the intended action clear? 

Are your CTAs doing the job they need to? What constitutes a good CTA?

A call to action (CTA) is a prompt on a website that asks users to perform an action like signing up for a newsletter, downloading a demo, or buying a product. A CTA can appear as a clickable button or as hyperlinked text, and is often seen in a pop-up form or directly on the page. 

When potential customers click on a CTA, they are one step closer to conversion. Eg. If you were to click on this call to action button, you'd be one step closer to chatting with one of Higher Ground’s digital marketing experts about your next project.

People are more likely to do something when you prompt them to do it. By making the step easy and obvious, you increase the odds that they’ll continue through your sales funnel and eventually convert. A CTA can also encourage users to interact more with your website. Eg. a CTA at the end of a blog post can provide links for people to read more about the subject.

A successful CTA is less about colour, shape, size or position; but whether it actually helps users achieve their goals. It's ok having multiple CTAs on the same page for users who need more information to make up their minds - but the prime CTA should be differentiated.


Use the following CTA checklist to ask yourself 7 important CTA questions:

  1. Is the offer clear in the CTA?
  2. Is the CTA action orientated?
  3. Is the CTA above the fold?
  4. Does the CTA stand out?
  5. Is the CTA consistent with the landing page?
  6. Are there CTAs for different stages of the buying cycle?
  7. Does each page have a CTA?

6. Sales funnels & Journey mapping

Is your sales funnel working effectively? How do you improve this to positively impact turnover. 

What type of lead are you trying to get? Is your journey mapping successful?

A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out the journey a customer goes through when making any kind of purchase. As users pass through each stage of the funnel, they signal more commitment to the purchase goal. Most businesses, whether online or conventional, use this model to guide their B2C marketing efforts in each stage of the sales funnel. 


What are the four basic Sales Funnel stages with examples?

  • Awareness You create a Facebook ad to lead users to your landing page
  • Interest You offer something of value in exchange for lead capture 
  • Desire Your content educates and prepares users for a purchase
  • Action You offer a discount voucher your customers can’t resist

Customer journey mapping creates a visual representation of what your customers go through with your brand or product. It helps to understand how your customers interact with your products and gain insight into the pain points they're facing that keep them from purchasing. Customer journey mapping ensures that you address customer issues for a smooth experience.

“Journey mapping is a process that provides a holistic view of the customer experience by uncovering moments of both frustration and delight throughout a series of interactions.”


What are 4 benefits of customer journey mapping?

  • Understand how customers interact with the brand
  • Document the different stages of the customers’ journey
  • Define the motivation behind the customer’s purchase
  • Address any pain points to convert potential customers

Customer journey mapping is an excellent process that helps brands become more customer-centric. Addressing issues and understanding customers' motivation will give you insight into what they want, and this will help you to serve them better.


Get a fresh pair of eyes to try and navigate through your site to reveal things you might not have noticed while designing it.

Through doing user research and visually mapping your results, you will begin to see what parts of your website are confusing or frustrating visitors. This process also reveals areas that are working well and can be repeated elsewhere in the design.

7. Testing user interaction - heat-mapping & surveys

What do people perceive on your website. What can or can't they achieve?

Do you know where people are reaching and why they drop off? Find out.

A heat map is a data visualisation that shows how users click, scroll, and move on a webpage. It helps you to see the areas that receive the most attention on your website, which is valuable for learning about your audience's preferences and making improvements.

Surveys help in A/B Testing because they give us insight into what visitors think about our content. You can set up on-page surveys and ask questions like “Did you find what you were looking for?” or, ”Would you recommend us to a friend?” On-Page Surveys are great tools to gather customer feedback (feature available in Hotjar).


What are 4 common types of heatmap and why are they useful?

There are several types of heatmap that allow for different types of analysis and display the information in different ways, depending on the project's needs.

  • Scroll maps highlight which part of your page or image the visitors view most,

how much area is visible without scroll and 

how far people scroll before leaving the page

  • Attention maps show which part of the image or page gets the most attention
  • Click maps highlight the areas that get the most clicks
  • Hover maps show which part of the page people hovered their cursors most on

Without heatmaps, it would be difficult to find out what respondents like within an aspect of a webpage or image. Even if asked with an open-ended question, it's not easy to describe accurately why they particularly like it. Heatmaps distill this information and convert qualitative data into quantitative that can be easily analysed.


Using one of the tools previously mentioned, apply a heat map to your most visited page. List the reasons you think why visitors were attracted to this page in particular.

8. UX & UI design

  • How easy is your website to use? Is the content in the right order? 
  • Are there any simple ways to improve user experience and interaction?

If UI was a cake, it would be the shape and size, the plate, candles, cutter and table. UX would be who the cake was for, the occasion, what flavours were used, and whether it was gluten or dairy free.

UI interface design dictates the ease with which a person can interact intuitively with a website (how the website’s buttons, icons, pictures, and sounds look and function). 

For the customer, good UX design allows useful and usable interaction with digital products and services in an effortless, enjoyable and successful way. UX refers to the entire interaction you have with a product, including how you feel.

Typically, customers require both their needs and wants to be fulfilled by UX and UI design to ensure their online experience is both positive and rewarding. Eg. you could have an app that looks great and has intuitive navigation (UI). But if the app loads slowly or makes you click through numerous screens (UX), it doesn’t matter how good it looks, you’re probably not going to want to use it.


Why does UI play such an important role in digital design projects?

  • by blending a brand’s ethos and style into the platform,
  • encouraging people to interact with key elements, and 
  • focusing on the tangible aspects, not the conceptual
If you want your customers to have your cake, enjoy eating it and return for more servings in the future, then UX and UI are key digital ingredients you must include.

9. Testing alternative pages

  • The only real way to learn what works for your users is to experiment with new approaches. A/B testing is a great way to test theories.
  • Turn theories into successful business practice with A/B testing.

A/B testing (also known as split testing) is the process of comparing two versions of a web page and measuring the difference in performance. You do this by giving one version to one group and the other version to another group. Then you can see how each performs. Knowing which marketing asset works better can help inform future decisions when it comes to web pages, email copy, or anything else.

Creating a website or email marketing campaign is just the first step in marketing. Once you have a website, you’ll want to know if it helps or hinders sales. A/B testing lets you know what words, phrases, images, videos, and other elements work best. Even the simplest changes can impact conversion rates.


What are the top 10 A/B testing elements?

  • Headlines and copywriting
  • CTAs
  • Images, audio, and video
  • Subject lines
  • Content depth
  • Product descriptions
  • Social proof
  • Email marketing
  • Media mentions
  • Landing pages
Don’t run A/B tests without first understanding how your pages are performing. Use an Analytics tool to track traffic, referral sources, and other valuable information; then run heat maps, scroll maps, and other tests to see how visitors interact with your site.


Using the insights gained from completing the tasks in this blog, draft an alternative main outline (wireframe) of a poorly performing page in this free online wireframe tool from Figma. Compare and contrast with your existing page and draw actionable conclusions.

Websites succeed with business leads that help them gather information to help turn visitors into customers. Leads are always critical for conversions, especially analytically corroborated leads. In that sense, conversion rate optimisation can fully unravel your business' true potential from research and hypothesis, to the testing phase that affirms the findings. 

If you would like to receive further information on aspects of this blog, or wish to discuss any CRO requirements your business may have, please contact the experts. We offer a range of CRO services designed to help you increase conversions and generate better returns on your investments.

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