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How to Create a Conversion Rate Optimisation Strategy

Image of Brock Ashton
Brock Ashton

Are you happy with how many leads you generated last year? How many customers you acquired?

If not, you’re not alone. Only about 22% of businesses are happy with their current conversion rate.

But what is worse is that more than 20% of businesses don’t have a plan in place to improve their conversion rate.

We all know the power of optimisation, so why don’t we do more about it?

Might be because it seems too tough, too complex, too time-consuming.

But if you can develop a repeatable process that is based on a strategy perfect for your business, you can reap the rewards of continual testing.

Let’s build that strategy for you right now.

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Conversion Rate Optimisation, or CRO, is the process of improving your website (and other digital touchpoints where your customers interact with you) to improve the number of conversions you get.

A conversion is defined as any desirable action that a visitor takes on your website. These include:

  • Subscribing to your newsletter
  • Downloading an ebook or similar resource
  • Submitting an enquiry form
  • Booking a demo
  • Activating a trial
  • Making a purchase

Your conversion rate can be worked out using the following formula:

Total conversions / website visitors x 100

When working out your conversion rate, remember that each conversion you’re tracking needs to be calculated individually.

CRO is an important strategy in your marketing toolkit, and it is something all businesses should be using to generate more leads and convert more customers.

We use CRO because it helps improve the overall performance of our marketing strategy. As we’ll discuss later, understanding your strategy for attracting, nurturing and converting customers is the first step in creating a CRO strategy, as the choices you make must be aligned with other decisions you’ve made.

At its core, CRO is all about doing more, with less. It’s about making the most of the website traffic you’re already generating, before focusing on driving more.

So where can you use conversion rate optimisation? Basically, you can use it wherever a conversion takes place. Most businesses should be using CRO on:

  • Home page
  • Product page
  • Pricing page
  • Landing page
  • Blog

For a more comprehensive look at the basics and principles of CRO, check out our blog The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation.


Strategy Vs Tactics

Before we go further, I think it’s important to make a distinction between strategy and tactics, as it’s quite common for people to confuse the two and use them interchangeably.

According to ClearPoint Strategy:

A strategy defines your long-term goals and how you're planning to achieve them. In other words, your strategy gives you the path you need toward achieving your organization's mission. Tactics are much more concrete and are often oriented toward smaller steps and a shorter time frame along the way.

So, a strategy is the north star, the guiding principles behind what you’re doing and why. Tactics are the plans, activities and tasks you do that implement the strategy.

Creating a Conversion Rate Optimisation Strategy

Just like every marketing channel, CRO needs its own strategy that outlines your goals, challenges to be overcome, and provides the rationale to help you make appropriate decisions as you look to implement it each day.

There are two stages in getting started with CRO - creating a strategy, and developing a plan. Let’s look at the strategy first - it involves 6 steps:


1. Understand your overall marketing plan and strategy

Take note of the major elements of your overall marketing plan, as it’s important to test and optimise only the areas that will have an impact on your business. There is little point to optimising your website to get more email subscribers if email marketing isn’t a significant channel for your business.

Be sure to include all the areas you think are important, but at a minimum you should be including:

  • Marketing goals - generate leads for sales? Revenue? Brand awareness?
  • Information about your customers - demographics, problems and challenges etc.
  • Sources of traffic for your website - how do people find you online?
  • Significant marketing channels you focus on - social media, email, PPC, blogging etc.
  • Details of your sales funnel - how do you attract visitors? How will you convert them into customers?

You want to build up a picture of who your audience is, what concerns they have and how they find and consume information, how your business gets found online currently, and what you go through to drive website traffic and turn them into customers. Be sure to focus in on your marketing goals. If your goal is to make sales, i.e. eCommerce, then prioritise tests that will impact revenue.


2. Understand your conversions

When it comes to conversions, you can fit all of them into one of the following:

  • On-page conversions - small conversions such as increasing time on page or number of page views per session
  • Revenue-driving conversions - lead generation, purchases etc.

Take a look at your website and make a list of all the different revenue-driving conversions that happen on your website, and where they happen. You might end up with a table like this:





Subscribe form

Home page


eBook CTA

Home page


eBook CTA



View products

Home page


Add to cart

Product page



Essentially what you’re doing here is compiling a list of all the different conversions you can test later and look to improve (there are more than just this, but we’ll cover that in the next section. For now, just do a thorough website audit).


3. Define your problem

Here is where it gets a bit tricky, and you’ll need to put on your data analyst hat.

To get the most from CRO you need to focus on the areas that will have the biggest impact on your business. These areas are usually where your sales funnel starts to leak.

A sales funnel, or customer journey funnel, is essentially the steps every buyer goes through before they make a purchase. It involves how they become aware of your business, how they interact with you, their decision making process and finally when they take the final action that you care about, usually when they become a customer.

So, to illustrate this point, here’s a quick example for an ecommerce business:


  1. They attract visitors by running social media ads, Google Ads, influencer marketing, and organic social media.
  2. Once someone gets to their website their goal is to encourage a purchase. If they don’t make a purchase right then, they want to capture their email address so they can send them some marketing emails.
  3. They send weekly emails with the latest deals as well as product information.
  4. Email subscribers are sent to specific pages, based on the content of the email.
  5. When it comes time to make a purchase they have to add a product to the cart, confirm the personal details, add in shipping information, provide credit card details, and finally confirm the order.


Now, this is an incredibly simplified version of the sales funnel, but you get the point - it’s an outline of all the major steps the business takes to attract visitors, as well as the steps potential customers need to take to make a purchase.

Once you’ve done this for your business, it’s time to dig through the data to see at what point do people drop out of the sales funnel. Here are a few common examples:

  • Marketing activities are driving large amounts of website traffic, but too many people leave the website without taking either a purchase or subscribe action, or without visiting any other page than the one they landed on.
  • There is a good amount of website traffic, and good on-page activity, but not enough people are making a purchase on their first visit.
  • People are signing up for emails but not taking any action when they receive the emails, such as visiting the website.
  • Visitors are viewing products and adding them to the cart, but aren’t completing the purchase.


Once you find the point at which you are encountering issues, you can clearly define your problem. For the above examples, the problems are: high bounce rate; low purchase conversions; low click-through rates; high cart abandonment rates.

Defining your problem in this way will help you identify which tests to prioritise, and it ensures you focus on the problems that will impact your business goals, not just vanity metrics.


4. Gather baseline data

All great strategies are based on data. 

I’m putting that on it’s own line because it needs to be emphasised. Too many businesses form strategies based on hunches or what they think is actually happening. Even worse, some create them based on their best-case guesses of the scenario.

Great strategy starts with solid data. And now is the time to gather yours.

Once you’ve identified your problem, you want to pull together the data that explains it, and include this in your strategy as it will serve two purposes: 1) it justifies you choosing the problem, and 2) it gives you a baseline to use for your tests. 


5. Outline your goals

What conversions are important to you? What do you need to focus on?

The answer to this question will vary from business to business, and even from department to department within that business.

Marketing leaders may want to increase leads generated, or boost website statistics like time on page and pages per session.

Management and executives are likely worried about revenue and purchases.

Whatever your goal, get clear on what it is and include it in your strategy. Use all the previous information you’ve gathered to help you identify the highest impact conversions that will move the needle on company goals and team targets.


6. Develop a testing schedule

Finally, you want to outline how often you’ll run optimisation tests. This varies greatly from business to business, but it’s important to identify how often you’ll perform experiments. If you identify it now, you’re more likely to stick to it.

In most cases, you can run an experiment for 4-6 weeks, but this does depend on the level of traffic you are generating. High website traffic can reduce the total time spent on tests, and low traffic means you need to run it for longer to get results that are significant.


Creating a Conversion Rate Optimisation Plan

Once you’ve got your strategy sorted, it’s time to put together a plan for how you’ll implement it.

The plan is the steps you’ll take to form your ideas, plan and run your experiments, collect data and reach conclusions - it’s a very scientific approach that ensures you do all the right things to give yourself the best chance at success.

This table shows a summary of the process, and we’ll go into more detail on each step below.


ebook landing page


by changing the colour of the ‘submit’ button on the lead form we think we will be able to increase the number of leads we capture each month by 50%


create a duplicate version of the landing page where Page A has a green button, and Page B has a red button. We will use the AB testing functionality of our CMS (HubSpot) to show the two versions at random to visitors over the course of a month.


Page A (control) captured 40 leads; Page B (test) captured 55 leads. Over the course of a month we registered 1,500 visits to this page.


Changing the button colour resulted in a 37.5% increase in leads captured. WHile this does not match our hypothesis, the results are good enough to make the button colour permanently red.


1. Form a hypothesis


 The first step is to come up with a hypothesis for your test - an idea of what you think will happen. This is where all the background work and strategy becomes important because if you haven’t done the work, you’ll end up running the wrong tests or starting with the wrong assumptions.

Forming a hypothesis involves a few steps.

Firstly, you want to look at the conversions you are focusing on. What are the goals you identified in Part 5 of your strategy? If your goal is to generate more leads then you should be testing the elements that impact this, such as call-to-action buttons and lead forms.

Secondly, you need to understand the difference between micro and macro variants, and how this impacts your testing.

A micro variant is a small change that leads to marginal increases. Some examples include buttons, CTA location, imagery, font, colour scheme, and offers or discounts.

A macro variant is a significant change that leads to significant increases. Examples include changing your value proposition and messaging, targeting new personas, or dramatically altering the page layout.

Micro variants are quick tests you can usually set up in a day. Macro variants require serious time and effort and might even involve members from other areas of the business being involved.

Ideally you want to focus on macro tests as they have the greatest potential impact. 

Finally, you want to prioritise tests. You should be able to come up with a long list of ideas you want to try, but you can’t do them all at once.

This is where the ICE framework can help. It involves:

  • Impact - how great an impact will this test have? High impact = 10, low = 1.
  • Confidence - how sure are you that it will actually lead to this impact? High confidence = 10, low = 1
  • Ease - how much effort is required to run this test? Easy = 10, difficult = 1


Score each letter out of 10 for every test and average them out. The higher the score, the higher you should prioritise this test.


2. Create a testing method

Simply put, how will you test your hypothesis? 

If your hypothesis is that changing the colour of your subscribe button will increase your number of leads, then your mechanism is the button change.

It’s important to include details here, such as time frame, any tools required to run the test, and how you will record the results.


3. Gather results

Once your testing period has finished, it’s time to look at the data using whatever tools you identified previously.


4. Draw conclusions and make recommendations

Once you’ve got your data, you can compare the results against your hypothesis. Did your test produce the results you expected? Why or why not? 

You can also use this space to make recommendations based on the results, as well as ideas and notes for future tests.

Now You’re Ready to Create Your Own Strategy

From the outside, conversion rate optimisation can look daunting and only for marketing experts. But in reality, all you need is a plan. Once you’ve done the hard work and created a strategy, running tests is all about using a repeatable process.

CRO is also a key element of Essentialism - our approach to marketing. Only through planned, strategic and systematic tests can you truly uncover the strategies and tactics that will work for you.

Growing a business checklist-cta

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