What Is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a methodology designed to help website owners turn visitors into paying customers. There are two main approaches to CRO: one is researching before launching a website, and the other is launching the website first, and then testing different strategies to see which is most successful. Both strategies have their merits-and their drawbacks.

Approach # 1: Market Research before Website's Launch

Proponents of this approach would say that in the process of making a website, the creator should do extensive research about the makeup of her potential client base and incorporate that research into the website design.

By knowing what prospective clients are looking for, you can craft a more targeted message, making sure that everything from your content to your web page design appeals to your client base, thus increasing the rate of conversion among website visitors.


1. Less risk of diluting your brand.
Trying new strategies on the fly can be appealing, but as the saying goes, "measure twice; cut once." By switching strategies to try and find the "perfect" solution, you risk turning off those customers you have-and if your first iterations fail to impress, your earliest visitors may leave and never come back.

2. You'll have to do the research anyway-why not do it upfront?
Any good marketing campaign succeeds or fails based on how well the marketers know their customers. Even if your initial website rollout is successful, at some point you're going to want to expand and will have to do CRO research. Why not do it upfront, and increase your chances of having your initial website be successful?


3. You're already building your website for your customers.
As you build your own website, you're undoubtedly gearing it towards who you think your customers are-this CRO method is just a way of researching whether your assumptions about your customers are correct.


1. It can be time consuming.
Researching potential customer behavior can be a prolonged process, and figuring out how to act on that research can take even longer. That's time that you may not have: the longer you take, the longer it will be before your websites start generating revenue, and the more time your competitors have to horn in on your client base.

2. You'll never be 100 percent certain.
All the research in the world can't predict human behavior, so the only real way to know whether a particular strategy-whether it's a particular headline or image or the wording of your content-works is by testing it.

Approach # 2: Launch Your Website, then Research Your Market

Adherents to this CRO strategy would argue that you need to test your ideas on your websites in order to find what works.

Once you begin to get a sense as to what works, you can optimize everything from your web page background to your Flash intros based on actual input from customers.



1. You can adapt to a changing marketplace.
The way customers shop changes due to outside influences that you can't control: the economy, the weather, new technological development. By constantly working to improve your website, you can stay on top of emerging market trends and ride that wave as long as possible.

2. Your website can be up and running quickly. By forgoing significant advanced research, you can make your website live weeks or even months earlier. That's a serious leg up on the competition-and a serious head start on generating revenue.


1. You might turn some customers off.
Even though customers change their behaviors all the time, they still like stability: just think of all the "We want our old Facebook back" pages that spring up every time Facebook tweaks its system.

2. At some point, you'll have to do customer research.
It's the cornerstone of good marketing strategies, and whether you want to broaden your base or just convince your current customers to buy more, at some point, you're going to hit a wall and need to do customer research. Whichever methodology you prefer, CRO is a vital tool to making your websites successes.