Conversion Rate Optimization Does More than Increase Sales

by Peter Attia on July 17, 2012

Each year conversion rate optimization (CRO) becomes a stronger focus for inbound marketers. I personally think it’s one of the most important analytical values. While most people attribute increasing conversion rates to increasing sales, it actually does a lot more than that.

CRO Creates a Better User Experience

In most cases, if you have a good conversion rate, you have a good user experience. You’re making it easier for people to accomplish an end goal, whether that’s buying something or otherwise.

Easy usability causes less confusion and frustration for visitors, giving them a more positive perception of your website in general.

user experience
(credit: Semantic Studios)

CRO Creates Better Design

Similarly, increasing your conversion rate typically means your site is more visually appealing. Even though this seems merely aesthetic, this goes a long way. It means your site looks legit.

Fresh design makes people more comfortable with your site and gains you more trust.

Better Brand Perception

When you have better design and user experience, you also gain better brand perception. This is one of the most important values to gain.

great brands

If people have a good perception of your brand and website, they’re more likely to refer you and trust you in general.

More Likely to Gain Natural Links

When people trust your brand and have a positive perception of your company, they’re more likely to mention you. This could be linking to you socially, in a blog post, or even using your site as an example.

If you have lackluster design and experience, you leave a poor first impression on new visitors. This makes them think you’re “less professional” and ultimately less likely to convert. Even if your service is spectacular and extremely professional, people won’t know that if they don’t convert.

Conversion Volume vs Conversion Rate

Recently Himanshu Sharma wrote a great post on conversion rate vs conversion volume.

Basically he’s saying there are 3 groups (from his post):

1st Camp – is in the favor of giving more weight to the conversion volumes. I am from this camp.

2nd Camp – is in the favor of giving more weight to the conversion rate.

3rd Camp – is in the favor of giving equal weight to both conversion volume and conversion rate

  Visits Transactions E-Commerce Conversion Rate
Campaign A 1820 150 8.25%
Campaign B 20 4 19.25%
Campaign C 780 41 5.24%

Himanshu admittedly states that he leans on the conversion volume side. While I highly respect him as a thought leader in the industry, I think there should be a balance of both, especially when we’re referring to more realistic and higher volume numbers.

If you have a massive amount of leads coming in at a very low conversion rate, your traffic could potentially be spammier. When someone is thinking about your brand, the last thing you want them to think about is spam.

Now let’s say you have a massive amount of legitimate leads coming in at a low conversion. You could either concentrate on getting a higher conversion (and more sales) or getting more leads (and even more sales). It seems like getting more leads would be the clear winner since you’d end up with ultimately more purchases. However, you need to be aware that the massive amount of people that didn’t convert, will be less likely to ever convert in the future.Their first impression of your brand has already been soiled.

If you concentrate on increasing the conversion rate instead, your brand perception will increase and ultimately gain a better outcome in the long run. Especially since your “first impression” to most users will be better in general. You have to concentrate on the long term and not be blinded by quick, short lived wins.

Conclusion

Even if there are ways to gain more sales by focusing in other areas before conversion rate optimization, it shouldn’t be ignored. CRO is directly correlated to several advances in your website and brand. It’s not just a number that means “we’re getting more sales”.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony Pensabene July 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

great concept with supporting numbers, Pete. Also, if your conversion rate is impressive, it’s likely your brand’s head is in a good place regarding retention…

I found myself nodding to all you mention above. In speaking with some businesspeople, I do think in theory you could get some people to agree; but some webmasters are only interested in transactions. I’m glad there is this reference to counter such limited views.

Some guys/gals are only interested in quick wins. It’s understandable, but limiting; as marketer, I’d much prefer the businessperson who is thinking long-term, about satisfying customers (creating what people want), and obviously must have confidence in their brand and product/service.

Reply

Peter Attia July 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I completely agree Anthony. I think you have to consistently think years ahead instead of months. If you don’t have an ultimate goal in mind, it’s easy to end up focusing on quick wins to achieve a goal.

I think people are starting to really “get” the benefit of CRO and UX though. Crappy sites are getting rarer, and companies are putting heavier focus on appeasing their clientele.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a slow improvement. There are still plenty of crappy sites out there :) but a slow improvement is still a good one.

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Chris August 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

Conversions are king. All the traffic in the universe is worthless if nobody converts!

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Peter Attia August 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

I couldn’t agree more :)

Plus, it’s typically easier to double your conversion rate than your traffic. (if you’ve never done any CRO that is)

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Himanshu October 22, 2012 at 4:35 am

Hi Peter! Great write up. However I fail to understand why you are pushing conversion rate metric over conversion volumes. I can easily improve (or better say skew) the conversion rate metric by reducing the amount of traffic coming to my website. Will that make my website more convertible and my traffic less spammier? No. You can get low volume of sales with high conversion rate and high volume of sales with low conversion rate. As i pointed out in my post. Conversion rate metric is horribly prone to errors which in turn makes the whole process of CRO less effective than CVO. Getting high conversion rate is not our goal. Our goal is to improve conversion volumes.

Reply

Peter Attia October 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

Hey Himanshu,

I never stated that I push the conversion rate over the volume metric. I said there should be a balance of both. A high conversion volume rate is great, but it says nothing about customer retention. An increased conversion rate (with good volume numbers) means people are navigating through the site easily, which creates a better user experience. This will influence people to return.

-Peter

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