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What is conversion rate optimisation and what does it mean for your start-up?

An effective website for a start-up business can improve your brand’s reputation, increase your online presence, and connect with target customers, leading to more sales.

When someone visits your start-up’s website opens in new window, your goal may be encouraging them to order, book your services, or contact you for more information.

But what’s the secret to converting curious visitors into paying customers opens in new window?

Packing your website with good reviews, client testimonials opens in new window, helpful FAQs, and details about your products and services could convince visitors to engage with your business.

Ensuring customers can easily compare, choose, select, and buy products opens in new window is also critical.

This means ensuring your sales checkout process is simple and functionality such as adding payment details or creating a customer account don’t result in customer frustration.

Converting customers isn’t limited to selling products or services, either.

Conversion also includes activities such as encouraging a customer to sign up for a newsletter opens in new window, request a quote, or download a guide or brochure for a product.

Focusing on conversion rate optimisation means you turn more website visitors into engaged customers – whether they indicate they are a potential lead or buy a product from your e-commerce store.


What is conversion rate optimisation?

Also known as CRO, conversion rate optimisation is a marketing process that increases the number of website visitors that convert into customers or take a desired action.

This action might include buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or filling in a form.

CRO strategies involve making your website more effective at getting visitors to do this – a plan might include changes to your website’s design, layout, or content opens in new window – and the ‘conversion’ happens when your target customer makes a desired action, such as hitting the ‘buy’ button.

The process works best if you analyse what your customers need opens in new window and what they do when they browse your website so you can work out what is required to convince them to act.

The goal here is not to generate more traffic overall but to get more value from existing visitors by encouraging more of them to convert.

If you need more visitors to your site, read about how to optimise your small business website to maximise traffic opens in new window.


Why is conversion rate optimisation important?

CRO is crucial because it can save you time and money.

It does this by making the most of visitors to your site and being more efficient with your time and resources.

Knowing your CR – or conversion rate – can be key when it comes to helping you understand how well your website is performing.

By measuring your CR and then taking steps to improve it, you could turn visitors into customers without needing to generate more traffic first.

This can involve focusing on smart ways to make your website as effective as possible instead of spending money on advertising, for example.


Calculating your conversion rate

The formula for calculating conversion rate is (Number of conversions ÷ Number of total visitors) x 100 = Conversion Rate, generally expressed as a percentage.

Here’s how it works:

  1. calculate how many people did what you wanted them to do (your number of conversions)
  2. calculate how many people visited your website or saw your ad (your total visitors)
  3. divide the number of conversions by the total number of visitors
  4. multiply the result by 100 to get your conversion rate as a percentage.

For example, if 50 people bought your product (conversions) and 500 people visited your website (total visitors), your conversion rate would be 10%.

Different types of websites and sectors may have different levels of conversion rates.

Generally, the higher your conversion rate, the better – it means a website visitor is more likely to convert into a customer, maximising any money you spend on marketing opens in new window to get visitors to your site in the first place.


How to improve your conversion rate


1. Have clear calls to action (CTAs)

A conversion can only happen if your visitor understands what you want them to do, so ensuring your CTAs are clear can be a good place to start.

Examples of simple, classic CTAs include ‘Subscribe to our newsletter’, ‘Start your free trial today’ or ‘Buy it now’.

Your CTAs should be easy to understand so that they can direct visitors to make a conversion.


2. Ensure navigation is clear

In addition to ensuring the CTAs on your website are clear, practical design elements are also essential.

Try an eye-catching button or a prominent link for visitors to click that takes them to the necessary webpage.

If visitors to your website can’t see where to take their next step, they may be unlikely to look for it, and you could lose out on a valuable conversion.

The overall design of your webpage can also impact how your visitors react – they could quickly go elsewhere if your website is too busy or unappealing.

Small details can matter – a green button that stands out on a webpage may encourage more clicks due to green buttons generally implying a positive affirmative action.

A red button, on the other hand, may have negative connotations and be associated with actions such as stop or cancel – discouraging visitors from clicking the button.


3. Have engaging, high-quality content

A good call to action could be easily buried within a webpage, making it hard for a potential customer to spot.

To make it easier for visitors to spot and action your CTA, consider keeping the ‘copy’ (words) on your website pages concise to help your most important instructions stand out.

Make sure your spelling and grammar is correct and providing accurate information and copy with the right tone of voice for your brand is vital for persuasive communication with customers.


4. Keep things simple

Overcomplicating your website could hinder your business from making valuable conversions.

Data collection formats such as forms or quote boxes may work better if you only request the most important information, such as your customer’s name and contact information.


5. Ensure your website has a quick loading time

Load time refers to the time between a visitor clicking on a link and the new page loading and being ready to use.

The faster a page loads, the less likely a visitor will get frustrated and leave before they take a desired action.

Several things can influence loading times, including page size, number of images and image size, and how well the page is coded.

You may need to undertake website maintenance to ensure your visitors see pages load quickly and are willing to stick around to follow through on your CTA.


6. Optimise your design for mobile devices

Websites can look different and be potentially unusable on a smartphone.

To give your business a better chance of gaining more conversions, optimising your website for use on smartphones and laptops could be well worth the time and money.

Being optimised for mobile is also an important factor for ranking on Google, so this could be a wise step for your start-up.

Read our expert guide on how to create a website for your business opens in new window.


7. Experiment and test different approaches with A/B testing

One path to CRO success is to test and try different approaches to see what works best.

A basic approach is known as A/B testing.

This is where you create two versions of the same page, such as a product listing page with ‘buy now’ buttons.

The idea is to make a small, isolated change on the duplicate page – such as changing the colour of the ‘buy now’ button.

You send visitors randomly to either the unchanged page A or the changed page B and see which version results in a higher conversion rate.

By continuing to iterate and refine your pages, you can improve your conversion rate in a measured and controlled manner.

Both free and commercial tools can be added to websites to help create A/B test pages and monitor the results.


Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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