Conversion Rate Optimization in the Longer Run

Today a comment by Analytics guru – Avinash Kaushik made me to pause and take a re-look at my perspective on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization is the science behind increasing the conversion rate of the pages of a website.

Let’s say that you are running an Adwords campaign for your website, then most likely you would use a specific landing page built purely for conversions (be it purchases or be it lead generation). With the interaction that I have had with the different Search Engine Marketing agencies in India, the default target conversion rate that is considered acceptable is a measly 5%. At EduPristine, we try for 30% and on an average generate a healthy 25% lead generation conversion rate.

However, the tactics that we ended up using were pretty much what Avinash has mentioned to avoid … most of the time when we conduct CRO experiments, it is with a short term focus of getting an incremental raise in the conversion rates. Here is an excerpt from the comment –

Then I realize that I’m sure someone tested this. I’m sure some “conversion rate optimization guru” was brought in to do this. I’m sure they got 10% more leads. I’m sure their lead conversion rate went from 1.67% to 1.84%. I’m sure to them this looks awesome.
But what about the other 98.16%? People who did not convert, many of whom, like me, might have thought this was distasteful? Some of the 98.16% surely thought “This is not the type of company I want to do business with?”

So where does this put us?

I used to think that 25% conversion rate is awesome (and believe me, it is! :-) ). However, what is happening to the user experience on the site … a modal pop-up here, a lead generation form there … do the visitors on my site really want to see that?

The pragmatist within me says that the purpose of the site is lead generation, and that it is doing brilliantly.

However, the idealist says that in the long run the site needs to welcome the user … it needs to provide that the same user keeps returning again and again for clear value that he gets from visiting the site. The %age of repeat visitors needs to increase … and that metric is something that a CRO specialist hardly looks at.

How about a metric which measures the number of unique visitors who visits your site more than x times? That could be a measure of customer retention.

So what needs to be done?

Instead of focusing on incremental changes on the page to get a temporary raise in conversions, focus on user experience and ask yourself this question … would you visit your own site again?

What are your thoughts on this?