CRO Audit: 10 Steps to Optimize Your Website’s Conversion Rate

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Task time:
1-2 weeks
Difficulty:
Hard

Conversions. If the ecommerce industry had a kind of “holy grail” – this would be it. Conversions are what turns visitors to your website into paying customers. They’re what grow your business, your brand, your customer base and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Yet they’re not all that easy to achieve.

So below, we’ve pulled together our top 10 tips for preparing for, implementing, and measuring the success of a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) audit.

CRO audits aim to evaluate and understand your website’s ability to convert: looking at all aspects of your site’s UX, design, content, trust factors, and mobile responsiveness. To define, from a conversions-related standpoint, what’s working well – and what could be improved.

Ready to crunch the numbers, and take a magnifying glass to your existing approach to CRO?

Read on.

Step 1: Preparing for the CRO Audit

Before your CRO audit gets started, you’ll need to lay the table for the extensive efforts to follow – and that means, in the words of that great Disney villain Scar, being prepared.

To prepare for your CRO audit:

  • Define your goals and objectives: figure out which aspects of your website or digital market efforts you’ll be assessing. That could be a specific part of your site – its landing pages, for instance – or an aspect of how your visitors engage with it: like user journeys, conversion funnels, A/B testing, analytics, and data tracking.
  • Identify key performance indicators (KPIs): how will you measure your CRO audit’s success? Be it purchases, sign-ups, form submissions, or downloads, be sure to clearly define not only your primary conversion goals – but how you’ll know you’ve actually achieved them!
  • Gather up the data: before you head into your CRO audit guns blazing, you’ll need the right proverbial ammunition – which means collecting all the relevant data related to your website’s performance and conversion metrics using essential CRO tools. This could include analytics reports, conversion rates, user behavior data, and the results of any A/B testing you’ve already done. Make sure the data’s accurate, up-to-date, and easily accessible.

Good To Know: If you want steps on conducting a general website audit rather than a CRO audit, we have a guide for that too: How To Do a Website Audit. This can be a good starting point if you’re not too sure of your CRO goals yet.

Step 2: Analyzing Website Design and User Experience

Next, it’s time to get to grips with your existing website’s design and user experience.

This includes:

  • Evaluating your site’s layout and navigation: is it intuitive, well-signposted, and easy for your visitors to use – and for them to locate the information they’re looking for? Check for clear, logical menu hierarchies, and test your site on different devices and screen sizes to make sure the UX is consistent – and the design responsive.
  • Examining page load speed and performance: test your site’s speed across multiple network conditions and devices. We know slow website loading times can have a huge impact on your site’s UX, and increase its bounce rate – which is obviously terrible for your conversion rate. So take a magnifying glass to any factors that might be bogging your site’s fleet feet down: such as large file sizes, excessive scripts, or server-related issues.

To get to grips with the web navigation best practices, dive into our dedicated guide.

Step 3: Assessing Conversion Funnel

Now you’ve mapped out the rough lay of the land in terms of your CRO audits goals – and the current state of your website – it’s time to map out something altogether different – your conversion funnel. To do this:

  • Visualize your conversion funnel: map your conversion funnel, illustrating each stage users go through from initial entry point through to final conversion. No two conversion funnels are exactly alike, but tend to include stages such as landing page, product page, cart/checkout, and confirmation page.
  • Analyze landing pages and their effectiveness: take a fine-toothed comb to each landing page on your website. Are they compelling? Does the copy captivate – and does each page’s design and dynamism incite the user to action?
  • Evaluate call-to-action (CTA) placement and design: your CTAs are the lifeblood of your CRO strategy – so do a deep dive to understand how effective they are right now.
  • Review form design: likewise, forms – what they say, how they look, and how easy they are to fill in – are crucial to your CRO strategy. So explore the state of them – and don’t be afraid to get critical!

Step 4: Analyzing Content and Messaging

As all marketing and copywriting nerds know, content is king. But it’s crucial for a CRO audit, too – not only because it directly impacts how users engage with your website, but because it has a disproportionate effect on the decisions they make when they’re there.

That’s why analyzing your site’s content and messaging is the next – vital – step in your CRO audit journey. To take it:

  • Evaluate the clarity and relevance of your headlines: are they compelling? Do they hook the reader, and invite them to learn more? If not, you need new ones!
  • Assess the quality and structure of website copy: harsh truth incoming, but: if you used ChatGPT to write your website’s words, they probably aren’t up to snuff.
  • Review your unique value proposition: does it communicate your business’ or brand’s unique benefits and solutions? How about the value your products and services offer?
  • Audit your visual elements and multimedia: used strategically, videos and images are powerful tools you can wield to boost conversions. On the flipside, an over-reliance on them – or sloppiness when it comes to compressing and optimizing them for file size – can slow your site down and have the opposite effect!

Step 5: Examining Conversion Tracking and Analytics

Almost halfway there! Which means it’s time to get up close and personal with your conversion tracking and analytics. To do this:

  • Verify proper installation of tracking codes: access the source code to confirm that all your tracking codes are present and accounted for – you’ll need them for later!
  • Evaluate conversion tracking and attribution accuracy: this is all part of ensuring your site’s conversions – and, ergo, the success of your CRO audit – are measurable and trackable. So ensure they’re accurate and relevant from the get-go.

Step 6: Assessing Trust and Credibility Factors

Trust and credibility play a huge role in whether a person is likely to make that step from website visitor to website customer. So your CRO audit should assess the presence – and extent – of your site’s trust signals. This includes:

  • Analyzing website security measures: does your site have an SSL certificate, for instance? If so, is it up to date – and does it conform to the latest industry standards?
  • Looking at your website’s trust signals: does your site contain testimonials? How about customer reviews and star ratings of your products and services? Case studies?
  • Evaluating your existing product and service information: are you showcasing your website’s wares in a way that exudes quality and credibility? Is it all up to date?
  • Reviewing your privacy policy and data handling practices: these days, customer behavior tracking isn’t as simple as surreptitiously dropping a cookie on their browser. It’s not only heavily regulated, but something consumers are becoming more aware – and more discerning – about. So write a privacy policy and then ensure your website’s privacy and data-handling policies are kept updated, and clearly visible and accessible.

Step 7: Assessing Mobile Optimization

Almost half (46%) of all Americans spend five to six hours on their phones every day. Which means, if they’re reading your website’s content, chances are they’re not doing it from a desktop computer – but from a mobile device.

And, if your audience isn’t ignoring mobile devices, neither should your CRO audit. So, be sure to assess your website’s responsiveness, and evaluate its user experience, on smartphones and tablets – not just on desktops. Get to grips with your website’s mobile-specific features and functionalities: viewing them through a conversions-focused lens to understand the impact (positive or negative) they could be having on your website’s conversion rate.

To learn more about testing your website on devices other than desktops, explore our guide to making your website more mobile-friendly.

WBE website builders page mobile rendering
To get a quick view of how your website’s features and functionalities display on mobile, right click ‘Inspect’ and hit the small symbol that looks like a smart device. Here’s how our flagship website builders page displays on mobile – not too shabby, eh?

Step 8: Analyzing A/B Testing and Experimentation

A/B tests are the bread and butter of any self-respecting CRO strategy. But to understand which kinds of A/B testing strategies to pursue going forward, you need to look back – and ascertain just how effective your experiments have been so far.

This involves:

  • Reviewing past A/B tests and experiments: collect data from previous A/B tests – like the variations tested, metrics tracked, sample sizes, and test duration – then examine the statistical significance of the results, and whether or not they met the test’s pre-defined success metrics.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of testing tools and platforms: review the features and functionality of the software you’ve previously used to A/B test. Was it easy to use? Cost-effective? Did it offer an array of testing options, integrations, and capabilities for targeting, segmenting, and reporting?

Step 9: Creating an Actionable CRO Audit Report

Nearly there! Now, it’s time to create an CRO audit report to summarize your findings – and lay the foundations for future action. Your report should:

  • Summarize your CRO audit’s findings and recommendations
  • Prioritize the issues you’ve identified based on their likely impact and the effort required to put them into practice
  • Provide actionable steps for improvement – including clear recommendations around task and project owners to define roles and responsibilities, and ensure accountability
  • Include data and visuals to support the suggestions you’ve laid out, and add credence to your overall CRO strategy going forward

Remember, how your CRO audit report looks is as important as what’s inside it. So be sure to lay it out in a clear, concise way both visually and in terms of how you write it. Keep words, sentences, and paragraphs short, and use plenty of bullet points to break up your ideas into manageable, bite-sized chunks.

Step 10: Implementing and Monitoring Changes

Of course, the findings of your CRO audit shouldn’t exist simply to sit in a box, gathering dust and serving as a new home for the spiders of your office.

No – it needs to be a living, breathing document that your whole team can buy into. Which means it can’t be some rigid, inflexible thing – but a guide you can optimize, iterate on, and continue to refine as your website, business (and the world at large!) keep changing.

So be sure to regularly revisit the findings of your CRO audit. And use the report – and strategy it results in – to guide ever-better decision-making about your website and conversion funnel.

Ecommerce CRO Audit: Summary and Final Tips

To recap, our 10 tips for a top-notch CRO audit are:

  1. Prepare for the audit with data and KPIs
  2. Analyze website design and UX
  3. Assess the content funnel
  4. Analyze your website’s content and messaging
  5. Examine conversion tracking and analytics
  6. Assess trust and credibility factors
  7. Assess mobile optimization
  8. Analyze A/B testing and experimentation
  9. Create an actionable CRO report
  10. Implement and monitor changes

By following these steps, you’ll be able to increase your website’s conversion rates, and make your website a more engaging, informative, and compelling place to be. Boosting your brand, your audience size – and, of course, your bottom line!

FAQs

It’s hard to say exactly what ‘the’ average conversion rate is – because that number differs across industries. Specialty websites, for example, have an average global conversion rate of 7.60%; for fashion and apparel websites, it’s 5.90%.

For the average website conversion rates across five key industries, our extensive guide explains all.

Us internet users can be an impatient, fickle bunch. We don’t like waiting – so the longer your webpages take to load, the higher your site’s bounce rates will be. Inflated bounce rates tell Google that users aren’t finding the content of your pages helpful – meaning its rankings will suffer. The knock–on effect for your conversions is fewer people seeing and accessing your site – and, therefore, fewer people buying your products and services.
Written by:
I’ve written for brands and businesses all over the world – empowering everyone from solopreneurs and micro-businesses to enterprises to some of the ecommerce industry’s best-known brands: including Yahoo!, Ecwid, and Entrepreneur. My commitment for the future is to empower my audience to make better, more effective decisions: whether that’s helping you pick the right platform to build your website with, the best hosting provider for your needs, or offering recommendations as to what – and how – to sell.

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