What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate is a key success indicator on your website. Read our guide on how to ensure your conversion rate is optimized to achieve your website goals.

What is conversion rate optimization?

One way to measure success as an advertiser, affiliate, or publisher is to analyze and optimize the conversion rate of your marketing content. Conversion rate optimization helps ensure your potential customers have a seamless journey towards making a purchase.

What is a conversion?

A conversion is when a visitor on your website takes a particular desired action. A conversion is not just a purchase, there are smaller goals you may be targeting. It might be a visitor adding an item to their cart, subscribing to a mailing list, creating an account, clicking an affiliate link or otherwise. Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of increasing the conversion rate.

What is a conversion rate?

Conversion rate is a measurable value that typically looks at the number of conversions on your site against the overall traffic of your site, but there are actually a few different ways you might measure it.

Every time a user visits your site is an opportunity for conversion, so generally conversion rate measures the ratio between how many people visit your site and how many of those visitors take your desired action.

You might also measure conversions against sessions for a single user. For example, if somebody visits your site four times, that’s four sessions, and if they make a purchase on two of those sessions, that’s two conversions. The conversation rate here would be two divided by four: 50%.

If you were looking at the conversion rate for the site as a whole, you’d divide all conversions by all sessions to find the conversion rate.

You might choose to measure unique conversions against unique users, as a user may revisit your site after already converting. That means someone might visit your site hundreds of times – but so long as they make one conversion, the conversion rate will be 100% (one conversion divided by one unique user).

How you measure conversion rate is up to you; go with what you think makes the most sense for your website and audience. If you’re unsure, then dividing total conversions by total visitors and deriving a percentage is standard in affiliate marketing.

What is a good conversion rate?

As a general guideline, conversion rates of 0.5% to 1% are considered average for affiliate marketing specifically.

B2B companies or finance companies tend to have higher conversion rates, while e-commerce companies can expect conversion rates between 2% to 6%.

It varies within each industry, too. In ecommerce and retail, fashion, health, and gift brands are likely to have the highest conversion rates, nearing 5% on average, while consumer electronics generally has the lowest, at just over 1% on average.

Conversion rate might also vary based on the traffic source; display advertising garners a low conversion rate (0.7% on average), while organic site visits have the highest (2.9% on average). Mobile site visits tend to have lower conversion rates than desktop, while tablet conversions sit in between the two.

Conversion optimization planning

Conversion rate optimization means analyzing your audience and understanding what must be improved upon in order to persuade them to take your desired action. It might involve the UX of your website and how usable it is; it could involve how you’re marketing your brand on your website from visuals to copy, or even something as simple as altering a CTA.

Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to approach conversion optimization.

Quantitative data  

It certainly helps to have data to guide your approach, so that you’re not simply taking guesses on what needs to be done.

Analytics tools can provide detailed information about the performance of your content and the behavior of your audience. With the right setup, you’ll be able to track a visitor’s journey entirely, seeing what link brought them to your site, which point they left your site, and more. Using advanced tracking can give visibility on which device customers use to browse and click through compared to where they complete their sale, which can aid to tailor your offering across different platforms. SingleView offers multi-touch attribution across all your digital channels to give a holistic view of your marketing efforts and responses.

With this information, you’ll be able to identify trends, strengths, and weaknesses in your approach. You can, for example, see which pages are most popular – and therefore most likely to encourage conversions – and prioritize this area.

Qualitative data 

It can also help to engage with your audience and gain real insight into their behavior and decisions. Data analysis may offer the what, where, when, and how, but it can’t really tell you the why. Qualitative analysis is just as important when it comes to conversion rate optimization.

Once you’ve performed quantitative analysis, you’ll know which audience segment you should be targeting. You can then approach members of this segment who visited your website with a survey, asking them about their experience with your brand.

Aim to find out how they perceive your business and product. You may find that there are features that you should be placing more focus on. You might learn that your on-site copy is not as enticing as the on-site copy of your competitors, or that the design and UX of the website are too difficult to navigate.

Through this feedback, you should be able to gain a clear idea of what needs improving in order to appeal to your core demographic.

A/B tests 

Running A/B tests is a great way to compare two different approaches and see which performs best. An A/B test involves changing one variable while keeping everything else the same, and monitoring the impact.

For example, you could test the difference between two different pieces of copy – one that’s more casual and another more formal, or perhaps two different images of your product. Perhaps your A test will tout the ease of use and convenience of your product, while your B test focuses on quality and value for money. It could be as simple as announcing a special offer in a headline without revealing the sale price versus including the sale price in the headline itself.

After doing a bit of analysis you’ll have a good idea of which areas to focus on, and running A/B tests will help you define and refine your approach to these areas and see what works.

Conversion rate optimization strategies

Abandoned cart notifications 

Abandoned cart messages – whether by email, app notification, or within a site itself, can help draw visitors back to your site to complete a transaction. With this approach, it’s important to avoid irritating your potential customer, but rather just give them a friendly nudge and remind them why they should purchase your product. If they’ve already added it to their cart, you know they’re already interested – now you simply need to close the deal.

Exclusive offers 

Special offers are a wise way to get conversions, especially when they come with an air of exclusivity. Display advertising is a great way to do this – you can create special offers that are only available to those who click the link. This link can direct the user to a landing page where they can collect a discount code, free trial, or another special deal.

Email marketing is another great place to offer exclusives. This will entice users to subscribe, and the feeling of exclusivity might push them towards a sale. You could also do so through what are known as ‘lead flows’. These are special pop-ups that appear on your website when specified actions are taken.


Perhaps the simplest thing you can do to ensure your site is tailored for conversions is to make sure you always include strong calls to action (CTAs). CTAs can be included in the body copy on your blog, in the metadata of your website, on landing pages, and as standalone buttons. They can be simple, like “Buy Now” or “Get a free quote,” or more alluring, like “Start Saving,” “Learn More,” “Explore Discounts,” etc. A button with a CTA will often be the final piece of text someone sees before they click through to your affiliate link, so it has to be enticing.

UX & site structure 

Making sure the user experience (UX) of your site is smooth and accessible is a must. Customers don’t want to navigate a labyrinth of pages to make a purchase, so make sure your website has a logical structure that creates a clear path towards conversion. Don’t overload every page with too much text and imagery that might distract users from the goal. A messy website might be off-putting, and it might also impact the page speed of your website, another factor that can negatively impact conversion rates.

Tools for publishers 

Website publishers can take advantage of tools designed to help optimize conversion rates. Making sure your site is set up for success is easy with ShareASale’s publisher tools, like Custom link tool, which helps you convert regular links into affiliate links, and the ShareASale Product Discovery Bookmarklet browser extension, which helps publishers join affiliate programs, generate custom links and URLs, and more tools that make promotion easier and stronger.

Conversion rate optimization is a process that any publisher, merchant, or brand should prioritize. Conversion rate is the ultimate measure of success, and whatever your conversion goals may be, optimizing your online experience to increase conversions will set you up for growth.

Source: What is conversion rate optimization? by ShareASale at October 6, 2022

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