The Unbounce guide to conducting a CRO audit

Our guide to conducting a CRO audit provides clear, actionable steps, equipping you with the tools and insights needed to optimize conversion rates. From analyzing user behavior to refining conversion pathways, let’s unravel the mysteries of CRO audits together.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. What is a CRO audit?
  2. Is a CRO audit really important?
  3. When should you do a CRO audit?
  4. How do you prepare for a CRO audit?
  5. How to perform a conversion rate optimization audit 
  6. Your CRO audit checklist
  7. Grow your conversions with Unbounce

If we were to write our own episode of True Detective for digital marketers looking to perform a CRO (conversion rate optimization) audit, we would call it something like  “Unraveling the mystery of CRO audits: A step-by-step journey.

But unlike any other episode on this—admittedly binge-worthy—show, nothing is elusive. There are, in fact, real, concrete steps to performing a CRO audit. Phew.

CRO digital detective meme

 

So, welcome, true digital detectives, to our ultimate guide to performing a CRO audit.

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, maximizing conversion rates is the name of the game. That’s why we’re here to equip you with the tools and know-how to conduct a comprehensive CRO audit. 

From dissecting user behavior to fine-tuning conversion funnels, we’ll leave no stone unturned as we delve deep into the heart of CRO auditing. 

So grab your magnifying glass, put on your detective hat, and join us as we uncover the secrets of CRO audits together.

What is a CRO audit, anyway?

Ever wondered why some websites and landing pages convert like crazy while others struggle to make a single sale?

That’s where a CRO audit can swoop in like a caped crusader. 

A CRO audit is a comprehensive assessment of a website or landing page’s performance and effectiveness in converting visitors into customers or achieving other desired actions, such as leads, sales, or signups. 

During a CRO audit, you get to analyze various aspects of your website, including your design, user experience, navigation, content, and conversion funnels. The goal is to identify potential barriers or weaknesses that may be hindering conversion rates and to recommend strategic improvements to enhance the overall conversion process. 

This may involve optimizing landing pages, improving calls to action, refining messaging, and implementing testing strategies to validate changes and maximize conversion opportunities.

TLDR: A CRO audit aims to unlock the full potential of a website’s conversion capabilities and drive better results for the business.

Before we go any further, take a look at our conversion benchmark report for the insights you need for your particular industry, and strap in, because you’re in for a heckuva ride.

Is a conversion rate audit really important?

So, why bother with a CRO audit? 

Because, as marketers, we’re not just in the business of websites and landing pages; we’re in the business of results

Are conversion rate audits really necessary? Absolutely. Here are some areas of importance.

Identifying barriers

A CRO audit helps you pinpoint any obstacles that may be keeping your visitors from taking desired actions on your website or landing page. Whether it’s confusing navigation, unclear messaging, or technical glitches, understanding these barriers is prettyyy important for improving your conversion rates.

Curious about how to improve conversion rates on your landing page? Here’s more than enough inspo to get you started. 

Optimizing user experience

By analyzing user behavior and interactions with your website, a CRO audit allows you to optimize the user experience. This includes improving website navigation, enhancing page layout and design, and making it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder website visitor.

Maximizing ROI

Increasing your conversion rate means getting more value from your existing traffic. By optimizing your website to convert more visitors into customers or leads, you’re maximizing the return on investment (ROI) from your marketing efforts and driving more revenue for your business.

Staying competitive

In today’s competitive online landscape, businesses that continuously optimize their conversion rates gain a significant edge. By staying ahead of the curve and constantly refining your performance, you’ll be better positioned to attract and retain customers in a crowded market. 

In essence, a conversion rate audit is not just important—it’s essential for the long-term success and growth of your online business. It provides valuable insights, helps you make data-driven decisions, and ultimately leads to improved performance and profitability.

When should you do a CRO audit?

Performing a CRO audit should be a regular practice for any business looking to maximize its online performance. Here are some key occasions when conducting a CRO audit is particularly beneficial:

Launch of a new website or product

Before launching a new website or product, it’s essential to conduct a CRO audit to ensure that the user experience is optimized for conversion. This allows you to identify any potential issues early on and make necessary adjustments to maximize conversion rates from the start. 

But the few months after launch are important, too. Following the launch, there’s often a “honeymoon period” where you’re getting lots of traffic and action.

But no honeymoon lasts forever. 

Conducting a CRO audit after a few months lets you evaluate the ongoing impact on your conversion rates and address any emerging issues that may have surfaced post-launch craze.

Significant changes to the website

If you’ve recently made significant changes to your website (like redesigning the layout, updating the navigation, or adding new features) it’s a good idea to conduct a CRO audit to assess the impact on conversion rates. This helps you understand how the changes have affected user behavior and identify areas for improvement.

Drop in conversion rates

Uh-oh! If you notice a sudden drop in conversion rates or a plateau in performance, it’s a clear indicator that something may be amiss. A CRO audit can help you diagnose the underlying issues causing the decline and implement corrective measures to improve conversion rates.

Regular maintenance

Just like performing regular maintenance on a car keeps it running smoothly (yeah, we know about car stuff), conducting regular CRO audits helps ensure that your website is always optimized for maximum conversions. Setting a schedule for quarterly or bi-annual audits allows you to stay proactive and continuously improve your website’s performance over time. 

Seasonal campaigns or promotions

Before launching seasonal campaigns or promotions (think holiday sales), it’s good to conduct a CRO audit to optimize your landing pages, calls to action, and other conversion-focused elements. This way, you can make sure you’re making the most of your increased traffic and engagement during these periods.

After the conversion rate changes over time

Whether the change in your website’s conversion shows growth or decline, a CRO audit will help you get the insights you need to enhance your customer experience and boost conversion rates, or keep doing what you’re doing if it’s going well. Change is the only constant, after all.

How do you prepare for a CRO audit?

You know the what and why (Simon Sinek is somewhere smiling right now.) So now there’s one question that remains: how do we even prepare for performing a CRO audit?

It’s simple, but there are thorough and effective steps you can take to prep. 

Define your goals

Before getting into the weeds, you should clearly define the goals and objectives of your CRO audit. That means deciding what specific metrics you want to improve—like your conversion rate, click-through rate, or average order value.

Establishing these clear goals helps focus the audit and ensures you’re targeting areas that will have the most impact on your business. 

Gather cold, hard data

Set yourself up the mostest by collecting relevant data about your website’s performance. We’re talkin’ traffic sources, user behavior, and conversion rates. Use tools such as Google Analytics to gather quantitative data and insights into how users are interacting with your landing pages or website.

Review customer feedback

Quantitative data is important, but you also need some qualitative data to set you up for your CRO audit. This means reviewing any feedback from customers, such as comments or reviews, to gain qualitative insights into their experiences on your website. Pay attention to common pain points or areas of confusion that may be impacting your conversion rates.

Audit your current marketing efforts

There are key conversion points other than what exists on your website, you know. 

Take a look at your current marketing efforts, including advertising campaigns, email marketing, and social media promotions. Assess how these efforts are driving traffic to your website and influencing conversion rates.

Identify key conversion points

Where are the areas where visitors can take action? You shouldn’t hesitate in answering this question.

Finding out these areas of conversion is a pretty key step before jumping into your CRO audit, setting you up for optimizing those conversion points. Key conversion points can be anything from your product pages to your lead generation forms

Set priorities

Prioritize areas for improvement based on the goals you defined earlier. Identify quick wins and longer-term strategic initiatives that may require more time and resources. That means fewer unpleasant surprises down the line. Yay!

By following these steps to prepare for a CRO audit, you’ll be more than well-equipped to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your website’s performance and identify opportunities for optimization that can drive better results for your business.

 So shall we just get into it?

How to perform a conversion rate optimization audit 

How do you conduct a proper conversion rate optimization audit? Let’s get those detective hats on and start a’solvin’.

Step 1: Get granular with your conversion targets

First things first, you need to establish our conversion objectives and define the metrics we’ll use to track progress both before and after implementing CRO strategies.

Conversions are user actions that bring them one step closer to being a paying customer. For an ecommerce store, conversion rate typically refers to the percentage of users who check out and buy a product, while for a SaaS business, it generally means trial signups or other goal completion metrics—like lead magnet signups or webinar registrations.

Setting conversion targets is one thing, but as with any ambitious goal, our targets can seem out of reach. How can we simplify the steps to getting to our conversion goal? 

We’ve got to create a set of conversion actions for our CRO auditencompassing both micro and macro conversions. 

The types of conversions, along with their corresponding metrics, vary depending on the industry you operate in. Ecommerce websites, SaaS providers, and lead generation platforms each have distinct sets of conversion metrics to consider.

Screenshot image of Unbounce average conversion benchmark by industry report
Courtesy of the conversion benchmark report.

Imagine we’re dealing with a SaaS site. Macro conversions would be anything like transactions, subscriptions, or app downloads. Micro conversions would include demo requests, trial sign-ups, lead magnet engagements, webinar registrations, etc.

Some metrics to track would be conversion rate, bounce rate, exit rate, and average session duration, among others.

While closing deals is our main goal, we can’t underestimate the significance of smaller actions. Completing these micro conversions indicates progress, warming up leads, and inching closer to our primary conversion goals.

So, how do we break down big conversion goals into micro conversions? Here are a few examples.

Web pages and landing page conversions

These are usually the first point of interaction for most new customers. So, it’s important to evaluate the clarity and relevance of the content on your landing page and other important pages, ensuring each key section communicates your clear value proposition.

Pricing page conversions

Visitors to your pricing page have expressed interest in your product. Woohoo! Great news, right? Almost. Now that you’ve landed visitors on your pricing page, you’ve gotta make sure your pricing plans are presented clearly and that users can easily compare different options and make a purchase decision based on their needs and budget.

Case in point: Unbounce’s pricing page. (Not to brag.)

Free trial conversion

With a few exceptions, most trial users will convert to paid when they see that your tool can meet their needs and the pricing is justified. Ensure you provide users with a robust onboarding experience and remove any friction that could negatively impact conversion. 

Looking for inspo? Search no further than Unbounce’s new trial start landing page.

In-app conversions

If you have an app, tracking feature usage is a great way to understand how your users are interacting with your tool and find areas of improvement.

Step 2: Decide on CRO audit goals 

Before you jump into your CRO audit, take some time to assess which conversions your business needs to track for organization, and set clear conversion goals. 

But what target conversion rates should you even bear in mind?

It depends on how ambitious you’re being, how your current website is doing, and how ready you are to invest time and money in the audit and, later, the CRO itself.

Your CRO audit goals will determine what you do and the metrics you track to measure success. So, you should set goals that align with your business objectives and the specific conversion points you want to improve. Easy peasy.

Step 3: Choose the right metrics for your CRO audit

The metrics you monitor will vary based on your chosen conversion destination and the objectives you’ve outlined. Here’s a lineup of conversion metrics worth keeping an eye on:

  • Mobile vs. desktop bounce rate: Are your visitors bouncing off like they’re on a trampoline or sticking around like glue?
  • Load times: Is your website zooming like a Formula 1 car or crawling like rush hour traffic?
  • User sessions: How many virtual visitors are wandering through your digital halls?
  • Landing page scroll depth: Are your visitors diving into the depths of your content or just skimming the surface?
  • Signups/form conversion rate: Are users eagerly signing up like it’s the hottest ticket in town or clicking away faster than a cat chasing a laser pointer?
  • Product page conversion rate: Are your products flying off the digital shelves or gathering virtual dust?
  • Trial-to-paid conversion rate: Are your free trials converting into paid subscriptions faster than you can say “cha-ching”?
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): Are you acquiring customers for the cost of a cup of coffee or a small fortune?
  • Feature adoption rate: Are your users embracing new app features like kids in a candy store or giving them the cold shoulder?

Fine, we’ll stop with the metaphors. As long as you promise to keep an eye on these metrics.

Step 4: Focus on priority pages

Run your CRO audit where it counts most

You’ve gotta start targeting pages with high potential for conversion impact by considering traffic volume and their role in the user journey. Focus on pages that marry conversion goals with healthy traffic to turbocharge your optimization efforts and swiftly gauge their effectiveness. Skip the fluff like top-of-the-funnel content—sure, it attracts eyeballs, but it’s not where the real action happens. 

Instead, zero in on pages that serve as pivotal touchpoints in the customer journey, like conversion-focused landing pages that can entice users to sign up for demos and snag freebies.

Hey. Want more CRO best practices? Check out our guide to conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Step 5: Evaluate your landing pages

Think of a landing page CRO audit from a visitor’s viewpoint. It’s like giving your landing page a makeover, highlighting areas for improvement, and focusing on upgrades to boost those sweet, sweet conversions.

Because, let’s face it, if turning visitors into customers is the name of the game, then nailing your landing page is the key to unlocking growth. So buckle up for the ride, and let’s dive into these essential steps to supercharge your landing page conversion rates.

Evaluate your landing page design

Screenshot image of Unbounce landing page

Your landing page design is pretty crucial to your conversion success, turns out. It’s more than just pretty colors and a nice-lookin’ brand, it’s a whole science.

There’s a whole set of conversion-centered design tactics to pay attention to while evaluating your landing page. Are you doing everything in your power for your landing page to convert? Are there elements of your landing page design that are actually working against your conversion goals? Are you looking at how other high-converting landing pages are doing it right

Let’s find out.

Is your landing page design creating focus?

The foundation of conversion-centered design is focus. It’s important that you focus your audience on one goal at a time, and have your design hold their attention.

Does your landing page have the right structure?

Structure your page to influence visitors and guide them to action. Learn how to design your information hierarchy and have your page layout reflect that.

Is your landing page design consistent?

Keep your pages consistent with ad matching, and your brand design guidelines to bring in more conversions and keep consistency with your audience.

Is your landing page design showing your benefits?

The images on your page aren’t just there for show. Learn how to choose visuals that showcase the benefits of what you’re selling.

Is your landing page design drawing attention?

Use your design to draw attention to the elements that matter most. Attract visitors to your CTA buttons using the right colors and typography.

Is your landing page creating a sense of trust?

Include social proofs like testimonials and customer logos to build visitor confidence and prove credibility.

Is your landing page reducing friction?

Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to convert. Optimize your forms and mobile pages to create a seamless experience.

Does your landing page design have any technical issues?

The detective hat isn’t about to come off now. It’s imperative that you check for any technical issues that are hindering your landing page performance. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • Page loading speed
  • Quality of landing page images
  • Broken links or forms
  • Dysfunctioning multimedia elements (like animations or videos)
CRO digital detective

Looking for these granular tech issues may be boring, but their effects on your landing page conversion rate can be dismal. So let that motivate you to triple-check for any problems.

Want to be even more cautious? Here’s a list of landing page mistakes to avoid to keep you on track.

Evaluate your landing page copy

Copywriting is the art of persuasion—a dance of words that convinces your audience to act. It’s about serving up the perfect message at just the right moment to entice them into action.

When it comes to landing pages, it’s all about crafting the narrative to woo your visitors into saying “Yes!” Whether you’re offering an irresistible ebook or a sizzling new product, it’s all about the power of persuasion. Because in the end, persuasion equals conversion.

Let’s take a look at some things to keep in mind while evaluating your landing page copy.

Find your value proposition

Before you start writing, you need to think about who you’re talking to (and what makes ’em convert). Craft messaging that resonates with your target audience.

Check your information hierarchy

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, wouldya? As we mentioned before, having the correct information hierarchy and figuring out what content your landing page needs to be most impactful is key.

Are your headlines attention-grabbing enough?

Your headings are the most visible copy on your page, so you’ve gotta make them count. Write headlines, sub-headlines, and subheadings that capture your visitors’ attention. High stakes stuff.

Is your body copy persuasive?

Your visitors don’t care about features, really—they care about the benefits your features provide. Write body copy that puts your audience’s needs first and persuades them to take action.

Do you have social proof on your landing page?

Sure, you think your offer’s great—but does anyone else? Use social proof (like testimonials and review scores) to reinforce your copy and earn your visitors’ trust.

Do you have a strong call to action?

You’ve convinced your visitors that they want what you’ve got, but you still need to seal the deal. Write calls to action that attract visitors’ attention and drive results for your business.

These are just some of the copy evaluations you’ve gotta do for your landing pages in your CRO audit. For more, check out Unbounce’s guide to landing page copywriting.

Is your landing page message matched with your ads?

Check that your ad message aligns with your landing page message in your CRO audit. You mustn’t forget about the ol’ message match.

Ads with catchy headlines may generate clicks, sure, but if they don’t lead to increased user engagement or conversions, your ad spend could soar without boosting revenue. When users click your ad, they expect a seamless experience that delivers on the promise made in the ad. This alignment, known as “user intent,” is crucial for conversions. 

So you’ve gotta ensure consistency between your ad’s headline and the landing page content to optimize user experience and conversion rates. Keep your promises, people.

All this landing page business seems pretty key to your CRO audit, doesn’t it? Turns out, the Unbounce landing page builder makes it all a lot easier by helping you build high-converting landing pages custom-built for each of your marketing campaigns without needing technical support. 

Step 6: Rev up your conversion game with conversion funnel analysis

Think of a conversion funnel as a roadmap guiding users from “Hmm, what’s this?” to “Take my money!” 

It’s the backbone of your CRO audit, revealing juicy insights into user behavior and roadblocks on the path to conversion nirvana. A conversion funnel represents the path users take from initial awareness of your brand to the ultimate action of converting into a paying customer.

For instance, if your funnel report reveals a Grand-Canyon-sized drop-off between the trial and subscription stages, it’s time to put on your detective hat and sleuth out the culprit. Is it a pricing pickle or simply a case of users not seeing the life-changing magic of your product or service?

Delving into this funnel is a crucial part of the CRO audit, as it uncovers vital insights into user behavior and identifies potential barriers that may be dampening your conversion rate.

Step 7: Unravel user behavior mysteries

Now that you’ve got your sights set on which conversion actions and pages to optimize, it’s time to get real with user behavior analysis. 

See how visitors are dancing with your site and discover why they’re not all hitting the conversion jackpot. Use goal conversions in Google Analytics, track events, and keep tabs on whether your users are bustin’ moves like making purchases, signing up for newsletters, or RSVPing to webinars.

By mixing the insights from these analyses with your conversion funnel reports, you not only pinpoint where users drop off but also uncover the why behind their actions. (Simon Sinek is smiling again.)

This sets the stage for targeted and impactful optimizations that turbocharge your conversion rates.

Step 8: Connect the dots 

You’ve now audited your landing pages, and taken a look at user behavior and your conversion funnel. You’ve gathered some good data and are maybe seeing some repeated patterns. 

So, how do you now connect all the dots like the digital marketing detective that you are?

CRO digital detective

After performing all of the steps of your CRO audit thus far, you probably have a decent enough idea of where the problems lie. Now it’s time to take these realizations and craft a new theory to put to the test based on our observations. 

A hypothesis, some may say.

You could test out your hypothesis and still not get it perfectly, but you’ll learn along the way and make your theory better based on results. 

Once we’re zeroed in on one main theory, it’s time to gear up for A/B testing. Dun dun dun.

Step 9: A/B test your theory

Now that all of your CRO audit knowledge has taken the form of one main theory or hypothesis, it’s time to put it to test

An A/B test usually marks the final step of a CRO audit. By experimenting with the changes you think are needed for your conversion rate to improve, you’ll get that much closer to success.

At the end of the day, a CRO audit is all about turning your learnings into actions, experimenting, and making data-informed decisions.

What elements you choose to A/B test can differ at this stage based on your hypothesis, but here are some ideas of what you could be testing to get your conversion rates up:

Headlines

Your main headline is usually a succinct rendering of your core value proposition. Consider playing around with the emotional resonance of the wording of your headline. And don’t overlook the potential impact of font style and size.

Calls to action

You can test the CTA copy, the design of the button, and its color to see what works best. When it comes to calls to action, any small change can lead to big results.

Hero image

A hero shot is the primary image at the top of a webpage, showcasing your product or service in action. Try different options—like a smiling couple or a product close-up—to see what resonates with your audience.

Lead forms

Depending on your business, you might need more than just a first name and an email—but the number of fields in your forms can be a decisive factor in user engagement.

Copy

Test different writing styles and formats for your campaign copy, like conversational vs. formal tone or bullet points vs. paragraphs. Experiment with copy length and language to see what resonates best with your audience.

After you’ve done the good ol’ A/B test, you arrive at the moment of truth.

Just kidding, it’s actually not that dramatic. All you’ve to do is monitor results after the test and see if they reflect the hypothesis you had formed based on the rest of your CRO audit.

A/B tests are data-gathering exercises. There’s no win or lose; the important question is simply, is your theory accurate or not? 

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If it’s not, then great. You can go back to the drawing board and test out a new theory based on what you have learned. The more you test and gather data, the closer you get to your new conversion goals.

Now, if there was only one A/B testing solution to help you do it all effortlessly…without needing any design or coding skills.

Bonus step: Leverage thank you landing pages for CRO

Congrats! If you’ve followed along, then you’ve successfully completed your CRO audit. But as we say here at Unbounce, you should never stop optimizing.

For a little boost in conversions, consider creating a thank you page as a bonus step. It’s the perfect opportunity to make conversion recoveries by repackaging previous offers or marketing attempts, armed with your new CRO audit knowledge.

Your CRO audit checklist

To summarize, here’s a quick list of your CRO audit items. Think of it as a sort of elite cheat sheet.

  • Get granular with your conversion targets
  • Decide on CRO audit goals
  • Choose the right metrics 
  • Focus on priority pages
  • Evaluate your landing pages
  • Analyze your conversion funnel
  • Analyze user behavior
  • Come up with a hypothesis (or multiple) based on previous steps
  • A/B test 
  • Add a thank you page for good measure

And voila. That’s all you need for your CRO audit.

Ready to grow your conversions?

After all that detective work, you deserve some good growth in your conversion rates. But that can only happen with the right tools at your disposal. Whether it’s building and optimizing your landing pages,  A/B testing your one true CRO hypothesis, or looking for templates to get started, we’re here to be the sidekick to your detective. The optimization continues!

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