12 CRO metrics to track conversion rate optimization performance

What gets measured gets managed.

You’ve heard it before—you’ll hear it many times again.

But with conversion rate optimization (CRO) in particular, what should you be measuring to make sure you’re managing the right things? How do you avoid the “measure everything” trap that ultimately leads to you and your team feeling overwhelmed and taking no action at all?

That’s the question we’re here to answer today.

And don’t worry, this isn’t another one of those “150 metrics you MUST measure…” roundups that only makes the problem worse. We’ve narrowed our list down to just 12 metrics worth paying attention to.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Understanding CRO metrics and KPIs
  2. Why it’s important to track conversion rate optimization metrics
  3. How to analyze CRO metrics effectively
  4. 12 key CRO metrics and KPIs you need to measure overall performance
  5. Metric-focused CRO case studies and examples
  6. How to optimize for conversions with Unbounce

Understanding CRO metrics and KPIs

In truth, CRO metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be a fairly broad bucket.

There are so many different touchpoints, screens, and interactions throughout a conversion journey that you could easily group together PPC metrics, website analytics metrics, email marketing metrics, SEO and organic metrics, social metrics, product metrics—you get the point.

To put it simply, CRO metrics and KPIs cover the entire conversion journey, from the initial interactions all the way through to repeat purchases and customer retention.

cro metrics diagram

Why it’s important to track conversion rate optimization metrics

It’s nearly impossible to optimize your landing pages or marketing assets effectively without proper visibility into the metrics that matter.

After all, how are you supposed to run experiments if you don’t know which metrics you’re trying to improve?

Sure, there’s the obvious one:

Conversions.

Yes, your overarching goal will typically be to make that number bigger. But to do just that, you often need to pay closer attention to the metrics around the conversion itself. These will give you clarity into which levers you actually need to pull to grow conversions.

For example, say your conversion rate isn’t great on a key landing page and you’re trying to right the ship. What should you experiment with? Which A/B tests should you run? Where’s the leak in your marketing funnel?

The only way to answer these questions (that isn’t just hand waving and crystal ball reading) is through CRO metrics. Key metrics like exit rates, conversion path data, click maps, and click-through rates.

Once you know which metrics matter, you can triangulate where the problems may be coming from. If you know the root of the problem—you can run the proper CRO tests to hopefully correct them.

How to analyze CRO metrics effectively

For each of the CRO metrics we’ll cover in this post, the same principle for how to properly analyze the data applies:

You need to go deeper than just the overall number itself.

To find the diamonds, you need to dig. Compare different audience segments and cohorts instead of just looking at whether the number is green or red week over week.

  • Segment the data by traffic source.
  • Segment by new vs returning visitors.
  • Segment by “logged in” vs. “logged out” users.
  • Segment by users that converted vs those that didn’t.
  • Segment by device to see mobile vs desktop patterns.

You get the point. Broad numbers at face value aren’t always going to give you anything truly actionable. The diamonds are in the details.

12 key CRO metrics and KPIs you need to measure overall performance

With that all said, let’s cover 12 of the most relevant conversion rate optimization metrics we’d recommend you pay attention to while experimenting.

1. Conversion rate (CR or CVR)

The conversion rate is a crucial metric showing the percentage of website visitors who complete a goal, like buying a product or filling out a form.

It’s like a snapshot of your landing page’s effectiveness. Simply put, it helps you gauge how well your site turns visitors into customers.

How to improve conversion rates:

  • Optimize landing pages to make them clear, concise, and feature strong calls to action.
  • A/B test different elements like headlines, buttons, and images to see which versions drive more conversions.
  • Follow conversion-centric design principles when building landing pages and marketing funnels.
  • Offer incentives like discounts, free trials, or exclusive content to motivate conversions.

2. Click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate measures how often people click on a link or ad after seeing it.

It tells you whether your emails, ads, or any calls to action hit your audience’s mark. A higher CTR means more people engage with your content, leading you one step closer to achieving your goals. It’s a simple yet powerful way to track the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.

How to improve CTR:

3. Cost per acquisition (CPA)

Cost per acquisition is all about how much you spend to gain one lead or customer.

Ideally, it includes every penny you spend on ads, promotions, and other marketing efforts, which are divided by the number of customers you acquire through those efforts. CPA helps you understand the financial efficiency of your marketing campaigns, ensuring you’re investing wisely and sustainably in customer growth.

How to improve CPA:

4. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost is similar to CPA but broader. It sums up all costs incurred to acquire a new customer, including sales and marketing expenses, over a specific period.

By tracking CAC, you can see the direct financial impact of gaining new customers and adjust your strategies to keep growth profitable. This metric is vital for assessing the long-term health of your business.

How to improve CAC:

  • Find efficiencies in your sales and marketing processes to reduce overhead costs.
  • Increase customer referrals to lower marketing budgets while boosting acquisition.
  • Leverage organic marketing strategies like SEO and content marketing to reduce reliance on paid channels.
  • Tie your organic content and social media efforts into conversion-focused initiatives through optimized landing pages giving away lead magnets and gated assets.

5. Customer lifetime value (CLV or LTV)

Customer lifetime value measures the total revenue you can expect from a single customer throughout their relationship with your business.

It helps you understand how valuable different customers are over time, allowing you to tailor marketing efforts and resources more effectively. Knowing the CLV can guide you in balancing customer acquisition cost and ensuring profitable relationships.

How to improve customer lifetime value:

  • Improve customer service to boost customer satisfaction and retention, thereby extending the average customer lifespan.
  • Implement loyalty programs that encourage repeat business and increase the frequency of purchases.
  • Upsell and cross-sell relevant products to increase the average order value per customer.

6. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

Return on ad spend is a metric that tells you how much revenue your advertising campaigns generate compared to their cost.

It’s crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. A high ROAS indicates that your campaigns drive substantial revenue relative to their costs, helping you identify successful strategies and allocate budgets more effectively.

How to improve ROAS:

  • Optimize your ad campaigns by continuously A/B testing different elements and focusing on those with the highest return.
  • Improve the user experience on the landing pages linked from ads using concepts like message matching to ensure a smooth purchasing path.
  • Segment your performance data to identify and focus on the most profitable audiences and marketing channels.

7. Assisted conversions

Assisted conversions track the touchpoints a customer interacts with before making a final conversion.

This metric highlights the indirect impact of various marketing channels, showing all contributing factors, not just the last click that led to a conversion. Understanding assisted conversions can help you fine-tune your marketing strategy to better support the customer journey.

How to improve assisted conversions:

  • Track as many conversion funnel touchpoints as possible throughout the user journey and understand how different channels contribute to conversions.
  • Create valuable content that encourages visitors to take the next step in the conversion funnel, even if that step is consuming more content.
  • Increase the effectiveness of middle-funnel marketing efforts through retargeting ads and email campaigns that nurture leads.

8. First-touch conversions

First-touch conversions credit the initial point of contact—or the first touch—with driving a conversion.

This metric is essential for understanding which marketing efforts successfully introduce potential customers to your brand. By evaluating first-touch conversions, you can identify which channels are most effective at attracting new leads and adjust your strategies to capitalize on these insights.

How to improve first-touch conversions:

  • Focus on creating a strong first impression through high-quality content and offers that immediately grab attention.
  • Optimize the pages most visitors first land on to focus on taking action and motivating visitors to convert on their first visit.
  • Use tracking tools to identify which channels bring in users who convert on their first interaction, and invest more in those channels.

9. Last-touch conversions

Last-touch conversions attribute a conversion’s success to the final interaction before it.

This metric helps you pinpoint which marketing channels are most effective at sealing the deal. Knowing which interactions drive customers to finally make a purchase allows you to optimize those final steps in the customer journey.

How to improve last-touch conversions:

  • Enhance the last interaction before conversion, like the checkout page or a final email follow-up, to keep it persuasive and clear.
  • Simplify the conversion process by reducing steps and eliminating unnecessary hurdles that could deter final decisions.
  • Increase spend on remarketing strategies to re-engage potential customers who are close to converting, tailoring messages based on their previous interactions.

10. Conversion path

The conversion path is the sequence of interactions that lead up to a conversion, from initial contact to the final action.

It connects the dots between each of the three metrics above (assisted conversions, first-touch conversions, and last-touch conversions). This metric provides a detailed customer journey map, showing you how different channels, ads, and pages work together to lead to a conversion. Understanding your customers’ conversion paths can help you create a smoother, more effective funnel that enhances user experience and increases conversions.

How to improve conversion paths:

11. Form starts and form abandonment rate

Form starts track the number of visitors who begin filling out a form on your website, while form abandonment rate measures the number of visitors who don’t complete it.

These metrics are key to understanding where potential customers drop off and why. By analyzing these rates, you can identify and remove barriers, making forms more user-friendly and increasing the likelihood of completion.

How to improve form abandonment rate:

  • Simplify forms to include only essential fields, reducing the effort required to fill them out.
  • Provide clear, visible progress indicators and explain why certain information is required.
  • Optimize forms for mobile to make sure they are easy to fill out on any device.

12. Ecommerce cart actions and cart abandonment rate

Ecommerce cart actions cover all interactions with a visitor’s online shopping cart—like adding and removing items, adding payment info, viewing the cart, and checking out.

Cart abandonment rate, on the other hand, shows how often shoppers leave your site without completing their purchase. High abandonment rates may signal issues with the checkout process. Addressing these can enhance user experience and boost conversions.

How to improve cart abandonment rate:

  • Offer free shipping or return guarantees to reduce purchase hesitation.
  • Send cart abandonment emails to remind customers of what they’ve left behind and entice them back.
  • Streamline the checkout process to reduce friction and make it faster and easier to complete purchases.

13. Heatmaps, click maps and scroll depth

Heatmaps show where users are hovering on a page. Click maps show where users click on a page, revealing what attracts their attention. Scroll depth measures how far down a page users scroll.

Together, these metrics offer insights into user engagement and content effectiveness. They help you understand what captures interest and how to structure your content to keep users engaged and drive them toward desired actions.

How to improve scroll depth and on-page interactions:

  • Analyze click map data to optimize the placement of key content and calls-to-action where users are most active.
  • Adjust content layout based on scroll depth findings to ensure important information isn’t missed by users who don’t scroll far.
  • Optimize your above-the-fold content to catch a visitor’s attention quickly and keep them as far away as possible from the dreaded “back” button.

14. Exit rate and bounce rate

The exit rate metric tracks the percentage of visitors who leave your site from a specific page after viewing it.

Unlike bounce rate, which measures visitors who leave after landing on a page without interacting, exit rate helps identify potential issues on pages that might be causing users to leave your site. Lowering the exit rate can be crucial for improving overall site retention and effectiveness.

How to improve exit rate:

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Metric-focused CRO case studies and examples

To give you a glimpse into just how much impact measuring these metrics can have, we’ve rounded up a few CRO case studies that break down how marketing teams used the data at their disposal to plan and launch winning A/B tests and CRO tests.

How to optimize for conversions with Unbounce

You need the right CRO tools in your toolbelt to run effective CRO tests. We may be slightly biased here, but Unbounce’s product suite is tailor-made for marketers who want more conversions and better ROI on their marketing spend.

  • Landing pages: Build high-performing pages that get more sales and signups.
  • A/B testing: A/B test your landing pages quickly, without a designer or developer.
  • AI optimization: Automatically send visitors to the best landing page for them.
  • Popups and sticky bars: Create popups that grab attention and boost conversion.
  • AI copywriting: Quickly generate copy for your pages, ads, emails, and more with AI.
  • Templates: Avoid the “blank page” scaries with hundreds of optimized templates.

Remember—what gets measured gets managed. If you want to improve your CRO efforts, identify the metrics that matter most to you and keep looking to ways to improve them.

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