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What Is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) & Why Your PPC Ads Depend On It

Jaydene Booysen
7 min read

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Every time your PPC ads increase the number of visitors to your landing pages, a celebratory rocket blasts off! 

But did the rocket take off too soon?


An increase in traffic doesn’t guarantee a conversion. 

And without conversions, you won’t see a healthy Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). Negative ROAS means you’re forking out more money than you’re making. The rocket is not flying.

In the pay-to-play PPC world, putting money down on ads is only the first part of the conversion equation. 

Ads bring in traffic. 

But then what? 

Then the magic happens. 

That magic is done by you and it’s called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

The first part of CRO gets traffic to your page. The last part of the conversion equation is what you do to engage people once they land on your landing page (CRO). 

Get CRO marketing wrong and website visitors leave without doing the one thing you hoped they would— click the CTA button !

Maybe that button was to book a free demo or download a freebie or subscribe to a webinar or purchase your product (eCommerce checkout). But if they leave, they don’t do any of those things. 

See all those dollar bills floating in the air? You don’t get them. Instead, you get a high bounce rate and your budget gets a kick to the crotch.

No conversion means you’ve spent money to get them there but you didn’t make any money from them being there. 

It’s a great big important deal to get website traffic clicking your buttons. This is where CRO comes in.

Formula : Smart PPC + clever CRO = positive ROAS

Why is CRO the most important part?

CRO isn’t somewhat important—it’s the most important.  If no one clicks on your ad, that’s bad, but you’re not out any dollar bills. You’re only out a bunch of time and a few ego bruises. But if your ad is good enough to get clicked and your endgame falls, you’ve just blown money on your CTR (click-through rate) with nothing to show for it.

Conversion Rate Optimization shows off your stuff in a way that increases the percentage of your traffic that converts.

For example:

  • Get a free proposal
  • Sign up for X service
  • Schedule a demo
  • Download our app

CRO tactics feed into the overall CRO Strategy

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

CRO works hard to move visitors from ad clicks and search engine clicks to landing page clicks ( not homepage or product clicks ). It measures the percentage of people who complete that path. This happens when you improve the usability on the landing page and guide your visitors toward a single action. CRO is meant to turn potential customers into paying customers. Once that happens, it’s up to your sales team to delight those customers so they stick around and sing your praises (social proof) which feeds back into the CRO machine.

What is CRO

CRO improves the percentage of traffic that successfully converts without increasing your ad spend. That’s how you boost your ROAS.

Macro- vs micro-conversions

Website conversions fall into one of two categories:

  1. Micro-conversions (microscope)
  2. Macro-conversions (telescope)

Micro-conversions are the smaller conversions that lead a user toward your macro-conversions. Things like

  • signing up for email lists
  • creating an account
  • adding a product to the cart

Macro-conversions are the main conversion goals you want your user to hit. Things like

  • purchasing a product from the site
  • requesting a quote
  • signing up subscribers for your service

A/B Testing (Split Testing)

Classic CRO is A/B Testing

This is also known as split testing, because you isolate one variable, creating an A version and a B version (split variants). Then you compare their performance in a controlled setting. 

This test can be as simple as changing the color of a button. 

A|B Testing
An example of a classic single-variable A/B Test

Multi-Variable Testing

Multi-variable testing (also called multivariate testing) expands split testing to the landing page as a whole. It doesn’t isolate one variable; it measures changes to multiple variables like button color, button text, hero image, etc. Multivariate testing is more like A/B/C/D testing.

A|B vs multivariate
Examples of actual landing page variants

Multi-variable testing takes less time than a long list of singular A/B tests because you can test the interactive effects of your different landing page components.

Though faster, keep in mind that it takes a bit longer to reach statistical significance when you’re running multi-variable testing.

Data versus human-driven testing

Clear tracking and accurate data makes it easy to see what CRO tests are winners or losers.

But as you gather quantitative data (metrics), don’t ignore the qualitative side of things (the human element)—because your ad campaigns work on real humans.

On top of the quantitative science (the what), your landing page should be approachable, casual, and personal (the qualitative why).

What: the quantitative data

  • On what element did your web page visitors convert?
  • What ad did users click-through (CTR) to reach the landing page?
  • What device did they use when they converted?
  • What did the user demographics (interests, etc) look like?

Why: the qualitative data

  • Why did the user choose your brand specifically?
  • Why did the user engage with your content?
  • Why did the user click your button?

Trust the results of the tests you run but understand that, in the end, it’s your humanized creativity that gets that click. 

Pro tip #1: grab the low hanging fruit first

Easy wins are smart wins when it comes to increasing your ROAS

Easy wins stack up and, as you continue to accrue a higher and higher ROAS, you’ll have more room to test more advanced, more time-consuming CRO implementations to see if you can increase conversions. 

Pro tip #2: social proof

You have seconds to convince someone to click your button. One of the best ways to do that is to take away doubt. And one of the best ways to take away doubt is with first hand accounts from your already-happy customers. Testimonials, social media reviews, clutch reviews, industry associations, and links to case studies communicate the dependable strength of your brand.

Propitious PPC performance depends on careful CRO

If you ignore CRO, you’ll pay for traffic that lands on your lackluster landing page and leaves—because your landing page lacks luster. 

Paying for anything that doesn’t work is dumb. And reporting those expensive stats to your manager doesn’t feel glamorous.

So give those visitors incredible value. 

Making a conversion means bringing in visitors who want your stuff when they click on your ad, and are convinced beyond a doubt that they need your stuff when they land on your site because you promise to solve their pain point.

At Centrasyte, we treat CRO with love and tenderness so that our clients print money like the Federal Reserves. 

Now prepare for takeoff, Armstrong, because the amount of money this rocket is going to make you, is out of this world !

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