Nov 10, 2023

The beginner's guide to conversion rate optimization: Turning data into website success

Sander Volbeda - Beginner's guide to CRO blog
Sander Volbeda - Beginner's guide to CRO blog
Sander Volbeda - Author

Sander Volbeda

The beginner's guide to conversion rate optimization: Turning data into website success

In today's digital landscape, having a well-designed website is just the first step towards online success. The real key to driving business growth and revenue lies in optimizing your website. But what exactly is conversion rate optimization (CRO), and why does it matter?

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action – whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form. Essentially, CRO helps businesses make the most of their existing traffic by converting more visitors into customers.

Understanding the basics of CRO and how to get started can be overwhelming. This guide aims to demystify CRO for newcomers and provide step-by-step guidance on utilizing data to optimize website performance.

Data tracking, get started for free

Understanding the behavior of your website visitors is crucial to successful conversion rate optimization. This begins with comprehensive data tracking and analysis. By leveraging various tools and techniques, businesses can gain valuable insights into user interactions, preferences, and pain points.

Here’s how to get started:

Implement effective data-tracking tools

It’s likely you already have it, but in case of these rare situations, you don’t: Integrate a robust analytics tool such as Google Analytics to capture essential data points related to user behavior, traffic sources, and conversion metrics.

Also, install Microsoft Clarity or Hotjar on your website to utilize heatmaps and session recordings. This will give you the option to see where your visitors click and where they get stuck. This is very valuable information to optimize your website. 

Other important data sources can be reviewing mining, surveys, interviews, usability research, expert review, customer service, sales, etc. 

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and Goal Tree Map

Key performance indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measures used to evaluate the success of an organization or a particular activity.

They are critical in assessing progress towards specific business objectives and can be related to various goals such as increasing sales, generating leads, or improving engagement metrics.

By clearly identifying KPIs that align with your business goals, you can effectively monitor and track performance, ultimately aiding in decision-making processes aimed at optimizing strategies.

For example, important metrics for eCommerce websites can be:

  1. Conversion rate: The percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase.

  2. Average order value (AOV): The average amount of money spent by customers in each purchase transaction.

  3. Cart abandonment rate: The percentage of online shopping carts that are abandoned before the purchase is completed.

Goal Tree Map

A Goal Tree Map is a visual representation of defined business objectives and how they relate to each other hierarchically. It provides a structured overview of the interdependencies between different goals and helps ensure alignment throughout an organization.

Establishing meaningful benchmarks for KPIs within a Goal Tree Map allows businesses to measure the effectiveness of their optimization efforts and identify areas for improvement based on clear and structured goal relationships.

Document and analyze findings

Data tracking is up and running, collecting valuable information. Now, consolidate your insights in a comprehensive Google Spreadsheet or Excel file. Merge similar observations, and note the diverse data sources for each. The more sources, the higher the urgency to take action.

Consider additional factors such as:

  • whether it's above the fold,

  • impacts a large user percentage,

  • involves a visual change, motivates the user,

  • or reduces friction.

Each checked box elevates the priority.

When dealing with high-quality data and struggling to determine priority, employ a framework:

Start optimizing

In the world of online selling, it's important to use what you learn from data to make your website work better. You can figure out what might be stopping people from buying and how to fix it by checking the info from data analysis.

One way to make your site better is by trying out different versions of things with A/B testing. By comparing different layouts, buttons, and where you put things, you can see what people like best.

This helps you make smart choices based on real info, so more people will buy from your online store. Using other ways to improve your site, like trying out different options and making things more personal for shoppers, can also help make their experience better.

As a result, the number of visitors that will convert will increase over time. Without having to invest additional money into ads, display marketing, or other paid marketing channels.

The great thing is, that when you have improved conversion rate and you will invest more into paid marketing channels, it will yield a higher ROI for these channels.

Tools and resources

Google Analytics: It's like a website detective that helps you understand who visits your site, what they do, and why.

Google Tag Manager: Imagine it as a traffic director for your website, making it easy to add and manage all the little codes that help you track visitor actions.

Microsoft Clarity: It's like a friendly spy that watches how people move around your site, giving you insights to make it better.

Hotjar (alternative to Microsoft Clarity): Think of it as an X-ray for your website, showing you where visitors click, move, and spend their time, so you can make improvements for a better experience.

Free AB testing: Start running A/B tests using Google Tag Manager; no investment in tools is needed. Learn more on this matter at abtesting.sandervolbeda.com


Mastering conversion rate optimization (CRO) is essential for turning a well-designed website into a powerful tool for business growth. This systematic process involves increasing the percentage of visitors who take desired actions, ultimately converting more of them into customers.

The journey begins with comprehensive data tracking and analysis. Utilizing tools like Google Analytics, Microsoft Clarity, and Hotjar provides valuable insights into user behavior, preferences, and pain points. By leveraging various data sources, businesses can gain a holistic understanding of their audience.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) play a crucial role in monitoring progress and aligning optimization efforts with business goals. Metrics like conversion rate, average order value (AOV), and cart abandonment rate serve as benchmarks within a structured Goal Tree Map, guiding businesses in making informed decisions.

Consolidating findings into a comprehensive file, considering factors like visibility, user impact, and motivation, and employing a prioritization framework are crucial steps in the optimization process.

Taking action based on these insights involves experimenting with different versions through A/B testing. This iterative approach, coupled with improvements tailored to enhance the user experience, leads to increased conversions over time without additional investment in marketing channels.

About the author

This guest blog was written by Sander Volbeda, freelance CRO specialist at sandervolbeda.com, the Host of Golden Nuggets for Experimentation (a conversion-focused teaching podcast), and founder of CRO-tool.com.

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