After you’ve been running a conversion rate optimization strategy for a few months, you need to figure out if it’s working or if it’s a waste of time and money. There are a few different methods you should use to compare your results to your conversion goals.

1. Long-Term Business Results

A CRO strategy is unlikely to bring any results overnight. However, it should lead to more conversions in the long run. One way to assess whether this is the case for you is to turn towards the traffic.

Beyond considering if your long-term business results have improved relative to overall traffic, you need to calculate conversions for different sources. The main sources to look at are direct visitors (those who reach your site by using a URL), search visitors (those who found your site using a search engine), and referral visitors (those who reach your site by following a link). Examine how conversions have increased for each of these sources since you began your CRO efforts.

How to Tell If Your CRO Program Is Wasting Time and Money

2. Improved Understanding of Customers

A successful CRO program will lead to better knowledge of your customers. After three months of running your CRO strategy, you should have more detailed customer profiles, be able to better define demographics, and know what motivates your customers. All this will allow you to make educated decisions as you go forward with your CRO program.

3. Better Decisions

In fact, you should be making better decisions throughout your entire marketing strategy. Your organization should now be making choices based on valid data rather than random guesswork. Your CRO strategy is a waste of time and money if you are failing to base your actions on the results you find in the data — it’s a basic feedback loop.

All this, of course, requires an effective CRO analytics program. Unless you track conversion rates, it is impossible to know if your strategy is effective. Furthermore, only when you apply the right CRO methodology can you ensure that your efforts are leading to an increase in conversion rate. You need to be tracking all the following metrics for this purpose.

New Visitor Conversions

To start, calculate conversion rate of unique visitors only. You should be using your findings to focus on the usability of your website and to find ways to reduce bounce rate. Experiment until you find what leads to an even greater number of new visitor conversions.

Return Visitor Conversions

Return visitor conversion rate shows how many users are converting because they didn’t convert the first time and how many are converting for a subsequent time. Consider if you are encouraging users to return. If not, what could you do differently? Plus, what can you do to encourage conversion in the first visit?

Value Per Visitor

Comparing the value per visitor at the moment and before your CRO efforts have begun will show you how much value your strategy has brought. You should be using this to plan conversion optimization aspects e.g. how much you can afford to spend.

Value Per Visit

In addition to the KPI’s indicated above, it is useful to know how much the value per visit metric has changed. For instance, if visitors are taking more action when on your site, your CRO strategy may be having a wider impact. Examples of increased value per visit include viewing more pages, spending more time on site, leaving reviews and comments, subscribing to a newsletter, and downloading premium content. Consider what you have done to encourage these actions. You should be focusing on these efforts in order to increase the value per visit metric further.

Exit Pages

Find out how far through the funnels of conversion users go before they drop off. If many visitors are reaching the same page and then leaving, you should be working to resolve these conversion problems.

Cost Per Conversion

Lastly, you should be measuring the cost per conversion and working on lowering this cost. As well as looking at cost per conversion for customers as a whole, check the metric for different channels. This should be guiding your decisions as to where you focus your efforts. For instance, if one channel has an especially high cost per conversion, you may want to find a way to reduce costs or you may prefer to give up on the channel entirely.

Take all the above into consideration to determine if your CRO program is effective. If you decide that it is a waste of time and money, the solution is never to give up on your CRO goals; rather, you need to figure out what you are doing wrong and how you can change your strategy to ensure that you do see results.