In internet marketing, conversion optimization, or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage. It is commonly referred to as CRO.
Online conversion rate optimization (or website optimization) was born out of the need of e-commerce marketers to improve their website’s performance in the aftermath of the dot-com bubble. As competition grew on the web during the early 2000s, website analysis tools started appearing and an awareness of website usability rose. This prompted internet marketers to become more measurable with their marketing tactics and focus on improving the website’s user experience. In 2004, new tools were introduced which enabled internet marketers to experiment with website design and content variations to determine which layouts, copy text, offers and images would perform best. This gained more traction in 2007 with the introduction of the free Google Website Optimizer. A research study conducted among internet marketers in 2014 showed that 59% of respondents thought that CRO was “crucial to their overall digital marketing strategy”.
Conversion rate optimization shares many of its basic principles with direct response marketing – an approach to marketing that emphasizes tracking, testing and on-going improvement. Direct marketing was popularized in the early twentieth century and was supported by the formation of industry groups such as the Direct Marketing Association which formed in 1917.
Like modern day conversion rate optimization, direct response marketers also practice A/B split-testing, response tracking and audience testing to optimize mail, radio and print campaigns.