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Lead Generation  |   Web Design

The Website Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist

Bob Ruffolo

By Bob Ruffolo

Nov 21, 2016

The Website Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist

Remember, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is data-driven.

But before you can start interpretting data, your website needs to be fully-equipped to start gathering it. The initial steps outlined in this article are crucial to preparing your marketing for success and getting the best results from your A/B tests. 

If you need more detail on each step, review The Conversion Rate Optimization Process here.

Gather Data

Following the ResearchXL model for data gathering, perform the following analysis for each page you want to improve conversions on.

  1. Heuristic analysis – Review the page for any obvious errors in relevancy, clarity, value, friction, and distraction.
  2. Technical analysis – Look for technical glitches by running cross-browser and cross-device tests, as well as speed tests.
  3. Web analytics analysis – Review your analytics and look for pages with high bounce rates and exit rates to identify holes in your conversion funnel.
  4. Mouse-tracking analysis – Use mouse-tracking software to see which areas on the page get the most attention and which areas are being ignored.
  5. Qualitative testing – Send email surveys or run on-site surveys to get feedback from users.
  6. User testing – Assign a user a specific task and watch them in-person to see how they interact with your website and get real-time feedback.

Collect all of this information into a master document that you can refer to, and update, as you implement CRO tests.

Review Key Metrics

Make note of the following metrics as they are often key performance indicators (KPIs) for CRO:

  • Visits
  • Page views
  • Average time on site
  • Average page views
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Total conversions
  • Conversion rate
  • Revenue

These are the metrics that are most likely to be affected by your A/B tests. If a test doesn’t impact conversion rates very much, you can refer back to these metrics to see if the test had any impact at all.

Decide What to Test (Form a Hypothesis)

You should always be testing and refining your website. It’s never-ending because online user behavior is always evolving and your website will always need to keep up.

For each test you will form a hypothesis:

If I change X, I estimate I will get Y result.

As mentioned earlier, to ensure you have a clear understanding of the A/B test you are about to run, ask yourself the following:

  • What am I testing? (Headline, CTA, page layout, colors, etc.)
  • Who am I testing? (Organic traffic, leads, customers, etc.)
  • Where am I testing? (The specific page)

There are virtually unlimited options for things to test, but here are some of the most prominent to start with:


Test headlines, subject lines, and titles. Try different variations using intriguing adjectives, specificity, urgency, numbers, and making a bold statement.

Recommended resources:

Test short-form vs long-form copy.

The general rule of thumb is the more complicated and/or expensive the offer is, the longer the copy needs to be, however, each situation is unique and that’s why we do CRO.

Recommended resource:

Test features versus benefits.

Our first instinct when describing a product or offer is to list the features.

This makes sense logically but it’s not very persuasive and isn’t the best for improving conversion rates. Instead, test various benefits that you can extract from those features.

This article can help show you how:


How your page looks is just as important for conversion rates as what your page says. Some design elements you should tweak and A/B test include:

  • Colors and contrast
  • Layout
  • Directional cues
  • Type of images
  • Images instead of text
  • Whitespace
  • Font type and font size

These resources can help you go about this:

Elements of Trust

People are more likely to buy (or opt-in) from those they trust. Poor conversion rates are often attributed to your page not feeling trustworthy. So, consider testing the effects of things like:

  • Text testimonials
  • Video testimonials
  • “As featured in” logos (News, industry blogs, etc.)
  • Security logos (SSL, BBB, etc.)
  • Guarantees and warranty information
  • Data and statistics to back claims

Recommended resources:

Call to Action (CTA)

You CTA is critical to conversions because it asks the user to take the final step. The last thing you want is for a prospect to venture through your conversion funnel and walk away because of a weak CTA.

Here are some ways to tweak your CTA for better conversions:

  • CTA location (above/below the fold, center vs right, etc.)
  • CTA button color, shape, and size
  • CTA copy (don’t say “click here”)
  • Multiple CTAs throughout the page

Recommended resources:

Test Your Hypothesis

Once you’ve formed your hypothesis, it’s time to put it to the test. Before doing so, create a wireframe or outline to make sure your test is viable.

Create a Wireframe or Outline

You don’t have to create a wireframe if you’re only making a small tweak, such as a headline variation, but, any alterations that affect the layout of the page should be visually outlined before you implement so you can do a final evaluation.

Before implementing a test, answer the following questions:

  • Where are visitors coming from?
  • Is there a clear path to conversion?
  • Is the CTA easy to find and attention-grabbing?
  • Does the design match the message of the content?
  • How does the new element look on the mobile layout of the page?

Once you’re confident that the new change will improve the page, proceed to implement your test.

Implement Your Test

Run your A/B test using CRO software or the A/B testing feature in HubSpot. Don’t stop your A/B test until you’ve reached statistical significance and met the required sample size.

Popular CRO tools include Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce, while this A/B Test Sample Size Calculator can help you choose the right audience size.

Review Your Results

After you’ve completed your A/B test, review the results and apply the winning version of your test to your website as the new default version.

When reviewing the results, answer the following:

  • What was the change in conversion rate?
  • How was revenue affected?
  • Did any other KPIs noticeably change?

From there, you can either repeat the same test with a new alternate version or you can move on to different tests.

Repeat this entire process over and over until your website can’t possibly get any better. (Hint – it can always get better!)

Conversion Rate Optimization in HubSpot

The content above was an excerpt of our new guide, "The Inbound Master's Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization"  To learn more about CRO, testing, and how HubSpot can be used in these efforts, get your free copy of the full guide by clicking "Get it Now" below.

Free: Assessment

Does your website build trust with buyers and bring in revenue?
Take this free 6 question assessment and learn how your website can start living up to its potential.

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