cro audit

9-Step CRO Audit Checklist for Optimizing Your Website

Here’s one scenario that’s always uncomfortable to imagine.

You have finally set up a conversion funnel for your business. It’s seamless, it’s polished, and – most importantly – it seems to guarantee a smooth client journey leading to conversion. Now you’re all fired up to see your sales go through the roof.

Except… sometimes they don’t. You put in all the hard work, yet the expected results never start to roll in. And you can’t help but wonder, “What are the critical points I’m missing?”

Slowly but surely, you’re cottoning on to the fact: what you wish your website to be might be drastically different from what it actually is. That’s why it’s helpful to step out of the marketer’s shoes and evaluate the digital experience from the visitor’s perspective. When you find holes in your conversion funnel, you can then work on fixing them. 

One way to start seeing the situation more clearly is to perform a conversion rate optimization audit. To assist you with the process, we’ve prepared a 9-step CRO audit checklist, a neat and handy set of rules that will help unclog your conversion funnel and unlock your sales potential.

Because let’s be honest: at the end of the day, your job as a business person is not about making your website as pretty as possible. It’s about successfully turning prospects into paying customers. When it comes to marketing efforts, this should always remain the main focal point.

What is a CRO audit?

Let’s dig deeper into how the CRO audit checklist may serve you. The goal of the CRO audit – conversion rate optimization audit – is to discover why client visits do not turn into sales and make necessary improvements that align with the collected information.

Here’s one of the most common mistakes marketers make. They seek out tried-and-true practices in the field, then blindly apply them to their business. Unfortunately, such a cookie-cutter approach often doesn’t work. You might think you’re being efficient, but you’re actually rolling the dice – trying to find smart fixes to the problem you don’t understand yet.

With a well-prepared CRO audit checklist, you’ll be able to zoom in on the problem: “Why aren’t my visitors converting?” You’ll work on a granular instead of a generic level. CRO audit checklist will enable you to dive deep into your website (or a landing page) and evaluate it from the users’ point of view, then use this data to make the appropriate tweaks – and possibly experience a sales boost as a result. 

Why should you bother with a CRO audit?

Putting it simply, a well-executed CRO audit can highlight ways to improve traffic and conversion rates. A CRO audit checklist comes incredibly handy when you’re willing to identify cracks in your system and make smarter marketing moves. 

“Will a CRO audit instantly increase conversions on its own?”, a question may pop into your head. The process is not so straightforward – but you’ll be able to pinpoint where potential clients are falling by the wayside (and identify reasons why). 

To find out what’s truly sabotaging your conversion rate, we encourage you to put consideration into the entire user journey – from appearing on your website to clicking the “Add to cart” button (and everything in between). Once you crystallize what causes the most friction and frustration in the process, you’ll clarify your optimization strategy and discover which changes could be made for bigger conversions.

cro audit

Our CRO audit checklist is designed as a simple do-it-yourself guide. It’s beginner-friendly, so you’ll be able to follow the steps even if you’re new to the CRO game.

It’s true that following a CRO audit checklist can require some time and effort – so it’s quite common to shove it into a “someday” category while prioritizing more urgent tasks. However, if you don’t push it to the back seat, it can be highly rewarding. You could say an intelligent CRO audit is a fast lane to a smoother, more effective digital marketing ecosystem. 

When all points from the CRO audit checklist are completed, your visitors should be more encouraged to take actions that matter to you – whether it’s filling out a form or completing a purchase.

So if you want a higher return on your hard-earned traffic, read on.

Steps of a CRO audit process

Our CRO audit checklist is split into 4 big segments. Each of them is further divided into 2–3 smaller actionable steps.

Step #1. Deciding what to track.

1.1. Spot critical pages to evaluate.

1.2. Define measurable user actions. 

 

Step #2. Picking the right tools.

2.1. Squeeze the most out of Google Analytics.

2.2. Use heatmaps to your advantage.

2.3. Try surveys for deeper WHYs.

 

Step #3. Formulating the game plan.

3.1. Find the bottlenecks to target.

3.2. Formulate hypotheses.

 

Step #4. Putting it all into effect.

4.1. Perform A/B testing.

4.2. Evaluate your results.

 

To reap the full range of benefits of the CRO audit checklist, make sure you consider all the points we’re about to cover.

Step #1. Deciding what to track.

Start by defining web pages that play a key role in your sales funnel, then find out which user actions could be most meaningful – and beneficial – to analyze.

1.1. Spot critical pages to evaluate.

To make the most of this CRO audit checklist, it’s essential to realize which pages may have the greatest impact on your conversions. It could be:

  • Heaviest traffic pages;
  • Top-converting pages;
  • Pages with the highest bounce rate;
  • Pages with the lowest conversion rate.

Take a hard look at your business operations and pinpoint pages that seem to be the most critical in your customer journey: homepage, category pages, product pages, your cart page? Upon deciding, you’ll make your efforts more targeted – and much more likely to yield the desired results.

1.2. Define measurable user actions.

Moving further with the CRO audit checklist, it’s time to set clear conversion objectives. When we talk about business goals, it’s common to have macro conversions in mind – such as completing a sale.

But based on your business type and setup, your measurable objectives could also be smaller actions that guide clients closer to the final sale. Such micro actions include:

  • Adding a product to the cart;
  • Subscribing to a newsletter;
  • Downloading a PDF guide;
  • Viewing a video; 
  • Registering for a webinar;
  • Installing an app.

To knock off this item in your CRO audit checklist, decide which user actions seem the most crucial to track.

cro audit

Step #2. Picking the right tools.

The next segment in the CRO audit checklist is about selecting the most appropriate tools and getting insights into WHY consumers act the way they do (or why they don’t act enough). We’ll cover three tools worth trying out: Google Analytics, heatmaps, and user surveys.

Some companies simply cherry-pick their favorite; others choose a potent blend of them all.

2.1. Squeeze the most out of Google Analytics.

For many people, navigating Google Analytics is certainly no picnic – the features are numerous, and there’s never enough time in a day to learn all of them. However, here’s one thing on Google Analytics you most definitely shouldn’t skip: setting up your Goals.

Let’s take a look at several useful metrics you could use as your Goal:

  • Your website’s conversion rate;
  • Total number of conversions;
  • Marketing campaigns that drive the largest number of conversions;
  • Critical funnel points where visitors tend to drop off.

A wisely chosen Goal should contribute significantly to your bottom line. A good question to ask yourself is, “Which Goal is most likely to move the needle in my digital marketing KPIs?”

Here’s another functionality to explore in Google Analytics: Events. 

An Event is a user’s interaction with a web page element: a video, a podcast, an image, a button, a scroll bar, a link, etc. A user can interact with an element in various ways – by using a mouse or keyboard, by taking actions within a frame, or by filling out a form.

Completing this CRO audit checklist item should lead to a much clearer view of your potential clients – from demographical data to behavior patterns.

Validate your concepts for performance during the design stage with AI-generated attention analytics

2.2. Use heatmaps to your advantage.

Heatmaps provide a visual, colorful representation of where users click, move, and scroll on your web. They give valuable information on which elements are getting attention and which ones stay ignored.

There are various forms of heatmaps. In this CRO audit checklist, we’ll take a look at click maps, mouse movement maps, and scroll maps before moving on to an advanced option – AI-powered design analytics.

Click maps collect data on clicks (a user clicks on a page, and a certain color appears in that spot). Blue represents fewer clicks, and red means more clicks. By taking a quick look, you can instantly tell which parts of your website seem most click-worthy to users.

Next to click maps, there are mouse movement maps. When a visitor is drawn to particular parts of your page (say, reads a headline copy), you can tell it by the movement of a cursor. Clicking is not even necessary in this case.

Scroll maps are the third type of heatmaps. They will visually show how far people scroll on your page – and where they stop.

This CRO audit checklist wouldn’t be complete without mentioning AI-powered design analytics offered by Attention Insight. It’s an add-on to your browser, able to generate an attention heatmap directly where you are.

Attention Insight is based on deep learning technology. It’s trained with data from 70 000 image datasets from eye-tracking studies and simulates human vision, allowing you to see your campaign through users’ eyes with 90-96% accuracy.

This field-tested, MIT-proven solution allows you to save lots of time: here, you don’t need direct user engagement and data collection. AI will evaluate your page automatically – and will give you much wiggle room for further action. 

You might make visual changes to your website right on the spot – and see how the new version compares. You might check the pages of your competitors and see AI-generated evaluations (which can help you make more accurate assessments). 

The ways to optimize content visibility are numerous, they’re all reachable within minutes. You don’t have to break a sweat when AI is working for you.

cro audit

2.3. Try surveys for deeper WHYs.

Carrying out a user survey is another step in our CRO audit checklist. Although many businesses are tempted to bypass it, it can be an excellent tool to collect additional data on your own blind spots.

You may already have an idea why certain elements work better than others. You trust your razor-sharp observations. However, asking visitors about their direct experience can pepper your understanding with fresh insights you wouldn’t have stumbled upon by yourself.

You may ask what visitors like and dislike about your content. You may inquire how the help pages and FAQ pages are serving them. With a deeper understanding, you can arrive at more intelligent decisions about possible tweaks you could make. 

Let’s continue with the third stage of our CRO audit checklist.

Step #3. Formulating the game plan.

If you’ve successfully ticked the previous CRO audit checklist items, you probably already have a rather nuanced viewpoint of visitors’ desires, problems, and concerns. Next on our list is crafting a specific game plan for conversion-oriented improvements.

3.1. Find the bottlenecks to target.

Freshly gathered insights on conversion blockages should allow you to identify “quick wins” – fixes for your page that could remove as many friction points as possible. 

For instance, your traffic gets directed to a pdf guide. The download rates, unfortunately, are disappointing. Heatmaps and user feedback suggest that users are reluctant to fill out the required form before downloading. Your form is packed with requests for their personal details, including full name, email, phone number, and postal code of their location.

What could you do to remove this block? The low-hanging fruit would be eliminating all but necessary fields from the form. 

Each situation is unique and can’t be fully covered in this CRO audit checklist; however, there are common (almost universal) missteps that often come back to bite you. You can avoid many of them by:

  • Crafting an attention-grabbing headline;
  • Clarifying your value proposition and making it as visible as possible;
  • Decluttering your page from unnecessary elements;
  • Including top-quality, emotion-inducing images;
  • Adding a FAQ page;
  • Incorporating testimonials, case studies, and other bits of social proof;
  • Offering a free trial or money-back guarantee; 
  • Using clear CTAs;
  • Providing an option to reach you easily – via chat, contact form, or other simple means.

3.2. Formulate hypotheses.

This part of the CRO audit checklist is about getting more specific with numbers. Once you’ve decided which site elements could be optimized, create a hypothesis. For example:

  • If we add testimonials that are relevant to our target audience, the conversion rate on this landing page will improve by 5% in a month.
  • If we only ask for the user’s email on the book’s download page, the weekly number of downloads will increase by 25%.
  • If we expand white space on our web by 50%, the number of people viewing a video will increase by 20% in three weeks.

These hypotheses will form the basis of your A/B tests – which brings us to our next step of the CRO audit checklist.

Step #4. Putting things into effect.

The final stage of our CRO audit checklist is all about implementation: launching A/B tests and drawing conclusions about which of your propositions truly hold water. If your conversion rate optimization audit is successful, you should see the expected improvement in your conversion rates.

4.1. Perform A/B testing.

What’s the essence of A/B tests in the CRO audit checklist? To experiment with two versions of your webpage: original and improved. Your traffic will be divided between two versions, and you will run both to see which one delivers stronger results.

Example: visitors abandon checkout because you only show shipping costs at the very end of the checkout – and the total sum often raises some eyebrows. Your hypothesis is that if you offer free shipping for all orders above 100 USD and place a clear pricing message at the top of the page (where it is visible at all times), your conversion rates will improve by 5%.

cro audit

Your team designs an upgraded version of the page with a price that’s clearly noticeable. You then start an A/B experiment with both websites – the old and the new one – and wait for the critical mass to gather before evaluating the results.

4.2. Evaluate your results.

Your CRO audit checklist is almost complete. The point of A/B testing is to arrive at a conclusion: does the updated page bring the expected outcome?

Here, you go back to your hypotheses formulated before and check whether your experiment outcomes match your predictions. If the hypotheses were correct, congratulations – you’re ready to roll out the changes.

If results, on the other hand, don’t live up to your expectations, you may take a step back and adjust your hypotheses (additional data gathering may also be welcome).

Rinse and repeat until you achieve the outcome you desire.

Recap

It’s best to bake CRO audit into your business routine and see it as a regular process rather than a one-time occasion. However, carrying it even once should already iron out many of the issues with your conversion results.

Let’s have a quick review of all the points we’ve covered in our 9-step CRO audit checklist.

Step #1. Deciding what to track.

1.1. Spot critical pages to evaluate.

1.2. Define measurable user actions. 

 

Step #2. Picking the right tools.

2.1. Squeeze the most out of Google Analytics.

2.2. Use heatmaps to your advantage.

2.3. Try surveys for deeper WHYs.

 

Step #3. Formulating the game plan.

3.1. Find the bottlenecks to target.

3.2. Formulate hypotheses.

 

Step #4. Putting it all into effect.

4.1. Perform A/B testing.

4.2. Evaluate your results.

Make sure you share your conversion rate optimization audit learnings with your team. Together, you can make informed decisions on where your next optimization efforts should be focused.

FAQ

  • What is a CRO audit?

CRO audit is a process to uncover friction in your sales funnel that sabotages your conversion rates. It comes incredibly handy when you’re willing to identify cracks in your system and make more effective marketing decisions. 

  • What are the steps in the CRO process?

1) Examine – based on data analysis and customer research, identify potential areas for improvement. 2) Execute – implement ideas with design and development teams. 3) Experiment – run tests to see if changes lead to increased conversions. 4) Evaluate results and make alterations as needed.

  • How is CRO success measured?

It is common to measure CRO success by increased conversions. However, to see the full CRO picture, you may consider including other contributing metrics: time on site, exit rate, checkout process (bounce rate and cart abandonment), cost per conversion, clicks, etc.

  • What is included in CRO?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving the online experience so that more visitors take the desired action on a website. Desired actions can be: signing up for a webinar, downloading a guide, purchasing a product, filling out a form, etc.

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