When a user performs a desired action, i.e. an action you’d like to see happen, we call that a conversion. These desired actions can be all sorts of things: scrolling down to the bottom of a page, purchasing a product or adding it to a cart, starting a free trial, etc.
The percentage of users who convert by performing the desired action make up the conversion rate. Trying to raise this percentage against industry-wide benchmarks is (as you probably know) called conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Of course, you could play a pure numbers game and focus solely on experimentation to see which changes move the needle. But you would severely underestimate what constitutes a good CRO strategy.
First of all, you need to realize that CRO and UX go hand in hand. User experience (UX) design focuses on providing a frictionless experience for your users. Similarly, any CRO should try to make desired actions as easy to perform as possible.
In both cases, trying to understand what drives users, where their motives, desires, and attention lie, should be the main focus point for your CRO strategy and framework. Basically, CRO is so much more than A/B testing. Act accordingly.
Good CRO will only take place when copywriting, data analytics, user research, UX design and a significant amount of empathy come together.
If we were to list a couple of skills a good CRO specialist would need, we’d say these should include, but should not be limited to:
As for the tools these all-round CRO specialists should employ, here’s a definitive list of the ones to use in order to ace your CRO strategy this year.
Some of these tools have been around for a while and should be a staple in any CRO’s tech stack. Others are hidden gems you should definitely trial if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Category: user behavior input
Pricing: Free (up to 1,050 sessions / month), first plan starts at $32 / month
Hotjar is a powerful analytics tool and a staple in most CRO’s tech stacks. Being so widely used, we couldn’t leave it out of this list. This tool analyzes the click- and browsing behavior of your website users and turns this into exceptionally valuable qualitative data for your conversion rate optimization research.
By generating click-heatmaps, session recordings, showing you conversion funnels and much more, Hotjar allows you to put yourself in the shoes of your users. It’s incredibly easy to find out how users behave on your site. Linking this behavior to user intention, on the other hand, often remains quite difficult.
Installation is also a piece of cake. Simply create an account, install Hotjar’s tracking code, or use GTM, and you’re good to go. You’ll now be able to record user behavior and use it to fuel your CRO tactics.
Category: user behavior input
Pricing: First paid plan starts at $29 / month (billed annually)
Used by over 300k websites for CRO and UX optimization, Crazy Egg monitors individual webpages and shows you a breakdown of what users have been doing, where they click, and on which parts of the page. The tool is widely used, but still deserves a mention, as the CRO community is fairly unaware of its existence.
With click-heatmaps, scrollmaps, confetti and overlay reports, Crazy Egg’s mouse-tracking tech can give you a nice competitive advantage when it comes to your CRO. It’s also one of the most popular web analytics tools out there.
What do we like best about Crazy Egg? Their conversion-focused homepage. Take a look at how nicely they optimized the attention flow leading to their above the fold CTA.
Category: predictive eye-tracking heatmaps, viewing behavior, A/B testing input
Pricing: Free (5 image heatmaps / month), first plan starts at $179 / month (billed annually)
A new player in the field of conversion rate optimization tools, Brainsight does away with traditional eye tracking research, replacing it with an instant, AI-based variant. Without needing input from real-life eye-tracking, their pre-testing tool can give you instant attention analytics, with 94% accuracy.
Where traditional tools require you to either work with real-life test subjects for eye-tracking research, or large swathes of user behavior data, Brainsight lets you pre-test behavior by using AI. It’s basically a massive time-saving device.
And if you're using this tool to pre-test and optimize the conversion rate on your ad creatives, you can even benchmark your ads’ results against 10.000+ other ads for a 1-100 percentile score on ad performance.
Category: customer research
Pricing: First plan starts at $49 (1 reviewer)
Another way to figure out how to optimize your conversion rates is by simply asking your customers. This is exactly what customer research service UserInput can do for you. UserInput pairs you with real users in your target market, and documents their unfiltered feedback.
UserInput’s platform makes it easy to set up new research projects. The results of these user input research projects are especially helpful for launching new products, or uncovering new ideas and opportunities. They even offer custom consultancy and optimization plans from experienced CRO strategists, also due to the fact that the tool comes from a CRO expert company: the Good - albeit the strong focus on e-commerce.
Category: A/B testing
Pricing: Free trial, first plan starts at $99 / month
When someone says A/B tests, most CROs pro's will say VWO. This end-to-end conversion optimization platform lets you quickly prototype and (A/B) test new ideas for products, features, campaigns or websites. Their support is excellent, which differentiates it from other, more self-serve tools in this category.
You can use VWO for a variety of tests, ranging from image styles and content all the way to CTA copywriting and even replacing entire sections. Huge pro is the intricate way in which you can connect goals to segments in Google Analytics. Can get a bit expensive if you don’t use it often, however.
Category: A/B testing
Pricing: Free (up to 5 users), first plan starts at $79 / month
Optimizely categorizes itself as a digital experience platform that offers experimentation tools, for CROs and web developers alike. Apart from A/B testing, you can use multivariate testing tools, website personalization and even web content management features.
Despite its this wide range of product features, Optimizely also offers junior CROs the chance to conduct A/B tests without assistance of developers. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, prized for its great UI and has a large and active community you can turn to for advice.
Category: AI-driven product discovery/personalized communication
Pricing: First plan starts at $249 / month
Crobox is an amazing tool for CRO in ecommerce. This Amsterdam-based scale-up matches shoppers with the perfect products, personalized for them, which helps fight choice paradox. Ecommerce customers, specifically, are drowning in choice, which is why guided selling can dramatically increase conversion rates.
With Crobox, you can design and implement a product discovery customer experience for higher conversion. Their product finders, recommendation quizzes and dynamic messaging tools use AI to take CX to the next level and have A/B testing capabilities within their tools.
It’s not the cheapest, but you should definitely use tools like this if you’re a CRO working in ecom.
Category: customer journey analytics
Pricing: Free plan available, paid plans starting from ±$3600/year
Heap is a digital insights and BI platform with a number of interesting features, like customizable definitions for user behaviour and 3rd-party data, and integration with data warehouses.
If you’re looking for a relatively cheap tool to track user behaviour, match accounts, experiment, A/B test and track conversions, Heap is a great solution. Data analysis on extraction and segmentation of customers based on integrations is also part of the possibilities.
Add to that the fact that Heap acquired Auryc recently, and you’ve got yourself quite the powerhouse, at a low price point. Auryc is a visual analytics platform for CRO, and a great customer-centric platform to track user behaviour. With Auryc’s functionalities added to Heap, the tool just got a whole lot better.
Pricing: 14-day trial available, first plans start at ±$800/month
FullStory is a Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) platform that helps CROs see precisely what users are doing on a website or in an app. It can help product teams flag issues in real-time in order to build the perfect digital experience.
This CRO tool leans somewhat towards the more qualitative end of data analytics, with looking at user sessions front and centre in its toolkit. This means you’ll be able to monitor user behaviour closely, but you might need to find your more quantitative data, like the frequency of issues occurring or the average time to complete a workflow, elsewhere.
Nonetheless, if you want to proactively identify issues in your app or on your website, FullStory is a great tool to start understanding user behaviour.
Category: user flow analytics
Pricing: Free, GA premium available at $150k / year
This CRO tool is not going to come as a surprise to anyone, but Google Analytics is a must for any self-respecting CRO, as this web analytics service is the go-to when it comes to tracking and reporting on your website traffic and apps.
Whether it’s the number of visitors, visitor segments, on-site behavior, or insights into conversion goals, GA has got you covered. With custom reports, you can configure metrics to track the way you want, and this indispensable tool by Google also integrates with an endless list of external data sources, such as your CRM.
That was our list of the best 10 CRO tools you never knew you needed in 2022 (and for some you did). There are so many great CRO tools out there, and new, innovative SaaS tools enter the market on a regular basis. If there are any we missed, make sure to let us know, and we’ll consider adding them to the list.
In the meantime, we wish you the best of luck with your conversion rate optimization endeavors. If you’d like to have a chat about how pre-testing ads using AI can help, we’d love to hear from you.