25 January 2022 - Dave Jackson

CRO & UX  -  What’s the Difference?

I don’t think there is another industry that has embraced acronyms quite like marketing. A handy short-cut for those who understand them and for those who don’t (and are afraid to ask) they are beyond useless. When it comes to marketing and digital performance the 2 biggest acronyms in town these days are CRO and UX.

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) and UX (User Experience) are two of the most important areas of focus that drive success online. These terms are used interchangeably, they work together with the same goals but it is important to note that they are not the same thing.

What is CRO?

CRO is a process that focuses on increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a specific action. This action can be anything from buying a product, signing up to a service, webinar or newsletter. CRO takes an holistic look at the full user or customer journey from first engagement all they way past the point of purchase or conversion and optimises for a better conversion rate.

To calculate your conversion rate, you simply divide the number of conversions by the total number of web page visitors. Lets say a web page gets 10,000 visits a month and on average 400 of these visitors end up buying a product, thats a 4% conversion rate — not bad for many industries.

(400 ÷ 10,000) x 100 = 4%

There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to improve your conversion rate. Every site needs a CRO strategy, you start by looking at the product or service you are offering, do people want it? Is there a value proposition? Is there a strong brand? You optimise and test your content & messaging, user journeys, your ads and how they are targeted. Refine and test your calls to action, landing pages, SEO, SEM and your websites loading speed… the list is endless.

The foundation of any CRO activity is looking at analytics and user feedback. We explore website analytics and learn about the traffic, its performance and look for opportunities. Ideas are brainstormed, prioritised and turned into a roadmap that goes through a cycle of test and iterate where necessary. This is an ongoing process that UX will play a big part in.

What is UX?

Users don’t come away from an online purchase remembering how the funnel made them feel, they will recall the website and brand experience — this is where UX comes in.

UX is a supplement to CRO that aims at easing the user journey by improving the design of the website or App so that is intuitive, enjoyable, seamless and simple. UX removes the friction through research to find empathy with the user and understand the users perceptions and expectations, these insights give design direction from real users or customers, not assumption.

Where CRO will focus on the numbers and the business goals, UX will be an advocate of the user which will help drive the numbers and business goals by working to help the user achieve their goals. CRO tells you ‘what’ is happening, where UX helps explain ‘why’ it is happening and presents actionable solutions.

Gavin and I had a good chat to see if we could come up with an analogy to explain the difference between UX and CRO. This is what we mustered when applying the principles of CRO and UX to a glass of water.

“CRO will bring you to the water and tell you that you need to drink it, while UX will make drinking the water as easy and enjoyable as possible.”

Not perfect but hopefully you get the idea!

Hand in hand

CRO should not or cannot be carried out without UX and visa versa, each feeds and compliments the other. If you invest in CRO without investing in UX you may drive people to your website but risk driving them into a brick wall, they are less likely to convert if the experience is poor. Likewise, you can have great UX on your website but without good CRO few will get to experience it.

CRO and UX is an ongoing process, the world changes as does user behaviour and thats why a continuing cycle of analyse, test and iterate is needed for ongoing success.

At Friday, our digital performance team work alongside our UX team to get the most out of your campaigns and online presence. Talk to us today about how we can use CRO with UX to attract and convert customers for you.