CRO Glossary

Ever feel like the digital marketing world is full of jargon? We created this glossary so you have the most popular conversion rate optimization terms in one place. No BS. Just straightforward definitions. Hope it’s helpful!

AB Testing: a method of website testing that compares two variations of a webpage, “A” and “B” to see which converts better. “A” is the control while “B” contains copy or design changes. Performance is measured using Key Performance Indicators, KPIs.  

ABn Testing: a subcategory of AB testing which compares three or more variations of a webpage, “A” “B” and “n” additional variations to measure which performs best. “A” is the control while the other variations contain copy or design changes. The more variations, the longer the test will take.

Above the fold: the top of a web page visible to users without scrolling. The fold cutoff is different for desktop, tablet and mobile devices. The term “above the fold” is adapted from print marketing, where “above the fold” refers to the top half of the front page of a newspaper, visible from a newsstand.

Banner: a prominent graphic display that stretches across a website. Banners are typically rectangular and are usually displayed across the top of a page. Banners can also appear on the sides or bottom.  

Banner blindness: a situation that often occurs as users learn to ignore information presented in the form of banners. Banner blindness causes users to skim over banners or mentally block them out.

Baseline: the data/metrics used as a starting point when comparing a webpage to a variation. Baseline data usually includes a mix of KPI’s (key performance indicators), TPI’s (tactical performance indicators) and LPI’s (leading performance indicators).

Bounce: to leave a website after visiting only the landing page.

Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors who leave a website after visiting only the landing page.

Buyer persona: a characterization of a typical or ideal customer based on qualitative and quantitative market research. While some characterizations may be imagined, buyer personas are based on real data and customer insights. They are used to help marketers create more relatable content and a better user experience.

Call to action (CTA): an “ask” that aims to induce a user to take a specific action that moves them closer toward conversion. Examples include:

  • “Buy Now”
  • “Click Here”
  • “Sign up today and receive 20% off”

Cart abandonment: a drop off that occurs when a user adds a product to their online cart but navigates away from the site before completing the purchase.

Churn rate: the percentage of users who don’t renew a subscription. Churn rate is often used as a KPI for ecommerce sites that are subscription-based and even B2B services like SaaS.

Click map: a visual map of a website that shows of how users interact with a given page. Click maps show which buttons, text and other elements users click on.

Clickthrough rate: the percentage of users who “click through” from a hyperlink or ad to a landing page, or from one page to another linked page within the site.

Confidence level: the percentage of all possible future cases that can be expected to have the same outcome as a test.  For example, if a variation outperforms an original webpage with 95% confidence level, we can expect that the new variation will outperform the original in 95% of cases.

Control page: the original webpage which is kept the same throughout an experiment, in order to keep a baseline of metrics and ensure changes to metrics in any variations are not due to an outside influence.

Conversion: a defined action taken by a user. Usually, this action moves the user from browsing closer toward converting. Examples include:

  • Purchasing a product
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Downloading a whitepaper

Conversion rate: the percentage of users who take a defined action. Conversion rate is calculated by dividing conversions by total traffic.

CRO (conversion rate optimization): a set of methods used to increase the percentage of users on your website who convert.

Cookies: small text files that are stored in the user’s device. Cookies allow marketers to recognize users and track their preferences. Marketers use cookies to target specific users for particular experiments. For example, we may choose to show a particular webpage variation to returning users only.

CPA (cost per acquisition): a pricing model in where marketers pay for a desired action, for example, a form submit or purchase.

CPC (cost per click): a pricing model where marketers pay for each time their ad is clicked.

Cross selling: a tactic that increases sales by suggesting complementary products to a user who has already added products to their cart.

Decision fatigue: the deteriorating quality of decisions made by a user after a long session of decision making. Decision fatigue can cause users to bounce or exit a website.

Exit popup: a popup that displays when users start to navigate away from a website. Many exit popups include coupons designed to entice users to stay.

Exit rate: the percentage of visitors to leave a website from a given page, after possibly visiting more than one page on the site.

Experience optimization: a high-level approach to optimizing a customer’s experience across various channels. Experience optimization is holistic and encompasses CRO.

Eyeflow: the path where visitor’s eyes flow throughout the page. Studying eyeflow can help marketers discover which areas of a webpage are used often and which are ignored by users.

Form testing: a specific type of CRO testing that tests the elements of a form like length, design and copy in an effort to increase form fills.

Friction: any points in the customer journey that are annoying or cause frustration. Friction points make users less likely to convert.

Funnel: a marketing model based on a visual where customers move from the “top of the funnel” where they become aware of your brand to the “bottom of the funnel” where they convert.

Growth hacking: rapid experimentation across product research and development, sales and marketing to identify the most efficient ways to promote business growth.

Heatmap: a visual of a webpage that is overlaid with color to indicate how users interact with various elements. On most CRO software, areas with warm colors like red have high engagement and areas with cool colors like blue have low engagement.

Hero: the large banner image placed prominently above the fold on a webpage.

Hypothesis: a testable idea used as a starting point for further investigation. CRO hypotheses are based on quantitative web data and engagement metrics, as well as qualitative data from user testing.

Impression: the point at which an ad or piece content is displayed to a user. For example, if an ad appears 100 times in Google search results, there are 100 impressions.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): a quantifiable measure used to evaluate success. KPI’s are more important than LPIs or TPIs as they are more directly linked to conversions.

Landing page: a page of a website accessed by clicking a hyperlink or ad. Historically, the landing page was most often the homepage. However, the best-performing landing pages are optimized to closely match user intent. High-converting sites often have many landing pages.

Lead generation: the initiation of consumer interest. For example, a user may become a lead when they click “request a demo.”

Leading Performance Indicators (LPI’s): secondary metrics used to track actions that eventually lead to KPIs. LPIs are more valuable than TPIs but less valuable than KPIs in terms of revenue.

Macro conversion: primary conversion goals; for example, purchasing a product.

Micro conversion: supporting conversion goals; for example, signing up for a newsletter.

Mobile first: the concept of designing or optimizing a page for mobile first before optimizing for desktop. Mobile first is becoming increasingly important as mobile use becomes more popular than desktop.

Multivariate testing: a testing style in which multiple variables are changed (as opposed to AB testing which isolates one variable). Multivariate tests are less precise but usually higher impact than AB tests.

Qualitative data: non-numerical data like survey responses and user feedback.

Quantitative data: numerical data like click rates, session duration or pageviews.

Responsive web design: website design that allows pages to adjust and display properly on a variety of devices and screen sizes.

Retargeting: a marketing tactic that involves using cookies to follow traffic who bounces from your website and targeting them again.

Sample size: the number of users needed to run your AB test until it reaches a desired statistical significance (usually 80-95%).

Segmentation: the act of dividing users into segments based on common traits; for example, mobile users or desktop users.  

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. SEO focuses on getting the right traffic to your website while CRO focuses on encouraging traffic already on your site to convert. The two work in synergy to optimize your website’s performance.

Session replay: an anonymized recording of a user interacting with a website. Session replays help marketers identify frustration points and create ideas for optimizing a page to better serve users.

Shopping cart abandonment (also called cart abandonment): occurs when a user adds a product to their cart but leaves the website before completing their purchase.

Social proof: In general terms, a phenomenon that occurs when people copy the actions of others. In digital marketing, social proof is the use of trust points like customer reviews, testimonials, social media mentions, etc, to make users more likely to convert.

Split testing: a broad term that encompasses AB testing and multivariate testing.

Split URL testing: a testing style where traffic is split between two different URLs of the same page, allowing marketers to test multiple design or copy elements at once.

Statistical significance: the level of certainty around whether a given test result is real (correlated with the change being tested) and not due to chance.

Tactical Performance Indicators (TPI’s): the lowest level of metrics used to track actions that eventually lead to LPIs and KPIs.

Trust icons: icons, logos or other symbols that boost a user’s confidence in a website. Examples of trust icons include an SSL certificate or McAfee logo.

UI: user interface; the way a user interacts with a computer or device. UI is more specific than UX.

Unique visitors: the number of unduplicated users who visit a site in a given time. If the same user visits two times, they will count as 1 unique visitor.

Upsell: the practice of introducing users to more expensive but similar items or add-ons. Examples could include an upgraded product or expedited shipping.

Usability: a website’s ease of use. Usability optimization is similar to CRO but nuanced in its focus. Usability optimization focuses on optimizing the user’s experience while CRO focuses on optimizing conversions. Usually the two go hand in hand.

User flow: the click path taken by a typical user from the moment they enter the website to the moment they convert.

User intent: what the user is looking for when they land on a page.

UX: user experience; the overall experience of a user as they interact with a brand. UX is broader than UI.

Value proposition: an feature intended to make a product or service more valuable to the user. The best value propositions can be communicated clearly and succinctly.

Variation: a web page that will be tested against the original. AB tests contain one change per variation page while multivariate tests contain many changes on a single variation page.

Whitespace: also known as negative space; the space between graphics, text blocks, CTA buttons and other design elements.  

Widget: a web application that makes it possible for a user to perform a function. Widgets can be used to add forms, live chats, etc.

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