How to Use CRO Marketing to Optimize Your Conversion Rates: A Complete Guide

How to Use CRO Marketing to Optimize Your Conversion Rates: A Complete Guide cover

CRO marketing helps you dig into your existing assets to uncover ways to drive more conversions.

In many cases, you will find that only a few improvements inspired by a proper understanding of user behavior are what you need to drive growth.


  • CRO marketing is a systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors or users who take a desired action.
  • Conversion rate optimization marketing helps to lower customer acquisition costs, increase customer lifetime value, and expand MRR.

Average conversion rates in SaaS:

  • Site visitors to free trial conversion rate: 8.5%.
  • Free trial to product-qualified lead (PQL) conversion: 4%.
  • PQL to paying customer conversion rate: 20% to 40%.

How to build a CRO marketing strategy:

  1. Define your conversion points.
  2. Map out your customer journey.
  3. Analyze your current conversion process with a conversion funnel.
  4. Create marketing playbooks for optimization.
  5. Implement A/B or multivariate testing and improve based on the data.

CRO strategies to implement in SaaS for different conversion points:

What is conversion rate optimization (CRO) marketing?

CRO marketing is a systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors or users who take a desired action. For SaaS companies, this could mean taking a demo, registering for a free trial, or signing up for a newsletter.

Why is conversion rate optimization marketing important?

There are many reasons why CRO marketing is important for businesses of all sizes. Here are just a few:

  • Lower customer acquisition costs: Your customer acquisition costs will drop when you convert more visitors into customers. This is because you don’t have to spend as much money on advertising and marketing to acquire new customers.
  • Increase customer lifetime value and expansion MRR: As mentioned, CRO strategies focus on improving retention. Higher retention rates mean customers stay longer, providing more opportunities to increase your revenue.

How to calculate conversion rate?

To calculate your conversion rate, divide the total number of users who took a desired action in a specific period by the number of users in that group and multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage.

Formula to calculate free trial conversion rate.

Let’s imagine you had 1,000 sign-ups in the last quarter, and out of those users, 200 decided to upgrade to a paid plan.

Your conversion rate = (200/1,000) x 100.

= 20%

What is the average conversion rate in SaaS?

SaaS conversion rates vary widely, depending on what you’re tracking. Here are the industry averages:

  • Website visitors to free trial conversion rate: The industry benchmark for this metric sits at 8.5%.
  • Free trial to product-qualified lead (PQL) conversion: The average benchmark for this conversion is 4%.
  • PQL to paying customer conversion rate: The industry benchmark for this critical transition varies from 20% to 40%.

These figures are good to know but don’t obsess over them. Focus your efforts more on understanding your users and creating experiences tailored to their needs and expectations.

How to build a CRO marketing strategy

Follow this five-step process to create a solid CRO strategy that converts more users and increases your bottom line.

Define your conversion points

The first step is clearly defining your conversion points and gaining full clarity into areas of your product or website to focus your CRO marketing efforts.

There are multiple conversion points in SaaS, each representing a crucial step in the user journey:

  • From site visitors to free trial users: Potential customers will first visit your website and explore it to see if you offer what they need. Decide on the most important pages on your website to optimize and convince users to try your tool.
  • From free trial users to PQLs: As you convince users to take your free trial, aim to identify meaningful user interactions during the trial period that signify a potential for conversion. Prompt users to take those actions.
  • From PQLs to paying customers: Between being a product-qualified lead and turning to a paid user, there are actions or drivers that prompt users to move forward. Determine what these are for your product—they vary based on the nature of your tool and your value prop.
  • Expansion and growth conversion points: This could mean upselling additional features and add-ons or encouraging referrals.

Map out your customer journey

Create a visual map of the customer journey from awareness to conversion and beyond. Cover all key touchpoints across the customer journey.

Having a detailed map of all the steps users follow to experience your product makes it easy to pinpoint areas of friction.

Detailed customer journey map to make the conversion rate optimization process smoother.

Analyze your current conversion process with a conversion funnel

After implementing the first two steps, use funnel analysis to track how users move through the customer journey.

Find areas where they drop off and see how you can improve their experience.

Generate funnel analysis report in Userpilot.

Create marketing playbooks for optimization

Create marketing playbooks that outline the strategies and specific steps you’ll take to optimize the user experience at every stage of their journey.

Each critical conversion point should have a separate playbook containing information on:

  • Target audience
  • Key touchpoints
  • Specific CRO tactics and strategies
  • Key performance indicators

A/B test and improve

Embrace an experimentation culture. Do you have a new idea you think will increase conversion? Use A/B testing tools to segment users and trigger separate experiences to see if any positive change happens.

Creating A/B tests with Userpilot.

Play around with your in-app flows, landing page headlines and CTA content, web page layouts, and so on. Once you confirm a hypothesis works, implement it to the rest of your users and monitor its long-term impact.

CRO strategies to implement in SaaS for different conversion points

This section shows you some key conversion points and strategies to deploy.

Improve the site’s conversion rate with search engine optimization and digital marketing

By optimizing your website and content for search engines, you’ll increase your website’s visibility and organic traffic, bringing in potential customers.

Your potential customers are actively searching for solutions you already offer. Pull them in through digital marketing, then implement conversion rate optimization to turn visitors into paying customers.

Create a conversion-centric landing page for your SaaS business

Design your landing pages to drive a specific action, such as signing up for a free trial or requesting a demo. Don’t aim to achieve two different goals on one page.

Each page should be clear and concise, eliminating distractions and guiding visitors toward the desired conversion step.

Landing page example from Hootsuite.

Key sections in every converting landing page:

  • Hero section: Use a compelling headline, a captivating image or video, and a concise description to capture attention and pique interest.
  • CTAs: Make your CTAs clear, visible, and actionable, using strong verbs and contrasting colors. Place them strategically throughout the page to guide visitors toward conversion.
  • Features/Benefits: While features provide a comprehensive understanding of what your product offers, benefits address the ‘why’ — why should visitors care? How does your product solve their pain points or enhance their workflow?
  • Multimedia: Incorporate multimedia elements like images, videos, or infographics to enhance the visual appeal of your page and break up text-heavy sections. Use high-quality, relevant media that supports your messaging and resonates with your target audience.
  • Additional resources: Empower your audience with additional resources that add value to their journey. This could include case studies, whitepapers, or guides that delve deeper into the nuances of your SaaS solution. These resources will reinforce your value and encourage visitors to take action.

Create a frictionless sign-up flow for potential customers

Minimizing the steps required to sign up and making the process as seamless as possible helps to encourage conversions and reduce churn.

Example of a good sign-up page.

How to create a frictionless sign-up flow:

  • Add SSO (Single Sign-On): This allows users to sign up using their existing credentials from popular platforms, reducing friction and increasing conversion.
  • Minimize required information: Request only the essential information needed to create an account. Avoid asking for unnecessary details. If you want to learn more about your users, you can do so after they’ve signed up.
  • Delay the confirmation email: This strategy reduces abandonment. Asking users to confirm their email before using your platform creates friction. Users may not be ready to check their emails immediately, and leaving it for later could lead to reduced interest. Some users might agree to open their emails immediately only to get distracted by another more important email. You can avoid all these if you delay confirmation and have them explore your tool first.

Find the right balance of features included in your trial

Free trials are delicate. You want to ensure users experience your product as much as possible so they’re convinced to upgrade. At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too many features that they get confused and spend the trial period trying to figure things out.

You should analyze the behavior of users who have successfully converted from free trials to paid subscriptions and keep iterating based on what the conversion data says.

Identify the features they used most frequently and prioritize those in your free trial to ensure potential customers experience your product’s value.

Analyze user behavior in Userpilot.

Personalize your free trial period for conversion optimization

We’ve talked about finding the right balance of features, but what happens if you have a robust product with several functionalities and different use cases?

It can be difficult to decide which features to include or not. For situations like that, divide trial users into different segments based on their jobs to be done and trigger different trial experiences.

For example, Notion has three primary sets of users—customers who work as a team, individual users, and those who need Notion for school.

Each of these use cases needs slightly different features, so deploying the same flows for everyone wouldn’t be effective.

Notion uses a welcome survey to collect user data:

Welcome survey to understand user needs.

Based on their response, users will see different pages and have more personalized onboarding experiences.

Notion’s personalized in-app experiences.

Use in-app messaging to contextually prompt upsells

Users are now engaging with your tool and enjoying the value it provides. How do you help them get more done and improve their lifetime value?

Deploy in-app messages to explain your add-ons or premium plans and prompt them to upgrade.

Your upsell strategy could include usage limit alerts, as in the Slack example below. Based on your product, you could also consider new feature highlights or limited-time offers. Whatever strategy you’re using, ensure it’s contextualized.

Slack’s contextual upgrade prompt.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) marketing tools to help you increase conversions

To achieve optimal results, you’ll have to leverage tools that help you understand users and create engaging experiences.

Here are some of the best tools:

Userpilot — best for driving in-app conversion

Userpilot is a user onboarding and product adoption platform that empowers businesses to create personalized, interactive user experiences.

Our platform is designed to enhance user engagement and guide users through the key features of your product, ultimately driving conversion and retention.

Userpilot — best for driving in-app conversion.

Key features:

  • Interactive onboarding flows: Create step-by-step walkthroughs to introduce users to the core functionalities of your tool.
  • User segmentation: Tailor onboarding experiences based on user segments, ensuring personalized guidance for different user groups.
  • Feedback surveys: Collect user feedback through in-app surveys to understand pain points and areas for improvement in the user journey.
  • User behavior analytics: From funnel analytics to trends and path analysis, Userpilot helps you understand in-app user behavior. Based on the data, you can understand where drop-offs happen and create proactive solutions.

Hubspot — best for marketing automation

Hubspot is an all-in-one inbound marketing, sales, and customer service platform.

Hubspot — best for marketing automation.

Key features:

  • Landing page builder: Easily create and optimize landing pages with a user-friendly drag-and-drop builder.
  • Forms and pop-ups: Build and customize forms and pop-ups to capture user information and guide them toward conversion points.
  • Marketing automation: Implement automated workflows that nurture leads and guide them through the sales funnel, improving conversion rates.
  • Lead scoring: Prioritize leads based on their engagement, ensuring that sales teams focus on prospects with the highest conversion potential.

Google Analytics — best for web analytics

Google Analytics is a web analytics platform that provides insights into new and existing website traffic, user behavior, and conversion metrics.

Google Analytics — best for web analytics.

Key features:

  • Goal tracking: Set up goals and track how often visitors to your web pages complete specific actions.
  • User flow analysis: Visualize the paths users take through your site, identifying potential bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
  • Custom reports: Create custom reports to focus on specific conversion-related metrics and tailor your analysis to your business objectives.
  • Cohort analysis: Track the behavior of groups of users over time to identify trends and patterns that can help improve your website.


The best strategy to boost conversion rates is to invest in understanding your users. Pay attention to their needs, motivations, and expectations. Regularly track key metrics like page conversion rate, CTA click-through rate (CTR), customer lifetime value, and retention rate, to quickly spot and address issues. CRO marketing is a continuous process, but the ROI is worth it.

Ready to implement CRO marketing? Get a Userpilot demo and see how our platform can help you start increasing conversions today.

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