The guide to a CRO audit

The simple guide to doing a CRO audit

When you’re managing an online business or an ecommerce you’re constantly working towards growing and scaling it. And when you’re scaling, you have a few key metrics in mind. If we’re talking about an ecommerce then the main metrics you’ll want to follow are:

  • Number of users coming to your site
  • Number of sales
  • Ecommerce conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Revenue per user

If you’re running paid ads campaigns, then your ROAS (return on ad spend) is also critical for success and profitability. 

Where do we start in CRO?

You must start with defining your business objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators

Think about your business objectives for the next 3–6 months. 

Are they to get more new customers? To increase your return customers rate? To scale your email marketing? 

This is specific to the point your business is at and will help you plan your optimization efforts accordingly.

In order to improve any of those metrics, you’ll need to start understanding your users and their flow through the conversion funnel a lot better. Tap into your users’ minds and learn more about their motivations, doubts and anxieties. Learn what’s causing friction and what’s stimulating them to convert.

That’s where the CRO audit comes into play. If you follow a structured, data-driven approach then you are dramatically increasing your chances of success. 

There are four main parts in a CRO audit: 

  • Quantitative research (analytics data, heatmaps analysis)
  • Qualitative research
  • Heuristic research
  • Competitor research

Quantitative Research

What do we look for in Google Analytics?

In the first part of your CRO audit you’ll go through some of the most important reports in Google Analytics and define user behaviour. 

Demographics – define your target audience based on demographic data

User behavior – understand the distribution and differences between new and returning users

Device segmentation – break down users into three major categories, based on the device they are using to browse through your website

Browser, OS and Screen Resolutions – identify technical errors, bugs and other issues related to the way your website is being displayed in various browsers, operating systems and screen resolutions.

Speed Analysis is critical to your website’s performance and implicitly to your conversion rate. 

Traffic Sources – find out which segments of users convert better

Top Landing Pages – learn what are the main entry points on your website and see if users are engaged and converting.

Create a Conversion Funnel – do this by starting from the top landing pages and going through every page visited up until the ‘Thank You’ page. 

How do we use heatmaps? 

Heatmaps and scrollmaps help us in identifying hot areas on the website and elements that users interact with most. 

They can also point out to areas that are being overlooked by users and information that is not seen by most. 

Another great benefit of heatmaps is that they can show elements that users think are interactive but are actually not.

How do we use session recordings/replays?

Session recordings are great tools when it comes to seeing actual users interact with the website. 

They can point out larger interaction issues or bugs in the conversion funnel. 

Best way to see the users’ understanding of the website after user testing.

How do we use website polls?

Website polls and customer surveys allow us to directly chat to the prospects and clients. 

There is no better way to understand their motivations as well as their doubts and hesitations. 

Our customers’  feedback allows us to use their own language when addressing prospects. 

How do we do customer surveys? 

The customer survey is sent out to recent customers, after they have tried out their product, ideally. Try sending this to customers that are not older than 30-45 days as you want them to remember the experience they had with the website, with the shopping process and also with the actual product. If you send out the survey too soon, you will not get relevant information on the quality of the products or delivery. The questions we ask almost always are:

  • What can you tell us about yourself -> good to find out their age, gender, location, etc. This will help put more context and validate the insights you have in the demographics reports in Analytics.
  • What made your buy our products/become our subscriber/sign-up? -> this is good to identify the main points that convince users to buy so you can emphasize them in further communication with your prospects.
  • What doubts and hesitations did you have before buying/subscribing/signing up? – understand their issues, and get their own vision on this
  • What would you miss if you could not use our products/services anymore? – this is amazing to use as a value proposition and it can also help with positioning – users might buy your products with a completely different goal in mind than you had planned out initially
  • What is the one big thing we are missing? – will give you ideas on complementary products that you can add to your funnel so that you can increase your average order value and build loyalty with your clients.

How do we do heuristic research?

When we refer to heuristic research in the CRO realm, we mean a site walkthrough, really. Heuristic research is an experience-based assessment, meaning you simply apply your experience and understanding to the website and define some of the reasons why users are or are not converting. Analytics shows you the numbers while a heuristic analysis will show you why those numbers are like that.

Anything uncovered through heuristic analysis should not be taken as an absolute truth in any way but it is very useful to outline some areas to focus on and sets the direction for the testing hypotheses.


The first thing to keep in mind when doing a heuristic analysis is that you should start from the SERP or from the banners or email or any of the other traffic mediums you are using to bring users to your website. 

Why is this important? Because relevancy has a lot to do with users’ expectation to the content they will find on your website. When they are clicking a link or a banner they are expecting something and it is your website’s role to deliver it.


Clarity simply refers to whether the offer is clear enough and users can easily understand it and how to buy it. The richest industry of examples we’ve seen on this subject has to be the world of SaaS. Many of the businesses out there present their tool in vague, “hype-y” terms that don’t really get the message across to users that are not very patient.


Generally speaking, the perceived value of a product will make users stay or move forward. If your product does not clearly communicate the value that is relevant to your users then they will just move to the next brand offering what you are.

This is not that complicated, it’s really about communicating what you have to offer and how that offer benefits your users. The less known your brand is, the stronger your value proposition should be. 


In terms of user motivation, think of friction as a speed bump in the road for your customer journey. Any element that is causing anxiety, doubts, fear in the user’s mind will slow them down from buying or even entirely prevent them from doing it.

In terms of user experience and design, friction is represented by any element that is preventing users to take the action you want them to take. The most common example we’ve encountered is the overlapping of live chat widgets with add to cart buttons or site polls overlapping checkout 


Distraction is caused by elements that are taking the user’s focus away from the main action and redirecting them to something less important.

One very simple example is that you remove navigation and blog posts and any other widgets from the cart and checkout page as you would not want users to leave those steps to read about your latest press appearance.

Try to keep your users focused on one call to action and reduce distractions to a minimum. Make sure you offer sufficient information but don’t pull people away from the landing page you paid money for them to see.

Competitor research

Before you get started with the analysis, you want to make sure you know who to look out for. A sure way to do this is to look at the businesses that are offering the same type of product or services as you are. You can do this by performing a keyword search on google for the keywords that are relevant to your business and see which businesses are showing up.

These would be your direct competitors. There is also a range of indirect competitors that you should consider – these would be businesses that offer products to the same target audience as you are. For example, if you’re offering online tutoring for kids, your indirect competitors can be toy stores.

After you’ve identified the main competitors, what you want to do is to try out their websites, UX, go through every step of the funnel and see what they’re doing differently. I’m not saying they will necessarily be better but this will offer you the knowledge you need to keep on top of your industry and your niche.

Take their websites through the same type of process you did on your own website in the heuristic research section and see how they compare. You can even score each aspect of the heuristic research for each website and see which one is the winner.

Go in with an open mind and don’t forget that this is a learning process and egos will do no good in this matter 🙂


Make sure you stay true to your initial objectives and follow through with each section. It is essential that you write each statement with an insight and a course of action in mind. It’s great that you dig out information about your website but the value is in how you use that information. 

If this all seems a bit complicated or you want us to do this for you, no problem. Reach out to us through the website or simply send an email to [email protected] and we will take this all of your hands. 

By Andra Baragan

Andra Baragan is an experienced conversion optimization specialist and a certified ConversionXL Optimizer and Data Analyst. She has worked with over 80 online businesses and has brought over 6 figures in increased revenue for them. She is the founder of Ontrack Digital Agency.

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