UX vs CRO (in Marketing): The ‘What’ and the ‘Why’

by Milosz Krasinski

Who doesn’t love an acronym, right?  The world of marketing is full of ‘em and, if you don’t know your CMS from your COS, you’re liable to end up FUBAR.

Most of our commonly used acronyms are relatively self-explanatory, however, it seems that many people are confused between UX and CRO.  

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The most frequently asked question is, ‘Are they same thing?’ The simple answer to that is, no. The longer answer is as follows:

What in the Blazes are UX and CRO?

These two things may be short on letters – but they’re huge in terms of what they mean for your business.  Although they both have very different meanings, they have one thing in common – keeping customers happy (and keeping them buying).

In a highly competitive world, any brand looking to succeed needs to be able to understand and implement UX and CRO better than the competition.Click To Tweet

First things first, let’s take a look at what each of these mean.


Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the art of increasing the number of website visits which result in a sale.  Yep, you’ve got it; optimising the percentage of visits which are converted into sales.

For example, you have an online store which sells designer phone cases. Although you seem to get plenty of visitors, very few of them actually buy one of your cases. In this ‘case’, you’ll be looking to improve on your conversion rates.  

how to reduce bounce rate

This can be done in a number of ways; the most popular of which is A/B testing. To do this, you would create a new ‘test’ landing page and put it out there along with your existing landing page. 

This allows you to see (a) which page gets more visitors and (b) which page generates more sales. Changes made to the pages may be the use of larger images or a more ‘grabby’ headline.  

Another way to optimise your conversion rate may be to make the customer journey shorter. For example; make sure that your visitor clicks straight through to a sales page which looks and feels almost exactly like the thumbnail that originally attracted them.  

This can be useful as, often, a visitor who has viewed a picture of your phone case will lose interest if they are then directed to a generic looking home page. 

Real Life CRO

So, how does this work in the real world?  Morphsuits – a provider of full body spandex costumes – were using Google Analytics to keep an eye on their web pages. 

In doing so, the brand noticed that some of its checkout pages were under-performing and decided to do something about it.  

The company set about detecting the problem by performing a series of AB testing and conversion audits. By doing this, they were able to discover that the issue lay in its plain and uninspiring ‘review cart’ stage.  

By re-styling its Review Cart page, the brand was able to increase conversion by a whopping 37%. What Morphsuits did was as simple as it was effective and is a perfect example of how CRO works.


By testing to identify the issue, the brand was able to quickly pinpoint the reason that customers were abandoning their carts.  The solution for Morphsuits was a fast and inexpensive redesign resulting in a massive impact on its conversion. 


User Experience (UX) is, essentially, a map of the customer journey. It also shows how the customer perceives each stop as well as the journey as a whole.  These days, user experience is one of the most important aspects of any business

This is because it speaks to your ability to create an experience which is user friendly, enjoyable and effective.  

sentiment analysis brands

User experience also takes into account any glitches and issues such as a slow loading website or a fussy or complicated check out process.  In order to provide a great user experience, you will usually need to ‘hear it from the horse’s mouth’, i.e, get your information from the users themselves.  

User experience is the art of understanding how your customers shop, how they shop that way and, ultimately, what they want. This is the only way of delivering the required service.  

One way to improve your user experience is to hire a UX designer who can help develop your site and / or pages to make them more user friendly.  

Although a UX designer can be useful, what you really need to do is to get to the heart of your user experience by consulting those all important users. 

The first way you can do this is to use sentiment analysis to find out what customers and potential customers are saying about you. This can help by quickly identifying any recurring problems or issues. 

content curation marketing

A better way to go about upping your user experience is to embark on web user testing. Here, you task a group of people to ‘road test’ your site or service. They then report back with the bits they liked and they bits that were annoying, difficult or inefficient. 

Web user testing can be so effective that some businesses say that they were able to make massive improvements to their UX with a group of just six user testers.  

With all the fancy technology out there, there’s still no substitute for getting a real, live, actual human being to tell you what they think of your business. 

UX in Real Life

One brand who conquered UX beautifully and simply is Prime Music. Amazon’s music store decided to find out what its customers desired most from the brand – and the answer was clear – Good, fast and cheap.  

Using this as a guide, Prime Music embarked on a project to extend its acquire, play, manage conceptual model. It kept the framework that customers were familiar with but, leveraged the infrastructure. 

In this, it was able to speed up the process of getting product to the market quicker and cheaper.

The result was a major improvement on the way that the brand is perceived by its customers which, in turn, resulted in an increase in profits.  

The lesson that we can take away from Prime Music is that listening to your customers pays.  

By finding out what their users wanted, Prime Music was able to make changes to its UX which had a huge impact – from a relatively small amount of work. 

So, What’s the Difference?

There are a number of similarities and differences when it comes to UX and CRO. The main difference is that, where CRO only works with existing websites, UX can help in developing new ones too.  

The second main difference is that CRO can be quite a long and detailed process. UX web user testing, on the other hand, can be completed successfully within a couple of weeks. 

The easiest way to differentiate between the two is to think of CRO as the ‘what’, as in ‘What is happening with my site?’. UX, on the other hand, is the ‘why’ – i.e, ‘Why is this happening with my site?’  

As you can see, the two work hand in hand in forming a clear picture of what you’re doing right – and what you could be doing better. From the examples shown, brands can produce results with UX and CRO quickly and (sometimes) with very little expense.  

This means that these two acronyms should be top of your list for 2020.  

If you absolutely must you can, of course, choose between CRO and UX for your business.  

However, if you’re really looking to make some serious improvements in order to super-size your sales, the savvy marketer’s way would be to use both of these in tandem. This creates a kind of double whammy for your optimisation – just FYI. 

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Throughout his career, Milosz has been consulting and devising growth sand tactics for small and start-up businesses, particularly within financial services. His focus areas include search, link building, page speed, and overall digital strategies. Prior to the acquisition of Chilli Fruit Web Consulting, Milosz has been involved in Plus Guidance (an early-stage UK tech start-up, now acquired) and Sigma Digital Marketing Agency based in Oxfordshire.

One Response

  1. Great pitch, Milosz.

    As you said, these are too short to look at. But meant a lot for any business. UX is one of the great demanding factors of conversions. Let’s take it this way – improving UX of a site is yet another CRO technique. I hope I’m not wrong.

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