Artificial intelligence helps you get the most from your budget
It’s true. In the world of digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t a futuristic concept anymore—it’s an essential tool in your toolkit. And this new tech especially excels in one area of marketing: conversion rate optimization (CRO).
When it comes to improving your marketing conversion rates, AI can be the secret ingredient that transforms your marketing efforts from “meh” to “mind-blowing.” That’s why we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide: to help you navigate the fascinating and complex world of AI-driven CRO.
As you might’ve guessed, we’re pretty enthusiastic about AI. It’s not just because we have a soft spot for robots. (Though who doesn’t?) It’s because we understand that AI can help you get to know your target audience, create powerful marketing campaigns, optimize user experiences, and so much more. Heck, we ourselves have seen thousands of marketers switch from traditional experimentation to AI-powered optimization—and we’ve watched their conversion rates soar.
So, if you’re ready to tap into the immense potential of AI to elevate your CRO game, you’ve come to the right place.
Throughout this guide, we’ll cover some of the basics of conversion rate optimization before diving into AI-powered strategies, best practices, and real-life examples. By the end, you’ll understand the full potential of AI for CRO—and we bet you’ll have a soft spot for robots, too.
Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to keep it entertaining. Because learning should be fun, right? Right?!
Let’s get to it.
How do you optimize your conversion rate with AI?
The basics of conversion rate optimization – What’s “conversion rate optimization,” anyhow? How do you calculate your conversion rate, and what’s a good one? We cover all the basics to set you up for success with AI-powered CRO.
Building a high-converting campaign first – Don’t wait until you’ve launched your campaign to start optimizing. With the right approach, you can build a high-performing conversion journey right from the get-go.
Identifying opportunities for conversion optimization – Your campaign is up and running—so, what next? Learn how to analyze your marketing performance and start building hypotheses to inform your experimentation.
Testing and validating your hypotheses – Every marketer should know how to run a proper A/B test. We explore how to create and test variants to find a “champion”—all while makin’ sure we’ve got concrete, irrefutable results.
Optimizing for conversions with artificial intelligence – Here come the machines. Find out how AI-powered conversion optimization differs from traditional optimization methods (and why your best bet is to do ’em both).
Evaluating and adopting AI CRO tools – You’re ready to try optimizing with artificial intelligence—but which tools should you use? These are the questions you need to ask when you go shopping for AI-powered software.
Wait—how is artificial intelligence changing conversion rate optimization?
AI isn’t just changing conversion optimization—it’s transforming almost everything we do as marketers. It’s quickly becoming a critical part of how we understand and interact with our customers, how we create and share content, how we make decisions, and (yes) how we optimize our marketing campaigns.
By shoving absurd amounts of data through complex algorithms, AI can process and analyze information at a scale and speed that’s simply impossible for human marketers. It can identify patterns and trends, make predictions, and generate insights that make optimization a whole lot easier. It takes the guesswork out of CRO, helping marketers make data-driven decisions with greater confidence and precision.
Unbounce’s Smart Traffic is a good example. It identifies visitor attributes (like their location and device), then—based on past conversion data—automatically sends them to the landing page where they’re most likely to convert. And it does it all in a fraction of a second.
But AI isn’t a replacement for marketers—it works best when it’s wielded by marketers. AI can do a lot of the heavy lifting on data analysis, but it still needs marketers to interpret the findings and apply them creatively. AI also doesn’t understand your customers on an emotional level—and that’s what you bring to the table.
The emergence of AI marketing signals an enormous shift in how we work. It presents an opportunity for us to evolve from number crunchers to strategic thinkers. And that’s the part of marketing that’s really fun, anyhow.
Learn how marketers are adopting AI
Wanna know how artificial intelligence is impacting marketers like you? Get your hands on our comprehensive report where we survey 400 businesses about how they are (or aren’t) using AI marketing tools.Get the free AI business report
The basics of conversion rate optimization and AI
Picture this: You’ve meticulously crafted a digital marketing strategy. Your content is viral, your product is dope, and your website design is hot fire. Web traffic is flowing steadily—but just a few of your visitors are making purchases, filling out forms, or doing whatever action defines “conversion” in your playbook.
What the heck is going on?
Here lies the heart of conversion rate optimization, a critical—yet often overlooked—element of the digital marketing process.
CRO is all about improving the results of your marketing campaigns. It’s not just about driving traffic—it’s about ensuring your traffic does something meaningful when it arrives. CRO is the science of persuading your visitors to take action, transforming casual browsers into rabid, foamy-mouthed customers. (Or, y’know, at least starting to move them through your conversion funnel.)
By the end of this section, you’ll learn:
- The importance of ongoing optimization in marketing campaigns to maximize conversions
- How artificial intelligence is transforming conversion rate optimization (and marketing, broadly)
- What your campaign conversion rate is, how to calculate it, and the value of KPIs
What is conversion rate optimization?
Ernest Hemingway said that “writing is rewriting,” which means no great work is ever finished. There’s always room for improvement.
The same is true for marketing campaigns. Once a campaign is launched, a lot of folks dust off their hands and move on to the next thing. (After all, we’ve got lots of things to move on to.) But these marketers are missing a crucial opportunity.
See, launching a marketing campaign isn’t the final step. It’s the first one. The real conversion magic happens when you take time to optimize—when you revisit, reassess, and refine your campaign based on the data and insights you’ve gathered through the process.
Just like Hemingway’s process of writing and rewriting, conversion rate optimization is about continually fine-tuning your campaign to improve its performance. It’s an iterative process that can turn a good campaign into a great one, skyrocketing your conversion rates and getting you the best possible return on your marketing budget.
If Hemingway were born 100 years later, he’d probably have been a marketer. (Instead, he became a reporter right out of high school. Can you imagine?) And if he were a marketer, he might’ve instead said: “Marketing is optimization.”
How do you actually do conversion rate optimization?
Oh ho! Hold yer horses, cowpoke. Let’s talk real quick about that first word: conversion.
See, “conversion” means something different depending on who you ask and when. For an ecommerce marketer, it could mean a completed purchase. For a content marketer, it might be a lead generated through an ebook download. For B2B marketers, maybe it’s somebody signing up for a consultation.
A conversion is the ultimate goal of your marketing campaign. It’s whatever final action you want your visitors to take, whether that’s signing up for your newsletter, buying your product, or something else entirely. Your whole campaign should be mapped out with this goal in mind, spurring folks towards conversion at every touch point.
Some marketers confuse ad or email clicks with conversions—but in truth, those are just noteworthy landmarks on the path to a conversion. They tell you your visitors are headed in the right direction, but you’ve still gotta get ‘em to the destination.
The conversion rate of your campaign is a measure of how effectively you’re getting visitors to take your desired action. And—fortunately, for all us arithmophobes—it’s super simple to calculate.
How do you calculate your conversion rate?
Grab your calculator. It’s mathin’ time.
You can determine your conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions your campaign has gotten by the total number of visitors. Then, multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage. That’s it—you’ve got your conversion rate.
Let’s say you’re running an advertising campaign on Facebook and your conversion goal is getting people to buy a certain product. Across the duration of the campaign, you had 15,000 visitors click on an ad, and 300 of ‘em made a purchase. To find your conversion rate, you’d divide 300 (your conversions) by 15,000 (your visitors), which gives you 0.02. Multiply that by 100, and presto: you’ve got a campaign conversion rate of 2%.
(That wasn’t so painful, huh?)
Understanding and tracking your conversion rate is crucial for any digital marketer. It helps you quantify the effectiveness of your campaigns, and it provides a benchmark for measuring improvement over time. Whether you’re tweaking your ad channels, refining your messaging, or experimenting with different page layouts, your conversion rate is an important metric to gauge success and guide your optimization efforts.
What’s a “good” conversion rate?
Well, that depends.
Your conversion rate is influenced by all sorts of things, like your industry, business type, campaign goal, marketing channel, on and on. A “good” conversion rate for one campaign might be “not so good” for another.
When we evaluated 44 thousand landing pages and 33 million conversions for the Conversion Benchmark Report, we found the median conversion rate across all industries is 4.3%.
But that doesn’t account for variables. The median conversion rate for a click-through ecommerce page is 12.9%, whereas a form-fill page in real estate has a median way down at 2.6%. It’s all about the context.
If you wanna twist our arm, we’d say anything over 10% is super solid. But always be sure to check your conversion rate and see how you stack up against your competitors.
What are KPIs? (And why do they matter?)
While your conversion rate is an essential measure, it’s just one piece of the CRO puzzle. There are also key performance indicators (KPIs), which can give you a more nuanced understanding of your campaign’s performance and opportunities for optimization. And like any puzzle, if you don’t have all the pieces, you won’t see the complete picture.
KPIs are metrics that help you gauge the success of your marketing campaigns in achieving their goals. They’re data points that tell you what’s working, what’s not, and help you make informed decisions about how to improve your campaigns.
Your conversion rate is usually a KPI for your marketing campaigns, as it reflects the percentage of visitors who are performing the action you want ‘em to take. Importantly, though, not all KPIs are conversions. KPIs measure behavior that might contribute to conversions, but aren’t conversions themselves.
Here are some examples of common campaign KPIs:
• Impressions: The total number of times your ad was shown to users. Impressions are a useful metric for understanding the reach of your campaign, as they show how many potential customers have been exposed to your messaging.
• Click-through rate (CTR): This measures the percentage of people who click on your ad after seeing it. A high click-through rate indicates that your ad is grabbing folks’ attention and sparking their interest, while a low CTR could suggest your ad isn’t resonating or hasn’t been targeted well.
• Return on ad spend (ROAS): This metric measures the gross revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising. A high ROAS indicates marketing dollars well-spent, while a low ROAS could suggest inefficiencies in your spending.
• Cost per acquisition (CPA): The average amount of money you spend on ads for each conversion. Cost per acquisition is a good measure of campaign efficiency, as it directly relates the cost of your advertising to the value generated through sales and signups.
Tracking KPIs is a crucial part of conversion optimization. These metrics help you identify your campaign’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. From the reach of your ads to your spend efficiency, KPIs give you the down-low on where to fine-tune your marketing strategy.
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Building a high-converting campaign first
Before you can start optimizing for conversions, you’ve gotta have an in-progress marketing campaign. And if you’re building a marketing campaign anyway, why not try to make it high-converting from the start?
Impactful marketing campaigns require careful planning and a strong understanding of your audience. To ensure you’re not just throwing spaghetti at the wall, it’s important to set clear goals, do your research, and map out your path to conversion.
So, grab a wet cloth, clean up that wall spaghetti, and let’s build you a high-converting marketing campaign—right from the beginning.
By the end of this section, you’ll learn:
- How to define a specific, measurable, and achievable conversion goal for your campaign
- The importance of understanding your target customer through audience research
- Strategies for outlining and optimizing your campaign journey, right from the get-go
Define your conversion goal
Big question: What’s a conversion for you?
Like we explained earlier, a conversion can be lots of things—a purchase, a signup, whatever. But your conversion goal is always the final action you want users to take when they interact with your campaign. It’s the measuring stick by which you evaluate the success of your marketing.
Before you start building a marketing campaign, you should be super clear on your conversion goal.
For example, HubSpot is running a paid search campaign targeting “social media calendar” keywords, where they entice visitors with a free calendar template. The conversion goal isn’t getting people to visit this landing page, or even to click the call to action button. HubSpot wants people to fill out and submit the contact form. That’s their conversion goal.
Your conversion goal should be measurable, specific, and achievable. It should also align with your overall strategy. After all, a high conversion rate is only meaningful if it’s driving valuable actions that benefit your business. Focus your efforts on stuff that’ll really move the needle.
Understand your target audience
Understanding your audience—who they are, what they want, how they behave—is key to designing a campaign that converts. Without a solid grasp of your audience, your marketing efforts can quickly become a game of guesswork—and the odds of that game stink.
By conducting thorough audience research, you can gain insights into your visitor’s needs, preferences, and pain points. You can understand what motivates them to convert, and what barriers might be standing in their way.
In this landing page example from Flyhomes, they’ve crafted a headline that speaks to a common homebuyer frustration: getting outbid by higher offers. They’re demonstrating that they understand what their audience is feeling, and they’re presenting a solution.
Audience research can help you segment your audience and personalize your approach, delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. And in CRO, it can help guide your decision-making when it comes time to test and iterate.
Outline your campaign journey
Your campaign journey is all the interactions a person will take on their path to conversion. By planning this journey before you create a marketing campaign, you can anticipate the actions people might take, the problems they could face, and the ways you might motivate them to convert.
Imagine you’re running a paid social media campaign for eco-friendly cleaning products. Your journey might begin when someone sees your ad while scrolling through Instagram. After they click, they’re directed to your landing page, which matches the messaging and design of the ad. The page explains the benefits of your product and offers a discount on the visitor’s first purchase. The visitor clicks your call to action, but abandons the checkout process—so they get a follow-up email encouraging them to come back.
In this example, there are four distinct touch points: your ad, your landing page, your checkout, and the email. In every interaction, the visitor has to make a decision to keep moving forward—or, they might bail and go back to scrollin’.
Mapping the campaign journey highlights any points of friction that might prevent folks from taking action. For instance, you might discover that your complex checkout process is causing customers to abandon their shopping carts, or that users are struggling to find information about your return policy.
These insights can help you anticipate risks before you launch your campaign. And after you launch, they can guide your CRO efforts, helping you prioritize the changes that will have the greatest impact on your campaign performance.
CRO isn’t just about optimizing the exact moment of conversion—it’s about optimizing every interaction someone has throughout your whole campaign. By understanding the complete campaign journey, you can ensure your CRO efforts are holistic and effective, targeting the right areas (at the right time) to drive more conversions.
Map your interactions
Consider the different moments of interaction as a visitor moves through your campaign. This includes everything from seeing an ad or getting an email to visiting your landing page.
Think about what people are thinking or trying to do at each stage of your campaign. Consider how you could optimize these interactions to better serve your visitors’ goals and motivations.
Look for any barriers that might prevent someone from moving to the next stage of your campaign. Think about ways you might enhance the experience and encourage conversions.
Always have a dedicated landing page
One of the simplest ways to get more conversions from your marketing campaigns is to use dedicated landing pages.
(Hey—it’s not self-promotion if it’s true, right?)
Unlike your website (which is built to serve visitors coming from literally everywhere), landing pages are designed to move visitors toward your campaign’s specific conversion goal. These pages are free from other distractions, keeping folks laser-focused on the one, single action you want them to take.
The power of landing pages comes from their specificity and simplicity. Well-designed landing pages will reflect the design and messaging of their traffic source (the ad or email), letting visitors know immediately that they’re in the right place. And every element on the page—from the headline and copy to the images and call to action—works together to capture attention, build trust, and encourage conversion.
Including a landing page in your campaign will help you generate more sales and signups, right outta the gate. And assuming you’ve used an AI-powered landing page builder (ahem), they can also be optimized for conversions before you even click “Publish.”
Start building high-converting landing pages
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Identifying opportunities for conversion rate optimization
Fast forward… Fast forward… Play.
Congratulations, your marketing campaign is live and generating conversions! This is that sweet moment when marketers get to see the fruits of their labor. Take it in. Savor it.
… Alright, now stop savoring. Launching your campaign is just the beginning. It’s time to shift your focus to the real work. You need to start looking for ways to refine and improve your campaign experience and—ultimately—turn more visitors into customers.
Now, let’s dive into your campaign analytics, scrutinize behavioral patterns, and decode the story your data is telling. This’ll help inform your optimization efforts, highlighting the best opportunities for you to squeeze more conversions outta those labor-fruits.
By the end of this section, you’ll learn:
- How to analyze your campaign performance using your conversion rate and KPIs
- The value of additional tools to uncover behavioral data and granular insights
- How to interpret the data from your campaign to formulate actionable hypotheses
Analyze your campaign performance
Joey from Friends voice: “How’s your campaign doin’?”
We already talked about how to calculate your conversion rate, but here’s a quick refresher:
Imagine you’re running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign on Google that’s generated 20,000 clicks and 400 new subscriptions. Our conversion rate formula (conversions, divided by visitors, multiplied by 100) tells us your conversion rate is 2%. For every 100 people who clicked on your ad, 2 became subscribers. Simple, right?
But your conversion rate doesn’t paint the full picture. You’ve gotta have a look at your other KPIs to understand the whole story.
Maybe you notice that your ad’s click-through rate is 10%—which is really good. That’d be an indication that your copy and visuals are persuasive and enticing. But if your landing page conversion rate is 1%, you’d know a significant number of your visitors are leaving without taking any sort of action. That tells us there’s an opportunity to improve this touch point.
But even hard numbers can’t tell you everything about your campaign performance. Also consider the broader context. What’s the overall state of the market? What are your competitors up to?
Let’s say you’ve noticed that your campaign conversion rate dipped last month. The knee-jerk reaction would be to change something about the campaign: replace the ads, build a new landing page, scrap the emails. But taking a closer look, you might find a seasonal trend impacting your industry, or maybe a competitor has launched a significant promotion. These factors would impact campaign performance, through no fault of your own.
At this stage, you wanna collect information that can help you decide where to focus your optimization efforts. Make note of any lagging metrics, unusual figures, or significant trends—those are all insights you can use.
Dig into behavioral data and insights
A lot of marketers would stop their data analysis there. But we wanna go a lil’ deeper.
Popular web analytics platforms (like Google Analytics) can help you measure lots of the high-level KPIs for your campaign, but they don’t usually give you the granular, behavioral insights that are especially valuable in CRO. To get a better understanding of your campaign performance, consider supplementing your analytics data with insights from other tools.
For example, you might use a survey tool on your landing page to ask visitors if they found the information they were looking for, or if anything nearly stopped them from converting. These insights are super powerful because they come straight from your audience—and by understanding their perspectives and addressing their needs more effectively, you can enhance user experience and boost conversion rates.
A mix of tools can help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your campaign performance and identify opportunities for optimization. These tools often complement each other and provide different perspectives, making your analysis richer and more nuanced. Don’t hesitate to explore different tools and find the combination that works best for you.
User behavior analysis tools like Hotjar offer features like heatmaps and session recordings to help you see where users are focusing their attention (and where they’re getting stuck).
Customer journey mapping tools like Smaply help you visualize the conversion path users take, highlighting areas for optimization that you might miss when looking at individual metrics on their own.
On-page survey tools like SurveyMonkey allow you to ask visitors direct questions while they’re interacting with your campaign, giving you insights into what they’re thinking in real-time.
Form some hypotheses to test
So, now you’ve gathered and analyzed your campaign data. But data is more than just numbers. It tells a story.
Each metric is a clue, a piece of the puzzle. Your job as a marketer is to piece together these clues to understand what they’re telling you. The patterns and trends you identify will help you form “hypotheses,” which are ideas for how various elements of your campaign might be improved.
Here are some examples of potential hypotheses:
The laggin’ landing page
Let’s say you notice that your landing page has a high bounce rate, but your ad’s click-through rate is strong. The data suggests that your ad is doing a good job at attracting visitors, but the landing page might be failing to meet their expectations.
You could hypothesize that improving your landing page design or messaging relevance will lower the bounce rate and increase conversions.
The complex call to action
Suppose your conversion rate is lower than expected, but your on-page surveys show visitors find your content valuable. This could indicate that the issue lies with the conversion process—perhaps the call to action isn’t compelling enough, or the form is too complicated.
In this case, your hypothesis might be that simplifying the conversion process could improve your results.
It’s important to remember that these are just hypotheses—they’re educated guesses based on the data, but they’re not guarantees. That’s why it’s essential to test your hypotheses, which is the next step in the CRO process. Testing allows you to validate your optimization ideas and quantify the impact of your proposed changes.
Ultimately, interpreting and shaping your campaign data isn’t just about spotting problems—it’s about finding opportunities. CRO is a continuous process of learning and improving, and every piece of data you collect is an opportunity to make your campaign more effective.
Testing and validating your hypotheses
You’ve identified your conversion goals, mapped your campaign journey, and dug into your performance metrics. Using this data, you’ve developed some hypotheses about how you could optimize your campaign.
Now comes the crucial next step: testing your hypotheses. This is where you take your educated guesses and theories and put ‘em under the microscope.
By methodically testing a hypothesis, you not only validate your ideas—you also quantify the potential impact of the changes you’re gonna make. The goal here is to establish a clear link between your experiments and the results they bring, helping you make data-backed optimizations to your campaigns.
By the end of this section, you’ll learn:
- The basics of traditional A/B testing and how it can help validate your hypotheses
- The importance (and challenge) of achieving statistical significance in your testing
- How to create variants for experimentation and find a “champion” version
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing, sometimes known as split testing, is one of the most essential tools in traditional conversion optimization.
No, no, wait—it is the most essential tool in traditional conversion optimization.
A/B testing allows you to compare two (or more) versions of some campaign element—a landing page, an email, an ad—to see which performs best. This comparison lets you isolate the variables that are contributing to conversions (and those that may be preventing ‘em). It provides the empirical foundation on which optimization decisions are based, helping marketers move beyond assumptions and “gut feel” to make data-driven changes to their campaigns.
Basically, A/B testing is the proving ground for your hypotheses.
Understanding how to run an A/B test is essential for all marketers, regardless of discipline. So, let’s get at it.
How do you run an A/B test?
Assuming you’ve got the tools, running an A/B test is—in theory—super simple. Let’s use an example.
Say you’ve hypothesized that changing the color of your call to action button from a muted blue to vivid red will increase your conversion rate. To test this hypothesis, you could split your traffic between two variants of the page: show variant A (blue button) to half your audience, and variant B (red button) to the other half.
By tracking the conversion rates of both variants, you can validate or refute your hypothesis. If the red button leads to more conversions, you’ve got data-backed evidence that this change positively influences visitor behavior. If there’s no difference (or the blue button performs better), you know that button color may not be a significant factor in your campaign’s conversion rate.
In that case, no sweat—you can just test a different hypothesis.
It’s important to note that—for the most accurate results—A/B testing should focus on one variable at a time. If you change multiple elements between variant A and variant B, you can’t be sure which change caused the difference in performance. Keep your tests controlled and focused to ensure your results are valid and actionable.
A/B testing is a powerful method to incrementally improve your conversion rate, building on what works and discarding what doesn’t.
Reaching statistical significance in your test
Of course, running an A/B test isn’t as simple as getting a few dozen visitors, checking which version has a higher conversion rate, then declaring it the winner.
Oh, no. Your test needs to hit statistical significance.
“Statistical significance” is a concept in statistics that’s used to determine whether a test result is likely due to chance or if it’s indicative of a real effect. In the context of A/B testing, statistical significance helps you evaluate whether the difference in performance between your variants is because of the changes you made, or if it’s just random variance.
Calculating statistical significance can be a complex process. You need to consider the size of your sample, the variance in your data, and the effect size—that is, the magnitude of the difference between your variants.
And achieving statistical significance can be challenging, especially when you’re working with small sample sizes. The smaller your audience, the larger the effect size needs to be to achieve statistical significance. That means you might need a large number of conversions (like, hundreds or thousands) to confidently say that one variant is better than the other.
There are lots of A/B testing calculators that’ll tell you whether your results are statistically significant. (And they can be… a little disheartening.) Still, even statistically insignificant tests can tell you something about your hypothesis—just don’t take it as concrete, irrefutable proof.
A/B testing is a powerful method of conversion optimization. But it’s not the only option.
AI-powered CRO tools like Unbounce’s Smart Traffic skip the lengthy testing phase and start dynamically optimizing your customer journey fast—like, in as few as 50 visits.
We think there’s a lot of value in combining traditional and AI CRO methods, but if you wanna leave it to the robots, jump ahead to learn about AI conversion optimization.
Finding your “champion” variant through testing
Once you’ve hit statistical significance in your test, you’ll have a champion.
In split testing, your “champion” variant is the version of your landing page, ad, or email that’s achieved the highest conversion rate. It’s your reigning champ—the one to beat in each round of testing.
Establishing a champion variant sets the benchmark for your optimization efforts. It becomes the new standard, the “control” against which you’ll test future “challengers.” This iterative process of testing and optimization helps ensure that your campaigns are always improving and adapting to the changing needs and preferences of your audience.
It’s also worth noting that your champion variant may not remain the champion forever. (In fact, it probably won’t.) As your audience, market, and goals evolve, the performance of your variants will change. Regular testing and analysis help ensure you’re always aware of these shifts and ready to respond accordingly.
Creating variants for experimentation
Variants are different versions of a landing page, ad, or email that allow you to test edits and improvements. They let you directly measure the impact of specific changes on your conversion rates, providing actionable insights that can drive continuous improvement.
But… how do you decide which variants to build?
Your variants should always be informed by your hypotheses. If (based on campaign performance metrics and audience insights) you suspect your ad copy might not communicate your product value very well, you could create a variant that’s more explicit about your benefits.
Consider your landing page. Every element—from the headline and copy to the images, call-to-action, form fields, and even color schemes—can potentially influence visitor behavior. You might create one variant of your landing page with long-form sales copy and another with shorter, punchier messaging. By comparing their performance, you can learn what your audience prefers and what compels them to convert.
Building variants isn’t just for testing landing pages, though. You can apply the same principle to other elements of your marketing campaign: email subject lines, ad copy, or even product pricing. Anywhere you can measure performance, there’s an opportunity to test and optimize.
Building variants for testing isn’t a one-off task. As your campaigns evolve, you’ll continually find new opportunities for testing and optimization. The key is to embrace a culture of experimentation and learning, where building and testing variants becomes a regular part of your marketing routine.
Creating variants is also essential for some types of AI conversion optimization. So, keep on buildin’.
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Optimizing for maximum conversion with AI
In a world where optimization is king (and Beyoncé is queen 🐝), AI is the starry-robed wizard that helps marketers interpret and leverage their data to make more impactful decisions.
(Gee, that metaphor got messy—even for us.)
Let’s simplify: AI conversion rate optimization empowers marketers to analyze huge amounts of data, predict outcomes, generate tailored content, and—ultimately—get even higher conversion rates.
As you’ll see, this isn’t about replacing traditional CRO methods—it’s about integrating AI into your strategies to complement and amplify your marketing efforts.
By the end of this section, you’ll learn:
- The distinct features of AI-powered CRO compared to traditional methods like A/B testing
- How AI uses data to generate content and deliver optimized experiences
- How AI-powered and traditional CRO methods complement each other for the best results
What is AI conversion rate optimization?
AI CRO is exactly what it sounds like: using artificial intelligence to optimize your conversion rates.
Typically, AI CRO tools use machine learning algorithms, sophisticated programs that can process and analyze vast amounts of data at a speed and scale far beyond human capabilities. They identify patterns and trends that may not be immediately apparent—anything from recurring visitor behaviors to subtle correlations between different campaign touch points and your conversion rates.
What makes AI-powered CRO so powerful is its predictive capabilities. Once the algorithms have identified patterns in the data, they can use the insights to predict future performance. That means marketers can proactively optimize their campaigns based on anticipated outcomes, not past performance. Pretty cool, right?
Many AI-powered tools can also implement optimizations on their own, continuously tweaking and refining your campaign to maximize conversions. That might mean dynamically adjusting your landing page content, email messaging, or even the sequence of campaign interactions to better match your visitors’ behaviors and preferences.
AI can process huge amounts of data super fast. That allows AI tools to recognize patterns, provide insights, and help marketers identify the content that’s most likely to resonate with their audience.
With AI, marketers can now instantly generate original content—text, images, videos—at a massive scale. That means creating and testing new ideas (or new versions of old ideas) has never been easier or faster.
Combining data analysis and content generation, AI can deliver hyper-targeted experiences based on someone’s preferences and behavior—increasing the chance they’ll convert.
Comparing traditional CRO and AI CRO
In traditional optimization (like A/B testing), marketers manually collect data and insights, create hypotheses about what might improve conversions, implement those changes, and then test the results.
It’s… kind of a lot of work, right?
Traditional CRO is time-consuming and requires a ton of human judgment and interpretation. On the other hand, AI CRO automates a ton of the optimization process, making data-driven decisions at a scale and speed far beyond human capabilities.
Compare A/B testing—the most “traditional” of traditional optimization techniques—with an AI optimization tool, like Unbounce’s Smart Traffic.
A/B testing involves making a hypothesis about a particular campaign element, creating two versions of it, and then comparing their performance.
It’s a manual process, reliant on the marketer’s ability to identify potential improvements and design an effective test.
The key limitation of A/B testing is that it treats all visitors the same, serving the same version of a page to everyone in each group, regardless of their individual behaviors or characteristics. And even once you’ve got a champion variant, it won’t be the ideal experience for everyone.
AI-powered CRO tools like Smart Traffic take a dynamic approach to optimization.
Instead of creating a static split of visitors to different versions of a page, they can use machine learning algorithms to automatically route each visitor to the variant of the page that they’re most likely to convert on, based on their individual attributes and behaviors.
This means your campaigns can essentially self-optimize over time, with the AI continuously learning and improving its understanding of what works best for different types of visitors.
AI CRO and traditional CRO methods—working together
Fortunately, you don’t need to choose between old-school experimentation and AI-powered optimization. As the digital landscape becomes increasingly competitive, marketers can leverage both AI-powered and traditional CRO techniques to drive the best possible results from their campaigns. Both have their place in an effective optimization strategy.
A/B testing is excellent for validating specific hypotheses about campaign elements and can provide clear, actionable insights. It’ll help you find the best version of your ad, email, or landing page for the majority of your audience—broadly speaking.
Meanwhile, AI-powered CRO tackles the complexities of real-time visitor segmentation and personalization. It can run (almost) autonomously, maximizing the conversion potential of your campaign without increasing your workload.
Both strategies, when used together, can significantly enhance your conversion rate optimization efforts. So, don’t think of it as AI “versus” traditional CRO—often, it’s AI and traditional CRO.
Before Smart Traffic, we used to do A/B testing one page at a time. We gained some increases that way, but once Smart Traffic came out, we could test a whole bunch of landing pages at once.
President, Taylor Made Marketing
A practical way to combine these methods is to start with traditional CRO techniques to gather initial insights and form hypotheses, find the optimal versions of your campaign elements through split testing, then use AI CRO tools to crank your conversions into overdrive.
Imagine you’ve launched an email campaign to generate registrations for a webinar, and the landing page… eh, it’s not converting so well. It could be because the headline isn’t very action-oriented. Or maybe it’s because the form is below the fold. One by one, you can A/B test your hypotheses. When the conversion rate improves, keep the change—when it doesn’t, don’t.
This traditional optimization allows for major adjustments, with the marketer applying their expertise and intuition to create variants and interpret the test results.
After you’ve run a handful of A/B tests, you’ll be pretty certain you’ve got the best version of your landing page: the champion. Now, you can use AI CRO tools to start making additional optimizations automatically.
AI excels at processing and interpreting large data sets in real-time, meaning it can make dynamic adjustments to campaigns based on visitor behaviors. With a tool like Unbounce’s Smart Traffic, you can create additional variants of your champion page—just minor tweaks here and there—then automatically direct each visitor to the version where they’re most likely to convert, based on their individual attributes and behaviors.
And (on average) you’ll increase your conversion rate by 30%.
This is the power of AI and traditional CRO methods, working together. By merging the strengths of both—the precision of A/B testing, the scale and speed of artificial intelligence—you can optimize your campaigns in a more comprehensive way than using either method alone.
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Evaluating and adopting AI CRO tools
Alright. You’re sold. You wanna start using AI marketing tools, too.
The good news is that there are lots to choose from. The recent explosion in AI (and especially with generative platforms like ChatGPT and Midjourney) has led to a veritable smörgåsbord of new tools, each promising to revolutionize your marketing campaigns. But as with any buffet, it’s not about eating until you throw up—it’s about choosing the options that complement each other and satisfy your appetite.
Choosing the best AI marketing tools is tough. The goal is to shift from an all-you-can-eat rookie to a scrunch-faced AI gourmand, with a sophisticated palate that can discern the generic from the specialized, the flashy from the substantial, the canned from the artisanal.
Or, put another way: Tell the quality from the crud.
By the end of this section, you’ll learn:
- How to differentiate between generic AI tools and those specialized for marketing
- The key factors to consider when evaluating an AI CRO tool, from the kind of AI to the data it uses
- Some of the best AI CRO tools on the market, including their features and pricing
Generic AI tools versus specialized AI tools
By now, you’ve probably used some AI tools in your marketing. Maybe you’ve created a campaign plan with ChatGPT. Designed some graphics in Midjourney. Written landing page content with Smart Copy. But the sheer number of AI tools available is staggering. How can marketers tell which ones are gonna get them the best results?
The truth is, not all AI is created equal—especially when it comes to conversion rate optimization. And it’s crucial that marketers are choosing tools that have been specifically trained for marketing purposes.
See, the fundamental technology in many AI tools is largely the same. What differentiates certain tools is the specific data sets used to train the underlying machine learning model.
A perfect example of this is AI writing tools, which almost all of us have experimented with. Platforms like Jasper or Copy.ai are built on OpenAI’s generic GPT model—which hasn’t been trained specifically for marketing use cases. On the other hand, AI tools like Anyword and Smart Copy generate outputs based on marketing data points to increase your conversion performance. See the difference?
Some AI tools are specialized to help marketers get the best results from their campaigns. They’re trained on a unique set of conversion data. That’s why choosing the right AI tool for your marketing needs is essential.
How to evaluate AI optimization tools
Marketing AI is developing at a ridiculous pace. With so many tools available—even just for CRO—it’s really difficult for marketers to evaluate which will best meet their needs.
When considering an AI-powered CRO tool, don’t get swept away by big promises and fancy language. Try to understand the kind of AI technology the tool uses and how it’ll help you meet your marketing goals. Where is it getting its data? How accurate and reliable are its models? Is it really built for marketers?
And, of course, think about the stuff you’d consider before adopting any marketing tool. What’s the user experience like? How will the platform integrate with the rest of your stack? Can you get a real, live person on the phone when something goes wrong?
Here are some things you should also consider when evaluating AI CRO tools:
• Is the tool generic or specialized? Tools that’ve been specifically designed for marketing are likely to get you better results. Their models have been trained on marketing data and are adept at identifying patterns and insights relevant to conversion performance.
• Where did the data come from? If the tool is specialized, scrutinize the origin and quality of the unique data it’s been trained on. There should be a significant volume of reliable data over time, giving the AI a broad and accurate understanding of the behavior it’s analyzing.
• What are the reporting capabilities? In-depth and clear reporting is crucial to understanding the impact of an AI tool on your conversion rates. The right tool should provide detailed insights and analytics, not just raw data. Look for a platform that offers reports and dashboards that’ll help you make data-driven decisions.
• How accurate is the model? An AI tool is only worth its megabits if it can make accurate predictions based on the data—and that’s especially true in conversion rate optimization. Make sure to request information about the model’s accuracy and performance.
• Is the company over-promising? With all the hype around AI, some companies might promise more than they can deliver. Be skeptical of tools that claim they’ll revolutionize the way you work or replace your whole marketing department. (Gulp.)
• Are there bonus features to utilize? A comprehensive AI platform can provide additional value outside conversion rate optimization. Consider whether the tool has any extra functionality that could streamline campaign development or optimize your reporting workflow.
Remember: There’s no one-size-fits-all AI tool. Different businesses have different needs—but opting for tools specifically designed for marketing use cases can offer significant advantages. They tend to be more effective, easier to use, and better suited to the unique challenges and goals of marketers.
Next, let’s look at some examples of AI CRO tools.
Unbounce: Automatic conversion optimization
Unbounce is a powerful CRO platform that leverages AI to help you get the most sales and signups from your campaign. In addition to building and optimizing landing pages—an essential touch point in any high-converting campaign—Unbounce’s Smart Traffic uses AI to automatically route visitors to the page where they’re most likely to convert. Unlike traditional A/B testing, Smart Traffic optimizes quickly and efficiently, delivering up to 30% more conversions.
Plus, it comes with a complete AI copy generation tool—right inside the builder.
- Dynamically optimizes your campaign journey, sending visitors to their best-match page
- Offers unlimited landing pages and best-in-class A/B testing tools allowing for comprehensive experimentation
- Includes a complete AI copy generator within the platform so you can spin up variants even faster
Pricing: Starting at $99/month
Attention Insight: Simulated attention heatmaps
Attention Insight is an AI-powered platform that lets marketers validate their design concepts for ads, landing pages, apps, and more—before launching. With their predictive attention heatmaps, Attention Insight identifies potential performance issues and recommends ways to improve the user experience, improving conversion rates.
- Provides AI-generated attention analytics that offer crucial performance feedback on design concepts
- Supports a variety of analysis types across different design mediums, including landing pages, websites, ads, and product packaging
Pricing: Starting at $479/month
Pathmonk: Journey mapping and attribution
Pathmonk is a painless alternative to complex analytics platforms like Google Analytics. Designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey, Pathmonk uses AI to automatically compile and analyze user behavior to build intention models and generate insights.
- Offers a plug-and-play solution that starts automatically compiling and analyzing user data—no cookies required
- Provides a single source of truth, gathering data from all marketing channels for a comprehensive conversion funnel analysis
Pricing: Starting at $450/month
EvolvAI: Enterprise-level experience optimization
EvolvAI harnesses the power of AI to automatically discover, personalize, and improve user journeys based on live behavior. Its easy-to-integrate platform and proven methodology help enterprise-level businesses analyze visitor behavior at an unprecedented scale and speed, creating personalized customer experiences that drive desired outcomes.
- Uses advanced techniques to understand live visitor behavior and generate actionable insights
- Automates testing of multiple ideas concurrently, allocating traffic to experiences that outperform the control in real-time
- Provides clear visualization of results through dashboards, highlighting key outcomes and friction points in the user journey
Pricing: Custom, around $50,000/year
The future of conversion optimization is AI-driven
Alright, you’ve spent some time exploring the world of conversion rate optimization—and, whew, there’s a lot to unpack. By now, you’ve got a solid understanding of traditional optimization techniques like A/B testing, and you’ve seen how AI is starting to transform CRO in significant ways.
With AI, marketers can break away from the one-size-fits-all approach of old-school testing. You can offer personalized, dynamic content to your audience based on real-time data. With the right tools, you can consistently deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time. That’s the power of AI conversion rate optimization.
This isn’t a passing trend. This is a great, big, high-contrast call to action. Marketers need to adopt AI tools—not ‘cause it’s the hot, new thing, but because it can help you increase your marketing ROI without increasing your budget or workload. No-brainer, right?
AI-powered marketing is the future. Full stop.
The key to navigating this future is continuous learning and adaptation. Experiment with these new tools. Try different things. It’s the only way you’ll figure out what works best for you, your campaigns, and your audience.
And always remember what Hemingway said (in another life): “Marketing is optimization.”
Unlock your conversion potential with AI
You’ve learned all about CRO and AI. Now, it’s time to boost your conversions.
Create personalized campaigns, optimize in real-time, and increase your marketing ROI—without stretching your budget. The future is AI-powered marketing, and it’s only a click away.Get more conversions with AI tools