Optimizing CRO: The Definitive Guide to Mobile App Design

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) refers to the process of making changes that increase the number of visitors that take a specified action. This could be purchasing a product, signing up to your email list, or something else entirely.

CRO is important for mobile apps, including e-commerce apps, content-based apps, and game apps. According to Clevertap, experts estimate that apps have, on average, a 1 – 2% conversion rate. In other words, only two out of 100 people who install the app will convert. 

Understanding CRO allows you to make adjustments to your app, resulting in more people moving through the funnel and then converting. In this article, I’ll teach you some steps to boost your app’s CRO. 

Collecting Data

You can only do effective CRO if you understand the data you’re working with. Before you can start optimizing your app, therefore, you need to understand how well you’re doing already. Establish your baseline audience figures and average conversion rate. 

To do this effectively, it’s essential to understand the steps of your marketing funnel. 

Let’s imagine you create an app offering marketing courses. To entice people to download, you provide free access to some content. To access the entire library, though, they have to pay an in-app subscription fee.

These are the steps that lead up to the conversion:

  1. User installs the app.
  2. User opens the app.
  3. User sees the “Purchase” option on the menu.
  4. User clicks on the “Purchase” button.
  5. User completes the purchase.

There are potential drop off points at each stage of that journey.

By outlining this journey, you can analyze each section of your funnel, determine where the “leaks” in your funnel are, and attempt to plug the hole. If many users get as far as step 4, but very few click on the purchase button, this indicates a problem with something on that page.

Once you’ve finished collecting data, you should set some SMART goals. You can use these goals to monitor the success of your efforts to improve your app.

Integrate an Analytics Tracking Tool 

Monitoring your key metrics is a vital part of CRO. Robust analytics tracking allows you to understand your users’ behaviour, such as how many people viewed your sales page or clicked the buy button. Therefore, you need an analytics tracking tool.

If you’re just starting or have a limited budget, try Google Analytics for Mobile, which is free. Add the Firebase framework to your app’s codebase and set configuration values. This tool can give you the following useful information:

  • Total active users. 
  • How long users spend on the app.
  • Most used UIs. 
  • Number of app crashes. 

You can receive notifications of specific actions (such as viewing your sales page) by using the Events function:


Source: Bounteous

You should have the capability to track the most critical stages in your funnel. You can also view a profile of the user tied to a specific event.

Once you’ve set up the funnel stages as events, you can view a summary of how many people complete each step. This makes it easy to see where your funnel’s choke points are and where you should focus your efforts: 

Armed with all this valuable information, you can draw conclusions about how your app is working and make informed decisions on how best to optimize for increased conversions. 

Improving Conversions 

Now you’ve established your baseline and set up an analytics monitoring system, it’s time to start optimizing your app to grow your conversion rate. 

Here are some of the best ways to do this: 

Pay Attention to the User Interface 

The user interface is the means through which a customer interacts with your app. If it’s not easy to navigate and user friendly, you’ll lose prospective customers at the first hurdle. The user interface might be different at each stage of your funnel, so pay attention to where people are dropping out of the process. 

The Purchase UI is particularly vital. Your Purchase UI is the last thing your app users will see before deciding to convert (or deciding not to.) It needs an attention-grabbing headline, a description of the benefits of signing up, and a clear call to action. If any aspect of the Purchase UI is confusing or challenging to use, your potential customer will close the app without making a purchase. Worse, they’ll probably never come back. 

So what makes a great user interface? 

  • Simple. Don’t overcomplicate your UI. “The simpler, the better” is an excellent rule to follow. 
  • Creative but familiar. Be creative and allow your UI to reflect your brand’s unique identity. However, don’t try to be too “out there.” Users like the familiar. Strike a balance between innovative but recognizable. 
  • Intuitive. Make sure the design is based on usability. Menus and buttons should be clearly labeled and logically located, and the steps should flow in the most sensible order. 
  • Responsive. Your UI must respond quickly and reliably to user actions. 

Remember that UI is the primary factor in creating a great user experience (UX.) Without a great UI, you will lose customers and fail to make conversions. 

Ensure You’re Providing Value

Perhaps the number one golden rule of marketing is to give value before you make a sales pitch. A user who has just downloaded your app is unlikely to commit to a purchase straight away. Therefore, your first challenge is to keep them on the app and ensure they keep coming back. 

Do this by offering value. What you offer depends on the context of your audience and your business. You might provide free in-app content such as articles, podcasts, or videos. Another option is to make a version of your product available for free – with additional features available to purchase – or a free 7-day trial of the premium version. 

If you’re not sure what to give away, come back to your ideal customer persona. What are that person’s problems, and how can you help solve them? 

Leads convert to customers when they understand how your product will solve a problem for them. Your job is to sell them that vision. 

Improve Your App’s Tech and Integrations

Losing some app users to churn is inevitable, but you can take steps to minimize it. User churn is often down to problems with the app’s tech or functionality. Therefore, take the time to ensure everything is working as it should. You can use a shift planning tool to make sure you’ve always got someone to focus on this issue.

Churn could indicate any number of tech problems, and the stage at which people drop out of the funnel can show where you should direct your attention. Does your app crash regularly? Do web service or API errors keep users from completing their purchase? Perhaps the UI doesn’t work well with the iOS or Android interface? Maybe your app has bugs you need to get rid of?

Robust testing and quality assurance are critical. You should also continue to monitor your app for new or previously unnoticed tech issues. Dynatrace is a fantastic tool that allows you to track errors, crashes, and network requests:


Source: Dynatrace

Bugsnag is also useful for monitoring app health. This tool even gives you a stability score, which allows you to monitor how your app is faring overall. 

To increase conversions, you need to make it as easy as possible for your users to take the desired action. This means ensuring your app is reliable, free from errors and bugs, and works well across various devices and platforms. 

Conduct A/B Testing

A/B testing is the best way to determine whether particular elements of your app are helping or hindering conversions. A/B testing is a form of this-or-that analysis that shows which of two possible versions is most effective. 

If leads are leaking out of your conversion funnel at a particular point, explore ways you could improve that section and run A/B tests on different possible versions. 

The changes made as a result of A/B tests can be small. They might seem insignificant, but the difference they make can be substantial. Even using the word “Buy” instead of the word “Try” in your CTA can dramatically influence your conversion rate. 


Source: Apptentive

Therefore, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out different versions of app elements and monitor your analytics to determine which one results in more conversions. 

The following are some of the critical elements you may wish to consider A/B testing: 

  • Pricing. Pricing a digital product appropriately is notoriously tricky. You need to price your product in a way that reflects how the market values it. Keep in mind that making a product cheaper will not necessarily increase conversions by itself. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market, but underselling your product may make users under-appreciate its value. 
  • App store descriptions. Split-test the headline and description that will display in app stores. These descriptions are the main factor in determining whether or not people download your app. 
  • Payment gateways. Some people prefer certain payment modes to others. Test your app using different payment gateways, especially if many users drop out of the funnel at the purchase stage. 

There are many tools you can use to conduct your A/B testing. Optimizely, Apptimize, Vanity, Kissmetrics, and Adobe Target are all great options. 

In short: don’t assume that you already know what your customer base will respond to. Instead, test as many elements as you can, especially those which sit at your funnel’s chokepoints. 

CRO and App Design: Optimizing Conversions

Your app will not convert users to customers by itself. CRO takes time and effort, but the results will be more than worth it. 

Approach CRO deliberately and strategically, using data and robust analytics. Understanding how your prospective customers are interacting with your app is the first step in optimizing for increased conversions. Once you have that data, you can make the necessary adjustments. 

Remember to listen to your audience at every stage of the process. If your app doesn’t appeal to your target audience, isn’t user-friendly, or is riddled with tech problems, they will uninstall it and never return. If you follow the guidance I’ve outlined for you in this piece, you’ll see the results from an optimized app in no time.