Most e-commerce businesses have gotten pretty savvy over the last few years when it comes to driving buyer-ready traffic to their website. The real challenge for e-commerce businesses is increasing eCommerce conversion rates. The biggest thing you have to be aware of when doing CRO (conversion rate optimization), is understanding your website is a constantly evolving creature, and best practices from last year may not work next year. You’ve got to stay ahead of the curve and embrace innovation and new technology or risk falling behind the competition.

Whether you want visitors to sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, or enroll in a subscription service, you must know how to improve conversion rates—and conversion rate optimization is the science behind how to do that. In this guide, we will go over all of the terminology and ins and outs of CRO in addition to providing a list of things you can do to increase your conversion rates and a list of potential CRO tests you should be running on your website.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can be defined as the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a designated action on your website. These actions may include product purchases, form fills, video views, or clicking a link on your website. 

CRO focuses on understanding what is persuading your users to convert, what is hindering them and what would make your conversion process much more user-focused. Understanding these factors can help you build a more user-friendly experience that will encourage users to convert.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization Testing?

Conversion rate optimization testing is the process of making changes to your design and processes to see if your conversion optimization efforts are effective. Conversion rate testing may include:

  • A/B Testing Tools allow you to test different versions of a page to find the page version that is the best performer. This is an effective tool for high trafficked sites because you can send significant traffic to both versions for most effective results. 
  • Heat Mapping allows you to record users on your site and see what actions they perform on your webpage. A website heat map will show you where the user clicked, how far they scrolled on the page, and where users dropped off and exited your web page.
  •  Website Feedback Tools will help you collect qualitative feedback that you can use to compare before/after responses to the changes you make.

What Are The Benefits of Doing CRO On Your Website?

While there is not a direct relationship to improving search engine rankings or increasing organic traffic, there are specific benefits for SEO. 

Customer Insights – Conversion rate optimization focuses on understanding what your key audience responds well to and making optimizations that enhance their user experience. This hyper-focus on user experience is rewarded by Google Search Bots. 

Increase ROI – Increasing your conversion rate reduces the number of resources you need to allocate on increasing new customer acquisition efforts. This means you are getting the most out of your current marketing efforts. 

Scalability – CRO allows you to get the most out of your internal resources and your current audience. Audiences are not infinite, so it is important to turn your current audience into loyal consumers for better future growth. 

Better User Experience – Google rewards websites that aim to provide a positive user experience. CRO identifies what hinders or encourages conversions, and leads companies to make appropriate changes for a better user experience. 

Increased Trust – Through improving your website’s conversion process, you will increase trust that your business is a safe organization for end-users to share their credit card and personal information with. 

How to Calculate Conversion Rate

End-User Can Purchase Multiple Times – To calculate conversion rate, you will need to take the number of unique purchase orders and divide it by the total number of sessions a user performed. 

End-User Can Purchase One Time – To calculate conversion rate, you will take the number of unique orders and divide it by the number of unique users. 

What Are The Main Elements of CRO?

CRO focuses on conversion research, user experience, website effectiveness, and personalization. Focusing on all four of these elements will help improve conversion rates and sales. 

Conversion Research – It is beneficial to gather information to guide your creation of improvement ideas. This research may come from analytics, heat maps, or surveys. Conversion research is the most important factor of CRO because it provides real insight into how your users interact with your site. 

Website Effectiveness – Implement persuasive copywriting to encourage end-users they need to have your product. Using social proof, scarcity and urgency can strongly encourage users to purchase or convert.

User Experience – Improving user experience will allow your consumers to browse and find more information easily. Improved navigation, forms, and information flow can lead to an increase in conversions.

Personalization – Implementing personalization techniques will help you discover the highest converting experience on your website for end-users.

Where To Start With CRO

Below we will break down applicable tools to implement to start the process of CRO. 

Google Analytics – Setting Up Conversion Goals & Funnels

Google Analytics is one of the most effective CRO tools. It provides insight that can help you find areas for optimization, testing and changes. The following are the top CRO analytics to track. 

Conversions by Browser

This metric will tell you whether there is a discrepancy in user experience based on browser. If you see a specific browser is lower than the rest, you can view the version that is hindering conversion and identify what needs to change. 

How to Track: You will create a report by going to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS. 

Mobile Conversions

Mobile traffic may be the primary percentage of your web traffic, but there might be an issue with how your site is displayed. If there is a display issue or glitch, this can lead to a poor number of conversions. Reviewing mobile conversions will clue you in if there is a discrepancy between smartphones, tablets, or desktops. 

How to Track: You will create a report by going to Audience > Technology > Mobile > Devices.

Site Speed

A quick load speed leads to a much better user experience, and a strong user experience means users will likely stay longer on your website. A general standard to work towards is a 3 second load time. 

How to Track: You will create a report by going to Behavior > Site Speed. 

Understanding Conversion Goals & Funnels To Inform Your Decisions

If your website has a lot of educational content that helps users convert, you will want to identify what content persuades users to convert and what content is hindering your end-users. Through analyzing your behavior funnel, you might find some content converts at a significantly higher rate than others. 

This is important because, in order to build an effective funnel, you will need to know what content your users interact with before they convert. A funnel analysis can show when users exit on landing pages and can highlight areas where you are losing a significant number of users. 

How to Track: You will create a report by going to Conversions > Funnel Visualization.

Heat & Click Tracking – Setting Up Crazy Egg Data

Organizations that are looking to better understand how users interact with their webpage can use a heat map data visualization tool. Through recordings and snapshots, users are able to visualize changes that need to be made. 

Crazy Egg will take a snapshot of the page selected. From there, they create a map of all of the elements on your webpage. Next, they collect activity data from users who are interacting with your web page. Through custom code, Crazy Egg is able to determine if this is a unique user to prevent duplicates in your data. 

After enough data has been collected, you can see all of the information aggregated in a dashboard. See the one below. 

This visual representation gives you the ability to see what parts of your website are receiving clicks. The brighter the area on the map, the more activity is rendered. 

How Crazy Egg Can Assist with A/B Testing Optimizations

Crazy Egg’s visualization tools allow you to see exactly what your visitors do differently on the different landing pages being tested. If you are testing call to action button locations, new copy, new images, or a different design, you will be able to see visually why one page converts more than another. 

How Crazy Egg Can Assist with User Experience Optimizations

Visual tracking allows you to get a better sense of what you need to change to improve the user experience. For example, if you have a significant number of shopping cart abandonments, then you can test different check-out designs to improve user experience. 

The visual dashboard can highlight that your checkout button is tricky to find, or that the color selection may not be right for the selected design. Removing distractions that push users to abandon will help improve your conversion rate.

How To Set Conversion Rate Goals

Before you can begin setting conversion rate goals, you need to identify all of the micro-conversions that need to take place before your macro conversion is complete. 

The macro conversion is the main conversion you would like to see. This conversion guides your website copy, layout, design, and call to action button. 

Micro conversions are the small steps that must be taken before the macro conversion can take place. These micro-conversions may help educate and build trust with your consumers. 

Below is a list of both micro and macro conversions:

  • Purchase 
  • Reviews 
  • Subscriptions
  • Download User Guides
  • Social Media Share
  • Form Fills 
  • Community

Conversion Rate Optimization Testing Tools

Google Optimize – Google Optimize is the preferred tool of several marketing agencies, including Stryde. Let’s break down why this tool is elite. Google Optimize collects your current website data and is able to show you which site experience is most delightsome to your customers. Going beyond showing you the preferred experience, they also provide you with a list of solutions you need to implement to deliver the experience.

Optimize natively integrates with Analytics to identify where your site can improve, and turns the insight into reports that your business can focus on.

AB Tasty – AB Tasty is a Software as a Service product that allows for simple creation of A/B tests. You will be able to create page variations, define objectives and monitor your results. 

Adobe Target – Adobe Target allows your organization to create personalized experiences for each of your customers. This product is able to help your organization optimize your website, apps, social media, and mobile sites. 

Intellimize – Intellimzie uses machine learning to deliver a personalized experience for each end-user. Through active machine learning, Intellimize uses real-time optimization, proactive personalization, and a perpetual automation engine. 

Kameleoon – Kameleoon utilizes experimentation and personalization technologies to measure a visitor’s purchasing intent. Through real-time monitoring, they are able to create personalized messages, show dynamic content and offers to each user. This technique maximizes sales and helps improve your margin.

OptimizelyOptimizely is an optimization platform that uses AI-powered personalization and experimentation to create a positive user experience. The experimentation uses techniques that include A/B testing, multivariate testing, and server-side testing.

15 Ways To Improve User Experience & Improve Your Conversion Rates

#1: Understand your customers.

Understanding your customers and their behaviors are the foundation of a good CRO strategy. Without that knowledge, you’ll waste time and resources optimizing things that may not need it. There are plenty of analytic tools to break down customer behaviors, such as Lucky Orange, Hotjar, and CrazyEgg. We use CrazyEgg here at Stryde for our clients and we highly recommend it over the others. You can offer customers incentives for taking a survey. You can leverage their purchase history, comments, and reviews to understand their preferences. Getting a more intimate understanding of your audience allows you to make personalized recommendations, segment your marketing efforts, and create a sight design and user experience that speaks to their needs—all of which help improve your conversion rates.

#2: Make it easy to learn about your product.

Think for a moment about shopping in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. When there isn’t anyone around to help answer questions, you get frustrated and go somewhere else. The same is true for eCommerce—perhaps even more so because shoppers have expectations of instant convenience. Make sure your FAQ section is thorough and easily navigated. Even more importantly, make sure you have a live chat option to address customer questions and concerns, whether it’s a real agent or a bot. In many cases, a chat can turn into a sale after the needs of the customer have been acknowledged and addressed, by carrying the customer from awareness into consideration and then to a decision.

#3: Feature User Generated Content.

In today’s era of social media, shopping choices are often influenced by what friends and connections are doing. This has created a strong sentiment of customer trust in User Generated Content. UGC on your site can include videos and pictures. You can integrate your site with Instagram images using a service like Instafeed. Written reviews are also still important, but their power to instill a sense of trust goes even further when they’re accompanied by pictures of the reviewers and their social media handles (which of course, verifies that they are a real person). If running on Shopify, some useful review apps include Loox and Okendo.

#4: Make it mobile.

There’s no question about it: you’ve got to make your site mobile-friendly. Mobile visits have already been outpacing desktop traffic since 2017. But the need for CRO is even more pressing with mobile because research shows that mobile visits have a higher bounce rate and that visitors spend less time on the site. It makes sense; sitting at a desktop is a more focused activity than checking your phone. That said, it’s important that the mobile version of your site looks amazing and presents a seamless user experience in order to get users browsing to come back later when they have more time to look around your site.

#5: Write amazing copy.

And if you can’t do that, pay someone else to do it. The sales copy of your site is the first line of defense against a bad impression of your product or service, especially in the age of Amazon, where hack sellers abound. Spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and odd phrases are all red flags for consumers who want to avoid low-quality products or services. Beyond that, your copy encapsulates the feeling you want clients and customers to get about what you’re selling. A good copywriter (if that’s not you) will help you organize product information and write up descriptions that motivate people to buy or subscribe.

#6: Optimize your site’s architecture.

Make navigation for your customers as easy as possible. Customers who get lost in the maze of internal links won’t find what they’re looking for—so they won’t buy it. Improving store navigation through the layout and site architecture is an easy way to increase your CRO (and your SEO at the same time). Avoid unnecessary content that clutters the page and makes shopping confusing; make it easy to find products, make it easy to find product variants, and make it easy to check out.

#7: Give payment options…or offer a payment plan.

Most online shoppers use credit and/or debit cards to make a purchase, but a decent amount also use PayPal—and an increasing number are using Mobile Pay options like those provided by Apple and Samsung. Providing multiple payment options (sometimes even ones like gift cards or cash on delivery) is a great way to increase your CRO. Even better is when you can be flexible about the timeline of the payment; if you can offer a payment plan, you’ll get more paying customers. This purchase-on-credit strategy is something that more and more vendors are offering through their site. We recommend tapping into Klarna, AfterPay, or Affirm. If you are running on Shopify, which 99% of our customers are, you can use Shop Pay Installments, which is powered by Affirm. It’s so easy and slick to use. Five minutes to setup and you’ll see a bump in sales right away.

#8: Showcase your products.

It’s easy to snap some pictures right from your phone. That works well if you’re selling used items of Craigslist, but if you’re running an eCommerce venture, you can do better. Get a professional photographer (or at least someone with a sense of composition) to take pictures of your products in a lightbox. Find models to showcase your items in action (wearing them, playing with them, whatever). Get the items from multiple angles. A good product page will have several different pictures so that customers get a better sense of the item—and get more decisive about buying it. If you’re selling services, use good stock photos or quality action shots.

#9: Deliver it quick…if they want.

One of the biggest remaining advantages of brick-and-mortar operations is that customers can get their items right away. Some venues like Amazon have responded by offering services like Prime. Your eCommerce store might not be big enough to offer such expedited service, but you can still give customers some options when it comes to shipping. Whether you’re managing the stock yourself, or outsourcing fulfillment to a third party, consider giving shoppers some options about how quickly they want the item. Having some nuanced options will make everyone happy; not all your shoppers will want to pay for same-day delivery, but some might.

#10: Offer ongoing support.

Transparency and accessibility are two factors that can build trust in your product, which of course gets more people to pay for it. When clients and customers see that they can have access to 24/7 support, concerns they have about sealing the deal will be mitigated by the possibility of getting help. Resolving customer issues quickly will also build positive attention around your brand, build rapport, and create possibilities for future sales with the same client.

#11: Get Scarce.

The Scarcity Effect has been used in sales forever. Nothing will empty a tray of hot baked goods like walking down the street and shouting get ‘em while they’re hot! You can use the same psychological strategy in eCommerce, running promotions that have customers racing against the clock to buy before the sale is over. Scarcity in terms of product availability can also drive up sales, so however you word it, make your shoppers think that this item won’t be around forever.

#12: Make a great-looking homepage.

With all the work you put into SEO and social media marketing and paid ads, you want to make sure your customers land somewhere appealing. Think back again to those brick-and-mortar days. When you landed in a department store decked out with holiday cheer, you got into the spirit of buying (the spirit of giving could come later). No matter the time of year, your store’s homepage is the place to make a great first impression. Make sure your Call to Action (CTA) is prominently displayed and well-placed, whether you want visitors to buy something or to sign up for a newsletter.

#13: Optimize the checkout experience.

This is a nice way of saying “upsell your customer.” Most stores have tons of candy and other small items by the cash register. These impulse purchases are placed in the hope that customers will spend a few more dollars on odds and ends. You can repeat the same strategy with your online store, and it’s even easier to do with automated product suggestions or upgrades.

#14: Target and retarget

Once you have a list of leads, develop a targeted marketing strategy. Many businesses send daily or weekly emails with content such as recipes, advice, and gift ideas. With the range of email marketing suites we have today, you can also personalize emails for anniversaries, birthdays, and other client milestones. Retargeting is a long-term strategy, and it’s even more relevant today when consumers need as many as seven points of contact before making a move. Make sure you have some sort of system set up to send an email to customers who have abandoned their cart.

#15: Make yourself look legit

This one may seem obvious, but with all the fraud going on today you need to go above and beyond to look legitimate and safe. Keep the look of your site stylish and professional (hire a designer or programmer if you can’t do that). Have an “about us” section and post photos of real people in the company, and maybe even some action shots of everyone at work. Have some language on the site about customer guarantees, return and refund policies. Reassurance is key to dispelling internal obstacles and increasing your conversion rates.

These 15 tips cover a wide range of best practices, but they’re all geared toward improving your website’s conversion rates. Don’t rely on one or two alone, but leverage the whole range of these ideas to increase the percentage of customers who reach the goals you have for them when they visit your eCommerce site. After you’ve gone through the list and tried these things, the next step for your business is to start conversion rate optimization testing on your website where you split (A/B) test different elements of your home page, category pages, product pages, or the checkout process to reduce friction and get more customers through the sales funnel.

10 Awesome CRO Tests To Run On Your Website

Headlines

Testing different headline variations for your web page or article can help you identify which variations and keywords perform best. 

SEO’s understand certain types of words and phrases can lead to increased click-through rates and higher social sharing probability. 

Five High-Level Headline Types to Test

To begin testing different headlines, you may want to consider implementing the following headline types:

  • Normal (Ways to Make Baby Wearing More Delightful)
  • Question (What are the Different Ways to Use Your Baby Carrier?)
  • How to (How to Properly Wear Your Baby Carrier)
  • Number (Four Different Ways to Wear Your Baby Carrier)
  • Reader-Focused (Ways to Make Your Baby Wearing Experience More Delightful) 

Images

Optimizing images to improve conversion rate optimization may include a focus on selecting images that guide users to understand the page and to encourage them to continue to engage with your content. 

Images help readers to learn, connect concepts, answer questions, visualize product benefits, and have emotional connections with the content describing solutions.

Properly selected images can lead to:

  • Lower Bounce Rate
  • Higher CTR
  • Improved User Experience
  • Longer Time on Page

Videos

Is your video content driving traffic but conversions are not following? If you answered yes — you will likely need to optimize your video strategy to convert these users into paying customers. 

Optimize Video Placement 

Identify the proper location for your video content through CRO testing. Ecommerce sites can benefit from having videos strategically placed on product pages, subscription-based businesses can benefit from having an explanation video on the homepage, and other businesses may focus solely on video on social media platforms. 

Through testing placements, you will be able to identify the proper location for your video content. 

Optimize Video Type

When you consider video conversion rate optimization, it is critical to keep in mind what your audience wants from your video. Product promotional videos, business explanation videos, and customer review videos will all impact your customers differently. 

Understanding these differences will help you as you A/B test placement of different types of videos. 

Copy

Well-designed websites can draw users to your website, but your website copy will either persuade or dissuade end-users to convert. Engaging content will emphasize the importance of your product and how it will benefit your audience. 

Well-written content will immediately identify what is in it for the audience and how the product solves their pain points. Effective copy is also clear, concise, and matching your brand style. 

A well-written body of content is essential for a website. It must answer the basic question – “what’s in store for me?” It must also be clear, concise, to the point, and portray your brand’s persona in the most efficient manner.

When optimizing and testing content consider the following:

  • Create blocks of content to improve readability
  • Implement bulleted lists 
  • Take advantage of subheadings
  • Create and follow a consistent brand style guide
  • Maintain your brand tone throughout all web pages
  • Directly answer your audience’s questions
  • Add key phrases to headings for simple takeaways

Calls To Action

You may think calls to action (CTA) are simple, but having a properly optimized CTA is critical because it can dramatically impact the number of conversions you see. 

Placement

It is common to place CTA buttons above the fold, so your end-users don’t have to scroll too far to get in touch with you. This still is considered best practice, but there are other locations that should be tested:

  • Sidebars
  • Welcome Pop-Up Message
  • Broken Up Throughout a Blog Post
  • End of Blog Post
  • Emails

Button Sizes

Large buttons can definitely draw attention, but if they are considered to be too large, they can be ignored because the end-user may consider them to be part of the banner. On the other end of the spectrum, small CTAs can be lost in the webpage. 

With this in mind, any clickable element should be at least 44×44 pixels for mobile users. Other than this standard, your organization should test the size of buttons to gauge engagement.

Button Colors

Organizations can test different button colors to see which style draws the most engagement from end-users. The following are characteristics that should be considered when CRO testing button colors:

  • Defined Shape
  • Contrasting Color to Surroundings
  • Visible Call to Action

Button Words

You can test different forms of content placed within your CTA buttons. It is common for marketers to create a sense of urgency for their end-users. This includes asking them to download a whitepaper, sign up for a webinar, or register for a consultation. 

The number one thing to consider is how your end-user will perceive the button. Being concise and straightforward is beneficial and helps your audience know exactly what they are getting into. 

CTA Copy to Consider Testing:

  • Download Our Whitepaper
  • Let’s Talk!
  • Click to Learn More
  • Join Our Email List
  • Free Sample 

Value Proposition

Organizations can use A/B testing to compare different value propositions displayed to your customers. By having two different landing pages, you will be able to gather statistics to determine which value proposition is more effective. 

When you are working to articulate your value proposition, it can be challenging to nail what resonates with your audience on the first try. Use the following best practices to help your company identify the most compelling value proposition. 

The following are some things to keep in mind when creating or improving upon a value proposition:

Clear: Solid value propositions are straight to the point. They promise a clear outcome that solves the end user’s problem. 

Concise: Vocalizing your promise without unnecessary words will help your audience more clearly understand what they are being promised. 

Benefits: You are selling a product, but your end-user is purchasing a solution. Highlighting how your product benefits the end-user will help your customers navigate the sales funnel. 

Navigation Design

Site navigation plays a big role in how prospects engage with your brand. You might have well-designed landing pages, but without clear navigation, end users may find it difficult or impossible to ever see them. 

Navigation can help end-users that land on the first page to navigate to additional product pages, product blog descriptions, contact pages, and even the homepage. 

Things to consider when testing navigation:

  • Optimize Mobile Navigation 
  • Simplify Drop Down Menus
  • Improve Site Search Tool Visibility
  • Separate Navigation by Audiences
  • Improve Footer Navigation

Trust Indicators

Credibility leads visitors to develop trust with your brand. This trust plays a critical role in prospects turning into profitable conversions. There should be a variety of trust indicators implemented throughout your site to help consumers see from start to check out that you are a trusted partner. 

The best way to find out what trust indicators are beneficial to your end-users is by testing the placement of the following:

Customer Reviews

Allowing your customers to speak for themselves will be a great trust indicator for future prospects. Hearing firsthand how your product benefited another individual, will allow them to visualize how the product could help them solve their own problems.

Policies (Shipping, Return, Warranty)

Displaying clear policies on when an end-user will have their product shipped and how they can track the package will help customers better understand when they can expect to have your product in their hands. 

A clear return and warranty policy are also beneficial because understanding how an individual can return it will help your consumers build trust in your delivery procedure. 

Clear Contact Us

Having your customer service details front and center allow consumers to know exactly how they can contact you. Common information shared with the customer includes your phone number, email, and business address. 

Pop-Ups

Your organization can test different forms of pop-ups to identify the highest converting solution for your business. Different forms of pop-ups to consider testing:

Exit Intent Pop-Up 

Marketers can test different exit intent pop-ups to draw users looking to exit your site to return and reconsider purchasing your product. 

Exit intent strategies to consider:

  • Offer Discount Code
  • Free Whitepaper Download
  • Display Reviews
  • Display Items in Their Cart

Cart Abandonment

You have a consumer that likes your product enough to add it to their cart, but they are looking to abandon your site. Triggering a shopping cart abandonment popup can help provide an incentive that will push your end user to purchase. 

Email Collection

Collecting emails can go a long way in improving conversion rate optimization. Testing different styles of email collection forms can lead to quality information collected that your team can then use to target specific messages to a primed audience.

Customer Support Options

Implementing a communication tool for your end users can be highly beneficial. Your team can test between a live chat option and a chatbot solution. 

Live chat makes it possible for your team to communicate directly with customers. This human element can help elevate a support experience and turn a prospect into a revenue-generating customer.

Chatbots on the other hand make communicating instantaneously through automation responses. 

Organizations can test the different chat solutions or test them in tandem to find the best solution for your organization.

By cleaning up your website and making it more user-friendly and reducing friction, you’ll be able to improve conversion rates and grow your revenue faster than ever.

Looking for some help with conversion rate optimization? Schedule a consultation with us today and let’s see what we can do for your business! Not quite ready but curious what makes a good Stryde client, check out our ideal client description.

Greg is the founder and CEO of Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.