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Improve conversion rates: start with the right information

Work through the steps for improving conversion rates.
A couple browsing the internet and shopping online.

How do you improve conversion rates? Start with getting the right information.

There is no magic wand for continually optimising conversion, just like there are no ‘best’ product page layouts or ‘best’ homepage layouts for an eCommerce store.

Any claims for CRO best practices that work in every case are simply wrong. All CRO starts with research to identify the issues first, before working on potential solutions.

There are four steps to CRO: the first is the basics about set up, the second is about tools to understand what to do, the third is testing, and finally there are some simple tactics to implement that could work straightaway. Let’s look at the first three now in this activity.

Get the basics right

CRO starts with collecting the right data and analytics. This sounds obvious to say, but ensure that your store has its analytics set up correctly.

Analytics tools built into eCommerce platforms or using Google Analytics have what are called ‘tags’ and ‘pixels’ in place that are used for measurement. In many cases, these are not working correctly. A drop in traffic at one step on your store could be as a result of broken page tags, not a lack of customers.

Likewise, use the analytics to know if it is one particular channel or web browser, eg, Google Chrome, that is responsible for errors more than any other. You would be amazed how simple browser compatibility problems, or design issues that simply need fixing, such as a ‘buy now’ button not sizing correctly, or even working, on mobile devices, can have an effect. Check if these are issues in the first place using the support channels of the eCommerce platforms.

Analytics deep-dive for CRO

Do you really know what your customers are doing on your site? Analytics gives you the measures – visits, events, bounce rate, drop-off rates, conversion rates, device and browser breakdowns – to know what to change. As you analyse the data you may need to consider:

  • How visitors found your website: this could be from keyword searches in Google, referral websites, or direct visits.
  • How long visitors stay in your store.
  • Where the visitors are from – geographic data.
  • Are the visitors returning or new?
  • What browser and operating system was used and if the visitor used a mobile device or desktop/laptop.
  • How many visitors converted and the step before which led to the conversion.
  • What is the conversion rate for each of the advertising channels in place?

To answer these, you need to put in place three steps.

Here are the first three steps in CRO:

  • Get the right tools in place
  • Apply tests
  • Use a ‘test and learn’ approach.

In more detail…

Conversion analysis tools

Earlier this week in Activity #2 we talked about how to understand what shoppers were doing on your site as part of creating a great customer experience. These included:

  • Direct customer feedback – a survey on the site.
  • Watching what customers are doing on your website using a simple ‘heatmap’ tool to understand at a high level how shoppers are interacting with your store. Using a heatmapping tool, you get the understanding of click and cursor movement, how shoppers scroll, and even session recordings.

These two strategies are perfect for conversion rate analysis too. As we mentioned, you can install customer feedback tools and heatmaps on your eCommerce store by selecting one from your chosen eCommerce platform’s app marketplace – please remind yourself of these tools.

Getting direct customer feedback using site feedback tools to ask visitors about their experience, including on-page polls, pop ups and surveys to tell you where and when shoppers are unhappy, will also help you to understand the problem areas.


Testing is one of the cornerstones of conversion rate optimisation best practice. The most popular is A/B testing, or split testing. This is the idea of testing different versions of a webpage or website and seeing which one performs better in terms of conversions.

You change one element of design, content or functionality and test a variation of your page (or element on a page). You need to have a good bit of traffic to your site to make A/B testing work – and if you have low traffic eCommerce sites, you will not get meaningful results.

Test and learn mentality

Taking the idea of testing further, one point to note is that many of your tests or improvements might not work – and that’s ok! The best frame of mind when working on CRO – and, indeed, in eCommerce in general, is what is called a ‘test and learn’ mentality.

Approach all activities online by thinking that they are just a test, not something that have to be perfect all the time. You test something and then you learn from that test – and go onto the next. You are always looking for progress – not perfection.

Again, the first three steps to CRO:

  • Get the right analytics tools
  • Apply tests
  • Take a ‘test and learn’ approach.

What about things we can do right now? There are some simple tactics to implement that could work straightaway. Let’s look at this in the next step.

Now that you know how to identify points of friction that your shopper might be experiencing, what do you think you can do quickly to improve conversion – applying what you have learnt above? Is there anything that leaps out?

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