Illustration by Diego Blanco
From optimizing the speed of your site to offering discounts and free shipping, there are countless strategies and tactics to improve your conversion rate (CVR). But before you can even begin to dig into how to best design your site for conversion rate optimization (CRO), it’s critical to understand how shoppers are navigating through your virtual store—and where leads and sales are being lost.
“CRO is not really about conversion rates,” says Ben Virdee-Chapman, VP of marketing at HiConversion, a platform that works with ecommerce merchants to enable real-time optimization. “It’s about learning as much as possible about your customers—and not just the 2% who survived your sales funnel, but the 90%+ that never buy from you.”
While Shopify Plus’ internal dashboard gives a big-picture view of your site’s conversion rates and each stage of your conversion funnel, it’s only a snapshot of what’s happening when users visit—and leave—your site. Employing CRO tools, suites, or agencies is necessary to understand why visitors aren’t converting, to identify potential changes to your site, and to test changes that may lead to higher conversion rates.
But with hundreds to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down which tools will make the most difference to your CVR. We’ve identified some of the best analytics and testing tools that ecommerce merchants rely on to analyze their stores’ performances and turn visitors into customers.
Table of contents
- Web analytics tools
- User behavior tools
- CRO testing tools
- CRO testing suites and agencies
- Start improving your conversion rates with these tools
Web analytics tools
Used to gather quantitative data about your store and its visitors, web analytics tools measure metrics such as bounce rates, session duration, and common exit pages. When you use these tools you’ll have a better understanding of your store’s baseline performance (needed to perform ongoing monitoring) and potential obstacles for your customers.
1. Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360
Nearly 29 million websites rely on Google Analytics to track traffic patterns and visitor behavior in real time, including referrals, sessions, and goal conversions, as well as where you’re falling short—such as what pages have high bounce rates and where visitors exit your site. It’s free to use, but a premium paid version, Google Analytics 360, exists for merchants that have up to 10 million hits each month, offering higher volume and more accurate data.
2. Google PageSpeed and Google Lighthouse
You won’t find these platforms on many lists of CRO tools—and yet, countless studies have shown that improving your site speed is an important piece of the CVR puzzle. Google PageSpeed and the more all-encompassing Google Lighthouse audit your site’s speed, with the latter analyzing your site based on performance, SEO, best practices, and accessibility.
3. Adobe Analytics
Adobe’s answer to Google Analytics, this real-time tracking tool lets you analyze pathways across different channels, including mobile, video, social, and email. Its easy-to-understand reports show user flow, KPIs, and conversion rates—and can be used with other tools in the Adobe Marketing Suite (such as Adobe Target) to test and optimize user experiences.
Relied on by ecommerce retailers such as Thinx and Casper, Heap is yet another popular real-time web analytics tool. It delivers in-depth information about common metrics, such as page views, alongside insight into users’ interactions, like clicks, field changes, and transactions, in an easy-to-read format.
User behavior tools
Customers aren’t just numbers. That’s why it’s important to not only evaluate the behavior of visitors to your site, but the “why” behind their actions, such as why they leave carts abandoned or exit a page prematurely.
Enter user behavior tools. Dedicated to gathering qualitative data, user behavior tools can help you understand what drives customers to purchase an item or walk away. The goal? To determine points of friction and how you can improve their experience—and your conversion rate in the process.
At the core of a successful CRO program sits a developer, marketer, salesperson, customer support manager, or entrepreneur who has the hunger to better understand their customers. It doesn't require someone to have a CRO title or anything more than the willingness to watch session recordings, study dynamic heat maps, and start to develop hypotheses around what can improve the online experience.”
5. Lucky Orange
Trying to identify the drop-offs in your conversion process? More than 125,000 Shopify merchants use Lucky Orange, a CRO suite that uses dynamic heat-mapping and other features to pinpoint customers’ behavior and conversion funnels.
For just $10 per month, Lucky Orange lets you clearly see where visitors are clicking and how far they’re scrolling, as well as access recordings of their visit. Other features include a chat function and polls.
These latter tools are key to improving CRO, says Molly. She explains that CRO can be either proactive or reactive—but the best user behavior tools should be both.
“In reactive CRO, the focus is on your business metrics. If something like the conversion rate of a landing page drops, you can respond by watching session recordings or analyzing a dynamic heat map,” she says.
In proactive CRO, activities should focus on people successfully navigating your conversion funnel, whatever form that may take. This can be anything from diving through a content library, completing a form or even locating your live chat box or a discount offer.”
Currently, Lucky Orange is rolling out a brand new app with over 60 updates and upgrades to its tools.
“We believe session recordings will continue to grow in importance as more teams discover the aha moments that happen when seeing real visitor behavior in action,” says Staats.
A popular behavior analytics software, Hotjar is used by over 900,000 websites to improve UX and increase conversions. Heat maps and session recordings can help you identify points of friction on your website, while feedback tools give you access to the thoughts of real users. Different pricing plans are available, but Hotjar’s Scale plan captures 4,000 daily sessions for $389 per month.
7. Crazy Egg
Likely one of the most widely used heat-mapping tools, Crazy Egg offers five visual reports to understand user behavior within your store. You can determine whether your Buy Now buttons are in the right spot, track ad campaign content, and record entire user sessions. It also has a built-in A/B testing tool to determine what changes will result in the highest conversion rates.
Like the other tools on this list, Mouseflow generates heat maps, records user sessions, analyzes funnels, and offers form analytics and user feedback. One unique selling point, though, is its “friction score” rating, which identifies common frustration points on your site. Session recordings of these events are automatically tagged, helping you isolate the pages or recordings where users experience friction when navigating your store.
FullStory, an analytics tool for measuring digital interactions across multiple channels using heat maps and session recordings, counts Shoppers Drug Mart, Younique, and HBC's Saks Fifth Avenue amongst its users. Unlike some of the other user behavior tools listed above, FullStory doesn’t offer feedback widgets or surveys for interacting with real users—but it does have a bug tracking tool. It also indexes every individual interaction a user has on your site, which are then made fully searchable.
Designed to take the guesswork out of design decisions, UsabilityHub is a remote user research platform that’s used by Amazon, Staples, and Walmart. It puts an end to your team’s internal debates by allowing you to gather opinions and sample responses from real users through first-click tests, design surveys, preference tests, and five-second tests. Pricing is bespoke for enterprise users.
It’s helpful to remember that conversion rates are affected by your customer’s entire journey—not just the time they spend on your site. That’s why Intercom is a key CRO tool for merchants that have a dedicated customer service team. In addition to its “conversational marketing” functions designed to improve conversion rates, it allows you to audit user behavior through analyzing chat logs and call recordings—and more specifically, to determine points of friction on your website that may lead to a user calling your customer service team.
One of the top-rated partners in the Shopify App Store, Privy is designed to integrate with your email service provider to grow your contact lists, reduce cart abandonment, and deliver targeted offers. However, it also has a built-in CRO testing tool, with real-time reporting and A/B tests to track new opt-ins, see where they come from, and look at which offers and forms they’re responding to. Pricing starts at $20 per month.
CRO testing tools
After determining the points of friction and potential improvements on your site, you’ll need a method of determining whether your changes work to improve your CVR. CRO testing tools help compare and measure changes to see which ones work best.
However, before you jump in, remember that the goal of CRO isn’t to completely redesign your site. It’s to improve your customer’s journey through your site, from the moment they hit the landing page until they click the Buy button.
HiConversion’s Virdee-Chapman says that committing to a large redesign project—then measuring with a single A/B test—is the biggest mistake he sees ecommerce merchants making when it comes to CRO.
The problem is that there are hundreds of variables that might affect conversions. After a redesign, if the page is worse than before, teams will never really know why,” says Virdee-Chapman. “That’s why incremental improvement is so underrated.”
13. Google Optimize and Google Optimize 360
Also part of the Google Marketing Platform, Google Optimize is a free tool that allows you to run A/B testing, split testing, and multivariate testing to see how shoppers respond to different designs. It’s easy to set up, but there are limitations on the free version, including no customer support, a limit on live experiments, and a lack of segmentation. If you want to access these features, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version, Google Optimize 360.
14. AB Tasty
Cosmetic retailers—including Sephora, Fenty, and L’Oréal—are just a handful of the big ecommerce brands that rely on AB Tasty. As its name implies, this tool does A/B, multivariate, split, multi-page and predictive testing, along with content personalization.
CRO testing suites and agencies
“[Ecommerce merchants] need to look for tools that will automate their testing and analysis and combine their data into a single view,” says Virdee-Chapman. “CRO tools today need to be real-time and adaptive without human intervention.”
Rather than relying on a patchwork of individual tools to determine user behavior and make modifications to your site, all-in-one suites and agencies offer everything we’ve covered above.
An all-encompassing CRO solution and Shopify Plus Certified Partner, HiConversion uses AI to help ecommerce merchants increase page conversion rates in real-time. Rather than relying on standard A/B tests, HiConversion Optimize lets stores experiment with content, style, and layout, so they can quickly find combinations that improve buying experiences and convert better. Once a winning combination is found, the AI automatically adapts the store to whatever works best in the moment.
If you want to test and optimize experiences across your store without revenue risk, Nosto is your solution. Once the platform determines the best design for conversion, it automates the flow of traffic. What sets Nosto apart is its ability to dig into merchandising insights and hone in on different segments to personalize experiences.
Understanding and engaging different customer segments at different lifecycle stages is one of Nosto’s greatest strengths.
"The biggest mistake [ecommerce merchants make when it comes to CRO] is relying on a one-size-fits-all strategy and assuming that will work for customers at all stages of the funnel,” says Jemma O’Leary, Nosto’s product marketing manager.
Messaging, discounts, and CTAs can and should be differentiated for customers in different lifecycle stages, and should be regularly A/B tested to optimize for highest converting variations.”
The only commerce experience platform for Shopify Plus, Nosto integrates seamlessly and is already being used by brands such as Skinnydip, True Vintage and Gymshark.
Powered by AI, Justuno is used to create powerful marketing campaigns. This Shopify Plus Certified Partner also has built-in tools for optimization. It gathers and analyzes data and allows users to develop data-driven marketing campaigns with the help of an A/B testing tool.
Used by over 2,500 high-growth brands worldwide—including eBay and Target—VWO is one of the most popular visual editors and testing tools available. Another all-encompassing platform, it offers web analytics and user behavior insights. Then, with VWO Testing—which includes A/B testing, multivariate testing, and split testing—you can see how visitors are responding to changes on your site in real-time.
An AI-driven ecommerce commerce platform, Vancouver-based LimeSpot is a personalization and conversion pro. The Shopify Plus Certified Partner offers an all-in-one service focused on the end result (better customer experiences and higher conversions) but starts from the bottom at data collection, then allows merchants to learn from concurrent A/B/N testing and optimization, offering real-time analytics of each scenario.
Start improving your conversion rates with these tools
When it comes to determining the best CRO tools to use, investigate how user-friendly the tool is, as well as whether it will integrate with Shopify Plus and other integrations within your store to prevent data duplication.
While these tools can offer an insight into your users’ behavior and help you understand different methods to improve CRO, Virdee-Chapman says that HiConversion doesn’t recommend relying on free tools for long-term use—and that the days of A/B testing alone are likely coming to an end.
“Fast-growing and scaling ecommerce use cases require highly specialized CRO solutions,” he says, noting that the critical point at which growth can be accelerated by a CRO program is when merchants have more than 50 products and reach more than $1 million in sales per year. “The more traffic and sales you have, the better data you will be able to leverage.”
He recommends investing in real-time, adaptive experimentation managed by an AI engine and recognizing that a long-range view on experimentation strategies will be necessary to succeed.
“CRO done right is like a well-managed 401(k) account: it’s an incremental investment to deliver compounding growth,” Virdee-Chapman says.
If you’re ready to invest and want to work with a CRO expert, one of our Shopify Plus Certified App Partners may be able to help.