Your store needs to be designed with your customers in mind.
While boosting your traffic can generate more sales, it’s just as important to focus on turning your current traffic into paying customers.
At every step of your customers’ purchasing journeys, there are new opportunities for you to make their paths shorter, easier, and more enjoyable.
Through rigorous experimentation and analysis, you can fine-tune your website to push people closer to making a purchase. This process is called conversion rate optimization, or CRO.
Table of Contents
What is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a set of marketing tactics for increasing the percentage of your website traffic that makes a conversion. It uses the psychology of persuasion in design to encourage people to take a desired action. CRO often includes multivariate and split, or A/B, testing.
Website conversions are a big deal. They’re that great moment when a casual visitor to your store finally buys one of your products. And, on a much smaller scale, conversions are happening all the time leading up to that moment, too.
For instance, a conversion on your homepage might mean having a visitor click through to a product. A conversion on a product page might mean a customer clicking Add to Cart. Conversions can be entirely dependent on the purpose that a specific part of your website serves.
Typical website conversions for ecommerce brands include:
- Online sales
- Visitor adding product to cart
- Visitor adding item to wishlist
- Email signups
But you aren’t limited to the above examples. You can track and optimize for any key performance indicators (KPIs) or ecommerce metrics that are specific to your business. Conversion is a broad subject because it impacts many different aspects of your website and digital marketing channels.
Five areas that largely benefit from a CRO strategy include:
- Product pages
- Landing pages
- Checkout experience
- Category pages
To increase conversions on an online store, you need to be constantly testing each and every aspect of your website personalization. There are many CRO case studies that prove even small tweaks can make a big impact on your optimization efforts.
How to calculate conversion rate
An essential part of maintaining a viable conversion rate optimization process is making sure you are tracking conversion rates across your channels. To do that, you need to know how to calculate CRO.
Here’s what a common conversion rate formula looks like:
Conversion rate = (total number of conversions / number of visitors) x 100
Say your store had 50 sales and 1,000 visitors last month. Your conversion rate is 50 divided by 1,000 (.05), multiplied by 100, which equals 5%.
What’s a good conversion rate for your store? The latest benchmark shows the average conversion rate for ecommerce sites is 3.65%.
As a new store owner, a good conversion goal to aim for is between 2% and 3%. The following conversion rate optimization strategies will help improve your conversion rate over time.
Where to start with CRO
There are a few different ways to optimize conversion rates. This guide will focus on one that we know works. It’s a form of experimentation called A/B testing, also known as split testing.
A/B testing is a way of comparing two versions of the same webpage to see which produces better results. With A/B testing, two different versions of a page are shown to two similar sets of visitors at the same time. Eventually, the version that performs more effectively and produces a larger amount of conversions is declared the winner.
If you’re going to start running CRO experiments for your store, you’ll want to build a repeatable process. Here’s a five step CRO process you can follow for every experiment you run:
- Research. Identify areas of improvement in this phase. Learn what visitors are doing in your store and understand how different webpage features affect behavior. You can gather data through Google Analytics, customer surveys, usability tests, and user interviews.
- Hypothesis. Based on the gathered data, decide what changes you’ll make on your pages. For example, a hypothesis could be, “We think adding a global search bar will increase conversions by two times because it helps people find desired products.”
- Prioritize. Decide which hypotheses you're going to test first. Figure out which pages will have the most impact on growth and tackle them first. Look for pages that are performing poorly or have easier fixes that can bump conversion rates faster.
- Test. Test different hypotheses on different pages to see which work best. Implement the changes in a controlled manner, like running A/B tests or split testing.
- Learn. After testing, analyze the results and decide if a change should be made permanent. If not, consider why it didn’t work and use that to inform future experiments.
Before you conduct any CRO test, you’ll need to figure out if your website gets enough traffic to generate results with statistical significance. If your sample size is too small, you won’t be able to learn anything from your results, since they won’t accurately reflect how a larger population is using your site.
If you want to calculate how large of a sample size you’ll need to conduct an A/B test, you just need to drop your current conversion rate for the web page you’d like to test into this calculator.
14 conversion rate optimization strategies
Optimizing your online store isn’t a one-and-done solution for ecommerce, it’s an ongoing process that will help you constantly learn more about your target audience and how you can better serve them. It’s not a tactic with an endpoint—it’s something you should always be doing to get better.
1. Simplify the user experience
When it comes to designing an effective homepage, simplicity is key. It only takes 50 milliseconds for a customer to form a first impression of your website, so you need to do everything possible to make those moments count.
Avoid overwhelming potential customers with excessive images and text. Instead, stay on brand and on message with a simple, visually appealing design.
Just take a look at Province of Canada. For its homepage, it used two hero images that occupied most of the space above the fold. The copy is simple and straight to the point, with a clear call-to-action (CTA) that pushes visitors to a collection.
If you’re not sure what to feature as your main hero, it’s usually best to go with either your bestselling or most profitable products, or collections like new arrivals or current promotions.
2. Show off coupon codes, real-time purchases, and more
As soon as your customers hit your homepage, you have the opportunity to start building excitement and driving them toward your products. If your goal is to get more traffic to your products, there are a bunch of great apps for Shopify store owners that can help drum up demand and incentivize purchasing:
- Welcome bars. Apps like 20+ Promotional Sales Tools let you share sales, coupon codes, promotions, and more with your customers as soon as they arrive on your site. These apps add a non-intrusive floating bar to the top of your homepage that will instantly grab your customers’ attention and push them to exactly where you need them to be.
- Pop-ups. Pop-ups and pop-unders are fantastic for building your email list. Try using an app like Privy or Popup to add a quick pop-up to your homepage offering a coupon code in exchange for a newsletter sign-up.
- Real-time purchases. Apps like Fomo Social Proof add a small notification to the bottom corner of your store, showcasing real-time purchases being made by other customers. These apps incite a sense of urgency while also giving customers social proof that other people are out there buying your products right this minute.
For example, take a look at Our Place. It used a welcome bar to promote a BOGO offer and a free shipping and returns offer.
After a few seconds, visitors also get served this gorgeous pop-under, encouraging them to enter Our Place’s free pan giveaway.
3. Add testimonials to build trust
Have you been featured in major publications? Are your products used by any high-profile influencers?
Add testimonials, reviews, and badges to your homepage beneath your main content to build trust and project credibility. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from their friends and families.
4. Use intelligent search
If your customers are looking for a product on your website, chances are they might not know exactly where to find it.
If your store has a large amount of products, you might want to consider featuring your search bar prominently on your homepage, giving your customers the opportunity to head directly where they want to be rather than digging through categories.
With apps like Smart Search & Instant Search, you can power up your search bar with predictive results that help your customers find what they’re looking for.
Intelligent search functions suggest results and products as users are typing while taking into account things like spelling errors and alternate product names.
Alo uses a search bar to help its yoga customers find exactly what they’re looking for.
Even after entering just a few letters, the search bar already starts suggesting categories, products, and related results (which is effective for upselling and cross-selling).
5. Organize your categories effectively
For your customers, navigating your ecommerce site should be easy, simple, and—most of all—obvious. Try to avoid separating your products into too many different categories. Instead, opt for four to six broad categories that contain more specific subcategories as a dropdown.
Order your categories in your navigation bar based on their popularity, with your most popular category at the front.
6. Use high-quality product images
High-quality product photos are the most important part of an effective product page. Try to include images that show your products from every angle and accurately represent the look and feel of your products.
As a bonus, include a video that shows your product in action. For instance, if you’re selling t-shirts, give customers a better idea of what your shirts look like in motion and add a video to your landing page of a model walking around wearing one.
Love Hair has some great examples of well-executed product pages. Check out the above page for nourishing hair oil, featuring a bunch of high-quality photos, fun product descriptions, and short videos that really lets the product shine.
7. Be upfront about price, delivery time, and out-of-stock products
The worst thing you can do is mislead your customers. According to the latest shopping cart abandonment statistics, 69.99% of online shopping carts are left behind. The top reason? Extra costs are too high.
Don’t be afraid to let them know the full extent of things like pricing, delivery time, and inventory. If you do an effective job of selling your products and communicating their value, your customers won’t mind paying a little extra for shipping or waiting a little longer for delivery.
If you own a Shopify store, you can also use an app like Back In Stock to give your customers the option to be notified when out-of-stock products are added to your store.
8. Showcase your product reviews
Product reviews are a great way to ease the doubts of hesitant shoppers and give your customers the social proof they need to click Add to Cart. In fact, 9 out of 10 purchasing decisions are influenced by reading online product reviews.
Positive product reviews can make all the difference in convincing shoppers that a product really works and is worth purchasing. Reviews also help them make more informed decisions in regard to sizing, color, and more.
Shopify store owners can use apps like Product Reviews and Yotpo to embed customer reviews directly onto their product pages.
Product reviews can be especially helpful for businesses in the beauty and skincare industry. Beardbrand, for instance, showcases reviews on every one of its product pages.
9. Use heat maps
Heat maps are a popular CRO tactic for ecommerce brands because they take large amounts of behavioral data and turn it into a simple visual representation.
A heat map shows spots of engagement on your website, normally displayed in “warm” and “cool” color shades. If an area on the heatmap is warm (red, orange, yellow), there’s a high level of activity there. Cooler shades indicate low activity.
Heat maps show you what elements of your website visitors engage with most. They reveal what parts of your store people click, scroll, and move. Scroll heat maps show how far down people go before leaving. Apps like Lucky Orange let you study engagement patterns from dynamic elements like pop-ups, drop-downs, and forms, too.
Lucky Orange also offers other conversion rate optimization tools to help reduce cart abandonment and increase sales, including:
- Screen recording replays, which let you watch people navigate your website and see how they interact with your store
- Live view, which lets you see visitor activity in real time—if you see hesitation, you can open up a live chat conversation with the person through the app
- Segmentation and filtering, which filters heatmaps and recordings by traffic source, device type, browser, and more, so you can target more refined customer groups
Heat maps are a great way to see your store through the eyes of your customers. You can learn what’s working and what isn’t, evaluate new ideas, and improve elements of your site to increase conversions.
10. Pre-fill your customer’s information
You can make it even easier for your current customers to make repeat purchases by prefilling their shipping and billing information with customer accounts.
The less information customers need to enter, the better. One study from Google reports that customers fill out forms 30% faster with autofill, which can result in more conversions at checkout.
You can also install Shop Pay, Shopify’s checkout solution for merchants. Shop Pay remembers and encrypts customers details so they can safely speed through checkout in one tap.
Customers can pay with their preferred payment method and even choose how they want to pay, whether it's in full or in installments.
Our study showed that checkouts going through Shop Page have an average conversion rate of 1.72 times higher than regular checkouts. Learn how to turn on Shop Pay in your store by reading enabling Shop Pay.
💡 TIP: Want to supercharge your checkout? Shopify checkout lets you build a high-converting one-click checkout and customize its look and functionality to meet your needs—from incentivizing loyalty program signups to upselling products and so much more.
11. Send abandoned cart emails
Unfortunately, customers sometimes fill up their carts with products and then leave your store with no intention of returning.
With abandoned cart emails, you can remind those customers of the items they’ve already expressed interest in and give them a little nudge to return to your store to complete the purchase.
12. Create a comprehensive Contact page
If your customers want to get in touch with you, they should be able to do so easily.
For customers, not being able to share their thoughts and feelings—whether positive or negative—is an extremely frustrating experience. Your Contact page should include ways for your customers to reach out when something goes wrong, as well as opportunities for them to engage with your brand in fun and exciting ways.
Here’s a quick checklist of everything your Contact page should include:
- An email address or contact form
- Your physical location, along with a map and directions
- Your retail store hours
- Links to your social media profiles
- Support-specific contact options, including a phone number or email
13. Make sure your site is mobile responsive
Being mobile responsive should be a priority for your business. Over 59% of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets, according to Statista. You want to provide a great customer experience for mobile site visitors.
Thankfully, if you own a Shopify store, every Shopify theme is automatically optimized to be displayed properly on every device.
If you want to check if your website is responsive, just drop your URL into Google’s mobile-friendly test tool.
14. Optimize your website’s loading times
As mentioned before, people will leave your website if it’s slow. Faster websites don’t only provide a good experience, but are also good for your store’s SEO. The more people stay on your site, the lower your bounce rate, which signals to search engines that your website is credible and worthy of traffic.
The easiest way to check how long your online store takes to load is by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. PageSpeed Insights will give you a detailed report of how fast your website loads, along with any issues you can resolve to improve your load times.
While optimizing your store’s load times can be a complicated process, there are a couple of things to always keep in mind. The size of your images can have a significant impact on how quickly your website loads.
Try to compress and optimize every image using a tool like ImageOptim. ImageOptim strips away all of the unnecessary data in every image file, resulting in a much smaller file size, with no noticeable visual difference.
Additionally, for Shopify store owners, try uninstalling any apps that you’re no longer using, as these apps can put an additional load on your website, even if they’re disabled.
Top CRO tools
Here are some of the top Shopify apps for improving site's conversion rate, in no particular order:
- Privy: One tool to grow sales with pop-ups, email, and SMS marketing.
- Smile: Customer loyalty app that powers referrals and VIP programs to increase purchases.
- Blyp: AI-powered CRO app that tracks and reveals hidden sales opportunities.
- Firepush: Remarketing app that helps with cart recovery and multichannel campaigns.
- Yotpo Product Reviews: Social proof app that collects and displays user-generated content like ratings and reviews.
- Hotjar: Suite of web analytics tools that help you understand user behavior through heat maps, session recording, surveys, and feedback widgets.
If you don’t want to manage CRO on your own, you can hire a Shopify expert to do it for you. We have 110 conversion rate experts and agencies available to help.
More experiments equal higher conversion rates
Whether you’re a marketer or a business owner, you have one goal: get people to click that CTA button. It’s clear every ecommerce marketing strategy should include website conversion rate and page optimization. Running the experiments above will help create better experiences for your visitors and encourage them to take that desired action—be it email signups, add to carts, or sales.
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Conversion rate optimization FAQ
How do you increase conversion rate optimization?
- Improve website speed: A slow website can lead to a high bounce rate. Optimizing website speed can help improve user experience and increase the likelihood of conversions.
- Simplify checkout process: A complicated checkout process can lead to cart abandonment. Simplifying the checkout process by reducing the number of steps and asking for only necessary information can help increase conversions.
- Use high-quality product images: High-quality product images can help customers visualize the product and make informed purchase decisions.
- Provide detailed product descriptions: Detailed product descriptions can help customers understand the product and its features, leading to more informed purchase decisions.
- Offer free shipping: Offering free shipping can help reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.
- Use customer reviews and ratings: Customer reviews and ratings can help build trust and credibility with potential customers, leading to increased conversions.
- Use targeted promotions: Targeted promotions can help incentivize customers to make a purchase and increase conversions.
- Use retargeting ads: Retargeting ads can help bring back potential customers who have abandoned their cart or left the website without making a purchase.
- Offer a guest checkout option: Offering a guest checkout option can help reduce friction in the checkout process and increase conversions.
- Optimize for mobile: With more and more customers using mobile devices to shop online, optimizing ecommerce websites for mobile can help improve user experience and increase conversions.
Is conversion rate optimization hard?
How do you increase conversion rate optimization?
What is a CRO strategy?
What are the steps of conversion optimization?