How Online Businesses Can Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization

Amanda AmoreEcommerce, Site Optimization

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

We’ve all heard the term Conversion Rate Optimization (or, simply, CRO) — but what does it actually mean? CRO refers to the process of positioning your website (aka optimizing it) to improve the chances of visitors taking the desired actions on it (aka conversions). Even more simply put? Conversion optimization means setting up your website for success. 

The Importance of Conversion Optimization

So, why is CRO so important? Well, in ecommerce, conversion optimization literally increases your chances of getting your audience to buy what you’re selling. 

More often than not, CRO doesn’t require you to offer discounts or even drive more traffic to your site. Nope — CRO simply increases the percentage of visitors that convert, out of the total number of visitors that were already being driven to your site. Once you realize that you can increase the number of conversions from the traffic that you’re already driving, it becomes clear how valuable CRO actually is. 

How to Get Started With CRO

Review Your Data

To get started with increasing conversions on your website, you’ll want to review your existing website data. Conversion optimization is data-driven, so it’s important to find out what your audience is already telling you through the actions they take (or do not take) on each web page.

Working with a conversion optimization partner is the most efficient and least time consuming way to go about this assessment. If you’re not quite ready for that, you can start by taking a manual assessment or working through the data on Google Analytics.

You’ll want to look for gaps in your funnel by observing where users are falling off. Maybe you’ll notice that users who arrive at your landing pages and product pages through social media are bouncing. Or, maybe users are making it all the way to the checkout page but then abandoning their shopping carts throughout the checkout process. No matter what data you gather, each piece of information is an area of opportunity. 

Establish Your Goals

CRO is the means to many different ends. So, what are your goals? This will depend on what your data collection told you. Maybe you want to increase AOV. Or, maybe you’re seeking an increase in lifetime value. Establishing clear goals will help you track your progress throughout your CRO journey.

Pick Your Partner

Are you looking to DIY or hire an outside provider? As we discussed above, working with a conversion optimization partner is the most efficient and least time consuming method. They are professionally trained in CRO and up on the latest website traffic trends. 

That being said, DIY is possible. While your strategy and segmentation capabilities will be limited, there are still opportunities for you to improve conversions.

Create a User Friendly Experience

Ultimately, your data, goals, and partners will dictate what to do. However, if you are going the DIY route, UX is always a great place to start when it comes to increasing your conversion rate.

Simplify the user experience

Your homepage is your online store front. Don’t let potential customers walk into a messy, cluttered store. To make a great first impression online, you’ll want to have clear and creative copy, clean and engaging design, and a simple navigation process.

Optimize your site speed

According to Google Analytics, 53% of mobile users will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. So, test your site speed regularly to ensure your site doesn’t become a part of that statistic.

Offer a mobile optimized user experience

Speaking of mobile devices, did you know that they are the most popular device used to browse the web? You’ll want to ensure that you take a mobile-first approach with everything from extra-simplifying your web design and copy, to keeping your pop-ups and advertisements compliant. 

Conversion Optimization Strategies for Online Retailers

In general, there are a few common CRO strategies retailers rely on. The best part? You can get started with most of these strategies right away!

1. Create Urgency 

In a world of on-the-go shoppers, it’s quite common for your audience to feel that they can always make their purchase at a later time. So, be sure to let them know why they should purchase right now. Highlight limited time offers and special sales. You can also offer strategically-timed discounts for shoppers who are on the brink of abandonment. 

 2. Add Social Proof

Don’t be afraid to layer on the FOMO with customer reviews. Consumers are more likely to invest in a product or service based on reviews. By leveraging the satisfaction of existing customers, you can emphasize brand trust and popularity to on-the-fence shoppers.

3. Utilize Wishlists

Wishlist strategies are not just for the holidays. They can be an effective ecommerce tool all year long. Shoppers often express an affinity for an item, but are hesitant to commit to adding it to their cart. This could be due to finances, timing, or a multitude of other factors. That’s where wishlists come in. By allowing customers to save specific items for later consideration, they save time in having to search for the item all over again later. In addition, the list can be shared with friends and family to provide gift ideas for special occasions or holidays.

4. Provide Hyper-Personalized Recommendations

Take personalization to the next level by showing shoppers more than just other items within the same category. Recommendations should be uniquely tailored to each shopper journey. But, a good place to start is to recommend complementary items such as additional pieces in a collection, or accessories to pair with cart items. 

5. Offer Free Shipping

Don’t underestimate the power of free shipping. While there are strong reasons rooted in consumer psychology to offer free shipping, it is also extremely convenient. Providing that level of convenience at the checkout stage can have a major influence over a shoppers’ decision to convert. 

6. Save Shoppers’ Carts

Shoppers abandon carts for many reasons. But it’s not always because they lost interest. Life gets in the way all the time. So, save the sale and give them a seamless path back to the items they love by offering to save their cart.

7. Implement Abandonment Tactics

Speaking of abandonment, shoppers who are on their way out of your website actually present a great deal of opportunity to you. Those critical few moments are a time to interact and change their mind — or at least, capture the lead to continue the conversation later. 

8. Simplify the Checkout Process

Make it easy for shoppers to buy from you. Be upfront about costs to avoid rubbing them the wrong way. And when you are offering a threshold discount, add a progress bar to show how close they are to qualifying. If you are able to, it’s also beneficial to offer multiple payment methods to shoppers. 

9. Create Email Remarketing Campaigns

A great conversion rate optimization tactic is to keep the conversation going even after a shopper has left your site. And email remarketing campaigns are a great way to do that. We mention abandonment emails above, but there are many types of email campaigns that can positively impact your conversions. Lifecycle campaigns, new visitor flows, and stock emails are all examples of ways to converse and connect with your audience via email.

Optimize Conversion Rates with A/B Testing and Multivariate Testing

A/B Testing

Launch Strategies

Try launching the same strategy in 2 different ways. You can try altering the stage in the funnel at which the strategy launches, or even the engagement vehicle (such as sidebar vs. center of the screen). Even seemingly minor details can make a big difference in conversions.


When it comes to recommendations, there are many different variables to test. You can try altering the number of recommendations, the category, or even the copy and calls to action.


Are your images helping or hurting your conversions? There’s only one way to find out for sure: test! You may even want to try testing different images against one another. 

Multivariate Testing

An incredibly valuable way to auto-optimize your strategies is with multivariate testing. This refers to a more advanced test than a simple A/B test. Essentially, it involves testing multiple variables, in every possible combination, all at once. The result is an extremely in-depth understanding of your audience’s preferences. Because of the technical and time investment involved in multivariate testing, it is most often utilized by optimization professionals. 

Managed Conversion Optimization Partners

A conversion optimization partner saves you time and ensures that you are continually optimizing and reassessing the data available. UpSellit helps marketers hit their CRO goals with award-winning strategies that are backed by industry-leading tech.

Set Your Website up for Success with Conversion Rate Optimization

It literally pays to optimize your conversions. Whether you DIY or hire a conversion rate optimization partner, the time and money invested into CRO will ultimately pay off for your business. The above tips are a great starting point to set your business up for online success.

Looking for More Ways to Increase Your Conversions?

Check out UpSellit’s 15 Ways to Boost Engagement and Acquisition to learn how we help retailers increase conversions. It’s an incredible resource and it’s completely FREE.

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