Conversion Rate Optimisation: A Guide for Ecommerce Stores

Table of contents

  1. Understanding Conversion Rate Optimisation
  2. The Importance of Conversion Rate Optimisation for Ecommerce Store Owners
  3. Common Challenges Faced by Ecommerce Store Owners in Conversion Rate Optimisation
  4. Analysing Your Current Conversion Rates
  5. Setting Goals for Conversion Rate Optimisation
  6. Identifying Barriers and Friction Points in the Customer Journey
  7. Implementing A/B Testing to Discover What Works Best
  8. Conversion Rate Optimisation Testing Tools
  9. Continuous Improvement: Implementing a Conversion Rate Optimisation Strategy
  10. Common Mistakes to Avoid in Conversion Rate Optimisation
  11. Wrap up!

Understanding Conversion Rate Optimisation

To thrive in the crowded digital marketplace, you’ll need to recognise the lingo at play. One key term to understand is conversion rate optimisation (CRO). But what is CRO exactly? 

In its most basic sense, conversion rate optimisation pertains to the strategies and methods employed to increase the percentage of visitors to your store who complete a desired action --- a conversion. That desired action can come in various forms, from making a purchase to signing up for a newsletter. 

Now you might be thinking, “Sounds good, but how do I calculate it?” The conversion rate is typically calculated by dividing the number of conversions by your total visitors, then multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage. Thus, if your store had 200 visitors in a day and 10 made a purchase, your conversion rate would be 5%. 

But CRO isn’t simply about crunching numbers. It involves understanding your customers’ behaviours and needs, then making strategic decisions to make their journey more seamless. This might include tweaking your website’s design, revolutionising your checkout process, or simply changing the wording on a call-to-action button. 

Then, once these changes are implemented, you’ll test out their effectiveness, refine where necessary, and steadily improve your conversion rates. All of this forms the core process of conversion rate optimisation. 

The beauty of CRO is that it not only leads to higher sales but a better user experience for your customers. But the process can be intricate with many facets to consider, and many ecommerce store owners can encounter challenges along the way. That’s what we’ll uncover in the following sections of this guide.

The Importance of Conversion Rate Optimisation for Ecommerce Store Owners

If you own an ecommerce store, understanding the importance of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is absolutely essential. CRO isn’t just a flashy buzzword; it’s the key to maximising the effectiveness of your online store. 

But, what makes CRO so important?

Increase Sales Without Increasing Traffic 

One of the greatest benefits of CRO is that it allows you to increase sales without having to increase your website traffic. This is because CRO focuses on improving your website’s efficiency rather than increasing the number of visitors to your site. Even small percentages of improvement to your conversion rate can lead to significant increases in revenue. 

Improve Customer Trust 

A well-optimised, user-friendly site enhances customer trust. By creating an easy, enjoyable shopping experience, you can encourage customers to return again and again. A consistent, streamlined user experience also reduces the likelihood of potential customers leaving the checkout process prematurely due to confusion or frustration.

Better Use of Marketing Budget 

CRO works hand in hand with your marketing efforts. By ensuring your website is designed to effectively convert visitors into customers, your return on investment for any marketing initiatives will be optimised. This means every pound spent on getting visitors to your site is more likely to result in a sale.

Gain a Competitive Advantage 

Despite the clear benefits of CRO, many ecommerce store owners fail to give it enough attention. By dedicating time and resources to optimising your website’s conversion rate, you can gain a significant edge over your competitors.

Overall, conversion rate optimisation is a vital ecommerce tool. It allows for better use of resources, improves customer trust, and can boost your bottom line significantly. With so many compelling reasons to consider CRO, there’s no better time than now to start making conversion rate optimisation a key part of your ecommerce strategy.

Common Challenges Faced by Ecommerce Store Owners in Conversion Rate Optimisation

Running an ecommerce store presents its own unique set of challenges and when it comes to Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), these difficulties can appear even more daunting. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent issues that can hamper your CRO efforts: 

Lack of Understanding of CRO 

Probably one of the first difficulties that ecommerce store owners face is the lack of understanding about what CRO really is. Many owners might be experts in their product line, but lack the necessary digital marketing knowledge to appreciate the importance of CRO, and how to implement it. 

Limited Resources 

CRO involves a wide array of activities, including detailed analytics review, user experience (UX) testing, content modification, and design changes, among others. For small to midsized ecommerce stores, finding the resources, both in terms of time and money, to carry out these activities can be a steep uphill battle. 

Data Overload 

We’re in the age of data and with that comes the power to influence purchase decisions. Yet, managing and interpreting massive amounts of data can be overwhelming. Many ecommerce store owners struggle to separate valuable insights from the noise which can hinder their CRO efforts. 

Identifying the Right Metrics 

It’s one thing to measure your conversion rate, but it’s another to understand the metrics that contribute to it. Identifying the right metrics to track and measure is essential for successful CRO but it can be challenging for ecommerce store owners to ascertain which metrics are the most meaningful and relevant. 

Ensuring a Seamless User Experience 

One of the fundamental elements of CRO is providing a seamless user experience. However, with multiple devices, diverse demographics and changing consumer behaviour, ensuring a consistently smooth experience can be a continuous challenge. 

Keeping up With Advancements 

The world of ecommerce is ever-evolving, with new technology and best practices surfacing regularly. Thus, keeping up with these advancements to ensure your store remains attractive and easy to use can, at times, feel like a moving target. 

Each of these challenges is significant, but don’t let them intimidate you. By understanding these issues and strategising how to overcome them, you can move forward towards achieving your CRO goals.

Analysing Your Current Conversion Rates

If you’re an ecommerce business owner, it’s crucial that you have a grasp of your store’s current conversion rates. Such insight can reveal if you’re making the most out of your website traffic, and help pinpoint any possible shortcomings. But how can you go about this analysis?

First, it’s about understanding what a conversion rate is. In essence, your conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors that complete a desired action, be it making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or another objective that aligns with your business goals. It’s calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of site visitors, then multiplying the result by 100.

So, how can one analyse these conversion rates? 

Tracking Your Conversion Rates 

Initially, you’ll want to establish a system to track your conversions. Most ecommerce platforms offer built-in tools for this, such as Google Analytics, which can provide comprehensive data on how your store is performing. This is your first port of call for data collection. 

Here’s a basic process for tracking: 

  1. Set up Google Analytics or another analytics tool on your website.
  2. Define what a ‘conversion’ means for your website.
  3. Establish Goals in your analytics software to track these conversions.
  4. Closely monitor these conversions over time to understand trends.

Analysing Your Conversion Rates 

Once you’re tracking your conversions and have some data to work with, you can start analysing. Again, tools like Google Analytics can help with this, offering insights into conversion paths, the efficiency of various pages, and more.

This analysis can help answer questions like: 

  • Which products are converting most frequently?
  • What paths are users taking to these conversions?
  • Which pages have a higher dropout rate?
  • What is your average conversion rate compared to industry benchmark?

Armed with these insights, you can start benchmarking against industry standards, identifying any gaps, and formulating a strategy to improve your conversion rates.

The path to understanding and optimising your conversion rates may seem complex, but the potential rewards make it well worth your time. Remember, it’s about continuously gaining insights, and then taking action based on these findings. That’s when you’ll start to see an uptick in conversions on your ecommerce store.

Setting Goals for Conversion Rate Optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is not a destination but a journey. And like any journey, it starts with setting proper goals. Clear, achievable goals are the backbone of any successful CRO process. By defining what you want to achieve, you can map out strategies and allocate resources more effectively.

While your ultimate goal might be to increase sales, remember that CRO encompasses a range of intermediate objectives that feed into your overarching aim. These could include boosting email sign-ups, growing your social media following, increasing product inquiries, or encouraging downloads of your online catalogue. 

Define SMART Goals 

For each of these objectives, it’s important to establish goals that are SMART - Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Instead of a vague plan like ‘increase sign-ups’, your SMART goal would be ‘increase sign-ups by 15% in the next two months’. 

  • Specific: Your goals need to be unambiguous, clear and to the point.
  • Measurable: It implies your goals should be quantifiable to assess progress at regular intervals.
  • Acceptable: Goals should be aligned with your business values and targets, else they will not be feasible.
  • Realistic: Your goals should be attainable, not overly ambitious or unachievable in reality.
  • Time-bound: Setting a deadline keeps you focused and boosts productivity.

By setting SMART goals, you can ensure that your conversion optimisation efforts are targeted, structured and, crucially, measurable. As such, you can adapt or reassess your approach based on genuine insights, rather than guesswork. 

Identify Key Performance Indicators 

Once your goals are set, the next step is to determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs help you measure the success of your CRO efforts. If your goal is to improve email sign-ups, your KPI could be the number of new sign-ups generated per day or week. 

Goals and KPIs provide a framework within which to operate. They guide your decisions and tactics and give you a way to measure progress. With them in place, you’re ready to embark on your CRO journey.

Identifying Barriers and Friction Points in the Customer Journey

As an ecommerce retailer, understanding your customers’ journey from their initial visit to the point of purchase is crucial. It uncovers the various touchpoints where customers interact with your store, providing insights into potential barriers and friction points that can deter them from making a purchase. Friction Points and Barriers can be defined as follows:

Friction Points: These are areas that disrupt the smooth flow of your customer’s purchasing journey, potentially leading them to abandon their cart. They can be anything from complicated navigation, a lengthy checkout process, unexpected costs, or even poor website performance. 

Barriers: These are more significant obstacles that impede your customers from making a purchase. Barriers may include limited payment options, lack of product information, or insufficient trust indicators like customer reviews or product ratings. 

Mapping Out the Customer Journey 

The first step in identifying barriers and friction points is to map out the customer journey. Where do your customers come from, and what actions do they take before making a purchase, or deciding to leave? This recognises every step a potential customer takes in the process of purchasing. It might take a bit of time and detailing, but it’s an investment worth making. 

Using Analytics 

Use advanced analytic tools to ascertain information related to customer behaviours on your site. By observing visitor behaviours, pages most visited, bounce rate, and time spent, you can get some insights into potential barriers and friction points. For instance, a page with a high bounce rate might indicate a friction point. 

Post-Purchase Surveys and Customer Feedback 

Post-purchase customer surveys and feedback can be invaluable in identifying friction points. By analysing these responses, you can discover where customers encountered difficulties or frustrations in their purchase process. This feedback provides a more qualitative insight that can complement your quantitative data. 

Once you have identified the barriers and friction points, the next step is to remove them or ease their impact. This might involve redesigning your website, simplifying the checkout process, or improving your customer service. Remember, the goal here is to streamline the customer journey and make it as swift and smooth as possible.

Implementing A/B Testing to Discover What Works Best

Up next on our journey of optimising conversion rates, we delve into one of the most effective methods - A/B testing. This is a practice that breaks down the complexity of your ecommerce site performance and provides actionable insights. So, what’s A/B testing all about? 

A/B testing, also referred to as split testing, involves comparing two versions of your webpage or other user experience to determine which performs better. It’s like a “trial and error” approach that allows you to make data-driven decisions rather than just guesses or assumptions. You show two variants, A and B, to similar visitors at the same time. The one that gives a better conversion rate, wins! 

Implementing A/B Testing 

Befriend A/B testing by following these straightforward steps: 

  1. Identify a goal: Your goal could be anything related to improving user engagement - increasing sales, reducing cart abandonment, or enhancing click-through-rates.
  2. Generate Hypothesis: Based on your metrics, generate a hypothesis about what changes can improve your goal metrics.
  3. Create Variants: Use an A/B testing tool to create a new variant of your webpage or a specific element (like a call to action button).
  4. Run Experiment: Direct equal volumes of traffic to both versions, A (control) and B (variant).
  5. Analyse Data: After a period of time, use your A/B testing tool to analyse the results.
  6. Choose the Best Performing Variant: Finally, if variant B performs better, implement it permanently.

Remember, meticulously chosen A/B tests can have a significant impact on your bottom line. A heading that encaptures attention, a well-placed button, an engaging product description - each alteration could be a game-changer. However, only test one element at a time so you know exactly what’s responsible for the increased conversion. 

Takeaway: A/B testing is not a one-time task, rather an ongoing process that caters to the changing dynamics of buyer behaviours, market trends, and your evolving business goals. It enables you to remove the guesswork, and make data-driven decisions that can have dramatic impacts on your ecommerce site’s effectiveness.

Conversion Rate Optimisation Testing Tools

As you delve into the realm of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), a crucial component in your toolkit will be testing tools. These tools not only make the process of conducting tests easier, but they also provide invaluable insights into how your changes are affecting your conversion rates. Let’s explore some of the prominent tools that might come in handy. 

Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) 

Visual Website Optimizer, commonly known as VWO, adds a new level of proficiency to your ecommerce conversion rate optimisation toolkit. If you’re looking for a full-featured platform that combines A/B testing, heat mapping, and visitor recording, VWO might just be your perfect match. 

One of VWO’s standout features is its advanced segmentation capabilities. This allows you to target website tests based on user behaviour, browser, geographic location, and other factors. You can also tap into its rich real-time analytics to gain critical insights into how users are interacting with your ecommerce store. 

In line with its commitment to helping you create a seamless user experience, VWO offers a slew of features such as website surveys, push notifications, and social proof widgets. The goal is to make tweaks that not only drive conversions but also enhance your customers’ overall experience with your store. 

In addition to these features, VWO stands out for its ease of use. With its straightforward interface, even those not versed in the technical aspects of CRO can run tests and analyse the results. 

It’s import to note, though, that while VWO offers an invaluable array of features, it might be a bit overkill if you’re looking for a simple testing tool. The costs can add up, particularly for smaller ecommerce businesses with tighter budgets. 

However, if you’re ready to dive into deep CRO waters and have the budget to match, VWO’s comprehensive functionality makes it a worthy consideration for any ecommerce store desiring to optimise their conversion rates.


PostHog is a noteworthy, open-source product analytics tool designed for businesses in need of comprehensive user-interaction data from their ecommerce store. It is particularly beneficial for conversion rate enhancement. 

With PostHog, ecommerce owners can analyze user behavior on their website. It offers features beyond just conversion tracking, such as user event tracking, session recording, funnel creation based on user actions, and heatmaps, which highlight user interaction hotspots on the website. 

Through PostHog’s platform, you can dissect user patterns and trends influencing your conversion rate. This information is handy for pinpointing and resolving friction points in your customer journey. The tool highlights stages in the sales funnel where user engagement falls, enabling suitable adjustments for conversion improvement. 

Furthermore, PostHog’s automated insights feature suggests possible enhancements to your user experience and conversion rates. This open-source tool is highly adjustable, catering to your unique ecommerce needs. 

However, PostHog’s complexity might need a learning curve for beginners. It, therefore, suits ecommerce businesses with advanced data requirements seeking in-depth understandings of user behaviors for conversion rate optimization.


Each tool comes with its unique set of features, strengths, and weaknesses. Hence, having a clear understanding of your ecommerce store’s unique requirements and goals is crucial in choosing the right tool for your CRO journey. This will allow you to take full advantage of the benefits these tools offer and derive the best results from your CRO initiatives. 

Continuous Improvement: Implementing a Conversion Rate Optimisation Strategy

Let’s dive into one of the most critical aspects of conversion rate optimisation: the continuous improvement of your strategy. Implementing your plans is only the beginning; success in conversion rate optimisation is an ongoing process that requires consistent monitoring, testing, analysis, and tweaks. Rather than a one-off undertaking, it’s better to think of CRO as a cycle of continuous learning and improvement. 

Pilot, Monitor and Analyse 

Start by piloting your new strategies on a small scale. This could mean implementing a new webpage design or checkout process on one category of products. Monitor the effects closely, focusing on how customer behaviour changes and its impact on conversion rates. Utilise analytical tools and metrics to gather quantitative data that can fuel your decision-making process. 

Refine based on Findings 

No matter what the results of your initial efforts are, there will always be room for improvement. Use the data and insights you’ve gathered to fuel your refinements. These could take the form of changes to page layouts, modifications to call-to-action phrases, alterations to navigation structure, or even revisiting product pricing. Remember, the aim is to improve the shopping experience for your customers, ultimately encouraging them to make a purchase. 

Continually Test New Hypotheses 

Once you’ve refined your CRO strategies, it’s time to repeat the cycle. Develop new hypotheses, try new tactics, and conduct additional tests to find out what works best with your current retail environment and customer behavioural trends. Remember, your ecommerce landscape is continuously changing, making your investment in upgrading your CRO strategies invaluable. 

Keep in mind that this process not only aids in increasing conversions but also provides insight into how your customers navigate your store and what they value most. This knowledge can inform every aspect of your ecommerce strategy, from merchandising to marketing campaigns to customer service. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Conversion Rate Optimisation

When it comes to conversion rate optimisation (CRO), applying the best practices doesn’t mean you’re immune to making mistakes. Some of the most common errors could unexpectedly impede your CRO efforts. Here’s what you, as an ecommerce store owner, should avoid: 

  • Ignoring Mobile Users: In today’s digital age, more people are shopping on their mobile devices than ever. Ignoring mobile optimisation could mean you’re missing out on a significant portion of potential customers. Make sure you optimise your online store for mobile users.
  • Failing to Segment: Not all customers are alike. Failing to segment your customers can result in a one-size-fits-all approach that may not effectively meet everyone’s needs. Be sure to segment your users based on characteristics such as demographics, purchase history, or behaviour, and customise your strategies accordingly.
  • Not Prioritising User Experience (UX): A positive user experience is the backbone of a high conversion rate. Poor site design and complicated navigation can frustrate potential customers, leading them to abandon their purchase.
  • Casting Aside Metrics: Not paying careful attention to key metrics or misinterpreting data can lead to missed conversion opportunities. It’s essential that you understand your metrics and what they mean for your online store.
  • Neglecting your Value Proposition: If prospective customers can’t quickly grasp your unique value proposition, they’re more likely to lose interest. Make sure your value proposition is clear and compelling, or you risk losing a potential conversion.
  • Leaving Out Call-to-Actions (CTAs): CTAs are essential tools in conversion. Failing to place them properly or making them too vague can lead to confused customers, resulting in a decrease in conversions.
  • Assuming One Successful Test Means a Strategy is Perfect: Just because an experiment or test resulted in higher conversions once, doesn’t mean the same will happen again. Never stop testing and optimising. CRO is a continuous process and requires ongoing adjustments.

Avoiding these common mistakes can give your ecommerce store a better chance of converting visitors into customers. Don’t forget that becoming proficient in CRO takes time and learning from both successful practices and misleading steps. Persistence and continuous improvements are key.

Wrap up!

Through this comprehensive guide, you’ve garnered great insights into the world of conversion rate optimisation (CRO). We’ve closely explored the concept, it’s importance for ecommerce store owners, challenges you may face, and the steps to effectively implement CRO strategies. From analysing your existing conversion rates and setting optimisation goals, to pinpointing barriers in the customer journey, conducting A/B tests, continuously revamping your strategy, and avoiding common traps. 

What’s clear is that CRO is not a one-off project but an ongoing process. It requires patience, attention to detail, and the ability to test and refine consistently based on data-driven insights. However, its rewards are worth the effort, as improved conversion rates can lead to increased sales, better customer trust, more efficient use of your marketing budget, and a significant competitive advantage. 

Remember, CRO is about understanding your customers --- their needs, challenges, desires, and behaviours --- and then making continuous improvements to your site that make it easier for them to convert. Regular analysis of your metrics, customer feedback, and user experience should be par for the course in your CRO journey. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the process, consider seeking the help of experts or using specific tools that can simplify CRO. There’s a wide range of tools that can help you analyse website data, conduct A/B testing, map customer journeys, or collect and interpret customer feedback. 

As you implement CRO, make sure not to lose sight of your overall business goals and your brand’s values. Strive for a balance between achieving higher conversion rates and maintaining a site and brand that truly resonate with your customers. 

Embrace the power of CRO and make your ecommerce store a success. Good luck with your conversion rate optimisation endeavours!

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