Increase Sales with Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

10 Min. Read

The biggest difference between you and your competitors is how you choose to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This means building a brand for your chosen audience and then communicating with your chosen audience segments with personalizing messages to reflect their interests, motivation, pain points and in terms of the jobs to be done (typical tasks your target group are likely to do). Getting these factors right and setting the right tone can only be achieved effectively via Conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Administrative tasks like content creation and building conversion funnels are time consuming, but essential nontheless.  Each conversion funnel is built up of stages of awareness and micro conversion points, such as form fills that offer something of value in exchange for customer data, and other trust building exercises. 

Each point of customer store interaction, otherwise known as touchpoint, is an important part to personalizing what you offer and driving conversions, and as such, content must be carefully designed, considering what stage each customer is at in the customer journey.

Moreover, each one of these pieces of content, message or micro-conversion should be tested as part of a personalized conversion funnel, to determine what works or not, for each and every persona (interest group).

It is also great practice to routinely test conversion, by adding new variations to mix things up, to determine to what extent it can be further improved.

About Conversion Rate Optimization

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion rate optimization is an iterative, ongoing and preferably agile process, designed to test your messaging (branding, any element or content and various campaigns) to determine what works best to convert visitors into customers.  

This type of testing is sometimes referred to as AB testing, multi-variant testing or split testing and can, and should be applied to every piece of content or “message” to determine what works best for each audience segment.  It is therefore a continuous process throughout the entire product lifecycle and stage of awareness.

Conversions are not just sales, a conversion could be a form submission, time on page, banner clicks, and so conversion rate optimization can be/should be used to test and optimize literally anything that requires customer interaction.

There are many benefits to CRO, the greatest of which is that it helps to determine what channels to invest in to improve sales, and most importantly what not to do.  

One paradox is that, in order to get statistically relevant data from CRO you need to have a decent amount of website traffic, but in order to get this traffic, you need a website that is relevant to your audience segments.  

So how do you build your website and make it relevant to audience segments in the first place without knowing what works, and without spending lots of money on ineffective PPC advertising (PPC is only optimal after CRO)?

The answer is, you can emulate your competition, the market leaders who have no doubt also tested their content already. Then, you’ll need to test your content with PPC, and so inevitably there will be some wastage, – some inefficiencies to start with.

Build a Brand and Personality

Before scaling up in any niche, you need to rely on customer analytics, customer surveys, competitor analysis and Keyword search data to understand your audience and decide how to target them.  Armed with this data you can select a brand archetype (or combination of archetypes) to test and define a brand personality to reflect the common ideals, interests and concerns of your ideal customers.  

Test your brand messaging, including USP and logo.  It will be on everything, images, pages, packaging, so you need to know its convincing/appealing.

If the English language is not your native tongue, be sure to get some insights into your ideas from a native English speaker.  Then comes the content creation and conversion funnels, it’s only once these are working for you and when you have sufficient traffic that you can begin CRO.  

And then ………..

Only when you have carried out CRO and all of the above, that you can double down on your marketing and advertising efforts, – once you know what advertising channels will work best, testing targeted PPC and Facebook advertising.

What is Agile eCommerce?

Being agile is to be responsive to change, in the case of eCommerce I am referring to being responsive to changing consumer demands and tastes.

Conversion rate optimization is a practice that fits well into the Agile Methodology, which although developed for software development, is equally good for all departments where things change constantly, departments such as shipping, marketing and sales.  The best part about Agile methodology and Agile marketing is that it can scale (scaled agile framework).

This article is not about adopting Agile marketing but rather a common sense strategy using principles of Agile to put in place procedures and processes that enable constant testing and to facilitate change (improvements).  These are intrinsic to effective conversion rate optimization.  These steps are necessary to scale up your eCommerce business successfully and keep it at the top. 

How to be responsive to change in eCommerce.

Developers test every piece of code they create, repeatedly. They have testing procedures and practices that if not done, result in software that is full of bugs. In the world of retail and eCommerce the problems are less tangible, difficult to understand with tastes and styles influenced by so many different factors. It’s not as instant as with a software bug, but just as painful if a retailer fails to meet the latest tastes in fashion, – for example.

While developers get instant feedback if something stops working, retailers often do not, shoppers will just stop buying, with no explanation and while developers can dive into the code to fix things, a retail brand is committed to a product range for an entire season, therefore getting it wrong is an expensive proposition.

Tip: – One way to limit risk with new products is to test them visually, via a visual survey, perhaps incentivizing customers to answer in exchange for a one off discount for example.

Emotion is in the Driving Seat of Purchasing Decisions

Emotion drives purchasing decisions more than anything else, and so, you as a merchant need to understand how your customers feel about you, your brand and your products. You need to be responsive to their changing needs and motivation. Therefore, you need to understand your customers and communicate with them.

For a virtual, online business, perhaps a Shopify store selling pet products for example, this poses certain challenges. Principally, how can you understand and correspond with your website visitors effectively and efficiently?

Tip: Live chat is a great option here, engaging with customers if it looks like they will abandon a purchase during checkout.  Try to understand why they are having second thoughts.

Steps to Understanding your Customers.

It all begins with your data, (yes yes, I’ll get to CRO in a minute) moreover, understanding your data. Making decisions about your eCommerce business without the necessary data is likely to end in bad decisions. Also, consider that data is easily misinterpreted by anyone who is not a data analyst or data scientist, thus potentially leading to bad decisions. In the case of merchants, making poor buying or selling choices based on flawed data interpretation is a common failure scenario. This is where our product Conversific plays an important role.

Conversific does not rely just on the default, single source Shopify data, – Shopify’s own analytics, Conversific takes that data and combines it intelligently with Google analytics data and displays it in a holistic fashion to optimize your understanding of the data. It helps you to better understand what you need to do, helping you to make better decisions.

While Conversific provides the direction to take, what to sell, how to sell it and helps to answer all the tough questions, a tool like OptiMonk provides the means to get feedback, and engage with customers in a variety of different ways, and yes, it also provides the means to carry out Conversion Rate Optimization, all this effort does ultimately lead to a better understanding of your customers and audiences and therefore results in a much higher conversion rate than the average.

The Steps Of CRO

Conversion rate optimization is based upon scientific deductive reasoning, its steps are therefore, as a scientist would approach a problem.

  1. Research

    This is where you turn to your data to discover the parts of your conversion funnel that needs tweaking

  2. Hypothesis

    This is where you form a hypothesis to test based on your eCommerce data, metrics and research

  3. Prioritization

    This is where you figure out what matters most for optimization (potential ROI), then prioritize effort accordingly.

  4. Testing

    This is where you put your hypothesis up against the existing version of your website

  5. Learning

    This is you deploy the winning hypothesis and gather information for future tests and planning.

Remember there is a big difference to having the data and understanding the data. Conversific can help with each and every stage, providing useful insights and vital reports on eCommerce progress.

What is AB Testing

At the heart of Conversion rate optimization is the process of AB testing elements that might affect your customers behavior to learn what needs to be improved. It’s not whether you think it looks good, or whether you feel the content is well written and compellingly. It’s not really about you at all but rather it’s about the customer, – their needs. CRO is about a customer driven approach to marketing your product in order to facilitate their understanding, enabling them to find what they need, even if it is not how you would explain it.

There are many different ways a product can be sold, but which way is the most effective?

AB testing enables you to test your messages in many different ways. Simple changes can have a big impact on conversion and sales. AB testing should be applied to:-

  • Content headlines – Is this what customers are looking for?
  • Phrases – including your Unique selling points (USPs) – Is your outcome appealing?
  • Incentives / Offers – what works best for each persona?
  • Does your message elicit the buying emotion mix?
  • Does your message show feeling / empathy
  • Does your message target the persona pain point effectively?
  • Body text – is your product detail convincing?
  • Images convey so much – are your images eliciting the right emotional mix?
  • Videos – Does your story sell?
  • Color palette? Colors influence emotion!
  • Message type – is it easy to read?
  • Upselling, Cross selling and product recommendations – adding product to cart?
  • Where to display your message
  • When to display your message – returning customers?
  • Who to display your messages to (psychographic segmentation)

What all of the above points try to do is answer the question “what message to display to the audience?” In addition it determines how to display the message, both the where and the when.

The secret of Shopify Success is …..

Being responsive to customers needs and concerns, ergo – staying relevant to the customer.  For example did you know that only the largest eCommerce stores merchants bother with shopping cart recovery emails?  Well even these emails need to be AB tested, luckily this is fairly easy to do since most email marketing platforms have a facility to test the effectiveness of emails.  Indeed by selecting an email template you are effectively selecting an email that has already been proven to be effective.  It should only be a template IF it is highly effective.


Tip: Through cart recovery emails you can learn alot about what your customers want and how to improve what you offer so you don’t need to send quite so many cart recovery emails!

Customer Feedback

Preparation is half the battle when setting out on a new eCommerce venture. However don’t expect to just launch it and then forget about it. You need to constantly improve it, refining every aspect to empathize with, and meet your audience’s needs.

How can you meet your audiences changing requirements without continually eliciting feedback from customers?

Answer – You can’t – not effectively.

This means communicating with your audience regularly so that you can obtain feedback and based upon that feedback, improve your messaging. Even your feedback methods should be AB tested to determine which is the most effective.

It is essential to include a Shopify app for live chat, not just to get feedback but to provide customer support and for upselling / cross selling.

Innovative Features

Even the most skilled eCommerce merchants miss-step, and on occasion miss opportunities, even when you are dealing with it every day and routine becomes the norm. 

New tools come to market that completely redefine what the expected standard is, tools that if used could provide a competitive advantage, or if not used, could provide your competitors a competitive advantage over you.

Keep an eye out for what apps your competitors are using and what new Shopify apps there are with features that leverage psychological biases and those that increase engagement.

These are app features that enable merchants to tap into primal emotions, to stimulate urges that are compelling. Limited time offers are one such example, extremely common and effective, especially when used with a countdown timer.

In addition, Shopify apps that provide

  • Social validation – Person X from Y is buying product Z, so should you! Right now!
  • Gamification Features keep things fun and engaging
  • Discount Coupons, give your customers the feeling they are missing out on a bargain
  • Loyalty scheme

These tools are a means by which you can increase conversion.

To be consistently successful you need to put in place best practices and processes that work consistently. Test new features, benchmarking the effectiveness of features, a before or after.

Final Words + Tips

Success breeds complacency.  To counteract this tendency, stay on top of your competitors and the new apps appearing on the Shopify app store, and leverage the innovative features they often contain.

Make data based decisions when it comes to CRO, if one of your pages is getting lots of traffic but no conversion then perhaps you are missing something.  These points of interest are valuable, and so brainstorm each and every one to see how you can benefit from the traffic.  At the very least your goal should be to get visitors email or a facebook follow before they leave.

Utilize templates when available, tailoring them to your needs, these are likely to have been optimized already, to answer which template works best, yes – you guessed it, you’ll need to AB test and carry out conversion rate optimization.

Time is limited, so always prioritize your AB testing.  Perhaps the simplest most effective way to test messages is though a tool like OptiMonk, which automatically tests multiple variations of the same message (clone and alter), it even selects the winning version for display saving a lot of time.

After finding the right mix of elements that work as a message, you can easily convert the message into a landing page or place it on your website where most relevant.

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