Chapter 9
Conversion Rate Optimisation for Ecommerce Websites

You are here: Home The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation for Ecommerce Websites

Chapter Summary

Online retailers need to work harder to gain a consumer’s trust. This is why conversion rate optimisation – the practice of increasing the number of conversions and the value of conversions for each visitor – plays such a big part in an overall marketing strategy, and even more so in that of an ecommerce business.

The way people use online stores has matured so much that you must consider every aspect of your home page, product pages and checkout process to instil trust into the your customer. Improving your conversion rate allows you to sell more on your website without gaining more traffic, so even a slight increase in your conversion rate can lead to an improvement in profit.

User centricity as the key to ecommerce CRO

The key to success in any CRO project lies in your ability to truly understand your customers, in detail, in terms of how they interact with your site and how your products solve their problems and meet their needs.

At its most basic level, CRO can be achieved by simply updating the colour of a purchase button or makin g delivery information more prevalent on the page. At its most complex, CRO is a highly scientific process including hypotheses, methodology and measurement criteria where statistical significance is a must. In many cases, CRO hypotheses result from in depth user research, such as focus groups, and data analysis from your own data capturing platforms (such as Google Analytics).

The key to success, no matter what your budget, is to approach any changes to your website user first. Ask not what you as a business can improve, but what will improve the experience users have on your site. Yes, you might now offer a finance option, but if this only serves to scare a browsing consumer away due to perceived costs, it mightn’t be the best idea to plaster a banner about that new finance option across your homepage.

CRO is a balance between what you as a business want to achieve, and what best serves your user’s experience.

Setting your goals

In order to effectively implement any CRO campaign, you need to start with the basics. As outlined in the earlier chapters of this guide, you’ll need to set clear goals which are being measured properly through your tracking platform (e.g. Google Analytics).

As well as the major goals you’ll track (specifically, sales on your site), it’s worth also considering micro conversions which happen along the customer journey.

For example, someone might land on your site and buy immediately. That’s a simple journey and one which is easy to track in terms, simply, of conversions/sales.

But someone might also land on your site, browse some pages, read a guide, watch a video, sign up for a newsletter and later return via your delivery information page to make a purchase. That’s a far more complex journey, that could happen very quickly or could spread over weeks or even months.

You’ll want, therefore, to analyse your data in depth to understand:

  • What behaviours happen along the user journey?
  • Are there any trends amongst converting customers, e.g. do they typically spend more than X minutes on site, visit a specific page on their journey or watch a certain video before buying?
  • What other ‘micro conversions’ can you track that will help you get even more of your existing users to convert?

By tracking micro conversions as well as macro conversions, you can run even more granular tests to get more of your users to exhibit those desirable behaviours that, your data tells you, are common amongst converting users.

It’s important for your CRO strategy always to remain goal focused, you’ll be working with a lot of data in your analysis so make sure to stay focused on what you’re trying to improve. You may already have many ideas that you would like to put to the test, and although it’s great to have that mindset, make sure you’re limited within your tests, preferably one at a time. Running several CRO campaigns across your store will not give you the actionable data that you require to make positive implementations.

Setting up a CRO experiment

Time requirements

Once you have an idea of an experiment you’d like to run, you’ll need to find out how long you need to run to the test for in order to determine if if it was success or not. For this, you’ll need to figure out the total sample size.

Optimizely have a calculator which allows you to work this out by entering your current conversion along with the minimum detectable effect.

Baseline conversion rate

This is the current conversion rate for the page you’re testing. This data can usually found in your Google Analytics. You’ll need to note your baseline conversion rate to test whether or not you generate an increase in that with your experiment.

Minimum detectable effect

This is where you decide how big or small uplift you would like to detect. You would require less traffic to detect a big difference, where as you’ll need a much higher amount of traffic to detect small changes.

Once you have your sample size, you’ll need to multiply this by the number of variations that you have in your campaign.  This should give you the total amount of visitors you’ll need for your experiment, if you then divide that number by you average number of visitors per day, you’ll have the estimated number of days for you to run your campaign.

Analysing your results

In order to make sure your experiments have been a success, you’ll need to work out if they’ve been statistically significant. KISSmetrics have created a tool which allows you to input your data and see if the experiment you ran was statistically significant

Sales Funnels

The sales funnel is the sales process that exist within your website, if you have a page which contains an element which aims to drive a user to perform a specific action, this will be your sales funnel. The sales funnel is one of the important areas of CRO, as it’s very common place where bottlenecks happen and you see potential customers drop off due to a frustrating or unsatisfactory experience.

When reviewing your funnels, you’ll want to need to focus on many factors which include unnecessary actions/clicks, loading times, excessive pages and form fields. You’ll also need to factor in the user’s perception during the process; does this journey promote trust and ease throughout each stage? Or does the user decide not to convert because these points aren’t in place?

When planning on improving your funnels, you need to start at the top – this is where the user is first exposed to your online store, whether that be through clicking through a pay-per-click ad, an organic search listing or through a social media link.

Visualizing your conversion funnel is a great way for you to understand the sequence that users go through, this will allow you to fine tune areas whilst also creating a blueprint for potential future funnels.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

One of the most common areas for improvement in ecommerce is the shopping cart/basket. There are many reasons why someone may exit during the checkout process, but it’s mainly down due to frustration with the user journey or reconsideration on the product and the lack of reassurance from your website.

There are certain actions that you can implement throughout your checkout in order to your keep your potential customer committed to purchasing. Here are a few of our recommended actions:

Show progress

Implementing a progress bar will show your user how close they are to completing their order. This will reassure them that they’re nearly done, or set their expectations if it’s going to be a longer process.

Display form errors

Highlighting form errors as and when users are filling out any forms rather than at the end of the checkout process can remove a lot of frustration. Implement inline form validation to help your users move easily to conversion.

Remove unnecessary form fields

Form fields can be useful due to the information you require, however if your checkout process has a lot of unnecessary fields, this may lead your user to abandoning the checkout process. Stripping down unnecessary fields will help your user navigate through your form with more ease.

Avoid hidden costs

Adding hidden costs during the checkout process is one the biggest reasons for the shopping cart abandonment. The user will be unclear around the final price so you may need to revise your pricing strategy or remove automatically adding costs such as next day delivery.

Display security logos and payment seals

One of the biggest concerns of internet shoppers is online fraud. The fear of financial information being stolen is a real concern, so your online store can limit this fear by displaying card logos and secure logos in a predominant area of the checkout process.

Experiment ideas

Running CRO experiments throughout your website will be the best way to understand if certain actions have had a positive effects on your conversion rate.

One of the best way the plan CRO experiments throughout your website is to split it into key sections that the user might interact with. We’ve listed some of these below, with suggested experiments you might want to try:


A website’s homepage would normally receive the highest amount of traffic compared to other pages. Our main focus for this would be to make sure CTA’s and entrances to key landing/category pages are performing well.


  • Display the location of your store may increase the users trust of your website
  • Add Customer Reviews/Testimonials which will display straight away to a new audience
  • Add Trust Symbols such as security logos, payment seals and customer helpline information
  • Testing pricing display options if you have competitive prices
  • Live chat will help you engage with your customers whilst they’re deciding if they should purchase from your website or not
  • Split test  your banner

Category Pages

Your category page layout would usually consist of a grid with a range of your products listed in this. Ensuring a good click through rate to these products should be one of your priorities, and you would need to display information around each each product to ensure this.


Test Pricing display

Give users the  option to filter products by price, ratings and newest will allow them to browse through your products more ease.

Displaying customer ratings will enhance the CTR to individual products, providing the rating is positive.

Product Pages

Choosing an appropriate way to showcase your individual products essential, as it can either drive users to continue to enquire/purchase, or click away from your website.

Checkout process

Ensuring your customer journey for purchasing a product is as user friendly as possible is essential to maintaining a good conversion rate. Should look to explore the way a user navigates through this process and optimise the route to instil trust and ease for the user.


  • Make Guest Checkout the primary option
  • Display progress indicator throughout the check out process
  • Display security logos and payment seals
  • Limit form fields


Ninety percent of consumers say they read online reviews before they making buying decisions, and within reason, as this allows the user to see if you’re authentic online store offering a high quality service/product. Displaying your reviews across your website is a great way to automatically build trust with your audience and boost your conversion rate.

There are the unique ways of displaying your reviews, which you’ll want to test with your CRO experiments, however, the two types of reviews you’ll want to display across your website will be your individual reviews of your company and then product reviews. Product reviews will allow you to display positive experiences to your audience which may enhance their to desire to purchase a product from your online store.

Not only are reviews great for your conversion, they also implement within your SEO/PPC strategy with star ratings being able to displayed in paid and organic listings. Along with displaying reviews in Google SERPS, product reviews will also assist with your long tail keyword targeting strategy as your reviews will contain keywords that will relate to your products.