What is Conversion Rate Optimization? 5 CRO Hacks to Boost E-Commerce Sales

What is Conversion Rate Optimization

This is a guest post by Jessica Bruce. Jessica is a professional blogger, guest writer, Influencer & an eCommerce expert. She’s currently associated with ShopyGen as a content marketing strategist. She also reports on the latest happenings and trends associated with the eCommerce industry. Follow her on Twitter.

As soon as a new eCommerce website launches, there’s a race to get as many visitors as possible.

The race certainly isn’t easy, and what makes it harder are the additional hurdles that come up along the way. One of these hurdles, as you may or may not know, is the acquisition of conversions.

Conversion is the most crucial acquisition for any eCommerce business. An eCommerce business cannot survive with mere website traffic; it needs conversions to drive revenue.

“Trying to increase sales simply by driving more traffic to a website with a poor customer conversion rate is like trying to keep a leaky bucket full by adding more water instead of plugging the holes.”Bryan Eisenberg, Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results

That’s why, in this post, we’ll be looking at what conversion and CRO (conversion rate optimization) are, how to calculate conversion rates, in addition to giving you a handful of free, useful CRO hacks that will boost your eCommerce sales.

What is conversion? And what is CRO?

Before digging deeper, let’s consider what conversion actually is first.

An eCommerce conversion can be any action by a prospect that links to some specific business goal. The goals can link directly or indirectly to the revenue channels, and act as catalysts to bring in more sales.

For instance, the conversion could be a customer signing up to a newsletter, clicking on a call-to-action (CTA) link in an email, or purchasing a product.

The goals that directly affect the bottom line and generate revenue are known as primary conversions. Purchasing a product would be an example of a primary conversion.

Meanwhile, the goals that link indirectly to the revenue channel, and accomplish actions with the potential to bind users to primary conversions in the future, are secondary conversions. Signing up to a newsletter would be an example of a secondary conversion – as would an account sign up, a user adding items to their cart, a user adding items to their wishlist, and downloading the company in question’s app.

That’s the “What is conversion?” question answered.

Now let’s tackle the next one: What is CRO (conversion rate optimization)?

Simply put, CRO is all about increasing the rates of the conversions listed above; it’s the testing of different landing pages, keywords, user interfaces, and different processes to help first-time visitors become long-time purchasers.

How to calculate conversion rates?

what is conversion and cro
(Source)

To fully understand the primary, secondary, and overall conversion rates, you’ll want to calculate them, and that’s easily done.

The equations work like so:

  • Primary conversion rate = Total number of direct conversions ÷ Total number of visitors * 100
  • Secondary conversion rate = Total number of indirect conversions ÷ Total number of visitors * 100
  • Overall conversion rate = Total number of conversions ÷ Total number of visitors * 100

To explain further, you must divide the number of conversions within a certain time frame by the total number of visitors, then multiply it by 100%.

With this simple formula, you can clearly see whether your conversion rates are improving or declining.

How to begin with conversion rate optimization?

Now’s the point where you might be asking yourself: How do I increase conversion rates? Should I jump into making random optimizations to my eCommerce platform?

No. This is definitely not the way any skilled marketer adopts eCommerce conversion rate optimization into their practice.

Here’s how it’s done.

The foremost task is analyzing your current optimizations and where you stand in terms of conversion rates. By doing so, you will identify your baseline and see if your current optimizations are working, or if they need fine-tuning.

Then, you’ll want to replace any optimizations that aren’t doing the job. Luckily for you, there are 5 CRO hacks in the next section, ready and waiting to be implemented.

5 proven CRO hacks to improve conversion rates

These 5 CRO eCommerce processes or “hacks” have been used by many eCommerce marketers, and have helped to positively boost conversion rates. Be advised that you shouldn’t adopt these hacks blindly.

As Allison Otting, Senior UI Designer and Conversion Specialist at Disruptive Advertising, rightly says:

“Even two different companies in the same industry will have different clientele with different needs and different opinions. Blindly mimicking another company without understanding that principle will waste your time and your precious traffic.”Allison Otting, Don’t Believe Case Studies: Conversion Rate Optimization For Landing Pages

I suggest analyzing your business case first to understand the odds. Use A/B testing before any implementation or change on your website or mobile app. By doing this, you will have better insight into your business case and how your users perceive the change. Then, you can implement the CRO optimizations that will improve your business conversion rates for the better.

Now, let’s take a look at the 5 CRO hacks in detail.

CRO hack #1: The lure of free shipping is irresistible

What do most online shoppers love, besides cheap product pricing? Free shipping!

Every eCommerce site owner knows that users crave free shipping. However, many ignore the necessity of presenting shipping information in a clear and concise way.

There are two potential reasons why your conversions in this particular area aren’t as high as you want them to be:

  • You don’t declare the shipping cost before the checkout page, which makes the additional shipping cost come as a surprise to the customer.
  • Despite charging for it, your delivery speed is sluggish. Some customers don’t care about the shipping cost if they can receive the product fast enough.

Though it’s been proven by Deloitte’s research that 88% of shoppers prefer free shipping over fast shipping, there’s still 12% who want the products to be delivered quickly. Also, 93% of shoppers prefer to get free shipping over discounts.

With this data, it can be concluded that the following two optimizations will let you target a wide array of prospects with varied preferences:

  • Offer multiple shipping options, including regular free shipping and paid options with faster delivery.
  • Declare the minimum shipping cost before the checkout page. The best place is the product page itself. You should also include the same information on the cart review page as well.

Free shipping conversion

As an example, Amazon does a good job of pricing page optimization. It declares shipping information both on the product page in addition to the cart review page.

Free shipping conversion example

Though, offering free shipping will result in overhead expenses. To tackle this, you can include the shipping cost in the retail price itself. Most customers prefer free shipping over discounts, so they will be more inclined to purchase if free shipping is one of your offerings.

CRO hack #2: Speed can make or break your conversion rates

Website speed is important, not only for Google SEO rankings, but also for minimizing the bounce rates and thus improving conversion rates. About 53% of visitors on mobile devices will abandon a site if it takes over 3 seconds to load.

And as Tommy Walker, the ex-Editor-in-Chief of the Shopify blog and now the Global Editor of The QuickBooks Resource Center, explains:

“A good first impression isn’t just about design, but also how fast that design loads. […] According to the engineers at Google & Microsoft, a loading delay of 250 milliseconds can influence whether a visitor chooses you over a close competitor.”Tommy Walker, Two Overlooked Aspects Of Your Site Design That May Be Hurting Conversions

With those statistics in mind, it’s safe to say that slow websites are loathed by online consumers.

Thus, the next CRO hack after free shipping is reducing website loading time. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Test My Site to check your site’s speed on different devices.

test my site conversion

These tools give detailed reports with valuable suggestions on how to improve your page loading speed, while also providing you with data on the speeds of your rival sites. Leverage the recommendations to boost both your business efficiency and website loading speeds, stat.

CRO hack #3: Most users jump off the conversion funnel from the checkout page

The graph below, created by the Baymard Institute, is very telling. Have a look at the graph yourself.

Baymard Institute Conversion Rates
(Source)

While looking at the data, did you notice a pattern?

At least 6 of the reasons are due to issues related to the checkout process.

It takes a lot of effort to bring customers to an eCommerce site, and then to the checkout page. Although your website may feature cutting-edge design and stellar copy, just a single problem with the checkout funnel will stop potential customers from hitting that Complete Order button.

One of the best ways to improve conversion rates is avoiding the pitfalls that cause shopping cart abandonment.

Checkout page optimization is the best way to do that:

  • Optimize the checkout page loading speed.
  • Ask for less by auto-filling the details that are already known.
  • Allow users to choose the same billing and delivery addresses.
  • Allow users to checkout as a guest without registering a user account.
  • Allow users to log in or sign up using a social media login.
  • Catch form-filling errors on the spot with Ajax dynamic form validation.
  • Reduce the number of fields in the checkout form.
  • Offer multiple payment methods (credit card, debit card, net banking, etc).
  • Mention all your accepted payment methods on the site’s footer, as ASOS do on their website.

Online trust and conversion

CRO hack #4: The power of online trust elements

It seems that with each passing day, a new eCommerce site is launched. And it’s no secret that getting customers to use and trust a new business is a challenging retail process – especially online.

However, there are numerous ways for your website to establish trust and increase loyalty.

The first step optimization is crucial: If you haven’t already done so, migrate your site to HTTPS by using an SSL certificate.

E-Commerce sites carry out huge monetary transactions each second; an SSL certificate is necessary for keeping both the customer’s data and their payment data safe. Additionally, Google flags sites without an SSL certificate as unsafe, which puts potential customers off further.

SSL certificate conversion rates

In addition to the SSL certificate, you should implement these following optimizations as well:

  • Embed a live chat for real-time customer support.
  • Use the live chat to also offer guided shopping.
  • Offer cash on delivery (COD), at least in the beginning phase of your business.
  • Allow customers to return or replace a purchased product or products.
  • Allow customers to submit product reviews.
  • Put a seal of trust on the payment pages, website footer, and other noticeable locations. Again, ASOS is a fine example of a business doing this.

ASOS online trust

  • Share your physical office address with other contact information via the Contact Us page.
  • Leverage blogging and social media to share case-studies and behind-the-scenes insights into your business.

CRO hack #5: Nothing works better than remarketing

Remarketing is a broad term used to define several scenarios. But the primary objective of remarketing is to get previous users back on the site and convert them into customers. There are many reasons why people don’t initially purchase from a website, such as:

  • Out-of-stock products.
  • Highly-priced products.
  • Absence of the visitor in question’s preferred payment method.
  • Higher shipping costs.
  • They’re window shopping.

However, just because a purchase isn’t made the first round doesn’t mean the visitor won’t go through with a purchase; return visitors are not only 70% more likely to add an item to their cart than first-time visitors, but also 75% more likely to complete a purchase.

Remarketing, therefore, is a holy grail for eCommerce. It helps to raise the chances of conversion by using methods like:

  • Cart abandonment follow-up.
  • Google AdX retargeting.
  • Signups for stock alerts.
  • Signups for price drop alerts.
  • Wishlist reminders.
  • Email follow-ups.

While there are various tools to implement remarketing, I personally recommend using the Google AdX manager. AdX isn’t only efficient in showing ads to relevant users, but it can also re-target users using ad exchange across web and social media platforms!

For further reading, check out this article: How to Use Facebook Retargeting and Custom Audiences to Drive Sales.

Undergo optimization processes properly

There are many more ways of conversion rate optimization, indeed, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for any online business and/or eCommerce platform. Before committing to an optimization, it’s important to properly identify the baseline and analyze user actions.

Use A/B testing to carefully examine any modifications before adopting the tips which may not work for you.

To help you with A/B testing, and to ensure you gather the best results possible, use the free A/B testing checklist from Process Street.

Process Street is a piece of business process management software.

Process Street works by providing users with templates – which can either be created from scratch, or taken from Process Street’s large (and free) template library. By launching checklists from these templates and following them, you’ll complete your tasks and processes efficiently and effectively, every single time.

The below AB testing process will guide you from setting up the test all the way through to the final steps, where, after recording the completed test data, you’ll consider whether the changes should be implemented or not.

Find the checklist embedded below.

To bolster your efforts of increasing conversion and growth, there are these 7 additional marketing processes you and your team can make use of immediately:

There you have it. Now you can answer the questions “what is conversion and conversion rate optimization?”, and use the 5 CRO hacks to help you dramatically increase conversions. To add to that, there are the free templates, provided by Process Street, to ensure the processes are done correctly!

Are there any CRO hacks that you’d add to this list? Or any conversion optimization processes you cannot live without? If so, tell us in the comment section below. We can’t wait to hear your suggestions! 💡

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Thom James Carter

Thom is a junior content writer at Process Street. He has previously worked in copywriting and content creation for multiple start-ups and SMBs. He’s interested in technology, culture, homebrewing, and hiking up the hills and mountains near his home in Edinburgh, Scotland.


2 Comments

Hi Rosie, we have another article coming out soon with an actionable process template you can use in your business. Just subscribe to the blog and you’ll find it drop into your inbox in about 2 weeks. Cheers!


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