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Last updated Thu Jan 18 2024

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): Best Practices & Tools

Alright, let's get real. The ecommerce landscape is intensely competitive these days. Your typical customer will visit several websites before they commit to spending their hard-earned cash.

So, getting traffic to your site is just half the story.

The real challenge?

Transforming those visitors into loyal, paying customers.

This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. It is all about helping you maximize the potential of your existing traffic and convert more visitors into leads or customers.

In this article:

What is conversion rate optimization (CRO) and why does it matter?

Website conversion rate optimization is the methodical approach to boost the percentage of your website's visitors who take meaningful actions. These can mean making purchases, subscribing to newsletters, or completing signup forms.

Keep in mind, you should always calculate conversion rates in the context of a specific action. For example, your website can have a high conversion rate of about 5% for newsletter sign-ups but a lower rate of measly 1% for actual purchases. The goal of CRO is to identify goals that are most important for your business and maximize your website's effectiveness.

What are the key benefits?

Better conversion rates translate into:

  • Increased revenue. Higher conversion rates directly translate into more sales and revenue for your business, without the need to increase website traffic or marketing spend.

  • Enhanced user experience: An optimized website offers a smoother, more intuitive experience for users, making it easier for them to find what they need and complete desired actions.

  • Improved return on investment (ROI). By maximizing the value of your existing traffic, CRO helps you get more out of your marketing efforts, leading to a better ROI.

Optimized and unoptimized conversion rate

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room—

cro distribution

Is a 2% conversion rate high or low?

Questions like these usually drive marketers nuts because answering them requires more context.

Universal conversion rate benchmarks don't exist. It is a classic case of misleading statistics, similar to saying, "My dog and I have three legs on average."

For instance, if you're skilled at SEO, you will get more "free" traffic. That's great, right? Well, it is, but your numbers can already be skewed.

Why?

High traffic from blogs often leads to lower conversion rates compared to customers coming organically from social media.

Additionally, the pricing of your products plays a significant role. If your average order value is above $50, expect a decline in conversions. Some purchases also require customers to take more time before deciding.

factors for calculating CR

Nonetheless, there are certain CRO strategies that prove effective regardless of whether you occasionally sell a $500 item or hundreds of smaller orders on a daily basis.

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Case study

Learn how Springly, a nonprofit software, accelerated email list building by 50%:

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Best Practices for Conversion Rate Optimization

Although CRO can be intricate and demands effort, it's essential to find the strategies that work best for your online store. Here are some of the most effective techniques to optimize your conversions.

  1. Identify your conversion goals

  2. Time your popups effectively

  3. Use clear and compelling calls-to-action

  4. Remove friction points

  5. Utilize A/B testing to optimize conversion

  6. Leverage the power of social proof

  7. Reduce bounce rate through relevant content

  8. Retarget visitors with tailored offers

  9. Set up exit-intent popups to reduce cart abandonment

  10. Use heatmaps and other tools for CRO analytics

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1. Identify your conversion goals

Before you can begin optimizing your website for conversions, it's crucial to identify your conversion goals. These goals will guide your optimization efforts and help you measure the effectiveness of your strategies.

Common conversion goals

EcommerceSaaSContent and education
Completing a purchaseSigning up for a free trial Following your social media profile
Adding products to the shopping cartUpgrading to a paid planDownloading a whitepaper or ebook
Creating an accountCompleting onboardingRegistering for a webinar or event
Signing up for a newsletter or promotional emailsUsing in-app featuresSharing content on social media
Using a wishlist feature Providing user feedback Leaving comments
Leaving a reviewEngaging with live chat or chatbotMaking a donation

It is important to align your conversion goals with user intent. Consider what actions your website visitors are most likely to take. For example, if your target audience is primarily seeking information, your conversion goals might include downloading a whitepaper or signing up for a webinar. If your visitors are ready to purchase, your primary goal should be driving sales.

Click-through rate (CTR) is a widely applicable metric, as it can encompass various actions taken by visitors. For example, a CTR can represent the number of email addresses collected through a popup on your website.

Regardless of the goals you select, it's essential to set specific and measurable targets for each conversion goal. Remember, that your CRO goals will eventually become your CRO metrics.

Establishing clear targets enables you to monitor your progress and evaluate the effectiveness of your optimization strategies. For instance, if you aim to boost newsletter subscriptions, determine a target number of new subscribers you want to get within a set period.

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2. Time your popups effectively

Popups can be a powerful tool for increasing conversions, but their effectiveness heavily depends on the timing. To avoid annoying your visitors and improve the chances of them taking the desired action, it's essential to display popups at the right moments.

popup timing test

A good rule of thumb is to set your popup timing as about 50% of the average engagement time on your website.

Here are a few tips for timing your popups:

  • Delayed popups. Set a time delay before the popup appears, giving visitors a chance to explore your website and get acquainted with your content or products before being presented with an offer or call-to-action. Popup timing is one of the most important factors that affects their click rate. 

  • Scroll-triggered popups. Show popups when users have scrolled down a certain percentage of the page. This ensures that visitors have engaged with your content and are more likely to be interested in your offer.

  • Click-triggered popups. Display popups when visitors click on a specific call-to-action (CTA). This type of popup allows users to express interest in an offer or promotion by interacting with the CTA, which in turn helps to enhance their engagement and improve conversion rates.

Based on our popup benchmark study, popups activated by "on-click" events demonstrate the highest conversion rates. On average, these rates are around 37%, but by optimizing your calls-to-action, it is possible to surpass a click-through rate of 50%.

Which brings up to the next point—

3. Use clear and compelling calls-to-action

Calls-to-action (CTAs) play a vital role in guiding website visitors towards desired actions and improving conversion rates. To maximize their effectiveness, it's crucial to create clear and compelling CTAs that encourage users to take the next step.

countdown popup

Use action-oriented language. Instead of writing generic CTAs like "Learn More," try a more specific phrase like "Download Our Free Ebook" or "Sign Up Today." Encourage users to take immediate action by incorporating urgency-inducing phrases, such as "Limited Time Offer." 

Ensure that your CTAs stand out on the page by using contrasting colors, bold fonts, and eye-catching designs. Remember that an optimized call-to-action can significantly increase click-through rates and drive more conversions, so it's essential to invest time and effort into perfecting your copy.

Read more:

4. Remove friction points

When optimizing your website's conversions, it's sometimes beneficial to adopt a fresh perspective. Instead of focusing solely on enhancing the "good" aspects, consider addressing conversion obstacles that may be hindering your sales.

For instance, incorporating social media logins for account creation can boost average signup rates by 20%. Many users find creating new accounts using emails and passwords tedious. If they can't sign up via their Facebook or Google login, they may simply leave your site.

signup wisepops page

Another potential barrier is the absence of preferred payment methods. A significant number of online shoppers utilize unique mobile payment systems, so accommodating these options is crucial.

Finally, don't forget to enhance the user experience for mobile devices. The majority of your website visitors likely access your site through their smartphones or tablets. By addressing these concerns and removing friction points, you can effectively improve your website's conversion rate.

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CRO case study

Learn how Emoi emoi increases the average order values:

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5. Utilize A/B testing to optimize conversion

Experienced marketers and CRO experts understand that achieving exceptional sales results often comes from trial and error. Since no one-size-fits-all solution exists, A/B testing plays a crucial role in optimizing your website. Surprisingly, according to a recent report by HubSpot, only 17% of marketers use A/B tests to optimize conversions.

AB testing, or split testing, involves comparing two or more variants of a single element (e.g., headlines, CTAs, or landing pages) to determine which version performs better. By analyzing the data and making data-driven decisions, you can fuel growth, lower customer acquisition costs, and maximize your ROI.

What does it look like in practice?

Let's say you're an ecommerce business and you want to optimize your sales by offering discount codes. You decide to test two versions of your discount popups. Version A is a basic popup while Version B uses a timer countdown that creates a sense of urgency. You can set up an A/B test with 50% of your website visitors seeing Version A and the other 50% seeing Version B.

ab test popup urgency

After a month of testing, you measure the conversion rates for each version. Version A yielded a 6% CTR and 200 sales out of 10,000 visitors, resulting in a 2% final conversion rate. In contrast, Version B generated a 12% CTR and 400 sales out of 10,000 visitors, amounting to a 4% conversion rate.

In this example, the results are quite clear-cut. A higher number of visitors and significant differences in conversion rates increase the certainty of the A/B test. Nonetheless, in most scenarios, it's advisable to use an A/B testing statistical significance calculator to validate your results.

6. Leverage the power of social proof

In the realm of CRO, social proof plays a crucial role, as people tend to follow the actions of others. Showcasing testimonials, reviews, and case studies builds trust and credibility, leading to improved conversion rates.

Incorporate social proof on your website by:

  • Featuring customer testimonials or reviews. Share genuine and relatable customer experiences, with photos or videos, to highlight the benefits of your products or services. Use rotating carousels or dedicated pages for maximum impact.

  • Highlighting industry awards or certifications. Prominently display these achievements, providing third-party validation to boost your brand's credibility.

  • Showcasing well-known clients or partners. Build trust by demonstrating that reputable organizations rely on your products or services.

  • Displaying real-time sales or customer activity. Create a sense of urgency and FOMO by showcasing recent purchases, reviews, or sign-ups.

Ensure your social proof elements are genuine, relevant, and regularly updated for optimal results. If you are using an ecommerce platform like Shopify, utilize dedicated plugins. Showcasing your product reviews can be a critical part of your Shopify marketing strategy.

7. Reduce bounce rate through relevant content

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing just one page. A high bounce rate can negatively impact your conversion rate, as it indicates that users are not finding the information they need or engaging with your content. To reduce bounce rates and improve conversions, ensure your website provides relevant and valuable content that meets your target audience's needs and expectations.

notification feed

To create content that resonates with your audience, it's essential to understand their needs, preferences, and challenges. Conduct thorough research to develop a comprehensive understanding of your target market, including demographics, interests, and pain points. Use this information to create targeted content that speaks to your audience and addresses their needs.

For example, if you sell eco-friendly activewear, you can write in-depth product guides and comparisons that help your customers make informed purchase decisions. Include information on the sustainability features, materials, and benefits of each product, as well as how they compare to other similar products in the market.

Pro-tip: Videos are becoming the dominant content type. Some studies indicate that incorporating a video on your landing page could increase conversions by more than 86%. It's important to note that this means an increase from 2% to 3.7%, not to 88%.

8. Retarget visitors with tailored offers

Retargeting is a powerful marketing strategy that involves reaching out to website visitors who have left your site without completing a desired action. Retargeting campaigns can significantly improve your conversion rates by reminding potential customers of your products or services and enticing them to return to your site with personalized offers.

mailchimp popup with discount

To create an effective retargeting campaign, consider the following tips:

  • Segment your audience. Categorize your website visitors based on their interactions with your site, such as the pages they visited or the products they viewed. This will allow you to create tailored messages and offers that resonate with each audience segment.

  • Personalize your ads. Use dynamic ads that display products or services your visitors have already shown interest in. This level of ecommerce personalization can help increase the likelihood of re-engaging potential customers.

  • Offer incentives. Entice visitors to return to your site by providing exclusive offers or discounts. For example, you could offer a 10% discount on their first purchase or free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

Pro-tip: You should try to combine different plugins and platforms to make the most of your retargeting efforts. For example, you can collect emails with Wisepops and integrate it with Klaviyo for customer segmentation and personalized email marketing.

9. Set up exit-intent popups to reduce cart abandonment

Cart abandonment is a common issue for ecommerce websites, with potential customers leaving the site before completing their purchases. Exit-intent popups can help you recover these lost sales by displaying a message or offer just as a visitor is about to leave your site.

Exit popup example

Here are some CRO tips for creating effective exit-intent popups:

  • Offer a compelling incentive. Encourage users to complete their purchase by providing a discount, free shipping, or another valuable offer.

  • Keep it simple. Make sure your popup is easy to understand, with a clear call-to-action that tells visitors exactly what they need to do to take advantage of the offer.

  • Use urgency. Create a sense of urgency by making your offer time-sensitive. For example, you could offer a limited-time discount or mention that the product is almost out of stock.

It is also a good idea to test different messaging. Experiment with various copy, design elements, and offers to determine what resonates most with your audience and drives the highest conversion rates.

Read more: Exit-Intent Popup Examples to Convert Visitors

10. Use heatmaps and other tools for CRO analytics

Using analytics tools like heatmaps and user session recordings can give you a better understanding of how visitors interact with your website. Heatmaps show the most clicked, hovered, or scrolled areas on a page, while session recordings let you see individual user actions.

heat map

Using these tools can help you:

  • Find which parts of your website grab the most attention

  • Identify confusing or frustrating elements

  • Discover ways to improve, such as tweaking your layout or calls-to-action

By analyzing and applying these insights, you can make informed decisions to optimize your website and boost your conversion rates.

For those new to digital marketing and tools like HotJar, here's a quick tip: scroll depth is often quite low. So, make sure your CTAs are placed high on your page. Ideally, they should be visible as soon as the page loads or just a bit further down. If your first CTA button is in the middle of your website (or lower), it might be the main reason for your low conversions.

Best CRO tools to increase your sales

Implementing powerful conversion rate optimization tools can dramatically enhance your customer experience and sales. Let's dive into some popular solutions that can help you increase your conversions and grow your business.

Onsite marketing platforms

These platforms offer a wide range of features, from A/B testing to exit-intent popups and targeted messaging, designed to improve website engagement and conversions.

  • Wisepops. A versatile pop-up builder that helps you create attractive and high-converting pop-ups, banners, and bars for your website.

  • Optimizely. A comprehensive optimization platform offering A/B testing, multivariate testing, and personalization features for websites and mobile apps.

  • VWO (Visual Website Optimizer). An all-in-one conversion optimization platform that combines A/B testing, heatmaps, visitor recordings, and other powerful features.

Landing page builders

These online apps make it easy to create, test, and optimize landing pages to increase conversions and generate leads.

  • Instapage. A platform designed to help you create all elements of high-converting landing pages with ease, using its built-in templates, A/B testing, and analytics.

  • Unbounce. A drag-and-drop landing page builder that lets you design and test responsive landing pages without the need for any coding knowledge.

  • Leadpages. A user-friendly landing page builder offering a vast selection of templates, integrations, and optimization tools for driving conversions.

Heatmap and visitor recording tools

Conversion rate optimization is impossible without monitoring visitor behavior. The tools listed below provide insights into actions of your customers, allowing you to optimize your website and improve the overall user experience.

  • Hotjar. A popular tool that combines heatmaps, visitor recordings, conversion funnels, and surveys to give you a comprehensive understanding of user behavior.

  • Crazy Egg. A tool that offers heatmaps, scroll maps, and A/B testing to help you analyze visitor interactions and optimize your website accordingly.

  • FullStory. A platform that captures user session recordings, heatmaps, and provides powerful analytics, enabling you to identify issues and opportunities for optimization.

Email Marketing and Automation Tools

Email marketing tools help you segment your audience, create targeted campaigns, and automate email workflows to improve engagement and drive conversions.

  • Klaviyo. A powerful email marketing platform specifically designed for e-commerce businesses, offering advanced segmentation, automation, and integrations with popular e-commerce platforms.

  • Mailchimp. A popular email marketing platform that lets you create and automate email campaigns, segment your audience, and analyze the performance of your campaigns.

  • HubSpot. An all-in-one marketing, sales, and customer service platform that includes a robust email marketing and automation toolset to help you nurture leads and convert them into customers.

By incorporating these tools into your CRO strategy, you can systematically optimize your website, enhance user experience, and ultimately boost your sales and revenue.

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Conversion optimization: conclusion and CRO action plan

By focusing on best practices and leveraging the right tools, you can increase revenue, enhance user experience, and improve your return on investment.

While there is no universal conversion rate benchmark, implementing tailored CRO strategies can significantly boost your website's effectiveness in achieving your specific business goals. Continuously analyze, test, and optimize your website to refine the customer journey and keep adapting to the ever-evolving ecommerce environment.

Here is your final CRO checklist:

  • Define conversion objectives. Set specific, measurable targets for each goal to track progress and evaluate effectiveness.

  • Optimize popup timing. Use delayed, scroll-activated, and click-activated popups to reduce visitor annoyance and boost conversion rates.

  • Craft compelling calls-to-action (CTAs). Use action-driven language, urgency-creating phrases, and eye-catching designs for your CTAs.

  • Eliminate obstacles to conversion. Simplify account creation, support popular payment methods, and improve the mobile user experience.

  • Apply A/B testing for conversion enhancement. Compare different versions of headlines, CTAs, and landing pages to identify the best performers.

  • Harness the power of social proof. Display testimonials, reviews, case studies, industry awards, well-known clients, and real-time customer engagement.

  • Lower bounce rate with relevant content. Understand your target audience's needs and preferences, and create content that addresses their requirements.

  • Use tailored offers for visitor retargeting. Segment your audience, customize your ads, and present incentives to attract visitors back to your site.

  • Implement exit-intent popups to reduce cart abandonment. Offer attractive incentives, maintain simplicity in popup design, and include urgency in your messaging.

  • Utilize heatmaps and analytics tools for CRO insights. Analyze visitor interactions with your website to pinpoint areas for improvement and optimize conversion rates.

Remember, a well-optimized website not only converts visitors into customers but also fosters long-lasting, loyal relationships with your audience.

Pawel Lawrowski

Pawel is the Head of Growth at Wisepops and an expert in lead generation, popups, and onsite marketing.

With over a decade of experience in digital marketing, he has both build marketing teams from scratch and led strategic business growth projects.

Pawel has worked with countless online businesses on marketing strategies and is now sharing his knowledge on the Wisepops blog.

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