Ecommerce is not a dedicated subset of retail brands anymore. Every brand is an online brand. The increased competition makes it harder to earn your audience's attention. And once you have it, you need to do everything you can to keep it.

That's where conversion rate optimization (CRO) is helpful. Optimizing your customer journey will help you draw more website visitors down the path to becoming paying customers.

In this guide, we'll discuss what CRO is, what to optimize, and best practices for optimizing your customer experience for conversions. Let's get started!

What is conversion rate optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of making changes to your content to get your audience to take a desired action. That could be subscribing to your email or SMS list, downloading a resource, or purchasing a product.

This practice analyzes how users interact with content and then uses testing to improve the percentage of visitors who take the desired action.

Ultimately, CRO helps you draw more of your audience down the funnel, completing mid-funnel conversions (non-purchase conversions) along the way to a purchase conversion.

How to calculate conversion rate

Calculate conversion rate for your content by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of people interacting with it. That could mean total visitors to a particular web page, impressions on an ad, or email opens.

If you have Google Analytics connected to your ecommerce site, you can set up conversion events for the platform to track. Then you can determine your site's conversion rate for each page.

What can ecommerce brands optimize for conversions?

Conversion optimization can be applied to any content your audience interacts with where you want them to take action. That includes your:

  • Home page

  • Product pages

  • Shopping cart

  • Checkout page

  • Landing pages

  • Emails

  • Text messages

  • Blog

  • Social media posts

  • Paid ads

Each of these places presents a unique opportunity to increase conversion rates.

What attributes should you optimize?

You can consider optimizing every aspect of a piece of content your audience interacts with.


You can consider making big changes and small tweaks to your written copy. For example, you might discover that short, concise copy is more effective than longer copy. Or you might find on a more zoomed-in level that the specific words you choose make an impact.

For example, say you sell organic crackers. In a Facebook ad, you describe them as having "wholesome" ingredients. But when testing your copy, you might find that using the adjective "nutritious" leads to more conversions.


Buttons are one of the most important things to optimize. Clicking on them is usually the final step to complete the action you want your audience to take.

Buttons can be tested in many ways. You can test button size, text, colors, and placement. For example, on a landing page, you might try a bright green "buy now" button and a bold black one.

Whatever you do, you want your button to be clear and actionable. Use persuasive language that encourages visitors to take the desired action.

Titles and subject lines

Titles and subject lines tell your audience what to expect from the page or message they're about to read. Be attention-grabbing without being clickbaity. Otherwise, they'll open a page and immediately close it because they feel like they've been tricked.

A good title or subject line will make people want to read your content. But the content will also meet their expectations based on that title.


The layout of your content also has an impact on whether or not shoppers will take the desired action.

Avoid clutter and make sure important information, including your CTA (call-to-action), is easy to find.


The images you use, whether on your website, in an ad, or in email, will also impact conversions.

On product pages, you want professional, high-quality photos. This will increase the likelihood of conversion because it will give potential customers confidence in your product.

It won't show off your products well if you have poorly lit photos or have taken them from a bad angle. This will likely decrease the likelihood of conversion because it will give potential customers a negative impression of your product.


Offering incentives, such as free shipping or discounts, can effectively encourage site visitors to convert. But you can optimize these too.

Test different incentives to see what brings more conversions. For example, you might find that a free product brings more people to sign up for your subscriber list than a 10% discount.


Every aspect of your CTAs should be optimized using the attributes we already discussed. But they're still worth mentioning separately. In addition to tweaking your CTA to optimize performance, you can test different CTAs to see what gets people to convert. What action are shoppers most likely to take here?

For example, you might find that on certain blog posts, you can get a lot of people to purchase. These blog posts are usually very relevant to your product -- Like a sunscreen brand discussing the right level of SPF to use.

But on other blog posts that are one step removed from your product, you might find it harder to convert readers to a purchase. So instead, try converting them to your email list first.

How to get started with conversion rate optimization

The entire point of CRO is finding what works for your business. While there are many best practices that have worked for other brands, there's no universal truth when it comes to what works. You'll need to run experiments to determine what's most effective.

Define the important metrics

For whatever you're optimizing, you need to decide what conversion you're optimizing for. Is it a sale? A sign-up? A download? Once you know what you're aiming for, you can track performance.

A/B test your options

Zero in on a few potential tactics to optimize your content. Then it's time to put them to the test. The best way to do this is through A/B testing, or split testing, which involves creating two versions of a piece of content and seeing which performs better.

You can use software to help with testing. Individual marketing tools like your SMS software or popup form builder might have A/B testing options. Or you can use dedicated conversion rate optimization tools like Optimizely to test changes across channels.

Test one thing at a time

When you're A/B testing, it's important to test one thing at a time. This way, you'll be able to see the impact of the change you're testing.

It's okay to test one design of a button against another, but don't try to tweak your entire layout and button design simultaneously. You won't be able to track which of these things is making the most impact.

Analyze your findings

After you've run your tests, it's time to analyze the results. This will help you determine which tactic is most effective and how you can further improve your conversion rate.

Any optimization software will show you the data you need to make informed decisions.

Many marketing automation platforms will allow you to optimize campaigns as the data comes in. For example, you can launch two versions of an ad at the same time. Then, after your ads have received a certain number of impressions, your ads software can choose the one leading to the most conversions.

Small tweaks lead to big growth

Small changes can have a significant impact on your business. Increasing conversions doesn't require a big budget. All it means is you're enhancing what you already have, so you get more out of your investment.

Now that you know the basics, it's time to put it into practice. Learn 11 effective strategies to optimize for conversions.