What Is CRO and Why Is It Important for eCommerce?

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7 min read
by: John Surdakowski07/02/2021

Quick Summary In eCommerce, your ultimate goal is to generate sales. The other elements you need to consider, such as site traffic and branding, exist to support your sales. Converting site visitors into customers is how you earn revenue and keep your business running.

“Convert” is the keyword there. Any action you want your site visitors to take is a conversion. The more they take such actions, the closer you are to conversion rate optimization (CRO).

In eCommerce, a conversion is usually a purchase. But it can also be a smaller goal, such as collecting an email address or getting a customer to join a loyalty program. The more conversions you make, the more successful your company will be. 

So conversions are important, and measuring them can tell you whether your business is growing. The best way to track your conversions is through your conversion rate. That’s the ratio of visitors to your site compared to the number who make a purchase. 

You can find your conversion rate by dividing your conversions by the number of visitors you receive and then multiplying that result by 100%. If you get 500 visitors, and 10 make a purchase, then 10/500 is .02, or 2%. ‌

Obviously, higher conversion rates are better. High conversion rates show that you’re convincing more people who visit your site to actually buy. To increase your conversion rates, you need to perform conversion rate optimization (CRO). That’s the process of tweaking and improving your site to make it more attractive to visitors and increase your sales.

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CRO Tips for Your Website

Here are six strategies you can use to implement CRO on your website:‌

  1. Use lead capture forms. A lead capture form is a way to collect visitors’ emails and names. You can then include them in your email marketing, which can increase your conversion rate over time.

  2. A/B test various design features. A/B testing allows you to compare two versions of the same site element to learn what people like. Experimenting in this way can lead to more conversions.

  3. Place videos of your products to educate and reel users in. Selling cosmetics? Offer a makeup how-to. Selling craft beer online? Show your favorite pours and pairings. Use videos throughout your site so visitors can see your products work their magic. 

  4. Add live chat to your site. When people have questions, they want answers quickly. Give your potential customers a quick, easy way to learn more and decide to buy. 

  5. Add calls to action (CTAs) in blog posts. To impact your conversion rate, end posts with a clear next step that readers can take, and keep them moving through your funnel.

  6. Optimize product page details. You've gotten visitors to your product page. Now offer the best copy and visuals you can muster, and close the deal.

6 Ways CRO Can Help Your eCommerce Business

Conversion rate optimization takes work. It requires you to make frequent adjustments and check on them regularly. But it’s worth your time and energy. Here are six ways a great CRO effort can help you. 

1. Increase Sales and Return on Investment (ROI)

Once you’ve begun implementing CRO on your site, you can target specific conversions, especially sales. It’s the most direct and data-driven way to increase your sales.‌

That’s not the only way it improves your bottom line either. When your site converts visitors more effectively, you don’t need to spend as much per sale. 

For example, suppose you need to spend $100 in marketing to drive 100 visitors to your site. Before performing CRO, you may have a conversion rate of 2%, meaning that two of those visitors made a purchase. After optimizing your site, you might increase your conversion rate to 4%. Immediately you’ve doubled how valuable your marketing is. 

It used to take you $50 to make one conversion, and now it takes just $25. You’ve increased your ROI by 100%. Your sales increase and your expenses fall dramatically just by performing some simple CRO. 

2. Perform Cost-Effective Website Optimization

Over time, your offerings, audience, and branding will probably change. To keep your site relevant, you’ll need to update it to reflect these changes. 

You have two choices when it comes to updating your website. On the one hand, you can revamp your entire website from the ground up. The problem is that a complete overhaul is typically expensive, time-consuming, and potentially confusing to your audience. You can even end up with a site that doesn’t work.‌

On the other hand, you can use CRO strategies to update your site over time. While this takes a little longer, it will be less expensive and less prone to problems, and your customers will never click through to a completely unfamiliar site. When you want to improve your website, CRO is a cost-effective and practical solution.

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3. Reallocate Marketing Budgets

With conversion rate optimization, you've increased your sales, reduced the cost of improving your website, and generally raised your ROI. You’ve suddenly freed up a large chunk of your budget. That money can be put to good use.

When you’re converting a larger portion of website visitors, the next step is to increase site traffic. You can roll the money you’ve saved directly into your marketing and traffic efforts. 

This leads to the best kind of feedback loop. As you continue to perform CRO, you’ll make more sales and bring in more revenue. Funneling that into your marketing efforts brings in more traffic, which in turn increases sales. This minor change to your marketing and site design strategy can help your company expand dramatically. 

4. Match Your Site to Your Customers' Tastes

You've taken the time to learn from your customers. And you've done it through A/B testing, which tells you things about your customers that they may not even know themselves. 

For example, your audience probably doesn’t have a conscious opinion about the length of your product descriptions. Many may even believe that they prefer longer descriptions, such as specific information about clothing dimensions or cosmetic ingredients. However, case studies have shown that companies that perform CRO see more conversions on products with shorter, neater descriptions. You'll find out things like that through your CRO strategy. 

That's the value of A/B testing. It lets you make data-driven decisions about how to change your site. You can compare two ideas and get hard numbers about which worked better. 

Over time, you'll amass a customized collection of insights as to what your customers do and don’t like. You can then do personalization on your site in keeping with their preferences.

5. Improve Your SERP Ranking

SERP stands for “search engine results page.” Where you show up on the page for search engines such as Google and Bing makes all the difference. Sixty percent of search engine users choose one of the top three results on the page, and search engines drive three times more traffic to websites than social media do. Your SERP ranking is critical to driving traffic to your site. 

Conversion rate optimization can help you rank higher on SERPs. As you optimize your site and refine the user experience, people will linger there longer. And Google, for one, will know: Google’s algorithms pay attention to how much time people spend on your website and how quickly they leave. 

If a visitor to your site leaves quickly and without visiting another page, they're "bouncing" off. The number of people who bounce off your site, divided by the total number of visitors, is called your "bounce rate." Google prioritizes sites with low bounce rates because that shows that visitors like what they see. CRO is the perfect tool to increase your visitors' time on page and reduce bounce rates.  

At the same time, you can improve your search engine optimization (SEO). The language you use in your A/B testing targets can include important keywords and phrases that you know people are searching for. That helps your site get indexed for the search terms that matter to your business. As a result, search engines such as Google rank you higher, which can lead to you getting more traffic.

6. Stand Out from the Competition

Having something to offer that your competitors don't is essential if you want to build and maintain a strong customer base. So take the time to make your eCommerce site uniquely compelling. 

CRO strategies allow you to do just that. When you learn from your customers, you can tailor your website to their exact desires. When your site meets your audience’s preferences perfectly, they’re more likely to stay loyal to your business. 

Add CRO to Your Site Design Strategy

Even the best site designers and marketers can improve their work. The best way to build an eCommerce site that generates sales is to experiment with different strategies over time. The scientific method works for every field. No matter how large or small your e-commerce site may be, CRO will help

As you perform conversion rate optimization, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Everything you learn and every improvement you make will combine to generate more conversions. No matter how much traffic you see on your site, it’s worth it to focus on CRO. 

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