How To Use Conversion Rate Optimisation For Online Retail

By Digivate

By Penelope Phillips - SEO Consultant at Digivate 

Digital marketing and ecommerce are full of processes; processes to make things quicker, provide more information, manage users, being just a few. They keep your aims in focus, prioritise key events and ensure you stay on the straight and narrow throughout a campaign. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is by no means a new sector, but it is one that gets overlooked too often during the creation of a website.

In this article, we will share the steps we follow when using conversion rate optimisation for online retail.

What is CRO?

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the practice of understanding your user’s psychology, and utilising that data to make the traffic that comes to your site convert more. 

Although this sounds simple enough, this is an art-form which requires both analytical and creative skills, and can turn your ‘barely hitting conversion targets’ site into a revenue-making machine.

Conversion rate optimisation in online retail covers all aspects of a user’s time on a website, and ensures that value for the customer is expressed at every stage in the conversion funnel, they are guided by a series of messages, images, anxiety assurances (trust seals, badges, guarantees) and incentives to keep them travelling along that funnel to the checkout.

Why You Should Have a CRO Process

If you don’t have a CRO process in-house, you are missing a serious trick! It’s a process which should be analysed and implemented at the beginning of a site’s creation, and improved upon for the lifespan of the site. Not only is conversion rate optimisation able to increase your online retail revenue exponentially, but the process alone will result in you and your team having an in-depth understanding of your target demographic, which is vital across the digital marketing board.

This doesn’t have to be a process ripped from a Google search; you can build your own CRO process yourself after a bit of research. Processes are put in place to keep things running efficiently in the lifespan of a campaign, and ensure that everyone involved knows what’s going on at any given stage in the project.

So how do you create your own? We have outlined the steps generally taken during an online retail conversion rate optimisation campaign, so you can see exactly what a CRO campaign entails and build your own process; one which not only captures all the data essential to your campaigns success, but which will also be easy for you to remember.

Step by Step CRO Process

Google Analytics Data

This is the very first step in the process; here you should look at user behaviour data, such as landing page reports, bounce rates, exit pages, demographic data etc. Essentially data which will give you a basic-level understanding of who uses your site, for what reasons, where they go on your site and where they leave. 

User Testing

You need to understand how users get around your site, what they pay attention to, and what they ignore. By examining how people use your site, you can ‘trim the fat’ and tailor your site to the needs and desires of your target audience much more effectively.

It’s key here not to overlook what slows your users down and stops them from converting. These are vital points that you need to optimise in order to have a fully-functioning conversion funnel. This can be done via sites like User Testing which allow you to pay people to use your site and collect their data. 

Existing Customer Data 

This is a vital aspect of your CRO campaign; you need to know what your site users want to gain from visiting your website, whether that is information, purchases or entertainment.

This involves talking to previous customers, to find out how their experience on-site was, as well as users that are currently on your site to see what their immediate impressions of the website are, if anything is over the top, and if there’s anything immediately lacking for them. These two user groups offer valuable insights into site design and development that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Site Heatmaps 

These are visuals that show where a user’s focus on a page is, indicating which aspects of your site design you need to focus on. They are especially useful when it comes to prioritising your fixes list later! Here is some great heat mapping software from mousestats that you could try.

Investigate your Competitors 

Whereas many would assume this would be one of the first stages in the research process, you don’t want to muddy your site user’s habits with your competitors’. Your businesses may be similar but your company’s voice and appeal will be markedly different, and it’s smarter to get your user information straight before you dive into your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.

The data you gather from this research is invaluable though, as it allows you to capitalise on the areas where your competitors are succeeding, and avoid the pitfalls and failures where their users are losing interest. 

Create your Wireframes 

Now you have the data and visual information from your user testing and heatmap creation, you must consider site design and content along with the psychological aspects of your users’ habits. These wireframes, or blueprints, allow you to visualise the final design of your site and rearrange page aspects till they work best for your users on the conversion funnel. 

A/B Testing

Finally you need to test your newly designed pages to ensure that your CRO is effective and drives a higher conversion rate than before. This is why it is important to create multiple wireframes to test your conversion rate optimisation theories before testing to see which one achieves the greatest wins in terms of conversion rate and revenue. Find out how to use A/B testing creatively with this case study into how it was used to help Obama get elected.


The steps above show you just how much research goes into conversion rate optimisation in online retail, and illustrate just why having a CRO process in place is imperative. Missing two or three steps could result in your data being underwhelming and less helpful than you had hoped for.

Creating your own CRO process is something which you should invest your time in, as it will not only give you the user insights that your site needs to increase conversions, it will kit you out with the skills needed to spot opportunities to continue refining your site for your users.  

Conversion rate optimisation is by no means a new sector, but it has experienced a recent surge in popularity thanks to its high success rates.  Understanding the psychology of your users is something which all marketers should have done or be doing, and creating a process is the first step towards CRO success.


  • Understand what your users want from your site.
  • Find out what your users like and dislike about your site.
  • See what your competitors are succeeding and failing in, and observe how you can capitalise on this in your own CRO campaign.
  • Create multiple site design wireframes.
  • Remember to consider text, visuals and user psychology in your designs.
  • Test, test, test!



Join thousands of other Online Retail professionals

Get unique insights straight to your inbox for free, and improve your understanding of online retail. Subscribe to Online Retail Weekly now.

Webinar Scroll Banner
Join thousands of other Online Retail professionals

Get unique insights straight to your inbox for free, and improve your understanding of online retail. Subscribe to Online Retail Weekly now.

Webinar Scroll Banner