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Optimizing the conversion rate in e-commerce

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The conversion rate is an important indicator for entrepreneurs who run an online store. Knowing how to optimize this process is the key to success in the e-commerce industry. How to achieve conversion optimization? Is it worth conducting a usability audit or can it use CRO activities?

Implementation of the audit by a utility expert

UX audit usually uses three basic research methods — heuristic analysis (heuristic evaluation), cognitive wandering (Cognition Walkthrough) and checklists (usability checksheet).

During the audit, the usability expert assumes the role of an ordinary user of the website and carries out existing processes in the service, e.g. purchase of a product in an online store, sending a contact form. The evaluation of the site is made on the basis of heuristics, i.e. principles and guidelines defining interfaces with high usability. The most popular of these are the 10 heuristics of Nielsen and Molich, although you can also find the Golden Rules of Schneiderman and Connell's Rules of Usefulness.

The expert's observations are collected in a report drawn up after the audit. A good quality report, in addition to indicating potential utility errors, should also indicate a proposal for their solution. It is a good practice to divide errors into several categories (e.g. minor, medium, critical errors). However, it is worth remembering that the accumulation of even minor errors in the service can have an equally bad effect on usability. So it is not worth ignoring them.

Expert audit as a universal panacea?

An audit carried out by a usability expert is the basic method of taking care of the UX of an e-commerce website. However, it should not be considered as a universal solution and it is worth being aware of the limitations resulting from this methodology.

first A utility expert will never be a real user. His behavior during cognitive wandering may not correspond to that of a standard client. The risk particularly applies to very specific services (e.g. B2B systems using unique transaction processes). In such situations, it is worth considering carrying out UX research.

Secondly a utility expert may have a tendency to point out too many minor errors. Usually this is simply due to the desire to do your job as reliably as possible. The recipe for this type of behavior is to introduce a categorization of errors in the report.

Thirdly UX audit uses usability heuristics that indicate a problem but not its solution. The expert, of course, can present a way to improve the usability of the audited element. However, it will be based on their experience and not on the actual behavior of users on a given site. In such a situation, it is worth using the results of the audit to start the conversion optimization process (Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO).

CRO or Conversion Optimization

The recipe for real verification of the proposed UX changes based on the audit is to start the conversion optimization process. CRO is usually based on the determination of so-called research hypotheses — hence a good basis for identifying them are the results of the audit. Nevertheless, the process itself does not necessarily have to be preceded by its formal execution and can take place independently.

Example hypotheses used in conversion optimization are based on changing elements such as content and button visualization call-to-action, headlines, descriptions. You can also consider the arrangement of elements on a given subpage or their thorough reorganization, e.g. removal of certain fields from the contact form. It is also a good idea to work on the graphic layer by changing the graphics or illustrations used.

CRO always uses real user behavior to verify hypotheses. Hence the need to use such methods as:


A study consisting in verifying which elements of the website users click on most often, how they move the mouse cursor on the screen and how far they scroll the page. The results of the study are usually visualized in the form of a so-called heat map (heat map, click map, scroll map). Popular analytical tools are Hot Jar, Crazy EGG or Yandex Metrica.


Recording of the user's session or how he moves in the process on the website (e.g. purchase of a product, filling out a contact form). The possibility of conducting recordings has the already mentioned Hot Jar.

A/B Testing

Presenting different versions of a given subpage to users in order to choose the best converting solution. It is possible to test a combination of several elements at the same time, which is called multivariate testing (MVT). Usually, variants of elements such as the header, call-to-action button, or other graphic elements such as photos or illustrations are subjected to the testing procedure.

The very methodology of conducting tests is quite complicated, as it is based on statistical inference. However, there are tools that do all the calculations for the user. These include Google Optimize, Optimizely, Omniconvert.

For the interpretation of the collected data, the correct configuration of the quantitative analysis tools used, that is, usually Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, is required. Although in the case of click tracking and visit recording this is not absolutely necessary — the experience of an expert interpreting the qualitative analysis report is used.

Efficiency and effectiveness of conversion optimization

Use of CRO methods such as click-tracking whether besökning brings very impressive reports from the studies carried out. Watching actual recordings of user behavior on the site usually elicits enthusiastic responses from the business. However, let's look at the example of the optimizations I carried out and their impact on the real efficiency of the business.

An example would be the Nest Bank information service, one of the main objectives of which is to sell banking products such as accounts and loans for individual and corporate customers. The customer is presented with a product that has two buttons call-to-action (CTA). It is possible to go to the product page or directly order a conversation with a consultant from the call center.

We put forward a test hypothesis about removing the button of direct “purchase” of the product, that is, ordering a conversation with an adviser. Perhaps part of the users click on it accidentally, and indeed they are not ready to buy. This causes a reluctance to further familiarize yourself with the subpage of the product.

We used Google Optimize to create an A/B test, and the test had surprising results. Removing one of the CTA buttons resulted in an increase in product page transitions (an improvement from 19 to 51%). It also translated into a conversion rate for sending the contact form, which was 55% better.

Optimize or not optimize?

Without a doubt, a usability audit or conversion optimization requires a financial investment. Nevertheless, industry research confirms the effectiveness of CRO in generating sales growth. According to Marketing Sherp, 74% of such projects are successful. Venturebeat, on the other hand, estimates the average ROI from CRO implementation at 223%.

Conversion optimization also helps you invest more wisely. The increase in the conversion rate affects the increase in ROAS (the same advertising budget brings better results) and reduces the cost of customer acquisition (CAC).

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