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Conversion Rate Optimization and You: Making Those Sales

By Gary Stevens
— Last Updated: 2018-08-27T06:31:48+00:00

If you’re using your website to sell goods or services, here’s a frightening statistic: shopping cart abandonment was 78.65 percent in 2017. If you’re snoozing in the back row, that means that visitors who begin the shopping process will abandon it almost four times out of five. To get those numbers up, you’ll have to unleash conversion rate optimization, or CRO, onto your website.

Right now, for every $92 spent acquiring traffic, only $1 is spent converting it into customers. Effectively this means you have $91 worth of customers browsing your site, but only a buck’s worth is actually buying anything. No wonder only 22 percent of businesses are happy with their conversion rates.

However, by carefully collecting and analyzing traffic stats, a website owner can track down the specific reasons or point in the sales process where customers bail out. The good news is that this is easily accomplished by any number of today’s sophisticated software tools.

The alternative is to do nothing, which works with some of life’s problems, but not when it comes to lighting a fire under cold traffic and convincing it to take action. The next piece of good news is that it’s surprisingly easy, or at least beats the feeling of being the less-than-proud owner of a non-converting website.

Let’s take a look at three steps you can take to optimize your conversion rate.

Optimize For Mobile

The first CRO mistake too many entrepreneurs make is to exclusively design their website for desktops and laptops. This is not the way people access the internet anymore. Mobile phones account for just over half of all worldwide internet traffic in 2017, with that number set to grow in 2018.

On top of that, it turns out that people don’t just browse on their mobiles, they make their purchases on them, too. Thing is, however, that slow loading times for mobile sites are a huge turn off, something which may be costing ecommerce sites millions or even billions.

This means that you need to optimize your website to look sharp and function correctly (also called making it responsive) on those billions of tiny screens people carry around all day. If you don’t, you’re effectively telling more than half of your potential audience that you’re not all that concerned about whether or not they have a good experience on your website.

Mobile Optimization Using WordPress

One easy way to optimize your site for smartphones and tablets is to use WordPress. If you already are, check that the theme you use is responsive for mobile devices. Normally you can find this information in the sales pitch, either in the WordPress dashboard or on the theme’s website. If not, don’t hesitate to shoot the designer an email and ask.

If starting from scratch with building a website, give WordPress a try. Not only are many of its themes mobile-friendly, it’s easy to use and minimizes the hired help you’ll need from those pricey web designers. Check out our beginner’s guide to WordPress or jump straight to our best web hosting for WordPress picks for more on this.

A more important point is to review your site’s design with an eye towards keeping the layout and navigation simple, with as little in the way of content and images as possible. The JavaScript and CSS used by smart, responsive design sucks bandwidth and can make your website load slowly on mobile devices.

A/B Testing For Fun and Profit (Well, Mostly Profit)


Though the term A/B testing may look like something out of a math textbook, it’s simply creating two versions of a site and seeing which works better. In essence it’s much like the way new pharmaceuticals are tested, with one group getting the drug and another getting a placebo.

Rather than pump your customers full of chemicals, however, you’ll be messing around with placing call-to-action buttons in different places, rewording important sections of text or changing the layout in certain sections. Getting started is fairly easy, we recommend you use Instapage to quickly setup landing pages and use Optimizely to measure results.

The following is an example of how an A/B test would work.

  • Designate your control web page
  • Create a second page with an element changed
  • Split traffic between the two versions for a period of time
  • Compare conversion rates to see which is the winner

Note that splitting traffic might seem impossible, but tools like Google Analytics (which is free) allow you to insert a small bit of code on your website that splits organic traffic between web pages for A/B testing.

Once you get started, it’s a rinse-and-repeat process where you’re always testing for new and better ways to present a sales message to visitors. The critical thing to keep in mind here is to only make a single change each time you run an A/B test, otherwise you have no idea which accounted for improved conversions, effectively rendering the result pointless.

Sometimes the solution to massive conversion increases is dead simple. Take the case of Nature Air, a Costa Rican airline suffering declining online sales. After a range of testing they were able to increase sales by simply moving their call-to-action button from the sidebar to the center of the page, eventually increasing conversion rates by 591 percent. A/B testing works.

How to Improve Your Content


Successful copywriters have mastered the trick of writing to millions of people but making each of them feel like they’re in a one-on-one conversation. It’s called content personalization. Do this well and watch conversion rates soar.

Start by getting rid of the all-too-common approach of throwing content at the wall to see what sticks. Instead, include only information a potential buyer needs to make his or her decision. Some copywriters will create a fictional persona in the mind’s eye when they sit down to write, operating on the theory that this process allows them to access specific tastes and preferences.

This might sound silly, but give it a shot. With practice, you’ll get better. Let increased conversions be the motivator to venture outside your comfort zone. And while you train your writing brain to have a sit-down with this imaginary buyer, let’s mention another thing.

Try adding a personalized message a sentence or two in length at the end of your copy, replacing your broadly pitched call to action with something simple, direct and non-salesy like this:

“If proper utensil etiquette confuses you, we wrote this ebook to help solve your problem.”

Tweet This

See how that differs from:

“Download the ebook, Handle Every Utensil Like Martha Stewart!, and eliminate fork confusion today!

Tweet This

The contrast is subtle but can be effective because you addressed the individual personally through the use of “you” and “your,” plus mentioned a specific issue that you know a large percentage of your audience is concerned about, namely using the wrong utensil at the wrong time. The second one feels like being shouted at by a late-night television commercial and makes us reach for the volume button.

Final Thoughts

These few simple tips should get you started on successful conversion rate optimization. If you’re not convinced, you may want to check out this collection of 100 case studies for inspiration. The fact is that CRO isn’t rocket science, but rather something that requires elbow grease and a healthy dose of determination, two core qualities for any business owner.

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If you want to get started but still need a way to easily manipulate websites, we recommend you read up on the best website builders we’ve reviewed and see which one will let you do what you want to do.

What do you think of CRO? Any tips or tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.

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