Ecommerce CRO Guide: How to Turn Website Traffic into Loyal Customers

If you’re investing in ads to drive potential customers to your website, optimization is only half the equation. Once potential buyers click the ad, it’s essential that the landing page they end up on continues the conversation.

This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) can make a huge difference in your paid campaign success. SplitBase routinely sees a 30–60% increase in conversion when our clients send customers to an optimized landing page instead of a product page. Optimization efforts like this are a critical part of moving potential customers through your sales funnel. 

But how do you decide what to optimize? After all, it’s not feasible to optimize every element and web page on your site. We’ll cover what you need to know, plus what data to collect to best optimize your ecommerce site, in this CRO guide.

CRO guide: What you should know before you start

There are many misconceptions about CRO. You’ve probably seen it described as a strategy for increasing conversions (the number of customers who complete a desired action on your website). But ultimately, CRO is a strategy that focuses on improving any metric you need to grow your business. This includes—but isn’t limited to—conversion rate and metrics like revenue per user, profit, average order value, and more. This is also why we prefer to call it “conversion optimization” rather than the more specific “conversion rate optimization.”

Due to the variety of guidance on this topic, getting CRO right might feel like a mix of magic and luck. And while best practices can help to clear the confusion in some situations, a better approach is to tailor your CRO strategy to your target audience.

Some misconceptions even consider A/B testing to be the same as CRO—but this isn’t true. You can’t simply take a list of 25, 50, or even 250 A/B testing ideas and run them through your testing process. That would be a waste of time. Why? These testing ideas likely are not relevant to your customer or your business.

Other misconceptions we see often here at SplitBase include the following:

  • CRO is the same as installing a testing tool on your site: Tools like VWO allow you to run tests, but they can’t help you decide what to test in the first place. On the same note, they can’t help you decide what’s best for your business based on test results.
  • Only winning tests are valuable: Even failed tests are valuable. For example, let’s say you want to implement a new virtual try-on feature for your product, and the new feature costs $12,000 a year. You can run a test to find out if the try-on feature increases your conversion rate or not, and even if the test isn’t a winner, you’ve still determined that you don’t need to spend $12,000 a year on a new feature that doesn’t improve your conversion rate. Running tests can act as a risk mitigation strategy and can provide an opportunity to better understand what best resonates with your audience. So in order to gain the most value from testing, you need to learn something from every test.
  • You can skip gathering qualitative data: Quantitative data is great, but numbers only tell half the story. You need qualitative data to understand the full picture. After all, your audience is human.

These misconceptions can lead to wasted time, resources, and, ultimately, stagnant or even decreased business metrics. That’s why a holistic approach to CRO, like SplitBase’s Testing Trifecta, is the best optimization strategy. Here’s an overview of how the Testing Trifecta helps to develop effective hypotheses and CRO strategies:

Step 1: Analytics

Before you start testing, you need to understand your analytics. Dig into your website data in Google Analytics (GA4), check your ad platform’s analytics reports, and assess any heatmap reports as well.

This data shows you where you should focus your optimization efforts. The golden rule here is to identify the 20% of optimization opportunities that lead to 80% of results. 

Analytics help you narrow your list down to this 20% and determine whether certain customer behaviors lead to an increase or decrease in purchases, certain traffic sources convert at a lower rate, and much more.

Step 2: Human data

Once you have your analytics side of the story, you still shouldn’t jump straight into testing. Instead, you want to understand the human side of the patterns you identified when digging through your analytics. 

Many CRO guides and agencies skip this critical step because it can take time and legwork. However, ignoring valuable data from customer surveys and polls, session recordings, and UX studies can lead to more lost time and resources.

Step 3: Testing

SplitBase then pulls the quantitative and qualitative data together to solidify a hypothesis. This hypothesis helps us identify which new optimizations might be valuable, test them, and decide which ones resonate most with your target audience, lower acquisition costs, and increase revenue.

How to identify your ideal customer profile and their needs

An ideal customer profile (ICP) describes the perfect customer for your business. These customers are most likely to buy your products—and may even make repeat purchases or refer your brand to others. This means your ICP is also the most likely to benefit from your product. 

While this may sound like a buyer persona, they aren’t the same. An ICP offers a broad look at your target market, while buyer personas add specific details to your ICP. Here’s how the two play a role in your digital marketing strategy:

  • ICP: A high-level definition of the target audience that you should focus your marketing strategy on for maximum ROI 
  • Buyer persona: Multiple detailed customer profiles that provide further information about ICP segments and help you personalize the customer experience

To narrow down your target market to an ICP, you need to dig into the data in the following ways:

  1. Identify patterns related to highly satisfied customers: Your ICP has a problem that your product can solve. They’re ready to take action to solve that problem, and they have the means to acquire what they need to solve it. Identify patterns and themes in your customers’ demographics and behaviors to narrow your focus to those who are most satisfied with your business.
  2. Determine customer lifetime value (CLV) and time to value: Your ICP has a higher CLV and faster time to value, meaning your product is a best fit for solving these customers’ problems. 
  3. Spot repeat buyers: An ICP identifies loyal customers who are likely to buy again—and may take advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
  4. Find out who’s making referrals: Satisfied members of ICPs are more likely to refer your brand or product to others through word of mouth, testimonials, or reviews.

Next, interview your existing customers who fit this profile to understand their needs and what drove them to buy your product. This data helps you personalize your CRO strategy across the entire buyer’s journey.

3 key elements of an effective CRO strategy

Whether you’re optimizing your landing pages or product pages, there are three elements you need to consider: quantitative data, qualitative data, and testing.

1. Quantitative data

Quantitative data tells you what’s happening on your website and whether or not visitors are converting. It’s also the first step in our Testing Trifecta. You can gather quantitative insights from heatmap and scroll map tools like Hotjar, as well as analytics tools like GA4. To understand whether or not your CRO strategy is effective, pay attention to the following metrics:

  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Heatmaps and how far visitors scroll down the page
  • Click-through rate for your calls to action (CTAs)

This data can tell you if there’s a problem on your web page that needs to be optimized. 

What’s a good ecommerce website conversion rate?

The average ecommerce conversion rate is 2.5 to 3%, but Shopify analytics app LittleData found that the average conversion rate for Shopify stores sits at 1.3%—which is lower than the industry average.

While these benchmarks can be helpful for gaining a bird’s-eye view of where your conversion rate stands, remember that a “good” conversion rate is ultimately dependent on multiple factors, including:

  • Your prices
  • Your vertical
  • Your mix of traffic sources (such as TikTok versus Instagram)

And even if you manage to hit the benchmark for your industry, you should still aim to increase conversions. The LittleData survey found that 10% of Shopify stores earn a 4.8% conversion rate, which means you can achieve a higher-than-average conversion rate if you continuously iterate on your conversion goals and strategy. 

To put it simply, unless your conversion rate is 100%, you should work on increasing it.

2. Qualitative data

Qualitative data helps you understand why your site visitors take the actions they do. And while it’s the second step in the Testing Trifecta, it’s one of the most important. Qualitative customer research helps you get to the root of the following questions:

  • Why do visitors choose this product?
  • Why don’t they choose this product?
  • Why do they leave your site without converting?

Customer surveys, interviews, session recordings, and user testing can help you answer these questions. For example, Shopify stores can use KnoCommerce or Fairing to conduct post-purchase surveys. We’ve even found that a simple, one-question survey on a subscription cancellation page can be as effective as a full-blown survey.

Additionally, you may want to chat with your customer service team to better understand your customers’ most common hurdles.

3. Testing and optimization for continuous improvement

Gathering quantitative and qualitative data helps you spot patterns that inform hypotheses for your CRO strategy. At this point, you can prioritize these hypotheses using the impact, cost, effort (ICE) method or the PXL method

Once you have a list of your most important hypotheses, you should run A/B tests, or split tests. It’s helpful to view each test as a learning opportunity—even if it’s technically a failure. Knowing what not to do still puts you one step ahead.

5 common types of conversion optimizations

Your optimization strategy is based on unique considerations like your ICP, business, and website. But there are also some common methods for increasing conversions that are worth consideration:

1. Optimize user experience

Creating a great user experience involves improving your site’s functionality so visitors can quickly and easily find the information they need and take action. This impacts your entire website, from the checkout process to navigation.

Some ways to optimize user experience include:

Remember—functionality comes first. A beautiful landing page design is secondary.

2. Add product categories and filters

Categories and filters can make the customer’s path to purchase more efficient by helping them find the product they want. Your customers may use these as an alternative search function.

Categories and filters can also improve product discoverability.

3. Include upsells and cross-sells in the shopping cart

It’s possible to increase CLV by suggesting upsell and cross-sell products when users view their shopping cart. However, you should be selective about the products you choose to include here. Not every product is the right fit, and the wrong product could even decrease your conversion rate.

For example, a brand recently implemented an upsell module, but the promoted product wasn’t self-explanatory, and customers often had lots of questions about it. This caused many users to leave the checkout process to learn more about the upsell product, and some didn’t return to complete their purchase.

4. Match landing page copy to ad messaging

Professional copywriter Ry Schwartz explains that copywriting isn’t talking to your customers or engaging in a conversation with them. Instead, “copy is catalyzing a conversation that happens in your prospect’s head.”

Consistent messaging helps you continue to catalyze that conversation from the time potential customers see your ad and click it to when they reach your landing page.

5. Improve page load speed

Slow load times can cause visitors to bounce, or leave without engaging with your content. This negatively affects conversion rates as well. Portent found that a site with a one-second load time converts 2.5 times better than a site with a five-second load time.

20 helpful CRO tools

From user research to landing page builders, there are a number of optimization tools that can help you make sense of your data. Here are some tools that CRO experts commonly use:

User research and usability testing:

  1. UXarmy
  2. Survey Monkey
  3. Typeform 
  4. Userlytics 
  5. Fairing (Shopify app)
  6. Zigpoll (Shopify app)


  1. GA4
  2. Adobe Analytics
  3. Hotjar
  4. Heap

A/B and split testing:

  2. VWO
  3. Optimizely
  4. AB Tasty
  5. Intelligems

Landing page builders

  1. Replo 
  2. Unbounce 
  3. Webflow
  4. Instapage
  5. PageDeck 

A word of caution, however: CRO tools are only as helpful as the data-driven strategy behind them. Any CRO guide or agency that tells you otherwise is disregarding the fact that you need both quantitative and qualitative data to fully understand what optimization opportunities exist and why improvement could increase your business’s success.

CRO’s impact on CLV

Because CRO’s guiding principle is to create a better experience for your ICP, optimization can positively impact your CLV. Remember, your ideal customer is more likely to stay loyal to your brand, make repeat purchases, and recommend your products to others. 

This increases your business’s CLV, a metric that’s calculated using customers’ average purchase value, average purchase frequency, and average lifespan.

Elevate your ecommerce brand with SplitBase's CRO expertise

Your biggest takeaway from this guide should be that CRO isn’t a one-and-done strategy. Instead, you need an iterative approach to your CRO process to optimize your web pages and continuously gather data, hypothesize, and test different strategies. 

While this can be an extensive process, it’s a worthwhile pursuit that results not only in more website traffic but also in increased revenue. Hopefully, our CRO guide has given you the inspiration and means to get started. If you aren’t able to conduct thorough CRO research in-house, however, turning to a CRO agency like SplitBase can help to convert your web traffic into customers in no time.

SplitBase can help you optimize your ecommerce conversion rates with a data-driven, customer-centric approach. Leave the heavy lifting to us—request your custom CRO proposal today.