The A-Z Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is one of the most important aspects of building a successful e-commerce site. If your website exists but users do not convert, you are losing business to the competition. This A to Z guide will help improve the user experience, your conversion rate and online sales.

A/B TESTING will help identify improvement areas to your website and increase conversion. Don’t make tests based on gut instinct – Use your web analytics data. Blivakker saw an 11% increase in sign ups when they ran an A/B test earlier this month.

Use BADGING on your best selling products to capture the reader’s attention and influence. Badge copy includes “Top rated product” or “Best seller!”

CAPTURE EMAIL address early and remarket to your subscribers. Make sure your email signup field is on the home page and above the fold.

DON’T ASK for what you don’t need! This includes contact forms, white paper download and your checkout process. Softmedia conversion rate increased by 170% by keeping the contact form simple.

EMPHASIZE the benefits of why customers should shop with you. Take 10 minutes and bullet point 5 reasons and paste these benefits all over your website. Hurtigruten increased online sales by $100,000 by making the benefits of booking online clear.

Shipping costs are still a major factor as to why users abandon the shopping cart. Think about FREE SHIPPING in order to increase online sales and reduce exit rates.

GO GLOBAL and localize your websites into high volume traffic countries using your web analytics data. Localize content, currency and online marketing efforts.

Prioritize your HOME PAGE CONTENT to increase cross-sell opportunities. Take your top 3 most popular products and place them prominently on your home page.

Take action and start IMPLEMENTING LIKE HELL. You don’t need to wait until everything is perfect – 80% is good enough to launch.

Remove your JUMP PAGE (or splash page). More often than not, these pages are not optimized and have a high bounce rate. You can use alternative methods such as IP detect if you want show the visitor that the website is available in another language.

Make sure KEY FUNCTIONALITY can be found on your home page. Key functionality includes newsletter sign up, step 1 of the order process or a contact form. Hurtigruten saw online sales increase by more than $20 million when launching key functionality.

Think LONG TERM and customer LIFE TIME VALUE. Don’t short change customers for the sake of a quick sale – Be generous to existing customers.

MAKE IT EASY to browse your offline material online. If you have a catalog, allow your users to browse your site by catalog ID. Use short URLs to promote your website offline.

Prevent “NO RESULTS FOUND” in your internal site search. Internal site search data is valuable. Make your search page list relevant results to boost conversion.

OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE for tablets and smartphones. As much as 25% of total traffic is from mobile according to recent reports and this number will continue to increase. Make your site and shopping cart mobile-friendly.

Offer multiple PAYMENT OPTIONS in your shopping cart. Not all customers will use a credit card and approx. 30% of customers will abandon your cart if their preferred payment method is not offered. Multiple payment options can increase conversion by as much as 14%.

Ask for feedback from web visitors and use QUESTIONNAIRES and surveys. Web visitors are happy to provide feedback and this data will help improve the user experience.

90% of purchases are based on recommendations – Include product REVIEWS by real customers on as many products as you can. Localize the recommendations for positive SEO advantages.

SHARE SUCCESS STORIES – When something good happens, share it and make sure you celebrate your victory!

Be TRUSTWORTHY and make sure sensitive information requested is secure (SSL). Be true to your word and if you do happen to fall short, keep your customers informed at all times.

Run monthly USER TESTS using Identify usability issues and fix them quickly.

Implement inline VALIDATION on your web forms using both positive and negative validation. It will increase conversion rates by as  much as 22%.

“Add to WISH List” is one of the best buttons you can have on your website. Implement it now, and remarket to those add products to wish lists.

Monitor your EXIT RATE and identify why users leave your shopping cart. Use the conversion funnel in your web analytics to fix pages with the highest dropout.

YOU or YOUR; write in second person to allow the reader to connect with the content. Try to avoid using “we” or “us”.  Make the reader believe you are talking directly to them.

ZERO in on your target audience and understand their intent. Create landing pages that answer your visitor’s questions and needs.

Conversion rate optimization is an ever evolving process and you should always be testing, optimizing and improving your website.

What important techniques have I missed in this A to Z guide? Comments are welcome below.


Case study: Remove 3 form fields – increase customer registrations by 11% is Norway´s leading online beauty shop with approx. 20 000 visits per day. In September 2012, they performed  an A/B-test of the site registration form using They were aware that the site had an overly complicated registration process, but wanted to collect actual data to support the suspicion.

The goal

Their goal was to prove that a small change in a web form would lead to an increase in the form registration conversion rate. The hypothesis (supported by experts…) was that by reducing the number of form fields, the conversion rate would increase. If they could show a significant increase in conversion rate by making small changes to a form, they would revise the entire purchasing process.

The A/B-test

The original form had 17 form fields. They reviewed the form fields and chose to remove 3 fields immediately; account number, phone number and phone number evening. The goal was to remove even more fields, but this was difficult due to technical limitations.

They set up 3 different versions of the registration form step in the process;

  1. Control – the original form
  2. Skjema-light – the original form minus 3 form fields(account number, phone number, evening phone number)
  3. Skjema-uberlight – a completely stripped down form with fewer fields and less navigational elements

Here are the results from the A/B-test:

Visual website optimizer

The red marker shows which fields were removed:

The Conclusion

The tests showed that when you reduce the number of unecessary fields in a form, you increase the number of registration. The test also shows that it´s not optimal to remove too much information from a form. The most important consequense of this small test is that the company now understands the importance of fast registration processes. Within a few months, more key processes will be analyzed and simplified to increase online sales.

7 specific contact form improvements to turn visitors into customers

Having a contact form on your website allows a web visitor to get in touch with your business. People don’t like complex forms. They take too much time and require too much thought. Easy contact forms are proven to increase leads and conversion rates, which in turn leads to increased revenues.

During the last month I have worked with a software provider to help improve their websites online experience and contact forms. We made sure the contact form was readable, easy to complete and prominently featured on the site. The following improvements made to the form lead to a 170% increase in conversion rate and 277% increase in completed contact forms.


Make the form secure

Internet users are becoming increasingly aware of fraud and phishing techniques online. When entering sensitive information such as credit card details, users look for the trust and verification logos. However, personal information such as name and email are just as sensitive so we made sure that the page is secure with https:// and SSL certified. Don’t risk having IE or Chrome label the page as insecure. Next to the “send” button, we included copy that read “this form is secure” for added reassurance.

Reward good behavior

It’s now common practice to include inline validation (javascript) when a user does not correctly complete a field in the contact form (example below):


What is no common is a reverse effect of inline validation. Instead of presenting a negative validator we also improved the form to include positive validator. We reward the user when an action is completed successfully (example below):


In September 2009, research by Etre and Luke Wroblewski found that inline validation has a great impact on completed contact forms, resulting in:

  • 22% increase in success rates
  • 22% decrease in errors made
  • 31% increase in satisfaction ratings

Using this data, we applied both positive and negative validators on the contact form.

Set expectations early

The human race is becoming more and more impatient. Everything has to be fast, whether it car repair or load times on a web page. We are time sensitive and completing a long web form may be enough to turn away a web visitor. The client’s contact form contains 15 fields, which at first glance may appear to require 5 minutes of time. However, the average time on page for completed forms was less than a minute. Using this data, we removed the previous copy above the form “Please fill out all fields carefully……” and instead used the following:


Avoid friction

One of the fields in the form asked for the users website. This is common amongst B2B sites and helps the client when assessing the possible best service to offer. However, when running a simple test we found that entering was not working. Several tests were performed using different variations (,, etc) yet we were unable to proceed. The problem was the CMS setting for a valid website address including the http:// prefix. We immediately removed the prefix and to only include free range text in the field in order to make this form user friendly.

Capture email address early

The world’s top 10 converting websites send email campaigns to users who visit the site only to abandon the shopping cart (known as remarketing). An easy way to capture the email address before the booking process is to ask for it on your contact form early, and above the fold. Alternatively, you can ask for an email address on your home page, and offer incentives to sign up including a free e-book or white paper.

Only ask for what you need

There are millions of contact forms on the web that ask questions including name, email address, address, sex, etc. and so on. I was recently interested in signing up for a newsletter at a travel company and the sign up form asked me for my postal address. It didn’t make sense to me so I left and did not sign up. Do you really need a postal address when asking users to sign up to a newsletter?

In this blog posts example, we removed the following fields and reduced the form from 18 fields to 15:

  • City
  • Country
  • Telephone

In 2010, Dan Zarrella of Hubspot found that when removing one field that, moving a total of four fields down to three, the conversion rate increased by 50%. If you can reduce the number of fields and only ask for what you really need, you could see an increase in completed forms.


Thank you page

Once a user has completed a form, don’t send them away with a generic “Thank you, we will contact you shortly” page. The Thank You page is under-utilized in almost every organization. Here are three suggestions on what you can do once a user has completed the form:

  • Download a whitepaper
  • Sign up to a newsletter
  • Register to a webinar

Keep the communication going and complete two goals at once, both for you and the visitor.


Making your contact forms easy to use and complete should be at the top of your to-do list. In just under a month, leads and conversion rate has tripled and the number of users abandoning has decreased. A higher conversion rate means more leads, more sales and more success.

What else can we do to improve contact forms and is there anything I have missed from my list? Please comment below.


Automate PPC management by using the Google Adwords API

If you manage a large Google Adwords account you´ll know that the account structure  can become quite complex with hundreds of campaigns, ad groups, ad texts and keywords. In addition you have to update the account according to events that occure in your organization (price fluctuation, promotions, product launches, number of items, etc.)

For large e-commerce sites, with hundreds of products in a dynamic environment  the Google Adwords API can make account management alot easier! Instead of having to manually create/remove campaigns and ad groups every time a new product is added/removed from your product catalog, you can integrate your e-commerce storefront with Google Adwords using the Google Adwords API and automate many of the processes.

Benefits of using the Google Adwords API for e-commerce stores

Here are some of the benefits of using the Adwords API for e-commerce stores:

  • Ensure 100% advertising coverage for active products.
  • Only advertise for active products at any point in time.
  • Achieve higher click through rates(CTR) and lower cost-per-acquisition(CPA).
  • Set bidding prices based on how eager you are to sell specific products.

Dynamic Adwords management process

Using the Google Adwords API, you can generate keywords, ad texts, and destination URLs to automatically appear. In addition you can integrate your Google Adwords with your other management systems. Here are some suggested automation points:

  1. Keywords: When a product is created in your e-commerce store management system(or legacy system), you can add a data field for search words that are relevant for that product directly in the management interface.
  2. Campaign creation: When a product is activated for the first time, you can automatically create and Adwords campaign, an ad group and an ad text, display URL and destination URL in Google Adwords.
  3. Campaign start/end: When a product is sold out or inactive, the system can automatically deactivate the campaign.
  4. Bidding: In your e-commerce management interface, it should be possible to control the campaign budget and the max cost per click(CPC). When you want maximum exposure for a product, the system can automaticall adjust the campaign budget and the max CPC directly.
  5. Dynamic Ad texts creation: Through the Ad Parameters feature of the AdWords API, you can easily update ads in almost real time with numeric information such as prices, stock levels, or a countdown.

Next steps:

In order to use the Adwords API, you need to apply for access to the Adwords API through the  (MCC). When you have an Adwords API token, your a qualified developer can start researching how you can use the Adwords API in connection with your other systems. Do you have experience with the Google Adwords API? Feel free to suggest other opportunities!