Conversion Optimization Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lead generation form example.

Multivariate Testing (MVT)

The testing of multiple variations of many different page elements in various combinations to determine the best performing elements and combinations. For example, a multivariate landing test may test many variations of the pictures, copy, and calls to action used on the page in many combinations to find the best performer.

Here’s an overview of the things you are going to measure in order to gauge your current rate of conversion, identify the trouble spots and design a plan of action. You can get these numbers through Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, or another analytics service of your choosing. The numbers critical to CRO are as follows:

But how long are people spending on your site? Which pages are they visiting while there? This next set of numbers can help you to form some testable hypotheses. Looking at your Bounce and Exit Rates as well as your Engagement Metrics is the first step in making sense of your conversion rate.

Average Time on Site

An Engagement Metric, the Average Time on Site of users gives you a general idea how long people are sticking around. A high bounce rate means a low average time on site—visitors aren’t sticking around long enough to do whatever it is you want them to do.

Similarly, Average Page Views is an Engagement Metric that tells you how many pages the average visitor through before leaving. More page views can mean engagement but also can mean a lack of clarity in your conversion funnel, if there is no conversion.

These are the metrics that matter. Take the example above—the site with 5,000 visitors per month but only 50 conversions could either pat themselves on the back for all those unique visitors or recognize that their conversion rate could be much better than 1% and then work to optimize those numbers.

What increasing your conversion rate really means



That’s probably more of an estimate, but let’s just run with it. Assuming 5% of people end up buying something (not unlikely, considering people spend almost 5 minutes on the site, on average, browsing almost 6 pages), that means 330,000 people buy from their online store each month .

They’re all “more options.” They take more time, more money and more resources, while leaving the results completely unpredictable. You don’t know if these strategies will work at all and if they do, how long they will take to kick in.




Case Study: The 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign

Image of President Barack Obama.

During the campaign, Dan Siroker, the founder and CEO of Optimizely, was serving as the Director of Analytics for the Obama Campaign. He proposed that different headline and image/video combinations should be tested to see which one was the most effective at getting people to sign up for the President’s e-mail newsletter.

The campaign team knew that a large percentage of people who sign up would end up supporting the President financially, but the trick was getting the most people possible to sign up for the campaign newsletter.

Dan’s team ended up putting together 24 different variations with four button options, three images, and three videos. Interestingly, most people on the team assumed the videos would be the most effective at getting people to sign up.

Image of President Obama

So what was the result? After testing with 310,382 visitors with each variation seen by around 13,000 people, the version with a picture of Barack Obama’s family and a “Learn More” call-to-action button led to a conversion rate of 11.6% for the winning variation, a 40.6% increase over the original conversion rate which as 8.26%.

Even more impressive than the increase in conversions from the winning variation is the fact that the new version let to approximately 2,880,000 additional sign ups, 288,000 more volunteers, and an additional $60 million in donations over the course of the campaign.

What are CRO best practices?

Marketing best practices

Improve user experience

Collect sufficiently large datasets

Assume you are conducting A/B tests for two variations of your website, and one design has a significantly better conversion rate than the other. It is not enough to choose one design over another unless the sample size of data applies to the statistical hypothesis tests.

Using principles of influence/cognitive biases

Nudging users to make an action highlighting scarcity

Online travel booking sites are the most common application of creating an urgency to make customers feel like they need to make a purchase decision quickly. Most travel booking sites offer limited-time discounts to users. This practice encourages people to book it now rather than later.

Yet, limited-time offers are not the only way to rush customers to make an action. For instance, another example is from, which uses this technique by providing additional information on booking times, including answers to the following questions:

Social Proof & authority

According to a study, on average, testimonials on sales pages increase conversions by 34%. People tend to look for social proofs that enable them to trust your company for online purchases. Some social proof examples are


Reciprocity is the practice of providing a complimentary benefit to increase the customers’ likelihood to purchase. This is based on the psychological notion that people want to help those that have provided them some form of help or support. Most B2B companies are already using this technique with their whitepapers, case studies and other type of interactive content where they collect contact information of visitors in exchange for information.


Cialdini notes that physical attractiveness, compliments, similarity between buyer and the sales rep can all contribute to the likeability of a sales rep which helps increase sales closing rates. Similarly, likeable brands could lead to better sales. Brands like Mailchimp and Slack put significant effort to create likeable brands by

What are the average conversion rates of e-commerce sites?

Comparing existing conversion rates to industry averages can help organizations understand where to start optimizing. Yet, comparing products in similar sectors is important. Below are images from three different e-commerce industry reports published in 2020 that may help you set an objective to optimize for 2021.

Conversion rates for e-commerce by industry

E-commerce Conversion Rate by Product

E-commerce Conversion Rate by traffic source

Get People Engaged Immediately


By working through the above listed tips you will go a long way to improving your website’s conversions. Additionally, you will also create a better user experience for your users by implementing the above conversion optimization tips.

When you make the changes in your website, I recommend taking small steps and measuring the outcomes along the way rather than making changes all at once. That way, you will be able to identify which changes had the biggest impact on your conversions.


Comments (11)

Hi Jabed!
Excellent checklist of conversion rate optimization tips. I launched an e commerce site for three months and wouldn’t get good results.
I don’t think it will possible for anyone to follow the complete list. Nevertheless, I would try to pick some of those and would implement it on my site.
Thanks for this awesome list.

Engaging people through video or leverage a free trial option can enhance your first impression is true indeed. However, at the same time, if you have given the right information, which they are looking for, then you are on the way to expect some real customers.

I adore the look of your web site. I recently built mine and I was searching for some suggestions for my website and you gave me a couple of. Might I ask you whether you developed the web site by youself?

Hi Jabed,
You have covered almost all points to optimize website conversion rate. Once a customer satisfies with your product, option for different payment option for customer makes a hazzle free and easy transaction experience for him. One should aware about popular transaction option trend.
For online marketing clear and reliable warranty/guarantee offered by company is most important check list for customer.
Also one should focus on complaint section regarding their service and on customer satisfaction.
Almost all tips u provided are very useful. Nice.

This was a thorough checklist of things to include in a website. I’m a big advocate of blogging and it’s a great way to keep publishing new posts for both your audience and for search engines to to index. This will definitely help with building organic traffic as well as direct traffic resulting in a big loyal following.


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