Conversion Optimization

14 Common CRO Mistakes eCommerce Brands Make

Here are reasons why eCommerce brands don’t invest in CRO and mistakes you should avoid making to get better at CRO.

14 Common CRO Mistakes eCommerce Brands Make

On a global scale, improving conversion rates in online stores has become tougher.

Today, there are more eCommerce brands competing for traffic and revenue.    

Therefore, online stores are turning to conversion rate optimizations to increase the efficiency of their marketing spend. 

However, there are many CRO-related articles on the internet. And this has made CRO more of a buzzword than an effective strategy.   

We have listed 14 common CRO mistakes eCommerce brands make and debunked some CRO myths along the way as well. 

1. You think CRO is only about increasing traffic 

This is a common one.

Many people think these two terms are synonymous.

Since a lot of companies think they don’t need CRO as they are already doing something about SEO.

Here’s the fundamental difference: SEO is about ranking higher on search results so that when someone searches a related keyword, your website is among the first ones to be visible.

This helps in getting more people to your website. In a nutshell, SEO has to do with increasing your traffic.

At its core, CRO is not about increasing traffic.

It is about getting more out of your existing traffic.

It is about making all the necessary improvements on your website so that a larger percentage of your visitors actually complete the purchase that got them to your website in the first place.

2. You assume CRO is ONLY A/B testing

There are many companies that provide A/B testing tools, that also claim to be CRO companies.

While A/B testing is definitely a very important component, there is more to CRO than just that.

A/B testing ensures that the changes made on a website are based on data, not on opinions or whims.

But there are other crucial stages that must precede and follow A/B testing. Any optimization exercise must begin with funnel analytics.

Based on that, you formulate hypotheses which are then A/B tested. The hypotheses that work are implemented. The ones that don’t work are re-formulated and subjected to further testing and so on. What’s being tested is as important as the testing itself. Testing alone isn’t optimization.

While A/B Testing is one of the most important methods for optimizing conversion rates, there are many other crucial methods as well.

3. You expect CRO to be a quick-fix, one-time thing

CRO is a process, it is not a tactic.

The essence of conversion rate optimization is to continuously improve the website’s experience based on data & experimentation.

It is not about changing the color of the CTA button or adding a spin-the-wheel feature.

It is about systematically learning why your visitors are buying (or not buying) and then optimizing your website based on what you learn.

The tactics must be guided by an overarching framework and not be implemented in isolation.

Do check out: Why Are People Adding To Cart But Not Buying?

4. You don’t think failed tests are worth anything

This builds on #3. Different hypotheses are A/B tested and the ones that succeed are implemented.

But the ones that fail serve a purpose as well. You get to learn what doesn’t work.

It’s like when Edison found 10000 ways not to make a bulb to arrive at one correct way to do so.

Every failed test is an opportunity to learn.

You come back with a different hypothesis that is to be tested further. As mentioned before, it’s a cyclical process of continuous improvement.

Been wanting to be inspired by some great lessons from leading eCommerce brands? Read Marketing Lessons from 10 Great DTC Brands

5. You presume what works for one website will work for all

Every website has different things going for it.

An optimization tactic that worked on one won’t necessarily work on another.

Every e-commerce business is a unique brand. The opportunities for optimization, therefore, are unique.

Make sure you keep in mind what is your company about, what is the story you are trying to tell, what is your brand identity, what your goals are etc. while optimizing your website.

You should focus on core principles (e.g. the Call to Action button must stand out from the rest of the page) rather than on tactics (e.g. change the CTA button from green to red).

6. You don’t know which metrics to track

It’s tempting to think the hard numbers will reveal everything that you need to improve about your optimization efforts.

After all, visitor count, click-through rate, length of visitor session have all been such ever-present phrases, that CRO can be confused to be only this kind of numerical data. 

However, nothing can be farther from the truth.

When CRO is flatly confused to be numbers generated by heatmaps, A/B tests and surveys, another crucial aspect is missed out on. 

Qualitative data. 

This is the part that represents the interpretative quality about CRO.

The asking of relevant questions and trying to go beneath patterns and trends in numbers represented by quantitative data.

Why one-time buyers don’t make their way back, why the checkout process is difficult and why many customers abandon their cart all point towards qualitative data. 

And CRO is about quantitative and qualitative data working hand in hand to get a fuller picture on where a business stands, why its customers are behaving in a certain way and what its competitors are able to (or not) achieve & why. 

You'll love: Seasoned eCommerce Leaders Predict CRO Trends for 2024

7. You are fine copying the websites of big brands

Think how Amazon features a “save for later” option.

Or Sephora offers rewards to join its online community.

Or even how Staples ensures its on-site navigation is top-notch. 

Each of these attributes is worth aspiring for, but copying them in isolation or even without a strategy is certainly NOT conversion rate optimization.

We realize how easy it is to think that a brand attracted more customers just because it changed the way its CTA buttons looked and worked. 

While it may be misleading to copy big brand website elements onto your own eStore, it’s not a bad idea to study why they do what they do.

Big brand case studies can offer you a glimpse into how established entities strategize to make their eCommerce brands agile enough to change with the times. 

An excellent example would be how Sephora introduced omnichannel marketing into their mix, thus uplifting how customers experience the brand across online and offline channels. 

Wondering about what it'll take to step up your CRO efforts? Check out Hiring a CRO agency: 12 key considerations (and expert advice)

8. You experiment with every feature

Experiments are a part and parcel of conversion rate optimization.

However, it’s a myth that CRO is ONLY about repeated experiments.

One of the ways to decode this myth is to understand that when you’re trying to maximize conversions, you’ll have to keep track of several aspects - tools, systems as well as the effort and time that can be put into testing experiments. 

Testing experiments for conversion rate optimization also need to factor in the type of tests that will work best for a specific scenario.

Usually, neither split testing nor multivariate testing works well in isolation - while the former takes lesser time, the latter helps you glimpse at a greater number of changes. 

Thorough and constant testing (and not whimsical experiments) is often considered to be the key for effective CRO.

However, there are a few elements that need to be constantly heeded to make the most of any effort you put in. They include - 

  • The right sample size. Anything more or less than the number that clearly represents your target audience can create opportunities for misleading results. 
  • Anything that affects user experience. Count in navigation breadcrumbs, CTAs, shortcuts to checkout et al. The point of any CRO experiment is the intention to reduce friction and bring in greater ease throughout the customer journey. 
  • Tracking pixels and how they are used. Tracking pixels are tools that help generate statistics and information to plan your forthcoming offers and campaigns. 

9. You use CRO to confirm already formed opinions

The simplest way to say what CRO does is this: 

It helps a business make better decisions around retaining and growing customers, while improving overall value. 

While this sounds fairly straightforward, what makes it complex is that all businesses perform to the tunes of certain biases.

And the true role of CRO is to offer insights that can help the business move beyond these biases. For example, a business might be operating on a bias that their true target audience is pension-earning 70 year olds (a conservatism bias), while tests might be revealing completely different data. 

In real-time practice often, CRO is used to confirm already-formed opinions instead of transcending them to find deeper truths.

It’s not unknown that many people (as well as the businesses they run) are fixated on the “why” of a problem.

So they keep looking for answers to get to the answers behind what seems to be posing a problem - without exploring ambient or even different routes. 

The problem only becomes more mired, because post-testing once a good-enough conclusion is reached in support of an existing opinion, a whole marketing strategy may be created.

Whole channels of communication follow, making it next to impossible to retrace the path that has been taken. 

Do check out: Why Is Your Conversion Rate Low: Possible Causes + Solutions

10. You don’t set realistic expectations

CRO is about reducing points of friction that make shoppers drop off, improving persuaders that inspire people to visit your eStore and enhancing hooks that make them engage and convert. 

However, it is commonly believed that CRO always results in dramatic changes.

Let’s say if a company pleasantly finds that their sales have gone up by 40% with their initial CRO efforts, they may believe this will happen every time. 

The crux of the problem here isn’t the belief in magic, but the avoidance that the probability of every test achieving 100% success is super low.

The way out is not to stop believing in CRO but to understand that CRO offers crucial information that then needs to be heeded timely and worked upon without pre-existing biases.

Because in real-time practice, CRO is an iterative process that is constantly trying to match fine-tuned optimization efforts against a dynamic, ever-changing business environment. 

You might also like : 33 Founders/Industry Experts Share eCommerce CRO Best Practices

11. You fail to take feedback from ‘real’ users 

You have enabled conversion rate optimization strategies on the store and have started seeing some results.  

Suggested CRO features are usually reviewed by internal teams. And we have witnessed many eCommerce brands make this CRO mistake. 

They roll out features and don’t know if the feature ‘really’ works. 

Website visitors take around 0.05 seconds to determine whether they’ll stay or leave the store. 

Therefore, it’s important to understand what they like and dislike about your website layout and content.  

To understand ‘real’ website feedback, you can implement several strategies:

a. Enable a page-specific design and usability feedback form to open as a side widget or a pop-up. It can either be triggered when a visitor is going to close the webpage or when their browsing session passes a certain time limit.  

b. Monitor website analytics to understand how users engage with your brand through the website. Track metrics including:

  • Which web pages are performing well
  • Which web page usually users exit the website at
  • Top blogs or resources contributing to conversions
  • Session duration
  • The number of web pages users visit in a single session

12. You skip documenting the CRO implementation process

Your team ran a CRO experiment. It either brought in or failed to show any significant results. 

You moved on and tried something different.   

Now, you have a new team. And they seem to be recommending the same strategies. 

When we speak to eCommerce brands about what CRO strategies they have previously used to yield results, they can only tell us vague information. 

In this instance, having detailed documentation can be helpful. 

On the other hand, your CRO team can also look back and see what did and what didn’t work. 

Your team can tweak some of the experiments or try a new tangent to bring more conversions. 

Writing down all the particulars about your CRO processes can be tiresome. 

Document and measure the impact of even the smallest changes on your website. Use an Excel sheet if you're not fond of complex tools—but document and track everything.

This way, you can review past experiments and tests as well.

Do check out: eCommerce Website Optimization: 28 Improvements You Can Make Today

13. You only rely on internal teams 

Most of the time when we speak with eCommerce brands, we get the usual question, 

‘Why should we hire a CRO specialist? We already have an in-house team’. 

While your internal team might be implementing CRO strategies, there are a number of reasons how a specialist can help including:

  • Use a specialist to get a fresh perspective. Internal teams consistently look at the same web pages. In this case, it’s easy to overlook obvious CRO opportunities.   
  • Lean on a CRO specialist to offer your products in a new way. In-house teams are often well-versed in the product’s USPs and end up writing copy in the same format or using too much jargon
  • Use external specialists as additional resources. Oftentimes in-house teams aren’t equipped to handle a store with growing traffic or demand and need an extra set of hands.   

Furthermore, when eCommerce brands go through a redesign or a site refresh, internal teams put most of their time and effort into research and design.

They are left with no time left to test and ensure their designs are actually performing well. An external specialist can provide genuine feedback and analysis regarding the new site designs.

Don't forget to read: Getting Traffic But No Sales? 21 Reasons Why (+ How To Solve)

14. You’re not hiring the right CRO specialist 

Most of the time, eCommerce brands hand off their CRO activities to a third party and only want to see the results and how much revenue was generated.

This is a common CRO mistake across industries. 

However, some agencies implement standard strategies across industries and gain insignificant results.   

Here are some questions to ask before you hire a CRO specialist:

  • What is the conversion optimization process you follow for your business?
  • Do you have industry-specific case studies that highlight the results?
  • How many experiments do you launch per month?
  • How do you handle mobile website optimization?
  • Who will handle implementing the test on our website?
  • What type of commitment do you require from the internal team?
  • How do you determine the success of the project?
Read more: Hiring a CRO agency? Key considerations (and expert advice)

Are you researching CRO to build an effective strategy for your online store? 

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions. 

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions. 

To give you a starting place, sign up for a free audit of your eCommerce store. 

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