Conversion Research: A Step-By-Step Guide

CRO is all the rave these days and with good reason! To increase sales in a heuristic and truly optimal manner – there is no other way than CRO. And it all begins with research and establishing the current state of the stores conversions. In this article we’ll look at everything you need to know to conduct proper conversion rate research, from establishing correct objectives to digital analytics and ending with data analysis.

The Objective of Conversion Research

There are two main purposes of Conversion Research for eCommerce: to improve the understanding of the business and the state of the website; and to improve the understanding of the audience. Only when a high level data-driven understanding of the website, business and the audience is combined, it is possible to provide valuable and actionable insights on gathered data about user behavior and determine a step-by-step guide with identified and prioritized problem solution hypothesis and A/B testing suggestions. We start with data gathering and related tools setup. Once we have the data needed, we dig deep into it focusing on:

  • Functionality — testing the website from the functional standpoint accordingly to the set business goals.
  • Usability — answering questions if the website is intuitive and optimized for the target audience from the UX perspective.
  • Information architecture — identifying the optimal navigation and wayfinding path, testing the organization of labeling and hierarchy of the website to support usability.
  • Design best practices — explore if best modern design practices are used for the website, accordingly to the target audience behavior.

The deliverables of Conversion Research are:

  • Presentation on findings (pdf document)
  • Prioritized list of improvements and clear actions to be taken to improve website users experience
  • Detailed issues log for each section based on data sources (google analytics, heatmaps, users testing etc)

Afterward, based on the research, we can start continuous conversion optimization by turning the research into specific improvements to be tested for your website. It will be discussed separately after the research since the main focus of current research is on finding out what should be done in the first place to improve conversions and usability of the website.

Contents of Conversion Research for eCommerce website:

Step 1: Heuristic Analysis and website walkthroughs

When starting to optimize for conversions, it’s best to begin by understanding the user’s experience on the website. To begin the conversion research process, we start with the website walkthroughs and heuristic analysis. This step helps to familiarize with the website architecture, URL structure and map out the “problem areas” which are afterward validated or invalidated using data. Heuristic analysis serves as an input for creating hypothesis.

We start by conducting website walkthroughs with all the top browsers (and their versions) and device categories (desktop, tablet and mobile). We pay attention to the website architecture, URL structure, user navigation and the user journey towards a purchase (Homepage, sing-up pages, forms, category pages, product pages, cart, checkout). In addition, we look for potential technical issues and bugs which are considered low-hanging fruits towards conversion optimization since smooth website technical functionality is the foundation for enabling users to convert. Fixing bugs, improving page speed, fixing broken pages, links and other problem areas can improve conversion rates significantly, hence, we also do technical cross-device and cross-browser analysis.

Questions we’re trying to answer here:

  • Does the site work with every major browser?
  • Does the site work with every device?
  • What’s the user experience like with every device?

When evaluating a website, we will:

  • Assess each page for clarity — is it perfectly clear and understandable what’s being offered and how it works? This is not just about the value proposition — it applies to all screens (pricing, featured, product pages etc).
  • Understand context and evaluate page relevancy for visitors: does web page relate to what the visitor thought they were going to see? Do pre-tap and post-tap messages and visuals align?
  • Assess incentives to take action: Is it clear what people are getting for their money? Is there some sort of believable urgency? What kind of motivators are used? Is there enough product information? Is the sales copy persuasive?
  • Evaluate all the sources of friction on the key screens. This includes difficult and long processes, insufficient information, poor readability and UX, bad error validation, fears about privacy & security, any uncertainties and doubts, unanswered questions.
  • Pay attention to distracting elements on every high priority screen. Are there any blinking banners or automatic sliders stealing attention? Too much information unrelated to the main call to action? Any elements that are not directly contributing to visitors taking the desired action?
  • Understand buying phases and see if visitors are rushed into too big of a commitment too soon. Are there paths in place for visitors in different stages (research, evaluation etc)?

During the website walkthroughs and heuristic analysis, we write down all observations and areas of interest, which are afterward analyzed using Google Analytics and other sources of data to confirm or disprove the findings. If not enough data is available to confirm or disprove a hypothesis, we proceed with additional data gathering.

Step 2: Digital Analytics (quantitative data) analysis

After Heuristic Analysis and thorough website walkthroughs, we have identified potential User Experience “problem areas” for certain Browsers and/or Device categories. In addition to that, we have gathered observations of the clarity, relevancy, incentives, frictions and distractions on all the important pages/page categories of the website. We proceed to investigate and evaluate the potential “problem areas” and the heuristic observations using quantitative data analysis from Google Analytics.

Afterward, we proceed to a general Digital Analytics data analysis and evaluation with the main purpose of identifying where the website is leaking conversions and consequently money.

In the Digital Analytics data analysis and evaluation, we will:

  • Analyse user Funnels and identify main drop-off points (Shopping behavior analysis, Checkout behavior analysis, Goal funnel analysis)
  • Analyse website goal flows using different user and behavior segments
  • Key audience analysis (country, region, city, visitor type, demographics)
  • High traffic, low-performance page analysis
  • Landing pages analysis
  • Site search and search term analysis
  • Website event analysis (form fill-ins, subscriptions, interaction with videos etc)
  • User website navigation and behavior flow analysis
  • Website top exit pages analysis
  • Website traffic channels/sources evaluation (conversion rates; landing pages; revenues; in-depth paid search source analysis)
  • Advanced user segment building and analysis

Note: Before any full-scale digital analytics data analysis, we have to make sure that everything that needs to be measured is being measured (goals, funnels & event tracking set up), the data in the property is not corrupted, and that the account has correct configurations and set-up. Having genuine and full data is extremely important for any data analysis and conversion research. In case technical adjustments are needed, we will prepare clear tasks for the development team to setup needed tools. Note that technical setup is not a part of this research.

Step 3: UX research and analysis

In the beginning of any conversion research project, we make sure that User Experience data collection and tracking tools are configured correctly in order to gather the necessary amount of data (sample size) to be able to draw statistically significant and valid conclusions (since data collection takes time). When enough data on actual user behavior on the website is collected, we proceed with user behavior and user experience analysis.

In the process of actual user behavior analysis, the main goal is to identify conversion path problems and aspects of website pages which are impairing user navigation towards converting. In addition, we look for aspects of the website which are confusing users (e.g. elements which seem like buttons, but are not).

For actual user experience and behavior evaluation, we will analyze:

  • Individual user session recordings — evaluate user interaction with the website and different pages (how users fill in forms, navigate pages, how they search for specific pages/actions). Gather insights on the user experience on the website. In user recording analysis, we perform user data segmentation (by browser, visitor type, behavior, errors) and use the insights gathered in Digital Analytics analysis part as a base for potential user experience problem investigation. The aim of the user screen recording analysis is to identify where users are struggling or having problems in navigating towards a purchase (or other type of conversion goal) and understand usage patterns. We focus on problematic pages (high traffic, low performance) as well as the interaction with website Cart and Checkout process. Session replies are extremely useful for observing how users are filling out forms and how users interact with the checkout fields.
  • Click Heatmaps — evaluate and understand user click distribution on the website (do user click on the most important buttons (call to action) on different pages, do users click on elements in screens that are not buttons, understand user behavior and attention attracting elements on screens, potential CTAs improvements)
  • Segmented user flow analysis — evaluating particular segments of user screen recordings and identifying user experience problems towards the goal conversion path (drop-off page problems and potential improvement identification, user form-filling behavior and problem identification)

Step 4: All data analysis, research findings report, improvement list and actions report

In the last step of the Conversion Research for an eCommerce website, we put together all the gathered insights of the research and prepare:

  • Executive summary of the research findings and overall condition of the website
  • Key insights about the website customers and the website itself
  • Data-driven prioritized eCommerce conversion drawbacks and problems list
  • Detailed website conversion rate optimization step-by-step guide with identified and prioritized problem solution hypothesis and A/B testing suggestions.

Need help conducting your own conversion research? You’ve come to the right place! Scandiweb is the most certified Magento agency in the world with more than a hundred experienced coders, designers, and CRO specialists. If you have any questions or are interested in our conversion rate optimization services, check out our CRO services page or drop us a line at [email protected].

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