When Peep Laja shares CRO tips, people listen. 

That’s for good reason. The Austin-based CEO has made a career out of connecting companies with their customers with companies like ConversionXL and others. 

Now leading Wynter, a message optimization platform for B2B companies, Laja still helps businesses connect with customers. He’s worked with new, growing, and well-established ecommerce companies, including many on the Fortune 500.

But what has he been saying lately when it comes to the world of ecommerce CRO? 

We decided to reach out to him and find out. It has a lot to do with the idea of "Economies of Better, Not Economies of Scale” that here at Cogsy we care a lot about.

Here are his tips that can help brands leverage the insights they already have so they’re even more effective.

Tip 1: Don’t underestimate the importance of high-quality product photography

Laja’s first tip relates to product photography, as this is the main way products get sold online. As you dive into these tactics, be sure to split test your creative with a CRO tool like Optimizely.

Focus on quality 

Right away, Laja said it’s critical for brands to think deeply about how they’ll show what they’re selling. It sounds obvious, but it can be tricky in practice. 

For example, Home Depot ranks high (97%) in UX scores by being thorough in using high-quality product photography to display its wares. 

But it’s not just the photo quality. One glance at their homepage and you’ll see their photo selection is critical. The images you’ll see run the entire gamut of their product lines. You’ll see high-quality photographs in every department. Renovated kitchens, user-submitted fireplace photos, bedding, power tools, throw rugs, storage. 

Don’t take one nice photo and call it a day. Give each customer an experience. Show them what’s on offer. Think of your images as the experience of walking into your store. Does your customer really know what you sell?

Include rotating images

When you see an image you like on a product page, what’s the first thing you do? You click on it. You hover your cursor over it. You thumb it on your smartphone, looking for more. And admit it: you’re a little disappointed when nothing happens. 

We notice this effect with rotating images. These boost conversion rates by as much as 27% with their mere presence. At GolfSmith.com, the company noticed that a “spin” feature on product images improved conversion rates anywhere from 10-40%. 

Add context

If you want to sell a couch, show it in context. Don’t photograph it in an empty warehouse. Include user-submitted photos of the couch looking lived-in. Add details. Is there a blanket on it? A cat sleeping on its cushions?

This applies to other products as well. For instance, don’t restrict your jewelry photo to the pieces sitting on a solid-colored background. Show how they look in someone’s ears.

It isn’t just about image quality, either: It’s about what you choose to show (and the data suggests that people care about the human context.) Consider Medalia art, which boosted sales by 95% by including photographs of the artists themselves. 

Buyers need to know what they’re investing in. They want to connect with it. And your pictures are their only window into the post-purchase world. 

Tip 2: Take a psychology-driven approach to product page copy

A picture might say a thousand words, but as Laja says, you still need words that drive sales. 

That means understanding the psychology of a visitor who’s intrigued, but not quite yet ready to pull the trigger. The product copy lets you match your positioning to their needs.

Your first goal should be to eliminate “logistics” as a customer objection. Look how Adore Beauty handles this:

What do you notice about logistics? There’s a surprising amount of detail:

  • A price tag up top, followed by an alternate option of four installments for people wondering about affordability.
  • An “in stock” notification, followed by an “order by” time to ensure same-day dispatch. (This also doubles by adding urgency to the offer.)

If you had any qualms about this product, the page answers them before even getting into the description. 

But what comes next?

Build urgency for the product with your copy

When ecommerce brand Bob & Lush ran a survey, they found that customers were highly concerned about when the order might ship. This presented a key moment to promote urgency and to spur sales based on shipping and delivery times.

Implementing urgency paid off, too: Of almost 2,000 unique visitors, adding shipping details and copy around ‘buy now to receive by X date’ to the product page increased revenue by 27%.

Use the “inverted-pyramid” structure when crafting product descriptions

Run eye tracking software using a tool like Sticky on your product page and you’ll likely find that most of the attention goes to your first sentence. That’s your key sentence. Spend most of your time getting it right.

Think about it like writing a newspaper article: Your goal is to share the most relevant information right off the bat. This is your “lede.”

Founder coach Dave Bailey recommends making an experiment of this, too: Can you summarize a product’s appeal in one sentence? If so, make that your first sentence.

Not sure how to measure the success of your variations? Consider A/B testing with a tool like AB Tasty.

Tip 3: Reduce friction at checkout

If you’ve taken great pictures and written effective copy, what else is there? 

Getting out of your own way. 

That means reducing friction when the customer has already clicked “purchase.”

Your first step here should be to reduce the pain caused by excessive form fields. With Google’s free API, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enable auto-population for address information, for example. The customer already knows their address. Making them type it in only makes the buying process feel like a chore.

But form field friction isn’t just about simplicity. One study even found that reducing form fields decreased conversions. And an online store in Norway found that it’s less important to eliminate all form-fields. 

Why? It’s better to eliminate the right fields. If you include more unnecessary ones, yes, that will increase friction. But if you cut out the necessary ones, you can reduce trust.

A bit confusing? Fortunately, there’s a way to use the best of both worlds. New options like Fast.co are creating the “world’s fastest checkout.” The idea is to create trust in your buyers while eliminating as much friction as possible. 

After all, Amazon’s one-click purchasing doesn’t set off any “trust” alarms because customers have experience with the company. If you can streamline your customer experience while establishing trust, you can minimize friction, too. 

Tools like VWO make testing your checkout optimizations super simple.

Tip 4: Put upsells to work

Conversion rate optimization isn’t an end; it’s a means. The goal is to leverage each dollar invested to maximize your returns. 

The easiest way to boost average order values (AOV), according to Laja? Work with the buyers who are already committed to making a purchase. 

  • Upselling appeals to customers who are already buying. People with their wallets out are the most engaged customers. Amazon noticed this all the way back in 2006, when it credited over one-third of its sales to upsells and cross-sells. Recommended products succeeded an astounding 60% of the time.
  • Upselling takes advantage of the “impulse” purchase. Impulse purchases don’t have to be gum and candy bars at the grocery store. Consider the checkout line at Old Navy. You’ll find plenty of small, low-cost items you can grab at the last minute.

The only question is, how do you make upsells work? 

It starts with relevancy. You have to offer complementary items to complete a purchase “bundle.” One common strategy is to sell a warranty “protection plan” along with a product, as this increases the lifetime value of the customer.

If you can add a “Pairs well with…” feature on your product page, you’ve already cracked it. But make sure to follow a simple rule of thumb. Each product recommended should cost roughly 60% of the primary item they’re purchasing. 

And don’t forget what happens after the purchase. The thank-you page is an opportunity to fill in information beyond the boring order details. You can:

  • Add “buy it again” links for perishables such as groceries
  • Add “similar to…” product recommendations
  • Create a discount for making an additional purchase right away

Tip 5: Spotlight honest reviews

Key word: honest. If you don’t use legitimate reviews, it’s going to be hard to regain the lost trust it generates.

Take this example from Bully Max high calorie dog food:

The top review complains about the cost. That might seem like a problem. But consider everything else going on in the way of social proof:

  • There are 1,888 total reviews, suggesting it’s a popular product (with social proof built right in)
  • The majority of reviews are five stars
  • The buyer verification system (with its handy green checkmark) creates a sense of transparency and honesty about these reviews

Without saying a word, Bully Max builds credibility, trust, and social proof into its product page.

The lesson here is: Don’t delete negative or mediocre reviews. A product without a single blemish on its record sets off “too good to be true” alarms. Customers are smart. They know that even a great product won’t create a great experience for everyone 100% of the time. And because they know that, they expect to see that reflected in the reviews.

After all, people are going to seek out reviews anyway. Yelp, for example, reports that over 80% of its traffic comes when customers are already looking to buy from a product or service online. And social proof on Yelp didn’t hurt, either: each star created an additional 5-9% in revenues.

Simply put, you need positive reviews. But you also need honest reviews. Put them right on your product page so people can do their research as they’re buying. 

Making CRO a habit, not a one-time strategy

Peep Laja’s insights are strong because they come from a lifetime of experience and hand-on experimentation with real brands selling real products. 

But as Laja notes, optimization is not something that happens overnight. It takes ongoing work and experimentation to find out what works for your customers. 

Nothing happens if you don’t get started. With these tips in hand, you’ll be ready to leverage your existing visitors and convert them into customers at far higher rates.

Kaleigh Moore
Freelance writer specializing in retail, eCommerce, and related SaaS.