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    Navigating the Grey: Ethical Considerations in CRO

    In the ecommerce space, the quest for higher conversion rates is unending. Ecommerce directors, trading teams, and product managers constantly seek innovative strategies to turn visitors into loyal customers. While the ambition to optimise conversion rates is commendable, it beckons an important question—where do we draw the line between effective persuasion and unethical manipulation?

    The Thin Line Between Persuasion and Manipulation

    Persuasion and manipulation might appear similar at a glance, both aiming to influence a user’s decision-making process. However, they diverge critically in intent and impact. Persuasion respects the user’s autonomy, providing value and information to help them make an informed decision. Manipulation, on the other hand, seeks to exploit, using tactics that may deceive or pressure users into taking action that might not be in their best interest.

    The Role of Ethics in CRO

    In Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), the ethical line can blur easily. A/B testing, personalisation, and psychological triggers are tools of the trade. But when used without ethical consideration, they can lead to dark patterns—design elements that trick users into making choices they wouldn’t have made otherwise.

    Ethical CRO doesn’t just protect users; it benefits brands in the long run. Trust is a fragile commodity, hard won and easily lost. When users feel respected and valued, their loyalty and lifetime value increase substantially.

    Key Ethical Considerations

    For ecommerce managers and business owners looking to tread this fine line conscientiously, here are some ethical considerations to guide your CRO strategies:


    Be clear and open about how and why you’re collecting user data. Obtain consent through transparent opt-in methods. Users should know what they’re signing up for, without hidden clauses or misleading language.


    Avoid fabricating scarcity (e.g., false countdown timers), manipulating urgency (e.g., “Only 2 left at this price!” when stock is plentiful), or employing bait-and-switch tactics. These methods might boost short-term metrics but erode trust over time.

    Respect for User Autonomy

    Give users the freedom to make their own choices. This means easy opt-outs from subscriptions, clear navigation paths, and no pre-checked boxes that users must uncheck to avoid undesired outcomes.

    Beneficial Personalisation

    Use personalisation to add value, not pressure. Tailoring user experiences based on their preferences and previous interactions can enhance satisfaction when it’s done to serve them, not just to serve your metrics.

    A Culture of Testing and Learning

    Ethical CRO is about learning what genuinely benefits your users. Regularly review your practices, seek feedback, and be willing to change tactics if they’re not serving the intended purpose.


    In the era of digital consumerism, maintaining ethical integrity in conversion rate optimisation offers a competitive edge, fostering a loyal customer base built on trust. Ethical considerations should be ingrained in your CRO strategy from the ground up, ensuring that your efforts to optimise conversions do not come at the expense of your users’ respect and dignity.

    Ecommerce managers have a responsibility to wield their influence judiciously, ensuring that in the pursuit of better conversion, they remain champions of ethical practices. Remember, true optimisation enhances the user experience in ways that are mutually beneficial, fostering a digital ecosystem that values integrity as much as innovation.

    If you want to find our more, take a look at How we Work or drop us a quick message here for a chat.

    The Human Touch in E-commerce

    In the swiftly evolving world of e-commerce, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a pivotal game-changer, revolutionising the customer experience with unprecedented personalisation, predictive analytics, and automation. The allure of AI in streamlining operations, understanding customer behaviour, and tailoring experiences is undeniable. Yet, amidst this digital transformation, the essence of human connection has become more valuable than ever.

    E-commerce entrepreneurs are at a crossroads, seeking the perfect equilibrium between leveraging cutting-edge AI capabilities and maintaining genuine customer interaction. This delicate balance is not just a preference but a necessity in distinguishing brands in a saturated market.

    The Potential Issues of Over-reliance on AI

    While AI’s contributions to e-commerce are vast and varied, its limitations highlight the indispensable value of human touch.

    Loss of Authenticity

    AI-driven responses, though efficient, often lack the warmth and personal touch that human interactions inherently possess. In an era where brand loyalty is closely tied to customer experience, the absence of authenticity could lead to a disconnect with customers. According to data[1], “Nearly half of customers, including three-fifths of millennials, are willing to pay extra for better customer service, underscoring the importance of customer experience”

    Customer Frustration

    Despite the sophistication of AI technologies, they can sometimes fall short in understanding the nuances of customer queries, leading to irrelevant recommendations or solutions. This can culminate in customer frustration and a tarnished brand image. For simpler tasks, most customers are happy to use tools such as chatbots. However, they do need careful implementation, as “over two-thirds of customers won’t use a company’s chatbot again after just one negative experience.” [2]

    Privacy Concerns

    The foundation of AI-driven personalisation is the collection and analysis of vast amounts of customer data. This raises significant privacy concerns, making customers hesitant to share their information. “For instance, a mere 37% of customers trust AI’s outputs to be as accurate as those of an employee. Accordingly, 81% want a human to be in the loop, reviewing and validating those outputs.”[3]

    Striking the Right Balance

    Achieving the right mix of AI efficiency and human empathy is the linchpin for e-commerce success. Here are strategies to ensure a harmonious blend:

    Personalise with Purpose

    Use AI to gather insights and tailor experiences but infuse these interactions with elements of human insight. Personalised emails, recommendations, and services should feel curated by a human touch, offering relevance and warmth that AI alone cannot mimic.

    Implement AI with Empathy

    Design AI systems with a focus on empathy, ensuring that automated responses and interactions are as thoughtful and considerate as possible. This includes programming AI to recognise when a customer’s queries surpass its capabilities and seamlessly transition them to a human representative.

    Prioritise Customer Privacy and Transparency

    Build trust by being transparent about how customer data is used to enhance their experience. Implement stringent data protection measures and give customers control over their information, reassuring them of their privacy.

    Foster Human Connections

    Encourage and facilitate direct interactions between customers and your team. Whether through personalised customer service, live chats, or community engagement initiatives, make sure there’s always a pathway for customers to connect with a human on the other side.

    In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, AI offers unparalleled opportunities for innovation and efficiency. However, the heart of customer experience lies in authentic, empathetic interactions. By thoughtfully integrating AI with a human touch, e-commerce entrepreneurs can create meaningful connections, build trust, and ultimately, cultivate brand loyalty. The future of e-commerce isn’t just about technological advancement; it’s about how well we can balance these innovations with the irreplaceable value of human connection.

    [1][2][3]Salesforce State of the Connected Customer, 2023

    Unlocking Site Potential

    In today’s digital landscape, optimising your website’s performance is more crucial than ever. One of the most effective methods to achieve this is through A/B testing. A/B testing, also known as split testing, allows you to compare two versions of a webpage to determine which one performs better. Whether you’re looking to increase conversions, improve user experience, or boost engagement, A/B testing is a powerful tool to unlock your site’s potential. Here are easy steps to set up and run A/B tests.

    Step 1: Define Your Goals

    Before diving into A/B testing, it’s essential to define clear, measurable goals. These goals could range from increasing the click-through rate on a call-to-action button, reducing bounce rates, or improving the overall user experience. Having a specific objective will guide your test design and help you measure success accurately.

    Example Goals:

    Increase newsletter sign-ups by 20%
    Reduce cart abandonment by 15%
    Improve time spent on a specific landing page by 25%

    Step 2: Identify the Elements to Test

    Next, decide which elements of your webpage you want to test. These elements can include headlines, images, buttons, forms, and overall layout. Focus on areas that have the most significant impact on user behaviour and align with your goals.

    Common Elements to Test:

    • Headlines and subheadings
    • Call-to-action buttons (text, color, size, placement)
    • Images and videos
    • Product descriptions
    • Form fields and layout

    Step 3: Choose an A/B Testing Platform

    To simplify the setup and execution of A/B tests, using dedicated A/B testing platforms is highly recommended. Popular platforms like Optimizely, VWO, Dynamic Yield, AB Tasty, and Adobe Target provide user-friendly interfaces and powerful features to help you run tests efficiently.

    These platforms typically offer:

    • Easy integration with your website through a simple tag or plugin
    • Intuitive visual editors to create and modify variations without coding
    • Automated traffic distribution to ensure unbiased test results
    • Real-time analytics and reporting dashboards to track performance

    Setting up these platforms is straightforward. Generally, it involves:

    1. Signing Up: Create an account on your chosen platform.
    2. Integrating the Platform: Add a small snippet of code or use a plugin to integrate the platform with your website.
    3. Creating Your First Test: Use the visual editor to select elements and create variations.
    4. Launching the Test: Define your audience and start the test.

    Step 4: Create Variations

    Once you’ve identified the elements to test and chosen your platform, create different versions (variations) of these elements. For instance, if you’re testing a headline, create multiple versions with different wording or styles. Ensure that your variations are significantly different to detect meaningful changes in user behaviour.

    Example Variations:

    • Headline A: “Unlock Your Potential with Our Services”
    • Headline B: “Transform Your Business Today”

    Step 5: Set Up the A/B Test

    There are two primary ways to run A/B tests:

    • Modifying the Main Code on the Site: This method involves directly integrating variations into the existing codebase of your web application. It often requires collaboration with your development team to deploy different versions of elements or pages within your platform. This approach provides more control over customisation and performance but may require more development resources and time.
    • Using JavaScript and CSS to Modify the Existing Site: This approach involves adding a single tag to your site that loads external JavaScript and CSS to dynamically alter the appearance and behaviour of elements on the page. This method is often quicker to implement and allows for easier adjustments without altering the core site code.

    With your variations ready, set up the A/B test in your chosen platform. Ensure that your traffic is evenly split between the different versions to get unbiased results. This step involves:

    • Configuring the test settings, such as audience targeting and test duration
    • Defining goals and metrics to track
    • Previewing and launching the test to start collecting data

    Step 6: Run the Test

    With your test set up, it’s time to run it. The duration of the test will depend on your traffic volume and the statistical significance required to draw reliable conclusions. Make sure to monitor the test to ensure everything runs smoothly.

    Step 7: Analyse the Results

    After the test has run for a sufficient period, analyse the results to determine which variation performed better. Look at key metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and other relevant data points. Many A/B testing tools provide detailed reports and insights to help you interpret the results. For more in-depth analysis:

    • Export Data: Export the test data to a spreadsheet or a data analysis tool like Google Analytics.
    • Segment Analysis: Analyse performance across different audience segments to understand how different user groups respond to variations.
    • Custom Events: Track custom events (e.g., form submissions, video plays) to get a deeper understanding of user interactions.

    Step 8: Implement the Winning Variation

    Once you’ve identified the winning variation, implement it on your site. Monitor the performance to ensure that the changes lead to sustained improvements. Continuously testing and iterating based on user feedback and data will help you refine your site further.

    Step 9: Iterate and Optimise

    A/B testing is an ongoing process. Continually test new ideas and variations to keep optimising your site’s performance. What works today might not work tomorrow, so maintaining a culture of continuous improvement is key to long-term success.


    A/B testing is a powerful strategy to enhance your website’s effectiveness and achieve your business goals. By defining clear objectives, identifying critical elements to test, using the right tools, and analysing the results meticulously, you can unlock your site’s full potential. Start small, test often, and iterate based on data-driven insights to create a superior user experience and drive better results.

    By following these easy steps, you can set up and run A/B tests that provide valuable insights and drive meaningful improvements to your website. Happy testing!