E-commerce retailers face the constant challenge of standing apart in a vast, churning sea of online competition. It’s not enough to simply stay afloat; the real goal is to own the waters. In other words, while you’d like to stand out enough to grab online visitors’ attention, what you really want is to ferry them through to their final destination: making a purchase.

So what does it take to motivate consumers to drop anchor on your site, click through to internal pages, and buy? The optimal mix of featured products, images, copy and offers that achieve a clear path to purchase, with as little confusion or distraction as possible. After all, increasing conversion rates and revenue is the number one goal of a testing and site optimization program.

Sure, your marketing team and designers have good instincts for beautifully designed content, but their instincts are no match for factual data gleaned from hundreds of tests on thousands of variations of that content -- which is really what your audience likes and what inspires them to take action.

The wealth of collected data allows for a nuanced understanding of what really drives desired click-throughs and where they take place. With content that’s been developed and tested, then tweaked and improved upon through an ongoing program of testing and optimization, you’ll ensure that everything speaks to your audience -- not just on the homepage, but across your site.

It’s no secret that better serving your customers with a great online experience has a direct impact on your bottom line. Testing and optimization boosts conversion rates and significantly increases revenue for online retailers while also helping to reel in more loyal brand followers.

By focusing on content at each phase of the conversion funnel, you’ll chart a clear course to increased ROI.

1. Homepage

First impressions count. If visitors are confused, frustrated, bored or otherwise fail to see content that’s applicable to them on your homepage, they’ll simply drift away. There’s only a brief window of time -- on average, four to seven seconds -- to catch their attention, and the right content plays a pivotal role in capturing interest.

Prominent hero imagery, special offers and other audience-specific CTAs on your homepage help customers latch onto relevant categories and products as they move through your site. It should immediately be clear to the customer which products or services you offer. Visitors should never have to move beyond the homepage to get a basic understanding of what you are actually offering on your site.

Not to mention, these elements should work in tandem with navigation and search functionality to give visitors multiple ways to connect with pertinent categories and products, and start their journey on the path to purchase.

2. Category Pages

As soon as visitors land on a category page, they should see an appealing array of product images that give insight into category-specific offerings, and increase the chance that particular product(s) will catch their eyes. Most retailers have a range of different styles, colors and options for each of those products; category pages should convey the breadth and depth of offerings.