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Blog/Rand Owens QA: Boost AOV with Subscription-Oriented CRO

Rand Owens QA: Boost AOV with Subscription-Oriented CRO

We sat down with our friend Rand Owens, VP of marketing at Nostra, to unpack all things CRO and dive deeper into optimizing your subscription-oriented CRO strategies. Nostra helps top DTC brands drive conversions and lower cost per click through faster site speeds. Learn more about Nostra here.

Q: In your experience, what are the most effective methods for an emerging DTC brand to identify areas of improvement on their landing pages and increase conversions across their marketing funnel? What key metrics do you prioritize in their CRO analysis?

Rand: Emerging DTC brands must harness the power of personalization and prioritize site speed to boost conversions. Analyzing user behavior through user testing and heatmaps will highlight opportunities to personalize the landing page experience. Segment your audience and tailor content, offers, and layouts to match their interests or how they found your site. This could mean highlighting related products, offering personalized discounts, or showcasing specific items relevant to their previous browsing.

Closely monitor crucial metrics like conversion rate, bounce rate, time on page, and page load time. This data will expose how well your landing pages convert and whether your personalization and speed optimizations are working.

Q: How do you approach funnel testing and CRO experimentation specifically within the context of subscription-based services, considering factors like trial periods, differed pricing models, and landing page customizations?

Rand: For e-commerce subscriptions, focus your funnel testing and CRO efforts on the subscription box or product page. Emphasize the value proposition of the subscription – highlight variety, personalization, and the potential savings over individual purchases. Experiment with different themes, product assortments, and introductory discounts to entice first-time subscribers. Flexibility is critical, so test variations in subscription lengths, the ability to skip boxes, and even levels of customization over the box’s contents. If gifting is an option, ensure a seamless gifting process and consider special promotions to encourage this type of purchase. Test upselling tactics to boost order frequency and average order value for subscriptions offering replenishable items.

Remember that visuals are crucial throughout your CRO experiments – invest in high-quality product photography and unboxing videos. Leverage social proof with testimonials and user-generated content specific to the subscription experience. You can even try incorporating a quiz to personalize the matching of visitors to the ideal subscription box for them. Ensure site speed is at its best, especially at checkout, as slowness leads to abandoned carts. Track key metrics like free trial conversion rate, churn rate, customer lifetime value (LTV), cart abandonment rate, and average order value (AOV) for a holistic view of funnel performance.

Q: Offering too many SKU options can lead to fewer conversions, resulting from choice overload. How can subscription brands strategically leverage product bundling to simplify decision-making and boost AOV?

Rand: Subscription brands can combat the overwhelming effect of too much choice by strategically implementing product bundling. Focus on curating bundles based on specific needs, use cases, or customer profiles. A skincare brand might offer an “Acne-Prone Skin Essentials” bundle, providing a complete solution rather than forcing customers to research individual products. Offer bundles in tiers (like Starter, Complete, and Premium) to appeal to different budgets and encourage upselling. For optimal results, strike a balance between curated bundles and flexibility – allow customers to swap specific items within bundles for a more personalized experience.

To further increase average order value (AOV), promote volume-based bundles or multi-packs for consumable goods with bulk discounts. Strategically cross-selling add-ons that complement the core subscription enhances the overall customer experience. Where possible, leverage AI and customer data to personalize bundles dynamically. This ensures that each shopper is presented with bundles that perfectly match their needs and preferences, boosting conversion rates.

Q: For a lean, early-stage DTC brand looking to optimize its main landing and product pages, what 2-3 funnel testing strategies would you recommend to boost CRO? Conversely, what 2-3 tactics would you recommend to a later-stage DTC brand that already maintains a steady pulse on CRO but is seeking to go a step further?

Rand: For early-stage DTC brands, I’d focus on –

  • Headline and Value Prop Clarity: Experiment with different headlines that clearly articulate your unique offering and core benefits. Test taglines that resonate with customer pain points, and ensure your hero image supports the messaging.
  • CTA Optimization: Test variations in your call-to-action copy (like “Buy Now” vs. “Start Your Trial”), as well as button color, size, and placement. For multi-step funnels, refine CTA wording along each step to encourage progression.
  • Social Proof and Risk Reduction: Strategically add customer testimonials, reviews, and trust signals (press logos, badges) near key CTAs. Emphasize free shipping, trial periods, and guarantees to alleviate hesitation.

While for later-stage DTC brands, I’d focus on –

  • Streamline Your Funnel: Identify potential areas to reduce friction—experiment with streamlining checkout steps, using lightboxes instead of separate pages or pre-filling form fields.
  • Hyper-Personalization: Leverage customer data for dynamic customization. Tailor page content, offers, and CTAs based on traffic source, location, device, past behavior, etc. Implement segmentation for targeted campaigns. Use AI tools for intelligent product recommendations and bundling suggestions.
  • Proactive Conversion Assistance: Test the use of a chatbot or proactive live chat assistance for hesitant users. Utilize exit-intent popups offering potential incentives on abandonment, and add elements like progress bars or “low stock” indicators to nudge hesitant shoppers.
  • Site Speed Optimization: For late-stage DTC brands, even milliseconds of delay can impact conversions at scale. Ensure your site is lightning-fast through image optimization, efficient code, and an Edge Delivery Engine. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can help you pinpoint areas for improvement.

Site speed is critical – every second of delay hurts conversions. Optimize your site with image compression and efficient code, and leverage a solution like Nostra. Nostra’s smart caching and global distribution network combat latency, the #1 reason shoppers abandon their carts. Nostra expertly deciphers what elements of your site should and should not be cached in order to make it the fastest on the internet without any embarrassing hiccups.


  • Mobile-First Focus: Prioritize the mobile experience for both stages.
  • Never Stop Testing: Even early-stage DTCs should regularly revisit core elements as they scale.

Q: I like to end these conversations with a fun question. What is the most unconventional CRO strategy you’ve seen that’s had solid success?

Rand: Lush Cosmetics employs an unconventional tactic with their handwritten product labels. These labels, often including the name of the product’s creator and quirky descriptions, feel far less polished than mass-produced cosmetic labeling. This tactic effectively reinforces Lush’s handmade and natural brand image. The personalized touch and playful descriptions add charm, making the products and brand feel more unique and memorable.

While this strategy wouldn’t suit every brand, it perfectly aligns with Lush’s core values and target audience. This highlights how unconventional CRO tactics can boost customer engagement and conversions when deeply connected to a brand’s identity.

Thanks for chatting, Rand!


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