Most eCommerce brands know that two statistics matter when it comes to business success: user acquisition and conversion rate. Knowing how to convert website visits into successful purchases is essential and warrants a more in-depth approach.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a process marketers use to improve the shopping experience – and drive specific KPIs (key performance indicators), such as sales. Without CRO, growth can stagnate, leaving brands without actionable next steps, even if many visitors are coming to the site.
Today I’ll share several CRO tips eCommerce websites can use to improve conversion rates.
“CRO is the most important marketing activity because it makes every visitor exponentially more valuable” – Rand Fishkin.
What is a Conversion?
It’s good to start here because it’s not uncommon to have misinformation about what a conversion is or isn’t. A conversion is any key performance indicator (KPI) that the brand finds valuable. That can be a sale or something else entirely, but conversion doesn’t happen unless we optimize for it.
Here are some typical conversions for eCommerce brands.
- A sale is won.
- The prospect adds a product to the wish list.
- The person adds a product to the cart.
- Email subscription.
- The user shares a product or page on social media.
The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that complete the desired action after visiting a website.
The Average eCommerce Conversion Rate
The average eCommerce conversion rate is between one and two percent. However, it’s possible to increase conversion rates beyond those numbers with CRO.
The objective of CRO is to understand what persuasion tactics and type of content will convince more customers to buy from the brand, furthering the website’s goals.
CRO focuses on the following.
- It aims to increase the motivation of visitors.
- Providing users with a better user experience
- Producing more engaging and relevant content
The Fundamentals to Increasing Your Conversion Rate
The best gains from CRO occur when two things are met: the eCommerce website receives lots of traffic and revenue. The ideal traffic number is at least 100,000 visitors, and one percent of that should be conversions. However, most websites do not receive that kind of traffic. Yet, sites on the low-end can still benefit from CRO by doing things in a certain way.
The obvious thing a website can do is gain more traffic to increase conversions. But gaining more traffic to a website won’t result in measurable improvements unless the site nails all the other important conversion factors. Even if the website has the best copy imaginable, a distasteful design can drive potential customers away quickly.
I’m not suggesting that having great copy and increasing traffic isn’t important because they are top on the list. Rather that when it comes to eCommerce, other on-page factors matter as well.
Additionally, CRO doesn’t apply to eCommerce brands alone, and any website, commercial or otherwise, can benefit from it. CRO makes your existing website traffic and customers a greater asset by making favorable actions more likely to occur.
Advanced Conversion Rate Optimization Tips
Now, for some actionable CRO tips that you can start implementing today.
While the following tips are useful, don’t assume all will work for a website – take the specifics of the business situation into account before applying anything.
1. Remove Impediments and Add Motivators
Generally, when we can increase the attractiveness of our website and offer, more visitors will convert. However, that’s never the case when there are too many impediments or obstacles. For example, people shouldn’t have to register for an account to checkout.
Nike removes the obstacle of creating an account to shop by offering guest checkout.
With guest checkout, the customer only provides the necessary information for payment and delivery.
Another example of an impediment is shipping prices. If a customer feels the shipping price is too high, the person may not complete the transaction. While eCommerce brands can’t do much to influence the cost of shipping, there are other ways to diminish this obstacle, such as offering free shipping when the order value reaches a certain amount.
To motivate consumers to shop, we need motivating factors (aka motivators). For example, every time I’m interested in a product on Amazon, I always click-through to read consumer reviews.
Social proof is a proven way of motivating customers to buy or convert. However, many online stores still underutilize it. That’s because many do not have a system for collecting reviews.
Ecommerce brands that want more customer reviews should create a system that solicits feedback from customers — for instance, sending an email to customers four days after the product delivery. Brands can also incentivize customers to provide reviews in various ways, such as offering a small discount on the next purchase.
2. Use Video to Showcase Product Features
Video can clear up confusion and better showcase the features, including the benefits of a product – especially for complex products where the potential for confusion is high. Plus, people naturally gravitate toward video content as it’s an easier medium for conveying ideas.
While producing high-quality videos requires time and money, the potential long-term payoff is worth it. Aside from describing how a product works, eCommerce brands can get more creative with product videos.
Here’s a great example from Nine Line. In less than 30 seconds, the brand conveyed the product benefit humorously.
Whether videos are a must-have will depend on what’s being sold. For example, a gym equipment web store can benefit greatly by using video, but a website that sells audiobooks doesn’t necessarily require one.
3. Suggest Additional Products to Customers Before Checkout
Motivating customers to buy additional products is challenging. However, with some careful planning and a well-placed call-to-action, a website can increase its average order value.
Brands can customize or add-on a cross-sell system or acquire an eCommerce solution that already has cross-selling capabilities built-in right out the gate. For example, WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform that comes with cross-selling capabilities. The feature works by suggesting related products based on what the customer already has in the cart.
An example of a brand that cross-sells well is the REI co-op. The company suggests items in a popup that appears after users hit the ‘Add to Cart’ button.
4. Apply Color Psychology
Colors can convey different meanings, emotions and affect moods. However, according to research, it’s not all cut and dry.
Our personal preference, upbringing, experiences, culture, and other elements determine the effect a particular color has on us. So even though colors can impact marketing outcomes, specific colors can’t evoke universal emotions. For example, we can’t say that blue makes everyone feel a brand is trustworthy.
Instead, think of applying color psychology in broader ways by predicting what is best based on the products and target audience. Here are some studies to help drive the point home.
- A study titled The Interactive Effects of Colors found that choosing appropriate colors for a brand can add immediate value through perceived appropriateness. That means the colors have to match the products being sold.
- Another study, Exciting Red and Competent Blue revealed that colors greatly affect purchasing intent since colors can impact consumer perception. In other words, the ‘personality’ of a brand is influenced by colors.
- Our brains respond better to recognizable brands, making color even more significant when creating a brand identity.
The color appropriateness as it relates to the product being sold is more crucial than any particular color.
5. Test Multiple Options
An eCommerce brand’s conversion rate is undoubtedly based mainly on how attractive the sales pages are to potential customers. That’s why brands must test several ideas or options concerning sales pages.
Companies can use experimentation software, such as Google Optimize 360 to save time, eliminate guesswork, and help hit those conversion rate optimization goals. With the right experimentation software, almost anyone can conduct thorough multivariable experiments and get the results required to make informed decisions.
Testing is a critical aspect of growth that we should not overlook. With proper testing, brands can determine which online experiences perform better with users, allowing the business to make data-driven decisions and ensure positive impacts.
Without testing, it’s impossible to know how effective any implemented changes are – correlation isn’t causation.
When applied consistently, testing can improve user experience, increase conversion rates, and even raise conversion values – happy people tend to buy more stuff.
If one is unsure about the website’s aspects to test out, start with the most critical sections or pages. Test aspects that facilitate sales or lead users to become customers, such as the checkout experience.
6. Use Email to Reduce Cart Abandonment
Most eCommerce brands want to reduce shopping cart abandonment, but few know where to start. A shopping cart abandonment occurs when customers add items to the cart but never complete the transaction.
Every year trillions of dollars are left on the table because of incomplete transactions. A study of various industries found that over 80 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned.
One way of reducing cart abandonment is to send personalized emails – something Omnikick allows brands to do well. A great abandoned cart email has the following things.
- An attention-getting subject line.
- The email copy is great, short, and sweet.
- It provides a clear call-to-action (CTA).
- The email has good imagery.
Here’s an example from Bearsville Soap Company.
Img credit: ActiveCampaign
Think about what the audience would respond to and act accordingly. For example, creating a sense of urgency may be appropriate depending on the target demographics. The brand can offer a one-time coupon that is only valid for 24 hours.
When done right, email marketing is a powerful tool for eCommerce.
7. Experience Personalization
Customizing every shopper’s experience can improve customer experience, sales, brand image, and loyalty. That’s why the most successful eCommerce brands (e.g., Amazon) religiously use customer experience personalization.
The moment a user logs into Amazon, the person is greeted with personalized links and offers based on past experiences. Mega eCommerce brands continuously collect data used to personalize experiences, keep customers engaged, and nurture relationships.
With eCommerce personalization, brands can show tailored offers or messages to customers based on historical data, such as behavior, shopping preference, links clicked, etc. For example, an eCommerce website can show specific products related to a customer’s last purchase or particular promotions as they browse web pages.
The possibilities are enormous, and eCommerce personalization is no longer out of reach for many companies. Brands can use AI-driven eCommerce personalization platforms to personalize the customers’ shopping experience – from discovery to the optimization of the user journey to purchase.
When businesses can continuously make customers feel happy and welcome, revenues tend to increase.
8. Get Heatmap or Session Recording Software
One way to see what people are doing on a website is to use session recording or heatmap software. Right now, HotJar is probably the best tool in that regard as it offers heat-mapping and session recordings.
These tools can help understand how users interact with websites on a high-level.
- Heat-mapping software will show brands where people click the most along with cursor movement and scroll-depth details.
- Session recording is an invaluable tool used to analyze consumer behavior in real-time. Recordings are typically stored so site owners can watch each one or some whenever convenient.
If any company wants to get down to the root cause of low conversion rates, a session recording or heatmapping snapshot can lead to sound conclusions.
The Relationship Between CRO and SEO
CRO goes hand-in-hand with SEO (search engine optimization) as both complement each other. SEO brings in organic traffic, and CRO ensures the brand makes the most out of it. Further, brands can use CRO research results to base SEO efforts and vice versa.
Think of CRO as an SEO multiplier. The improvements made via CRO can improve SEO outcomes, and the same goes for when targeted traffic is increased through SEO. Regularly applying CRO and SEO creates a positive feedback loop for the eCommerce brand.
Here’s a quick look at how that happens.
- CRO increases revenue from the current website traffic.
- SEO increases the current website traffic.
- The brand is now making more revenue than it did before.
- The cycle continues as CRO and SEO continue to lend to the brand’s success.
The best action is to consider all of the conversion rate optimization tips laid out here, make necessary changes, and test assumptions. That way, your organization is more likely to come out victorious, with higher conversion rates.
However, CRO isn’t a magic bullet. It may take months to gather enough data through research and analytics. Plus, like SEO, CRO is never truly complete because there’s always something that can be improved. Lastly, while smaller sites can benefit from CRO, websites with more traffic will benefit the most.