So your website is finally finished! Great! And you have successfully driven traffic to it. So where are the sales? Well, there’s more work to do yet — it’s time for some strategic CRO.
The percentage of customers who land on your site and go on to make a purchase (or complete another important action like a blog sign up) is called your ‘conversion rate’. The process of increasing that percentage is called ‘conversion rate optimisation’ or CRO for short. An average conversion rate would be around 1-2%, but with effective CRO, you could be at 5% in no time.
Rather than pushing for more traffic or leads, CRO means making the most of what you’ve already got and maximising the potential of your existing online reach.
This article will give you some quick, actionable ideas to boost your overall conversion rates and improve your website’s sales funnel.
Streamline the checkout process
Probably the most important element of your ecommerce website and a logical place to start.
At this stage, your potential customers have found what they want and have decided to buy, but if your checkout process is outdated, confusing, or simply doesn’t look trustworthy, you could still lose them.
- Accept as many payment methods as possible.
- Have obvious and updated security details.
- Make your customer jump through as few hoops as possible. Something as simple as requiring they create an account with you before checking out could cost you sales.
- Reduce your checkout process to as few pages as possible. A one page checkout is the gold standard.
If your site isn’t optimised for mobile then you’re going to see a very high bounce rate from your mobile customers. Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site immediately after clicking through to it. They click a link, and something just isn’t right, so they won’t even give you a chance. A website that looks like a nightmare on mobile will do that.
Users are increasingly spending time on mobile over desktop, so time invested in improving your mobile user experience is time well spent. Be sure to thoroughly test every step of your checkout process on mobile too.
Quality images and descriptions
High quality images and descriptions add to the overall legitimacy of your site, while also providing several more measurable benefits. By including as much information as possible, you allow the customer to be sure they’re getting exactly what they want. This will lead to higher conversions, as well as lowering your return rates.
Exactly what information is most relevant will depend on the product, so try to put yourself in the place of your customer. What would you want to know when buying this item? What would you want to see? Remember, what you put on the page is all they have to base their purchasing decision on – they can’t see it in person or ask questions. You may want to consider buying guides or product videos to boost your on-page strategy.
Especially for dropshippers who stock products that can be easily found on other websites like Amazon — unique and valuable product pages will help yours rank above the competition. Never accept generic product descriptions that are copied from the manufacturer. Take your time with it and spend some budget on quality product copywriting.
Analytics are invaluable to your ecommerce store. There’s a reason Amazon has been using them since the 90s. Depending on the access to data provided by your CMS, there are a number of techniques you can use to convert more customers.
One easy method is to offer product recommendations based on the items the user has shown interest in, using your data on items that are frequently bought together.
You can also look at things like bounce rates and dwell times to give you an idea of how your site design is faring with users. Investigate any unpopular pages.
Put your best sellers up front
Once a customer has bought from you once, you get a myriad of benefits that make it much easier to do business with them in the future. So much so, that plenty of companies offer significant discounts, at a loss, just to introduce users to their platform. A less extreme version of this is to simply make your hottest items the most visible.
Once they’ve made their first purchase, the user will trust your store and you will have their email address, allowing you to send follow-up messages to maintain their interest.
Including visible customer reviews on your product pages is a tried and true method of building trust. An honest review section adds a great deal of credibility to your website and can ease any potential concerns your customer might have, leading to them click the all important ‘check out’ button. Don’t be concerned if you get a few negative reviews though – as long as there aren’t too many, they can actually bring authenticity to your review section and increase conversions.
While we’re on the subject of reviews, customer feedback is another excellent tool at your disposal. You can change products they don’t like, and you can ask them what they like or dislike about using your site to improve it further. If your customers are telling you what they want, why not listen?
Amazon does a great job of not only including reviews, but also pictures submitted by customers. These are important trust builders and help customers picture themselves with the product.
Use your search data
If your ecommerce platform gives you access to your users’ search data, this is a powerful tool to further fine-tune your user experience. You can use this information to understand the language your customers use while searching, and alter your product pages to match. This makes it easier for customers to find what they want, and gives them the impression that they have found exactly what they had in mind.
Another powerful use for search data is to examine the popular search terms being used that aren’t returning any products, so you know what to stock in future.
A robust returns policy can be the final push a customer needs to take the plunge on a purchase. It can turn the question in your customer’s head from “why should I buy this?” to “why shouldn’t I?”, since they can always send it back if it’s not what they had in mind, no risk.
It also adds a certain credibility to a store that can be hard to measure, but definitely helps gain the trust of first-time buyers.
Integrate with social media
If your brand already has active social media accounts, then it’s a no-brainer to tie them together with your store. Giving customers the feeling that they’re getting an exclusive deal is a great way to increase conversions and it’s simple to do with any social media platform. You also get the benefits of group marketing. If they’re exposed to your brand via social media, the first thing they see will be an active community of happy customers.
Testing and feedback
When it comes to CRO, the customer will always be the best source of information. Whether it’s through a formal survey, or voting with their wallets, they will let you know what they like and what they don’t. Making small changes and monitoring the effect on your conversion rate is the bread and butter of good CRO.
Indirectly collecting feedback about the way customers interact with your website via a tracking program is another great tool. There’s a lot of variety in the data you can track, but let’s look at one of the more basic options for now. You track what buttons a user clicks as they use your website. With this data, you can discover what your customers value and seek out before making a purchase.
For example, they might click your ‘about’ page first to learn about your company’s origin and values, in which case, you could focus your testing on that page. If users who have read your ‘about’ page are more likely to go on to convert, you could try making that button more prominent on your landing page. It’s also a great way to spot any issues users are having when navigating to their desired product.
Whether you’ve built your own website, inherited it from someone else, or bought one – there is always room to make CRO improvements. After applying these tips, you will be able to convert more of your hard earned traffic into revenue. If you test diligently you can be sure you’re moving in the right direction, and you’ll be converting 5% of your users in no time. Now get out there and reap the fruits of your labour.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce, digital marketing and how writers can hone their craft. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their marketing strategy.