Ecommerce conversions are the lifeblood of a business’s website. They are the rate by which website visitors become customers. For a well-performing store, this rate should be at least around the 2% range, which means that 1 out of every 50 visitors becomes a paying customer. Many sites fail to generate this rate, however, requiring thousands of visitors to produce even one conversion.
In a time when many businesses make half of their revenue or more on eCommerce sales, these numbers can cause a business to become lost in a sea of online retail options without ever gaining customers. There are many ways to improve eCommerce conversion optimization, just by improving the website itself. This guide includes a breakdown of 15 answers to the question of how to increase the conversion rate on an eCommerce site, to optimize it for turning visitors into paying customers.
The Importance of Conversions in Ecommerce
When customers visit an eCommerce site, they enter a cycle of decisions. They can choose to bail out of this cycle at any time, for any reason. Maybe there are too many fields to fill out, they can’t easily find what they came there for, the images don’t look nice, or the store’s app is taking too long to load. Any number of reasons could drive a customer away from the site in seconds, which drives conversion rates down.
In this jungle of consumer judgment, sites that improve eCommerce conversion rates survive and grow. Since even small changes to a site can be the difference between a customer hitting “buy” or closing the page, these 15 tips for eCommerce conversion optimization are only a starting point. Anything that by design makes a site easier to use, clearer to understand, or more helpful to the customer can have a huge impact on conversions.
1. Free shipping
This change requires altering a business’s model. However, it proves to be the most effective in improving a site’s conversion rate. When customers visit a site, they lack the interaction that brick-and-mortar stores provide. They cannot use their senses to convince themselves to make a purchase. This is why anything you can do to make your site’s services seem like a deal, should be first on the list of changes that will improve the eCommerce conversion rate on your site.
A free shipping policy, one which is not only customer-friendly but clearly spelled out on the site, can help users make the leap from casual visitor to paying customer. Retail studies have shown that for 9 out of 10 online shoppers, free shipping is the single most important factor in their decision to make a purchase. This is an offer that should be stated clearly on your sales pages and advertised consistently.
Not all businesses can offer free shipping with their current systems, however. This is why a third-party order fulfillment company can make an advantageous partner. Ecommerce fulfillment services can provide a business with the means to make free shipping a reality for their customers, which in turn will make eCommerce conversion optimization a reality for the business.
2. Add reviews
Reviews, testimonials, and even logos can be profitable additions to your site’s appearance. This is because of a simple premise of eCommerce conversions, which is that when shoppers are online, they have access to far more information than they do in brick-and-mortar stores. They don’t want to be the first customers to try a product.
This means that reviews from past users are all but guaranteed to increase conversion rates by some amount. This is one of the founding principles of Amazon’s success. The percent positive of their past buyers’ testimonials drives the conversions on every one of their best-selling products.
3. Cut back on form fields
Clutter on your site includes form fields that distract users and scare them off, signups, offers, and anything else that makes customers feel pressured. Filling out online forms comes with the implied obligation to make purchases. You need some form of interaction on your website and can include a few form fields to improve the customer experience. However, you need to be careful not to make customers feel pressured. This lowers conversions on many overzealous eCommerce sites.
4. Create pages with clear direction
If there are too many places to click on your website, especially the homepage, users are more likely to give up before being converted into a customer. Outside of headers, features, reviews, and your other visuals, you shouldn’t have much clutter.
5. Third-party sign-in services
Third-party sign-in services can offer a business’s website a boost in conversions because of a simple premise of conversion rates: the simpler, the better. If customers have to create an account from scratch on your site, they’re less likely to sign in and buy something than if they can log in from an account they already have.
Once they become paying customers, they’ll make an account on your site later for their own convenience. Implement popular accounts like Facebook and Google as profitable alternative sign-ins. Another similar fix is to offer guest shopping with no account at all, rather than require an account for every purchase.
6. Work on your load times
When a business website is loading, it is losing conversions – it’s that simple. The bounce rate, or the rate at which users leave the site after only looking at one page, can be significantly reduced by every second you can shave off the load times.
Users linger on pages that load quickly and they stay away from sites that load slowly. An eCommerce site can improve its load times by reducing the size of its images or switching its web hosting platform to a faster service.
However, low-quality images can reduce conversion rates more than fast load times increase them. It’s a balancing act that should prioritize functionality, without reducing image quality too much. A professional photographer and decent quality images should still be a priority.
7. Free return shipping
In addition to free shipping, a business website should also offer free returns. A clear return policy that favors the customer gives them the confidence to make the purchase in the first place. This always favors conversions over returns. To make the policy effective, it should be linked to the front page of the site and stated somewhere on the checkout screen in plain terms.
8. Offer discounts
Discounts, sales, and coupons help a site cut through the competition. Promotions that last a limited time can offer an incentive for customers to make a purchase. At the same time, they allow an eCommerce operation to get rid of old merchandise.
A site doesn’t even need to offer a sale price if they don’t want to. One possible strategy involves increasing prices sitewide and then lowering them to the original price as a “sale.” The prospect of saving money is a stronger incentive for conversions than the prospect of spending money. Make use of third-party sites like Groupon to attract users to your store and use deals to your advantage.
9. Use social media to your advantage
A social media presence can improve conversion rates by communicating with customers daily. Using a dedicated Facebook and Twitter account allows a business to curate customer reviews, improve their service experience, and direct future customers to reviews before they’ve even visited the site. This is called “social proof” and it’s a valuable form of marketing that allows a brand’s image to precede a customer’s interaction.
By the time the customer is on the site, they will be more likely to linger if they were sent there by a social interaction, as opposed to a random ad or search.
10. Create an optimized FAQ section
FAQs don’t simply inform customers about services – they can be used to increase conversion rates by improving a brand’s identity. Use FAQs as a chance to disperse a customer’s doubts, for instance by linking to the free returns policy. Offer outside links to give customers more information. If they feel informed, they feel safe. If they feel safe, they are more likely to make a purchase.
11. Mobile optimization
Users research and shop on their mobile phones at least as often as on a laptop, with the numbers steadily increasing over time as mobile technologies become increasingly viable in eCommerce. A lack of mobile optimization reduces a site’s conversion rate by default because users cannot shop on the site whenever they please. They can’t browse sales on their break. They can’t be converted.
Likewise, poor mobile optimization also results in reduced conversions. Web pages that don’t load properly or which aren’t framed for mobile users can make a customer’s experience difficult. This reduces not only their will to purchase from the site but also the possibility that they will visit the site again.
12. Customer-centric marketing
When creating copy on a business website, many managers are tempted to encourage copy that emphasizes their brand, their perspective, and their products. However, copy that raises conversion rates focuses on the customers and what matters to them. The way to summarize this practice is to say that the text on a business site should prioritize benefits over features.
Features trump the brand – benefits focus on the customer. For instance, customers want to know how great the products will be for them and the deals they can expect, not where you sourced your product line or materials from.
13. Advertise security
With a wealth of eCommerce sites to choose from, customers prioritize security features now more than ever. They worry about cyber hackers when they input card information on a new website, which is yet another reason they might hesitate to make a purchase.
Build trust with customers by having site security protocols installed and prominently displayed in the form of a “badge.” If customers believe a site is safe, they are more likely to make the conversion.
14. Create uniform copy
This applies to the whole site – make website copy uniform. This means that if a site has a sales message for different products or services, that message needs to be repeated no matter where the customer is seeing it. If they click on a deal that emphasizes a certain feature, the next page they see should also emphasize that feature.
Consistent copy leads to a consistent sales message. This improves brand engagement, which leads to more conversions. Call to actions are also an art that can be used to psychologically attract more conversions (or dissuade them). A button that says, “Redeem a coupon,” for instance, is less likely to be clicked than one that says, “Yes, I want my deal!”
15. Test product prices
Optimizing conversion rate requires testing. In the case of product prices, for instance, businesses need to know how to set the prices in a way that encourages sales. The only way to figure it out is to analytically test prices with the common A/B pricing method. This strategy involves creating two listings for similar products with different prices. Offer a free bonus on the more expensive one.
By examining the sales analytics of these two listings, a business can discover how much customers are willing to pay for this product. Picking and choosing how products are listed can radically change their worth, not just for the individual products but for the conversion rate. If people are more likely to pay for a product when listed a certain way, these listings are more likely to convince them to do so again.
The Takeaway for Ecommerce Site Owners
Ecommerce conversion optimization allows a site to survive. The sites with optimized systems can expect conversions as high as 2% while those with distracting interfaces and insufficient quality of life features may need thousands of visitors to procure even one purchase. The 15 tips above describe simple ways that a site can improve its eCommerce conversion rate, by offering free shipping, discounts, a cleaner interface, and a signup process with fewer obligations.
Businesses must keep in mind that if these changes work, eCommerce conversions can put a strain on a site’s shipping logistics and product demand. If you implement these 15 tips, you will see an increase in conversions. Make sure that your fulfillment procedures can handle the increased product turnover that comes with it. You may need to partner with a third-party fulfillment company to meet the demand. However, surely any eCommerce business would agree, that this is a far better problem to have than a lack of conversions, especially when they can be increased so easily.