Setting up an ecommerce business is the easy part. Scaling your business and making a profit – now that’s going to take a bit more work. The online retail industry is more competitive than it’s ever been, and as a result, ecommerce conversion rate optimization is one of the most popular business topics today.
Some optimization techniques are costly, but many are not thanks in large part to new online retail technology. Today, ecommerce brands must leverage every possible way to enhance conversions online.
What is an ecommerce conversion rate and how is it calculated?
In digital marketing, a conversion rate is a percentage of people who accept a call to action after viewing an ad, page, or product. For ecommerce, your conversion rate is the percentage of people who completed a purchase after visiting your website.
To track your conversion rate, you’ll need a web analytics tool to show your site traffic. Within your ecommerce platform, you can pull transaction data and compare those numbers with the total number of web visitors.
Image via Smart Insights
But if you want to dig a little deeper, you can calculate your conversion rate for each product page. Consider using the formula below:
# of page views / # of transactions = ecommerce conversion rate
You can use a variation of this formula to calculate the value of each page view based on your sales.
# of page views / total sales in $$ = value of each page view
Using these formulas will help you establish a baseline from which to improve your ecommerce conversion rates using the techniques below.
What makes a conversion rate “good”?
Before we take a look at how to increase your ecommerce conversion rates, let’s first define what a good conversion rate is. Most ecommerce experts define a solid conversion rate at 3-4%.
Image via Smart Insights
But as you can see in the Smart Insights chart above, average conversion rates vary by industry.
For the purposes of optimizing your conversion rate, we recommend that you define a good conversion rate as maintaining or exceeding your current ecommerce conversion rate. Great marketing comes down to tracking performance and improving that performance over time.
Conversion rate optimization for ecommerce – An overview
Ecommerce conversion optimization is the process of designing your website in such a way that it attracts, converts, and retains visitors. It usually involves creating lead magnets, driving web traffic, developing offers, and more.
There are many ecommerce conversion optimization hacks out there. But most of those strategies have similar themes. They all revolve around making the purchase process easier and nurturing consumer trust in your brand.
And you can’t build trust overnight. The effort that you invest in your marketing funnel and online presence can transform your ecommerce business.
20 ways to increase ecommerce conversion rates
1. Optimize your product description pages (PDPs).
When a visitor clicks on a product to learn more about it, they expect to see a detailed description. Each product description page should explain what your product is, a combination of written and visual illustrations, use cases, features, and benefits.
Consumers want to know how your products can help them. If you researched your audience thoroughly, then you can lean into the problems that your product solves or the goals that your product can help the buyer achieve.
The quality of your PDPs impacts your search engine optimization, so it’s critical that your description include relevant keywords associated with your audience, industry, and product.
2. Use pop-ups.
A web pop-up box gives your visitors a reason to purchase your product now rather than later. Ideally, it includes a coupon or discount for first-time buyers. Coupled with a compelling offer, your pop-ups can motivate the web visitor to take a chance on your brand even before you’ve addressed all of their concerns.
Most pop-up tools are customizable as static or interactive graphics. It’s a great and simple way to boost conversions and add life to your website.
One final thought about pop-ups – make sure that you get something in exchange for the special discount, such as a phone number or email. Consumers are more than happy to opt-in to your drip campaigns if they get a discount, and this benefit opens more doors for you to nurture brand love, repeat purchases, and extend customer lifetime value (CLV).
3. Improve website speed.
Websites that take forever to load drive away consumers.
According to Akamai, every second that it takes for your web page to load can reduce conversion rates by 7%. For an ecommerce business that makes $1,000 per day in revenue, a 1-second delay can cost them $25,000.
That’s why web page loading speed matters. To test your website, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool shows you how much time your pages take to load on desktop and mobile. It even provides detailed reports on loading speed along with a list of diagnostics.
If your ecommerce website has a low score, it might mean that you need to upgrade your web hosting service or invest in a headless ecommerce website. Either way, you’re most likely going to need to invest in a web developer experienced in ecommerce.
4. Leverage FOMO with limited-time offers.
When crafting offers and discounts for first-time buyers, the FOMO approach – “fear of missing out” – is a tried-and-true technique. You don’t want your discounts to last forever, and it may not be wise financially to offer amazing discounts across your entire inventory.
In addition to limited-time offers for first-time buyers, you can use FOMO to encourage bigger purchases, such as “$10 OFF $75 or more.” This guerrilla marketing approach incentivizes new and returning customers alike to increase their average transaction, thereby increasing your bottom line.
5. Optimize for mobile devices.
Online shoppers increasingly make purchases from their smartphones rather than their desktop computers.
Image via Statista
In web development, making your ecommerce website mobile-friendly is often referred to as responsive design. Non-mobile-friendly websites can be a major headache for shoppers, so including responsive design is a must for ecommerce in 2021.
6. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving your website’s performance on Google and other search engines. Ecommerce SEO usually requires keyword research, well-crafted PDPs, and a healthy collection of informative content.
If you’re using a popular ecommerce platform like Shopify, many of the technical aspects of SEO will be taken care of for you. But if you’re building your online store from scratch, you’ll need an SEO specialist to make sure that the backend components of your website are easy for search engines to crawl and index.
But SEO doesn’t end with proper metadata and schema. The strongest websites from an SEO perspective host a high volume of compelling content to attract audiences online.
7. Develop a compelling content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is a strategy that uses various forms of content to nurture inbound web traffic. It entails additional strategies, such as social media, blog development, webinars, podcasts, and more.
You don’t need to produce every type of content – blogs, video, images, podcasts, etc. – to be successful at content marketing. But if you identify the top types of content that are most likely to attract your ideal audience, then you should focus on doing that content well.
8. Use influencers to enhance your content marketing.
Influencers don’t just create content, they’ve mastered the art of building online communities around shared values, lifestyles, and interests. And when a creator promotes a product or brand that they love, followers take special interest.
Ecommerce brands can achieve remarkable results with influencers. Not only do influencers convert, but they can also become an integral part of your content marketing and social media strategies.
9. Invest in UX design and web page layout.
UX design is a fairly broad discipline in ecommerce today. It involves page design, website navigation, responsiveness, load speed, site architecture, omnichannel connectivity, and so much more.
The goal of good UX design is to make your website a pleasant place to shop. Investing in UX design will remove annoying quirks on your site and add superb functionality so that more and more visitors simply don’t want to leave.
10. Experiment with video content.
If there’s one category of content that is growing fast, it’s video. And with today’s social channels, you can specialize in a particular length and format.
For example, ecommerce brands that want to leverage traditional horizontal-view video can capture audiences on YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. These kinds of videos are perfect for product tutorials, video reviews, live events, and more.
11. Use, test, and refine CTA buttons.
A call-to-action, or CTA, signals to an online shopper what to do next. CTA buttons often direct consumers to “Add to cart,” “Claim this offer,” or “Buy now.”
It may seem like a small thing, but sprinkling CTA buttons through your ecommerce shop strategically can seriously boost your conversion rate. Many people are more than happy to complete a purchase or claim an offer if it’s clear how to do so.
12. Take advantage of social commerce tools.
Today’s leading social media channels allow you to extend your store’s reach for free using various social commerce tools. Among the leading social commerce platforms is Facebook Marketplace for Facebook and Instagram.
13. Incentivize users to create an account, but let them purchase as a guest if they prefer.
It’s always nice when a customer creates a shopping account on your ecommerce website. This allows you to track their behavior, personalize your brand, and add them to your drip campaigns (email and SMS).
But many online shoppers today are concerned about their privacy. Or, they may not want to take the time to create an account – they simply want to shop and checkout.
Giving your customers the option to checkout as a guest is always a nice touch. And if you want to increase account sign-ups, you’ll achieve greater success by incentivizing customers to do so with exclusive offers, positive reviews, and a clear value proposition that helps them see why an online account is in their best interest.
14. Use 2-way text message marketing.
Thanks to new FCC regulations, the TCPA, and wireless carrier intervention, SMS marketing is no longer the spam medium that many consumers disliked prior to 2018.
In fact, a recent development in text message marketing is two-messaging between shoppers and brands. This approach to SMS marketing helps your brand retrieve abandoned carts and provide additional customer service before, during, and after their purchase.
Image via Emotive
Investing in SMS for the first time can be costly, but the ROI is quite high. Additionally, text messaging offers more immediate connections with your customers over email, as well as another way to convert shoppers that may not be ready to buy just yet.
15. Invest in live chat technology.
Live chat is a conversational marketing tool that allows you to assist customers in real-time and is more affordable than contracting with call centers.
Image via Kayako
More importantly, online shoppers prefer live chat to other forms of sales and customer service. Many chat platforms allow you to integrate AI and live agents so that your store is “always on” for customers who need assistance.
16. Offer free shipping.
There’s nothing quite like free shipping. Shipping costs can deter visitors and often leads to cart abandonment. That’s why offering free shipping is a great ecommerce conversion optimization strategy.
If you decide to extend free shipping to your customers, it’s critical that you confirm that your price point is in line with cash flow projections. Ideally, free shipping increases the number of customers who buy and keep coming back.
But if you feel like you’re unable to offer free shipping across the board, you can make free shipping a special offer to leverage for email/SMS opt-ins and first-time buyers.
17. Incorporate customer reviews, testimonials, and feedback.
According to a BigCommerce study, 92% of consumers read online reviews. And 88% of them trust those reviews like they would a personal recommendation from a friend.
The study went on to say that consumers are 58% more likely to make a purchase after reading positive reviews. Also, adding online reviews can result in as much as 62% increase in sales per consumer.
Nothing really generates social proof as well as a high volume of thoughtful, positive reviews from happy customers. It’s important that you get into the habit early on of soliciting feedback from your customers. Not only will the positive sentiments drive sales, but negative feedback can give you insights into how to better personalize your products.
18. Allow for easy payments and include trust seals.
A lot of shoppers abandon their carts if they feel the payment process is not secure. As a matter of fact, security is one of the top five reasons for cart abandonment.
To avoid this, you can use trust seals that assure consumers that their payment information is safe. There are numerous trust seals like Norton, McAfee, and PayPal to choose from. Using trust seals alleviates consumer concerns regarding payment security and encourages them to move forward with their purchase.
Additionally, many trust seal suppliers also offer easy payment options, from financing to bitcoin and more. A customer loyalty program can also allow repeat buyers to use rewards point/cash as an additional payment option.
19. Partner with brand ambassadors and affiliates.
Similar to influencers, brand ambassadors and affiliates can act as an effective extension of your sales team.
“Affiliate marketing programs offer the opportunity for a person or company to sell another company’s products and earn a commission on the sales they generate.” – GRIN, How To Avoid The 5 Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
The job of affiliates is to become industry experts who generate warm leads or conversions on a performance-based compensation structure. This setup allows you to pay your affiliates only when they are successful, and it can extend your reach to more audience segments.
20. Build a brand community with a customer advocacy program.
Customer retention is far more cost-effective than constantly chasing new customers. And the number one way to increase your retention and lower your customer acquisition costs is to invest in brand communities through a customer advocacy program.
“So when we’re creating an advocacy program, that is also a community, we have to think about how being part of this program helps this advocate or ambassador make progress toward who they want to be in their lives.” – Carrie Melissa Jones, GRIN Gets Real Podcast
A customer advocacy program allows your most loyal customers to become true brand fans. They can enjoy exclusive perks and help you build a community of like-minded people who love your brand.
In summary: When competition is high, authentic relationships win the day.
Transactional customer relationships are fleeting and expensive. To build a long-term ecommerce business, you’ll need to build a brand that is bigger than your product.
The reality is that many ecommerce shops provide similar products and services. But the brands that stand out are the ones that develop deep connections with their audiences.
If you are not sure how to begin nurturing those relationships, partnering with influencers is a great way to start. Not only will they model relationship-building for you, but the effort that you put into creating a relationship with that influencer will look remarkably similar to how you build relationships with other members of your audience.
Influencers are also powerful team members to have when your ecommerce shop is young or a startup. Many powerful DTC brands today scaled their business with the help of influencers.
Recruiting top-performing influencers has never been easier. Use GRIN to find your brand champions.