If content is king then conversion is queen – and she’s the one who wears the trousers.
eCommerce sites rely on conversions – without conversions at the point of checkout, they’re unable to stay in business. So what can eCommerce sites do to pick up as many conversions as possible? Here’s how to turn full carts into final sales.
Bringing customers to your site is the easy part. In fact, eCommerce sites have access to a whole host of online marketing techniques, from social media marketing and SEO campaigns to pay-per-click advertisements, affiliate marketing and influencer outreach. Turning those visitors into paying customers is the hard part. In fact, the average conversion rate across all eCommerce sites is cited as between 2-3%, with many experiencing rates as low as 1%.
Sales is a numbers game, and even more so when it comes to eCommerce. For eCommerce marketers, there are two options when it comes to boosting revenue – increase the number of visitors or increasing the odds of them making a purchase. But driving traffic can be expensive – especially if you rely on advertisements. That’s where conversion optimization comes in.
Conversion optimization relies on making ongoing amends to your site to improve its conversion rate, allowing you to increase sales without having to bring in more visitors. Marketers can make changes, track the impact on their conversion rate, and then roll back anything that doesn’t improve it. The beauty of this is that it’s a series of constant, cumulative gains – like compound interest – that will continue to add value in the future, even if you stop iterating and improving.
For larger sites, even a small increase in the conversion rate can lead to substantially higher revenue. For example, if a site has 10,000 visitors a day and a conversion rate of 1%, an overall increase to 1.1% will lead to 10 extra sales per day and a whopping 3,650 extra sales across the course of a year.
With over 12 million eCommerce stores online at the time of writing, it can be hard to find an average conversion rate. It tends to vary from market to market, region to region and industry to industry. That’s why instead of comparing your conversion rate to other companies, it’s a better use of time to compete against yourself. Instead of trying to reach a conversion rate of 2% because it’s an overall benchmark, aim to improve your existing rate by a fixed amount.
For many, conversion rates can be confusing, and it’s not uncommon for people to overlook them. Some CEOs will be so worried about picking up website visits that they’ll forget about what comes next. Statistics like overall visits are often referred to as vanity metrics – they look good on paper, but they don’t affect the actual performance of the business.
Instead, smart marketers focus on a range of metrics, from the softer metrics (such as website visits, social media follows and time on site) to the harder metrics (such as conversions, email signups and other actions). By getting an overall view of how people are using your website – including where they’re coming from, where they’re landing and what they’re doing next – you’re able to make business decisions based on facts and data.
It’s easy to see how improving the conversion rate of your eCommerce site can add a huge amount of value to your company, but not everyone has the time or the skills to do it. While the basic concepts of conversion optimization can be taught and learned, it can take a significant time investment – and time is often a luxury for busy executives.
Of course, time is money, and so you can always hire someone to do it for you. Look at it as an investment in the future – it’s in the best interests of your business to monitor your conversion rates, and there are plenty of things you can do to get started. Here are just a few of them.
With increasing numbers of mobile shoppers (6% growth year-on-year in the United States alone), mobile optimization has never been more important. In fact, one study found that optimizing for mobile can raise revenues by up to 157%. Some search engines penalize sites that have a poor mobile experience, which is reason enough to ensure that you’re fully compliant, but it’s also easy to see how clunky navigation and a poor user experience will put mobile shoppers off from making a purchase.
According to Kissmetrics, 28% of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if presented with unexpected shipping costs. In fact, it’s the single biggest cause of shopping cart abandonment, ranking above having to create a new account, security concerns and confusing checkout systems. While offering free shipping might sound expensive, the reality is that the profit you’ll make from those extra customers is likely to more than pay for it.
Avoid overwhelming customers with cluttered designs and big chunks of text before they can see the purchase button. Mix it up with images and videos (most consumers prefer to watch product videos instead of reading about them), and use written content sparingly. Remember, additional content can be hosted elsewhere – such as on an integrated blog site – so that the information is available without cutting into your conversion rate.
Split tests use scientific principles to determine what’s most likely to encourage visitors to make a purchase. Simply put, your website can automatically serve up either your regular page (the control) or a variation (the test). By changing one element at a time – such as the colour of a button or the image you use – you can see whether the variation improves your conversion rate. If it does, you can set the test page as your new default and move on to something else.
It’s not uncommon for people to visit a store, to add something to their basket and then to leave before checking out. By analyzing the performance of different pages – and their bounce rates in particular – you can find out what’s causing them to leave. Common cart abandonment issues include slow load times, functional problems, high postage costs and added tax, and each additional step in the checkout process can cause people to leave before they finalize their purchase.
Nearly 70% of consumers rely on reviews when making a purchase, and allowing visitors to post them on your site will provide unique content to feed search engines, too. In fact, even negative reviews can lead to sales – people are naturally wary of something that seems too good to be true, because it often is.
Conversion optimization can be an effective way of increasing revenue and overall profit, and it has the advantage of continuing to add value over time. This runs in sharp contrast with increasing your ad spend, which will drive more traffic in the short term but will stop as soon as you lower your budget.
Remember that just because you have a strong month in April, it might not be the same in May. It’s vital to monitor your conversion rate over time and to keep an eye on long-term trends, and to be aware of any external factors – such as seasonality or a sudden spike in demand – that could influence your data.
Conversion optimization is a long-term process, and it requires a long-term commitment. But once you start to witness the results, you’ll be hooked. After all – nothing is perfect, and there’ll always be something else you can do to make a difference. Test everything, measure everything, and act on what you learn along the way. Your conversion rate will start improving in next to no time.
Alek is responsible for the visual communication and user engagement at EuroVPS. He is passionate researcher of human psychology and always looking for a way to innovate and implement new experiences by challenging the established design patterns. Books lover, explorer by nature and full Law of Attraction practitioner.