I know that a lot of my readers run ecommerce stores, however many people are purely focused on things like traffic and ignore ecommerce conversation rate optimization which leaves a lot of money on the table.
So once you have built a successful ecommerce store you should start to look at how you can make it work harder for you.
What You Will Learn
- Why ecommerce conversion rate optimization is important
- How to calculate ecommerce conversion rate
- How to analyse the data
- 25 best practices & techniques to increase ecommerce conversion rate
This article was written by Giles Thomas who is an established ecommerce conversion expert.
How To Increase Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate
If you run an online store and often ask yourself, how do I get more visitors to buy my products then this is the resource for you.
In this article we will look at a logical step by step process for increasing the conversion rate of your shop.
You won’t find opinions in this article or fake one size fits all hacks.
Just best practices you can test on your shop and use to find improvements.
Using a recurring conversion rate optimization process is key to having a highly converting shop.
Here is the simple step by step process we will walk through and that you can use to improve your store.
Collect Data – Site Walkthroughs
When optimizing a shop the first step is to take care of low-hanging fruit.
These are the types of ecommerce conversion rate improvements that are easy.
They are generally related to browser testing, device testing and bugs.
Understanding the user flow and the user experience of the shop during the site walkthrough is key.
Start by navigating the website as a user.
Add things to the cart, use the search.
Be very critical of what we see.
Look for obviously broken css or functionality.
But which browsers and devices should I test?
There are so many variations and versions!
How do I find bugs?
First things first, go to google analytics and look at your ecommerce conversion rate by browser.
Then separate your data by mobile and desktop browser.
You will get something like this.
Try to find the browsers and devices that convert below or above the site average.
You can then start with testing the browsers and devices with the worst conversion rates.
You’ll often find bugs and simple css fixes that will instantly increase conversions.
People often ask at this point if the time it takes to test older browsers is worth the investment.
Eg will I make more money extra than I have to spend to make the website work well on the old browsers
This is really a simple calculation.
Imagine IE7 convert at 10% the conversion rate of the other IE browsers.
Your hypothesis could be that ‘IE7 would convert at the same rate as the other IE browsers once optimized.’
If that increase, the 90% extra conversion rate is worth more over 6 months to the company in revenue than the cost of the development work you can get started right away.
Also focus on absolute numbers. If the sample size is too small then the numbers might not be accurate.
If the traffic to the browser or device is low, less than a few thousands sessions then there is no statistical significance in the conversion rate.
You can always use a larger time range in google analytics for increase the sample size.
Typically tablets should be as good as your desktop conversion rates, normally 10% lower. If they are much lower, your site needs responsive development optimization.
Mobile visitors will typically have a lower ecommerce conversion rate, especially for considered purchases.
Look at your growth trends for mobile over the last 12 months.
A lot of people are seeing huge mobile traffic growth.
This will let you know that it is worth investing in mobile as it will be a large proportion of your traffic in the future.
If mobile traffic made up 2% of your overall traffic 12 months ago, but now it is 15%. Then you need either a standalone mobile shop or a responsive shop.
I would go with the later, responsive design, for these four reasons:
- Responsive design is preferred for SEO
- Responsive design is cheaper to maintain and update long term
- Social media is a large driver of ecommerce traffic, 55% of social media consumption is on mobile devices
- 20% of Google searches are from mobile phones, how much of your traffic is organic?
Collect Data – Heuristic Analysis
During heuristic analysis we go through the website page by page.
Focussing on the money pages, for example:
- Single Product Page
- Checkout Flow
When looking at these key pages we need to consider:
Value Proposition / Offer
Is the offer aligned with the user and the targeted traffic sources?
Are you selling the benefits not the features in your copywriting?
Does the copy speak to the users needs and wants?
Does the copy speak to the users pain points and problems?
Do we understand, what steps we should take next?
Most importantly, is there one clear call to action?
One task we want the user to take, does the visual design and visual hierarchy push the user down this funnel?
Are there items that are unnecessary?
That don’t match with the pages one clear call to action?
Security issues. Privacy, trust. Is social proof being used?
Can we use urgency or other design persuasion techniques?
The goal is work out where the website is losing visitors, where are we letting sales get away.
Improve these factors with better copywriting and by observing people using the website in a user testing workshop and fixing the problems you find.
Collect Data – Google Analytics
Google can tell us many things about the shop. How people are using it and where it can be improved.
But we must remember to segment the analytics, large averages generally don’t paint truthful pictures.
The more time you can afford to look on a granular level the better.
Is This Data Accurate?
Here are some key signs to check for that your analytics are not healthy.
- Very low bounce rate – code may be loaded twice
- Top referring domain is domain itself – subdomain tracking not enabled
- Virtual pageview tracking enabled
- Ecommerce site search tracking enabled
- Event tracking for key objectives set up (add to cart)
- In-page analytics set up
We need to recreate the funnel data manually to double check the analytics are being collected correctly.
Go through the checkout process and write down every step.
Then look at the pageview stats in google analytics for each one.
Does it match the funnel? Are there any steps missing you can add in manually?
If the funnel is correct:
Look at this data in Google Analytics
- Audience – where are they from
- Conversions by browser/device
- Visitor flow
- Traffic sources for relevancy + key landing pages + conversions
- Pages with high traffic and high bounce rates
- Navigation summary
- Site search
Do certain audiences or traffic sources convert higher than others? Then focus your marketing more on what works.
Do some pages have high bounce rates and high traffic. Fix those pages and push the user down the funnel.
Do you have site search? A lot of website statistics show users who use site search have a higher ecommerce conversion rate.
Make sure your site search works well and return the correct products.
If you have the budget, use auto complete search results with images and product details.
Collect Data – Site Speed
Also test mobile devices on non wifi environments. Sometimes mobile page load can be very slow, this causes bounces, lost traffic and bad mobile conversion rates.
Make sure can employ mobile first development to the shop to ensure the best load times on mobile.
Collect Data – Customer Development
The next step is to talk to existing customers.
This is find out key learnings from their experience with the shop, problems and to see how we can fix them.
Questions to ask your customers:
Who are they, demographics, psychographics?
This can help you identify which communities and social networks to focus with marketing efforts on to drive traffic to the website.
If you know you cater to teenagers then vine and instagram could be a good place to market.
If your product is bought by 60 year old men, then even offline marketing might work well.
Ecommerce conversion optimization starts as early as marketing to the right audience who are open to your offer or even looking for it.
What is important to the user when buying [insert your product]?
People often say they care about quality, speed of delivery, green issues. By learning what your customers care about you can write it into your marketing copy and be more aligned with them emotionally.
How long was the shopping process?
Is the checkout process too long? Where are people dropping off? This can help improve the checkout flow.
How many other sites did they look at?
Finding which competitor sites your customers look at can help you position yourself in the overall market better. Filling a niche or taking a stand against competitors beliefs or values.
What doubts and hesitations did you have?
By learning the reservations of your customers you can write copy that alleviates those concerns. But what if… what happens when… make them feel comfortable. Do they ship to X… let them know “Free worldwide shipping”.
Which questions did you have but did not find answers to?
No this doesn’t mean add them to the FAQ. If your copywriting is good enough you shouldn’t need an FAQ. The information the customers needs to be happy and comfortable enough to buy should be in the page inline with the products.
What made you choose to buy from us?
Learn what differentiates you in your customers eyes, this can often reveal golden nuggets of copywriting ammunition!
Collect Data – Exit Intent Surveys
Survey customers as they exit to gain greater insight into why they are leaving.
- Was there something holding you back from making a purchase today?
- Was there any unanswered questions you had?
Again use this data to improve your copywriting or add missing products.
Collect Data – User Testing
Use usertesting.com or similar services to give fake users tasks to complete.
Ensure that the target group matches the demographics and psychographics of your customer.
Choose tasks for them to complete that are aligned directly with KPIs and see where and why they fail.
This is a less biased version of the site walkthrough data gathering.
Collect Data – Tracking
Ecommerce conversion tracking data can give deep insights into why people do not check out.
Click tracking data shows where people click.
You can test to see if they click the wrong elements that are not links. Perhaps product images that could then be linked to the product page.
Scroll maps can be used to test where users scroll to. Are the most important elements for example add to cart buttons being seen. Are they above the fold if necessary?
You can use Crazyegg or Heatmaps by Sumome.
Data Analysis – Compare Data
Now you have all these insights from using the website and undertaking a heuristics analysis you can compare the findings against your google analytics data.
Is there data mismatch? Does the data support the ideas and hypothesis.
If you find the homepage is cluttered and doesn’t have one clear call to action. Look at the data that shows conversion rate of people going from the homepage to the call to action page (probably a link to the main shop page from the first slide in your slider)
If the click through rate is low, then the data supports your theory.
Now you have all your data and learnings.
It is time to come up with ideas to design, implement and test.
Sketch a customer theory, a narrative from your customer development learnings. What are their pain points, concerns, needs. This is the basis for copywriting improvements.
Fix all the easy changes like browser bugs right away.
You should have site wide changes, and page specific changes.
Make sure you prioritize the changes considering ease and cost of the change and potential return on investment.
Like of IE7 browser testing change earlier.
Design, Develop and Test
Now you need to implement your changes as per your prioritized list.
Ensuring to consider conversion rate optimization best practice along side your ideas.
Make sure to put the right tools in place and set them up correctly so you can test the new changes and repeat the process again.
Google analytics, crazy egg etc
Ecommerce conversion optimization is never finished, it is an infinite loop.
Your customers and the market place will always evolve and changes and your shop should too.
Bonus Ecommerce Conversion Optimization Resource
Excited to learn more about optimizing your ecommerce conversion rate to increase your stores revenue?
For those of you who want to take your shop to the next level I have put together a bonus resource.