eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Tactics

eCommerce has come under the spotlight lately. The COVID-19 pandemic forced high street retailers to close, leaving online stores as the only alternative. Not only did those already familiar with shopping online use it more, but the crisis also introduced the world of digital retail to a wealth of newcomers.

For you – the eCommerce retailer – this has been a bonus. There is a greater potential customer base, yet there is also more competition. In the article that follows we will be looking in some depth at how you can increase eCommerce conversion rates, what are the most useful tactics for eCommerce conversion rate optimization, and what you should be looking to achieve.

We’ll start by talking about average eCommerce conversion rates, so we can find a point that you can mark as your goal. Let’s get down to business!

Table of Contents

What average conversion rate should an eCommerce site achieve?

Before we get into the details here, we need to look at what ‘conversion rate’ means. A conversion occurs when online shoppers complete desired actions on your eCommerce website. For online stores, this is generally making a purchase. It can also include adding a product to a wishlist or putting it into their cart. Each of these actions constitutes a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for your business.
Put simply, any KPI that you consider valuable to your business may be a conversion. For example, if you provide a service, website visitors requesting a quotation could be a KPI. If you are looking at your marketing, a share, or a like on social media is a valuable KPI.
One of the above-mentioned KPIs is that of a visitor putting an item in their cart. A common problem with an eCommerce site is that for one of many reasons, potential customers may change their minds and not complete the transaction. We will cover this topic in detail later on as it is an important one to approach.
For the sake of this section, we are treating a sale as a conversion. What eCommerce conversion rates should you be aiming to attain? The problem here is that different sources look at conversion rates in different ways. As a baseline, the average conversion rate – on a global basis – for eCommerce lies between 1% and 2%. If a site is reaching 5% it can be considered in the very top echelon of eCommerce businesses.

These figures may give you a shock at first, but we need to look at them as quantities, rather than percentages. Recent research into young eCommerce sites found that around 50% of them get only 500 visitors per month. Unless we are getting into the major brands the likelihood is that your eCommerce store may get between 1000 and 5000 visitors a month – and that is doing well.

Now, let’s look at those percentages again: say you have a 1.5% conversion rate, and you get 2,500 visitors each month, that’s fewer than 40 sales. Clearly, two things need to happen here: you must increase your visitor numbers and raise your conversion rate. Neither of these is easy to do, but we’re going to give you some tips and ideas that will help with each. First, an important point that can mean the difference between success and failure for an eCommerce outlet.

The importance of mobile optimization

We can’t move on until we have stressed the importance of optimizing an eCommerce site for mobile devices and their users. The latest research in the USA shows that more than 70% of online sales are to smartphone users. Consider that in 2016 the figure was around 50%, and we can see how essential it is that you target smartphone users.
This figure is only going to grow. We’ll talk about smartphone optimization in a little more detail when we come to the section about pop-ups. So, let’s move on and look at what you want to know: how to optimize your site and increase those conversion rates.
Recommendations on mobile

Increasing and optimizing conversion rates

Now to the interesting stuff! We’re going to talk about different methods of your eCommerce conversion rate optimization. To do this successfully, it’s important that you understand why your conversion rate is poor. There can be many reasons for this. However, it can be difficult to get to the root of the problem.
This is where Conversion Rate Optimization tools can help. We’re going to look at CRO tools and what they do in the next section. Before that, here are some of the main causes of low conversion rates:

1: Your site is not optimized

We’ve dropped this in first as it is essentially a catch-all and the reason for this article. Optimization is an umbrella term that covers many of the problems listed here. Most websites and product pages that are not optimized will be passed over by the search engines for one that is. As you read on, you will get an idea of the different areas of your eCommerce site that benefit from careful attention.

2: Your product is not of interest

This is an obvious but often overlooked point. You may have the best and most attractive website, you may have it perfectly optimized, it may be easy to use and give all the information using great copy and images. But if the product is not something people want, it’s not going to sell. There’s only one way to overcome this: find a product or products that people want and need. It doesn’t matter if you love what you’re selling when nobody else does!

3: Your price point is too high

Another obvious problem; if your price points are too high people will find a cheaper option. The way to get around this is to seek out different suppliers of the products you sell or find a deal that is cheaper than the one you use and drop the price.

4: Your site is not optimized for mobiles

We covered this in its brief section earlier, but it is essential to get through the importance of attracting mobile users. Smartphones are by far the most-used devices for browsing and purchasing. If you are not aiming your eCommerce website at smartphone users, you are missing out on a massive amount of potential custom.

5: Poor quality copy

One area in which many online stores fall is a lack of attention to detail in the copy on the website. Consumers notice errors, for example. Poor spelling or grammar will put a lot of people off. It’s a poor first impression. Not everyone is a writer, so make sure you engage a professional to provide you with clear, concise, and understandable copy that adequately describes the product or service offered and informs the reader. You need your visitors to not only understand the product but for it to appeal to them. Good quality copy reaches more customers and also impresses the search engines.

6: Poor quality images

Following the above, you need to ensure your product is depicted in an attractive, engaging, and relevant way. Consumers are used to going to a physical shop and handling a product before they buy. You are expecting them to purchase sight unseen, apart from the images and the descriptions on your eCommerce site. So, high-quality images on product pages are a must-have. Have professionals take photos of your product, and be certain they depict the product as people want to see it.

7: Confusing website

Now we come to a very important point: your visitors land on your page and want to see what they have come for easily and without confusion. There is a design concept known as ‘KISS’: Keep It Simple, Stupid! The concept is that simplicity is infinitely preferable to complexity. This applies to website and online store design to a great degree. You need your customers to arrive, see what they want, and click through to the conversion point in the shortest time, and without having to navigate many pages. Humans are short of patience in general. Hire an experienced website developer to either look at your current site and rectify any problems or create a new one that is simple to navigate.

8: No call to action

You need an obvious call to action. A persuasive piece of text that invites the consumer to complete the transaction, or to ask questions should they wish. Many eCommerce sites forget about the call to action or bury it in the copy where it is overlooked. It must be at a notable conversion point and clearly highlighted. The customer needs to know how to proceed at every point in the transaction, so tell them!

9: Off-putting shipping costs

Among the vast amounts of research into online shopping habits, it has been discovered that 61% of consumers abandon a cart when they find out there are shipping costs involved. If at all possible, offer free shipping and make it very obvious that you do by mentioning it in your copy on all pages. Nobody likes to arrive at the checkout and find hidden costs.

10: There is no live chat option

Increasingly, online consumers expect an eCommerce website to offer an online chat option. A large proportion of your visitors will have questions, and they want to talk to someone in real-time without having to pick up the telephone. An online chat can – according to market research – improve eCommerce conversions by as much as 40%. There are many plug-ins available that facilitate online chat, and it is certainly a feature all e-commerce stores should offer.
We’ll leave it there for now as we believe we have covered all the major off-putting website factors that cause visitors to leave or fail to complete a transaction.
While you can recognize some of the problems above by having a close look at your website, others need careful analysis to get to the root of the problem. Let’s have a closer look at tools as promised.
Conversion Rate Optimization tools can be classed into three categories, these being:
Each has its merits, and each provides information that can help refine and optimize your online store. We will explain the purpose of each one, and outline how it can help.

Web analytics explained

As we mentioned earlier, you may know that your website has a poor conversion rate, but to rectify that you need to understand why. The web analytics CRO tool such as Google Analytics looks at what is happening on your website, to give you a clear picture as to where you are going wrong.
This CRO tool looks at your marketing funnel from beginning to end. With it, you can analyze the path that visitors take on your website, and find the point at which they are dropping off. This may be due to poor copy, a lack of call to action, no interest or understanding of the product, or any one of the factors we listed above.
By gathering numerical data about bounce rates, drop-off points, sessions, and session duration, you can discover the pages that are at fault, and look at how you can rectify them.
Web analytics explained
An example of a web analytics CRO tool is the popular Google Analytics. A thorough and widely used tool, it will show you patterns your visitors are taking and where they are leaving your site. It’s easy to use and free, and the upgraded paid version Google 360 is also popular.
In summary, this sort of CRO tool is used to analyze the website itself and uncover problems.

Behavior analytics

The behavior analytics tool is essential if you have problems with cart abandonment and lack of conversions. This tool looks not at the website, but at your visitors. A huge influencing factor in failed e-commerce projects is not understanding the audience. You need to know who you are selling to, and why those that are not buying are failing to convert.
The tool gathers information about the behavior of visitors to your pages. For example, a large proportion of those who get to your landing page may go no further. This type of tool can help you understand why that is happening. Do they find the site confusing? Are they unsure what to do next? In cases where things look complex, the consumer will simply leave and shop elsewhere.
The data gathered by the behavior analytics tool is vital in building up a profile of your ideal and optimum customer. This allows you to market your product or service more efficiently, once you know why they are behaving as they are.
Hotjar is a popular tool of this type that helps identify reasons why your visitors are not completing. It looks at behavior through the funnel and also analyses the site for broken links and bugs that can result in visitors simply giving up. It also uses feedback and surveys to get the word from the consumer.

CRO testing tools

Once you have analyzed the website and gathered information on consumer behavior you know where changes need to be made. Let’s use an example of a poorly worded or confusing call to action on the landing page.
In this instance, the consumer is not sure what to do next. Few will stick around and work it out, and most will go elsewhere. With a CRO testing tool, you can try different versions of the landing page and see which offers the highest conversion rates. You can do this with every change you make to see the different results and optimize your site for higher conversions.
Google Optimize is a good example of a CRO testing tool that performs a detailed analysis of changes and delivers a report that is easy to understand.
Remember, the purpose of CRO is not a complete redesign of your e-commerce store, but a method of ensuring the consumer has a smooth and simple journey through your sales funnel that results in conversion.
It’s not enough, however, to simply purchase the relevant tools, plug them in and expect your conversion rate to go sky high. Running an e-commerce business requires input from you to keep it abreast of the opposition. One effective method of improving conversion rates is to use pop-ups, so that’s our next topic.

Using pop-ups for customer acquisition and retention

Before we go on, we know what you’re thinking: pop-ups are annoying, right? It’s true, they can be, yet they are also one of the most successful methods of convincing a visitor who is about to leave your site that it’s worth sticking around.
The fact is that irrelevant pop-ups are annoying, and also put people off. However, pop-ups that help the consumer, or offer something beneficial and worthwhile, get the results you need. In other words, you don’t want to see a pop-up advertising something that you’re not interested in, but one offering a discount, freebie, or other enticement is likely to be welcomed.

The world of pop-ups is a varied one, with many different types. Each of these performs a specific role, so let’s have a look at the pop-ups you should consider when aiming to improve conversion rates.

Welcome offer pop-ups

More traffic to your online store means more visitors and potentially more new customers. Targeting a new visitor to your site is always a sensible option. Using pop-ups to introduce a welcome offer is a great way of giving the consumer something attractive. It’s one of the tactics to help you reduce bounce rate. You could advertise a discount on their first purchase, for example, or offer a freebie when they convert to a sale. If you have a membership option, the welcome bonus could be attached to that. Something for nothing is always a decent enticement and gives you something to put you ahead of your competition.
Welcome popup

Exit-intent pop-ups

Using a conversion rate optimization tool can – as we have seen – help you find the page where your visitor is most likely to leave. At this point, an exit-intent pop-up is a must. It could read ‘Don’t Go Just Yet…’ or similar and remind the consumer of the benefits of shopping with you. This could include free shipping (by far the most common reason for leaving an online store is unexpected shipping costs), coupon codes, or just offer discounts. If someone indicates an intent to leave, a pop-up advertising a special offer for that individual can be used. The personal touch is always welcome and helps the consumer feel cared about. They are excellent for customer acquisition.
Exit intent popup

Spin to win offers

As seen on many online stores, the ‘spin to win’ offer deal is a fun and successful way of giving the consumer something that will make them more likely to remain on your site and convert to a sale. These take the form of a wheel that spins and awards a gift, discount, or other bonus to the customer should they land on the right section of the wheel. These pop-ups are enticing as everyone wants a chance to get something for nothing.
Spin and win

Cart abandonment pop-ups

We keep coming back to cart abandonment, and it’s important that we do as it is one of the most frustrating problems for all online stores. Research has shown that cart abandonment rates – across all industries – stand at an astonishing 88%! In a recent survey, consumers were asked why they had abandoned a cart, and the reasons given were as follows:

The above list gives a good idea of what consumers expect from an eCommerce store: free or cheap delivery and a clear indication of any costs before they reach check-out; prices that are competitive and indicated clearly before the checkout stage; products that are in stock and quick delivery times, and a choice of popular payment methods. Make sure that your checkout process is simple and without surprises. Provide guest checkout, for all those hesitant customers who need more time to share their data with you.

Cart abandonment popup

If you do have to charge delivery – and for many eCommerce stores it is not economically viable to offer free delivery to everyone – one way of encouraging customers to spend more is to offer by way of pop-ups free delivery if they spend more than a certain amount. Once they reach that number in their cart, a pop-up can be used at the checkout page to tell them they now have free delivery.

Your customers’ payment habits can also affect your website conversion rate. Their habits develop over time and are often formed by various cultural, economic, and technological factors. So, consider alternative payment methods to make sure you’ll get more conversions and turn elusive visitors into paying customers.
We believe there is a lot to be gained from the list of abandonment reasons above.

Sales promotion pop-ups

Pop-ups can be used to advertise upcoming or current sales. You may want to run promotions for Christmas or Easter, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, or any other event such as Halloween and so on. When a consumer is on your site and sees such a pop-up, they will be encouraged to look at the range of sales goods for ideas. Simple to do and effective, this is a method that helps build conversions by aiming for specific occasions.
Sales promotions popup for mothers day

Social proof pop-ups

One factor that is often overlooked by e-commerce stores is that of social proof. It’s a concept that has been talked about a great deal lately, and one that can make a large difference. Social proof engenders trust in the consumer. For example, you have a Facebook page where customers can leave comments or join in a conversation. A pop-up inviting visitors to have a look at the page and join in grabs attention.
The same could be said for displaying customer testimonials on pop-ups, or Tweets, or Instagram posts that have been left by your customers. Social trust can be seen as the modern version of word of mouth: whereas pre-internet people would catch up with friends and recommend a new store or product they’ve found, in the digital age it’s done by way of leaving reviews, comments, or following and liking a page. Social proof is one of the most important methods of building brand loyalty, so we recommend you spend some time building it.

Cancellation pop-ups

Among the most frustrating problems with eCommerce is when a customer cancels an order. However, you should not simply accept the cancellation. A pop-up asking whether a discount would help, or offering a further incentive for them to re-order gives the consumer a second chance to purchase. It might read along the lines of ‘We’re sorry to see you go, would 25% off your order interest you?’ The customer will certainly think about the offer, and in many cases reverse the decision to cancel.
We’ve covered pop-ups in some detail. We are sure that among the above you will find inspiration and ideas that you can take on board and use to encourage conversions. To finish, we will look at a few other important and potentially lucrative methods of increasing conversions and building brand loyalty.

Personalized product recommendations

As we have seen in several areas of the article so far, the personal touch goes down well with consumers. For regular customers, you could put together a sales email offering discounted products based on their previous purchases. You can easily do this by building your customers’ profiles and using a good CRO tool. Taking the product to the customer and giving them that personal attention is a good method of building social trust.
Personalized product recommendations

Upselling and cross-selling methods

Are you upselling where possible? What about cross-selling? You definitely want to increase your average order value. Some examples: a consumer puts a product in their cart. A pop-up tells them ‘Customer who bought this also bought XYZ!’. Or it could suggest they buy accessories to the product or other complementary items.
Another upselling method is to have the pop-up offer a 2-for-1 deal, or a buy-one-get-another half price. Remember to also push the free delivery for spending more than a certain amount. A reminder could say ‘You are one product away from free delivery!’ and suggest something they might wish to add.
Upselling and cross-selling methods
There are many possibilities to explore. His and hers offers – ‘Why not buy one for the man in your life – and parents and kids, for example. Suggesting further products to consumers does work, and if done properly by raising relevant products to those they already have in the cart, can increase sales quite noticeably.
Be creative with this method and you should see improvements in your conversion rate.

Using social media effectively

Before we sign off, we feel we must offer a reminder of the power of social media. It is not simply social trust that your online business can gain from using social media platforms. There is also the bonus of greater exposure to a potentially massive audience. One share of a tweet or a Facebook post, for example, can find its way to great numbers of people.
We recommend you research more about using social media as a marketing tool. There are plenty of resources available, and you will learn a lot about how to get your brand seen by the right target audience in the best places.

What have you learned?

In conclusion, we’ll summarize what we have discussed above and what you will have learned in this article.
CRO tools are essential in helping you understand why consumers are not buying in your online shop, and at what point they are getting off. This enables you to approach these problem areas – as in the list provided – and rectify the problem.
The checkout process can make or break your eCommerce business. The most common reason for cart abandonment is a delivery cost that has not been clearly explained before check out. Other reasons include long delivery times, high prices, and a lack of clear and inviting calls to action.
Pop-ups can be used in many ways to enhance your existing customers’ journey and help you increase conversions.
It is vital that an eCommerce store is optimized for mobile users. Don’t forget that all those who want to buy online, use their mobile devices and multiple channels to find an item or the best offer.

The above points form the core of getting your eCommerce store fully and efficiently optimized, and we hope you take something positive and helpful away from this article. If you want to learn more about eCommerce conversion rate optimization tools and eCommerce platforms, check our article here.

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