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conversion rate optimization ecommerce
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How to Set Your Store Up for Success with Conversion Rate Optimization

By Reading Time: 6 minutes

During 2018–2019, the average ecommerce conversion rate on a global scale was 2.9%. That means less than 3 out of every 100 online store visitors made a purchase. That can be a pretty daunting statistic for people looking to start an online store as a side hustle or even make it their full-time job.

The average conversion rate, however, doesn’t limit your potential success. You can increase your sales and other goals of your online store with conversion rate optimization, aka CRO.

What’s conversion rate and what to do with it

Conversion rate is the percentage of your online store’s visitors that do exactly what you want them to do—convert. Conversions can be virtually any goal you have set for your store, the most popular being:

  • Purchases
  • Registrations
  • Email subscriptions
  • Link clicks
  • Submitting a form/survey

etc.

It shows whether your marketing, design, content, and any other efforts you put into your online store are doing their job to increase your store’s performance. Therefore, your conversion rate must be your go-to metric whenever you’re planning, testing, and implementing any changes and campaigns on your website.

Here’s how to calculate your conversion rate:

conversion rate formula
You can replace the number of visitors with the number of leads, page sessions, and other metrics, depending on how you plan on measuring traffic.

While purchase conversions are the most important for online store owners, other conversions still affect your ecommerce success, so you mustn’t overlook them. For example, email subscriptions can lead to more store visits, which can then increase the chances of making a sale.

How to optimize conversion rate in ecommerce

Just as there are many types of conversions, there are also different strategies to improve their rates. I’ll give you a rundown of strategies you can use that are most successful specifically for ecommerce.

Improve your website’s functionality

Online shopping is favored due to it’s quick and simple process. Therefore, your store should be exactly that—fast and easy to use. Here’s what you need to look into to achieve this:

  • Your store’s loading speed (use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see a full overview of your page loading speed and potential errors affecting it)
  • Mobile-friendliness (open your store’s website on any mobile device to see how easy it is to browse)
  • Link functionality (use Google Search Console to check for any links that aren’t working on your store)

It’s important to see if there are any issues with these three factors and fix them as soon as you can. Otherwise, these problems may overshadow the results of any of your further CRO strategies.

Work on your site navigation and checkout process

To enhance your store’s functionality, your shop should be easy to navigate. Implement these features for a better and faster shopping experience:

  • Product search bar
  • “Sort by” options
  • Intuitive product categories and subcategories
  • Clear CTA buttons (“Add to cart”, “Learn more”, “Compare”, etc.)

Many shoppers find themselves easily distracted at the checkout process and tend to change their minds last minute. This makes checkout one of the most difficult parts of the shopping process for the store owner. To ensure your customer doesn’t leave empty-handed, make your checkout as speedy as possible:

  • Allow guest checkouts (checkouts without logging in) and social media logins
  • Make your checkout layout minimalistic—use as few input fields as possible
  • Avoid any distractions—remove any header, footer, or side menus

Disclaimer: While social media logins improve the checkout by making the process faster and more convenient for the customer, this type of login implies potential security risks. We recommend adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure security against data breaches.

Boost shopper trust and increase social proof

This is especially important when converting new visitors into customers. To gain their trust you have to:

  • Provide contact info or better yet—a chat widget
  • Fill out your About Us page (here are our tips for writing a rockin’ About Us page)
  • Show your supported payment methods
  • Cover all shipping and returns info
  • Add links to your social media accounts
  • Use professional-looking photos for a more polished appearance

One of the best ways to gain shoppers’ trust is through product reviews. However, when you’re just starting out and have no reviews to begin with, it can get a little tricky. To get over that first review threshold, here are some things you can do:

  • Offer free products in exchange for honest reviews
  • Reward customers with coupons for next purchases when they leave reviews
  • Send customers personalized notifications after they make a purchase
adidas reviews personalization
Source: adidas

Here’s how adidas keeps in touch with their existing customers in order to gain more reviews on their store.

Read our article to find out more about what you can do to gain new product reviews.

Provide unique value propositions

Working in ecommerce comes with tough competition. To earn your spot in the game, you have to show your customer what makes your shop the best choice for them. Some selling points that make a store more attractive are:

  • Worldwide shipping
  • Free returns
  • Free shipping
  • Eco-friendly order fulfillment/shipping solutions

Now, obviously, your actions need to match your words. If you make any promises to your customers, you must always deliver.

These selling points also cost a price. If you’re just starting out, it might not yet be in your budget to hand out free products and shipping. However, you can and should be creative with your copy:

Add personalized offers

Make your customer feel appreciated and create that “OMG, this is just what I need” feeling with effective special offers:

  • Birthday discounts
  • Secret sales
  • Personalized suggestions
  • Last-minute cart upselling
  • Limited time offers
  • Free product samples
  • Customer rewards program
  • Free shipping for a set order total

See below how Sephora—the beauty and makeup giant—does personalization. It’s close to flawless. You get a little nudge to add more to your cart to get free shipping. They add a little gift of free samples with each order which makes the shopping experience more fun. And just in case you were on the fence about becoming a loyal Sephora customer, there’s a customer rewards program.

Sephora personalized offers
Source: Sephora

Also, notice how they use creative copy to make their rewards program more irresistible. Sure, “Sephora loyalty program” would be just fine, but “Beauty Insiders” sounds like an exclusive club which is more inviting.

Best conversion rate optimization tools

There’s a lot that can be done to optimize your conversion rate. Luckily, there are many tools that’ll help you determine where and how to start, as well as keep track of your store’s conversion rate.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you analyze your store visitors and their behavior with these metrics:

  • Demographic data (their age, gender, and geographic location)
  • Devices used to browse your store
  • How they found your store (Google Search, direct visits to your store’s website, links on other sites, etc.)
  • How much time they spent on your store

Use this data to figure out which improvements have the best potential. For example, if your visitors mostly come from social media—invest in social media ads and content.

Analyzing your visitors’ behavior can also help you prioritize parts of your website that could benefit the most. Say visitors spend a lot of time on your t-shirts section. Get the most out of it by promoting your t-shirts category with social media posts, email newsletters, and special deals.

With this tool you can also track conversions, or what they’re called on Google Analytics—Goals. You can set up tracking for:

  • Registrations
  • Purchases
  • Email subscriptions
  • Downloads
  • And more

Hotjar

Hotjar is a tracking tool that generates a heatmap of your website. A heatmap shows which parts of your online store visitors spend the most time looking at, as well as areas that they click on the most. It looks like this:

Hotjar heatmaps conversion rate
Source: Hotjar

This’ll help you optimize your store’s visual layout. For example, you’re planning to release a new home decor category on your shop. When launching it, make sure the link to this category is placed on the spot that is the most eye-catching to the visitor.

VWO

Once you’ve decided what and how you want to improve on your store to optimize conversions, it’s time to put this theory to the test. VWO is a tool that helps you run AB tests on visual and copywriting changes without actually making these changes permanent on your store.

After doing some research, you might decide to improve your store’s look by changing the color of your “Subscribe to newsletter” button. You can use VWO to create two different versions of your store’s website—the old and the updated one. When visitors come to your store, half of them see your old version, and the other half is presented with the newer one.

VWO conversion rate optimization tool
Source: VWO

After the testing period is done, you can see if there were any significant differences in conversions between the two versions. If the new version performs better, you now have the green light to implement these changes. If not, no harm done. You can leave the store as it is or look for other ways to improve it.

Privy

Looking to add a little pop to your store with some pop-ups? Then Privy‘s your go-to tool! Use Privy to collect email addresses and send abandoned cart notifications. It’ll help you stay connected with your shoppers and increase the chances of purchase completion.

privy pop up tool cro
Source: Privy

For more nifty tools like these, check out Printful’s recommendations of ecommerce marketing tools.

Start optimizing your conversion rate

In essence, ecommerce CRO is about making your online store as fun, fast, and convenient as possible for all your new and returning visitors. Use both your own experience and intuition on what makes online shopping fun, and see what data-driven tools tell you.

If you’ve already tried any of the CRO strategies mentioned above, which one is your favorite?

Una is an SEO content marketing specialist with a knack for linkbuilding, SEO-friendly copywriting, and building stunning landing pages. In her spare time she's an avid reader, and keeps close tabs on all things social media and mental health.

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  1. Roberto

    One of the problems with not converting visits into purchases is called trust and credibility.

    How can I argue with a customer who lives in Indianapolis (US) (580 miles from Printful’s Charlotte headquarters) who bought a simple T-shirt on June 15th and so far there is no delivery schedule, and a friend of that customer who lives in London (England) had the order dispatched in less than 12 hours and the delivery made 3 days after the purchase?

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey Roberto, we’re really sorry to see you feel this way. We suggest following our regular updates on Covid-19 page that informs about the fulfillment estimates and expected shipping delays during this time > https://www.printful.com/covid-19
      Our European facilities were able to recover faster, while backlog in the US is taking more time to clear. We’re very open about this in our communication and suggest every store owner to share our updates with their customers as well.

  2. kevin

    You guys should provide an initial marketing internal and external set up for your customers. you set them up with all the basics to sell and keep the customer and marketing to get them to the store?
    i would pay for that

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey Kevin, thank you very much for the suggestion. We’re working on some ideas that would provide more marketing tools to our customers, however, it’s still in the dreaming stage and no ETA available at the moment.

  3. Kyle Mclaughin

    some people – such as myself work as a Print to order buisness due to little money , so when an order would come through then we would buy from you guys. With this new mockup generator rule you’ve added. We cant use the mockups? Also the website i use, webstarts, isnt listed as a store to connect so i cant proove the 3 orders a month rule.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, Kyle, unfortunately, we had to take this step because we’ve noticed a lot of users actively downloading our mockups, but never placing any order or adding stores. If you’re placing manual orders it still counts toward the monthly goal (including sample orders), however, it’s certainly easier if you’re using one of the available integrations. In addition, this restriction doesn’t apply to API integrations which is something that you might want to consider if you aren’t using our integrations.

  4. Jordan

    Blocking the mockup generator is a terrible move motivated by profit. Are you somehow losing income because people are utilizing the tool you offer to efficiently create designs? It seems that Printful is more interested in making money than it is in helping its customers – which is a damn shame. I have two stores integrated with Printful, but I don’t always get 3 sales per month with products that I fulfill through Printful. Should I be punished for that by losing access to the print files? Many times I generate various mockups and use IG Stories to have followers vote on the designs/products to see which ones they like best, and then I will offer only those top few on my site for sale. When this company was months behind in fulfillment, did we abandon you? Is this how you build community, Prinful execs? Adding obstacles for businesses is exactly what drives people to competitors and spread negitve feedback about Printful across the internet.

    Your About page says “It’s free to set up, and doesn’t come with monthly fees or minimum order requirements.” Then later it reiterates “Free to use. No monthly or upfront fees, you only pay for fulfillment & shipping once you receive an order.”

    I’m not calling you liars, but perhaps you need to change your About Page to say “Not free to use – just complete at least 3 orders every 30 days and then you’ll be fortunate enough to use our generator!”

    I’m sure there is another solution without punishing small, local businesses for failing to meet your arbitrary quota.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, Jordan, thanks for reaching out! By changing this policy we certainly didn’t want to affect our customers that are using this feature in a fair manner—rather it was meant to limit those users that are only using our Mockup Generator and then sourcing the fulfillment elsewhere. Please email me at [email protected] and we’ll check if we can work out a solution for you.

  5. Tyler Halle

    I’m extremely dissapointed with the complete lockout of the mockup generator. Why not just limit the amount that can be made?How are we supposed to create product if we don’t get 3 orders per month? With many companies trying to boost their online presence during a global pandemic this directly negates supporting small buissneses. This is a poor move with no other option to create mockups than having to buy 3 items if we can’t meet your sales quota.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, Tyler, I’m very sorry to see that you’re so upset about this. Out intention by no means was to limit our loyal users and this actually doesn’t restrict the process of adding new products—you can do that from your Printful dashboard > Stores > pick your store > press Add new product > this will lead you to the Push generator that looks almost the same as Mockup Generator and will push new products to your store including our mockups. However, if this restriction affects other areas of your business please reach out to me via [email protected] and briefly explain the matter in a few words. I’ll pass this over to the responsible team to see if there’s something that we can do.

  6. Brian Jackson

    This was useful in working with clients that want to see what a finish product looks like when placing large orders manually and not thru the website. Custom items that we do that doesn’t need or should be push to our stores, since they are custom orders for our clients, so now I can’t show case a finish product without first publishing it, its not good , especially with custom orders that clients may want to make changes after seeing the first mockup work. This will assure I will not be able to do custom work orders, not a good move at all.

  7. Jasmine Mayfield

    This is negatively impacting the small businesses. How in the world would I possibly get someone to buy something or how can I even add it to my store as an option to buy without a mock-up? Very disappointed in this move as I was hoping to actually release some fall products and now I can’t because how will my customers know what to expect without seeing a mockup?.

  8. Wann D

    Printful team,
    Why on Earth would you remove the feature to generate mockups – stating that it’s only allowed if our store generates at least 3 orders every 30 days? What if we have a down month and what if we need new product mockups to add to our store? Who approved this decision and what’s the point of this? I need answers.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, thanks for reaching out! We’ve taken this step to limit those users that aren’t using our free tools in a fair manner. Please note that this doesn’t restrict the Product Push Generator and you can still add new products without any limitations from your Printful dashboard > Stores > Add new product > from here you can create new designs and push them to your store together with the mockup images.

  9. Paul

    I was designing tshirts on photoshop and using printful’s mockup generator to check the size, alignment, and positioning of my typography. I was already planning on setting up my shopify account in the near future and integrating it with printful. I needed the gildan 64000 download files to check the overall result of my file on the shirt. One of the gildan 64000 download files (flat and open) allowed me to measure where the center line of my typography design would go (from sleeve seam to other sleeve seam). I am very meticulous and have OCD when it comes to positioning and alignment. I was told by printful customer service that I could use the mockup generator again once I connect my shopify store, so I had to rush my shopify account set up and even come up with a store brand name quickly. After shopify was set up and connected to printful, I then learned of the three orders rule to download shirt files. This is pretty frustrating.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, Paul, we’re sorry if this is limiting your actions, but we decided to take this step in order to restrict users that aren’t using our free tools in a fair manner. However, while we have added a limitation that requires to have at least 3 sales per month to be able to download (and generate) new mockups, keep in mind that it doesn’t affect product push functions and you can still add new products to your store with the mockup images.

  10. John

    Hey guys, you can justify it however you like, the simple fact is you are making it more difficult for those who are just getting started. It’s your business and your choice but in making it more complicated I’m probably less inclined to use it and subsequently use printful.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, John, could you please specify the feature that you’re reffing to? We would like to help out, but it’s not clear from the comment what is the issue exactly.

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