How to Set Your Store Up for Success with Conversion Rate Optimization
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:
- Email subscriptions
- Link clicks
- Submitting a form/survey
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:
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
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:
- Write unique and on-brand product descriptions
- Work on your email copy—make it more personal
- Start a blog and provide useful content to your customers
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.
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 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:
- Email subscriptions
- And more
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?