The fundamental purpose of running any business is to rake in maximum sales and profits. Business owners implement different kinds of strategies to boost their revenue and earnings. When it comes to online businesses, the plan is pretty much the same with extra competition and short user attention spans.
With time and technology flowing by our side, consumer behaviour and ways to reach them are constantly changing. There is no denying the fact that it’s better to convert current website users into loyal customers than to garner more website traffic. Business owners are always on the lookout for new ways to enhance profitability and such ways are becoming harder to find and implement.
In such tough and competitive times, optimizing for more conversions acts as one big ray of hope. Throughout this article, we will go through the basics of conversion rate optimization, how it can benefit your business, and ready to use strategies to boost your conversion rate.
Conversion Rate Optimization: The Basics
Before exploring the in-depth concepts, best practices, and tests related to conversion rate optimization, we need to brief ourselves with some basic terminology. This will make us understand better.
What is a conversion?
A conversion can be defined as the desired action you want your website visitors to take or any website goal you want users to complete. Depending on the nature of your business, these goals may differ.
For eCommerce websites, a sale or product purchase will be considered as a conversion.
For consulting businesses, a simple phone call from users will be considered as a conversion.
For software services, a trial sign-up will be considered as a conversion.
For industry and niche-related blogs, an email newsletter signup will be considered as conversion and so on…
Conversions may be classified into macro and micro conversions.
As the names suggest, a macro conversion is something of bigger essence like when someone buys your product, subscribes to a service, or fills out a lead-capture form. On the other hand, a micro conversion is a smaller engagement action from your audience like when someone downloads a resource guide, watches a product demo video, or follows your social account.
Both macro and micro conversions have big roles to play in the buyer’s journey as micro conversions often lay the foundation for macro conversions.
What is conversion rate?
The conversion rate of your website is the rate at which your site visitors take the desired action on a web page and apparently, convert. To calculate our conversion rate, we need to divide the number of users who convert by the total number of visitors on the page.
For instance, if you have a website conversion rate of 10%, it means 10% of your total website visitors actually convert and take the desired action.
If we analyze closely enough, we would notice that there are two different ways in which a user can convert on your website.
When a user can convert each time they visit your site
If you own an online store, your ideal store visitor can buy a new product every session. This means that if someone visits your store 5 times in 5 different sessions, there were 5 clear-cut opportunities for a conversion.
In such cases where a user can convert in every single session, the conversion rate is calculated as the following :
Conversion rate = (No. of unique purchases/ Total no. of sessions) * 100 %
When a user can only convert once
To understand this better, imagine we sell a subscription service for delivering grocery items each month. In this case, a user can visit our website multiple times but can purchase the subscription only once and hence can convert only once.
In such cases where a user can only convert once, we consider the number of unique users as the parameter for determining the conversion rate of our website
Conversion rate = (No. of unique purchases/ Total no. of unique users) * 100 %
What is eCommerce Conversion Rate?
As you would have already guessed, the conversion rate for an eCommerce website is generally the percentage of website visitors who complete a sale or buy a product from your online store during a specific time period.
Conversion rate of online shoppers worldwide as of 1st quarter 2019
There are some other desired actions on an online store other than a product purchase which can be considered as conversions. They are:
- Product added to shopping cart
- Product added to wishlist
- Product recommendations and update emails
- Any specific metrics important to your business
What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
In the most simple terms, conversion rate optimization is the practice of maximizing the percentage of website visitors that take some desired action, like signing up for a free trial or buying a product.
As discussed above, a conversion is the “desired action” and the process of optimizing your website for a better conversion rate is conversion rate optimization.
We all understand that gaining new traffic and users is cool. But converting people who are already present on your website and browsing your online store is way easier than attracting new people to your store and then compelling them to make a purchase.
In such a scenario, a large number of businesses are opting for conversion rate optimization and improving their sales numbers.
Why Is Conversion Rate Optimization So Critical?
After going through the basic terminology, you would have a much better idea of CRO as a concept. It’s quite clear that conversion rate optimization is the talk of the town but some may ask –
And the answer is in the very definition of the concept.
Let’s take an example. You had 50,000 people visit your online store last month. Out of these, 1000 people bought some product from you and converted. Assuming you sell only 1 product worth $ 500. That makes up for a 2% conversion rate and $ 500000 of total sales.
Now imagine you made some changes to your landing page and your conversion rate shot up to 5%. Your sales revenue will now stand at $ 1250000.
You can notice the direct impact of the conversion rate on your sales revenue. A simple landing page tweak can result in big changes in your website conversions and sales.
Conversion Rate Optimization(CRO) Topic in Google Trends
Here are some CRO statistics that I would want you to go through:
- 68.5% of total companies surveyed stated that CRO was a big priority for them this current year – ConversionXL
- A minor 22% of businesses are satisfied with their website’s conversion rate – VWO
- A conversion rate optimization(CRO) tool has an average ROI of 223% – VentureBeat
The concept of conversion rate optimization has been gaining traction over the years and gradually it has become the favorite amongst marketers all around the globe.
The Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization
Though bettering your website conversions have a direct impact on revenue and sales, it’s imperative to consider all the advantages it has on offer.
Utilize Existing Traffic Without Flushing Money into Ads
The very definition of conversion rate optimization is to make more people take a specific action on your website and enhance the conversion rate. If we have some technique as good as CRO, we can surely save some bucks which would otherwise be spent on advertisements and paid media.
Better Consumer Insights
A lot of traffic will not do any good to your business unless it’s the right kind of traffic. And by the “right” kind of traffic, I mean people who are really interested in buying your products and services.
Conversion Rate Optimization practices help you form the ideal buyer persona and analyze current user behaviour on your website. With this help, you will understand your customer’s needs better and make effective business decisions.
Improved User Experience
With rich consumer data and insights by your side, you are bound to make necessary changes to your website and landing pages. As these changes take effect, the overall website experience is improved a lot which, in turn, satisfies your website visitors and enhances the user experience.
This type of user-centric optimization is key to increasing your website’s conversion rate.
Win Customer Trust
Gaining your customer’s trust is a priority for every business. Your customers share personal data such as credit card details, email, etc. only when they trust you as a business and your website. If they have any trust or safety issues regarding the information they share, your chances of getting your hands on that information are blown for good.
With CRO, you present the refined version of your website which is less faulty and provides more resources and options to your audience to choose from.
Increased Customer Retention
Accumulating repeat purchases and enhancing customer retention rates on your website is a big benefit that CRO has on offer. If your customers keep coming back for more, there is really nothing much you could ask for.
Conversion Rate Optimization focuses on delivering experiences and encounters that your visitors really want or desire. This compels them to keep coming back to you because they get everything they wish for on your website. That too, in a sorted manner.
Gain Competitive Advantage
Beating your competitors to get your hands on new customers and business is another huge benefit of conversion rate optimization. In the digital times we live in, the competition stakes are high and to make a mark, you need to stand out from your competition.
With an optimized website and landing pages, you gain the extra edge. Consequently, more customers and more business.
All in all, every aforementioned benefit of conversion rate optimization signals in the direction of increased revenue and sales. When we optimize our website according to our user’s needs and requirements, more and more people are sure to convert.
More conversions mean more revenue in sales for your business.
Components of the Conversion Rate Optimization Process
Albeit the basic terminology of conversion rate optimization is enough to brief you on the concept but some of you might still be thinking –
What exactly is the concept?
What steps are taken exactly in this process?
Are there any CRO components?
Well, for such people and everyone else, I have crafted this section to let you have an actual idea of the workflow of CRO.
Let’s start with an example.
Flying Scot, an airport parking service in Scotland, allows customers to book their parking space online. In pursuit of improving website conversions, they experimented with their booking form and reduced the number of fields.
Here is the original booking form with too many fields to fill:
Here is the optimized booking form:
As you would notice, not only does the new version of the form look better but the results were amazing as well.
45.45% increase in website visitors proceeding to the next step and an increase of 35% in overall form conversions.
A great example of form optimization and just one of the many things which can be done with the help of CRO.
Here are some essential parts of your website to experiment with to optimize your conversion rate:
- Conversion Funnel
In eCommerce, the journey that a potential user takes from landing on your website to finally converting to a sale is termed as a conversion funnel. Based on your target audience and user behaviour, create your own custom conversion funnel.
- Call to Action(CTA)
The CTA button on websites acts as a prompt that directs/signals the user to take some specific action like email signup or product purchase.
Forms generally consist of multiple data fields to be filled with user information and capture leads, so that leads can be converted to customers.
- Split Testing or A/B Testing
The most commonly used CRO practice. Two variants of the same page can be tested by changing a single asset in the page to check which variation performs better.
- Multivariate Testing
When more than one variable is altered and tested to produce multiple versions of the same page, it is called multivariate testing. It is an important CRO practice.
Be it optimizing your website for mobile devices or easing out your checkout process, ensure to improve the user experience on your website to increase conversions.
- Search Engine Optimization(SEO)
Work on your search engine rankings to improve the online visibility of your website and gain organic traffic.
How to Build a Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy for your eCommerce Business
Be it any kind of business, conversion rate optimization has its use case in every one of them. eCommerce is one such business field where conversion rate optimization is absolutely indispensable. Online shoppers have short attention spans and there are a lot of options available to them for a single product. With such tough competition, online store owners are compelled to turn towards CRO for the better.
Here are some conversion optimization tactics to implement on your online store today:
Optimize Your Product Pages to Perfection
When I say perfection, I mean according to your customer’s needs and wants. Online shopping is all about what is being presented in front of the shopper. We apparently cannot try the product for real. So, it depends on how we present it in front of our audience.
Here are some best practices regarding the optimization of your product pages:
- Embed quality images and videos on your product pages. The images that we use should be high resolution and must represent the product in its truest sense.
- Make your online store easy to navigate. Users should easily be able to find what they are looking for. Product categories must be wisely used to distinguish different items and let people reach their favorite products quickly.
Here’s an example from Adidas
- Displaying a detailed description of your products is the best practice. Not only does it prevent future product returns but it also assures the user what to expect from the purchase.
- A distinct customer value proposition must accompany the rest of your product page content. Visitors must have a straight-forward reason to choose you and your product ahead of your competitors.
- Showcase product reviews and testimonials. Customer reviews have a big impact on customer buying decisions and may easily be the missing piece of your conversion puzzle.
Did you know that displaying reviews can increase conversion rates by 270%?
Refine your eCommerce Checkout Process
It is quite clear that your checkout process is the final step before some user completes a purchase and becomes your customer. If your checkout process is not up to the mark, you may miss out on a large number of potential customers and revenue.
According to Baymard’s checkout usability study, the average checkout display twice as many form fields as needed.
Thus, the message is quite clear. Optimize your checkout process for the best conversion rate. The only question is:
Go through this checklist for your answer.
- Reduce checkout form fields to a minimum and use uncomplicated language.
- Secure your checkout process. Install Secure Sockets Layer(SSL) on your checkout page. You can also add some security badges like Norton, McAfee, etc. to assure your customers that their information is in good hands.
- Allow website visitors to checkout as guests. Not every user has the time and patience to create a profile and exchange information.
- Offer as many payment options to your customers as you can.
- Your customers should be able to see the content of their shopping carts all the time along with the pricing of the items. This makes the shopping experience much easier and smooth.
- Add a progress bar to your checkout process. This lets your customer understand where they are exactly in the process.
- Include Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) on your checkout page.
- For your returning customers, use auto-fills and set the shipping address to default.
Address Shopping Cart Abandonment
An abandoned shopping cart is when a shopper adds items to their cart but for some reason, they are unable to complete the purchase. Shopping cart abandonment is inevitable and it has daunting effects on the revenue and sales of any eCommerce business.
“A staggering average of 69% of online carts is being abandoned by users and almost 7 out of 10 checkouts remain incomplete.”
The above statistic is enough to emphasize the importance of cart abandonment recovery. Online businesses have the option of using abandoned cart tools and plugins to recover and convert abandoned carts.
The idea is to send abandoned cart emails to users, reminding them of their incomplete order. Offering discounts and exclusive deals in abandoned cart emails is recommended as this compels the user to complete the purchase.
eCommerce businesses using marketing automation have an extra edge over those who don’t. Sending out automated abandoned cart emails is the best practice here as you don’t waste any time guessing and the customer may change their mind afterward.
It is the easiest way to make up for lost ground and boost your conversion rates.
Here are some abandoned cart recovery facts to encourage you:
- About 45% of emails sent to follow up on an abandoned cart are opened by consumers.
- 21% of the opened follow-up emails are clicked on.
- 10.7% of individuals that receive emails return to make a purchase.
Targeting abandoned carts helps you regain lost revenue. Moreover, it also propels the shortcomings of your eCommerce process to the front.
Primary reason for digital shoppers in the United States to abandon their carts as of November 2018
Without being pushy, you can ask users for some honest feedback on the hassles of completing a purchase on your online store. This rich feedback can then be used to eradicate any process flaws and consequently improve conversions.
Leverage Analytics Tools for Best Results
To be honest, you cannot perform conversion rate optimization without analyzing user behaviour on your website.
And to properly get hold of your current conversion rate issues, I would recommend the following tools:
If you are going to keep track of your website traffic and in-depth detail about your visitors, setting up Google Analytics is the best you can do. Probably the most complete analytics tools with loads of free and invaluable information for you to act upon.
There are a number of useful metrics(as highlighted in the screenshot above) that come in handy:
Source/Medium – This tells from where are your website visitors originating from. Direct, referral websites, Google search, Google Ads, social platforms are some examples.
Number of Users and Sessions – The total number of website visitors over a period of time and the total number of sessions created by these users.
Bounce Rate – A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds. Bounce rate signifies the percentage of such bounced sessions to the total sessions.
Average Session Duration – As the name suggests, this is the average length duration of a session.
eCommerce conversion rate – This is the total percentage of sessions that resulted in an eCommerce conversion on your website.
In fact, Google Analytics reporting is so diverse and deep that we cannot pen every metric and insight. I have been using Google Analytics for quite some time now and without any doubt, you should set up Google Analytics tracking for your eCommerce store.
Another usual suspect when we talk about powerful website analysis tools.
Heatmaps, Visitor Recordings, Conversion Funnels, Form Analytics, Feedback Polls and Surveys in One Platform.
With HotJar, you map the activities and behaviour of your website visitors. From clicks to cursor movement, you get to know what sections of your website need improvement and what sections need a complete change.
Here’s an example HotJar heatmap –
From 20,000 pageviews/day to 2,000,000+ pageviews / day, HotJar plans got you covered at economical prices.
I have used HotJar extensively over the course of the past few years and noticed its best use case. Whenever we launch new products, run promotions, and sales across our online stores, it’s absolutely essential to have a tool like HotJar.
Because during promotions, you would have increased website traffic. In order to measure the effectiveness of the promotional codes and your sale as a whole, you need to track user sessions to the core and take decisions based on the gathered information.
Kissmetrics is a paid analysis tool that is tailor-made for eCommerce store owners. The reason why I emphasize this is because some features of this tool are apt for boosting your online conversions.
The main idea behind Kissmetrics’ workflow is to track down user conversion paths. It maps the path a particular user takes whenever there is a conversion or cart abandonment.
Detailed analysis of these conversion paths lets us interpret what exactly is making a customer convert on our store and what’s making them abandon the session.
If you are still reading this with me, you would know what would be our next step to optimize for more conversions. Yes, make the necessary changes to our landing pages according to the data.
A/B Testing is the heart and soul of conversion rate optimization. To optimize for better conversion rates, you need to be testing all the time.
A/B testing is when you experiment with showing two variations of a single page to your audience to analyze which variant of the page performs better in pursuit of a specific conversion goal.
All the data you gathered with your analytics tools is put into effect here. With rich data in hand, you know what elements of a single page can be experimented with. With statistical analysis, you get to know which variation of the page is performing better.
Let’s consider an example.
Here is a landing page AB test where GrooveHq experimented with a long-form landing page and boosted their conversion rate from 2.3% to 4.3%.
Apparently, AB testing is not limited to your typical landing pages and product pages. AB Testing is everywhere. Be it your Pay-Per-Click(PPC) advertisement or your next SEO strategy, testing two variations to understand which one is better is always a good idea.
Here is a banner A/B test on a landing page where Humana, a healthcare insurance company tested its banners.
The “treatment” variant in the above example garnered 433% more click-throughs than the “control” variant.
There is also an enhanced version of AB testing called multi-variate testing where multiple elements and variables of the same page are tested to achieve the best results.
Testing product prices on your eCommerce store to maximize profits is the best practice.
Google Optimize is a free A/B testing tool by Google which is connected with your Google Analytics setup and allows you to test multiple variants. Another tool that comes to mind for optimizing your eCommerce website is Visual Website Optimizer.
Optimize for Mobile
I can’t overstate how mobile is changing how we interact with our consumers; we have to embrace these changes. – Joel Anderson, CEO of Walmart
If you are an eCommerce business and you don’t have your website optimized for mobile, you are missing out on a lot of revenue, customers, and business.
U.S. mobile retail commerce sales as a percentage of retail e-commerce sales from 2017 to 2021
As depicted above, the percentage of mobile eCommerce sales has grown over the past few years and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. With this in mind, providing an amazing mobile experience to your customers should be your top priority.
Here are some points to check for the optimization of your eCommerce website for mobile devices:
- Optimize for faster load times for your mobile website. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly to provide a better experience to visitors. Tools like Google’s mobile-friendly test tool will help a lot.
- Highlight your CTA button and make it attractive.
- Put your most important content up front and eliminate all unnecessary information. Be it your form fields or homepage, showcase the best ahead of everything.
- Avoid using pop-ups or sidebars on mobile devices.
- Your mobile website should be easy to navigate and users should be able to filter products effortlessly.
Mobile commerce is the present and the future. Hence, it’s better to be prepared for obtaining the best results.
Capture Emails and Leads
Email marketing is the oldest form of marketing and we cannot question its effectiveness as a marketing method by any means. For eCommerce sites, collecting user emails in exchange for small free resources is a great way to engage leads and nurture them for conversion.
With these emails, you can create a drip email marketing campaign and engage the leads to promote nurturing. As and when the lead is ready to take a buying decision, your company will definitely ring a bell.
Add a Sense of Urgency and Scarcity
Creating a sense of urgency on your offers and product pages is highly recommended. If you are running any offers or sale or even without any special deals, adding an exigency often does the trick.
This is more linked to the psychological behaviour of us humans. If we are notified that the item we are looking at is scarce in quantity or is available only for a limited time period, we often don’t take much longer to buy the item. Consequently, we are kind of compelled to purchase the product.
Let’s have a look at how Booking.com does it.
Displaying product scarcity on your eCommerce store works more often than not. People are more likely to buy something which they think will become unavailable soon.
Here’s how Zappos does it.
Combine both product scarcity and urgency on your store to make your customers spend more and faster.
Bonus Tips for Boosting your eCommerce Conversion Rates
Along with conversion rate optimization practices, there are some general practices to implement on your online store to improve conversion rates.
Let’s check them.
Free Shipping – Consumers have this habit of comparing prices and features all the time. Add the stiff competition in the eCommerce industry and the practice of comparison magnifies. To stand out from others or at least come to their level, you should offer free shipping. You may modify product prices to adjust the shipping costs if required.
Product Return Policy – If you are selling online, this one is critical.
Having a simple and straightforward return policy is crucial for attracting customers to your online store and increasing sales.
Use Chatbots – Chatbots are the new marketing trend. Providing 24*7 support to your customers, guiding them to specific products, and providing useful resources was never easier.
Giveaway Promotional Discount Codes – Coupon codes are a great sales booster. Limited time coupon codes add to the sense of urgency and help in boosting sales.
Efficient Site Search – eCommerce websites generally have a lot of products to sell. Owing to this, an efficient site search system is expected and appreciated by the user browsing the website. Additionally, your top-searched products must be very easy to find.
There’s no way around conversion rate optimization and it will long exist as one of the finest methods of boosting online conversions. Finding new ways to up your online selling game is getting tougher day by day. In such a scenario, CRO can save the day for your online business.
If you are still reading this with me, you would now be aware of conversion rate, its benefits, CRO, and most importantly the top CRO tactics for eCommerce stores.
Which of the above-listed tactics do you find the most useful for your business? Had you heard of CRO before? When do you plan to implement it in your business strategy? If you are using it, on which areas do you focus the most?
Please have your say. I am listening.