Online brands live and die by their conversion rate – the percentage of website visitors who make a purchase. However, boosting your rate and increasing sales numbers doesn’t just happen by luck. It takes significant time and effort via a process called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
As an eCommerce business, the goal of your website should be to funnel visitors into buying something. You want to create the best shopping experience possible, showcasing the value and quality of your products while letting customers know you are a trustworthy brand with secure data practices.
Converting site visitors can often feel like an uphill battle. Research shows typical eCommerce conversion rates hover around 1% to 4% depending on the industry, target audience, marketing, business model, and, of course, the products. Therefore, if you’re doing really well and selling great products on a great website, only up to four out of every 100 people that land on your site will convert into a customer.
This may sound frustrating, but if your site’s entire customer base comes from a relatively small percentage of conversions, even a slight change corresponds to a massive impact on your bottom line. Say you have an average conversion rate of 2.5%. A site redesign that bumps it up to 2.75% increases your total number of sales by 10%.
While learning how to price your products appropriately is critical, many other factors affect your conversion rate. Listed below are CRO best practices to help maximize eCommerce sales.
- The checkout process
The final step is often the most difficult, so let’s start by focusing on the checkout process and getting consumers to hand over their hard-earned cash. Your site should have a seamless checkout process with as few barriers (and clicks) as possible between a visitor adding something to their cart and the purchase.
For example, don’t force new customers to create an account. Let them checkout as a guest, entering only the information needed to complete the transaction (name, address, payment information, etc.). Post checkout, you can suggest making an account and creating a quick username and password to make it easier the next time they visit the site.
Another factor to consider is the payment options you accept. You don’t want a customer to get to the payment screen only to back out when they cannot use their preferred method. While it may be a headache on your end, offering as many payment options as possible helps boost conversion rates.
- Try to offer free shipping
Thanks to the prevalence of free shipping offered by online giants like Amazon, customers now expect to only pay for what they’re buying, not how it gets to them. Try to offer free shipping by incorporating logistics costs into your product pricing. Customers are happier knowing they’re paying the first price they see rather than having an additional shipping cost added at the last second.
- Favorable returns policies
Returns can be a nightmare for eCommerce sites, increasing shipping costs while reducing sales. But they are a fundamental part of the shopping experience, with customers more likely to return goods bought online compared to brick-and-mortar stores.
Offer a competitive returns policy and make it clear to all customers on your site. This could be at the bottom of each product page or at checkout.
- Highlight product reviews
You should demonstrate the quality of your products by displaying prominent product reviews across your site. You can say how good your product is, but customers are much more likely to believe reviews from the people that purchased before them.
Product reviews can be enhanced by linking to social media mentions, so visitors can put a face and a name to the review and know that it’s from a real person, or by including verified purchases that include photos of the product in use.
- Intuitive, well-structured site layout
You don’t want customers struggling to find what they’re looking for or getting overwhelmed by an endless drop-down menu of items or categories. Structure your site into logical product categories and ensure you have an effective search function with filters to help customers refine results until they find exactly what they want.
- Optimize for mobile
If you haven’t already, ensure your site offers a great experience across devices, laptops, tablets, and mobile. While it might seem obvious, we’ve all had the experience of loading a webpage on our phone to see text in odd font sizes, broken buttons, and intrusive pop-ups that are hard to close.
- Cybersecurity and trust signals
Finally, if visitors don’t feel safe entering their financial details into your site, they’ll never make a purchase. You need to reassure visitors that you utilize secure data practices. This includes trust signals such as an SSL certificate enabling encrypted connections (the padlock to the left of the URL), badges of any cybersecurity partners, and the logos of your eCommerce platform or accepted payment methods at checkout.
Beyond these trust signals, you also need to have a professional site design that gives the impression you are a serious operation that follows cybersecurity best practices.
Website decisions with CRO in mind
Everything on your website should be focused on CRO and getting as many customers to buy something as possible. Whether it’s:
- removing barriers to checkout,
- free shipping,
- a great returns policy,
- incorporating favorable product reviews,
- building a logical easy to navigate site,
- ensuring the website looks good on any device, or
- proving your security credentials and reassuring customers,
conversion rate must be front and center at all times.
But these tips don’t mean CRO is a one-and-done process. You should constantly experiment with new ways to improve conversions and produce the best online shopping experience for your customers. Make incremental changes and track their impact on sales, lean into what works, and cast aside what doesn’t.
Successful eCommerce brands are those that successfully turn visitors into customers.