- Ecommerce is a highly competitive space and only user-centric websites that prioritise customer experience and service will succeed.
- With an average conversion rate of just 3% for most ecommerce sites, there is significant room for improvement.
- But how do you optimise an ecommerce site to generate more leads and get customers through the checkout? Keep reading to find out 13 conversion optimisation tips for ecommerce businesses.
Even though your site might not seem broken because you’re making sales or getting leads, trust me: it’s broken.
I don’t mean to discourage you, but rather to help you understand that as long as you aren’t converting 100% of your visitors, there’s room for ongoing improvement and room to make more money or generate more leads.
No one has a perfect online sales process that is mapped out to the individual, idiosyncratic buying process of every potential customer. You can’t just fix your site in one shot and say it’s perfect; it’s literally impossible to do so.
Why Most Ecommerce Businesses Are Missing Out
Most websites are converting less than 3% of their visitors (shop.org) and are therefore pushing away 97% or more of their visitors. If you can just convert a slightly larger percentage of your visitors, think about the dollars this opportunity translates into.
There will always be new questions you realise your customers are asking, and you may not be answering them on your site in the appropriate places. You need to be able to translate those findings into your website in the appropriate places where visitors can find what they're looking for.
How to Optimise an Ecommerce Website for Conversion
Slap together a catalogue of products, a shopping cart and a payment gateway. There you have it - a complete ecommerce website!
I guess you can see that I am being sarcastic. That's because many ill-designed ecommerce websites miss out on critical components.
In order to optimise your ecommerce site for conversion rate you need to review the following sections of your site:
- Review your site's analytics
- Speak with your customer service team
- Product description
- Transparent pricing
- Contact information
- Returns policy
- Rapid checkout
- Shopping cart
- Payment options
- Shipping options
1. Review your site's analytics
You can start improving your website’s conversion rate by thinking about how you’re going to find out where the conversion and persuasion challenges lie within your site.
Before you do anything else, take a look at your analytics program to check the site’s performance and to try to understand what’s happening throughout the site. Although you’re likely tracking unplanned scent trails, your analytics can still give you an idea of where things are broken.
Even basic analytics information at various key points in the site can help you better understand how to give your visitors what they want. It’s the first baby step toward optimising your site.
Instead of looking at your overall conversion rate, look at it on a micro-level and track each individual click to see how you can improve micro-conversions. Some factors to assess include:
- Where is your traffic coming from?
- Where is this traffic landing on your site?
- Once the traffic lands on your main landing pages, what are the most common links they are clicking on next?
- Once visitors click through from the landing pages to the most commonly liked pages, what is the drop off rate on these pages?
- Are you persuading them to take action with a clear call to action on these pages and giving them other text links to move forward? Or are they leaving your site because they don’t have any scent to follow?
2. Speak with your customer service team
If you can’t determine the most common questions people are asking when they come to your site, ask your customer service reps what questions people are calling in with. Go onto message boards to see what people are saying in your industry. You cal also visit your competitors' sites and see how they’re funnelling visitors around.
Take a look at your shopping cart and/or forms and ask yourself: What is the drop-off rate for those individuals who are entering your shopping cart but not purchasing?
This will give you an indication of whether you’re making it easy for visitors to complete purchases or become leads.
Be the investigator. If your visitors are not taking the actions you want them to, look at the micro landscape and find out why that might be.
3. Product description
Successful advertisers have known the secret forever: compelling copy makes the sale.
Make sure your product description informs, as well as persuades the customer. Also make sure you follow the basic principles of SEO copywriting.
Most products have visual appeal, so images are at the heart of an ecommerce website. But not all images are created equal. For instance, some goods need to be displayed on a model. A shirt would not look as attractive if it were lying on a table. But if the right model was sporting that shirt, it might look more appealing.
Similarly, some products look good only in the presence of other products. For instance, if you were selling a waist-belt for men, it may look good only if looped through a pair of trousers.
It's not just about what you choose to include in the image, but also about the quality, size and number of images you use. Some products need to be viewed from multiple angles to give customers a realistic view.
Remember the front and side view pictures of the iPhone when it was first released? That side view was critical in helping customers understand the product.
5. Transparent pricing
A low-priced product coupled with exorbitant shopping or packaging price sounds like a scam. Naturally, there might be overheads that you would want to add to the price such as shipping, packaging, gift-wrapping, taxes and the like. But it's important to remain transparent about the pricing throughout the purchase process.
Going through the purchase process without so much as a hint that there would be additional charges leads to a bitter shopping experience. And bitter experiences do not lead to loyal customers.
I have come across ecommerce websites where searching for a specific product is quite like a treasure hunt - you know it's there but it keeps eluding you. On many occasions, I find myself using the "site:" command in Google to look for a product on an ecommerce site because the internal search engine of the website is unable to locate the right product!
It's not just about the search. All your navigation options should be intuitive and user-friendly, including drop-downs, sidebars, menus and the like.
Try to avoid undue prejudice about your customers' thought processes. For instance, as explained in the article about the canonical URL, a customer looking for a Mickey Mouse umbrella might begin their search from any of the following categories:
- Children's products
- Disney products
- Seasonal products
- Helpful suggestions
Not all customers come to your site after making up their mind about the exact product they want to buy. Your ecommerce website should be intelligent enough to make relevant suggestions to the shopper.
Based on user behaviour, you should be able to figure out what they are looking for and make helpful suggestions.
7. Contact information
If you are at a physical retail store you already know its location, and there are usually many opportunities to know its phone number as well.
When it comes to an ecommerce website, there is always the possibility that there might be no contact information available. Unless you have good reason to avoid it, you should make all of the following information accessible to your customers:
- Street address
- Email address
- Phone number
- Fax number
- Customer service
Customers certainly need to be serviced, both before and after sales. Some need more information; others need to discuss their specific requirements. Your ecommerce website should make it easy to contact your customer service team.
8. Returns policy
Some of the goods you sell will be returned to you. This could be because the wrong goods were delivered, or the goods were damaged during delivery. Of course, you are not expected to accept all returns on a "no questions asked" basis.
But there should be some reasonable rationale behind your decision to accept/reject the return, and that rationale should be captured in your returns policy. This policy should be easily accessible on your site.
Unlike other types of websites, a customer usually reveals a lot of information to an ecommerce site. Since the purchase experience culminates in payment and delivery, the ecommerce business knows the customer's street address and credit card information. In addition, information about habits and preferences may also be captured.
10. Rapid checkout
Once the customer has finished browsing and is ready to checkout, your ecommerce website should enable rapid checkout. Shopping cart abandonment is a serious problem for ecommerce businesses. Rapid checkout helps reduce abandonment.
11. Shopping cart
A shopping cart is as essential in ecommerce as the very products it seeks to sell. It presents visitors with the means to purchase the goods that you are selling.
12. Payment options
Credit cards are a common payment option on ecommerce websites, but they're not the only means of payment. You could also accept checks, debit cards, direct debit to bank accounts and payment on delivery.
There could also be an option to pay in instalments, either with or without interest. It should be your endeavour to offer as many options as possible, without making administration infeasible.
13. Shipping options
Some shoppers can wait; others want their goods delivered yesterday. Some are located in cities; some are in places that are not serviced by your usual logistics partners. These are only a few of the reasons you need to offer multiple shopping options.
After all, the customer must be treated like the proverbial king.
Every aspect of your ecommerce website should be well thought out. With ever-increasing competition, only user-centric ecommerce businesses will succeed.