45 Proven Strategies To Boost Your Ecommerce Conversion Rates

So people are flocking your online store but only a few are buying. This is a popular story in the ecommerce industry. You might have even looked up ways to improve conversion rates by using persuasion tactics like free shipping, discounts and coupon codes. Such strategies although work in the short term they don’t add long-term profitability of the business. Such strategies can get you a sale but will hurt your profit margins and can potentially take you out of business over time.

In this article, I will show you how to improve your conversion rates in a way that it improves your business revenue for a profit.

The reason most conversion tactics don’t work

Ecommerce best practices like “Free Shipping”, “Big Call To Actions”, “Discounts”, and “Limited Period Offers” are persuasion tactics which work only when the fundamentals of your website are in place. This is clearly illustrated in the Conversion hierarchy pyramid model by Bryan Eisenberg below.

So if you want to improve the conversion rate of your website you will have to work on

Functional – If your shopping cart and online store are broken no amount of “free shipping” or big call to actions are going to help the user finish her purchase. You need to check if all the CTAs, links, tabs, navigations and other aspects of sit which makes it functional are working as expected.

Accessible – Check if your site is easy to browse and is accessible on all types of devices and browsers. See if your online store loads fast. If the user is not able to access the site then you must start fixing these areas.

Usable – Before even considering a purchase the user should be able to navigate, use and understand your offering. Users are on your site to buy from you. Your job is to remove all obstacles in their way to purchase. In short “How easy or difficult it is to finish a purchase on your online store?”

Intuitive – Making your site intuitive is about giving users a shopping experience in which they feel comfortable in browsing, comparing, deciding and finishing a purchase. For that, your site should be user-friendly and take users on the shopping journey in a meaningful way.

Persuasion – Persuasion is the nudge needed to motivate the user to finish the purchase. These are the persuasion best practices which most online store owners are aware of.

In this article, I will walk you through improving each of the above aspects so that our online stores become a money-making machine rather than relying on one trick conversion rate ponies.

How to measure ecommerce conversion rates right?

Before we go into strategies to improve conversion rates it is essential to establish your site conversion rates! About 80% of Google Analytics accounts I work on have serious data collection and goal setup issues. To prevent this from happening on your site here are 2 things you MUST implement.

  1. Create a Google analytics view of your target market – It is possible that you have an online store which caters to users in Australia. You haven’t opened up international shipping yet. Users beyond your target market show up on your online store through Google and other sources. These users make your conversion rate look bad. Once you create a Google analytics view for your target market you are essentially separating people who are NOT your potential customers from the real customers. This view will give your true ecommerce conversion rate. Check The Tutorial Here
  2. Enable Ecommerce Tracking – This is where you tell Google that your site is an ecommerce site. Once you enable this Google Analytics will start reporting data like product performance, sales performance and transactions. – Tutorial and Benefits

What is a good conversion rate?

There is no such number. But it is likely that if you are anywhere below 2% you are doing few fundamentals wrong. The conversion rate you must always aim for is 15 to 20% improvement over the last month’s conversion rate.

Chapter 1

Find Technical Issues

In this section, we will explore the technical reasons why your online store might not be converting as expected. Technical issues are easy to find and often lead to big conversion jumps.

When you say that your online store conversion rate is 2% it doesn’t lead to insight. But when you know that on UCWeb browser leads to 50% lesser conversions as compared to your site average we know where the problem lies.

Here we uncover technical problems within your online store using the power of segments and comparison views in Google analytics report tables.

1.1 Find Web Browsers Which Have Conversion Issues

Step 1: Login to your Google analytics account and visit Audience > Technology > Browser & OS in the sidebar

Step 2: Click on the comparison table and pick “Ecommerce Conversion Rate from the dropdown list.

Step 3: Browsers on which your online store converts below the site average is shown in red bars.

Step 4: Do a site walkthrough on all such low performing browsers or hire a third-party tool or service to find accessibility and usability issues on these browsers. Tools like crossbrowsertesting or browserstack will help you run a test on multiple desktop and mobile browsers at once.

1.2  Find Devices And Screen Resolutions Which Have Conversion Issues

Step 1: Visit Audience > Mobile > Devices and pick screen resolution as the primary dimension

Step 2: Pick comparison table chart and drop down of “Ecommerce Conversion rate”

 

Step 3: Make note of the red bars which indicate screen resolutions on which your online store doesn’t convert well. You will need to check if the design is not optimized for these resolutions or if you haven’t defined your viewport sizes correctly.

Most modern testing tools like SauseLabs and Browserstack can identify issues with screen resolution, device and OS. Use these tools to uncover technical issues with devices of various screen resolutions.

1.3 Find Pages On Your Site Which Are Slow

A slow website is a conversion death hole. In order to improve conversion rate on your website, you will need to find all pages on your site which are slow to load and improve their speed to improve the user’s shopping experience.

But before that, you must make sure that Google Analytics is sampling your site speed right. If you receive more than 10,000 users as per Google analytics then it is likely that Google analytics samples 1% of your site speed and predicts page speed timings for all your site pages. This number can be way off and the way to fix it is by increasing the sample rate to 100%. This can be done using the following piece of code in your GA site code. Replace the UA-XXXX-Y with your GA analytics ID.

ga('create', 'UA-XXXX-Y', {'siteSpeedSampleRate': 100});

Step 1: Once you have set the site speed sample rate correctly you should visit Behaviour > Site Speed > Page Timings

Step 2: Pick the comparison table and choose “Average Load Time” from drop down. The red bars define pages which are slower than the site average.

Step 3: Run Google Page Speed insights on these pages to images and files which are making this page load slowly. In this case I ran a page speed test on /store.html and /google+redesign/shop+by+brand/youtube. Page speed insights give you optimization suggestions which can improve the speed of the page.

Step 4: Don’t just stop here. Repeat the same process for key e-commerce pages like product pages, shopping cart and checkout page. Once you uncover a big list of issues, get your technical team to fix each of these issues on priority.

Chapter 2

Find Usability Issues


In this section, we inspect how you can make it easier for the user to check your offering, consume information about your products, make a decision and complete a purchase. We do so by fixing the fundamentals of usability by following the best practices which have worked over the many years.

2.1 Make Your Forms Usable

Forms are often the last step before a conversion. This makes optimizing forms for usability a high impact item. For an online store, there are three cases where a user fills out a form.

  1. Creating an Account
  2. Subscribing to a newsletter
  3. During checkout

In this section, we will discuss form usability fundamentals which are applicable to each of these areas.

Communicate Value – Let users know what they get when they fill up the form. This can be enforced by using a benefit based call to action and a form editing which reinforces the idea to the user why he or she should fill in the form. Setting up this motivation and bringing the necessary clarity improves the likelihood of users filling the form.

Southtree uses a straightforward benefit headline to convince users to enter their email list.

Minimize the form fields – By minimizing the form fields you are making it easy for the users complete filling the form. Removing unnecessary form fields reduces friction leading to better conversion rates. If you expect people to subscribe to your newsletter just ask for their name and email, not their address and phone. If you want users to create an account just ask per email ID and password not username, name, phone and address.

Use Multi-Step Forms – It is likely that on checkout pages you have information about shipping details, billing information, name and email ID. This can make the form look long. This can lead to drop-offs and people find it tedious filling out all this information but at the same time, you cannot do away with collecting such information. There are 2 ways you can implement this –

  1. Multi-Step Form wherein the user fills in all details in 3 or 4 steps.
  2. Use a single form but demarcate between different pieces of information like shipping, billing, name and email.

Top Aligned Labels – When you align labels to the top it is less tedious as the user’s eye travels in a single straight line pointing downward as she fills the form. WeAreThought uses 2 step form fill for its checkout process.

Use Real-Time In-Line Validation – Real-time validation can confirm an appropriate answer, suggest valid answers, and provide regular updates to help people stay within necessary limits. This feedback can be presented immediately after a user fills a form field. By throwing an error or a confirmation in real time you are informing the user what went wrong with the input even before he or she hits the “Submit” button. Patagonia used real-time validation to help users come up with the right password fast.

2.2 Filters and Sort

Filters and sort functionality on search and category pages help users narrow down on a product fast based on their preference. Narrowing down on products help users pick a product of their choice quickly.

Filters should give users option to narrow down their choice based on variants, styles, price range and brands. Filters are best placed left for desktop web and on top for the mobile web.

Myntra uses its filters on the left and sort option on top. On mobile the filters are sticky!!! This is the right approach.

The sort function should be placed right above the product grid. The default sort option should be “best sellers” followed by price and rating.

2.3 Product Badges

When the user is on an ecommerce category or search page he is looking to pick a product which suits best for his needs.

The role of badges is to help some products stand out, and help people in the decision making process. By using product badges you are giving your users “safe” options.

Product badges are most effective when used as tags on images. Use them sparingly and keep it relevant to your online store. Few product badges which all online stores can use are “Best Seller”, “Experts Pick” and “Trending”.

Mocka uses tags like clearance, new low price, new and weekly special to differentiate certain items from the rest.

2.4 Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs help users navigate back and forth between relevant pages. If a user visits a certain product page from the category page he might want to go back to the category page if he wants to check out other products from the category. Breadcrumbs make this easy and a critical component for making navigating between relevant pages meaningful.

Mocka uses breadrcumbs. Helps user navigate between relevant pages.

2.5 Search Box

If your online store has more than 100 products then you must have a search box.

Search helps users narrow down their choice in the fast. People who use internal search have a very specific intent on the kind of product they want to buy. This is one of the reasons people who use internal site search usually engage more and convert better than users who don’t use the feature.

If you want to help users find products they want fast you must make sure that more people have a memorable search experience. This can be done in 4 ways

  1. Make the search box bigger and more prominent.
  2. Use product images in the site search window
  3. Optimize the search function by using autocomplete and typo sensitivity
  4. Improve the after search experience using powerful algorithms and tools

Backcountry uses a search box on every page on their online store. The search is powered by images and autosuggest

2.6 Link images on category and search pages to product pages

When a user is in a category or search page his primary motive is to move to a product page of his choice. For this, you should make it very easy for users to visit the product page. This can be done by making all product images clickable with the destinations pointing to its successive product page. This makes it convenient for mobile users to quickly jump to a product page without the pain of tapping on links.

2.7 Ecommerce Checkout Pages

Optimizing the checkout pages can lead to a direct impact on revenue as it is the final step in the goal conversion process. You can expect good lifts in revenue simply by improving this one page.

Start by asking simple information

By simple information, I mean that which doesn’t need the user to think. Information like Name, Email and shipping Address is something which is easy to fill. These might also be auto-filled by the user’s browser. Once the user has filled in some information they feel compelled to finish. This often leads to better checkouts and form completions.

Make the credit card details area look secure

Making your online store secure using an SSL certificate is great but you have communicated safety to the user. The anxiety is highest when the user is entering credit card details and you have to fight this friction by giving assurance of safety. You can do this by

  1. Using a different background colour for credit card details area
  2. Mention SSL logo within this area
  3. Mention that your site is secure and uses 128-bit SSL encrypted payment

Use A Guest Checkout

Guest checkout enables first time buyers to finish a purchase without the hassle of creating an account. Asking a buyer to create an account before a purchase can bring the motivation down leading to drop in conversion rates. You can ask the user to create an account after she finishes the purchase by sending them an email.

HippieButter gives all it’s users an option to checkout without creating an account.

2.8 Shopping Cart

Shopping carts are often great places to find conversion boosts. By making your shopping cart usable you can improve conversion rates, increase average order value and minimize cart abandonment. Here are few pointers you must keep in mind while designing a shopping cart page.

  1. Let users know that the product has been added to cart – This can be communicated with a pop-up or a notification when a user clicks on the “Add To Cart” button.
  2. Provide product thumbnail, price and quantity  – Users should feel assured that the right product has been added to the shopping cart. Using this you can fight hassle of returns and customer frustration.
  3. Provide an option to update the quantity or remove a product – To help users control what and how much they buy without leaving the shopping cart.
  4. Provide a visible telephone number or live chat – Helps fight friction. An option to reach out if the user is stuck.
  5. Use a checkout button above the fold – The next logical step for the user is to check out and finish the purchase it makes sense to add the checkout button above the fold. Also if the user has added many products to the cart there is the risk that checkout button gets lost way down and could be missed.
  6. Use Safety Badges – Closer the user is to finishing the purchase higher the need to fight fears. Fear of theft and misuse of credit card information can make people abandon the purchase. Use trusted seals and certificates to give users assurance of a safe transaction.
  7. Mention pre-checkout tax and shipping calculation – User should know how much he is actually paying and how the costs add up. This prevents post-purchase frustration and establishes trust.
  8. Display all payment options – If you have more than one payment option mention it. This will add more convenience and fight friction.
  9. Reinforce Incentives – Continue using your best offers – “Free Shipping” “Free Returns”

See how Backcountry gets its shopping cart page right below.

Chapter 3

Persuasion

Persuasion is about giving the user the necessary motivation and the incentive to make a purchase. You can’t make the user take an action if the user doesn’t have the motivation. By using the below persuasion tactics we convince users to fulfil their objective of coming to your online store which is to buy your offering.

3.1 Qualified Traffic

The motivation of the user while landing on your online store is one of the most important factors which drives conversions as per MECLabs. If a user has no intention of buying even the most optimized online store cannot close the sale. You cannot create user intention but you can get people on your online store who are intent on buying your stuff.

For this, we have to measure the quality of our online store traffic and the relevance a user finds when he lands on your online store. We will measure this using a metrics called “Bounce Rate”. Bounce rate determines the number of people who landed on your online store and exited without performing a single action. People bounce off a site because they find it irrelevant.

To find traffic sources with high bounce rate you have to visit Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and pick the comparison table as shown below.

In the above scenario, YouTube and Google Adwords have the highest bounce rates. This is an indicator that people who visit this online store using these channels don’t have the right context or simply we have irrelevant targeting or content leading to less engaged audience.

3.2 Personalization 

Not all your users are the same. But your online store treats them the same hence most conversion rates suck. Personalization helps you use technology to understand user and deliver content and experience tailored to their needs. Few examples of personalization for an online store are

  • If you are selling internationally showing a thick furry jacket on the homepage carousel won’t make sense for a user browsing your site from a Tropical Country. Personalization helps you show content based on city and country
  • If you are selling software then you will give mac and windows users a different version of the software to download. Based on device browser you can show content which is compatible with the user system.
  • If you are running PPC campaigns using personalization you can make your landing page have the exact keyword phrase the user type as a search query appears on your landing page heading. This increases the landing page quality score and helps you improve cost per conversion.
  • If a customer visits your online store you want to show her products of higher price range or products which are relevant to his earlier purchase using personalization.
  • Users move back and forth between multiple pages. Based on this browsing behaviour you can personalize the experience and show users their browsing history and alternative products to help them make a decision.

Tools to help you with personalization

3.3 Product Videos 

Having product videos on your online store has 2 benefits. One is it gives all the necessary information the user needs to make a decision within few minutes. Secondly, it reduces the chances of the product getting returned. This improves conversion rate and posts buying experience of the user.

Zappos uses product videos on most of its product pages.

If you have a single product then you can invest in a detailed script like PooPurri

But simply placing a product video will not boost conversions you have to do it right. Below are few best practices for you to execute on the same.

  • Show product as you talk – This helps you communicate information faster and gives the in-store selling experience to the user.
  • Builds relationship faster – Putting a human face increases likability which is an important persuasion principle.
  • Start by empathizing with the problem and then sell the solution.
  • Use a call to action at the end of the video.
  • Use video above the fold to increase exposure and views.
  • In order to get more views, you have to test with multiple video thumbnails.
  • Keep it under 90 seconds.
  • Pick a video hosting tool which gives you analytics – YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia.

Don’t take my word that video improves conversion rates. You must measure the metrics below in order to validate if your product videos are being viewed and people who view are more likely to convert. Keep an eye on the following 3 metrics after you place the video in your online store.

  • Unique Visitor To Play Ratio – Number of people who watch the video to the people who land on the page
  • Audience Retention Rate – Percentage of video viewed by your audience
  • Conversion Rate – Site conversion rate before and after placing the video.

3.4 Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are a form of social proof. It is a vote of validation from your customers that your product has met their expectations. Displaying customer reviews can instil a vote of confidence in the buyer’s mind and aid conversion improvement. Product reviews and user-generated content can uplift your ecommerce conversion rate in most niches. As per Yopto using customer reviews on your product pages can boost conversions by 161%.

How to collect high-quality customer reviews?

You have to collect the customer review within a day after the user receives the product. This is because you want the shopping experience to be fresh in the user’s mind in order to get the best and accurate review. You can do this either by sending a survey form to your most recent customers or buy a tool which helps you send automated emailers and collects reviews.

How to display customer reviews on your site?

It is one thing to collect reviews and an another to display it in a manner which instils buyer confidence.

  • Display both positive and critical reviews to gain consumer trust.
  • Take reviews from verified buyers only and mention the same in your review section.
  • Display as many reviews as possible. It helps both conversion rate and SEO.

3.5 Product Images

Great product images help your online store conversion rates in more than one way. Visuals play a huge role in stimulating and creating a desire in the minds of the user. Images can provide the context of usage and can give users a feel of the product than going through technical jargon. People can consume information fast and accurately leading to more buyer confidence.

Product imagery which converts visitors into buyers need not be hard work. It is about getting the basics right and creating a desire for the product in the eye of the user.

High-Quality Large Photos – Such photos can instantly capture user attention and create a desire for the product. High-quality photos are shot under a good lighting is well edited and polished and represents the exact colours and functionality the real product represents.

Communicate Details With Imagery – Showing multiple images with details help the user get more understanding of how the product looks like and it’s various features. While most brands which sell jackets show how the jacket looks worn Patagonia also shows how it looks from the inside out.

Context – Contextual images help users understand various ways they could use the product. If you are selling outdoor furniture show how your table and chair unfolds at the park or beach. Furlenco doesn’t just show a sofa it shows how well the sofa fits into your living room.

Zoom Feature – If you are selling fashion or luxury cutlery or any product which needs careful examination before purchase then a zoom feature can lot of value to the end user. Users don’t get to touch the products while online shopping using the zoom feature they get to understand the texture of the fabric or product and they can feel the touch in their mind’s eye.

Not just product but category and home pages too – You want to entice users to click on your product images and move from category and home page onto your product page. For this reason, you should use large product images on Home and Category pages as it adds value to your conversions.

3.6 Create Urgency Using Scarcity

Urgency and scarcity work together and incentivizes users to act quickly. In few cases, it rides on fear of missing out in the end user leading to higher sales. Either way, it can be leveraged to improve conversion rate for your online store.

Stock Scarcity

When you mention the scarcity of stock you can invite users to finish their purchase. If they like a product yet want to put away the purchase for a future date this might act as a nudge for them to finish the purchase. Cleartrip notifies stock right beside the price.

Want it by ___________?

Amazon uses this to encourage users who want the product urgently finish the purchase. It helps you convert visitors who are driven by immediate gratification. Bucherer uses the same technique on its product pages.

Free Delivery For A “Limited Period”

Free shipping is an important buying factor for most customers. Can couple this with a time constraint in order to create urgency.

Limited time discount

People love discounts but running discounts throughout the year will make you look cheap. Instead, give a discount on select products and for a short duration of time to create urgency without hurting your margins.

Display when a sale ends

A countdown will give users a time frame to act. A timer on the sales page or during the checkout can help you close the deal.

Chapter 4

Improving Your Value Proposition

Improving your value proposition is all about increasing the cost to benefit ratio for your customer. A strong offer is of high importance in conversion rate optimization. If your offer does not appeal to the end user no amount of persuasion and website analysis can give big shifts in revenue. Improving your value proposition is like working at the core of your conversion rate puzzle.

4.1 Customer Service

Better your customer support and service pre and post a purchase higher the likelihood of users returning to your online store. Customer service establishes trust and reduces friction in the customer’s mind in all future purchases.

Great customer service has a direct impact on revenue – As per this report by Adobe 40% of e-commerce revenue comes from returning or repeat purchasers, who represent only 8% of all overall visitors. Customers who purchased multiple times from an online store generate 3 to 7 times more revenue per visit as compared to a one time buyer.

It lowers cost of acquisition – Getting existing customers to your online store costs between ⅓ and ⅛ as much of acquiring a new user. This can impact your unit margins significantly.

Higher referral rate – Customers who buy repeatedly from you have the higher likely hood of recommending your brand to their friends. As per this report from Bain, a customer who has bought apparel is 10 or more times likely to bring in 2X more people to your online store as compared to a one time buyer.

Higher Customer Lifetime Value – Customer lifetime value is a defining metric for an e-commerce business. It is determined by how much a customer spends per order and how many orders he makes over a period of time. Great customer service can build trust and influence him to buy from you more frequently.

As per RJMetrics CLV of top 1% of your customers is 30X more than that of an average customer.

As per RJMetrics study after the initial purchase, the likelihood of a customer making a second purchase is close to 30%. After they make their second purchase, the likelihood of a third purchase is over 50%. In other words higher the number of order placed higher the likelihood of repeat purchases in the future.

4.2 Free Or Low Shipping Costs

It is a known fact that free shipping can boost conversion rates. What is of higher importance is doing free shipping right. Giving away free shipping can reduce your margins significantly. This can backfire. In order to make it a win-win for both you and your customer, you have to use few smart shipping policies and communicate the same to your audience on various pages in your online store.

  • Let your audience know that you offer free shipping by reinforcing it on category, product and shopping cart page.
  • Offer free shipping only after a threshold amount is reached. For example, give free shipping only for orders above $50.
  • Offer free shipping on select hero products on your online store. In other words, offer free shipping on products which are high on margins and sales.
  • Give free shipping codes only to subscribed users. This gives you a marketing advantage as you have the user’s email ID which you can send promotional emails and offers.

More on Free Shipping & Best Practices

4.3 Show cost savings

Showing cost savings help you communicate value to the end user. Cost savings tell the end user how much money they are saving if they finish their purchase. One of the most common ways of displaying cost savings is showing a strike through on regular price and showing the current price next to it.

Ideally, you want to show cost savings on your product page pricing section and shopping cart page to reinforce the same.

 

4.4 Competitive Pricing

Many customers are budget driven in their purchase decisions. If you are selling t-shirts to college students pricing might beat every other benefit like free returns, variants, style since the budget is the primary motivating factor. Customers pick the cheapest option when all other things like service and product remain the same. In such cases having a price point which is cheaper than your competition is the way to go.

People do a lot of comparison shopping between you and your competition. If they find your prices higher than your competition for most products they will perceive you as an expensive store. It is important to keep an eye on your competition and tweak your price and offer accordingly. This can be done using competition using competitive intelligence tools like Prisync and CompetitorMonitor.

4.5 Features and Benefits

The end user should have complete information about the products and benefits before he commits to a purchase. Higher the price of the product more the need to elucidate on the various features and benefits. Only after the user has sufficient information on the product he or she is buying they will have the necessary confidence to buy the product. Also, it helps them weigh the cost of benefits in their mind and make a buying decision.

BellRoy.com has the right balance of product specs and benefits.

Chapter 5

Fight Friction – Address Fears Uncertainties & Doubts

You might use every persuasion trick in the book to get users to hit the buy button but the user will still have concerns and fears which needs to be addressed. Persuasion, strong value proposition and user motivation works like gravity and moves users towards a purchase.

But Fears, Uncertainties and Doubts in the mind of the consumer stop them finishing their purchase. If you are optimizing for conversion rates you must fight these forces in the minds of the consumer.

Fears – What if I get cheated? What if the product never arrives? What if my credit card details get stolen? What if the site gets hacked?

Uncertainties – Why didn’t my product arrive yet? Is my product purchase confirmed? What if I don’t like the product I bought?

Doubts – When will the product arrive? Does it ship to my area? What are the shipping costs and options?

In this chapter, we look into how to fight these fears using few actionable strategies.

5.1 Social Proof

Social proof helps you establish trust among buyers. Social proof tells your shoppers that you are a legit business which delivers on customer promise. Social proof can be shown in multiple ways on your online store.

Testimonials – Reach out to your happy customers and ask if you are allowed to place their testimonial on your online store. Use an image and name of the customer to add more credibility to the testimonial.

Customer Reviews – Customer reviews have long been used by online retailers to prove credibility. Customer reviews help users get an unbiased view of the product they are planning to purchase. People trust customer reviews more than product descriptions.

Social Media Chatter – Social conversations around your product can be used on your online store as a proof that people are liking your product. Embed those tweets into your landing pages and add credibility.

Social Following – Displaying the number of people who follow on social media channels like FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube is another way to instil trust and credibility.

5.2 Stay Away From Hidden Charges

Even a slight deviation between what the user expects to see in the shopping cart and what he actually sees can instil fear and doubt. You have to be upfront about product cost, shipping price and taxes. Any surprises here can put the user into doubt and can lead to cart abandonment.

There are 2 ways you can solve this –

Use a cost breakup table on shopping cart page

Mention shipping and taxes on the product pages

5.3 Have A Clear Return policy

Having a clear returns policy is about setting the expectations right. Having a returns policy is all about answering a single question for the customer.

What if I don’t like the product after I purchase OR What if the product I bought is defective?

Once you answer this question the buyer will have other questions like

  • Do you offer returns for 30 days, 90 days, or at any time after purchase?
  • Does the product have to be in unused, unworn, condition to be eligible?
  • Are some products exempt from any exchanges or refunds?
  • Does a dissatisfied customer get a new product, store credit, or full refund of the purchase price? Are shipping costs included?

Answering these questions in the returns policy and communicating it on the product page can greatly remove obstacles in the conversion process.

5.4 Shopping Cart Abandonment Recovery Email

The truth is on an average 70% of people who add products to their cart abandon the purchase. You can’t stop this but you can convert few of these visitors into real money if you are proactive. For this, you have to capture their email address in the first step of the checkout process and follow it up with targetted emails based on browsing behaviour.

An abandoned cart email is a series of reminder emails sent to a shopper, who has added products to his cart and left without purchasing. The first email is generally sent a few hours of him leaving your site, a follow up the next day and a third email the next day.

There are 2 objectives of sending an abandoned cart emailer –

  1. Reinforce your value proposition – Free shipping, discount, product image.
  2. Encourage users to share their purchase concerns – Reply to the email if they have concerns, reach out via chat or call.

Myntra enforces both the above points and list other related products in case the user is willing to change his mind.

 

5.5 Let your customers reach out

Even the best policies and copy can’t eliminate purchase friction because you can’t predict buyer concerns in its entirety. All buyers are different and so are their fears and doubts. To eliminate them you have to give your audience at least one communication channel to reach out from. Common channels used by most ecommerce businesses are the phone, email and chat.

Apart from making these customer support channels available you have to communicate it’s availability at various stages of the buying process. Users have queries about the product and concerns about shipping and return most of the product, shopping cart and the checkout page. Making the support channels visible will let users reach out to you instead of abandoning the purchase altogether.

Perfect origins give users to an option to reach out via phone on its checkout page.

Chapter 6

Get The Voice Of The Customer

Analytics tools show you what is wrong with your website but the voice of the customer research tells you ‘why’ your website isn’t converting. Getting the voice of the customer is of paramount importance to get light on areas of your business which is stopping from users finishing the purchase.

Without the voice of the customer, you will be shooting in the dark running AB tests with little to no success. Voice of the customer helps you feedback which you never imagined could be a problem with your business.

6.1 Email Surveys

Ask your recent customers since old customers don’t have the shopping experience fresh in their mind. They might not give you the right answers based on their experience.

Assuming you have the customer’s email ID you can send in an Email asking for feedback. Setup email automation 5-7 days after customer receives the order asking for feedback. If you are selling the product through a mobile app send a push notification asking for feedback on the buying experience. The goal is to collect at least 100 responses from your customers.

Question 1 – Who are you?

Ask your customers their Age, Gender, Income, Interests, Hobbies, and Opinions

This data can help you come up with accurate buyer persona. It is a way of testing your assumptions. This can help you optimize your Ad Copy, Landing Page Copy, Product Features and sell products to appeal to your customer persona. This improves the relevance of the landing page as you can segment your audience better thus reducing bounce rate and increase conversion rate.

Question 2 – Why did you choose us?

This question reveals why your customers chose you and not the competition. Is it free Shipping? Better prices? Unique products? Website usability?

Question 3 – How could we be better?

This is an open-ended question where customers can give you a piece of their mind.

Use this data to work with your business team and create a compelling value proposition.  This question could reveal an obvious service or a product feature you and your team overlooked. It could be lack of shipping or payment options or lack of variety in products.

Tools to conduct surveys: Survey Monkey, Google Surveys

6.2 On-Site Polls

Using On-Site polls you can ask your users why exactly they chose to visit your website and what makes them finish a purchase. You can create a survey pop-ups on the right bottom of the screen to collect feedback non-intrusively. You can even collect feedback on exit-intent on checkout pages to find why the user chose to leave your site without finishing the purchase.

Question 1 – What is the purpose of your visit?

Here we get intent of the user upfront. Based on the answers given by the user you can further ask the user questions about whether he or she was able to complete the task. The answers will fall into one of the following categories. Allow users to answer in multiple choice answers to collect data.

  • Casually Browsing
  • Comparing prices
  • Consumer Product Information
  • Here to buy

Question 2 – Were you able to finish the task?

Whether the user is here to browse through your catalogue or buy your products he should be able to finish these tasks effortlessly. Asking this question sets us up for the most important question in the sequence.

Question 3 – If you were not able to finish the task what is stopping you from finishing it?

Here we find out what is stopping the user from finishing a purchase. It could be shipping costs, insufficient product information, competitor pricing or bad website experience. These answers will uncover the real problem which are keeping your conversion rates low.

Question 4 – If you were able to finish the task what is that we could do better?

Here we ask users open-ended questions to improve our website experience. This helps you get into the user’s shoes and get insights into features and user experience which can add value to your web visitors.

Tools which conduct live site polls: Qualaroo, Hotjar

6.3 Understand Live Chat Transcripts

Live chat can boost conversions as people can get reassuring responses to their worries during the purchasing process. Live chat helps users get instant answers to their queries. Using live chat you can understand

  • The top pre-sales questions users have – We can use this to craft our return, shipping policies or improve clarity in your value proposition and product copy.
  • Which products are people asking questions about – These questions can help you understand loopholes in your product offering and copy.
  • What are their main Fears, Uncertainties Doubts – Once you know this they can be addressed in the purchase cycle including product, shopping cart page and checkout page.

Tools to run LiveChat on your online store: LiveChat, Olark, Zopim

Chapter 7

Always Be Testing

Testing is all about questioning our assumptions. And we do so by understanding live user behaviour on our site. It is a way to remove bias and let user behaviour decide what stays on site what doesn’t. It directly correlates user behaviour to revenue.

7.1 User Testing

User testing helps you understand what stops people from completing a purchase on your online store. In user testing, you ask real users/testers to finish a certain set of tasks on your online store. Once you have the results you can iterate your site design and sales copy to minimize barriers to purchases.

With user testing, even a few testers can expose many issues on your online store. The results can be generated within few days making the entire testing and design iteration very agile. User testing is ideal if you want to test your new design or you have changed a critical part of your online stores like checkout or product page.

To run a user testing program you need to hire at least 5 testers. For this, you can use services like User Testing, TryMyUI

If you want to do a usability expert evaluation yourself then download this guide from Userfocus

7.2 Mouse Tracking Tools

Mouse tracking tools like Crazyegg and Hotjar analyze how users behaviour on your online store. These tools help you with

Click Maps – Click Maps give you an understanding of where people are clicking on your online store pages. This information can be used to see if there is a visual hierarchy in your online store. If users are predominantly clicking on areas which are not necessarily the action you want them to take then you need to redesign your pages for more optimal browsing.

Session Replays – Mouse tracking tools video record the sessions taken by the user. This helps you understand how users browsed through your website. Are they taking the actions you want them to take? Are they stuck at any step in the purchase process? Are they using features which you think are important? Session replays are the gold mine for conversion data as it gives direct insight into what the user is looking for.

Scroll Maps  Scroll maps help you understand how deep do people scroll through on a page. If only 20% of people scroll below the fold then your visitors might not be reading other important information on your site. Scroll maps help you understand how engaging the user found your landing page.

7.3 A/B Testing

Why don’t you test that? This is a common phrase thrown around in “data-driven” organizations. But the truth is website optimization doesn’t start with A/B testing. It starts with research. It is about identifying the problem, laying out a hypothesis and testing multiple ideas against a single user segment at a time.

If you have done your “Voice of the customer” and read your analytics reports well you might understand few issues users are facing in your online store.

Once you find these issues you have to create a hypothesis which you can test against.

For example, if you see that most of your users drop off on the shopping cart page then you can come up with a series of hypothesis stating the possible issues like.

  • If we add a free shipping banner closer to the checkout button we can improve conversion rate.
  • If we make the chat feature pop we can reduce drop-offs at this stage.
  • If we remove upsells from the shopping cart page we will have more conversions.

Once you have established these hypotheses you can test them using an A/B testing tool like VWO, Google Optimize or Optimizely.

Running A/B tests on random elements on site doesn’t lead to significant improvements. Your traffic is limited so are your chances of testing. You should test elements on your online store which have a significant impact on the buying behaviour. Here are few testing ideas you can steal for your online store.

  • Product Images – Test various product images, variants and models.
  • Call To Actions – Test colour, size, shape and text
  • Search Bar – See if you can improve the number of searches and thus the conversion rates.
  • Pricing – At what price do consumers find your product to have high-value to cost ratio without hurting your margins?
  • Live chat on checkout page – Does it’s presence increase or dip the conversion rate?

Next Steps

Firstly acknowledge that conversion rate optimization is not a hack. It is a process. Improving your ecommerce conversion rates starts with conversion research and conversion research starts with understanding your customer persona and how your audience behaves on your online store. Follow the pointers below to kick off your conversion rate optimization campaign.

  1. Start with Google Analytics and check if you have implemented enhanced ecommerce tracking right. Check if you have defined your goals and funnels right.
  2. Check your Google Analytics and see which browsers and devices convert the worst and making the entire site conversion rate look bad.
  3. Walkthrough your site from a user perspective and see if it is easy to perform basic actions like adding the product to cart, search for a product, using filters and finishing a purchase. Make a list of all user experience issues.
  4. Come up with a series of question you would want to ask your existing customer base to understand their needs and desires better.
  5. See how you can improve your value proposition using techniques shared within this article.

 

After working 7+ years as a digital marketer for startups and large enterprises I quit my job to start EcommerceYogi. Here I share the exact same tactics which I have used to drive millions of users per month to e-commerce stores. Follow me on Linkedin and Twitter to stay connected.