9 Ecommerce Strategies to Optimize Sales

by Chawki Trabelsi

Let’s face it: Website visitors can be skittish.

If you can convert them into paying customers, you can generate more sales without ever having to change a price. But for that to happen, you need to clear the path to purchase.

Now it’s imperative that you get your homepage and site structure down cold.

You’ll want to advertise through paid search campaigns, display advertising or social media ads. But if your site design isn’t optimized for conversions, you won’t get a return on that investment.

Fortunately, there are many ways to encourage your visitors to take action by using simple (and proven) ecommerce techniques.

Here are 9 top tips for encouraging users to take that next step.

Conversion Tip #1: Free Shipping

The most common reason visitors abandon a purchase is shipping cost. Your solution? Offer your customers free shipping, and clearly state that benefit on your site.

  • 39% of customers would purchase enough to get free shipping.

In addition, a study by Compete states that:

  • 93% of online buyers would be encouraged to buy more products if free shipping were offered.

By offering free shipping, you can increase conversions as well as the size of your orders. Check out this article from Web Marketing Today for some great advice on how you can offer free shipping to your customers.

free shipping

Conversion Tip #2: Show Discounts and Specials Clearly

Discounts and coupons are powerful marketing tools that allow you to:

  • give your clients special offers on products or categories
  • let wholesalers purchase at special rates
  • provide incentives through your offline advertising
  • help clear “difficult to sell” stock amongst many other uses

In the Oneupweb consumer study, 95.5% of respondents cited clearly stated pricing and shipping information as an influential factor in making a purchase decision. Don’t be a victim!

Make sure a product’s price is clearly stated, whether on your homepage or on the product page itself.

If at all possible, try to calculate taxes and shipping when products are added to the cart so your shoppers know the final price before they ever get to checkout.

Forever 21 50% off

Conversion Tip #3: Referral Discounts

Test #1

Optimizely tested a call to action (CTA) for an outdoor gear retailer’s refer-a-friend program and found that active outdoor enthusiasts are significantly more motivated by “Earn Rewards” than “Get Rewards.”

In the case above, “Earn $25. Invite Friends,” increased program engagement from the baseline, “Invite a Friend. Get $25,” by 60%.

baseline variation engagement

The lesson? Offer referral discounts, and while you’re at it, test different ways of presenting the offer. They work, obviously, but they can still be optimized.

Test #2

Or take a tip from Airbnb and offer a product credit in return for referrals.

invite your friends $100

The new program encourages users to invite their friends by offering them cash credits to be used towards future Airbnb bookings.

According to Courtney Boyd Myers, writing for thenextweb, Airbnb got good results from the program.

Airbnb first tested the new referral program in a hugely successful closed-beta program of 2,161 existing members, which brought in 2,107 new members, nearly a 1:1 ratio of community goodness.

Conversion Tip #4: Add Reviews and Ratings

Figleaves ran an experiment to see how product reviews and ratings affected conversion rates. They found that products with reviews had a 12.5% higher conversion rate than products without reviews.

More importantly, the conversion rate for the same product—after adding reviews—was 35.27% higher than it was before adding reviews.

They also found that the number of reviews mattered a lot. Products with 20 or more reviews had a whopping 83.85% higher conversion rate than those without.

The north face reviews

Conversion Tip #5:  Take Your Email Marketing Beyond the Inbox

Over the next few years, we’re likely to see a lot more ecommerce companies combining their email marketing campaigns with related social advertising.

In a study where a leading retailer in the US targeted 925,000 email subscribers with both its regular emails and coordinated Facebook ads, subscribers who received both ads were 22% more likely to make purchases than those who only received emails.

The potential of what you could do with this strategy is mind-boggling.

Imagine a customer purchasing a product online, then finding an advert on Facebook five minutes later with a popular upsell product. If they don’t buy the upsell, you could then send them an email with a discount on that specific upsell product.

Wishpond has written about how to set up these kind of adverts, along with strategic ideas to experiment with in this post.

emails plus ads

Conversion Tip #6: Use videos to draw attention to your company’s website

Using video in the right way will have a direct effect on user engagement.

Short explainer videos are an excellent way to help visitors quickly understand your company, your products, and your services.

Visually showing your product in action gives visitors a better understanding of how your product works.

That helps soon-to-be customers get more comfortable with making a purchase, thereby boosting both your revenue and your conversion rate.

In fact Salesforce.com recently added an explainer video to its homepage and increased conversion rates by 20%. Approximately 30% of visitors watch the video and approximately 50% of those viewers watch the video in its entirety.

salesforce sales perfomace management

Conversion Tip #7: Add Live Chat to your Conversion Rate Optimization toolkit

Live chat has the potential to close the gap between the online shoppers and retailers. You have the chance to connect with your potential customers and build their trust.

Recent studies have shown that 68.5% of CompUSA customers used live chat while browsing the website:

  • 32% percent of them used live chat during the final phases of the buying process
  • And out of the 32%, 10% percent converted into a sale. At this point, it is still relatively early in live chat implementation; however 28% of e-commerce websites now offer live chat

Young helpdesk operators

Conversion Tip #8: Security Badges can Increase your Conversion Rate

With the rise of ecommerce, the need for trust signals has become critical. Many “trust badges” are associated with SSL, or secure sockets layer, and they

Case Studies: There are a number of case studies highlighting the benefits of adding Norton Secured (VeriSign), AllClear and McAfee Secure.

Blue Fountain Media saw a 42% increase in sales.

VeriSign prepared a case study showing a 30% increase in conversions for Central Reservation Service, an online hotel booking site.

central reservation service

Conversion Tip #9: Increase Urgency

There’s a reason why urgency is last in this list. All the points above must be in place before urgency will work.

Adding urgency doesn’t work if your offer is full of distractions, or if your value proposition is crap. It won’t work if your offer’s irrelevant to your audience, or if your audience doesn’t trust you.

Urgency is a strong catalyst, but it doesn’t stand up very well on its own. After doing everything mentioned above, here’s how urgency skyrocketed one campaign’s conversion rate.

Below are two variations that I tested on the offer’s landing page. As you’ll notice, the only difference is that one communicates urgency and how many packages have been bought, where the other does not.

Variation A:

$29 variation a

Variation B:

$29 variation b

This is one of the most impactful A/B test I’ve ever run. The conversion rate of variation B was almost 3x that of variation A.

Here’s what happened to our conversion rate as we gradually rolled out variation B to all users. Our conversion rate went from ~3.5% to ~10%.

goal conversion rate

Since running this campaign two years ago, I’ve become fascinated by the power of urgency, and I’ve found multiple ways to integrate it into my strategy—boosting blog traffic, online sales, and engagement.

Conclusion

By implementing each of the tips above, not only will you see an increase in sales, conversions, revenue, and profit, you’ll build a reputable brand for your products and services.

Whether you’re offering free shipping or discounts, adding reviews or adding a security badge, you’ll see more consistent profit levels—which will allow you to continue to scale and grow your business.

Does a particular ecommerce experience stand out for you? If you’ve had a smooth, hassle-free experience that made you want to order again, I’d love to hear about it. Please tell us about your experience in the comments.

Read other Crazy Egg posts by Chawki Trabelsi.

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Chawki Trabelsi

Chawki Trabelsi is an online marketing strategist and guest blogger writes for hostingreviewslist.com which provides updated information about web hosting companies in the USA. My goal is to help businesses understanding how to use social networks to find leads, increase sales, and improve branding via digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter and Google+

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  1. Rebecca Keyes says:
    February 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Great read Chawki! These are extremely helpful tips. I also agree with taking your e-mail marketing beyond the inbox. Do you feel that website push notifications fall into that category? It is a new marketing channel that is great for audience retargeting but I was curious on what your thoughts were on pairing it with social advertising like you explained. I use Aimtell and I think those tips will pair great with website push notifications. What do you think?

  2. Nirav Sheth says:
    November 6, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Website visitors keep shifting but to the places with only a great user experience. Their intents should ever be highly optimized with different patterns of content. Free shipping, an awaited option must be justified. Referral discounts work well too. Nice info given by.

  3. chawki trabelsi says:
    September 28, 2015 at 5:43 am

    Thank you Naman for your comment we will discuss about that in the upcoming articles.

  4. Naman says:
    September 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Case study are very relavent , hats off for that.
    Really looking forward for your upcoming blogs.
    Can u tell more about backlinking process ?

  5. George says:
    July 14, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I work for a startup company here in Salt Lake City calld diib–we do website analytics. This was a great blog post. Thanks for the straight, understandable tips for increasing your conversion rates. I’ve been doing a little bit of work and have found that a blog is also a great way to increase conversion rates–but not in the conventional sense.

    Blogs naturally have a high bounce rate, right? I’ve found out that having a popup on a blog can increase your blog bounce rate, but can have some payoff on conversion rates–especially with calls-to-action for an ecommerce store. Keep up the great work. I really appreciate the information that I read here.

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      July 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you George for your comment yes a blog have naturally a high bounce rate when the articles are especially in high quality that include high quality images, nice podcasts, videos etc. I appreciated your experience with your website and thanks for the share.

  6. Zeshan says:
    June 1, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Strategies to optimize sales is very important because every person have it’s own strategies. By reading this article i have more idea about eCommerce sales.

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      June 1, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Yes ZESHAN when you run your ecommerce strategy and make a split-test of your campaigns your results are unique to you and your business model. You have to run your own test and see what happens.

  7. Prabhu Tharmarajan says:
    May 31, 2015 at 9:10 am

    A great read. Steps are so clear and would definitely be using the tips that I read. Thank you so much for sharing this post.

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      May 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you PRABHU I hope it will help you to increase your conversion rate. I’m waiting that you will share your results with us.

  8. chawki trabelsi says:
    May 31, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Thank you Fulvio for your comment. I hope that you’ve found these studies interesting and will help you for your future ecommerce strategy. By the way I liked your website but I’ve used google traduction to understand it, I hope you will make an english version of it 🙂

    • Fulvio says:
      June 1, 2015 at 12:57 am

      Chawki thanks I’d love to translate it in English but
      1 my English is poor
      2 think is expensive
      😉 tanks again for your appreciation

      • chawki trabelsi says:
        June 1, 2015 at 9:45 am

        If your website is build on wordpress then you can use WPML multilingual plugin that translate your pages and posts automatically but you have to find an expert who know how he can install it for you.

  9. Kvasnička Jan says:
    May 30, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I agree with Fulvio, it isn’t new but i like these examples. I go to share, thanks for the article 🙂

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      May 31, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Thank you for the share Kvasnička

  10. Fulvio says:
    May 30, 2015 at 2:34 am

    maybe all you write isn’t new but is very clear to undestand.
    Nice the studys too. Thanks a lot for your nice article.
    (Sorry for my terrible english)
    Fulvio

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