More than ever, ambitious online merchants are searching for ways to entice more customers to buy.
Though inbound marketing has made it easier to capture leads, it’s unfortunate that nearly 70% of marketers believe their current strategy is ineffective (HubSpot).
Do you happen to be one of them?
Don’t worry, you’re in excellent hands.
What follows is a comprehensive ecommerce conversion rate optimization checklist for ensuring that your online store is conversion-ready and designed for maximum revenue and return.
By the time you’re finished with this checklist, your digital store will be efficient, powerful, and ready for an influx of new and loyal business.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimization, Really?
You may have heard this term tossed around, but what’s the meaning behind it?
Put simply, CRO is the art of improving the shopping experience. Think of it in terms of the physical store experience.
The shopper enters the store and is greeted with smiling faces and appealing visuals. All the items are clearly laid out on shelves, and a salesperson is always nearby to lend a helping hand when needed.
When it comes time to make a purchase, the cashier is glad to help, and the process is fast, efficient, and pleasant.
Translating that kind of experience into the digital world takes some imagination, but it’s the same concept.
When a person lands on your ecommerce site, they should be greeted with clearly-displayed products and eye-catching graphics. Your menu of items should be intuitive to navigate, and shoppers should be able to find what they need in just a few clicks.
Finally, when it comes time to check out, the process is fast, seamless, and pleasant. Sound familiar?
That’s ecommerce conversion rate optimization in a nutshell. The overall goal, of course, is more sales and revenue.
But when you optimize for higher conversions, one great side effect is that more shoppers will visit (just by referrals alone), and shoppers will enjoy themselves more as they stock up on your latest and greatest products.
What is a Good Ecommerce Conversion Rate
Your ecommerce conversion rate represents the number of unique users who complete the checkout process and make a purchase.
You calculate your ecommerce’s conversion rate by taking your total number of sales and dividing that number by your total amount of visitors. Therefore, if you had 20 conversions from 800 clicks, your conversion rate would be 2.5%.
If your ecommerce store is hovering around 2% or 2.5% conversions and you’re wondering if that metric can get any higher, the good news is you’re already doing great. It turns out that the global average for ecommerce conversion rates is exactly that 1%-3%, and has been for a few years.
But what about averages for this year?
Average Ecommerce Conversion Rate 2018
Littledata found that, as of September 2018, the median ecommerce conversion rate for the US was 1.4%.
Therefore, if you can manage to get your conversion rates up to 2% or higher, you’re doing better than many other ecommerce store owners.
Now it’s time to put these conversion rate optimization lessons to work for your business to improve your estore experience while boosting your sales, revenue, and return.
Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist of Best Practices
E-store owners have been personalizing their communications with customers for years. Yet, never before has such deep-level personalization been possible than right now, and it’s all powered by machine-learning technology.
Imagine being able to personalize your website with dynamic content so that the visitor sees only what he or she wants.
Envision sending ecommerce emails that include near-clairvoyant product recommendations. These types of communications will seem so in-touch to your customers that loyalty will be the only logical byproduct.
This type of personalization is, in fact, possible, with the power of AI. 86% of consumers reported wanting a more authentic and personal brand personality, and that’s where machine-learning technology shines.
Using platforms like Albert, which acts as a personal assistant for ecommerce shoppers, you can send messages infused with personalized information related to the following:
- The device
- The browser the person may be using
- The keyword term they’ve searched for
- Their active time on site
Those are just a few examples of how this supercharged shopping bot can help take your customer communications to the next level.
Other AI tools can give personalized pricing information, inventory suggestions, and act as a visual-search assistant, providing shoppers with everything they need to have a quick and easy eshopping excursion.
Simplify Your Checkout Process
Prospective customers should never have to jump through a series of hoops in order to buy from you.
People are too pressed for time and have short attention spans. They want fast and easy. You can provide exactly that by making your checkout process a seamless affair.
If you currently force unique visitors to your site to register in order to complete a purchase, consider dropping that requirement. Over a quarter of surveyed shoppers reported bouncing from ecommerce sites that force them to register.
Offering a wide range of payment options might also give your conversions a boost. Accepting credit cards, PayPal, and even cryptocurrency might help you move more product.
You should also consider making your forms shorter. 14% of shoppers report abandoning shopping carts when the checkout requests too much information.
Almost the same number of those surveyed, from the same report, said they bounced when the checkout process proved to be too difficult to figure out.
Take a page from Amazon’s sales process, which asks for a limited amount of information and even offers 1-click checkout.
A good way to eliminate unnecessary hoops is to auto-populate billing and shipping information according to the addresses you already have on hand. The more you can do for the shopper, the more likely he or she is to complete the checkout and buy from you.
Use Heatmaps to Indicate Site Use
A heatmap helps you determine how visitors to your site move their cursors, scroll, click, and interact with forms, buttons, and search boxes.
How can this help with ecommerce conversion rate optimization? The truth is, this amazing technology can give you all sorts of insights into why some of your prospects aren’t converting.
You can determine why people are leaving your website and your checkout process, and potentially uncover new CRO opportunities.
Many heatmap solutions also allow you the opportunity to A/B test your site according to the click and activity data you’ve analyzed, which can help you improve your site and overall e-shopping experience in untold ways.
Use Retargeting on Various Platforms
Retargeting is the practice of enticing a lost customer to return. Once you identify individuals who have shown an interest in your products, you can follow them around the web using personalized ads.
Let’s say a person goes to checkout, but then abandons their virtual shopping cart. Thanks to retargeting, that individual may see a specialized ad on Facebook, for example, that showcases the very product they added to their cart and then left behind.
It’s said that the average prospect needs to see your brand seven times before they commit to a purchase.
Retargeting on Facebook, Google, and elsewhere online can help keep your e-commerce store top-of-mind until the individual’s ready to commit. This practice is so successful that it can result in a 400% increase in ad responses.
Put it to work to give your ecommerce conversion rate optimization efforts a significant boost!
Automate Abandoned Cart Emails
Retargeting can also be used for shopping cart abandonment missives sent right to the prospect’s inbox. Retargeting BIZ recommends sending a retargeting email 15 minutes after — and again four hours after — the cart abandonment occurs.
These retargeting emails have reportedly resulted in a 71% open rate and 40% click-through-rate (CTR).
If your abandonment rates are high and you need a quick fix, this is a good strategy to try; however, we recommend taking a look at session recordings of customers abandoning their carts to get a better sense of why (and to ultimately be able to fix the issue so your customers have a better experience with your website).
Optimize for Desktop & Mobile
70% or more of all digital media activity is conducted on a mobile device. Furthermore, Google is rolling out a mobile-first algorithm, which rewards websites that cater to audiences using these devices.
Your e-commerce site should be responsive so that it tailors itself to any size of screen.
Buttons should be spaced wide enough apart so as to eliminate confusion, and CTAs should be optimized for the tiniest of devices.
Google can help you optimize for both by providing you with a desktop and mobile optimization score. Visit the aptly-named Mobile-Friendly Test.
Once analyzed, Google will let you know if your site is indeed tailored for mobile customers.
If your site doesn’t pass the mobile-friendliness test, Google will offer a series of tips and advice for making your platform even easier for mobile device-using prospects and customers to navigate and use.
That alone may be enough to help you reach your ecommerce conversion rate optimization goals.
Customers want to know that they are visiting a secure site before they’ll do business with you.
Displaying an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on your site lets your potential customers know that your site is a safe place to share their personal information.
Without an SSL certificate, your site will indicate that it is not secure in the address bar.
With SSL, your site will display a padlock in the address bar, letting everyone know that they now have access to super safe shopping with your e-store.
Furthermore, you should ensure that your payment processors offer both security and fraud protection:
- MasterCard, for example, offers AI-powered fraud protection and other important perks free for ecommerce business owners.
- Some AI tools like ThirdWatch use machine-learning to identify fraud before it can cost you big.
- Stripe Radar is another payment processor that roots out fraud before it happens. The system even prevents false positives, such as those that may be triggered by affluent customers who tend to make big and frequent purchases.
When customers know that you take security seriously, you’ll be more likely to become their go-to for e-commerce.
Aesthetic Design & Simple Layout
It takes less than one second for a visitor to get an idea about your e-commerce website, good or bad.
If you manage to invest in an eye-pleasing layout that is free of clutter, you’ll build loyalty and customers will be more likely to return for their e-shopping needs.
Aside from featuring attractive images and professional photography, your site structure should be designed according to how your customers are most likely to investigate and shop with your brand.
Ideally, online shoppers should be able to find the information and products they need within three clicks or less.
A visitor to your site may not want to click through your menu to find the products they desire.
Instead, they may wish to type the keywords of the products they want in order to facilitate a more efficient shopping process.
Dell, for instance, offers a simple menu, yet one that’s comprehensive with a series of drop-downs. There’s also a search function which customers can use to find their favorite Dell products in a flash.
Whether you offer text-based search, like above, or a visual search facilitated by AI tools like Visii Lens, having these capabilities makes your site even more user-friendly, and that’s what ecommerce conversion optimization is all about.
Know Your Customers
If you are experiencing low conversions, consider revisiting your buyer persona. It may be that your marketing messages aren’t as honed-in on your prospects’ lives and lifestyles as you may have hoped.
Everything, from your web copy and product pages to your emails, case studies, and calls-to-action, should all “speak” to your prospective customers’ needs.
If need be, invest in a skilled copywriter, photographer, and videographer to ensure your content is always actionable, relevant, and of the highest-quality.
Only by finding out what your audience truly needs and then delivering on those elements can you hope to create a sustainable and successful e-commerce business that surpasses the competition.
Put Effort Into Online Reviews & Social Proof
Every customer should be asked to submit a review following delivery of their items. That’s because 70% of e-shoppers read reviews before committing to buying something online.
A simple question asking, “Are you happy with your purchase?” should suffice.
These testimonials can be used on your ecommerce website, social media channels, email newsletters, and other digital elements to entice others to act.
People respond favorably to social proof, as you’re serving up hard-core evidence that others have been satisfied by your offerings.
Other forms of social proof include Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and others.
Of course, you’ll always want to ask your customers to review your brand on your site first. Why? Let’s say for example that you focus solely on Facebook reviews. If Facebook were to disappear tomorrow (as unlikely as that may be), those reviews would be gone forever.
Take heed and ask for reviews at every turn. If the feedback is negative, offer to make it right, learn from the review if the complaint is legit, and bury any negativity with far more positive ones.
Offer Free Or Low-Cost Shipping
If you can swing it financially, consider cutting down on your customers’ shipping costs, or giving them the chance to receive their items without paying for shipping at all.
Offering free shipping can improve your conversions by 25 to 40%, in some cases.
To see if this option is viable, calculate your average customers’ lifetime value. That is, how much does each customer, on average, deliver to your brand over the business relationship?
You may find that offering a discount on shipping or cutting those costs altogether is more than worth it in the long run, especially if you can manage to scale your business with these other ecommerce conversion rate optimization tips.
Get Live Chat!
Earlier we discussed the physical, in-store shopping experience, and how having a friendly employee nearby can help make shopping a memorable affair.
Chatbots work just like that, offering your e-shoppers a personal shopping assistant they can poke and ask questions of anytime they want.
Our co-founder Neil Patel found that chat boxes can improve conversion rates by up to 45%. With intelligent chat boxes like LiveChatInc, you can reduce the number of emails and support tickets your online store receives.
Automated chat bots can provide support 24/7, and never get sick or require time off. They’ll always be available to help your prospective customers shop and convert.
Many of these bots work with Facebook Messenger, giving prospects the personal shopping experience they crave from the app they’re most likely to use multiple times daily. Here’s an example from 1-800-FLOWERS.
A/B Test Every Aspect of Your eCommerce Marketing Campaigns
Ideally, you’d eventually test every element of your ecommerce platform, including the ones generated by this very checklist. That includes your headlines and sales copy, product descriptions and CTAs, graphics and images, and everything else customers may read and see.
Whether you use manual testing or machine-learning technology to test the various elements of your website, keep it up until you find just the right combination of words, images, and overall messages that keep your customers converting and becoming loyal to your brand.
With this ecommerce conversion rate optimization checklist in hand, you have at your disposal a guide for making your online store just as pleasing to the senses as any brick-and-mortar store.
With the right aesthetics and ease-of-use, high-value content and product images, a checkout process that’s a breeze, retargeting, live chat, and nearly-intuitive product search, you’ll have on your hands an ecommerce site that’s designed for maximum conversions.
That’s the goal, isn’t it? More leads, customers, and sales?
Put this CRO checklist to good use and watch your rates of conversion significantly improve.
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