How to Quickly Improve the Conversion Rate of your Ecommerce Store Without Spending a Dime

by Neil Patel

Last updated on July 3rd, 2018

If you’re in the ecommerce game, the goal is pretty simple: Get as many darn conversions down the hole as you possibly can.

But there’s a difference between inelegantly grasping for sales vs. adroitly siphoning massive amounts of customers through a completed transaction.

You don’t want to look desperate, sound desperate or do desperate. Desperation kills conversions.

So what do you do? As an ecommerce marketer, you’re trying to improve those slouching conversion rates, but your hands are tied. Your budget is gone. The year is winding down.

And then this blog post comes like a bolt from the blue, alerting you to the methods you can use to improve conversions and not spend any money.

You see, the trouble with improving conversion rates is that a lot of business owners think they need to spend a lot of money with an agency, or there will be some huge expenditure on site redesign.

That’s just not the case.

There are a lot of conversion rate optimization tricks you can leverage that won’t cost you anything more than time.

Here are some of my favorites.

1. Do awesome things with your product images.

When it comes to buying products online, people want to see what they’re getting. It’s one of the single most important elements to getting someone to convert.

Images are the grandfather of boosting conversion rates online. I can still remember the head-smacking, heart-stopping, eye-popping moment when I realized that images were like some secret conversion optimization elixir that could dramatically raise my conversion rates.

Think I’m exaggerating? Peep Laja agrees. He wrote, “If I’d have to pick one single thing that would sell a product online, it’s images.”

This is an improvement that you can make without being a penny poorer.

How do you improve your images and, by application, your conversion rates?

Big images. Lots of white space around the images. Super high quality images.

Remember, too, you want to have multiple images. The more, the better. Users may not look at all of them, but if they want to see multiple images then the option is there.

Show the product from as many different angles as possible or in different forms. If it’s a usable product, try to show it in context with the ability zoom in.

ecommerce product image gallery

What’s this going to cost you?

Well, you could hire a kick-ass product photographer, pay him a king’s ransom for his work, and enjoy beautiful photographs.

But what about the no-cost option? Here are some improvements that you can make right now without spending anything.

  1. Create higher interactivity with product images. Allow users to pinch, zoom, rotate, and scale the image to their liking. You want to get as close to a real, tactile experience as possible.
  2. Use a high-resolution photo if available.
  3. Add white space around the product photo.
  4. Use as many photo angles and options as possible.

2. Improve your product descriptions.

Product descriptions matter. The best sales copy that improves conversions isn’t laced with hype. You don’t sell the customer on pomp and circumstance.

Your product description is there to provide value and information that helps the customer make a decision.

The best sales copy is rich with information. Lots of information sometimes produces a long product description. Don’t fear long descriptions. Truly engaged customers will read it all. Be sure to use formatting to make the text scannable and digestible.

At the same time, you need to provide an easy-to-read summary for the window shopper.

In the concise version or summary, capture the essence of who the product is for, what it will do and why it’s good. Focus on the benefit statements that communicate value.

The longer version of your copy provides the rest of the information, answering any questions the customer might be left with.

Home Depot does a good job with this. The top of the page has just a few bullets to summarize the features/benefits of the drill while a longer segment is located down the page with a more robust description.

product overview text

Most importantly, if you’re selling something, do not copy the descriptions from the manufacturer. This shoots down your SEO, shoves you into the mass of other copycats, and fails to produce any differentiation whatsoever.

Instead, write better product descriptions. Add a personal touch that speaks directly to your consumers. Manufacturer product descriptions rarely do that good.

3. Use product videos.

Before you think you need a professional studio or agency to do product videos, let me put you at ease.

Videos don’t have to cost you a dime.

What is this voodoo of which I speak?

User generated content, baby.

This is a great opportunity to tap your consumer base and ask them to provide testimonial videos or show them using their favorite product they’ve purchase from you.

You can pad out your library of videos by shooting videos on your own with you and/or your team showcasing your products. You can do it with a smartphone.

Photos are great, but video is better.

According to Treepodia, video provides a significant lift in engagement and conversions.

increase in cvr

If you’ve been scared of video due to the perceived high cost, this is your time to break through that barrier.

Take out your smartphone. Open the camera. Start shooting.

4. Lose the shipping costs if possible.

Did you know more than 50% of ecommerce merchants offer free shipping? Some offer free shipping at all times, while others put conditions on it. Amazon and JCPenney frequently offer free shipping if your shopping cart value exceeds a preset dollar amount.

Nordstrom offers free shipping on all purchases.

An E-tailing group study revealed that unconditional free shipping is the #1 deciding factor for consumers looking to make a purchase. 73% listed it as “critical”.

In another study, 93% of respondents stated that they would purchase more products if free shipping were available.

High shipping costs were rated as the #1 reason why consumers abandon carts, and shipping costs are one of the biggest reasons consumers are constantly driven back to brick and mortar stores.

Does free really make a big difference to conversions?

Chris Anderson covered this topic in his book “Free” where he talks about Amazon’s move to implement free shipping offers. When they did, sales went up in every single country except for France, where shipping was greatly reduced down to just 20 cents.

While 20 cents is tremendously low for shipping, it didn’t seem to sway a lot of people.

When Amazon changed France over to free shipping, conversions and sales climbed.

Now the idea behind this article was to improve conversion without spending a dime. That also includes losing money by doing something like eating shipping costs.

If you decide you can’t go that route, then make one critical change: make sure your customers have a way to see shipping up front. If you can, charge a flat shipping rate.

Upfront or flat shipping costs keeps people from abandoning your cart down the road and killing your conversions.

47% of shoppers state that they’ll abandon a cart if they come to the checkout and find out free shipping isn’t an option. That will tank your conversions.

If you can’t offer free shipping, then at least be upfront about it.

5. Showcase product reviews on your products.

Smartphones have made it easy for people to comparison shop while in brick and mortar stores, and it’s even easier to do it online.

According to a study conducted by GE Capital Retail Bank, 61% of shoppers read reviews before they purchase. According to a similar study from the Acquity Group, 41% of B2B shoppers behave the same — reading reviews before deciding to purchase.

So start showcasing reviews on your store.

Depending on the ecommerce platform you’re using, you probably have built in reviews or you can grab a free plugin or widget that allow product reviews to be shown on your site. If not, go grab reviews from your customers and insert them into your site as quote testimonials.

And above all else, never delete low quality or negative reviews. Negative reviews improve conversions as long as there are only a few among positive reviews.

If you don’t have reviews just laying around, show stars. Any stars. Stars mean “reviews” and the more of them, the better.

star rating example sears website

6. Boost the quality of your CTA button.

You’ve probably heard me say something pejorative about relying on CTA buttons to boost conversions.

Let’s face it. Changing your CTA button color isn’t going to make miracles.

But, changing your CTA button quality can lead to marginal improvements. Besides, we’re going for all the free conversion boosters we can, right?

Your customer should never have to hunt to find anything in your store. That includes the checkout button or the ability to add something to their cart.

Have you ever been annoyed because you weren’t sure where a register was in a retail location? It feels like that.

Creating a smooth shopping experience is critical to conversions, so make sure your call to action buttons stand out.

Make sure your “add to cart” and “checkout” buttons are brightly colored, big, and prominent on the page above the fold. Never rely on text links only for your CTA.

The North Face does an excellent job making the call to action stand out in their online store.

size chart

Walmart didn’t become an ecommerce juggernaut by accident. Their CTAs pop. Incidentally, they’re also the proverbial orange color.

asus personal computer

You don’t see the “add to registry,” “add to list” or other buttons because they don’t freaking matter. All that matters is that you click the orange one, buy the product, and get money into Wal-Mart’s coffers.

Remember, you don’t just need flamboyant buttons. Take a page from Tesla’s book and, if it’s appropriate for your site, use an understated button design with little distraction (not counting that sexy red car below).

tesla model s

7. Make it easy for customers to contact you by displaying (not hiding) your contact information.

Adding your contact information to your site so it’s clearly visible might seem like a simple change, but it is known to improve conversion rates. This is especially important if you’re a relatively small ecommerce operation that doesn’t carry the reputation of a larger brand.

That contact information builds trust.

Having that information up in the header of your site shows that you’re a real business, and it’s easy to get in touch with you if there’s a question.

shop wild things

8. Go after cart abandonment.

Every business experiences cart abandonment. Abandonment means the loss of a customer who is going through the check-out process and it’s not isolated to any specific industry.

A study from Forrester found that 89% of consumers had abandoned a cart at least once. Abandonment is caused by a number of factors including:

  • Shipping costs
  • Comparison shopping
  • Forced registration
  • Doubt
  • Distraction
  • Site speeds

You don’t have to settle with your current abandonment rates though. If you’re collecting email addresses as part of the checkout process then you have an opportunity to follow up with them via email.

amazon sign-in page

Even if you only recapture 29% of abandoned carts, like SmileCookie did, you’re building your conversions and increasing your revenue.

One of the best ways to approach this is to use cart abandonment email triggers built into many ecommerce platforms. Send them a cart abandonment notification immediately after it occurs.

If they shop somewhere else then you’ve lost the opportunity.

In the email, include a personalized message that showcases the items they left in their cart as a reminder.

It’s a good idea to follow this up with one or two emails that get triggered if the user still doesn’t complete their purchase from the email. Perhaps you can even include a discount code to convince them to convert.

Make sure you’re testing the effectiveness of these emails including open rates, click through rates and conversion. This way you can adjust the content and call to action of your emails to improve conversions.

Conclusion

There’s a final no-cost method to improving your conversion rates. It involves nothing more than being as accurate and focused as possible with your analytics.

Most conversion optimizers haven’t gone through the painful but rewarding task of segmenting traffic, slicing up their search traffic, and analyzing individual channels. Once you do this, you begin to gain a much more accurate picture of your true conversion rates.

To instantly see a rise in your conversion rates, set up a Google Analytics profile filter to exclude all traffic that is outside of your shipping or service area. If all your ecommerce tracking is in order, you’ll see more accurate rates based on your filtering.

No matter what approach you take from the tips above, always make sure you’re testing the results of changes you make to ensure that your conversions are changing for the better.

Here’s the thing. You can improve your conversion rates. Don’t accept the rates you’re currently experiencing. Always aim higher.

What no-cost methods have you used to boost conversion rates in your ecommerce store?

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

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  1. Patrick says:
    August 11, 2017 at 1:26 am

    I feel like a lot of these points are pretty obvious if you have an e-commerce site. I’m curious what the next you would do is? If i have an e-commerce site, with all of the above points implemented, and i want my conversion rate to be even better, where would i start? I mean, there must be some process you can implement, that you could work on everyday, and it would never be “good enough”. Is there any place where one could find some statistic about what people want when they shop online?

  2. Anonymous says:
    June 10, 2016 at 10:24 am

    People tend to like free shipping. It doesn’t matter if the shipping cost is already built into the price of the item. FREE shipping attracts customers

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