Congratulations! You have made a squeaky-clean new eCommerce website that is attractive and SEO optimized to perfection.
But wait, why are those numbers not translating to sales?
Well, you are not alone, as only 22% of eCommerce sites are satisfied with their conversion rate.
You have come to the right place to burst free of this statistic. Learning about conversion rate optimization (CRO) will give you valuable insight into acquiring traffic and converting it into revenue.
Many elements go into CRO, including marketing strategies, copywriting, user experience, linking, and testing.
It sounds like a bit of a headache, but if you go in with a drive to have a successful business, you will be implementing these CRO best practices like a pro in no time.
What is conversion rate optimization?
When a customer on your website carries out the action you intended, such as subscribing to a service or purchasing a product, it is referred to as a conversion.
There are two types of conversion:
● Macro-conversion is when the user carries out the main goal of the website. Specifically for eCommerce sites whose purpose is to sell products, the conversion from traffic to buying the product is known as macro-conversion.
● Micro-conversion is when the smaller, secondary goals are completed. This can be commenting on a post, signing up for email alerts, or making an account.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the name given to strategies and tools which are put in place for a website to convert traffic into revenue.
CRO is often described as a funnel with three stages; the first stage is where visitors arrive at your site, the second stage is when they are considering your product, and the final stage in the funnel is their decision – whether it be a conversion or not.
Your conversion rate can be high or low. It will come as no surprise that you want your rate to be high, as this means your website is fully optimized, thoroughly tested, and tweaked for your target audience.
On the other hand, having a low conversion rate is something you do not want and is probably what has led you to this page.
When visitors arrive at your website but don’t buy your product, this is known as a low conversion rate. It can be due to flaws in your website, such as poor user experience, intrusive call-to-actions (CTAs), or malfunctioning links.
According to WordStream, the average conversion rate of a website is about 2.35%, with the most successful sites having a rate of up to 11%.
By looking at this table of examples, you will see how few conversions it takes to reach the average conversion rate.
Why is conversion rate optimization?
CRO is so important that companies producing the best sales dedicate at least 5% of their budget to optimizing their conversion rates, as stated by Whittington Consulting.
This is not to say that the only way to be successful with converting traffic into sales is to spend, spend, spend, but it shows that you get results for what you put in.
Also, when you set aside a healthy budget for CRO, you will see that it should soon pay for itself.
A well-optimized website will acquire visitors, retain them, and build a loyal following for the company.
The long-term survival of any company comes down to making a profit, and if you are not making the revenue you need, things can go downhill fast.
Even if your website does not get a lot of traffic but still has a good conversion rate, the few visitors that come to your site will be much more valuable.
Quality is better than quantity. But you should always strive for both.
8 best practices for conversion rate optimization
So what can we do to optimize our conversion rates?
Many CRO strategies will take your website from a money pit to a money pot ranging from small tweaks to more time-consuming adjustments.
1. Set goals and stick to them
The first thing you should do before you start messing around with your website is to define a clear goal. This will make it much easier to know what you must do in order to get there.
You can establish goals such as how many visitors you want in a week, how many conversions are completed, whether macro or micro, or how many visitors sign up for your newsletter.
A great way to maintain realistic, achievable goals is by following the SMART system:
1. Specific goals require a clear plan of action as you know exactly what you want to achieve by the end of it.
2. Measurable goals are tangible, meaning you can physically see them. This can be an increase in a graph, more revenue, or more engagement. Tangible goals can be measured against previous results and are great for documenting what works and what doesn’t.
3. Attainable goals will prevent you from being unrealistic about what your website can achieve in a certain time frame.
4. Relevant goals should be focused on what your company has initially set out to do and what aspect of its audience is targeted.
5. Time-bound goals are important for holding you accountable and moving things along, but they should still be realistic.
2. Know your target audience
Your website should be designed and optimized from the first landing page to the checkout page, with your target audiences’ needs as a priority.
If you spend time getting to know your audience via social listening or competitor research, you can begin to see your website through their eyes.
Implementing CTA’s that are actually effective and non-intrusive will be much easier if you can predict how your audience would react to it.
If you don’t have one already, you should develop a buyer persona with data such as how old they are, their interests, and their budget will personify the traffic that comes to your eCommerce website.
User data such as this can be compiled to create a buyer persona. You can conduct surveys, case studies, polls, testimonials, interviews, and customer reviews to get this information.
Work on your lead generation and find out what your audience is talking about and what they want more of so that your website can be the place to get it.
Customer reviews will speak volumes to those on the fence about your business. This is social proof – when people look to others before deciding.
Social proof is so effective that GlobeNewsWire says 95% of potential customers will read reviews before buying a product.
3. Harness the power of data
Data is not always the most exciting thing in the world with all the numbers and decimal points, but it is incredibly valuable.
You should pay attention to two types of data when it comes to your website; quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative data comprises numbers and is vital for seeing black-and-white results on how well your website is doing.
This includes how many people visit your website, what landing or product page they spend the most time on or arrive on first, what functions they use, the device they are using, customer demographic, and much more.
To understand this data thoroughly, you can use popular tools for calculating quantitative data, including funnel tools, analytical tools, and website heat maps.
Qualitative is the other data type that will tell you important information about your website. This kind of data is concerned with subjective feedback and has a people-first approach to gathering information.
Collecting qualitative data is also much more hands-on, as it usually involves interviews with your customers, user testing, and surveys.
4. Have a user-friendly site
We are all familiar with the instant feeling that a badly designed website gives us as soon as we enter it.
Maybe it looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2006 or has information squeezed into every inch. Either way, it doesn’t take long for us to have an impression of a website; if it’s a negative one, it only takes one click to look elsewhere for what we need.
You don’t need us to tell you how important it is to have an attractive, responsive website that is easy to navigate, but some aspects may have flown under the radar.
● Focus on landing pages
When traffic enters your website, they will first see a landing page, so there’s a bit of pressure for it to make a good impression.
It has the ultimate goal of converting website visitors into customers which can be a big ask for one page to pull off, but it will be your biggest asset if you take the time to optimize it.
The internet is a wonderful place, and in it, you will find helpful, easy-to-use tools that will make optimizing your landing page much easier.
Optimizing a landing page includes finding out where the traffic came from, why it didn’t lead to a conversion, and what you can do to ensure it does next time.
As we mentioned in the previous section, quantitative data produced by analytic CRO tools will be the key to seeing where the site visitors came from and at what point in the eCommerce conversion funnel they withdrew.
To get a better idea of the customer’s intent when they come to the landing page, don’t be scared to add a little pop-up or prompt asking after completing a conversion to ask them why they came.
One of the common pitfalls that website landing pages fall into is asking too much of the customer.
This can mean having multiple CTA’s asking the customer to make an account, sign up for their newsletter, and make a purchase in the span of a few seconds.
Instead of laying it on thick and scaring potential customers away, focus on one clear goal, and you can guarantee that you will see a higher rate of conversion.
● Minimal loading times
As technology gets faster, we get more impatient.
Getting the information we want only seconds after requesting it has become the standard, and if your website has long loading times, your customer will likely give a big sigh and be on their way.
Research has found that just over half of website visits are abandoned if it hasn’t loaded after 3 seconds.
That may not sound like a long time, but those few seconds can cost you when you’re used to instant load times from other websites.
Slow load times are especially detrimental if potential customers are browsing from a mobile phone.
If you have a great website but it doesn’t load fast enough, it will sit wasted behind a loading icon. To avoid this, use tools to test your website speed.
● Optimize for mobile phones
Mobile phones seldom leave our side, so it’s unsurprising that they make up to 51% of website traffic and are expected to grow to 72% by 2025.
You can use free online tools to see if your website is mobile-responsive. If it’s clunky, not aligned properly, or has images thrown around in disarray, then it is in dire need of optimization.
To keep a website responsive when navigated on mobile, don’t use small buttons or designs that a finger cannot easily select. The frustration of being redirected to a different page or entering the wrong information can lead to low conversion rates.
Naturally, text can get a bit harder to read with a smaller screen. And if visitors are browsing outside by the pool, you have the added challenge of making the font and images as clear as possible.
● Provide a clear path
In order for your customer to progress through your conversion funnel, you may need to hold their hand a little bit and show them the way.
By keeping your navigation options simple and effective, you can create a clear path for your traffic to flow through like a well-designed highway.
You can use a few words here and there and images to encourage site visitors without being too pushy. If a number of visitors get lost on your website with no clear way out, then the easiest thing to do is to exit the web page altogether.
5. Captivate with a call-to-action
A call-to-action (CTA) is a great way to engage your visitors in your website and build CRO. The language and design will encourage them to pick up what you’re putting down, but not all have the intended outcome.
When used in the wrong way, CTAs can be too in your face and no amount of flashy lights will make your visitor want to press that ‘buy here’ button.
Generic buttons like this do not always lead to the desired action because they don’t feel integrated into the website as much as a personalized banner or graphic.
The most effective CTAs include the following:
1. They feel personal to each website visitor. Utilize the data collected from your traffic and tailor CTAs to be more specific.
2. They are as convenient as possible for site visitors to complete. Don’t give them a CTA that leads them through an additional tab or complex sign-up process.
3. How the user will benefit from the CTA is the vocal point. You must know who your users are and what they are looking for when they come to your site.
6. Implement live chat
Having a live chat option on your website is another effective CRO strategy. It is much easier to click the button and talk to the AI on the other end rather than call the company.
Even though it’s usually not a real person on the other end, Comm100 reported that chatbots solved almost 70% of the issues brought up by site visitors.
These useful little robots work for free 24/7, can speak multiple languages, and will collect extremely useful information you can use later down the sales funnel.
Not only can live chat solve the issues of potential customers, but it can also make the browsing experience more personalized and friendly, which leads to increased sales.
A little pop-up asking if they need help in a casual tone will make the customer experience feel similar to browsing in-store.
You can even use chatbots to gather qualitative surveys, a great way to analyze the user experience and any pain points they are experiencing on your website.
7. Stake out the competition
When we say this, we don’t mean do whatever your biggest competitor does. This can only make you as good as them, not better.
Also, keep in mind that what worked for your competitor may not work for you.
Have a poke around a competitor’s website as if you were a potential customer. Make a note of how user-friendly the site is where your website lacks in comparison.
To see raw facts, you can turn to free analytical tools such as Google Analytics or Semrush and pay attention to the keywords they are using, the difficulty of those keywords, traffic, backlinks, and much more information that you can use as a benchmark.
A SWOT analysis will help you lay out your findings and categorize them, giving you a roadmap of what actions to take next.
As an eCommerce site, don’t forget to pay attention to competitors’ rates. If they are significantly lower than yours, you need to justify why you are not as affordable.
If you can’t, you may need to consider dropping your prices. Even if you have gotten a potential customer all the way to the checkout page, there is still a 50% chance they will ditch their shopping cart due to high shipping and tax costs.
8. Carry out A/B testing
Technology is constantly changing and innovating, and A/B testing (also known as split testing) will allow your website to improve continuously along with it.
An example of A/B testing is if you were to have 2 variations of the same landing page. One of the pages has a pop-up CTA button, while the other has a static banner at the top.
These 2 variations are then put to users for testing. How the user interacts with these pages will be analyzed and compared to see which is most successful.
With A/B and split testing tools, you can even tailor it to target a certain traffic group. The results of these tests are much more personal and, therefore more effective in understanding user behavior.
There is less risk with this form of testing because you will know what works and what doesn’t before it goes live and potentially decreases your conversion rate.
As helpful as A/B testing is, it can take time to complete, so you should go in with a clear goal. Know exactly what elements you want to test and how you want them to perform.
Multivariant testing is similar to A/B testing but is capable of analyzing multiple elements on the same page at a time, whereas A/B testing is more limited.
6 conversion rate optimization practices to avoid
Now that you’re super knowledgeable in the best website conversion rate optimization practices, you should know what not to do.
Conversion optimization strategies are not one size fits all, so even if you take part in some of these pitfalls, your website is not automatically written off as a failure.
But by avoiding these mistakes, you can forgo these risks, save money, and focus on the things that really matter.
1. Not enough backlinks
Without traffic, you can wave goodbye to conversion rates altogether.
Links that visitors follow from external sources, websites, influencers, or other forms of media are known as backlinks.
The traffic from backlinks will be higher quality as they arrive at your website with a goal in mind. Website visitors that are new to your website and have an intention of buying from it are just the ticket to increasing your conversion rate.
On your website, just 10% of the pages will have been found by looking them up on a search engine. To give the other pages on your website a chance to shine, you need backlinks to pave the way.
Backlinks are also the way to Google’s heart, and if Google trusts your website, it will organically rank higher on the search results page.
So how do you get high-quality backlinks?
● Make a website worth linking to. If your content is high quality and unique, other sites will be more inclined to source it.
● Use high-quality, original images. It is a great way to get started with backlinks because other websites are required to source it back to you if they use it.
● Don’t let your website get stale. Keep updating your content to keep it relevant and fresh.
● Reach out to influencers. As an eCommerce website, influencers build a bridge between social media and your website. Mentioned.ai will take care of this.
● Form partnerships. Other than influencers, partnering with other companies will ensure you get backlinks in the long term.
● Chase down mentions. If another website has mentioned you but didn’t include a link, you can use free tools to find and reclaim missed backlinks.
- Have a content strategy. Going in with a strategy will help your brand grow as well as having a blog with relevant keywords that speak your target audience’s language.
2. Scrapping the roadmap
Maps prevent you from getting lost, so ditching it will do your website and overall brand no favors.
By keeping your roadmap, you can see what tests you have done, the findings, and what tests you are yet to do.
This will give a concrete timeline of what stuck and what didn’t, preventing you from going in circles and carrying out the same or very similar tests down the line.
3. Having unrealistic expectations
You will only get demotivated and frustrated if you go into your conversion rate optimization strategy with unrealistic expectations.
High conversion rates will not happen overnight, so be prepared to put in the time and effort to reach the realistic SMART goals you have established.
Conversion rates fluctuate in small percentages and a 1% increase can mean big strides for your revenue at the end of the financial year.
The biggest, most successful eCommerce sites have a conversion rate of around 11%, with the average being just below 3%.
Therefore, expecting half of your traffic to convert into revenue is just not realistic unless you’re a genius and your website is the best thing ever.
In that case, don’t let me crush your dreams.
4. Losing sight of secondary metrics
It’s easy to get lost in test results when measuring primary metrics like conversion rate, backlinks, and website traffic – but losing sight of secondary metrics can cause poor conversion optimization.
Secondary metrics cover the customer journey of the time spent on the site, bounce rate, the device they are browsing from, visited pages, and how fast the website loaded for them.
By identifying the strengths and weaknesses in your secondary metrics, you will know what to tweak to achieve a higher conversion rate.
5. Not doing any research
Assuming you know how your target audience will interact with your website is a sure way to have a low conversion rate.
The only way to predict your potential paying customers is to get to know them through research.
As we mentioned earlier, qualitative data will allow you to see traffic as individual humans instead of numbers.
Spend time researching your target audience, and find out things like what their interests are, their budget, and what device they’re browsing on.
Surveys, customer reviews, and social media listening are great qualitative research tools, such as Hotjar, that will show you how to tweak the usability of your website for the personal needs of your audience.
Research into your competitors is also time well spent. Identify what they do differently to you and whether it hinders or improves their performance.
6. Giving up
I’m sure you’ve heard before that comparison is the thief of joy. And in this instance, it can urge you to throw in the towel and give up on your website altogether.
If you’ve carried out the same test multiple times and it just won’t stop failing, then use it as an opportunity to learn and innovate.
It is a great chance to try something new; if you don’t, you could miss out on the secret to your success.
Even though you have done what you can when it comes to digital marketing and SEO to optimize your product pages, if you cannot convert traffic into revenue, then it’s pretty pointless as an eCommerce site.
That’s why we’re here, to let you know that your website is not doomed, and with just a few conversion rate optimization tools, your conversion rate will be higher than ever.
Like humans, every company is unique (or should be), so it is hard to say that every strategy will work for you.
This is where research and A/B testing will prove very important. Learn as much as you can about your target audience and cater your website to be as user-friendly as possible to meet those needs.
Remember, don’t give up. If you really want your website to reach its conversion goals, the extra efforts needed to achieve them will simply feel like part of the job of getting to the top.
Are you the owner of an eCommerce website with a low conversion rate? Have conversion rate optimization practices helped you turn traffic into revenue? Let us know on Twitter.