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Top 50 eCommerce Tips - Part Three, Conversion

Conversion rate optimisation put simply, is turning the maximum number of website visitors into paying customers.

As an eCommerce store owner, you should have a very close relationship with your eCommerce conversion rate – this is the magic figure that tells you the exact number of sales you achieve versus the number of visitors you receive.

For example, a conversion rate of 3% indicates that for every 100 visitors who have arrived at your store, 3 visitors complete the journey and transform into the holy grail – a paying customer. The higher your conversion rate, the more efficient you are at turning visitors into customers and therefore, the more sales and revenue you will make. If you can increase your conversion rate, you’ll be directly impacting your bottom line which at the end of the day is why we’re all here!

The higher your conversion rate, the more efficient you are at turning visitors into customers and therefore, the more sales and revenue you will make.

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There’s one incredibly underrated factor that surrounds conversion rate optimisation and is often missed by the majority of eCommerce stores – making improvements to increase your conversion rate requires little to no additional marketing spend. You don’t need to increase the number of visitors reaching your site (although that is always welcome of course!), you just need to ensure your site is efficient as possible when it comes to converting browsers into buyers.

When it comes down to it, success in this area of eCommerce is the golden ticket. Squeezing more revenue out of your existing audience without increasing your cost of sale or advertising expenses should definitely be classed as a win for any retailer.

The Sales Funnel

Picture your stores’ eCommerce sales process as a funnel – at the top you have visitors, and at the bottom you have customers. All your visitors will travel through your sales funnel when they enter your site, browsing various pages of your store and making a decision on whether to spend or not. They can exit the journey of ‘becoming a customer’ at any point – that’s their prerogative.

The whole concept of conversion rate optimisation is improving this funnel to reduce visitor dropout as much as possible. Although the conversion rate of 100% is unrealistic, you can still work towards improving whatever figure you may have at the moment. Bear in mind that the average initial bounce rate of most eCommerce stores is somewhere between 30% and 50% – this means that out of every 10 customers that enter your site, between 3-5 of them will leave immediately without viewing any other page than the one they landed on.

Most conversion rate optimisation opportunities can be identified through your Google Analytics tracking, but there are many other ways to glean insights using relatively simple and inexpensive methods.

Feedback and consultation from your previous or existing customers will often be a good indicator of where opportunities might exist. Many of our existing clients have come to us for a fresh take on things as they feel too close to their own business to see the wood from the trees. It can also be challenging to see your eCommerce website in the same light as your customers or our target audience do, especially if you have developed the site over a number of years for example.

How To Study The Data

For more in-depth identification, we would suggest a two-pronged attack on the data tucked away in your Google Analytics account.

First of all, take some time to explore the advanced eCommerce tracking tools and investigate implementing a more detailed event tracking strategy to monitor the important actions that you want your visitors to complete. This can give you fascinating insight into which parts of the funnel are causing increased exit rates or blocking sales.

The second route to go down requires a little more energy. Session replay tools are another way of getting interesting information about how your visitors are navigating the site as well as highlighting issues that you previously didn’t consider. Once you’ve got a list of things you want to work on, the final stage is to get detailed interactional information from your audience – you can do this with user experience testing.

User experience testing, where an individual will complete a number of tasks within your site and return with their feedback, can shed light on usability issues that you as a business operator may not have even considered. If you create a clear brief with instructions for the participant, this feedback can be used to confirm or rebuke your initial suspicions – or may lead to additional refinement opportunities that weren’t considered at the beginning of the process.

You could ask the participant to enter your site at the homepage and navigate to a particular subcategory or ask them to add three items to their basket and then checkout – as long as your brief is clear and concise, this feedback can make all the difference.

Make Changes To Guide The User

One simple conversion rate optimisation example is to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a visitor to reach a product page. This could be achieved in a number of ways such as adding layered navigation to your main menu, directing the visitors to a more relevant sub-category, or adding filters for common product attributes like size, colour or material to your category pages. All of these options give your store visitors the option to drill down to a selection of products that more closely meets their requirements.

Adding a robust and intuitive advanced search system as well as making this clearly prominent throughout your site architecture can help visitors pinpoint an exact product match or tailored shortlist of products. This is another way you can edge your visitors another step closer to the checkout page.

As you can imagine, when addressing just one seemingly simple issue, there can be a very long list of optimisation changes that need to be tested before adding to your live site. This makes conversion rate optimisation very much an ongoing discipline.

Robert Gibson

Partnership Manager

Nosto Solutions

Over the last 4-5 years, the battleground in eCommerce has shifted from price and product availability to service and experience. By automating the entire online browsing experience with personalised recommendations and dynamic product content, not only are retailers able to set themselves apart from their competitors, but also keep their shoppers onsite for longer, reduce bounce rate and skyrocket conversions!

Here’s a selection of slightly more advanced optimisation techniques that look at the following areas of your store:

  • Using an on-site personalisation tool such as Nosto on your store can help your visitors connect more deeply with the products they’re looking for, making them feel like they’ve arrived at the store best suited to their needs. This can take many different forms – from product recommendations based on crowd logic and best selling items to tailored suggestions based on an individual’s previous browsing and purchasing habits – the possibilities are almost endless.
  • Basket and checkout page optimisation can reduce unnecessary process and clutter from the page, giving the customer more focus on what they intend to do and what we would like them to do. Simplifying the most crucial part of the journey is absolutely fundamental for eCommerce businesses. A single page checkout design that you can achieve by using OneStepCheckout has as few steps as possible is always preferable to keep the process simple and clearly signposted for the user – less is more!
  • Reducing friction in the payment process by removing forms and unnecessary typing with checkouts like Apple Pay or address lookup features. Focusing on simplification through the basket, checkout and payment pages is also crucial and in the current landscape, a focus on mobile-specific usability and payment methods couldn’t be more important.
  • Reminding customers of simple shipping and returns processes at the checkout can reduce uncertainty in their decision-making. This is also important throughout the site to reduce exit rates on core pages like the basket and the checkout.

Aside from improving the conversion rate of your eCommerce store (but relevant to improving your overall revenue performance) sits a host of other optimisation tweaks and changes, but these need to be considered very carefully in case they are in conflict with the simplification process we’ve just covered.

A good example is introducing cross-sell and upsell products to a potential customer on the basket or checkout page or offering free delivery if they spend slightly more than is currently in their basket. These techniques may drive a higher average order value and therefore more revenue, but may also impact the conversion rate as the journey now has more steps and therefore more distractions from simply completing the purchase.

In Conclusion…

We would always suggest you start your conversion rate optimisation journey by looking to address the most impactful and highest value changes first – in our experience, these are normally quite obvious from your website analytics. The ‘low-hanging fruit’ is always a good place to start as the results will be more sizeable and likely have a greater impact on your total revenue.

Take a look right now at your site search analytics data and see the disparity between the conversion rate of visits which exclude a search compared with visits which include a search – I’m sure you’ll be shocked!

Embarking on conversion rate optimisation with your eCommerce store can be a very rewarding journey, as in most cases you can see a direct impact on sales almost immediately. That said, the gains don’t really ever end – what lays ahead is a process of micro refinement, A/B testing and deeper analysis over a longer period of time to ensure you’re making the best possible sales opportunity from every single visit.

One final word of caution – the process can become an obsession so beware, and good luck!