Table of contents
15 eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Strategies
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) refers to the practice of increasing the percentage of website users who complete a desired action. These actions could be selecting ‘add to cart‘, clicking a desired link, filling out a contact form, or purchasing a product. Conversion Rate Optimisation is typically an ongoing process that involves A/B testing and multivariate testing.
What is considered a conversion in eCommerce?
A conversion means different things to different sectors. Below we have compiled some of the most common types of conversions across different sectors. For eCommerce specifically, these are primarily geared towards the number of purchases, but it is common for marketing teams to also report and analyze micro-conversions such as ‘add-to-wishlist’ to understand how interest translates to full transactions. It is important to take into account what industry your business is operating within as the conversion rate strategy selected might differ between industries.
eCommerce : Purchases, add-to-basket, shopping cart completion rate, newsletter sign ups, loyalty programme sign ups, custom order enquiries, net new customers, items added to wishlist (perhaps a lower-level conversion point)
Travel: Bookings made, add-ons (ancillaries) purchased (e.g. insurance, car-hire etc)
B2B: Leads generated, demos booked, phone calls (excluding noise calls)
Entertainment: Subscriptions, add-ons (e.g. in-app purchases)
What is an average conversion rate in eCommerce?
Conversion rates vary by region, channel and sector. Statista look at worldwide eCommerce conversion rates by sector and this 2021 survey shows that fashion (apparel) varies with luxury apparel down at just 1% whilst general apparel is almost three times higher at 2.7%. Beauty and skincare sits higher up the list at 2.8-3%.
This data can offer useful insights for retailers and brands to benchmark themselves against but it should be used with caution. Target audiences, location, product mix, seasonality are just some of the factors that play a big part in Conversion Rate %s and therefore should be factored in when analysing results.
Why eCommerce shoppers don’t convert
The reasons shoppers don’t convert are extremely varied. Some are easily quantifiable whilst others are harder to predict. Of the more quantifiable examples, these can include:
Not enough product information
- Poor navigation / hard to use
Unclear or conflicting ‘call to actions’
Low quality imagery
Lack of shopper trust
Minimal social proof
Long and complex checkout
Price too high
Product not available
Reasons that are harder to measure could include:
The online equivalent of ‘window shopping’: This passive browsing state may be an individual who has no intention of buying but simply enjoys seeing the latest a brand has to offer
Pre pay-day browsing: At this point, a shopper may be adding items to their wishlist but will be returning following payday. It is quite common for retailers to see a spike at the beginning of the month for this reason
Waiting for sales: Shoppers become accustomed to sales periods whether this be mid-season sales or the more common end of season or holiday sales
Strategies to increase your eCommerce conversion rate
1. Persuasive design and copy:
The first strategy to increase conversions across your eCommerce site is persuasive design, there are 5 key elements to persuasive design:
1 – Clear Information: Shoppers should immediately know who you are, what value you provide and why they should care
2 – Visual Appeal: As with the copy, this should be simple and easily direct shoppers to where you want them to go
3 – Visual Hierarchy: What do you want shoppers to engage with first? This should be at the top of your visual hierarchy
4 – Grab and retain attention: The focus here is on engaging with your shoppers. What encourages shoppers to go deeper into your site than simply visiting the homepage?
5 – Match user intent: Be clear on what the intention of each page is and make all elements on the page focus towards that purpose. This doesn’t necessarily mean limiting yourself to one CTA but if the purpose is to get people to buy, then how do you make this easy for them? i.e. one CTA may be ‘buy now’ whilst another is ‘add to wishlist’ to help make it easier for them to buy in the future
In the example below from Hotter.com it is immediately obvious that the focus is on the sale supported by a clean image with a background colour that supports the overall brand identity. In the bottom left there is an extra 25% off teaser and the option to speak to the chatbot/live assistant in the bottom right.
In this example from Hotel Chocolat the vibrancy of the colors creates fantastic visual appeal which is mirrored in the highlighted items sitting underneath the main image, encouraging users to delve deeper into the site.
2. Product description and content hierarchy:
The Product Details Pages (PDPs) are arguably the most important pages on your website as they lead directly to a sale. Knowing what information a shopper wants and presenting it in a clear, intuitive manner is the key to its success. Testing different PDP designs with A/B or multivariate testing should form a key part of your Conversion Rate Optimization strategy. Tests may include: adding in social proof, including video, rearranging the hierarchy of different text, improving the readability of the description etc. The example below from argos.com is a strong example of a PDP thanks to:
A detailed but well-structured product description, broken down into bullet points and directing users to videos on key topics
A social proof integration in the product gallery
Clear delivery options
Alternative payment options with an option to opt into a finance plan
The option to compare the product to alternatives within the wider product catalogue
3. Social Proof Integration:
Weaving in social proof across the buying journey increases shopper trust and is statistically proven to generate consistent and substantial conversion rate uplifts. Social proof can come in many forms including:
2 – Reviews / case studies / comments / testimonials
3 – Influencer / celebrity endorsements
4 – Expert opinion / certification / third party accreditation
5 – Credentials (e.g. 10,000 customers rate Company X outstanding)
In this example with Fatface, Taggstar partnered with Bazaarvoice to add aggregated review messages into social proof messaging strategies. These additional messaged delivered a 1.71% conversion rate uplift over and above the conversion rate of 4.4% previously witnessed by FatFace with the original implementation of Taggstar.
4. Simple, intuitive navigation:
Shoppers should be able to quickly and easily identify the section of your site they’re looking for from your navigation. Some key rules of thumb are:
Make labels easy to scan by front-loading the key terms.
For sites with many categories and sub-categories, consider Mega Menus, such as the example below from Crew clothing. These can help shoppers drill down through several layers of the site or skip layers if they need to.
Add visuals to support key themes on the site such as the sale call to action in the example below
Avoid jargon in the link labels. Use terms that are easily identifiable for the shoppers – this will also benefit your SEO efforts
5. Social Commerce:
Promoting and selling products using social commerce is a CRO strategy used by many businesses and has helped created new revenue streams for businesses but for some eCommerce providers, they have also seen higher conversion rates than on their website or app.
The image below is an example of Very‘s Social Commerce strategy – showing one example, in this case, celebrity endorsement.
6. Targeted discounts:
Offering customers discounts based on their previous browsing behavior can increase the likelihood of converting on your eCommerce site. This can be in the form of overlays on the website or re-engagement emails for shoppers who have abandoned their basket.
Exit overlays can be a very effective method to keep customers on the site and encourage them to purchase. By triggering an exit overlay message to appear as a user is about to leave the site or after they’ve been on the site for a defined period of time, you can provide an offer that encourages them to complete their purchase such as this example from FatFace:
7. Guest checkout:
A common mistake made by eCommerce brands when looking to boost their conversions, is to force users to create an account in order to purchase their items. Not only can this lead to basket abandonment but that shopper may choose never to return. In the example below, you can see the option to continue as a guest.
8. Social Logins:
For users who do want to create an account, giving them the option of logging in using their social logins can make this process easier as more often than not, these login details are automatically saved on their device
9 Multiple Payment options:
It is crucial for eCommerce brands to understand the audience they’re selling to and what payment options they would expect. For example:
“Buy now, pay later” options with companies such as Klarna
Accepting different payment types such as Paypal, Apple Pay in addition to standard credit and debit cards
Allowing easy coupon or gift card redemption at checkout
This example from Hotter allows the use of Promo Codes and Pay Later options with 3 interest free payments.
10. Multiple delivery options:
Give shoppers the chance to select the best delivery option, or collection point, for them. The example below from ao.com is a great example of not only different delivery options but also details of how the delivery service works so shoppers know what to expect:
If a shopper leaves the site without having completed their purchase, you can use both ads and emails to re-engage them depending on how far through the buying journey they are:
Remarketing Ads: If a user has already left the site, remarketing them using a range of formats such as display ads, social media formats, video etc., can bring them back into the buying journey
12. Form testing:
Using tools such as Visual Website Optimizer you can discover where users drop off in your checkout process. With this data you can redesign your forms and perform A/B tests with the existing and new design to see which performs best
13. Availability Notifications:
If a product isn’t currently available but will be restocked, make sure you capture this interest and let shoppers know when the item is back in stock. A simple ‘notify me’ call to action where the ‘buy now’ button would have been is a simple way to capture interest and email shoppers as soon as the item(s) return
14. Optimize your site speed:
A slow site not only impacts your organic rankings but more importantly, frustrates your shoppers. According to portent.com, a a site that loads in 1 second has an eCommerce conversion rate 2.5x higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds. Common factors impacting site speed are:
Image size: Images should remain under 100KB in size. Consider using plugins such as Imagify or Smush to resize your images
Limited use of lazy-loading features: Consider lazy-loading images and content that are below the fold
Third Party Code: Plugins can be great, but they can also slow up the site. If you’re no longer using a certain plugin, remove it from the site. Adding tags to Tag Management solutions can also slow up the site. As with plugins, you want to audit those tags you have in place and see if any can be removed
15. Make it easy for shoppers to get in contact:
If a shopper was in a physical store, they’d expect to be able to approach a sales assistant and the online experience should be no different. Provide shoppers the option to engage with a virtual assistant or chatbots for out of hours support. This example from Wickes is present across the site, allowing customers to reach out as and when they need
Conversion Rate Optimization Tools
The key to setting out a Conversion Optimization Roadmap is to first understand where users are leaving the site and why.
The below tools are just some of those that can be used to help you gain both quantitative and qualitative insights:
This is a user behavior analytics tools that helps website owners understand how users are interacting with your website through heatmaps and session replays
Google Analytics is a widely used tool that allows brands to measure website traffic, conversions and interactions. This can be used to analyze drop offs in the customer journey and the value of each visit
VWO offer a long list of A/B and multivariate testing tools. They also offer Form Analytics so that you can dig further into where shoppers drop off during the checkout process
Cost: Paid for solution with tiered pricing model
Taggstar offer a bespoke reporting dashboard that provides real-time reports on the performance of the social proof messages integrated within a brand’s website, app, etc. This provides statistically significant results that quickly identify which messages are actively increasing conversion rates and delivering a higher ROI
- Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you achieve this higher ROI.