Running an e-commerce shop is not without growing pains. It takes guile and dedication to scale it into a flourishing brand. As you begin to think about what it takes to elevate your e-commerce site to the next level, you should also take into consideration how Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) on your website can play a role.
It can be easy to jump to conclusions and think that boosting traffic is the best way to grow your online store. This is only a half truth. More traffic without optimizing for conversions is just a waste of traffic—and your time. Chances are, you may already have the traffic you need to hit your sales goals. What you might not have is a good way to convert that traffic. Enter conversion rate optimization.
As this Forbes article points out, conversion rate optimization is the methodical, scientific process that helps turn traffic into sales. It is compelling people to take action once they arrive at your website. CRO involves A/B testing (also referred to as “split testing”) different variables of your website experience to see which performs better. Those variables can be anything from visual elements and website content to copywriting and user experience. It’s an endless process, really.
But it’s a process that can pay off big time when e-commerce sites are adamant about doing it continually, tracking their results accurately, and iterating to improve performance. Let’s take a look at some factors that can impact conversions and what you need to consider.
For e-commerce shops that have a lot of products—or a lot of variations on products—product filters are essential. If you have more than 20 products within a category, you should probably consider search filters.This enables customers to filter by size, color, price, and any other important product variable. Just be careful not to provide too many options. There is research that shows that too many choices may actually turn customers away.
A checkout page can literally make or break your e-commerce shop. This is the most important place of your website when it comes to offering a streamlined experience. First tip: Don’t force people to register in order to complete a purchase. It’s bad form. Always allow guest checkout, even if you promote the benefits of signing up for a full account. Also be sure to include a progress bar so people know where they’re at in the process. Finally, pre-fill forms wherever possible. Remember, it should be easy for people to purchase from you.
These can be great tools for conversion optimization when done correctly. If you don’t already have one on your e-commerce site, set one up today. If you already utilize exit pop-ups, test different versions. This gets back to the basics of CRO: test everything and then test again. Try different text, different images, different calls-to-action and anything else that is variable.
Using best practices on your product pages can have a profound impact on conversions. Some e-commerce sites miss out on easy sales because they simply do not follow e-commerce industry standards:
- Be sure your CTAs are above the fold
- Post reviews on product pages
- Show amount in stock
- Use high-quality images of products
Buyer friction is when one or multiple elements of a website interrupt the natural flow and impede a positive user experience, disrupting a user from taking a desired action. There are about a million things that can cause buyer friction on your website, but there are a few very easy things that you can do to eliminate some right away. Make sure your domain name matches your e-commerce brand (use Shopify’s domain tool to or learn how to set up multiple stores/domains on Magento). Make sure your contact info is prominently featured in either the header or footer of your website. Clearly outline any policies related to your brand or product, including return policies, privacy policies, and competitive pricing policies.
CRO is a combination of art and science. There is scientific methodology behind it but no guarantees. Testing is critical to understand what works for your e-commerce shop and your target customers. Test, tweak, test again, tweak again, and then start from the beginning.
Christina Coons is a professional digital marketer at Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency. She specializes in e-commerce, social media, and public relations, and spends her days helping brands succeed online.