Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is essential. You want to encourage your website’s visitors to take positive action that ultimately leads to a sale.
The good news is, there are CRO tips you can follow to increase your chances.
With ecommerce optimization, you can make a big difference in how your website performs. This post will take you through the tips that your ecommerce company should be following to boost sales.
1. Optimize Your Website’s Navigation
There’s nothing worse than a clunky website that’s a nightmare to use. According to Bluerth, 85% of customers browse a website before making a purchase. If they leave without buying, they’re unlikely to return.
Since around 94% of a website’s success is based on first impressions and ease of use, getting this wrong could be terminal to your chances of a sale. Your landing pages, product pages, and checkout sections all need to be within just a few clicks of each other. Think of it from the customer’s point of view. It shouldn’t be a chore for them to buy from your store.
It would help if you also considered clear and straightforward navigation bars that take the customer right where they need to go in as few clicks as possible. Simply adding this bar either to the top or to the left of the page can increase sales.
Eye-tracking studies by Nielsen Norman Group have also shown that user’s eyes tend to move down the left side of lists, so use this research to your advantage. Your most important content should be listed on the left and then extend to the right.
Check out this ecommerce website example by retailer Where Saints Go. Notice how clean the text is, how uncluttered the horizontal menu is, and how easy this looks to navigate?
Remember, first impressions count for so much in life. So use the aesthetics and simple website navigation as your shop window to entice customers in.
How to Run a CRO Test for Your Website’s Navigation
Improving your site navigation can be difficult. To get started, consider running an A/B test to find the most effective menu.
There are several tools you can use to determine how people use your menu. Google Analytics can be very helpful here. The Analytics tool allows you to see the consumer’s behavior- where they click most often and what people don’t click.
Once you have the data on how people use your menu, you’ll need to create a new version. The most important clicks should be on the left and the least important ones on the right. You can remove the links that people are not clicking- these can go in the footer.
Now, you can run an A/B test on the menu. Take some time to gather your results and then make changes based on the data you collect.
2. Create Urgency and Scarcity
“Hurry Up! Item Almost Out of Stock!”
How does this sentence make you feel? To marketers, it’s an effective way of closing a sale and makes the customer feel as though they’re about to miss out if they don’t click that buy button.
This is a perfect example of scarcity marketing. Making your products or services seem limited invokes a sense of urgency amongst potential customers. It’ll encourage them to make a sale when they may otherwise have been undecided.
Scarcity and urgency as marketing techniques have been proven to boost conversion rates. They’re invaluable tools to add to your ecommerce optimization armory.
The more scarce a product or service appears, the higher its perceived value.
You can use scarcity marketing in several ways on your website. Consider using copy that invokes a call to action, with phrases such as “selling fast,” “while stocks last,” or “only ‘X amount’ left!”. Check out how TK Maxx uses this clever tactic continuously throughout their website’s men’s apparel section.
Or you could include a section on your site that shows how many other shoppers view the same product. This will make the consumer feel as though others may beat them to the sale, further enforcing a quick sale in fear of missing out.
How to Test CRO for Your Urgency Strategy
Testing for product scarcity is quite simple. You already have a hypothesis and know that scarcity will improve your sales. The only thing to decide is which type of scarcity you want to add to your product page.
There are a few options here. For example, you can include a timer or even show how many products are still available. Select which one of these options you want to add, or opt for both.
After you have decided the kind of scarcity, the next question is where to add these FOMO features? The main variables to test are the location and color of the elements. It would help if you opted for running multivariate tests here, as they give you an accurate picture of how small changes affect your conversion rate.
Your best chance at success here is to run this test on your popular product pages. Keep in mind you’ll need a high volume of page visitors to run effective multivariate tests.
Once you have the results, roll out these features across your site. You should see an increase in conversions rather quickly.
3. Include Free Extras
Nobody turns down a freebie. A choice-based experiment illustrated in Dan Ariely’s book ‘Predictably Irrational’ highlighted the irresistible appeal of zero costs.
Participants had to decide between spending 26 cents on a Lindt truffle or having a free Hershey’s ‘chocolate kiss.’ Almost all of them went for the freebie treat every time.
Therefore, offering anything for free to your customers is likely to have positive results, even if it’s something that doesn’t dramatically offset your costs (such as free shipping on your higher-priced items).
Or how about a free returns policy? This allows consumers to feel like they’re not losing anything when deciding to buy, with the comfort of knowing that they can send things back for no extra cost.
How to Test the Effectiveness of a Free Offer
First, decide what kind of extras you want to offer and how you want to display them to site visitors. After you have an idea, think about how difficult it will be to make those changes. Are you planning to implement a feature on only one page or across your whole site?
The type of test you run will depend on the way you decide to display your offer. If you want to undertake site-wide testing, we would recommend you opt for A/B tests. If you plan to include an element to only one page, then use multivariate testing. Doing this helps you test the impact of color variations and location.
4. Use Social Proof
Social proof refers to how others influence us. This applies to consumers being influenced and encouraged to buy in the marketing world based on what others say.
This can include online customer reviews, family and friend recommendations, and media coverage of a product or service. Studies have shown that the higher the level of social proof in marketing terms, the higher the chances of a sale.
Let’s say you’re looking to book a hotel in the UK. You come across two similar hotels on TripAdvisor. Both cost almost the same price. One of the hotels has average reviews, giving 2 to 3 stars out of 5. The other hotel has a swathe of 5-star reviews.
Which one are you likely to choose?
Customer reviews are a practical example of social proof in marketing. In fact, according to Fan & Fuel, 92% of customers are reluctant to buy at all if customer reviews aren’t accessible, while 55% of shoppers claim that it plays an essential factor in their purchase decision.
Always consider social proof as part of your ecommerce optimization process. Including reviews on your website is an excellent way of pushing up conversion rates.
How to Test Positive Social Proof
You will need to follow a three-step process to test social proof on your sales page. First, think about the kind of social proof you could add. There are a few options here, for example:
- Testimonials from celebrities
- Testimonials from niche influencers
- Testimonials from existing customers
- Trust badges
- Social proofs that show the number of people who purchased a product
Second, you need to see how people use sales pages. You can use heatmap software or session recording tools to get some insight. Then, you will need to design a new sales page that incorporates trust symbols.
The final step is to run either an A/B test or a multivariate test. An A/B test is an excellent option if you want to test two very different page versions. However, multivariate testing is a better option if you want to see how minor changes in the page design affect conversions.
5. Reduce Cart Abandonment
Few simple actions can be as harmful to an ecommerce business as abandoned shopping carts. Did you know that, on average, online retailers have a cart abandonment rate of 70%, according to the Baymard Institute?
There’s no way of eliminating cart abandonment for good, but there are proven ways of cutting this figure down for the good of your business.
For example, consider using a lightbox popup on your website.
A lightbox popup is a visual CTA that takes over your screen and makes the website fade into the background. It incentivizes the user to take some action, such as signing up for marketing emails.
Check out how Jewel Street uses a lightbox tactic to keep customers on its site below.
Including images of the products saved in the cart makes a big difference to the visuals and reminds the consumer of what they could be missing out on, rather than just seeing a list of unappealing text and prices.
Consider A/B testing to see whether this makes a difference or not.
Run a Cart Abandonment Test
To run this test, Google Analytics and screen recordings are your best options. Once you have the data, analyze it and hypothesize the solution. Then, implement the plan.
The only problem with cart abandonment is that you may run tests on your entire site, which might impact your site speed. You can use tools like VWO to run this type of test.
6. Ensure Efficient Checkout Process
Checkout is the last hurdle that ecommerce business owners need to clear for a sale to be completed. Make life easier for both you and your business by making it as efficient as possible. Remember, you need a high degree of ecommerce optimization.
Shoppers typically abandon their shopping experience at the checkout stage because the process is too complex. Maybe you’re asking them to input so many details. Or maybe your checkout process is just too long.
The best way to know how your visitors see your checkout process is to check it yourself. If you get annoyed by the process, chances are, your website visitors are getting annoyed, too. That means it’s time to simplify everything.
Improve your checkout page to boost conversions as well.
How to Run a Checkout Page CRO Test
You will need a different set of tools to improve the checkout flow on your website. If you have a multi-page checkout process, set up Google Analytics conversion tracking. Doing this lets you see the checkout flow. Analyzing the data can help you see where people are dropping off in the checkout process.
You can complement these insights with data from user recordings. That shows you how users behave during the checkout process. It will help you gain some insights into why people are dropping off.
The heatmaps can also help you see the actions that an individual takes on a page. Some tools help you track how people fill out forms and can be quite handy.
After you have gained the insights, you will need to hypothesize the changes you can make to improve conversions on your checkout page. Here, you can use A/B testing or multivariate testing to test your hypothesis.
7. Increase the Speed of Your Website
Your website’s speed is an essential element of ecommerce optimization you need to consider.
Think about the last time you had to wait unnecessarily for something. Buffering YouTube videos, standing in a long line at the grocery store, or even waiting longer than average for your meal to arrive at a restaurant. It’s certainly no fun!
Well, that principle applies to the speed of your website too. Customers have busy lives – they’re generally not willing to put up with loading times when often all they want to do is simply buy something and leave.
Studies have shown that waiting longer than four seconds for pages to load leads to a significant drop in conversion rates. One in four customers often leaves a website that takes more than four seconds to load.
A smart way of testing your site speed is by using Google Pagespeed. The areas to focus on in particular are your homepage and checkout sections, and then you can improve the rest in the future.
See How Your Site Speed Affects CRO
Improving your page speed performance is one of the simpler CRO tests. You already know that your site needs to load within a certain time frame, so you have your starting point. You’re also guaranteed a positive result, particularly if your site takes more than three seconds to load. The faster your site, the more likely it is that customers will be happy and come back to your business.
Google PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix are great tools to test your site speed. They help you figure out what is slowing your page load times. Some tactics you can use to improve your page speed do not require extensive technical knowledge. For the other updates, you may need to turn to a developer to make the technical fixes.
Optimize Your Ecommerce Store Today
Ecommerce optimization can take a lot of hard work, but it’s crucial if you want to see your profits and sales climb.
Implement these seven CRO tips to improve your website. Optimize your website’s navigation, create urgency, include free extras, use social proof, reduce cart abandonment, increase the speed of your website, and ensure an efficient checkout process.
With a bit of consideration, acceptance of the areas your site needs to improve on, and plenty of determination, you’ll soon see the results you’re looking for.
About the Author – Allie Decker is the Head of Content at Omniscient, a marketing agency that works with SaaS brands. Before working with Omniscient, she spent 5 years as a freelance writer and then joined the content team at HubSpot where she worked for nearly 3 years. She has contributed to more than 100 high-converting articles for HubSpot and collaborated with the folks at Entrepreneur, Hotjar, and Foundr. Her words are bookmarked by entrepreneurs, small business owners, and digital marketers worldwide.