If you’re a subscriber to the ecomdash blog, you know that we are numbers nerds. Whether it’s performing data-driven annual reviews of your business or visually representing your ecommerce conversion reports, the importance of remaining a metrics-focused business can’t be overstated.
One metric that’s particularly crucial for your ecommerce business is your conversion rate. This shows how good your site is at converting traffic to actual sales. It helps you determine the effectiveness of anything from your site’s copy, its navigation, your prices, and even your checkout page.
What is a conversion rate?
First, let’s break it down to simple building blocks. A conversion rate is defined as the proportion of visitors who take action beyond browsing on a website. For ecommerce retailers, a conversion rate would include the number of sales made divided by the number of visitors that explored your site or visited a specific product page.
Why is a conversion rate important?
In addition to helping an ecommerce business owner understand how profitable their company is at the moment, it also helps you predict sales, forecast trends, or pinpoint what areas of your site need work.
How to calculate your ecommerce conversion rate
The formula for calculating ecommerce conversion rates is pretty simple.
C (number of conversions) ÷ T (traffic from source) = ECR (ecommerce conversion rate).
Let’s define a couple of these terms. A conversion is simply a sale. It’s any person browsing your site who was converted into a buyer. Traffic from source is the number of people visiting your site in a certain way. It could be people who Googled a keyword to find your store (we’d call this organic traffic), people who clicked a link you shared on social media, (we’d call this referral traffic), or people who clicked on one of your pay-per-click ads somewhere on the net (we’d call this paid traffic).
Through this calculation, you can get a handle on whether or not your site is attractive to buyers, keeps them engaged throughout the buying process, and sets you up for success.
What is a good conversion rate?
When it comes to conversion rates, the higher your rate, the better. That said, the average conversion rate for online businesses is 2-3%. According to ecommerce experts, the point of conversions is to not aim for the average percentage. Instead, just focus on improving your own site’s conversion rate over time.
What can affect conversion rates?
Everything from how fast your website loads to how you reply to reviews can affect your conversion rates. Each shopper has a different expectation when shopping with you. If the shopper feels like the experience with your brand isn’t up to his or her standards, then they may just go with a competitor instead. Below we list the top reasons shoppers will abandon their carts:
- Slow website loading speed
- Poorly written product pages
- Sub par mobile shopping experience
- Bad product or company reviews
- Unexpected fees or higher shipping costs
- Hard checkout process
- Not having a preferred payment option
Ecommerce conversion rate optimization ideas
So now that you know what the issue is, how do you fix it? Correcting your course when it comes to ecommerce conversion rates doesn’t always require long and expensive website overhauls, or bringing in pricey consultants. Here are four surprisingly easy methods to raise conversion rates that any seller can accomplish.
Invest in great pictures
Well done product images can greatly impact sales conversion. DueMaternity.com, an online retailer for pregnant women and new moms added 360º rotating images to its site and boosted conversions by 27%. Or, think about including product images in your drop down search menu. BrickHouseSecurity.com added product images to its drop down search bar and saw conversions increase by 15%.
Method: Take clear, well-lit photos from multiple angles, both in a light box and on a model (or in its intended use). To get professional looking photos on a DIY budget, see our top 3 cheap and easy ecommerce photography hacks. Once your photos are looking sharp, think outside the box and consider other creative elements. Could you add a 360º rotating image?
Make it easy to find products
While you’re at it, make it easy to navigate your website. Customers do not want to explore a page that is bogged down with unnecessary content. To encourage your site browsers to follow through with purchase, make sure your website is easy to navigate and free of fluff. I
Method: Include a search bar, add search filters, and utilize auto-complete technology to help potential customers get to the products they’re interested in.
Use bold call-to-actions (CTAs)
Help your customers know what to do on their journey to buying your products. Have strong “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons so users can easily navigate through each step. They should stand out from the background and be legible. You also do not want give the user too many options. This will cause them to either get side-tracked or become indecisive, neither of which will help you make money. Having effective CTAs will help increase conversions and ensure your customers are taking the actions that you want them to.
Method: Follow these best practices to make the most of your CTAs. This can be a quick and easy win that will improve your customer experience and boost sales.
Offer live chat
Give customers options for how they’d like to reach out to you. Not everyone is comfortable picking up the phone, and most shoppers want a response faster than they would receive via email. Compared to email and phone support, live chat has the highest rate of customer satisfaction with 73% of users feeling like their needs were met.
Email trails behind at 61% satisfaction rate, and only 44% of customers feel content with phone support. A study based on US and UK shoppers found that 31% of users are more likely to complete a purchase after using a site’s live chat feature. Give your customers the green light to get in touch in a quick and easy way, and watch your conversions soar.
Method: Offering a live chat feature on your product pages can help you target shoppers who are further along in the shopping experience. If live chat isn’t something you can manage with your resources, check out the various AI chatbots available today!
Use customer reviews
A reported 68% of customers look to the opinions and experiences of others when making purchasing decisions. Reviews can greatly influence purchase decision and help create buyer trust. One study found that businesses that added product reviews to ecommerce sites increased sales by 18%. It’s not bragging – buyers want to know what their peers think before clicking “Add to Cart,” especially in online commerce where they cannot try on or test out items before making a purchase.
Method: Add customer reviews throughout your site, but especially on the product reviews page. These reviews will nudge the shopper to follow-through with the purchase.
Offer free, fast shipping
My least favorite thing about shopping online is shipping. Not only do I have to wait for my order, but I have to pay extra for it. If you can eliminate this barrier by offering your shipping free and fast, customers will be a lot more likely to complete their purchase and you’ll see a bump in your conversion rates.
Method: One way to make shipping appear free is to roll the cost of shipping into the purchase price. Customers love free shipping so much, they’re more likely to buy a $20 t-shirt with free shipping than a $15 t-shirt with $5 shipping. Test out this method to see how it works with your audience.
Add guest check-out options
Studies show that 75% of buyers will leave a site if forced to register to complete checkout. By adding a guest check-out option, you can encourage that 75% to stick around and follow through with purchase. It’s a simple fix that can generate huge results.
Method: Give the shopper the option to easily check-out without creating an account. You can always prompt them to easily create an account after the purchase! While you’re at it, be sure to add mobile payment options to make it even easier to buy your products.
Give a last-minute discount
Getting to the final page of the checkout process only to find the price significantly higher than you expected would make a lot of people re-think the purchase. You don’t want your shopper re-thinking the purchase this late in the process. Instead, offer a last-minute discount. Show the original price with a slash through it and display the new discounted price. The shopper will believe they’re getting a sweet deal and it’ll make them more likely to finish the purchase process.
Method: Make your last-minute discount time sensitive. Creating urgency in ecommerce is a proven method for boosting sales. If you tell your customer that they only have 10 minutes to make their purchase before the new discount disappears, it’ll give them the final push they need to complete the order.
Give away freebies
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Drive your customers to buy by offering a freebie in exchange for the purchase. Make sure the freebie is related to the product that they are purchasing, as shoppers will view this as an added value. Examples include:
- Selling guitars? Throw in a free pack of strings.
- Selling artisan coffee? Offer a free branded mug with larger purchases.
- Selling vintage comic books? Give away a free superhero figurine.
The possibilities are endless.
Method: Allow customers who purchase above a certain amount to choose any item in your store under a certain amount for free. For example, you could say that anyone who spends more than $35 dollars can receive another item under $5 for free. This bonus purchase will not only raise conversions, but should give a boost to your average order value as well.
Show off some social consciousness
Putting social responsibility at the forefront of your business will convince customers that their purchase is serving a higher good. The socially conscious consumer is becoming more common every day. Appealing to this crowd will make completing the purchase a lot easier for shoppers who will then feel good about contributing to a cause that they care about.
Method: Let customers select a small amount of their purchase to donate to a related cause. Choice is always a draw for shoppers. You could even let them choose the cause they’d like to donate to. This adds an additional positive element to the purchase.
Your conversion rate is an essential glimpse into the current health of your business, as well as what future sales may look like. Use these methods to make the most out of your traffic. Increasing conversion rates is a constant battle of trial and error. None of these methods are magic bullets, but each should give you a lift in conversions. Try a few out today and check out the impact on your profits.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published May 2017 and was updated in August 2019 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.