How to Optimize your eCommerce Store for Conversions – Top 10 Fixes You Can Do Today
I am going to share some of my best Ecommerce conversion optimization hacks that have taken me a lot of sweat and study. Over the last two years, I have seen hundreds of stores, talked to countless store owners and worked closely with stores in order to improve their revenue and profitability through optimization.
Your conversion rate and your revenue per visitor both have a direct and immediate impact on how much money your store actually generates. If you are a store owner who is seriously looking to have better results with their store.
There’s a very famous saying in marketing:
“He who can pay most to acquire the customer, wins.”
Conversion optimization is one of those things that will enable you to expand your marketing to larger and more targeted groups of people with the trust that your store is going to sell and your visitors are going to buy.
The nature of conversion rate optimization is one where nobody can guarantee that any single thing will boost conversions. However, these are so called ‘best practices of eCommerce’ which have been extensively tested by the biggest stores out there. Over time the industry has developed ‘best practice principles’ that have a solid reasoning behind them.
Conversion optimization is the critical link that connects the dots. With great conversions, you can invest more in your content marketing because you know once you get those visitors you are going to sell. In the end everything is linked to your stores getting more sales.
Any conversion improvement will be a thing that will bring you money over a longer time period.
I am a big believer in not re-inventing the wheel in places where it is not needed. Instead we can learn from the time proven principles and use what has been working repeatedly in a wide variety of niches and with all kinds of target audiences.
The goal of optimization is to work on the highest traffic – highest impact pages and to achieve a positive impact on sales. On top of this we must consider the ease of implementation, and that is why I handpicked this list, so that all of these tips are easy to implement and you can start getting results with them immediately.
Often, these are universal things that are wrong with most stores and there’s a very good chance that they have applied to your store as well.
1. Featuring your phone number featured in the header and on the checkout page.
One of the critical factors in any online shop is to get people to feel safe and secure about purchasing. People buy from people who they like and trust, and if they can call you and talk to someone representing you, it creates an appearance of safeness in the mind of the visitor.
Having a phone number can be a huge confidence booster because subconsciously they know if something goes wrong, they can simply pick up the phone and ring you up. You can bet that every big online store, has their support phone number prominently displayed.
On top of this, there is a big brand look and layout to eCommerce that people have simply learned to trust and thus we want to make the layout of our smaller stores look like these trusted big brands and a phone number is just one of the ways to do that.
People will not be calling you out of the blue to chat about the weather. The point of the phone number is to encourage the people so that if they do have a problem, they can call. You will find that the vast majority of people will never call you.
You can easily setup an answering machine to pick up the calls, then you just return them at your convenience.
By making it clear that you’re available to your customers, you will reduce their perception of risk.
Are you going to get inundated with extra calls because of this?
Not at all.
Will it increase your conversion rate?
2. Dealing with common objections in the cart page.
People will naturally have concerns when they are shopping, by being aware of these concerns, you can handle them before they prevent people from buying. The most likely point for these concerns to arise is when you are asking for the purchase. We want to handle these objections when it matters.
Handling objections doesn’t need to be overly complicated and complicated things can be actually act as distractions. I have found that simply placing objection busters on the cart or checkout pages can radically boost conversions.
There is no universal format for these objection busters that would work 100% all the time. You can test icons, copy, even customer testimonials on this page. The main point is to have them not be distractions as we don’t want them to grab unneeded attention.
For the cart page, have 3 most common questions answered in a ‘Why buy from us’ format. This way you will turn these concerns in to actual reasons to buy.
Most common objections for the cart page are shipping costs (If you offer free shipping, let them know) and delivery times.
3. Featuring the delivery times in the checkout.
This is a very simple, powerful and easy optimization that you can do within a matter of minutes. All you need to do to do this is to go to the shipping section in your backend and change the name of your shipping methods to include days, this way your customers know exactly how many days it will take for their shipment to arrive.
With this customization, you ensure that your customers will not go from the checkout page back to your store in order to look for these shipping times. Any customer that leaves the checkout and goes back to your store in search of information is likely to never checkout at all. This will hurt your conversion massively because it is often unnecessarily lost sale.
Furthermore, displaying shipping times with the options lets your customers easily compare the different shipping methods offer. This is useful because you want to make the checkout as easy and as streamlined as possible and the less concerns the customer has to think, the better, so eliminate as many of their questions as possible.
4. Positioning your store instead of branding it.
Ecommerce store owners face different challenges today as they did in the past because today’s online customers are overloaded with information and as result have short attention spans. Realize as a small online merchant you are not in the position to brand your store in a way that the bigger brands can.
These limits of scale mean that instead of branding yourself, you should primarily focus on positioning. In practice this means that you want to explain what your products and your store is about within just one or two sentences. It should be very effortless for your visitors to grasp what you are about, who you are, who are your serving and what kind of a customer benefits from that.
With your positioning, you need to be willing to not serve everybody. Ideally your stores value proposition and positioning would be tailored only to your ideal customers. The goal is to have raving fans instead of having people without real opinions. Never hesitate to polarize people with your positioning.
5. Optimizing your category pages: sort by bestsellers.
This is a really quick fix that a lot of people miss. The first products in your category pages get by far the most eye attention and after that the attention starts to drastically drop. Naturally your store will always have some products that make you more money than others. These high profit best-sellers are the ones that you want the customers to see most often.
Your best-selling products simply convert better than your lower selling products. So always make sure that your bestsellers are available, prominently displayed, and they cannot be missed. These are the products that people are looking for and by optimizing your categories to sort by bestselling, you will make it easy for people to find those products that they buy the most.
6. Using urgency to get people to buy now.
It is human nature that most people avoid losses way more than they go for the gains, whilst this might seem annoying when you are trying to sell, you can actually use this loss aversion principle to your advantage. Brands like booking.com or amazon.com are constantly stressing urgency in multiple ways. The goal: make your visitors value the product more and procrastinate less. If there is no urgency majority of people will put off the decision and not buy instantly because they feel that they can always come back and the offer will still be there.
There are multiple ways to display urgency and to make your customers buy right now. But this can be a tricky thing to implement because displaying false urgency can backfire. I recommend using this persuasion tactic with care and being honest in your practice. Don’t lie about it but it is completely fair to run sales every now and then, give out little limited time promotions etc. Nobody minds getting a deal.
If you have succeeded in your effort to have them add a product to their cart, you want to make the sale as soon as possible because once they close that browser window it is a big effort to get them to come back.
7. Upselling and cross-selling products.
Most online merchants don’t run upsells and completely miss on this obvious opportunity to increase their average order value. With upselling, you target people who have already added certain items to their cart, now you can offer them a complimentary no-brainer that goes together nicely with their original product. As a rule of thumb: This item needs to quite a bit less expensive. It also a great way to improve the shopping experience of the buyer by providing valuable suggestions.
Coming up with the great upsell can be difficult and requires some brainstorming. However, once you find the right offer, you will find that a big part of your customers end up buying the upsell together with your core offer. This greatly increases your average order value whilst simultaneously making customers happier about their purchase. Upselling and cross-selling are all about providing value to the customer with a great offer and adding to their shopping experience.
In general, with additional offers, there is no single right way to do them. Product page, cart page and after-sales emails have all worked for my clients. You will have to analyze and test which of these makes the most sense for you in your specific case.
8. Creating trust.
The biggest reason why customers don’t buy from smaller ecommerce stores is that they simply don’t trust them. This is why creating trust is perhaps the most important thing in optimizing your store. At the same time, it is also one of the most difficult ones to achieve.
You want to ease your visitors trust concerns by building an appearance legitimacy. Achieving this can be tricky because trust in general is:
1. Built over time.
2. Achieved via multiple touch points.
This means that there is no single magical trick that you can do to make all your customers instantly trust you, like in any relationship creating trust is a buildup.
But in order to get started: Ask yourself whether all the necessary information is easily available and accessible. The more open and transparent you can be, the more people will feel like they know you and trust you, so make sure that you tell your story properly in the About Us page and also that you take advantage of third party proof such as utilizing reviews of existing customers.
TIP: As a small retailer, we have a great opportunity to be transparent and to tell your personal story, take advantage of this and find a way to tell your story in a unique, humanizing and engaging way.
9. Optimizing your stores images.
One common mistake store owners make is uploading images that are not optimized for fast loading times. As a result, they will have pages that will take a lot longer to load than needed. Images are often the most or the heaviest part to load on any single website. Long loading times mean customers have to wait and wait for pages to load and as a result many of them will get frustrated or distracted and simply click away.
This all could be easily avoided by carefully evaluating which pictures are necessary and optimizing their size and file format for faster loading times.
The first rule for smaller images: save your images with 60% quality.
Second rule: save images in a JPG format whenever possible.
And thirdly, don’t use higher resolutions than you need.
10. Focusing your store around the products that actually sell.
Not all categories and products are created equal. It’s very typical for 10% of stores products to create 90% of the sales. keeping this in mind it makes a lot of sense to keep showcasing this 10% on all the relevant places. you basically want these products to be almost everywhere.
It is important to keep in mind that people browsing the products that don’t sell is a waste of traffic, that’s why you want to formulate your homepage in a way that people find the best selling categories, and the best selling products.
You can even use social proof to your advantage by making sure that people know what products are best sellers by utilizing product badges and highlighting best sellers in different sections. By giving the best sellers this sort of social proof, you are elevating them above the rest of the products and even though you will most likely hurt the sales of the 90% you are still a lot better off.
Sorry to say it but your beloved store is probably more likely to be a leaky bucket dripping conversions and revenue here and there. This guide was just scratching the surface of what can actually be done to optimize the store.
And although it acts as a good beginning the real improvements must always be thoroughly tested and tracked. If you think you can benefit from proper eCommerce tracking implementation and professional A/B testing then feel free to book a time with me, then click here to book a short Skype session with me.