Just to clarify one important point right off the bat – building and operating a successful ecommerce business is never easy. In fact, it’s getting more difficult all the time.
Those in the online retail industry face a unique and extensive range of immediate and on-going challenges. Where and how to invest your marketing budget and resources. Whether it makes sense to continually expand your product collection, or focus more intensively on a smaller catalogue. If increasing your SEO spend would do you more favours than more aggressive conversion optimisation.
A Guaranteed Formula For Success?
As for the answer…well, it of course varies significantly from one business to the next. Nevertheless, it’s natural for the vast majority of ecommerce business owners to assume that the secret to success (and more of it) lies in greater traffic.
More traffic = more customers = more sales = bigger profits.
Or at least, so it seems. In reality however, more traffic isn’t always the answer. In fact, it’s entirely possible – perhaps probable – that the primary issues you should be addressing concern conversion rates.
What’s often overlooked is the way in which it’s actually possible to experience a distinct decline in traffic, while at the same time vastly improving revenues. It’s all about ensuring that those you do manage to attract to your website don’t leave empty handed. After all, those you attract who buy nothing at all constitute a waste of your time, effort and money.
So with this in mind, what follows is a comprehensive overview of some of the most important strategic tips, tricks and tactics for taking your ecommerce conversion rates to the highest possible level:
- Reduce Choices with Product Filters
First up, you might want to consider what’s known as the ‘paradox of choice’ when designing and implementing your product filters. The reason being that in pretty much every example of online retail, too much choice can be a bad thing. Specifically, more choices have a habit of leading to fewer final decisions – i.e. purchases. Which means adopting a strategic approach whereby you don’t restrict your product catalogue unnecessarily, but instead use a system of creative yet simple filters to minimise distractions. Whatever they’re looking for, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to find it.
- Eliminate Checkout Page Cart Abandonment
If looking to effectively optimise your online retail site, it can be useful to take a leaf or two from the book of Amazon. While it’s not to say that the Amazon formula guarantees explosive success in its own right, they have nonetheless provided a pretty solid blueprint of how to minimise shopping cart abandonment. One small yet important example of which being the elimination of the standard navigation system when a customer enters the ‘checkout funnel’. Again, it’s a case of minimising distractions, allowing complete focus on completion of the purchase and making it as easy as possible for conversions to be made. Continuing to promote additional items and offers once the checkout funnel has been entered can actually prove detrimental.
- Make Buying Easy
A simple yet important technique adopted by most leading ecommerce businesses – ensure that your ‘Add to Cart’ button is always comprehensively visible and accessible at all times. Even when the customer scrolls right down to the bottom of your product pages, they should still be able to hit that all-important conversion CTA with ease. Research having shown that doing so can lead to an increase in mobile conversions in particular – perhaps by as much as 15%. As you’ve probably picked up on by now, simplification of the purchase process often makes all the difference.
- Block the Exit…Strategically
Irrespective of your own personal opinions on exit pop-ups, they can and often do make a difference. That said, it’s of critical importance to be as strategic as possible with your exit pop-ups and carry out intensive A/B testing. Simply by altering their appearance, the text you use, CTAs and the primary message being conveyed, exit pop-ups can reduce bounce rates by as much as 20%. It’s natural to assume that exit pop-ups are nothing but annoying and intrusive, but this only applies to examples that have been poorly designed and presented. Meaning it’s up to you to convince your customers with something more apt and effective.
- Let Your Customers Do the Talking
Like it or not, most customers don’t believe a word you say. At least, until they’ve gone through with one or more purchases and assessed things fully for themselves. In the meantime, everything you tell them will be interpreted as nothing more than marketing spiel. In short, nobody has greater power and influence over your customers than your customers. Reviews and recommendations saying more about your products, your services and your brand as a whole than you ever could. On average, ecommerce sites that feature plentiful (and strategically placed) reviews experience around 20% higher conversion rates than those with no reviews whatsoever. Meaning that even if it’s a task to get things up and running in the first place, you can’t afford to overlook the value of social proof.
- Personalised Arrivals
Personalisation can make a big difference to the overall online retail experience. Particularly when you find yourself presented with products, services and special offers that appeal to your personal tastes the very moment you hit the landing page. In theory, you should only ever need to determine the primary interests and preferences of each customer that visits your website once. After which, you should be able to eliminate anything and everything of no interest or value to them from their experience. Or at least, from the initial pages they’re greeted with and the kinds of special offers you present to them. Personalisation is also something that can and should be ported over to your wider marketing efforts in general.
- Test Everything
For obvious reasons, the last thing you want is to find yourself in a position where you are losing conversions due to simple technical issues, or anything affecting the overall user experience. For every 100 customers who actively enter your purchase funnel, 40 head for the hills due to sheer frustration, confusion or perhaps even the inability to reach the end of the conversion process. Most ecommerce business owners understand the importance of testing, though comparatively few invest the required efforts to test absolutely everything from top to bottom. Along with testing the ins and outs of your website personally, it can also be useful to have both experienced and inexperienced third-parties do so on your behalf. After all, it’s unlikely that you yourself will be using your site to buy anything – think from their perspective, not your own.
- Consider Your Multichannel Options
Always remember that when it comes to improving conversion rates, it’s important not to confine your efforts to your primary website alone. If you really want to try things in the right direction, you might want to think about targeting your customers elsewhere. For example, if a large chunk of your target audience is hooked on Rakuten, eBay or Amazon, you’re not going to sell much if you aren’t using these marketplaces to their maximum potential. Your ecommerce website may be your primary store, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it can and will generate the most hard-sales for your business. Nevertheless, it’s incredible how many ecommerce merchants haven’t even tested the waters as far as multichannel selling options are concerned.
- Hire Customer Representatives
In order to succeed as an ecommerce business, you need to view every customer question and query as a ‘pending’ conversion. Or in the case of an existing customer, the gateway to repeat business. Which is precisely why delaying, ignoring or fobbing-off customers with impersonal, valueless responses can be highly counterproductive. Or worse still, offering little to no customer service whatsoever. If you cannot competently and consistently handle all customer enquiries yourself, it’s time to hire help. The ROI attached to investments in quality customer care has the potential to be no less than extraordinary. And of course, making it as easy as possible for your customers to get in touch with you via multiple channels goes without saying.
- Guarantees and Returns
Last but not least, the overwhelming majority of online shoppers instinctively feel they are taking a risk when buying products via the web. Will it match to product description? Will I be sent the correct item? Will the quality be up to scratch? Will it even arrive in the first place? All the kinds of questions that float around (often subconsciously) when shopping online. As such, it’s in your best interests to address these concerns in an instant, with the provision of guarantees and a simple returns policy. What’s more, you need to ensure that this information is made fundamentally impossible to miss. The idea being that you let them know long before they enter your conversion funnel that it’s 100% safe to do so. Otherwise, they may consider both your products and your business to be risks that simply aren’t worth taking.