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eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Best Practices

Before you start chasing new and better sales channels, spend some time optimizing the most important one, your website. Improve your website performance with best practices for conversion rate optimization (CRO).

eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Best Practices

Did you know that the average conversion rate was 1.81% as of July 2021? Of course, it differs by industry - which begs the question, where does your stand?

A survey of 1,600 Shopify stores found that if your conversion rate is over 4% - your store is in the top 20%, while anything under 0,8% places you in the bottom 20% of the stores.

Now, whichever percentile it's in, one thing's for sure: one of your primary business goals is to increase it further. We'd love to help with some best CRO practices.

Summer (is/was) a Great Time to Reimagine Your Online Store

To start with, in most cases, there won't be a better time to start applying these tips than the summer. Sure, you might have missed it, I mean the summer, but you can implement these anytime.

If you don't sell summer products or heat/air conditioning items, your sales will likely slow down during the summer. That's when people spend time outside, go on holidays, and generally don't spend as much free time on their computers shopping.

Even though we all have mobile phones now, eCommerce sales volume in July still tends to be 30% lower than in December.

If your business follows this pattern, you know when to start. If not, analyze your data, and prepare your action plan for conversion rate optimization.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Your conversion rate is the number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors your eCommerce store receives. These conversions are most often the sales, but you can also track the number of micro-conversions such as generating leads, email subscribers, free trial sign-ups, app downloads, etc.

For brevity, it doesn't hurt to note that we will primarily focus on sales in this article, although most of these tips can be applied to just about any conversion you're tracking.

Eg.
Website visitors: 2500
Conversions: 170

Formula:
Conversions / Website visitors X 100 = %
170 / 2500 X 100 = 6.8%

And what about conversion rate optimization or CRO?

The main goal of conversion rate optimization is to increase your conversion rate or the number of users converting. Typically, it includes a variety of hypothesized improvements/changes on your website that you can then confirm through A/B testing.

So, where do you start with these improvements?

Strategies for Improving eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

Before you start generating ideas for CRO, you have to analyze the current situation: your conversion rate, how your customers move through the sales funnel, what seem to be the friction points in their journey, frontend performance, traffic channels, etc.

There are many reasons your conversion rate may be lower than expected. From a feature not functioning correctly to site speed and overall friction in the user experience.

Did you know that for every second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%?

Yep! One thing you'll learn about CRO (if you're just starting) is that the little things make all the difference.

Start with frontend performance, i.e., your website speed. The tech behind your website, or rather the execution of it, can make or break your business. Establish your frontend performance KPIs first. Start with common industry and/or competitor-defined ones and work your way through them.

💡Page Speed ROI Calculator.

Effectively your conversions increase for every second your website loads more quickly. To show you how much your business could benefit from performance gains, we've built a Page Speed ROI Calculator.

Add the URL of your website, and we will immediately retrieve the results regarding site speed. After you provide your session data, conversion rate, and average basket value, the tool will estimate the potential income boost that could result from making your webshop more efficient.

Page Speed ROI Calculator

Use heat maps to identify your friction points, analyze the bounce and exit rates, the click-through rate, average session duration, and any other data you have gathered, and identify where you have the most significant drop-off.

Analyze your traffic stats data and make sure you're measuring traffic correctly. For example, for Google Analytics users, that would mean setting up GA4 for eCommerce.

Once you do the assessment, you'll have the starting point for your CRO efforts.

Work On Your Trustworthiness

When online shopping is involved, you have to ensure that your eCommerce store appears trustworthy, especially with the skyrocketing cybercrime.

Start by ensuring your store complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Consult a cybersecurity expert on the best practices that include SAML, SCIM, and multi-factor authentication.

And don't forget about your eCommerce platform provider: contact them too because they will usually have a set of security apps and tools you can add to your store to make it more secure.

Once you have determined that your store is secure, make sure your customers know it as well: send emails, brag on social media, add badges to the checkout pages, and include it in your value proposition.

A Good Sitemap and Navigation for SEO and the Consumer

74% of consumers research and compare products through search engines before purchasing. That's why SEO is important. And a good sitemap and navigation will help with it significantly.

But not only that, easy and logical navigation and product categories will also help your customer find what they need fast, helping to increase your conversions.

We talked about that in our eCommerce SEO guide that comes with a free downloadable pdf to help you easily share the best practices with anyone on the team.

Don't Disregard Product Descriptions

In a time when people prefer short-form content, you may be tempted to shorten everything on your website. However, while that is the general guideline, don't sacrifice any vital product information.

Good product descriptions will help your customers find relevant information: this is where you should address their main pain points and how the product solves them, as well as key product information such as the dimensions, materials, great 360-degree photos, and more.

Secondly, when written intelligently, these are extremely helpful for SEO.

💡Product Page Optimization.

Product page optimization refers to SEO optimization, the appearance of your product page in search results for targeted keywords, and CRO optimization. We discuss both of these in the product page SEO blog post.

Have a Content Marketing Strategy in Place

Go beyond product pages. Today more than ever, it is the story, the promise, that sells your product. Today commerce is as much about entertainment as it is about the use of products.

Do not focus solely on your product's exact match keywords. In The Spongebob Squarepants Socks Example (exclusive to the pdf version of eCommerce SEO guide), we show that a post on Best socks for winter 2022 can help your Size M SpongeBob SquarePants socks page get new visits, new audience, and new sales.

Minimize Friction During Checkout

It's the age of the frictionless user experience - even during checkout. In fact, 17% of consumers have abandoned their orders because they found the checkout process too long or complicated.

On a similar note, Shopify has shared data of some of its merchants who have managed to increase their conversion rate by 30% by implementing a custom checkout process.

Go through your checkout process, and see where you can cut down on the friction - but never-ever sacrifice security for user experience. Instead, you can and should have both.

Implement a Good Search Function

Consumers who visit your website usually want to find what they need fast. That's where a great search engine enters the picture.

Visitors who use search tend to convert at 4.63%, which is far higher than the average conversion rate. To build on that, 43% of your visitors go straight to the search bar when they first visit a website.

The numbers speak for themselves! If you don't already have one, contact your web developer. It's not too hard to implement, yet it will do wonders for your conversion rate.

Include Testimonials

Consumers tend to read testimonials as word-of-mouth or social proof, and there aren't many things that will help you convert as much as that.

Collect customer, magazine/website, and influencer endorsements, and add them to your website. A product with 5 reviews is 270% more likely to be purchased than one without reviews, and the probability increases by 15% when verified buyers sign the reviews.

It's the Age of Mobile-first Experiences

We've known for years now that the mobile has overtaken the desktop as the most used device for surfing the internet. But it's important to note that the same is true for online purchases. 

5.7% of customers convert on mobile devices, in contrast to only 3.9% on desktops.

While both are certainly important, if it hasn't already, it's time for your eCommerce store to go mobile-first.

5.7% of customers convert on mobile devices, in contrast to only 3.9% on desktops.

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy when offered a personalized experience. And I'm sure you've read an article or two on Netflix homepage personalization.

The thing is, personalization works!

Offering different homepages or product recommendations based on customer demographics, location, or order history should help you increase your conversion rate.

Community Building

Go beyond product pages … and content. Build a community of like-minded people. The cornerstones of creating a community for a product ecosystem are social media and owned media. A thriving community generates a consistent flow of orders as well as insightful product feedback that can help you refine your offering.

💡Quick CRO Wins.

Although conversion rate optimization is a long-term game, here are a few ways you can increase your CRO short-term:

  • Better images and videos. One of the quickest CRO wins is offering high-quality standalone or in-use images and videos on product pages. 
  • Checkout Flow. The fewer steps you have in your checkout flow raises the likelihood of a finished purchase. It is as simple as that.
  • Exit-intent popups. They can prevent visitors from leaving your website and make them shop more. When used in your checkout flow, they can reduce cart abandonment.
  • Upsells. Once an item is added to the shopping cart, offer products that can be directly paired with added one.
  • Get the emails. Not everybody is ready to buy on their first try. Get their emails. Offering newsletter or member subscription benefits is one of the easiest ways to get them on board later.
  • Discounts. You can never get wrong with offering discounts. Shopify says its store owners are 8 times more likely to sell when discount codes are used.
  • Free shipping.68% of Americans said they didn't purchase at least half of the time when free shipping wasn't offered.

Now, Go Hunting Clicks

Improving conversion rates is an ongoing process for all businesses today. The goal is not to get your visitors to buy something from you. The goal is to get them to return and buy again.

Conversion rate optimization is just one piece of the puzzle for your online business success. Reliable tech in your stack, one that supports a composable commerce approach with outstanding frontend performance, great SEO, and (in general) focused marketing strategy, complete the puzzle.

We always say it all starts with the product/service you offer. Make sure you did that one right, and the rest will follow.

Wonder how Crystallize can help you run, grow and scale your business?

BOOK a personalized 1-on-1 demo today, and we’ll show you what makes Crystallize a powerful product story engine well suited for modern business.

Or, why not SIGN UP for FREE and start building.

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