50 Ways to Boost Your eCommerce
Conversion Rates [2018 Edition]
This word can hold different meanings depending on the website or business you’re running. For some websites, ‘conversion’ can mean turning a visitor into a subscriber. For others, it could mean getting someone to sample a software trial. And in the world of eCommerce, the ultimate conversion happens when a customer completes a purchase.
When a visitor converts into a paying customer, you make money.
That’s why constantly tracking and improving your conversion rate is so important – it directly affects your bottom line and can mean the difference between profitability and going under.
So, what should you do to improve your conversion rates? Well, you have a lot of options, and in this guide, we’ve compiled 50 conversion-optimization tactics you can implement rather easily. Go through them and see which ones make the most sense for your business.
How can you measure your conversion rate?
Before diving in, let’s talk briefly about how to measure your conversion rate.
There are a number of ways to do it. The manual method is to divide your total number of visitors by the number of conversions, then multiplying that figure by 100. You can use this formula: # of transactions / total visitors x 100.
There are also calculators online that can crunch the numbers for you. Just enter your data and let the calculator get to work. Here are a couple you can check out:
An even easier way is to use your eCommerce software to determine your conversion rate. Most eCommerce solutions offer reporting capabilities that tell you exactly how many visitors you’ve had and the number of shoppers who’ve completed a sale.
If you haven’t done so yet, dig through your eCommerce reports to figure out your conversion rate (along with other important metrics).
eCommerce conversion-rate benchmarks
If you’re tracking your conversion rate, chances are you’re also wondering how your data compares with other eCommerce players. To shed light on this, here are some benchmarks to consider.
According to the Monetate eCommerce Quarterly Report for the first quarter of 2018, eCommerce sites averaged a global conversion rate of 2.59%. The US had a slightly lower rate at 2.49% while Great Britain enjoyed a conversion rate of 3.78%.
Monetate also looked at conversion rates by device and found that traditional devices still showed the highest rate – 3.77%. This was followed by tablets (3.40 percent) and smartphones (1.53%).
As for conversion rates by industry, eCommerce analytics app Compass found that merchants selling food and drinks had the highest median conversion rate of 3.58%, while furniture e-tailers had the lowest at just 0.68%.
How to increase your eCommerce conversion rate [50 tactics]
So far we’ve discussed how to calculate your conversion rate, as well as the benchmarks that will give you an idea of where you stand. The next order of business is to shed light on what you can do to improve.
Here are 50 ideas to get you going.
Market to your current customers
- Personalize the shopping experience
- Test and optimize your site for different devices and browsers
- Encourage ratings and reviews
- Provide social proof through user-generated content
- Beef up your site’s security
- Improve your site speed
It's been found that the probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60% and 70%, while the chances of selling to a new one sits as low as 5% to 20%. Clearly, it’s far easier to convert your current customers, so if you don’t have a customer-retention strategy in place, you need to map one out ASAP.
Customer-retention strategies can come in many forms. Typically, they involve a combination of email marketing and loyalty programs.
Look at your current marketing mix and think about how you can better connect with your existing customers. Why not conduct an exclusive sale just for returning visitors? Or consider sending an email promoting products based on their previous purchases. Another idea is to market products that you anticipate they’ll need.
Enfamil, the company that sells infant and toddler formula, is really good at this. When you sign up for their newsletter, Enfamil asks you to enter your child’s age (or your due date if you’re expecting). Enfamil then uses that information to send emails and offers that are relevant to the child’s age.
There are tons of opportunities to reconnect with your current or previous customers. You just have to get to know them better and give them more of what they want.
A personalized shopping experience can do wonders for your conversion. A study by Infosys found that 86% of shoppers "said that personalization has at least some impact on what they purchase, and one quarter (25%) say personalization significantly influences what they purchase."
You can personalize people’s shopping experiences using different methods. One low-hanging fruit is sending offers or content based on their website browsing data.
The travel site Expedia, for example, sends ‘final call’ emails to users based on the destinations they’ve looked at:
There’s also on-page personalization, which involves recommending products based on previous purchases, demographics, or even geo-location. Walmart, for example, has a ‘Trending near [insert location]’ section on their website:
Minnow + Mars also does a great job at this. Check out the ‘You May Also Like’ section at the bottom of their product pages:
No retail promotion or feature will make up for a poor website experience. If your website is difficult to navigate and browse then converting shoppers will be an uphill battle.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to ensure your site looks and functions well on both desktop and mobile devices. This should be fairly simple if you’re implementing responsive design. If you’re using a computer, you can easily test the responsiveness of your site by adjusting your browser window to the size of a mobile device and seeing how your site behaves.
You can also use Screenfly by Quirktools to test responsiveness across different devices and platforms.
Ratings and reviews can dramatically improve your conversions. Theresa O’Neil, SVP of Marketing at PowerReviews, told Profitero that "when at least one review is added to a product page, that product receives an average 108-percent traffic lift. And when a product without reviews adds one or more reviews, the conversion rate for that product increases by 65 percent.”
So, how can you increase the number of reviews on your product pages? One way is to actively encourage them.
Reach out to customers who purchased from you and ask them to rate and review the items. Plenty of retailers are already doing this, and merchants such as Zazzle are even taking it a step further by giving out store credits to people who leave reviews.
Star ratings and reviews are a great way to display social proof, but if you want to take things to the next level, consider using user-submitted photos on your product pages.
Check out what apparel e-tailer SheIn is doing:
People aren’t likely to buy from merchants that aren’t trustworthy, which is why it’s essential to implement the latest eCommerce security measures on your site. At the very least, your SSL certificate should be up-to-date. You can also add additional layers of security, including transaction monitoring, automatic PCI scans and updates, DoS/DDoS attack protection, and more.
Already have a secure website? Then display lots of trust signals (i.e., padlock images, privacy guarantees, etc.) to help users feel more at ease with buying from you. Wayfair, for instance, uses plenty of these. In addition to their SSL certificate, their checkout page has images and text that promote a sense of security.
A slow website could be killing your conversion rate.Research has shown that 40% of users leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and "a second delay in page response can result in a seven-percent reduction in conversions."
There are several best practices for speeding up your site, and the right ones will depend on how your online store is set up. To give you a better idea of what you can do about site speed, here are Google’s recommendations for improving page speed and performance:
- Avoid landing page redirects
- Enable compression
- Improve server response time
- Leverage browser caching
- Minify resources
- Optimize images
- Optimize CSS Delivery
- Prioritize visible content
There are some interesting numbers surrounding live chat.According to MarTech, when live chat is implemented, “51% percent of customers are more likely to purchase,” and “29% percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase with the option of live chat even if they don’t use it.”
Evidently, live chat (or at least the option to chat) is a function shoppers are interested in, so be sure to include it in your sales and customer-support arsenal.
It’s also worth noting that consumers are now gravitating towards messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger. If you find that your customers prefer these apps to communicate, it may be worth testing them.
With 73% of consumers saying that free shipping is very important for their website purchases, eCommerce merchants could drive conversions by shipping items at no extra cost.
The right way to implement free shipping depends on your products and business model. There’s the subscription model, which was made famous by Amazon Prime. You can also provide free shipping based on specific conditions (e.g., spending threshold, promotional period, etc.) or as a reward for loyal customers.
Do the math, test shipping offers, and go with what works best for you and your customers.
Prevent some of your visitors from slipping away through exit pop-ups. A ‘don’t go yet’ or ‘leaving so soon?’ message could be just the right touch to get shoppers to stay and take a second look at your products.
Here’s an example of an exit pop-up in action. NYC retailer C21 runs an exit pop-up containing a generous discount code when it senses that a shopper is about to leave:
Some people tend to pit features and benefits against each other, often saying that it’s better to sell benefits over features. While there’s some wisdom in this advice, often, merchants need to sell both features and benefits to convert customers.
The trick is identifying a product’s key features and discovering which benefits would resonate most with your audience. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to present your content in an easy-to-digest manner.
Here’s an example of a retailer that follows this advice. Dormify, a site that sells dorm room and apartment decor, has both features and benefits on its product pages. It has a section called ‘Details’ which lists specs and features, and underneath that is a vivid description that talks about the benefits of the merchandise:
Having several high-quality images is a must. Invest in great product photography, and make sure your images give people a better idea of what they’re purchasing. The objective should be to eliminate any uncertainty and drive users towards checkout.
Depending on what you’re selling, you could try:
- Including several different images and photographing a product from various angles
- Using real people to model your products
- Adding familiar objects or measurements to communicate image sizing
- Photographing products in different settings or environments
Don’t have the resources to or edit or beautify your photos? There are a number of services that can do it for you. Retail ready photos by Pixc, for example is a Shopify app that can make your product photos look more professional. Just send them your images, and they'll have them looking great in less than 24 hours.
If you’re selling something that needs a demo (i.e., if it emits sounds or makes certain movements), you may want to add a video of the item in action on your website.
Check out Tuck and Bundle, a retailer that sells baby wraps, which dedicates an entire page for demo videos of their product:
Product comparison is a natural part of the shopping process. Consumers like comparing items – particularly if they have different specs or features – as it allows them to make informed decisions.
Amazon is a master of this tactic. Many of their product pages have comparison tables like the one below:
If a consumer reaches the payment stage of the checkout process, the last outcome you want is to lose them because you don’t accept their payment method of choice. (YouGov found that “50% of those who regularly shop online said that if their preferred payment method is not available, they will cancel the purchase.”)
Prevent that by covering your bases when it comes to payments. In addition to credit cards, consider accepting payment methods such as PayPal, as well as Apple Pay on mobile. If you sell big-ticket items, such as electronics, furniture, or designer goods, offering installment-based financing options could also work in your favor. ICAR found that instant financing can increase conversion rates by 20%.
The luxury consignment store The RealReal puts this tactic to work through Affirm, a solution that allows shoppers to pay in monthly installments.
Can brick-and-mortar influence eCommerce sales? In some cases, yes. A study in the Journal of Marketing Research found that brands that didn’t have a strong offline presence increased sales by opening physical stores.
Why? Because physical stores can have a ‘billboard effect’ and provide legitimacy for a brand. Having a brick-and-mortar presence also helps you get in front of offline users who wouldn’t have heard about you otherwise.
Plus, if you play your cards right, you could drive sales directly from an offline event. Check out what Brandless did. The e-tailer recently ran a series of pop-up events in Los Angeles, and while they didn’t sell inventory at those events, they still found a way to drive sales through a follow-up email campaign.
Brandless sent attendees a post-event email, along with a credit towards their first online purchase. Clever, right?
One of the best ways to increase conversions is to get in front of customers who are actively looking for your products. There are a couple of tried-and-tested ways to do this; the first is by investing in SEO. Optimize your website and product pages so they show up for relevant search terms.
You can also increase your search engine visibility by purchasing ads.
Uncertainty is a huge conversion killer in eCommerce. Make customers feel at ease by offering compelling guarantees, such as ‘no questions asked’ refunds and free returns. The popular shoe retailer Zappos executes this well with their 365-day return policy.
According to their website:
“If, for any reason, you are unsatisfied with your purchase from Zappos Retail, Inc. you may return it in its original condition within 365 days for a refund. We'll even pay for return shipping!”
Of course, not everyone can afford such lenient return and exchange policies. The best step here is to do the math and figure out what types of policies would make the most sense for your business.
Speaking of guarantees, make sure your return and exchange policies are visible and easy to read. Again, you can take a leaf out of the Zappos playbook. The e-tailer has a nifty graphic to illustrate its simple return process:
Why go through all the trouble? Simple: the more you can reduce uncertainty in shoppers, the higher your chances of converting them.
The same uncertainty principles apply to your FAQ page or help center. You should anticipate the questions and objections of your customers and put together a page that addresses all their concerns, thereby reducing uncertainty.
Le Tote, an apparel subscription service, accomplishes this using a simple-to-navigate help center. In addition to clear support categories, the page has a search bar to help customers find what they need faster.
Simplify the process for your customers to contact you by:
- Giving them multiple options (live chat, email, phone)
- Making those options clearly visible
Beauty retailer Bluemercury has an excellent contact page that lists their email, phone number, and support hours. In addition, they have a live chat option that’s clearly visible on the page, and they’ve even included a handy order-tracking link for easy access.
Optimizing your site is great, but you need to do it in a way that’s measurable so you can see if your efforts are working. Whenever you make a change on your website, make sure to benchmark your “before and after” metrics to properly evaluate your experiments.
Dynamic pricing – the practice of adjusting prices on the fly based on market conditions – is becoming a common practice. Travel websites (e.g., Expedia, Travelocity) and retail giants like Amazon have been doing it for a while now, and the tactic has proved to be successful. Walmart saw a sales increase of 30%through dynamic pricing, while Amazon saw a 27.2% increase.
It’s not for everyone, though, so do your research to see if dynamic pricing would work for you.
Checkout is a critical part of the buying process, so you want to make sure you’re using the best methods possible. What’s the right checkout flow for your store? What should the page look like? At what stage should you ask people to sign up?
These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself. Now, the ‘right’ answers will vary depending on your site, so test, test, test!
If you’re not chasing after abandoned carts, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. People who took the time to place items into their baskets are likely interested in your products. Don’t miss your chance to convert them.
To make things easier, consider automating your abandoned-cart follow-ups. Have a system that automatically reminds shoppers via email that they have items waiting for them on your site.
Check out this example from Daily Harvest, an organic food subscription service:
People won’t convert if they can’t find what they’re looking for in the first place, so don’t make it hard for them to get to the items they need. Simplify your site’s navigation by clearly defining your product categories and offering an uncomplicated hierarchy.
Menswear retailer Bonobos is doing this really well. While they have a lot of categories, browsing the site is still simple and intuitive thanks to a well-designed sidebar:
Still on the topic of easily finding products, you’ll want to optimize your site’s search feature as well. Here are some approaches you can try:
- Make your search box clearly visible
- Speed up search results
- Consider adding autocomplete
Implementing these methods will help customers get to the items they need faster – and that’s one more step towards conversion!
Increasing eCommerce memberships is important but you don’t want to force shoppers to create an account when they make a purchase. It’s best to have a guest option that allows shoppers to move through your checkout process quickly.
While it is a smart move to ask them to create an account, do it in such a way that you’re not slowing down the checkout process.
Forever 21, for example, lets you complete your purchase as a guest, while giving you an option to enter a password right before you complete a purchase, in case you want to create an account.
Notice how they don’t prevent non-account holders from making a purchase. Rather, they provide the ability to check out as a guest while offering a friendly reminder to register if the shopper prefers to do so.
Would your customers consider you an authority in your industry? If your answer is “no” or you’re not sure, then you may want to invest in thought leadership. People tend to buy from brands they know, like, and trust, so do what you can to elevate your brand’s perception.
How? You could start by producing content that informs and educates your target customers. KiraGrace, a shop that sells yoga apparel, accomplishes this through articles that answer common customer questions, such as “What’s the difference between yoga pants and yoga leggings?”
Consider doing something similar. Figure out how you can educate your audience and produce content that positions you as a thought leader in your field.
In the same vein, being featured in the media can also do wonders for your brand, so invest some resources in public relations in order to get your name in key publications. Once you are featured, be sure to showcase those sweet media mentions on your website to further build credibility – and, ultimately, convert customers.
Covetella, a company that offers designer dress rentals, for instance, has a section on its website specifically for all their press mentions. They’ve included the logos of the outlets that provided media coverage, along with select passages from their articles.
Offering a promotion that coincides with a specific season or event can drive sales and conversions, particularly if the event traditionally involves gift-giving (Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day).
So, mark your calendars for these dates and create compelling offers to send at just the right time.
Shoppers tend to convert better when they see a great bargain, so make it easy for your guests to find good deals on your site. A good way to do this is by having a ‘SALE’ section that users can easily click through. Check out this example from Satya Jewelry:
Cumbersome forms can kill your conversions, particularly on mobile. A 2017 comScore study found that 18.6% of shoppers didn’t convert on mobile because it was difficult to enter their details.
How can you address this? One word: autofill. See to it that your forms have autofill options so shoppers don’t have to spend time filling them out. If customers are already logged in, pre-populate your checkout forms with their information so they can proceed with as few clicks as possible.
Do you have customers who tried to buy something that was out of stock? Win them back by sending them ‘back in stock’ notifications. ThirdLove does this really well. The lingerie retailer always sends ‘RESTOCKED’ notifications when they replenish their inventory.
If you’re using different channels to drive traffic to your website, make sure you’re sending visitors to landing pages specific to each channel.
For example, if you’re running Facebook ads, you want shoppers to click through pages that showcase items featured on those same advertisements.
Running Google AdWords? Incorporate your target keywords into your landing page so people see the exact phrase they searched for on your site.
Speaking of ads, is remarketing part of your advertising mix? If not, you should look into it. Conversion rate experts at Invesp cite that “visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert on [a] retailer’s website.”
While it’s evident that remarketing ads can be effective, make sure you’re using them wisely. A good practice is to serve up ads based on different stages of the shopping journey. Recognize that users who visited your website yesterday will be in a different mindset than those who haven’t dropped by in a month.
It’s important that you study the unique shopping journeys of your customers and create ads accordingly. For example, to engage people who recently visited your website, you could deliver ads that showcase items they just viewed. If you’re looking to connect with those who haven’t visited in weeks, you could display an ad that shows off your new arrivals to convince them to give your site another look.
One of the best ways to connect with (and convert) visitors is to speak their language – literally. If you have a lot of shoppers coming in from non-English-speaking countries, make sure you give them the option to translate your content into their native language and your prices into their currencies.
The shoe and accessory retailer JMLeGazel does this really well. Their website can easily be translated to both English and French, and they even use bilingual copy for their loyalty program:
Only have a few of a certain item left in stock? Be sure to let your customers know. There’s nothing like a little sense of urgency to prod people into completing a purchase.
Deadlines and FOMO can always get people moving, so if you’re running a promotion, make sure you’re clear on how long it will last. For best results, send a reminder during the final hours of the promotion to give people a nudge to buy. Here’s an example from Gymboree, a store that sells kids’ apparel:
Discounting your products? Consider displaying before and after prices. Doing so will give people a better idea of the bargain they’re getting, and that can ultimately lead to better conversions.
Here’s an example from Embrace Couture:
It’s more difficult to convert new customers compared to returning ones, so if someone is visiting your site for the first time, you might want to sweeten the pot. Many merchants are doing this through first-time buyer deals, which ask shoppers to enter their email to redeem a special discount. It’s quite effective, because even if the customer doesn’t complete a purchase on the spot, you’ll be able to capture his or her email address.
Do you implement any charitable or socially conscious initiatives in your business? See to it that your customers know about them. The Cone Cause Evolution Study found that 85% of shoppers have a better image of a company when it supports a cause they care about and that 80% of Americans are more likely to buy from a brand that has CSR initiatives.
Francesca Jewelry is one example of a store that invests in CSR. They have a ‘Shop For Awareness’ collection, which consists of limited-edition pieces released in support of different charities Whenever a customer purchases a piece that’s part of the collection, Francesca will donate the proceeds towards certain causes.
The shop also gives customers the opportunity to donate to charity at checkout. The organizations they currently support include:
Pay attention to current trends and see if you can use them to your advantage. Think about it: if consumers are constantly talking about a certain hot topic, chances are they will buy merchandise related to it.
For instance, PopSockets, a brand that sells mobile phone grips, has a “Trending” section on their homepage that showcases timely designs. Here’s a screenshot from the month of June 2018, which coincides with LGBT Pride Month. In line with the occasion, PopSockets displayed a number of pride-centric designs:
Influencer endorsements carry a lot of weight these days.92% of consumers say they trust influencers more than traditional ads or celebrities. That’s a huge number, and it indicates that social influencers can play a big role in your marketing.
So, if it makes sense for your brand, team up with an influencer in your industry. Identify the people your customers are following, then see if you can work with them to craft stories, content, and offers.
Do you have customers who shop on different platforms and devices? If so, make their path to conversion a whole lot easier by remembering their shopping carts on different devices.
That way, if someone adds an item to his or her cart using a mobile device, then decides to complete the purchase on a laptop, you can streamline the whole process by having the original shopping cart all ready to go.
Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you have stock you can’t move, or if you have too much swag lying around, use it to your advantage by creating a promotion. Why not include these items as “free gifts” to entice shoppers to buy?
Shopping online can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of choice. So why not make shopping easier (and more fun) for your customers?
One way to accomplish this is by creating style quizzes that serve up product recommendations based on the user’s input. Aside from helping shoppers find the right products, these quizzes also enable you to gather more data about your customers, which can then be used for further personalization.
Here’s a cool example from ThirdLove.
The ‘touch-feel gap’ in eCommerce is real, and it’s common for products that people typically want to try on. You can bridge this gap by helping shoppers see how your products would fit into their personal environments.
There are a few ways to accomplish this. Some retailers offer free trials. ThirdLove, for example, has a ‘try before you buy’ offer, in which customers can sample their bras for 30 days. If they like the bras, they can keep them. Otherwise, they can send them back, and they won’t be charged. (They just need to pay for shipping.)
Others are using technologies like augmented reality (AR) to address the touch-feel gap. Check out Ray-Ban, which has an app that lets you virtually try on different styles using your mobile device:
Another cool way to add purchasing incentive is to have an irresistible prize up for grabs. Think of a prize that would appeal to your target customers, then use it as a hook to get them to buy.
Stitch Fix, an online styling service, recently ran a travel giveaway to entice customers. All you had to do was schedule a ‘Fix’ (i.e., styling service) to automatically be entered to win a trip of your choice:
Optimizing your site and running promotions are proven steps to increasing conversions. However, even with these efforts, getting shoppers to hit the ‘buy’ button can still be a challenge.
One reason is the competitive eCommerce landscape. There are merchants out there who are selling similar products and running irresistible promotions to win over customers.
The only way to stand out is to let your unique personality shine through. Identify your distinct story and voice, then make sure they translate to your customers.
Whew! We just went over a lot of conversion optimization tactics. Our hope is that you’re now brimming with ideas to supercharge your eCommerce conversions.
Before you go out there to put these tactics to work, we’d like to offer one more tip, and that is to arm yourself with the right tools. Conversion rate optimization works best when you utilize technologies that can automate and streamline your processes.
For instance, rather than manually segmenting your customers or creating email campaigns, find an email marketing solution that can do it for you. If you’re running campaigns across both your eCommerce site and physical stores, you should use a platform that lets you connect the two channels.
Whatever the case, Marsello can help you with various marketing and conversion practices. Think of a Marsello as your very own virtual marketing assistant that can automate your email workflows, serve up smart product recommendations, assist you with advertising, and so much more.
Get in touch with us today to learn how Marsello can take your conversion rates – and retail business – to the next level.