eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization
There has been a lot of whispers, debate and conclusion about eCommerce conversion rate optimization practices as they help in enhancing the product sales and conversions of an eCommerce site. If you are running an eCommerce store, you may have definitely heard this buzz word that can’t be ignored at all in a competitive business environment. Everybody has been running to grab this crucial key performance indicator (KPI) for their eCommerce store but unfortunately there are few that are able to achieve this difficult feat for their online business.After making a detailed study about the eCommerce conversion rate optimization practices, our conversion experts have arrived at the crux of the matter to help you out in this humongous task. Let us unfold the long hidden mystery around this eCommerce conversion rate optimization and provide a step by step account of all the factors that contribute in this critical situation.
Understand your Customers to be Targeted
Before embarking on the rough sea of the conversion rate optimization for your eCommerce store, it is important to have a better understanding of your customers that are being targeted. You need to know about the mindset, browsing behavior and purchasing preferences of your customers to make the products on your eCommerce store more presentable and appealing to them. Below are the factors that can help in getting a better insight about your customers for grabbing conversions on an eCommerce store.
1. Involve customers on your site through surveys-
Surveys are an important medium to get feedback about the user experience on a site. These surveys will help site owners in improving the functionality and performance of a website. However, you need to ensure that the surveys on your site should appear relevant and not unnecessarily in order to grab customer attention towards them. Apart from this, the option of filling survey form needs to be optional and not mandatory in order to keep customers engaged on your site.
2. Offer assistance through direct or live chat option-
There are instances that a customer may have certain issues while browsing a product or making an online purchase through your eCommerce store. For scenarios like these, it is important to offer a direct chat option to your customers in order to provide them a quick issue resolution without any delay. Moreover, this live chat option is much better than the email conversation where involved persons are not available at the same time which causes unnecessary delays in the resolution of a problem.
Optimization of the Website Home Page
Home page is the first page where your visitors engage with your website and thus it needs to be appealing to make the maximum impact at the first time only. If you are able to grab them from the very beginning itself, it would not be any less than a precious victory for your whole conversion rate optimization strategy. Below are some strategies that you can adopt to gain the maximum out of your conversion optimization on the home page.
1. Home page is the best place to feature your top selling products-
As mentioned before, home page is the first impression your site is going to make on your visitors. Why not start the first impression with the best you have got in your trunk. Grab the attention for few seconds and you will see the difference it is going to make with reference to the other products on your store.
2. Part below the fold can be utilized to show some relevant video-
The part below the fold is always avoided for the contents that are meant to be kept in lime light. But is is not always true. You can utilize this part to feature some relevant videos that can provide product education or any useful and relevant information. It is the best way to keep even the part below the fold to be engaging.
3. Allow users to buy products in multiple ways-
Buyer are always going to buy something. If not you,then anyone else would offer them a persuasive deal. Now it becomes your responsibility to persuade them to buy from you. Make the process of buying smooth like butter. Eliminate all the possible hassles a customer might feel while buying from you. If a customer cannot buy using internet, allow him/her to buy using the tele-shopping facility. I telephone call if enough to book an order. In this way multiple options can be provided to the shoppers to buy from your company if not from your site itself.
4. Localization helps to impress the local customers-
You cannot expect to propel globally if you cannot grab your local customers. Presenting yourself as an international brand would not help unless the local customers do not feel you as one of them. Localizing your stores to all the international territories of your business would develop a trust in the local customer. Lets say, If am a customer from India, I would be more inclined to buy from Amazon.in rather than Amazon.com. Thus, Localization of stores help to gain the support and trust of the local customers.
Optimization of the Website Navigation
Navigation plays a great role in guiding the visitors on your site. Working on your navigation will simply facilitate a smooth walk on your site. Here are some tips that will surely upgrade the level of optimization for navigation on your site.
1. Simplify the category structure and make it more predictable-
Browsing through the category options in your eCommerce is a common trait in all your customers. After searching of product through your search box, category navigation is the next most used method of browsing the eCommerce sites by the visitors. Considering this, navigation control through different categories on your eCommerce site is a paramount factor to be included in your plan. Making the browsing through categories to be more predictable would improve the user engagement by quickly returning the more relevant products from your site. If I want to buy a mobile phone your site, I would want you to make the path as simple as possible for me to find the mobiles in your category options. Merge the categories and subcategories accordingly to draw a simple navigation structure by avoiding the unnecessary and redundant structures.
2. Categories should be structured on the basis of popularity -
Not all the categories you present on your site are popular. You might also find that there are some categories which even you might find unfamiliar for a second. If you yourself cannot guess what’s there in this particular category, then how in this world could you expect your visitors to know. Such categories would always live a life of solitude at some corner of your site. Use popular and familiar tag for the categories on your site. For example, it is wise to use “Android mobiles” as a category instead of “Hybrid SIM phones”. If you want, you can use Hybrid SIM phones as a product feature, as it is not wise to use something unfamiliar as a category option.
3. MockingFish would help you to create a focused navigation through your categories-
Using MockingFish tool track the behavior of your visitors on your current category navigation. You will see how the visitors focus on some specific categories and would also find if there are some categories which are always ignored by them or do not come in the limelight. With this analysis through Mocking Fish tool, the task to eliminate inactive categories and to focus on active categories would be more simpler. You can later utilize the Mocking Fish tool to create your first Split test of the new categories which you think would be more reformative as compared to the previous ones.
4. Compel your visitors with your Business Tag-line-
The tag lines are always some unique punches that tease the sense of the reader. A tag line would be very compelling if it talks about your mission within. Just a single phrase is enough explain every thing one needs to know about you. Choosing your tag line is fully your choice, and its perception differs from person to person and organization to organization. A tag line for me might just be a complicated and tricky phrase for you unless I make my point clear with it. Dedicate the efforts to make your Tag-line more and more relevant to what you do with your site. For example, “Greatest Sale Ever” was a perfect Tag-line of an eCommerce site which launched a campaign of massive discounts on its products recently.
5. Avoid using the USPs that are too good to be true-
USP is the tool for you to differentiate your products from other rival products, or your site from your rival sites. It makes a statement that helps the user decide that why should he/she would buy from you instead of so many options and alternatives already available. Use the USPs that are easier to digest not the ones that are too good to be true.
Optimization of the Product Search
Searching plays a great role when it comes to have a site that is capable of returning the relevant products when a search request is made. Your eCommerce site could be used by the surfers to research about various products they intent to buy. The searching can be made efficient by following some basic yet crucial tips. Accurate results are desirable by the visitors on your site- you should test it thoroughly that your search bar returns the accurate and relevant products when a search request is made to it. Returning irrelevant results would definitely irritate the customer and he/she might even think that you do not have this product on your site. So, test it properly that your site returns the most accurate search results.
1. Make your search bar smart to cover spelling mistakes and errors-
Most of the search strings entered by the customers are not exactly the same as specified by your product name of any reference string. Predict the probability of all the possible search strings that could be used by the users and handle them smartly to return the accurate results even after a spelling mistake or in case of singular or plural stings etc.
2. Search auto suggestions will help users to get accurate results-
Implementation of search auto suggest feature helps the users to get the most accurate results from all the possible combinations of keyword and search strings. A click on the search auto suggestion below the search bar will let the users choose from the relevant keywords that are matching from the site’s keywords. Encouraging users to choose from the suggested keywords will help the site to return precise results according to the expectations of the customers.
3. Searching on the basis of category names returns large number of relevant products-
If a category name is handled in the search strings, it returns a large number of relevant results. For example, as a customer if I am entering Mobiles as the search string I would expect a large number of listings with all the mobile phones on the site. Searching based on the category provides multiple results for a single search string.
4. Let the users know how you have shown the results-
If your are presenting your users with some search results, let the users know how they have get the particular results. Handle a messaging system that tells the users about what they have searched for on the site. For example, you can show a message ‘You have searched for “Mobiles” and here are the relevant results’. These kinds of messages let the user know that what they should expect from a particular search string on the site.
Optimization of the Product Pages
If a product page on your site is not competent enough to engage your customers, then your eCommerce site is not different from any general site. Product pages have the same importance that a showcase has in the showrooms. Optimize your product pages by following some must to consider rules.
1. The quality of Product images in the most crucial consideration-
Shopping on an eCommerce site has the most important drawback that customers would not get to touch the products until it gets delivered to them. To over come this drawback, product images play a crucial role. Having a high quality product image for your products with all the possible angles will let the users know how exactly the product looks in real. A compromised quality of product images will never get you the desired level of sales. You should always use the real life product images instead of graphics as the graphics are never desired by the shoppers online. Real life images show the usability of the product and provide the better product education.
2. Product description can be used for product education and compulsion-
The role of product description on your site is same as the role of a sales man on your shop. If a sales man is able to convey himself properly then the customer will get a better product education and his doubts regarding the product will be cleared enough to compel him to buy one. Similarly, if the product description is competent enough to engage and educate the customers, it will surely grab a sale for you. Provide all the possible product details with a clear information regarding the features and specifications. Leaving no room for confusion will encourage customers to buy from you.
3. Don’t surprise your customers with price-
The price is the most important factor that decide the sales on every shop. Any customer who wants to buy something would expect you to give a clear light on the final pricing of the product. Include all the hidden costs and shipping costs in the price specifications. If there is a hidden cost, it is better you mention it clearly. Surprising the customers with popping up hidden costs at the time of checkout would definitely result into a trigger to shopping cart abandonment .
4. Let the customers know when they should expect receive the product -
Delivery time has always been a competitive factor in all the eCommerce sites. For example, I would prefer to buy from a site that provides the quicker product delivery. If you have the ability to deliver the products quickly, you should clearly mention it on your product pages. Whatever is the expected delivery time, whether it is quick or normal, it is always advised to mention on the product pages so that the customers would decide when to buy it and how to buy it.
5. Let them decide the product delivery date and time-
There are certain products and situations on an eCommerce site when a customer would want you to deliver a product on a specified date or time. Product such as birthday gifts, anniversary gift, flowers, etc are time sensitive. Sites providing a customized product delivery system are always preferred by the customers in these situations. If your site and your delivery partner is competent enough to handle the customized delivery dates and times, then it is wiser to mention it clearly on the product pages as it will act as a competitive advantage against your rival sites.
6. Let them know if a product is out of stock-
There might be several products on your site which have limited supply and usually get out of stock. You should always let your customers know if a product is out of stock or is not available for order at the moment. There are two ways you can handle such product; one is by showing out of stock message on the product page and other is by allowing back ordering of the products using which a product can be booked to deliver in the future once it gets into the stock. Handle both the scenarios wisely and show the relevant notifications for both the cases on your product page.
7. Encourage the users to write reviews about their experience with your products-
Reviews always help the seekers to decide what to buy and what not to. There are certain popular eCommerce sites, which are used by the customers to research about the reviews and ratings just because they provide the useful product reviews. Encourage your customers to share their experiences on your site and let other users know what they feel about the product. Product reviews help the customers to develop a trust on a product and ultimately the site where they found the review. Utilize the experience of the already customers to gain the new customers. You can encourage the users to write reviews by providing them various incentives in the form of offers and discounts for doing so.
Optimization of the Checkout Process
Checkout is very important when it comes to issues like shopping cart abandonment. Most of the shopping carts are left orphan just before completing the checkout process. It means the checkout process must be failing somewhere to engage the users. Optimizing the checkout process on your site would not only help to tackle the shopping cart abandonment bu also engage the customers till the last page on your site.
1. Use a shopping cart that is continuous without any obstruction-
Online shopping carts are utilized as same as the one in the departmental stores. Suppose you are shopping in a departmental store, after a picking all the item you decide to take them to the payment counter and pay for the purchase. Imagine a scenario when you are unable to find the payment counter anywhere, or at the time of payment the person on the counter says you have to pay extra in addition to the rates mentioned on the products. Such kind of obstruction are also seen in case of online shopping carts when hidden costs, additional shipping costs and many such factors encourage the shopper to quit shopping and leave the cart as it is. Utilize a continuous shopping cart that provides a smooth shopping without any such obstruction or deviation from the main goal.
2. There is no need to ask them to re-enter the information again and again-
Filling lengthy forms and entering irrelevant details is not what a shoppers expects. If some of the details are really necessary, and needed to be filled again, utilize the features of form auto fill to prevent the users from entering the same details again and again in different forms. The process of form filling should be one-time only, get all the details at once and never ask for the same detail again. Asking same details again and again would irritate the customer for certain. It is one of the major causes of shopping cart abandonment on an eCommerce site.
3. Utilize auto-fill wherever you can-
As mentioned earlier, you should always use the features of auto-fill to pre-fill all the possible data that you can fill. For example, you can auto fill customer name, email address, D.O.B , etc by utilizing the data from the sign up details. Similarly, in case of returning customers, the shipping and billing address, card details etc can also be auto filled. In case of auto-fills, it is very important to note that you keep all the auto -filled fields as editable so that customer can edit any data that has been field wrong or require any modification.
4. Preserve the information even when a validation goes wrong-
A large number of the shopping cart abandonments occur when a validation error message is displayed in case the customer enters some invalid data in the form. Most of the forms prompt the user to re-enter the data back again as it was during reloading of form. It actually irritates the user and force them to quit your site. A proper handling could be done to save the details when a form is reloaded. This will prevent the re-entering of data and also engage the customer on the site even when some error occur during the process.
5. Provide input specimens against each field-
Sometimes, customers get confused about what to enter in particular form field. To prevent this, you can give input examples against each filed in the place holder itself. For example, input example for email field can be [email protected]
6. Auto fill Country, state and city as soon as zip code is provided-
You can place the zip code field before country, state and city field in an address form. Here, the auto fill can be utilized to pre-fill the three options as soon as the customer enters the zip code. In this way you can make the address form user friendly and engaging.
7. Always keep the form linear and simple-
Do not fill your form with irrelevant fields. Ask what is necessary for you and leave the rest. Keep the form filling as linear and smooth. Using unnecessary redirects and page loading frustrates the user and compel him/her to leave the site. Forms should be simple and persistent in terms of layout with only relevant data to be filled by the user.
8. Utilize social login to save sign up process-
Customers willing to buy something always hate the lengthy forms that are to be filled to complete a registration process. The account registration is not what a customer desires. He/ she just want to complete the checkout and purchase the desired product. Prevent the users from a lengthy form filling procedure by utilizing social login on the site. Social login will allow the users to complete a checkout process without actually signing up through form filling. User have to just enter the social login credentials and an account will be automatically created. In this way, even the sign up process can be made engaging on an eCommerce site.
9. Use clear context on the buttons and labels used on the checkout form-
The checkout form is the most crucial form filling activity in an online shopping. If the customer feels unclear about any of the details asked by you, he/she will prefer not to buy at the moment or find some other site whose interface is much agreeable. To prevent this, always use clear indications and references on the button texts or label texts that do not leave any room for confusion or any ambiguity.
10. Use inline validation messages to close proximity of actual input field-
If some error or mistake is made by the user while filling the forms, it is the responsibility of the store owner to address the fault and make it clear to the user. Inline validations can be used for the same where the error or mistake in the form filling is shown as an error message in close proximity to the respective field.
11. Checkout should be not be limited only for registered customers-
As an eCommerce site owner you major concern is not the sign ups of the buyers. Your major inclination should be focused on improving the sales. If you focus only on your registered customers, then you would lose most of your new customers who want to make a purchase with you. To engage the new customers on your site, it is recommend to make the registration as optional. That is, you should effectively allow guest checkouts on your site if you want to impress the new customers who do not intend to sign up on your site.
12. Making the passwords complicated would irritate the users-
You must have come across several sites who demand the users to create a complicated passwords while sign ups, or else they won’t allow to sign up. Most of sites who ask for such complicated inputs are preferred as the last option by the customers in case of eCommerce sites. Though complicated passwords are important from security point of view, but making them mandatory is not a wise idea if you are dealing with a diversity of customers who might not have a knowledge of the same. Allow the customers to create their own passwords and let them decide if they prefer to input a complicated or a simple one.
13. Make the primary CTA button stand out from the rest-
On a checkout page the most crucial CTA is the “Checkout” button, “Pay Now” button or any other main CTA you use at the bottom. It is the primary CTA in the whole page. The fate of conversion lies in one click to this button. It is wise to highlight the button so that it can be easily noticed in the whole page structure. Make it stand out from the rest of the contents in the page.
14. Do not complicate the checkout page by including useless CTAs-
The checkout page should be clear and simple so that an user can effortlessly discover the purpose of this page. Do not clutter it with unnecessary CTA which will distract the user from the major goal of making a payment. Concentrate all attention to the main CTA of confirming a purchase.
15. Do not distract the user by using unnecessary navigation or exit point-
If a customer reaches to the checkout page, he/she is more likely to confirm the purchase. If you distract the user with necessary navigation and exit points it will finally act as a loop whole in your checkout process and question the integrity of the same. Try to minimize the navigation points to as minimal as possible.
16. Not all the validations are necessary, you can allow some force proceed too-
While validating a detail occupied through the forms filled by the customers some of details might show a validation error. It might be possible that all these validations are not necessary. Some of them could be ignored. Do not let these validation errors stop the flow of checkout. Such less crucial validations should be ignored to engage the users. For example, a validation on length of password could be ignored.
17. Clear all the pricing considerations before checkout, do not surprise them by adding a hidden cost-
If you take any extra cost for shipping or any other tax, then you should mention it clearly before the checkout itself. Let the customers guess the would be total cost of their purchase. Surprising them with hidden or sudden costs at checkout page would lead the users on the exit button on the top right corner of the window.
18. Opt-in the newsletter subscription by default-
The newsletters are very important for promotion point of view. They are used by the companies to reach to the customers whenever a new product or offer is launched. You cannot afford to loose a subscription just because of a poor optimization or a wrong choice of asking customers to subscribe for the same. Asking the customers to subscribe your newsletter would not help in this case. It would be wise to automatically opt-in the subscription check-box at the time of sign up or checkout itself.
19. Offer a credibility by claiming a brave guarantee-
In addition to offers and discounts, guarantee on the products is the one thing that lure customers to trust you. If you can provide some out of box credibility, then it is wise to use them as a punch point on your checkout page. These brave guaranties would make the customers trust your brand and encourage them to become a loyal customer.
Optimization of your Touchpoint
A touchpoint is a way using which a customer interacts with a business. It can be a person, website, or a customer support system. A touchpoint imparts the first as well the last impression of your business activity on the customers. Optimizing the touchpoint would eliminate a number of down sides that can ruin your impression on the customers. Here are some tips for the same.
1. Give a proper attention to your meta tags-
In case of an eCommerce company, the most important touchpoint is your website and its interaction with the search engines. In directly the touch point of your website can be seen on the SERPs in the form of search results. Meta tags play a crucial role in optimization of your website to interact with the search engines and finally the customers. Use enticing keywords and punches in the meta tags that are too hard to resist, but never forget to consider the relevancy of the respective keywords with the main content of the page.
2. Utilize the scope of Open graphs-
Open graphs is a protocol that enables any webpage to become a rich object in social graph. For example, it is is used by Facebook to integrate the web pages on its social platform with same functionalities like any other post on the Facebook. Utilize these social graphs to promote your pages on the social networking platforms.
3. Track and improve the qualities of your auto-responder emails-
In case of a busy eCommerce company, there are certain cases when a direct interaction with the customers in not possible momentarily. For such a situation auto-replies to emails or auto generated email templates are used. The content of such messages should be checked regularly and updated with the latest information. These emails represent your branding and show how you interact with your customers. An error or bug in these messages could ruin the image of your brand. So it is wiser to check and bedbug these mail templates regularly.
4. Improve the quality of your registration emails-
The emails sent to the customer after a successful registration with your site contains rich information. Sometimes, these emails might also contain user ids and passwords. These are basically a welcome message to the customer and are the first ever message a customer gets after signing up with your site. Compromising the quality of contents in these messages would stamp an impression that would not be good for future reference to the client.
5. Password reset emails should be handled carefully-
The most important auto-responder is a password reset mail. This kind of email contains sensitive information which cannot be afforded to leak. The contents might also contain a direct link to reset the password. A special care should be given while creating templates for such emails. The special care includes defining the access to the links, validity of information and integrity of the message.
6. Order confirmation emails should be treated accordingly-
One of the most important auto-responder emails is an order confirmation mail. These messages are sent to the customer once he/she completes and order after making a successful payment. The messages in such mail contain the information regarding the details of the transaction and products purchased. Maintain the competence of these email by including every detail that should be known to the customer after making a purchase with you. Provide the transaction details, product quantity, proper salutation for billing and shipping address, expected time of delivery. These templates are more like an invoice to the customers.
7. Customers feel happy to know that their order is shipped now-
Emails should be sent to the customers when an order is dispatched for delivery. This will let the customers know about the status of the order without actually tracking it. The email for dispatched shipments must contain the name of the courier partner and an order tracking number using which the customer will track the location and status of the product delivery.
8. Say thank you for the purchases made-
The thank you page is a special entity in the whole checkout process which comes as a last interaction for check out process and the first interaction for after purchase procedures. Optimize the thank you page to be a better thank you page. Make it complete in every sense by showing your gratitude to your customers for shopping with you. A well optimized thank you page with some after purchase offers and rewards can get you a repeated customer.
9. You cannot ignore 404 errors-
The page not found or so called 404 error should be as minimal as possible on your site. Having so many 404 errors is too risky as it can affect your visibility on search engines too. To be frank, you cannot really avoid all of them. There are certain instances when a 404 error is inevitable. In that case, you don’t want to irritate your customers with a blank page without any credibility for the issue. A better way to handle these error messages is to optimize the 404 error pages in such a way that it do not put the customer at the blind spot. Let them know that you are credible for it and will surely fix this. You can do so by designing a 404 page which includes and apology message plus an assurance to fix it soon.
10. Allow the customers to choose from multiple payment options-
Having multiple payment options on your site is not a must to do task, but your checklist for eCommerce conversion optimization would not look complete without it. Moreover, oftentimes, multiple payment options help you gain a competitive advantage against your rival sites who might not offer so.
11. Exhibition of social presence gives some credibility and improves online presence overall-
Social media optimization is a crucial entity in the to-do list of any competent eCommerce conversion optimization strategy. A proof of social media presence on the eCommerce site would let your visitors trust on your credibility. Social networking sites are the easier to reach as compared to your main website. So, the customer can easily reach your main site through these social media sites.
Information on the Touch Points
Information on the touchpoint need to be complete in every scene.You cannot expect your visitors to trust your too good to be true claims. Provide some authentic information to gain the trust of the visitors. Her are some useful tips that can be utilized in optimizing the information content on the touch points.
1. Provide authentic information with a goal to educate them-
The more they know about your site, the more they will know about the products on it. Educate your visitors with correct information not the vogue claims. Keeping them in darkness is not good for the health of your business. Educate your customers as much as possible, it will help them to take an unambiguous decision.
2. Let them know about you through “About us” page-
Giving an effort on your About us page will get you an impressive content to educate your customers about yourself. About us is the first page any visitor would seek if your are new to him. This page would create the first impression as an website. Make your About us page as informative as possible. Give your social proof, Provide information CSR activities you perform. A detailed information about your company on this page would create a positive impression.
3. Support is what every one seek in eCommerce-
A better customer support will act as a plus point for you against your competitors. This can be done by first providing an unambiguous information about your contact details. Provide information about your location and other branch locations if applicable. Contact information can be made more effective by providing a link to ticket support system where customers can register their grievances and get solution for the same.
4. Do not just provide the information, do a usability testing for the same-
All the tips Provide here are not just for updating it once and forget it. Perform regular A/B testing or usability testing for them and update the contents accordingly. Performing a heat map testing would help in discovering the usability of every element on your eCommerce site. A/B testing in alliance with heat map testing can prove to be the best eCommerce conversion optimization tools for your site.
5. Load Speed optimization by leveraging browser cache-
You can utilize browser caching to reduce the load time of the site. In case of an eCommerce site cache could be really helpful if utilized for Load speed optimization of the pages.
6. Optimize the images for faster browsing-
Images pay a great role on eCommerce site. Any eCommerce is not complete without a proper utilization of images to educate the customers. For better customer engagement, it is always recommended to serve scaled images by compressing them. Compressed images would load faster without compromising the images quality. All the images and files used on the site should be compressed to save the load time.
7. No one likes to keep getting redirected from one page another -
8. Optimize the request size to minimal-
Request sizes in the form of packets decide the load time of any request. Keeping HTTP request size as small would improve the load time of the pages. Make sure your HTTP request are fitted in a single packet. This can be done by minimizing the Cookies and request headers as minimal.