With online retail forever hitting new heights, eCommerce businesses are looking for new ways to increase conversion rates.
A conversion rate is the numerical percentage of a website’s traffic that results in the desired end product. For example, if an eCommerce website has 100 visitors in a day and 4 people place an order then the conversion for that day would be 4%. Conversion Rate optimisation (CRO) is the process by which eCommerce businesses take steps to maximise their conversion rate.
Keeping track of conversion rates is good practice for any eCommerce business but is essential if you’re looking to grow one. You’ve already done the hardest part by getting customers through the door and CRO can help convert this into profits.
This blog will touch upon the basics of CRO but will also show you how you can utilise testing and analytics to not only show you how to improve your conversion rate, but also how to identify where your optimisation should be targeted.
What is a good conversion rate and what do I need to consider?
A good conversion rate differs case by case so it’s important to understand your business and its audience in order to set yourself appropriate goals. The average eCommerce conversion rate is only between roughly 0.1% and 3.5%, so if you are looking at your current statistics and small figures are alarming you, try to take them in context.
Every industry is different and there are plenty of studies available online that can give you some idea of what a good conversion rate for your industry is. However, don’t get fixated on these numbers. They are just ballpark figures that take thousands of different businesses into account, every single eCommerce business has a different conversion rate.
Please also remember, when reviewing your business for CRO, the only person you are competing with is yourself. Setting yourself achievable targets allows you to build your conversion rate bit by bit and limits the damage of any misplaced ideas.
Where to start with CRO
The most common mistake made when reviewing conversion rates is to simply look at the amount of overall traffic and weigh it against sales.
To get the most out of CRO you need to be clinical. Focusing on a smaller area allows you to better evaluate the impact of changes and tweak them where needed. If optimisation is successful on one part of your site, you can then look at implementing it across your business as a whole. That being said, what are the first things you could do to improve CRO?
UX and conversion rate go hand in hand. The ergonomics of your site and how customers feel whilst using it are key determiners of how eCommerce businesses perform. There is no shortage of content online that will lay out the basics for you but we’ll touch upon some of them here:
- Housekeeping – Users of your site are more likely to leave if they can’t easily find what they want. A clearly labelled and easy to navigate layout is an easy way to bump up your conversion rates.
- Improved checkout options – Multiple item discount, multiple payment options and free postage are all simple ways to encourage customers to complete their orders.
- Customer security – Customers want to know that their purchase is a safe bet. Having a simple returns policy, money-back guarantees and an accessible customer support service are all ways to assure customers that they can trust your business.
- Mobile devices – In 2019, a third of all online retail came from mobile devices. Conversion rates for traffic coming through portable devices has been steadily increasing year on year. If your site is not compatible with phones and tablets, your conversion rate is hurting.
These are a good start, but if you really want to get the most out of CRO, you need to understand your users. User Intent is the name given to defining why a customer visited your site and what they wanted to find that lead them to it. Matching user intent is the most valuable tool when trying to meet the needs of your client base.
User intent for CRO
A sensible place to start when trying to understand your user’s intent is to read your online reviews. Feedback from your existing customers is a great way to gauge what experiences customers are having on your site that could give you some ideas for CRO. If you find that you have too few reviews or that they lack information, consider asking your customers to leave reviews after they complete an order, or even better, you could attach a quick survey with targeted questions to your email receipts or completed order pages.
Google Analytics is another great tool for understanding user intent. It’s free and it allows you to measure traffic and behaviour on your website. It is your best friend when trying to understand how users interact with your website and the information it collects can help you picture where your CRO should focus.
Metrics to look at:
Behavioural Flow Report – This is your Google Analytics HQ. The report breaks down the likely journeys users take through your site and displays it in an easy to understand flow chart. The report gives you metrics on many important factors such as:
- Landing pages – What pages are users typically arriving on when they first enter your site?
- Medium – How are they arriving at your page? Is it through social media, through Google or from referrals? This will also tell you what devices people are browsing on.
- Interactions – How many steps are users making before leaving the site? Are users that arrive on certain pages staying for longer than on others? If a page has a high drop-off rate and users aren’t continuing after visiting it, then this is an indication that this is an area that needs CRO.
- Advertising and Keyword search – SEO and CRO are close. If you are currently running campaigns then the Medium/Source function in the behavioural flow chart allows you to see how many visitors to your site arrived as a result of searching for keywords, the higher this percentage is, the closer you are to matching user intent.
There are plenty more functions that the Behavioural Flow Chart offers that can help you understand user intent. It is a great way to analyse information from all your online traffic at once, but as we have already mentioned, CRO needs to be clinical and there are other metrics that can provide more detail.
Event tracking – An ‘event’ is the name given to interactions with specific functions on a site, for eCommerce this could be clicks on different postage options or enlarging of images. Analysing events can help you keep track of how users are engaging with your site’s content. This can also help you understand if CRO functions you have already put in place are being used.
Second-page metric– Are users finding what they’re looking for on the landing page? The second-page metric tells you which pages users are heading to after they land. If you find that a lot of traffic is travelling through a second page that contains certain information, then it’s a sign that this information is important to your users.
Internal Search – Analytics is able to collect all the information from your website’s internal search bar; if the same queries are being submitted repeatedly it should give you clues about what information your pages are lacking. This is all about improving usability. The more time users spend digging for answers, the less likely they are to remain engaged.
Session time and page views – The amount of time a user spends on a given page is a key performance indicator as to how effective that page is. For example, if your eCommerce site has pages that require customers to scroll through items and you find that users are spending little time on these pages, this is a sign that this aspect would benefit from CRO.
Bounce rate – Bouncing is when a user enters the site, visits a single page and leaves the domain after a short time. Generally speaking, the higher the Bounce Rate percentage, the worse the performance. Every page on the internet will have a bounce rate and yours will never reach 0%. It is not worth losing sleepover, but if you find that your biggest landing pages have an exceptionally high bounce rate, it is a strong sign that they are not matching user intent and they need changing.
Analytics are the best way of seeing how the organism of your page operates. However, this is posthumous data and there are many ways of processes out there that let you monitor user behaviour as it happens.
Live feedback – There are extensions you can integrate into your website that allows visitors to leave feedback as they browse. Hotjar is a great tool for this. Offering live feedback allows you to target visitors with your own questions about the buying experience that can help you identify problem areas. This could be as simple as asking customers to click on a happy or sad face before they leave. The key benefit here is that you invite feedback from a wider range of people, not just those that complete orders.
Session recording – Perhaps the most revealing tactic in you arsenal is session recording. This may sound expensive but there are many providers offering low cost packages and free trials. The obvious benefit to this is that you get a fly-on-the-wall view of what exactly people are doing on your site. If you notice patterns forming, such as users typically losing interest after accessing a certain product description, you can pinpoint where optimisation can be applied.
Heat mapping – Heat maps are a great way to see how users have interacted with a page. Clicks are represented by a heat signature displayed against the backdrop of a page. This allows you to determine which areas of a page visitors are drawn to. This is a great way of seeing the impact of changes you’ve made. For example, if you have recently listed more images for your products, a heat map can help you determine if guests ae taking the time to view them.
User testing – This is a combination of session recording and feedback but in a controlled environment. The concept is simple, people are employed to perform tasks on your website and answer questions on the experience after. This allows you to channel feedback in the direction you want that will let you assess whether customers would approve of any CRO you plan to make.
A/B testing – A simple two-horse race. You display two versions of your site to a pool of test subjects. One version with CRO changes included and one without. Then you ask the subjects to explore the page, perform certain tasks and answer questions. For example, if you’re thinking of changing the appearance of your checkout button, you simply show them the two options and they tell you what they think.
This is a lot to take in so if you’re sat there scratching your head trying to see how any of this could work for you, here is an example of how it could:
Step 1 – You want to improve your conversion rates so you open Google Analytics and review the Behavioural Flow Chart. The chart shows you five common landing pages, but one has a higher bounce rate than the other four.
Step 2 – You want to improve this individual page so that it’s on par with the others, therefore increasing the conversion rate of the whole site. To begin with, you embed session recording and heat mapping tools on the page.
Step 3 – After reviewing the heat maps and the screen recordings, you see that users are normally exiting the site after reading the product description from a dropdown menu – this is backed up by event tracking information from Google Analytics. From this, you identify that the product information is an area that needs attention so you analyse it and compare it to your other pages.
Step 4 – You edit the product information, but you also feel like the page would be better without the drop-down menu and just with the text instead. You make these changes but set it up so you have access to both the old and new versions of the page.
Step 5 – You then conduct some A/B tests to gauge how customers feel about the new layout, but also ask them to suggest any further improvements.
Step 6 – If the new layout gets a positive response, you know that this is the way to go. If the A/B tests throw up any new suggestions then you can have a look at implementing them as well and conduct more testing to measure the outcomes.
And that’s that. Hopefully, you can begin to see now how you can use data and testing to increase your conversion rates. Before you go, here are some important points to remember:
- Patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day so remember to set yourself achievable targets tailored to you alone.
- Check your reviews. You most likely have excellent feedback already lying out in the open.
- Familiarise yourself with Google Analytics. It’s free and has tonnes of useful information.
- User intent. There is no end to the benefits of knowing your customers, how they interact with your site and why they’re there.
- Testing, testing, and testing. This is the best firewall between you and mistakes, give everything a dress rehearsal.