If you’re working in eCommerce the objective is simple. Sell as much darn product as you can!
You want to get as many darn sales as you can and often you’ll turn to tactics like mass promotions to increase eCommerce conversions.
Promotions and discounts are a good way of increasing your conversions quickly but they can damage your brand in the long term. So do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket and rely on discounts?
Discounts have their place but we can do much better than that to increase our conversions.
On average shoppers visit 5 unique retailers before making a purchase (at least 3 online merchants and 2 bricks and mortar stores). You need to do things better than your competitors to ensure that the customer converts on your site and not theirs.
So what do you do? As an eCommerce professional you want to see improvement in those conversion rates but you aren’t sure how to do it.
There are a lot of conversion rate optimisation tactics that you can use – most of which won’t cost you a dime.
Here are some of my favourite approaches.
Offer free delivery
Free delivery is something that most of us have come to expect. In fact, in a study performed by Walker Sands, 9 out of 10 people said that free delivery was the number 1 incentive when shopping online.
Online retailers are starting to listen and more than 50% of them offer free delivery. Some will offer free delivery as standard, whereas others will place certain conditions on it, like minimum spend.
In another study from CPC Strategy, 44% of shoppers said that they abandon shopping carts because of delivery charges… that’s a heck of a lot of people and lost conversions.
But does offering free delivery actually make that much of a difference to your conversion rates? In the same study 93% of customers said that they are encouraged to buy more products if free delivery is included, so that stat alone is reassuring that it can have a positive impact.
Many businesses I have worked with have made the move to free delivery and seen conversions and sales climb.
Depending on your business model and the number of SKUs you have to contend with, there are a couple of ways you can offer free shipping. You can either consume the cost of shipping in the good faith that it will generate extra sales or simply build the average cost of delivery into your margins and incorporate it into your selling price.
If you decide you can’t go this route, then at least be upfront about your delivery charges so customers can see there is a charge early on – try offering a flat delivery rate if you can.
Make product choices clear through framing
Have you ever gone to an eCommerce site and been so overwhelmed by the choice and complexity of products that you just end up being confused? Yea, me too!
That’s exactly how we DON’T want our users to feel.
Whether you have 5 or 5,000 products for purchase you have to make your product choices as clear as possible. Keep users well informed without them having to click through countless product pages to evaluate their options.
Presenting product choices through framing is the perfect way to show comparable differences.
GoDaddy do this really well with their hosting packages. It’s so easy to see the differences between each package.
You can use framing in a variety of ways to generate conversions.
One tactic that you’ll see time and time again, especially with web hosting companies, is to compare 3 products side by side – a basic, average and premium option.
The basic option is usually very cheap and offers little value, the middle option offers much more for just a small price increase and then the premium option just looks like way too much money. 9 times out of 10 they’ll highlight the middle option to make it stand out.
Do you think they are trying to drive you to the cheap or premium option? Nope! They just want to increase sales of that middle option.
By putting the other options either side of that average option they make it look a whole lot more appealing to those of us that just want a good deal.
You could use this same strategy during a sale as well. 123 Reg do this extremely well.
Improve your product descriptions
Product descriptions are your key sales pitch. Think of them as the words that the sales person would speak if you were in a bricks and mortar position.
Be personal and write as if you are speaking to someone. The best product descriptions provide value with no waffle. Don’t overhype it, just be straight and to the point.
Always ask yourself whom are you writing for and what do they want to know.
Focus on the benefits, not features of your product, early on and use bullets where possible. The rule of three can come in really handy here. Psychology shows we resonate with 3 more than any other number.
Give them the key benefits as early as possible and hook them in to read more by frontloading your copy. Give them that top level understanding first and once you have hooked them in you can tell them about more advanced stuff like technical specs and warranty.
Firebox does all of the above really well. They can even make a Unicorn Pen exciting!
Finally, don’t cut corners on product descriptions. We aren’t all professional copywriters; so if you aren’t confident that you write well, don’t shy away from hiring a professional to help you out.
Bring your product to life with images and media
When you design an eCommerce page you need to bring the sales experience to life. They can’t hold your product in their hands to get a feel for how it works, so good imagery and video is an absolute must.
I can teach you how to generate quality traffic to your site for free, so if you are going to invest in anything, invest in good product photography.
One thing that I have never got is when companies insist on just showing me a picture of their product on a white background. Sometimes that is useful but if you’re selling me a sofa I want to see it in a lifestyle setting, not just a white background.
Use lifestyle shots where possible over those bland white background shots and you will see appositive difference.
Even if you haven’t got the budget for a photographer, with the right lighting and a good smartphone you can do your own photography.
Photos are great but if you couple them with videos you’ll definitely see a significant lift in engagement and conversions. So just like with the photos, get your smartphone out and start filming.
Make sure your video is believable. I am sure like me you can spot the actors in those “customer” review commercials a mile off.
Authentic user generated content can work really well – it’s raw and believable.
Use scarcity to persuade them to buy now
eCommerce is extremely competitive. You don’t need me to tell you that whilst the web gives you far greater opportunity, it can also be saturated in certain niches due to high levels of competition.
We need to create urgency to encourage users to buy now. If we give them the mindset that they can come back later they’ll probably either go to a competitor or end up spending their hard earned cash on that new dishwasher they were looking at last month.
Scarcity instills in users that they need to act now. The deal might not be available for long and they don’t want to miss out.
Booking.com employ scarcity tactics really well. Look, there’s 5 people looking at this hotel, oh no it’s booking up fast. AHHHH I must buy now before I miss out!!!
Ok, I’m probably exaggerating a bit but you get the idea!
You don’t have to be in the hotels industry to use scarcity. If you have a product that’s running out of stock, use scarcity and tell people so.
As with anything, there is a line with scarcity. We don’t want to trick users and be untruthful. Be genuine with your scarcity at all times and don’t over do it.
Boost the quality of your calls to action
A good set of calls to action will encourage your users how to act.
Keeping it simple has to be at the front of your mind whenever you think about calls to action.
Customers should never have to hunt to find anything on your eCommerce site – especially the “add to basket” button.
We look at websites like an arc peaking from the left. Much like reading a book, we go from left to right.
With this in mind always try to place your most important content and calls to action in those hot spots to the left.
Images can be gravitational and this can work either for or against you. They either point users in the right direction or send their eyes to the complete opposite of where you want them to look.
If you use faces in your imagery make them work for you. We’re drawn to eyes so make sure the eyes of any faces are looking in the direction that you want the user to go.
Changing the quality of your call to actions can make a marginal improvement.
Have you ever been annoyed in a store because you can’t find the checkout? It’s exactly the same on an eCommerce site if you can’t find the “add to cart” button.
Make sure your add to cart and checkout buttons are brightly coloured and prominent… Let’s make it easy for the customer to give us their money.
Utilise reviews from happy customers
It’s easy to find reviews of products and services online before you make a purchase.
According to a study by Econsultancy, 61% of shoppers read reviews before they purchase. Furthermore, a similar study from Chain Store Age found that 81% research online before making big purchases and 63% are more likely to purchase from a site that has reviews.
So good reviews can be pretty powerful!
Where there are good reviews there are bound to be some negative ones – but don’t be afraid of them.
Negative reviews can actually improve conversions as long as there are only a few amongst a sea of positive reviews.
No matter the eCommerce platform you are using there will be a simple review plugin that you can use. There are tonnes for WordPress.
When selecting a review plugin always search for one that allows you to use a star rating system. Those little gold stars are a perfect way of quickly seeing how existing customers favour a particular product.
If you don’t have a good amount of reviews lying around you’ll need to encourage your existing customers to leave their feedback.
You could email customers a week after they receive their product and ask them to leave a review or even pull in posts from social media.
If you are active on twitter you can embed tweets on your website and users can click through to the existing tweet. They’ll see that the review is genuine and will place far more trust in it than traditional reviews.
Keep your eCommerce pages simple
We all want information quickly without having to spend a lot of time searching and the same goes for shopping online.
You need to make sure that the information on your product pages is clean, easy to read and well presented.
Don’t clog pages with mountains of information – even the most technical and complex products don’t need mountains of words and buttons.
A simple rule of thumb I like to follow when designing an eCommerce page is to ask myself “If this wasn’t here would it be the end of the world?” If the answer is no, then we need to move it, reduce it or remove it.
If you need to display a lot of content on your product page, like technical specifications and downloads, us tabs to hide content and then the user can choose whether or not they need to see that information.
Use cart abandonment tactics
Ok. We have looked at what we can do to encourage people to click that “add to cart” button, but what about those that have clicked the button and abandon the cart process before closing the deal?
Did you know that 67% of customers abandon shopping carts? That’s a large chunk of people that already know about you but haven’t converted!
There are a variety of reasons why people abandon carts, so if you can work at combating these you’ll have less of an issue on your hands. Here are some of the top reasons people abandon carts:
- Delivery costs
- Forced registration
- Complex checkout processes
- Comparison shopping
- Site speeds
The ideal is that once people have added a product to their basket they close the deal. However, 100% success rate is impossible to achieve so let’s make the most of this situation and market to people who abandon carts on our site.
You’ll need to act quickly. 90% of leads go cold after 1 hour.
The best thing you can do to reach abandon cart prospects quickly is to send them an email… you’ll probably already have their details on your database if they abandoned the cart.
48% of cart abandonment emails are opened. So make that email as attractive as possible. Personalise it by including the product they left in their cart and perhaps even a discount code to reduce the risk and nudge them towards purchasing.
But what if you don’t get them with that email? Shall we give up? Heck no!
We can use retargeting still! Did you know that 70% of shoppers are more likely to convert after cart abandonment? That’s a healthy enough stat for me to want to experiment with retargeting.
You won’t get it right first time. Abandon cart tactics can be tricky. Just test the effectiveness of what you do by constantly analysing click through rates and conversions.
Be mobile responsive
Mobile Internet has grown year on year. We’re constantly browsing the web on our phones.
Mobile and tablet Internet usage overtook desktop for the first time in October 2012. The trend is showing no signs of slowing down. A study by Statista predicts that by 2020 mobile will account for almost 50% of all eCommerce sales.
Screenshot one of the charts from the links
Those two stats alone should convince you of the power of mobile. If you aren’t mobile responsive now you can bet you’re missing out on valuable conversions. The stats show that mobile is only going to get more important, so make mobile a priority now!
I want to leave you with one final thought. Test, test, test!
Even the most advance eCommerce professionals are constantly learning from what they do.
No matter which tactics you decide to implement from the above, always make sure you’re testing what you do. Just test one or two elements at a time to get a true idea of what works and implement them in the next phase of your strategy.
You can ALWAYS improve your conversion rate so never settle for what you are getting now.
Tell me, what eCommerce conversion rate tactics are working for you? Leave a comment below.