One of the most common question found in any e-commerce sellers community/forum is “why there is no (or very few) sales instead of decent traffic to my online store?”
Yes, with thousands of e-commerce stores launching every day, it’s not quite a child’s play to convert your store traffic into sales. You may have the best products in your store, still, you need to convince your visitors to buy it.
Here is a comprehensive list of 8 steps you need to follow before you say yourself “Yay…my store is ready for sales!”
Before we start talking about store optimisation for conversion, let’s understand the buyer’s journey inside your store. For more than 95% of the online stores it’s almost the same and somehow looks like this:
Now let’s get back to the conversion optimisation steps one by one:
1. Analyze the quality of your traffic
Conversions is about developing your customer understanding so you can market to them more effectively – Giles Thomas, WholeDesignStudios
To understand your customers, it is much more important to understand the quality than the volume of the traffic. Also figuring out the sources of quality traffic will help you to figure out where to focus your energy when driving traffic. Now, what do we mean by quality traffic and how to understand the quality of your website traffic?
What do we mean by good quality traffic: If the maximum no. of your visitors are from your ideal customer segment then we can say that the quality of your traffic is good.
How to understand the quality of your traffic: Though, there is no direct way to find out which traffic is from your potential customer and which are not, you can have a general idea of your visitors from your Google analytics data.
Here are few basic reports you need to go through for better understanding of your traffic.
i) Demographics and Geo reports:
Suppose you are selling cosmetics for women.Then the demographic of your target audience is mainly female with age above 18 years. Now you can check how much of your website visitors falls inside your target audience segment and how much is not, from the Demographics report. In your Google analytics dashboard, go to Demographics>Overview
If you see that maximum of your visitors is outside your target segment then you should clearly revise your marketing strategy to ensure that you are reaching out to the right audience.
From the Geo report, you will be able to find from which continents/countries/cities your website’s visitors are and the language set on their browser.If you don’t ship your products outside the USA then there is no point of getting visits from China!
ii) Acquisition Channels Report:
You should go through the Channel wise report to have a better idea which of your traffic channels are providing you with quality traffic and which channels are not.
a) Bounce Rate:
Bounce Rate = No. of visits left your website after viewing one page only / No. of total visits
So clearly if you are seeing a high bounce rate then we can reach two conclusions. First, the traffic is of poor quality and second the landing pages,on which the traffic is coming,are not optimized.
b) Average Session Duration: The average time your visitors spend on your website. The less it is the poorer is your traffic quality.
c) Page/Session: A genuinely interested visitor will visit few of your pages before leaving. So higher pages/session is the sign of better quality traffic.
Now you can dig deep into each of your traffic channels for better understanding. For example if you click on the third channel i.e. Social you can see which of the social media platforms are bringing you better quality traffic and which are not. In the sample report shown below, we can see that among all the social channels the quality of the traffic coming from Youtube is very good in comparison with other social channels.
2) Analyse your visitor’s behaviour to optimise the navigation:
Before you start optimising your landing pages go to your Google analytics dashboard. Look into Landing pages (Behaviour>Site Content>Landing Pages) report to find out on which pages the most of your visitors are coming to. Are they landing on the pages you want them to or they are landing somewhere else?
Also, check if your visitors are following the desired path on your website from the Behavior Flow report. If not then try to figure out how can you optimise the navigation structure on your website.
Pro Tip: Also check Exit Pages report (Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages) and point out which are the major pages responsible for most of the exits.Try to optimise the navigation or those pages to stop the leak.
3) Optimise your landing pages:
It’s said that “First impression is the best impression”.It’s true for your website too. It can make or break a sale.Now what are the most important aspects of a good landing page you should look at?
i) Don’t make your customer wait: If your page take more than 3 secs to load 40% people will leave your website before they enter. And for every 1 second of your site delay you will lose 7% more of your traffic! Test your website pages with Google Page Speed Tool and if needed take help of a developer to reduce the loading time of your pages.
ii) Optimize for mobile devices:
“There are more mobile internet users than desktop internet users; 52.7% of global internet users access the internet via mobile, and 75.1% of U.S. internet users access the internet via mobile” – Hosting Facts Internet stats & facts for 2016
“4 out of 5 consumers use a Smartphone to shop” – Hosting Facts
These are the reasons you need to make sure that your online store is optimized for mobile devices.
iii) Image quality – A Picture is worth a thousand words: If you are using banners on your landing page (What most of the e-commerce sites do) then make sure that the image is of great quality and blendss with your website theme. I have seen a lot of stores where the banners are just some large product images or some plain images totally unrelated to the store. Please don’t do that! Invest few bucks on your banners and make sure that the banner depicts the message or impression you wish to convey to your customers when they first land on your store.
iv) Killer Headline – A clear USP: A killer headline compliments your beautiful banner image. It should be short and precise. It should encourage the visitor to follow the CTA (Call To Action)
v) Call To Action: If your visitors are impressed enough to explore more of your store they will look for a way to get in. The purpose of the CTA is to make sure that your visitors don’t have to search for a link to get in.It should be right there above the fold (so that your visitors don’t have o scroll to see the button), clear and prominent. Try to use a verb or action driving word and words which conveys urgency in the copy of the CTA button.
Remember to link the CTA to the proper page. For example if your heading is promoting your Fall collection then the related CTA should take them to the Fall collection page, not all products page.
vi) Show what interests your visitors: Show interest wise categories on your homepage.Depending upon what and to whom you are selling you can create few categories which you think may interest your visitors most. You can think of categories buyers demographic wise,usage wise,discount wise and many other ways.
If you are selling only few items which you can’t categorize then show your best products which represent your brand.
vii) Sense of Trust: Until your brand is already established and well known in your target market, you have to assure your visitors that your store is secure for online transactions and you have proper shipping, return and refund policies in place. Put visuals on your landing page with your policy highlights. Also you should have detailed policies in separated pages accessible from any pages of your website.
vii) Methods of contact: You have to make sure that your contact details are clearly visible throughout your website.Sometime it’s great to have a live chat option so that you can instantly reply to customer queries to their amusement.
Let’s tear down the landing page of Shoeme.ca to see how they have embraced these techniques on their main landing page.
4) Do you have Category pages?
Do you have products of different categories and separate pages for each category?
i) Use Hero Headers:
A good practice to make your category page more enticing is to add hero headers on each category page. Make sure that the graphic represent the category well and conveys anything special (like discounts) for the category.
ii) Graphic Sub Category: If you have subcategories then present them with graphics for quick discovery and easy navigation.
iii) Product Filter and sorting: Let your visitor quickly find what exactly she is looking for.Place the filters as per the importance, from indispensable one to less important one.For example on Shoeme.ca the first filter is ‘Size’ which is the must have filter for their products.Then the other filter follows.
5) Product Page:
Your product page should be optimized such a way that your visitors can quickly find all the necessary product details, be assured of policies and proceed to checkout smoothly.While what to put on your product page depends upon what product you are selling, it’s always good not to stuff it with too much of info or keep it too empty.
Here are few best practices which have been embraced by successful e-commerce stores.Though all of these may not be applicable for your store but some of these are.
a) Product Images:
Images are the most important element of your product page especially if you are selling physical products.It starts with product photography. You can actually optimize your product photos in order to get more sales and engagement on your listings.Here are some points to remember while using your product photos on your product pages.
i) Use big and well lit images. Make sure if there is no standard size for the product,the image gives a clear idea of the product’s dimension.
ii) One image is rarely enough.Use multiple images taken from different angle or to depict various parts of the product.
iii) Show the product in use.
iv) Let people zoom in.People likes to zoom in to have a detailed view of the product.
v) For some kind of products 360 degree view is a great features to have.
vi) Include small and lightweight video for products whose usage need to be explained.
b) Product Description: Before start writing define your voice of personality depending upon your target audience. Maintain this tone throughout all copies of your store. While scripting the description make sure that you present all necessary info and features of the product. Highlight the benefits for the customers not the features of the products. Here’s how to write eCommerce product descriptions that sell.
c) Prominent CTAs: While designing and placing the CTA buttons on the product page, think about the priorities of the CTA. Obviously the most important CTA buttons are Add to Cart and Proceed To Checkout (or whatever you call it).Make sure that the buttons are placed in a way that the user don’t have to look for it.
d) Pricing: Clearly show the difference between the Actual Price and Discounted price. If you are not giving discounts then convey that the product is already in the best price.
e) Reviews: Allow your customers to put review. Actually, you should encourage them for reviewing as soon as they receive the product.
f) Shipping charge: Make sure that you clearly display the shipping charges applicable so that the customer knows how much she is going to be billed before she proceeds to check out. Unexpected charges in the checkout out page is very big turn off.
g) Stock meter: Scarcity creates a sense of urgency.Have a system in place to show an indication when only a few items left.
6) Optimize Checkout process:
A well-optimized Checkout process should enable your customer to complete the buying process with least effort and 100% trust. When the customer place an order she should leave your store happy and excited not confused and exhausted.
Give a glimpse of the cart: When the user adds a product to the cart, visually indicate that the product is successfully added.It’s great to show the status of the cart by hover effect on the cart icon without going to the cart page every time the user need to check her cart.
Break the checkout process in multiple small steps: It’s better to have two-three step checkout process instead of one lengthy time-consuming step.
Don’t force customers to create account: E-commerce giant like Amazon forces new users to Signup as their system is much more complex and offers a lot of personalised features to their customers. As a small e-commerce seller, you should consider if you need to force your customer to create an account to make a purchase. Also, make sure that if the user is signing up/ logging in the checkout process then the user get redirected to the step of the checkout process where she left.
Optimize your Cart Page: When the user has added a product to her cart then you have to make sure that the user doesn’t face any hitch and feels confident while placing the order. Here are some crucial points you should check for your Cart page.
i) Display all the important details like (image, size, quantity etc) of the product.
ii) Let the customer Save/edit/remove products in the cart.
iii) Display the Total price which you are going to charge.
iv) Show estimated delivery date or have option to check estimated delivery date with Zip code.
v) Show Trust badges/FAQ
vi) It’s great to have apply coupon option on both cart page and billing page. Also if there is any applicable coupon for the order then either apply the coupon code or display the coupon code.This will encourage the users to make the purchase.
vii) Remove any distraction to make sure that the user stays focused on making the purchase.
Let’s have a look into Wilsons Leather’s cart page.
Optimize billing page:
i) Have multiple payment options: More payment options means more flexibility for your customers.
ii) Keep the input form minimum: Keep the input forms as short as possible:Have minimum no. of fields for the forms.Have the option for selecting the Shipping address as the Billing address. Put examples as placeholders in form fields to make it easy for the users.
Order confirmation page: After the user checks out show the order confirmation page with necessary details like order tracking and customer support contact. Also have an option for taking a printout of the order invoice even if you are sending the invoice through email.
Also read 40 Checkout Page Strategies to Improve Conversion Rates in Kissmetrics Blog.
7) Product Search
: If you are selling multiple items in different categories make sure that you don’t neglect your site’s search functionality. For the visitor who knows what she is looking for this is the starting point of her journey on your store.
Usually, search box is placed in the top right corner or in the middle of the header.Where ever it is, make sure that it’s clearly visible. Another important characteristic of an effective search functionality is auto fill.
8) Keep your Policies simple
: Once your visitors are convinced with your product and ready to make a purchase the first thing they will look for is your policies for Shipping, Return and Refund.
The policies will vary business to business but keep it as simple as possible. For example,free or fixed shipping charges is always more acceptable than variable shipping charges. Also, have a viable and customer friendly Return and refund policy depending upon the products you are selling.
Promote highlights of your policies on crucial places so that your visitors need not search for your detailed policy page while making a purchase decision. See on the screenshot taken from Shoeme.ca website, how they have displayed their policy highlights throughout their website with links to detailed policy pages.
Share your thoughts:
These store optimization techniques I discussed in this post are not the only ones out there. If you have tried and got good result from any other techniques or came across any other ideas which helps improve the conversion rate on an ecommerce store, I would really love to know about it. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Here is an Infographic to summarise all the steps we discussed in this post:
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