15+ CRO experts share the ultimate practices to improve your webshop's revenue
Let’s start with the question behind this article:
If you could only recommend 3 tips for Conversion Rate Optimization for startup E-commerce companies, which 3 would you choose?
We have asked 15+ experts to tell us what are the their 3 most important CRO tips or tactics that a small business can successfully implement.
Many ecommerce shop owners focus on gaining more traffic and direct their efforts into attracting more people to their website through content marketing, paid advertising (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), etc. The only problem is that this is only the first step and many of them stop there. The second step would be the user’s experience on the website, and this experience is dependant on many variables.
In order to understand your business you must put yourself in the shoes of your clients and have the same expectations as they do. Just think what you would do if the website you are trying to reach takes a lot of time to load, or if the shop requires you to create an account (and remember the credentials, as well) in order to continue with your purchase.
Now, after you have thought about all the requirements you have (that’s not a big sample, is it?) it is time to look at what the CRO experts encountered throughout their years of experience of working with thousands of clients (now, that’s what I call a nice sample).
The answers are listed in the order they were received in:
Nitin Deshdeep - Visual Website Optimizer
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) plays a critical role in the growth of ecommerce enterprises. The following three exercises, I think, are essential for the success of a CRO program:
Locating leaks on website: Monitor your website data and find pages where most visitors leave.
Identifying reasons of leakage: Take help of tools such as Heatmaps, Scrollmaps, Visitor Recordings and Form Analysis to find out why visitors are leaving your website.
Fixing the leakage: Hypothesize changes to your website that you think can make visitors stay and convert. Validate your hypotheses using A/B Testing.
Brian Lenney, Winsome Writing
Empathize. You need to know what it's like to be your customer. Your website visitor. Your prospect. You need to feel what they feel, see what they see, and walk a mile in their shoes. If you can't find a way to empathize with your site visitors, you'll fail. So do what you need to do to experience your site and product and customer support like they do. Sign up for your own stuff. Ping your customer support team. Do user-testing, screen recordings, and poll/survey them. If you don't, you're just building for you based on hunches, not data. Empathy is everything.
Don't make me think. Your site and copy and EVERYTHING should be laid out in such a way that people just move through your site to your CTA w/out even thinking about it. Don't write long block paragraphs, make things short and simple. You don't want people to think or get hung up, you want them to hit that CTA button or fill out a form, or call you. So make the user journey simple, easy, and obstacle free. If you don't NEED it on the page - kill it.
Give them one thing to do & that's it. Don't give people 29 things to click on. Give them one. They should have one goal and one thing to do on every page. Not 3, not 7, not 74. In the age of the Internet, we get distracted by...everything. So, make your page simple and lay out a clear path to the ONE thing you want them to do. Remove the shiny objects and useless crap, just lead them down the path and give them a stupidly simple way to convert. No distractions allowed.
Kevin Cotch, TopRank Marketing
The first CRO tip that startup ecommerce companies should focus on is to include reviews for all the product pages. Customer reviews on product pages helps justify the product to new customers. After adding the review functionality to the products make sure to encourage your existing customers to leave positive reviews to increase visibility.
The second CRO tip is to write quality product descriptions. Product descriptions should use a sense of urgency within the messaging and be as unique as possible. A well-written description will help convince users to buy your product, as well as, help organic visibility.
The last CRO tip startup ecommerce stores should use is high-quality imagery for products. Consider adding multiple images for each product at different angles and/or uses. High-quality images help users know exactly what they are getting when they purchase the product.
Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
Use exit-intent popups for onsite retargeting, so you can convert website visitors into customers.
Focus on reducing cart-abandonment because that directly impacts your bottom line.
Leverage urgency and scarcity when possible to maximize your sales.
Sean Si, SEO Hacker
Use activity capture tools like Inspectlet to know exactly how your customers interact with your site using their keyboard and mouse.
Keep A/B testing all the time. Don't do A/B/n testing (multivariate testing) if you're not an expert on it yet as it will only confuse or skew your data. Use optimizely or Google Content Experiments
Ask your customers for their opinion of your site - use tools like Qeryz to know this in a qualified way by asking your site's visitors right on your website.
Be obsessed about site speed. Use a CDN. I recommend MaxCDN for the job as this is what I personally use.
Sarah Miles, Yabber Marketing
- Create Content that Converts:
Start ups face a number of challenges in a highly competitive digital market arena, especially if the e-commerce site is new and not well established. Therefore, my first tip for conversion optimization would be to write content that converts. Good content not only drives traffic to your site but, if written around 'search intent' (identifying what answers your audience is looking for), then content should successfully aid the consumers' researching process while implying a future transaction. Good content should therefore capture visitors at every stage of the conversion process.
- Accurate PPC campaigns
If investing in advertising through PPC ensure that the advert accurately reflects the content on the landing page. This can be done in several ways. Firstly, don't sponsor keywords that aren't used on your own site. If your adverts appears on Google for 'Brown leather coasts' and your site only sells Black leather coats you will run the risk of experiencing a high bounce rate, which will lead to a low quality score from Google, further resulting in having to pay more for your campaigns. Secondly, avoid making false promises in your adverts. Don't promise free shipping and next day delivery if you don't actually offer it. Instead, stick to sponsoring keywords that accurately reflect what's on your site and make sure the ads are set up to direct them to the most relevant product page.
- Create great landing pages.
Landing pages should be striking, inviting and well designed for optimal conversion. Landing pages for ecommerce sites should be punctuated with strong call to actions (CTAs) which should lead the customers through an easy, uncomplicated purchasing process. The better the user experience the higher your conversion will be.
Himanshu Sharma, Optimize Smart
If you are just starting out then focus first on generating website traffic. Once your website start getting 10k or more visits a month then think about CRO. This is because if you are getting very little traffic, then you will have a hard time carrying out statistically significant tests (like A/B tests).
If your website has never been optimised for conversion then start with usability tests as they are open ended and customer centric. Once you start getting diminishing returns from your usability tests then focus on conducting A/B tests.
Focus on optimising your checkout process. Reduce checkout abandonment by running re-marketing campaigns.
Erik Emanuelli, NoPassiveIncome
Work on cart abandonment with email marketing and remarketing.
Run A/B tests to find out which is the best buttons/design that convert more.
Create a Thank You/Receipt Page with an option for a mailing list or a special discount on specific products.
Pratik Dholakiya E2M
Conversion rate optimization for websites, requires an ongoing audit, analysis and editing process that continues to improve results. Frequently in digital marketing, sourcing customers is a numbers game. We’re encouraged by an uptick in site traffic, or a decrease in bounce rate as a sign that the business is on the right track. But at the end of the day, traffic without conversion to income or sales is futile; businesses need more than traffic to bolster earnings.
Marketers need to pivot to measurable results directly linked to sales, and track those results accurately, to make the value proposition clearer for brands who invest heavily in digital promotion. Applications are keeping pace with that need, and gaining insights from data is easier today than it has ever been before.
When designing UX for any digital collateral, by default brands tend to exclusively use their in-house marketing team. The problem with testing for user experience with the individuals who created the landing pages and content, is that there is already an innate bias. They made it, so naturally they are going to approve of it. Brands that outsource to agencies for assistance in CRO for websites, social and pay-per-click campaigns gain the advantage of an accurate evaluation of what is and is not working.
Consumer testing with individuals who are not marketing professionals is critical; they are going to give you the most accurate read of your UX, and where content, messaging and promotion can be strengthened. Focus groups are ideal, but the data and feedback you need can also be acquired through surveys, which also allow for secondary promotion through a brand incentive to the respondents (coupon, free sample, etc.).
Kaleigh Moore, Lumen Ventures
Take a mobile-first approach. More and more users are making this their primary platform.
Incorporate video on product pages. It improves the online shopping experience.
Suggest products. This aids the discovery process and can boost AOV.
Yael Kochman, Fash&Tech
It is all about the experience. While shopping offline is a lively experience that involves so many of our senses, shopping online can be lonesome, and sometimes boring. Make sure to offer an amazing shopping experience. Use innovative technologies to offer customers value that they would not be able to get at competitive websites, such as 3D models of your items (check out Hexa for a quick solution for that), option to shop together with friends using services such as Askourt and make sure to optimize the experience across platforms, with tools such as Zuznow.
Visual sell better than words. Utilize UGC content to show potential buyers how your product is already being used by happy customers. This can be done in a snap with tools like Bllush, or if your store is Shopify enabled - check out Loox.
Customers sometimes need more than one visit in order to convert. So even if you've done everything you can to optimize your product pages, you are bound to lose at least 90% of visitors on their first visit. This is why you must use retargeting. But do it smartly. Use the data you have on your users to offer them ads that are personalized and relevant for them. This is the only way to rise above the noise and win. "
Shane Barker, Shane Barker Consulting
- Add Social Proof to Your Landing Pages
If consumers have never heard of you before, they'll, understandably, be reluctant to buy from you. For startups, it's important that you give people a good reason (or 12) to trust you. Do so by adding social proof - like customer testimonials and reviews, and the number of shares or followers - to your landing pages.
- Optimize Your Search Box and Search Results
Help people find what they're looking for as quickly, and easily as possible. If your site doesn't already have a search box, add one. Make sure it's clearly visible on both desktop and mobile, and that it has auto-complete. Also ensure that search results are relevant, and that if users search for something you don't have, they are offered alternatives rather than, "no results."
- Offer Support via Live Chat
Make it easy for users to get their questions answered, and ask for help by offering live chat support. When people have a question about your products, or experience problems on your website, they may not take the time to read your FAQs, or email you. They’ll probably just leave. Keep them on your site longer, and convert them into paying customers with live chat software.
Stoney deGeyter, Pole Position Marketing
I would recommend setting up a limited run PPC campaign to drive traffic to any optimized page on your site using the keywords which it was optimized for. Check bounce and conversion rates for those keywords specifically. Adjust the page as needed to improve. Once you know the page is a winner for those keywords you can continue or drop the PPC campaign based on your budget.
Next, look at organic search traffic for those pages and see if you can improve the click through rate by tweaking the title and meta description tags.
Finally, I would look for ways to improve messaging and the conversion flow on the page itself. With every change, run more PPC to the page to see how the changes impact the results.
Steven MacDonald, SuperOffice
Think mobile first. When implementing new functionality and features on your website, develop them first on mobile devices. Buyers are using their smartphones to find, browse and shop more than ever before. If you're site isn't optimized for mobile, customers will shop elsewhere.
Improve site speed. If a page doesn't load quickly, potential customers will leave. Use Google's PageSpeed Insights test to uncover site speed issues and fix them. A faster loading website can increase conversion rate by as much as 88%!
Deliver excellent service. Customers want to feel valued. You can have the best/ most optimized website in the world, but if the service you deliver is poor, customers will stop shopping with you. Focus on delivering a unique customer experience as part of your overall optimization strategy to increase not only conversion rates, but overall lifetime value and revenue.
Vanhishikha Bhargava, ExitBee
Well the 3 conversion rate optimization tips I give to startup eCommerce businesses are:
Never let a visitor to your online store go without making an interaction. He might not want to make a purchase from you right away, but he could be more than willing to follow you on social media. You could then definitely use the opportunity to encourage a sale. :)
Always optimize your checkout process. The idea of online shopping is to save time. When your checkout process demands too much information that might not seem relevant to a shopper, he is bound to leave without making a purchase. So ask only for what's important.
Understand what the shopper is looking for and retarget on-site before he leaves. At Exit Bee, we have been working closely with eCommerce business and have identified that sometimes a little nudge can result in a sale. So based on the behaviour of the visitor, use an exit intent campaign - be it to offer an additional discount to avoid cart abandonment, request to subscribe to newsletters to receive discounts or to follow you on social media, make product recommendations, and more. The idea is to grab the visitor's attention one last time before he leaves! Once he leaves, he is less likely to come back to your store.
Jeff White, Kula Partners
- Use exit surveys to find out why someone didn't convert
You may be a wizard when it comes to developing a hypothesis for why your site visitors aren't taking the action you want. Sometimes, you just don't know what might be keeping someone from converting. In these situations, deploying an exit survey that triggers a pop up when the user goes to leave the page can help you gather data that will help you improve your conversion rates via subsequent testing. Don't forget to leave an 'other' option so users can tell you about a problem you may not have considered.
- Visitor recordings can help you determine where visitors stumble
In combination with heat and click maps, session recordings can show you a user's path through your site, allowing you to find impediments to conversion. When used in the analysis phase of a CRO program, you'll be able to make smarter hypotheses that allow you to improve your conversion rate more quickly.
- When you can't iterate, innovate instead
If you don't have enough traffic or conversions to get statistically significant results from your A/B tests, consider launching innovative tests that change the landing page design much more substantially to see if that increases your conversion rates. Of course, you should still be performing the fundamental analysis up front to generate a hypothesis based on what you're seeing on the site. Landing pages present a good opportunity to test innovative design theories. Big gains here can power a dramatic increase in leads or customers when deployed site-wide.
Thomas Krawiec, Rejoiner
If you're talking about a startup E-Commerce company with minimal traffic, then I only have piece of advice:
- Email every customer or pick up the phone and have a conversation with everyone you can about why they purchased from you, how they found you and what they like about your products, what they don't like and which other products they're looking to buy.
Feedback is critical in the early stages because if you can find our what you're customers are really hungry for, they'll be more likely to buy more and tell their friends about you.
Bobby Hewitt, Creative Thirst
Any business that has been around for at least 3 years, usually has a general idea of who their target market is. They can tell you the demographics of their customers at least. For companies that have been around longer they think they know more than that. They think they know them pretty well or else how could they have been in business for 5 years?
The problem is they don’t really know them, they only think they do. They might know them a little better than just a list of demographic bullet points or a persona document but in my 15+ years of experience, in Marketing and Optimization, they never do. But they always think they do.
Which is why if I could only recommend three things for a mid-stage e-commerce company, they would all be around knowing what makes your customers tick.
And that would be…
- Understand the desires and beliefs of your ideal customers
I’ve written about this before extensively on my website and the gist of it is, part of what makes people buy is based on belief, which is a sub set of trust.
Belief looks like this…
Belief = (Desire x Self Story) / Challenges
Desire is a large part of where our individual beliefs are formed and it guides our reasons to buy. These are the fundamental reasons underlying a purchase that stretch beyond demographics and get inside what the customer thinks and wants.
You can only get this by talking to you customers one on one.
- Understand your buyer’s journey
Knowing what your buyers desires and beliefs will be important to understanding and providing context around the journey they take not only through your website but also through their lives and thought process to get to the point of purchase.
- Build your split test hypothesizes around what you know about your customer’s trust and belief
Once you’ve done the really hard work of digging into the mind of your customers, it’s time to design your hypothesis around the trust and belief framework of your desired customers. This critical step validates what you think you now know about them.
The real impact of any conversion optimization effort is not in UX tactics or little tweaks, that’s all low hanging fruit, but the really big wins, the wins that impact revenue and also the business on a fundamental level lie in knowing your customers on a very intimate level.
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré Authentic Curation
Remember that behind the metrics are human beings, and those human beings are motivated by feelings. They need to feel secure on your site and confident that purchasing your product is the best decision they can make. That's true whether you're B2C or B2B.
Google Analytics is a great tool, but only when you really understand how to use it. If you never look past that first screen, invest in hiring a professional to get you set up properly.
CRO isn't just about getting people to hit the "buy" button. Good CRO is about building a positive relationship with the customer throughout the sales funnel that lasts long after the first purchase, and leads to repeat purchases and referrals. It's easy to get caught up in "tricks" and "hacks" and manipulation, but keep the relationship at the top of your priority list. Sustainable CRO only works when everybody wins.
Mansi Dhorda PRmention
Dynamic CTA: Frame a dynamic CTA with text that reflects urgency. For example, ‘Buy in 24 hours and Save $10!’ and ‘24:00 Keeps Counting Down.’
Video testimonials: Video testimonials help create an emotional connection with prospects and consumers. There is a sense of trust in video testimonials, and they’re inexpensive to create.
Take Advantage of Your Visitor's FOMO: FOMO stands for ‘Fear Of Missing Out.’ It conveys the feeling of missing out on something great if you don't take an action. Most of the time, people add products to their cart to purchase them “later,” which almost never comes. The solution to this is to make them feel that if they don't make the purchase at the very moment, they are going to miss it (or miss the product at that price) completely.
HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed and made this post happen!
And there you have it. The tips and tricks you must take into account when trying to optimize your conversion rate.
If you would only remember three things from this article, make sure they are the following:
Work on your website speed. The faster, the better.
Keep it simple. As Demian Farnworth summed it up (quoting NYU professor of philosophy, Jim Pryor): pretend that your readers are lazy, stupid, and mean.
A/B testing is crucial. Eliminate the guesswork as much as possible.
Let us know in the comments section what do you think about these tips. Also, what are your best 3 CRO strategies that work for you?