7 Ecommerce Best Practices That Will Improve Conversion Rates

The experts have already spoken. 

After total ecommerce sales increased by 15% in the US alone last year, and two of the biggest online-only buyouts became public – Dollar Shave Club in 2016 and Chewy.com just a few months ago – predictions of another big year for anyone with a successful ecommerce platform are definitely ‘on the money’.

graph of total ecommerce sales

Breathe in the chart above from Digital Commerce 360.

As an ecommerce marketer yourself, you’re already hip to the stats above (insert maniacal laugh), but you also understand that competition has become fierce.  

pitbull dog on skateboard

To stand out in this dog-eat-dog world, you need actual, practical and usable tactics to increase your ecommerce conversion rate. 

Think of the following as a toolkit of easy-to-follow best practices that will impact your bottom line quickly.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Before we get into individual tactics, we should say that everything is predicated on a thorough process of conversion rate optimisation, or CRO.

This is the first best practice you should be mastering!

It includes understanding what your own goals are (yes, writing them down), collecting data, analysing the data, putting forward a hypothesis, designing around that, building your site and then test, test, test!

cartoon girl holding a test tube

Once you’ve done this enough times, you should be able to cover off the following questions about your site:

Is it…

  • Functional?

If it doesn’t work, how can you expect to convert? Like a footballer without the ball, you can’t SCORE!

soccer player titus bramble sitting on the ground

  • Accessible?

Not everyone has 20/20 vision. Check out this beginners guide to web accessibility

  • Usable?

Are your pages taking too long to load? What is that massive graphic you’re slugging around? Remember the phrase ‘kill your babies’. It might apply here. 

baby crying

  • Intuitive?

I want to go on a journey with you. Let me, please let me. Oh no, your navigation is impossible to understand. 

  • Persuasive?

Are you screaming at me? Or can I not even hear you speaking? See you again never.

REMEMBER: Conversation Rate Optimisation is about increasing the number of visitors to your site who complete a desired action within a certain amount of time. 

A few key principles (and some self-questioning) to keep in mind with any of the above advice:

Trust – If I were a customer, would I buy from this site?

Relevancy – Is this picture of a crying baby reeeally important?

Perceived Value – Do I care about this information?

Copywriting – Is it clear, error free and does it get to the point?

User Experience – What is my overall goal and how am I making that easy?

A/B Tested Security Seals

Trust is a must.

Especially in the world of ecommerce, where 90% of web users are still concerned about their online security.

Different security seals let buyers know that your site is:

  • free from malware
  • hasn’t been hacked recently
  • has passed a security scan.

Check out Action Insights heat map study that asked participants to evaluate 20 different seals for trust.

heatmap on logos

Verisign’s Norton Secured seal (obscured) was the clear winner, with McAfee a little way behind.

One Internet Retailer Top 200  supplement supplier ran a test recently that discovered that when they displayed the McAfee Secure Trustmark prominently on their site, a 12% increase in conversion for new visitors happened. Just like that.

graph comparing different antivirus softwares

Underlining how important it is to be associated with a well known brand, using a lesser known name has been proven to actually hurt conversion.

Bottom line? Don’t let the perception of poor security decimate yours!

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Visibility

Being visible is also about trust.

Ever wanted to reach out to someone while browsing but had to spend precious seconds searching for contact details or a phone number? 

a clock with tick tock in the background

Studies reveal that every second this goes on for reduces your rate of conversion dramatically.

abandoned cart email by fab

Like this Abandoned Cart Email by furniture store Fab, it’s vitally important that you keep relevant information up front and visible. It’s low-hanging fruit you shouldn’t be missing. 

Check out this case study from Kissmetrics.

In it, they A/B Tested the number of sign-ups to a software service from a home page that did NOT contain a visible phone number vs a home page that DID contain a visible phone number.

The results were that:

  • 53.96% of sign-ups originated from the home page variation with the phone number.
  • 46.04% of sign-ups originated from the original home page without a phone number.

pie chart of phone number vs no phone number

It’s common sense that when there is a phone number people can call, the sense of your company being untrustworthy is immediately reduced, and you’re more likely to increase the number of potential conversions.

CXL runs through how they tested this themselves in this great article.

Mobile Optimisation

5 hands with each one holding a smart phone

Some people still don’t get this obvious best practice.

It’s old news that mobile searches outrank those from desktops, so this should be your number one priority.

 

The stats rom (Smart Insights) don’t lie:

  • 91% of Facebook usage takes place on mobile devices
  • 90% of mobile media time is spent in apps
  • More than 50% of total searches are completed on mobile

Investing in this is critical to your ecommerce success, especially if you also own a physical outlet. More than half of ecommerce searches local to your store result in a sale, making mobile optimization a no-brainer.

Check out this great article from Entrepreneur magazine about mobile optimization. It’ll tell you the answers to the questions you need to be asking.

Neil Patel has the topic covered here too.

You can start by using Google’s tool that will tell you how mobile-friendly your current site is. 

Collecting Emails

As we’ve said before, email marketing is still the most effective way to stay in touch with your existing customer base.

70% of all ecommerce transactions are influenced by email, making it the MOST powerful method of driving purchase.

hand holding lots of cash

Therefore, at every opportunity you should be trying to GROW your list, and there are lots of ways to do it.

The one way NOT to do it however  is by setting up a content barrier on your site eg. a super annoying pop-up way too soon. You know exactly what we’re talking about.

Internet Marketing Blogger Matthew Woodward discovered that when he set up a pop-up to execute in the 7th second of a new page visit, the results were as follows:

  • 9.29% drop in Pages/Visit
  • 10.20% drop in Average Visit Duration.

Avoid this by waiting until a more appropriate juncture in the transaction, ie. towards the end.

Remember, it’s ok to politely ask for an email address once someone has engaged with your content for a respectable amount of time.

Plus, if they’ve finish reading your content, it’s fair to say they probably liked it, so making an effective pop-up at the end of an article is an easy way to grow your list.

Jonathon Fields does it like this:

Jonathon Fields landing page

Conversio provides us with this list of slightly more aggressive tactics:

  • Incentivise your visitor’s email address with a discount coupon code
  • Integrate a “Hello Bar” in your page

email optin form pop up by pump girl

  • Offer to email their shopping cart to them
  • Include a personalized pop-up in your Ecommerce website

email optin pop up form by quicksprout

  • Send a “drip” email sequence to your new subscribers

This piece by Social Triggers even talks about how your own website might be working against you and gives some handy tips, especially when it comes to making your website’s sidebar work for you.

Our only other piece of advice is not to try to reinvent the wheel

You’ve spent a lot of money to get people to your site. Don’t waste it.

Have a Clear Value Proposition

Customers want to be delighted!

gif of a guy dancing

Remember how you felt when a company or product delivered exactly what you thought it would?

More than likely you used that service or bought that product again.

Your ecommerce site experience should be no different.

However, because humans have the attention spans of goldfish (sorry guys) you have to tell them everything you offer as quickly as possible. Just avoid blocks of text that people WILL NOT read.

This means you have to write a great Value Proposition. This should tell visitors to your site:

  • How your product or service solves a problem
  • What benefits customers can expect
  • Why customers should buy from you over your competitors

We think MailChimp gets it right here.

landing page by mailchimp

To stand out try to follow these three simple rules:

  • Be Clear
  • Establish the Benefit
  • Differentiate

Check out this list of 31 examples of a good value proposition.

Once you’ve established a this for your business, think about these additional value offers:

Is shipping free? Yes.

Then let people know about it.

Do you price-match? (It’d be handy to know)

A money-back guarantee you say?

Let’s make this happen.

Place these winning value props (there are many more) as close to you Primary Call to Action as possible for maximum results!

Unclutter You Site & Keep Users Focused

A clean site is an incredibly important best practice.

See how easy that sentence is to read? That should be your entire website.

Less clutter makes exploring, surfing and purchasing from your site easy.

cartoon drawing of two boys and a haystack

That said, don’t blindly follow minimal design trends and kill global navigation.

As Acquire Convert tells us, global navigation has two important purposes:

  • Communicates to the user where they are and allows them to switch between categories quickly.
  • Gives people who don’t land on the homepage a descriptive overview of what else is available.

It also keeps customers only a few clicks away from your entire product range. Don’t underestimate this.

As browsers spend more time on your site they will become more task-focused and action-oriented! Meaning sales.

Also, too many choices make people anxious, so cluttering up their lives will only add unwanted friction to your website.

computer screen showing a basketball player

Keep Testing!

Ecommerce operators who run successful sites, NEVER stop A/B testing. 

How will you improve conversion if you don’t continually see what works for different segments of your audience?

Remember the picture of the experimenting scientist? That’s YOU.

A word of warning though, don’t run into it blindly, and avoid he word ‘re-design’ – this implies your site isn’t working.

Ensure your testing is prioritised to parts of your site that you know CONVERT.

Here’s a handy chart from AcquireConvert to start with (some we have covered already):

12 steps to split test for a ecommerce store

Obviously, your homepage should take priority, as it gets more traffic than any other page on your site, and first impressions count.

Conversion XL has a great article on this specifically that you might like to use as a checklist.

REMEMBER: BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE.

It may be form completion. It may be time spent in your product pages. It may be email capture. You decide.

Here’s a simple diagram from Optimizely that explains what A/B testing is:

diagram of two computers from Optimizely that explains what A/B testing is:

While testing, as we said before, always think about the following:

Trust, Relevancy, Perceived Value, Messaging, User Experience.

Now get to it.

We guarantee that implementing some or all of these best practices on your ecommerce store will improve conversion in the long and short term.

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Download our FREE PDF with our 11 resources you can master ecommerce!

Comments
  • michel
    Reply

    Great article Karl.
    Gonna download your E-Book.

    Cheers

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