Test and implement these guest checkout tactics to reduce cart abandonment, grow ecommerce sales and conversion rates, and have your customers complete the purchase.

As a customer, do you really want to create an account for every single website you interact with? Absolutely not. On the other hand, if you are a customer, you want these online retailers to know who you are. This is why a website without a guest checkout is regarded as a “conversion killer”.

Having a guest checkout is one way to keep people from leaving your ecommerce site before they buy.

You may be worried about losing that connection with the customer. But don’t fear. If you implement some of these guest checkout ideas, you will be able to continue the conversation – even if they say they can’t stay for long as of now.

Let’s review these guest checkout tactics to help us grow sales and improve the user experience. It’s jam-packed with examples and ideas from a group of top US ecommerce sites we evaluated to illustrate this article.

Guest Checkout Tactics: What can I do to increase my ecommerce conversion rates?

34% of the users in a Baymard Institute study abandoned an order because they were not offered an ecommerce guest checkout option.

Guest checkouts are an increasingly standard feature of most ecommerce sites today. But what sets the real winners apart is the checkout experience or the finesse with which they give the customer a choice between registering and proceeding as a guest.

If we ignore the segment of visitors that are “just browsing”, and look at the remaining reasons for abandonments, we get the above distribution. Source: Baymard Institute cart abandonment rate statistics.

Baymard Institute cart abandonment rate statistics.

If we ignore the segment of visitors that are “just browsing”, and look at the remaining reasons for abandoned carts, we get the above distribution. Source: Baymard Institute cart abandonment rate statistics.

1. Create account after purchase

Ironically, the only bit of additional information an ecommerce site needs is a password to create an account. Anyone paying with a credit card is providing their name, and it is standard practice to provide an email address for receipts and order updates.

Allow guest shoppers to create an account after the purchase is complete. Most of the information will have been filled in, and it would probably be a matter of adding a couple of fields. This will certainly help raise conversion rates, and may have only a small impact on the number of accounts your customers create.

Did you know that your customers are more likely to create an account after they purchase? This may seem counter-intuitive, the best time to ask someone to do something for you is right after they’ve purchased. They like you more because they chose you.

If you want to take it a step further, offer a guest checkout only and tell them they can create an account later, if they so desire.

Victoria’s Secret secret (and subtle) approach to account creation. Guest checkout tactics to grow ecommerce sales.

Victoria’s Secret secret (and subtle) approach to account creation.

2. Express payment options or social signups

A good way to complement a guest checkout, which will also save time filling out forms, is to offer a social signup or PayPal as the payment method. Notice how your customers can then go through the checkout without having to enter lots of details.

Not only will these options make for a smooth checkout UX, they will have a big impact on mobile checkout rates. No matter how short you make your forms, nothing beats a pre-filled option, especially when you are doing it on your phone.

Be careful, though. Not everyone trusts ecommerce websites with their social data. Thanks, Cambridge Analytica. Instead of “Login with LinkedIn”, try language like “Auto-fill from LinkedIn.”

Add this AB test to your mobile conversion optimization list, and see if you can grow the number of completed orders with express sign-ups.

3. Save your details for the next time

The smartest ecommerce sites give visitors clear reasons for creating an account at the time of purchase. They know repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers.

Of all the guest checkout tactics, this is the one I favor the most. Nothing pushy about signing up for an account or registering for future savings. Just a plain “would you like to save your details for the next time?” Why not? If I enjoy your products, I will definitely be coming back to your shop.

Do you offer a customer loyalty program? Well, there’s no better time to promote the incredible benefits of your program than right after a purchase.

Conversion Sciences Pro Tip: Craft a special exit-intent pop-up on your thank-you page that invites your new customer to enjoy the benefits of having an account. An exit-intent popup appears when the visitor is about to leave your site. This is a good time to offer something like, “Let us save your details and earn loyalty points.”

4. Should you Visually Prioritize the Guest Checkout?

If you offer guest checkouts, the majority of checkouts may be from non-registered customers. We noticed that most online shops we looked at visually prioritize the user sign-in — for visitors that already have an account — over the ecommerce guest checkout. Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret are the exceptions.

Nordstrom.com prioritizes the guest checkout over the account creation by placing it on the left. Plus, add to cart compliments the shopper’s taste. We like little touches like this.

Nordstrom.com prioritizes the guest checkout over the sing in and account creation form by placing it on the left. Plus, add to cart compliments the shopper’s taste. We like little touches like this.

Nordstrom's Added to Bag message immediately engages with the buyer.

Nordstrom’s Added to Bag message immediately engages with the buyer.

Guest checkout visual prioritization. Victoria’s Secret puts returning customers first with a bright pink Sign In button.

Victoria’s Secret puts returning customers first with a bright pink Sign In button.

We will perform a mobile checkout best practices study in a future article.

If you do not prioritize guest checkout over account creation, this option may be visually invisible, especially to mobile shoppers where guest checkout will be stacked below account creation.

Yes, we want returning customers to use their account. It makes buying easier and reduces checkout abandonment. But the guest checkout should have a higher conversion rate. If it is hard to see, sales may suffer. This is a great area to test and optimize for conversions.

5. No account? Let me give you a cookie

Recognize your returning customers and help them buy your products. Cookies enable online stores to personalize and simplify the shopping experience to a whole new level. Some ecommerce sites, like Walmart, use cookies to recognize returning customers. Their use of persistent cookies provides convenient and rapid access to previous searches and preferences, and in Walmart’s case, that includes last year’s shopping cart.

Some ecommerce sites, like Walmart, use cookies to recognize returning customers. Their use of persistent cookies provides convenient and rapid access to previous searches and preferences, and in Walmart’s case, that includes last year’s shopping cart!

Walmart has kept my shopping cart for about a year.

Add a Final Submission Confirmation or a Review Order Page

The worst e-retailer scenario for an order without an account is the lack of flexibility or options in case of cancellations, refunds, returns, etc. Adding a final review order page with confirmation before its submission will allow you to warn the customer about these risks and offer them a simple way to create an account on the spot.

6. Offer a Newsletter Opt-In Option on Checkout Pages

If your marketing department’s biggest concern is keeping in touch with newly-acquired shoppers, a simple opt-in to your newsletter will suffice. Visitors have to actively opt-in, so you have to make it worth their while to let you into their inboxes. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

If your marketer’s biggest concern is keeping in touch with newly-acquired shoppers, a simple opt-in to your newsletter will suffice. Be our guest, but why not give us your email address for a chance to win a $10K shopping spree at Blue Nile?

Be our guest, but why not give us your email address for a chance to win a $10K shopping spree at Blue Nile?

7. Best ecommerce guest checkout tactics to increase conversions: AB test

If you are not sure about providing a guest checkout, AB test it.

You can answer these questions with an AB test:

Do fewer people leave the site on the “Create Account” page if there is a guest checkout? If so, how many?

How many will people create an account after the sale vs. before checkout?

Is there an increase in purchase transactions with the guest checkout? If so, how big?

Is there an increase in revenue with the guest checkout? If so, how much?

Do more visitors sign in if I make the “Sign In” button more visible? Does it increase checkout abandonment?

NOTE: When we talk about “Abandonment” there are two ways to measure this.

  1. Cart Abandonment is the number of people who add a product to their cart, but do not buy. Cart Abandonment = (Visits with Add to Cart – Completed Transactions) / Add to Cart
  2. Checkout Abandonment is the number of people who click the “Checkout” button, but do no complete the checkout. Checkout Abandonment = (Visits who Click Checkout – Completed Transactions) / Visits who Click Checkout

We setup this kind of tracking for all of our ecommerce clients.

Read more about our ecommerce optimization solutions

Ecommerce Guest Checkout Examples and Ideas

Of all the ecommerce retailer websites we examined for our micro-study, most offered a guest checkout. Those that did not include Amazon, Target, Costco and Chewy. If your site has subscription sales, consider adding a guest checkout. It may seem counter-intuitive to you, and it is something you should definitely test.

Wayfair has no guest checkout, but you can make checkout faster if you have a Paypal account. A shopper only needs an email address to create an account.

American Eagle Outfitters

American Eagle Outfitters’ shopping bag design is packed with neatly organized promos and many reasons why you should open your account.

American Eagle Outfitters’ shopping bag design is packed with neatly organized promos and many reasons why you should open your account.

Single page guest checkout from AEO. It maintains the look of their shopping bag and no steps are hidden from view. They could test splitting the process up to see if conversions increase.

Single page guest checkout from AEO. It maintains the look of their shopping bag and no steps are hidden from view. They could test splitting the process up to see if conversions increase.

Barnes & Noble ecommerce checkout process

A no-pressure approach on the B&N checkout design flow. Their priority is memberships. The guest checkout process has multiple steps, but you get several opportunities for an express checkout.

Barnes & Noble ecommerce checkout process. Barnes & Noble doesn't prioritize a free account here. Because they sell a Membership. They make the checkout process as easy as possible with express checkout and later on a social sign in.

Barnes & Noble doesn’t prioritize a free account here. Because they sell a Membership. They make the checkout process as easy as possible with express checkout and later on a social sign in.

At Barnes & Noble, returning customers have priority at checkout - with an account or social sign in – then finally a guest option. Unfortunately there is no clear place to create an account at this step in their checkout flow.

Returning customers have priority at checkout – with an account or social sign in – then finally a guest option. Unfortunately there is no clear place to create an account at this step in their checkout flow.

Barnes & Noble guest checkout.

Barnes & Noble guest checkout.

Etsy Guest Checkout

Etsy makes the “Continue as a guest” button a low priority visually — we call this a “ghost button” — and makes the “Sign in or register” option visually significant with the high-contrast, black “Continue” button.

Social checkout or continue as a guest on Etsy. A simple 2-step checkout process.

Social checkout or continue as a guest on Etsy. A simple 2-step checkout process.

Apple Cart Page and Checkout

Since so many Apple customers already have an Apple ID, it makes sense for Apple to give the “Checkout with Apple ID” option the more prominent, left-most position over the Guest Checkout.

Returning customers first, and in case you don’t remember, the format of an Apple ID.

Returning customers first, and in case you don’t remember, the format of an Apple ID.

Apple checkout tactics to reduce cart abandonment. Does the likelihood of abandoning the cart decrease if you know when your order is arriving? We think so. You should try it.

Does the likelihood of abandoning the cart decrease if you know when your order is arriving? We think so. You should try it.

Apple simplified checkout flow. Pre-filled information and a simplified checkout flow. Be creative and persuasive when naming your shopping basket sections. “Where should we send your order?” is more personal and inviting than “Shipping details”.

Apple simplified checkout flow.

Apple provides pre-filled information and a simplified checkout flow. Be creative and persuasive when naming your shopping basket sections. “Where should we send your order?” is more personal and inviting than “Shipping details”.

Kohl’s Guest Checkout Flow

Kohl’s offers a smooth guest checkout process with many options, and shoppers can create an account after checkout.

Kohl's strategic partnership with Amazon, processing their returns, drives more traffic to the brick and mortar stores.

Kohl’s strategic partnership with Amazon, processing their returns, drives more traffic to the brick and mortar stores.

Kohl's guest checkout flow.

Kohl’s guest checkout flow.

Newegg

Shopping flow is pretty distracting, with cross sells, upsells and financing offers. But they offer several ways for a fast checkout – Amex express checkout, Paypal checkout and Masterpass plus guest checkout. The Guest checkout bears a FOMO message and a progress bar with four steps to complete the process. I guess they are trying to discourage this route.

Newegg ecommerce checkout process.

Newegg ecommerce checkout process.

Lowe’s 2-Step Guest Checkout Flow

Lowe’s prioritizes the Sign-in by placing it on the left. Like Apple, they may have a large number of repeat buyers with accounts.

Lowe's 2-step guest checkout design and flow.

Lowe’s guest checkout design and flow.

Conversion Sciences Pro Tip: Adding a status bar to your checkout often decreases abandonment rates.

Walmart Super Smooth Guest Checkout

Walmart incentivizes its coupon-happy shoppers to create an account by requiring it in order to use a discount code. This could have a negative affect on some shoppers, so AB test guest checkout tactics like this.

Walmart guest checkout tactics.

Walmart guest checkout tactics.

So, get ready to AB test these guest checkout tactics and your checkout flow to increase sales.

More Resources:

Nothing is more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. You’ll want to know why, so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check.

Watching your conversion rate drop is not fun. It will make you lose sleep until you know what’s causing it. And maybe worse until you see it climbing back up again.

Fortunately, any drop in conversion rate has an explanation and one or more solutions.

Bringing it back may be just a matter of time, but just waiting is never a good answer. Sudden drops in conversions can be quite frustrating if you do not know where to dig. Do you agree?

It may be some of the obvious culprits that are to blame for your website conversion rate dropping – website redesigns, landing page changes, new offers, pricing, promos, or sales. But if it’s not obvious, keep calm. Go through this checklist and get it taken care of.

 

Keep calm and read this post if your conversion rates are dropping.

Keep calm and read this post if your conversion rates are dropping.

1. Those Devilish Tracking Codes

It happens. You may believe your analytics tracking codes, also called tags, are working and reporting on your conversions without a hitch. You may find that’s not the case anymore. Incorrectly installed tracking codes could be the cause of your conversion rate dropping.

Maybe they got corrupted when making small tweaks to your site or when implementing a new campaign or when versioning a landing page.

Retrace your steps. Try to remember what you have modified lately. Yes, this is when you’ll realize you should make it a habit to use Google Analytics’ Annotations. This is a great way to easily find the changes you’ve made, changes that may have broken your tracking.

To make sure all of your analytics tracking codes work as they should, we recommend Google Tag Assistant. This is a plugin for your Chrome browser. It will tell you if your tracking is setup properly on any page of your site. Heed the recommendations in the tool. Nothing should be misconfigured.

Here are some places to look:

  • Did you launch any new landing pages? If so, are the tracking codes setup on them?
  • Did you release any new offers? Make sure you’re creating goals in Google Analytics for all of your reports, demos, trials and purchases.
  • Did you add any third-party tools to your site or ecommerce plugins? Make sure they are properly integrated with Google Analytics.

2. Conversion Rate Dropping due to Lack of Browser Compatibility?

Google Analytics has very handy reports to identify where the problem may lie. Check for a significant drop in conversions for a particular browser. Your major browsers include Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox & Edge and on mobile, Android and iOS.

Found it?

Browser testing: Target Chrome 71.0.3578.98 / Windows 2008 R2.

Browser testing: Target Chrome 71.0.3578.98 / Windows 2008 R2.

Now we test the Target website on Chrome 51.0.2704.103 / Windows 2008 R2. Notice the differences.

Now we test the Target website on Chrome 51.0.2704.103 / Windows 2008 R2. Notice the differences.

Finally, Target website tested on Firefox 30.0 / Debian 6.0.

Finally, Target website tested on Firefox 30.0 / Debian 6.0.

Test your checkout flow, your forms, on-exit intent pop-ups, even your landing pages with that browser. Keep in mind that not all browsers behave in the same way on every operating system. Therefore, you have to check on Windows, Mac and Linux, at the very least. Has some of your website’s CSS or Javascript become obsolete?

Google Analytics has a very handy report for this: Audience > Technology > Browser

Google Analytics browser report.

Google Analytics browser report.

Then select the Ecommerce report. You’ll be able to look for browsers that underperform.

If it’s not a particular browser, check for mobile, tablet, desktop or amp technical bugs or issues. Is an element of your responsive landing page now hidden from view on a mobile device?

3. Don’t Underestimate Website Performance

If your server or your CDN are experiencing glitches, or your website is suffering from a sudden slow down in page load speed, you may not have dropped your organic rankings yet but your customer UX has degraded.

Moreover, your visitors are currently sending those unhappy experience signals to search engines. Ouch!

Check the Search Console coverage report to make sure you didn’t have any 500 internal server error. If so, talk to your hosting company or sys admins to have them resolve it.

Google Search console coverage report. Is your server or CDN misbehaving? Could this be the cause of your conversion rate dropping?

Google Search console coverage report. Is your server or CDN misbehaving? Could this be the cause of your conversion rate dropping?

Now take a look at the Google Analytics speed reports and compare it with the previous period. A slowdown of the average server response time will point to a need for additional server resources or to a software upgrade. If the average page load time is the one that has increased and you are running a CMS like Magento, Shopify or WordPress, start digging into extensions, plugins and image sizes.

Improve visitor experience by addressing page load speed issues.

Improve visitor experience by addressing page load speed issues.

I guess, pinpointing why your website conversion rate is dropping can get a bit technical, huh?

4. Have you Forgotten to Optimize for Mobile Devices?

Ok, you already checked that your site was displaying correctly when you checked for technical issues. But, it’s possible that your mobile customers require a different conversion experience than the one you crafted for your desktop users.

Access Google Analytics and compare traffic for devices under Mobile Audience overview year over year. Maybe it’s time to contact our Mobile CRO experts. We wrote the book on it.

 

5. Your Marketing Personas Changed Behaviors

Usually, customer behavior takes quite a long time to reflect negatively on your conversion rates. So, concentrate on other issues unless you’ve noticed your conversion rate dropping for a while.

If the latter is the case, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at your marketing personas. Times do change.

6. Conversion Rate Dropping with a Traffic Increase?

A decline in traffic volume can obviously decrease the number of conversions and possibly your online shop conversion rate. But what if there’s an increase in traffic? Yes, even an increase in traffic can badly affect a website’s conversion rates.

First things first. Make sure you identify the traffic source that has experienced a decrease in conversion rate. Is it the same as the one whose traffic volume increased? Remember to check their landing page functionality. If that’s not the problem, review a few of these scenarios.

6.1 Paid Traffic Increase

A lower conversion rate with a paid traffic increase could be pointing to non-relevant campaign targeting or to a lack of understanding what will persuade your visitors to buy or try your products or services.

Maybe you need to put things in perspective and understand that in some occasions such as Black Friday, prospects perform a lot of comparison shopping. Therefore you may experience much higher traffic driven by your social or ppc campaigns but a decline in conversion rates. I bet you are spending more on these campaigns as well, aren’t you?

Optimize your ad copy and landing pages accordingly so your site won’t be left behind in this increased competition and avoid significantly lower conversion rates.

Answer this, have you been running the same campaign for a long time? People are clicking but not converting? Maybe it’s time to change the landing page.

Examine each step of your funnel and look for weak points. Arm yourself with Heat Maps. They can definitely help you identify what your visitors are seeing or missing. Engage in split testing and get those conversion rates back up.

6.2 Sudden Surge in Social or Organic Traffic Volume

A spike in social or organic traffic may be attributed to the creation of clickbait blog posts. The problem with these articles, is that while traffic may increase, these visitors tend not to convert – at least not immediately. You will experience a perceived “drop” on conversion rates as a similar number of conversions are being diluted in higher traffic. Social traffic tends to react faster than organic, so look for correlations there first.

6.3 The Attack of the Bots or Ghost Spam

Bots can also generate a sudden growth in direct or referral traffic. It’s quite easy to identify those bots on analytics – unless they were spectacularly well coded. This is rarely the case. Bots don’t have gender, age and they have 100% bounce rate.

They will produce the same effect as any spurt in irrelevant and non-converting traffic: declining conversion rates.

6.4 Are You Emailing Less?

Email is one of the highest converting traffic sources for most businesses. If you have reduced the frequency of email or have changed the kind of email you are sending, this may impact you overall conversion rates.

Nothing more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. Evidently, you’ll want to know why so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check.

Nothing more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. Evidently, you’ll want to know why so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check. This image has been designed using resources from Freepik.com.

7. Blame Seasonality for Your Conversion Rate Dropping

Does your conversion tend to drop at this time of the year? Seasonality usually causes a very rapid change in conversion rates and it may be accompanied of lower traffic or not.

If your traffic has not changed, compare with last year’s data and see if you are following trend. We tend to think of seasonal changes as holiday times but professional services like website design tends to drop during those times.

One of the most interesting seasonality drops I have ever seen happens in the wedding services industry every New Year’s eve. I guess one celebration offsets the planning of the other. So, tread carefully when making website changes without considering these seasonal effects or they could play against you.

The same seasonality may affect traffic, therefore always keep track of decreases or increases in seasonal trends.

8. When your Competitors Cause your Conversion Rate to Drop

If your conversion rate is dropping and you cannot find anything wrong with your site or with your actions, you may want to check what your competitors are up to.

Maybe they are running a special discount or a promotion that drives conversions away from you. Monitor their actions and respond accordingly. This may help you address some of the conversion loss.

Of course, lower conversion rates don’t mean as much as Return on Investment (ROI), so don’t leave that metric aside, You may be alarmed because you see your conversion rate dropping but in the end, that’s not what really matters What counts is your bottom line. Looking at a single conversion rate could be narrowing your view of the business, especially on this day and age of omnichannel marketing.

And, if all else fails, you can hire Conversion Sciences for a CRO Audit. Having a pair of expert eyes analyze your site, your 360 degree customer journey and review your conversion rates is always a plus.

Sales funnel or full funnel conversion optimization? Which should you use and when? It all depends on what you want to understand.

Full funnel conversion optimization – or the Conversion Sciences Profit Funnel™ – provides the analysis and insights needed to help positively impact your business bottom line. Analyzing a sales funnel helps improve those issues found in a specific buying process.

There is nothing wrong about analyzing a sales funnel conversion rate or a sales funnel model for a specific segment of a customer journey. But your online business will definitively benefit from performing a Profit Funnel™ or full-funnel conversion optimization as well.

A highly experienced team of conversion experts can leverage both models when optimizing, instead of narrowing the view and hurting profits. An inexperienced conversion consultant will only see a siloed series of sales funnels, evaluate them independently and make decisions based on their own unique ROAS instead of their interactions.

Deliver double-digit sales growth every year, year after year. Increase revenues and profit. And shorten your sales cycle with our ecommerce and lead generation solutions.

Let’s review the key differences between sales funnel and full funnel conversion optimization or Profit Funnel™. We’ll begin with a great example of both models, a definition of a full marketing funnel. Finally, we’ll cover their differences in scope and the metrics used by each funnel.

Happy customers means returning customers. The starting point for full funnel conversion optimization is the customer blueprint and guess whose CRO audit services include a map of the customer journey for your online shop? Conversion Sciences.

Happy customers means returning customers. The starting point for full funnel conversion optimization is the customer blueprint and guess whose CRO audit services include a map of the customer journey for your online shop?

Example of Sales Funnel vs Full Funnel Conversion Optimization

Imagine an addiction treatment center that offers both low-cost at-home testing kits and treatment programs. Their at-home drug testing kit sells for $10, and it costs $5 to manufacture and ship. Their treatment programs start at $15,000.

They have an effective social media presence, paid campaigns to engage and attract their target market. And they also provide valuable resources for people with addiction problems and for their loved on their website. These range from informational articles to online quizzes to help find out whether or not one is suffering from an addiction and what is the best course of action.

Ok. Time to tackle sales funnel optimization. If they analyze their PPC sales funnel they will realize that it is costing them $20 in ad spend to convert each home testing kit sale. This added to the manufacturing and shipping costs may lead them to determine that this $10 sale is costing the company $25. But they are not looking at their profit margins, they are simply calculating Return on Ad Spend or ROAS.

Thus, they may decide to turn off the ad spend and stop this failing campaign because they “lose” $15 per sale. Or they may attempt to improve a Google Ads campaign that is already performing quite well.

But what if this addiction treatment center looks at the full-marketing funnel or Profit Funnel™ instead?

They would find that 20% of their customers have repeated their kit purchase every 3 months.

By the same token, they have not estimated the impact that their content development and social media efforts have on those conversions. And they were attributing the sale to the last touch-point.

As the buyer journey is not limited to a single channel, analyzing a single sales funnel could narrow your business focus and marketing assessment scope.

Moreover, this treatment center finds that 2% of the people who purchase their $10 test later sends a loved one to their center for a $15k treatment program. Those $20 in ad spend for each testing kit sale got the family to notice their services and inquire about their drug-rehab program. Therefore, for every 100 tests they sell, an average of 2 patients will join their treatment program generating a minimum of $30,000 in revenue.

Before I became the CMO, I was more focused on how we were spending our marketing budget than on how marketing could help drive long-term business objectives.But thinking like this holds businesses back. Marketing should be valued for its long-term potential, rather than its short-term efficiencies.

-Monty Sharma, CEO and CMO, Jenny Craig

So, What is Full Funnel Conversion Optimization or Profit Funnel™ Optimization?

As we have noticed, a full funnel evaluates the 360 degree customer journey with a company or brand. Its goal is not only to acquire a customer but also to understand, nurture and improve their relationship and experience with the brand.

It focuses on not only pre but post-transaction because it takes into account how this will affect the probability of increased number of subscription renewals or sales, lower customer rotation, lower customer acquisition costs, and increased profit margins.

As we can clearly see, even though it’s called a funnel, this model looks more like an infinite loop with many potential touch-points throughout the buyers journey, over time and across a multitude of devices and online/offline experiences.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa? Full funnel analysis and optimization will deliver a more cohesive personalized experience to your online customer segments.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa? Photo: Grant Ritchie via Unsplash.

1. Sales Funnel vs Profit Funnel™ or Full Funnel Optimization: Differences in Scope

One of the main differences between sales funnel and a full funnel conversion optimization is its scope. The oftentimes narrow span of a sales funnel is overshadowed by the number of elements or touch-points that a Profit Funnel™ considers.

Let’s check them out.

Single Path vs Infinite Loop: Are you optimizing for Omni channel yet?

The most evident difference between the sales and the Profit Funnel™ models lies in their reach. Highly restricted to a specific conversion path for the sales funnel versus a very broad view of the customer journey for the latter.

While most sales funnels are focused on a single transaction (such as a lead, sale or subscription) the full funnel or Profit Funnel™ acknowledges the entire lifetime of a potential customer or client. Its purpose is to allow us to take a step back and look at the entire customer journey or full marketing funnel and help optimize by what is most profitable without discarding the customer experience.

One Decision Maker vs Multiple Stakeholders

Have you been optimizing for a single decision-maker? Maybe you were leaving some marketing personas out of the equation. The higher the ticket price, especially for B2Bs, the higher the likelihood of having more than a single decision-maker involved in the purchasing process. Most companies will include different stakeholders’ input through the funnel and each one of them may further or delay that coveted B2B sale.

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person. Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

Conversion Sciences Profit Funnel™ recognizes and accounts for this fact. Trying to optimize a single funnel to convert this lead is short-sighted, when understanding the 360 degree customer journey and optimizing for it, will significantly increase conversions and boost profit margins.

Single Device vs Cross-Device

We often find – when auditing a client’s conversion efforts – that their sales funnels don’t include mobile customers. Addressing this gap via mobile conversion optimization efforts has increased their profits manyfold.

The Profit Funnel™ recognizes the value of determining which of those platforms holds the highest potential for each particular conversion and finding a way to best optimize each path.

Sales funnels often focus on increasing conversions on a certain page on either mobile, tablet, or desktop. Thus, leaving out the reality that customers will interact with your brand, product or service in multiple ways and through as many devices as exist.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa?

Full Funnel Conversion Optimization Enables a More Personalized Online Experience

The data-driven strategy of optimizing the full marketing funnel helps you identify consumer segments. Behavioral information can be collected in-store, online, and post-visit. The insights derived from this analysis helps you craft and deliver online personalized experiences to boost conversions and increase their contribution to your bottom line. All the while deriving insights to improving your marketing strategy.

“You are engaging with the consumer on an intimate level — they are telling you what products are interesting. That customer data is one of the most important things to grow your brand.” – Kate Kibler, Timberland’s VP of direct-to-consumer.

For high-traffic sites, Conversion Sciences offers the latest martech stacks – ML and AI-powered – via the Conversion Catalyst AI™. Our Conversion Catalyst AI™ builds a predictive model that identifies which visitors are ready to buy, and delivers the perfect experience so that they are more likely to buy from you. So you can deliver the most optimized experience be it on your website, on wearable devices, voice search, augmented-reality or any of the myriad of experiences the IoT brings us.

Full funnel analysis and optimization will deliver a more cohesive personalized experience to your online customer segments.

2. Sales Funnel vs Full Funnel Conversion Optimization Metrics

It’s hard to take a look at your full marketing funnel and try to gauge how well it’s working besides ROI and profit margins. But following those metrics without fully understanding which effort or efforts made the difference, is no way to run a business either. But lucky you. Full funnel is optimized with your bottom line in mind and a bespoke full funnel attribution will help you identify what’s helping and what’s hindering your conversions.

Therefore, the difference between sales funnel and full funnel conversion optimization is that you will end up concentrating your marketing spend on those efforts who bring in profitable returns. Much better than looking at a measly conversion rate. right? ;)

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person while Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person while Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

ROAS vs ROI

Are you narrowing your business focus down to sales funnels and conversion rates? Are you making decisions that affect your whole business by a simple ROAS? Or are you leveraging a 360 degree customer blueprint to improve your company’s profit margins?

Do you need your customer journey mapped? Check out Conversion Sciences conversion rate optimization audit services.

In the addiction treatment center example, when the sales funnel was not profitable (its ROAS was negative), they could have shut down the ad campaign. But when they looked at the full funnel (in-patient treatment registrations), the ad investment was profitable and it justified the initial losses in the funnel. It had a positive ROI.

Thus, by using both metrics, you can isolate those efforts whose ROAS may be positive but not their ROI, which takes into consideration not a single digitally advertised campaign but how each contributes to the business profit margins. And you can spare from killing efforts with negative ROAS because, in the end, their revenue-generating power is much larger than the one calculated from the revenue from ad campaign/cost of ad campaign.

By doing so, you change the focus to driving business performance, not just advertising performance.

Single Attribution vs Custom Attribution

Going back to the addiction treatment center example. There are things they do that contribute to their bottom line – such as informational blog posts, quizzes, etc. But their attribution model assigned the conversion value to a single Google Ads campaign.

People have several contacts with a brand before they even consider converting on that landing page, clicking on that PPC ad or that Instagram shoppable image. Which means that any and all contributions along the 360 degree funnel, or full funnel or Profit Funnel™ must be taken into account and their value toward each of the conversions (testing kit purchase, treatment) attributed properly to measure its impact on revenues and on profit margins.

While a single touch attribution model is a fast and simple way to allocate credit to a campaign, full funnel must use a bespoke or custom attribution model to understand what is working and what is not.

It’s common yet dangerous and naive to make assumptions about which touchpoint to attribute credit for a conversion. Oftentimes these assumptions are created from unrecognized personal bias and proven false through data analysis. This is one of the biggest reasons that analyzing all metrics is vital to a company’s long-term success.

Building a smooth customer journey is key to business and revenue growth. Here’s how to create a sales funnel that works in just 5 minutes.

You may not believe you already have one or more sales funnels in place, but all businesses do. Maybe it’s not working as expected. Or perhaps you would like to make it more effective. Follow these steps to create a sales funnel in 5 minutes that will have customers buying from you in no time at all.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

But first things first. Let’s quickly refresh the definition of a sales funnel.

A sales funnel is a hypothetical or ideal journey you would like a prospect to travel to become a lead or a customer. This is why sales or revenue funnels are also called “customer journeys” or “customer blueprints”.

They can be as simple as a one step Click to Call Google Ad, where the button is your opt-in point or as complex as need be. Especially for those businesses where lots of lead nurturing is needed for prospects to convert.

Call only ads are best used when there's a sense of urgency to the offer. Isn't this one of the shortest sales funnels ever?

Call only ads are best used when there’s a sense of urgency to the offer. Isn’t this one of the shortest sales funnels ever?

Keep in mind, while you are building your sales funnel, that the best functioning ones are those that reduce friction. That is, they do not add unnecessary barriers or hurdles to the sales process.

Ready, Set, Let’s See How to Create a Sales Funnel in 5 Minutes

One of the sales models that is most frequently used in customer blueprints and customer journey mapping is the AIDA model, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, it maps how people make purchasing decisions. And, in spite of the technological developments, its importance and effectiveness has not diminished as humans have not changed their buying decision making process since then.

Whatever tactics you use to qualify leads and drive them closer to taking the desired action will change accordingly to where the lead is within the funnel: top (TOFU), middle (MOFU) or bottom (BOFU). It essential to understand how the funnel works from the moment you make the first contact (TOFU) with your ideal future customers to the moment where you convert those leads (BOFU). Keep in mind that each one of these components depends on the others.

Creating a sales funnel is as simple as defining the desired action and the target audience and then drawing the path between those two. And as complex as making it function successfully.

Here’s how to create a sales funnel (or improve the one you have) in 5 minutes.

AIDA model applied to customer journey mapping.

AIDA model applied to customer journey mapping.

To Create a Sales Funnel First you Need to Generate Awareness

Attracting attention or generating awareness works best when you know your target audience media habits. You’ll be more successful if you advertise your brand, your products and/or services where the majority of your prospects already are.

These prospects may be currently looking for what your product or service provides or they may not. Those potential leads that are intently searching for a service similar to yours will notice relevant messages much more than those that are not.

For example, if someone is ready to upgrade to a new car, they will feel as if there are more automobile ads than usual. It’s because they are more aware. Generating awareness for your brand might be easier in this case. Funny how the brain works.

On the other hand, you may generate awareness amongst prospects with related needs. They are not looking for what you sell exactly. For example, while browsing their Facebook feed or reading a blog post, a person looking for a higher paying job may stumble upon a college or university they didn’t previously know existed.

Once you know where to find the vast majority of your audience, you can decide on a way to generate awareness about your brand. Usually these tactics range from PPC campaigns, TV or radio ads, billboards, blog posts, trade show participation, referrals, direct mail, email campaigns, online search results, all the way to super outrageous publicity stunts. You get the idea. Don’t craft the copy or the creative yet.

Have you chosen a tactic to introduce your prospects to your brand? Great! You’ve got the first step of your sales funnel covered. (Don’t overthink it) Move on to the next step.

Guiding customers through the buying stages: how to create a sales funnel that works in 5 minutes.

Guiding customers through the buying stages: how to create a sales funnel that works in 5 minutes.

Second Step: The Interest Awakens

To create a solid sales funnel, you have to drive your prospects to click, call, download, sign-up, or visit you. And even though this happens at the last stage, you need to present the reasons why your are worthy of consideration in order to make it happen.

Do you have an eCommerce site and are offering free shipping? Is your SaaS fulfilling a productivity need that is important to your lead? Or do your cars flaunt the features your prospective buyers are searching for?

Related reading: 7 Conversion Copywriting Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner

You need to know your customers and their behaviors, habits, and motivations to cut through the noise and to offer them something they recognize as useful or relevant.

This is the time to entice and convince them as to why they need your product or service.

Third Step: Pick Me! Pick Me! or the Sales Funnel Desire Stage

You presented your benefits properly and showed value to your prospect. Now it’s time to elicit desire. Congratulations! You are in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).

Keep an eye on your goal, your lead has to desire your product or service above any other.

Hence, you should keep educating and positioning your brand as the solution to their needs and problems. This is the stage where you shine a spotlight on those benefits. Testimonials, case studies, product comparisons, and customer reviews work well here.

This is also the stage where you match your product or service benefits to the prospect’s needs to clear up any barriers to the sale. This is a critical stage in which website traffic often fails to convert.

Do not miss out on these 20 Landing Page Best Practices to Kickstart Your Conversion Lift

Fourth Step: Ask for the Sale

It seems to go without saying that any good sales funnel ends with a purchase. The biggest mistake people make when using the AIDA model, though, is to assume the sale will happen organically once the other steps have fallen into place. It won’t. Unlike an actual funnel, what goes into a sales funnel doesn’t always reemerge at the end. And people tend to not take action unless they’re asked. So, pay attention to your calls to action – the worst mistake sales people make is not ask for the close.

What’s your call to action? How will you prompt them to fill out the form, complete their shopping cart purchase, have a one-on-one call or meeting or do whatever final action you want them to take to complete their customer journey?

Purple mattress on exit intent pop up offer (BOFU).

Purple mattress on exit intent pop up offer (BOFU).

Maybe you’ll offer them a free assessment, or a last minute discount if they complete the transaction right away. Take a minute to decide as the BOFU stage is the most crucial since it’s where you ask for the sale.

Ta Da! 5 minutes to build a sales funnel without writing a single line of copy — yet.

Would you rather have the conversion scientists identify your customer journeys to help you build your funnels? Then, check out our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit Services.

Sales Funnel Examples

Now that we’ve created our customer journey, let’s take a look at a couple of sales funnel examples for inspiration.

I think we covered one with the call only PPC ads example. Great for a local business like a personal injury attorney or a plumber, locksmith or any organization whose concern is to make the phone ring. Another requirement for successfully using this type of sales funnel is a sense of urgency to your product or service.

Purple mattress provides visitors with a humorously informational and convincing MOFU tactic on their landing pages with their zany videos backed by scientifically proven data. We may be a bit skewed as they also wear lab coats but go ahead, play the video and tell us what you think – unless you decide to buy a mattress first. ;)

A typical lead generation sales funnel example that remains mostly on the TOFU stage is to offer a Free Book, Research or White Paper to visitors – organic or paid. Take them to the next stages of the funnel by offering a one-time offer or a free consulting session. Keep qualifying the lead and close it with a call or an in person meeting.

Once you have a funnel ready an implemented you will want to test it, so we leave you with 9 Imaginative Approaches to AB Testing Landing Pages to get you started.

In May, Amazon announced one of its most significant changes to ever impact Amazon customer service – a steep 20% increase to the annual fee for Amazon Prime members. Amazon began rolling out the increase to renewing Prime members on June 16th.
According to a recent survey by Effective Spend, 54% of Prime members are at risk of canceling their membership due to the fee increase.

Over half of Amazon Prime members are at risk of canceling after the fee increase.

Over half of Amazon Prime members are at risk of canceling after the fee increase. (Image Source)

This potential exodus of Prime members presents an excellent opportunity for other online retailers. The survey looks at what these “At-Risk” Prime members care most about when shopping on Amazon, which suggests some key optimizations retailers can make to their own sites to convert Prime dropouts into their own loyal customers.

#1: Focus on Customer Reviews

You guessed it. Customer reviews are still KING! 60% of the At-Risk Members surveyed said that they “always” read customer reviews before purchasing a product on Amazon. Another 30% said that they “often” read reviews before purchasing. At-Risk Members also responded that the content they read in the reviews is more influential than the total number of reviews for a product.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • While gathering reviews can be a difficult and time consuming task, retailers can identify their top selling and most profitable products and focus on getting a couple of high-quality written reviews for those products. Even a single 5-star review with good written content can go a long way in converting a visitor.
  • Retailers aren’t bound by Amazon’s customer review rules when gathering reviews for their own websites. Unlike on Amazon, you can provide incentives to customers who leave a review on your own site, such as offering a discount on their next purchase. And, outside of Amazon, you can use any means of communication to reach out to your own customers to request reviews – emails, phone calls, box inserts, etc.

The active wear company Outdoor Voices has built up something of a cult following in a very short time without relying on Amazon. They’ve invested a ton of effort in collecting customer reviews on their site. Furthermore, they do a great job of highlighting some of the best and most insightful reviews for their products right within each product page.

 Outdoor Voices has built up a following without relying on Amazon.

Outdoor Voices reviews do not rely on Amazon Prime members.

Outdoor Voices has built up a following without relying on Amazon. Images source

#2: Proactively Answer Questions in Product Descriptions

When comparing different types of product page information, At-Risk Prime Members ranked product descriptions as most influential in their purchasing decision. Product descriptions outranked other product page elements, including videos, measurements and instructions.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Enhance your product descriptions by exploring customer comments, questions and feedback
    • Read customer reviews – both positive and negative – to understand what information reviewers are trying to share with their fellow consumers.
    • Likewise, if you have a Q&A section, don’t just answer customer questions – determine which questions you can proactively answer within your product page content.
    • Check in with your customer service department to understand what questions they are getting most often from shoppers.

Furniture is a tricky and often stressful product to purchase online, and Wayfair provides a very informative shopping experience, striving to understand what questions customers have had or will have about their products. Many of the product features and details are written as if they are directly answering question that the shopper has. In this example of a sofa with a fold out bed, they ensure that the shopper knows what size the fold out bed is (Queen) and that (Yes!) the mattress is included – two critical details the shopper will need to know before making a final purchase.

Outdoor Voices reviews do not rely on Amazon Prime members.

Outdoor Voices has built up a following without relying on Amazon. Images source

#3: Use Images to Give More Product Details

The survey found that at-risk Amazon Prime members ranked images as the second most influential form of product information behind the product description. Images tell customers a lot about your product and very efficiently at that!
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Show the product in context of how it’s going to be used. For example, a cutting knife can be shown cutting food in a kitchen.
  • Provide an image that gives a size perspective relative to a familiar object, for example, your product pictured next to a house or being held by a person.
  • Show different angles of the product in case certain features are hidden from one angle that can be seen in another.
  • Include an image of the packaging along with any accessories included with the item.
  • Think of the product images as a means of proactively answering customer questions in a visual rather than written format.

Several years ago, Birkenstock famously broke up with Amazon. While they’ve mended ties and are selling on Amazon once again, they’ve enhanced their own site to drive more direct sales. For each shoe product, a shopper can view 5-10 different high-quality images of the shoe, including images of the shoes “in action” on someone’s feet and close-ups of the shoe so that you can see the detail of the material and style. They’ve implemented a responsive color selector, as well, so that each image of the product can be viewed in each color available.

Birkenstock uses images to communicate details and colors on their product pages.

 

Birkenstock uses images to communicate details and colors on their product pages.

Birkenstock uses images to communicate details and colors on their product pages. Image source

#4: Drive higher AOV with with low-cost products and accessories

The survey revealed that 80% of At-Risk Members are purchasing products from Amazon that are typically under $50. Furthermore, 94% responded that they’ve purchased a product that was less than $10. Amazon Prime members are comfortable purchasing low cost items when shipping fees are a non-issue.
One of the things that Amazon does best is to provide product recommendations and suggestions to help guide customers toward adding more items to their cart.
Retailers can employ similar product suggestion strategies, recommending add-on and accessory items that can expand the revenue on each order and push customers toward the free shipping threshold.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Show “purchased together” recommendations to encourage the purchase of complementary products.
  • Recommend bundle deals that include the primary product along with necessary or popular accessory items.
  • Proactively suggest re-orders of products that need to be re-purchased frequently while customers are shopping for other items on your site.

UrbanStems is a great example of a site that has the “candy isle” concept down. First, you choose your flowers, then, they suggest multiple add ons (including actual candy!) for around $10 which will all complement your order.

UrbanStems is uses the “candy isle” concept

UrbanStems is uses the “candy isle” concept

An honorable mention also goes to H&M. On any given product page, you’ll see a scrolling list of recommended product pairings, including basic items like undergarments to add to your order.

H&M uses a scrolling list of recommended product pairings.

H&M uses a scrolling list of recommended product pairings.

H&M uses a scrolling list of recommended product pairings. Image source

#5: Reduce Risk for your Customer

Without the safety net of their Prime benefits, shoppers are less likely to take risks with their purchasing decisions. The Effective Spend survey found that Prime Loyalists (those unlikely to cancel their membership) are 9% more likely than Non-Members to buy unfamiliar brands. Additionally, Prime Loyalists are 10% more likely to purchase products with less than a 3 star rating compared to Non-Members.
This is understandable given that Prime benefits provide a sort of safety net and reduce the risk of things like paying for expensive return shipping fees.
Retailers should consider ways to reduce risk for their customers and make them feel more confident in their purchasing decisions.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Work with customers to get more 5-star customer reviews – as discussed earlier, this is one of the most important ways of building confidence in your product.
  • Offer free shipping on a customer’s first purchase.
  • Highlight your “easy returns” process.
  • Implement a live chat and prominently display it to encourage customers to ask questions that they need answered before they can complete their purchase.
  • Prominently display your customer service phone number so customers with questions can quickly reach someone.

Competitive Cyclist makes customers feel at ease right from the start, offering a discount off of your first order, a low free shipping threshold, and easy to find help chat and phone support.

Competitive Cyclist offers a discount off of the first order.

Competitive Cyclist offers a discount off of the first order. Image source

Here are 3 conversion optimization examples of how to kill the “slider”.

This is not a post about how carousels kill conversions.  They can, but it’s not about that.

This post is about doing what’s best for the people who want to buy from you on your site.

Every CRO and savvy eCommerce manager I have ever met hates carousels.  In fact, we’ve never actually blogged about it because EVERYONE ELSE already did.  Bringing up carousel flaws would be akin to bringing up the Hindenburg’s.

What we at Inflow will do, however, is document the death of the carousel. But before we do, let’s talk about its birth.

Blame Yahoo! if you want

It seems like the carousel has been around forever, at least in Internet terms. Broad adoption started in the summer of 2009 after Yahoo introduced it on its homepage.

Blame Yahoo if you want

If your site still has a rotating carousel, perhaps you still have a Nokia phone?  You can check your email on it, you know!

From that point on, every website felt free to:

  • Whisk away copy while it was still being read
  • Randomly change calls to actions
  • Remove control from the user actions
  • Create “banner-blindness”
  • Periodically attract attention no matter how irrelevant to the viewer.
  • Slow page load time with multiple big images

So, for some, it might not be a surprise that there is a better way to structure an eCommerce homepage.

The death of the (unnecessary) carousel

In our 2018 Best in Class Comparative Matrix for eCommerce, we saw only 6 out of 10 sites still used the homepage hero carousel.  That number is less than half of what it was 2 years earlier.

The reason why is simple: it was never the best option for most of the sites that did it, and that statement is still pretty much true.

Optimization Away from Carousels

So, how does a site transform its homepage from having a carousel? Here are three conversion optimization examples for removing carousels.

Zappos.com

Before

A year ago, Zappos was sporting a left category nav, hero carousel and a couple of static promo areas to the right.  That made it jam-packed with options.

Zappos

After

Zappos simplified things by ditching the carousel, the left nav on the homepage and instead focusing the homepage on the things customers want most.  They are still testing this bad boy with over 5 major variants identified, so check back in February to see the winning combination. ;)

So apparently, Zappos.com never needed a slider. Note that they kept the slides, but moved 2 of them to the bottom of the site in favor of stuff users most want (a lot of which was not even on the homepage of this eCommerce behemoth just a year ago).

There’s a big lesson here for those willing to learn it and kill their carousel.

Zappos

UnderArmour.com

Before

Under Armour had a carousel last year, alternating between two and three slides.

Under Armour

After

Over the past year, they have MADE ONLY ONE CHANGE on their homepage.  That was to ditch the carousel.


Underarmour

Williams Sonoma

Before

Williams Sonoma made some minor navigation changes over the past year and added lazy-load to the homepage, which widened it a bit.

Williams Sonoma

After

For the most part, the only significant change to the homepage was REMOVING THE CAROUSEL.

Williams Sonoma

Take-Away

If you were to take the lead from these 3 best in class sites, you would blindly get rid of your eCommerce site’s carousel.  But wait!!!

You can see below that there are still 6 out of 20 Best-in-Class eCommerce sites that are standing by their carousel. You bet they have tested their homepage over the past year.

eCommerce sites carousel use

eCommerce sites carousel use

So Why?

The answer is that the carousel, as they have it, is right for them and their audience.  For now, at least, until something tests better.

This is why we test.

keith-haganAbout the author: Keith Hagan is an award-winning conversion optimization expert and Director of Conversion Services at Inflow. Keith’s insights have been featured in well-known publications, such as Moz, HuffPo, Forbes and more.

Do online reviews really matter, and do they make a difference to your business? The answer is yes, they absolutely do.
Consumers increasingly use reviews left by other consumers as part of their pre-purchase research efforts, and a bad review can have serious effects on your sales.
Herd shopping psychology plays an ever effect on consumers’ behavior online. Groupon is a wonderful example of that, with deals kicking in only if a certain amount of people pay for them. Research shows that the more people have already opted in on a deal, the likelier it is new visitors will commit to it.
User reviews are not so far removed from this phenomenon.

Over 80% of people said that positive reviews would encourage them to purchase a product. The same number of people changed their minds about purchasing after reading as little as one or two negative reviews.

Fake & Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, fake reviews exist, and they exist in a massive abundance. Competitors have been known to leave bad reviews on products posing as disgruntled customers, That is why more needs to be done to help consumers identify a fake review.

You are bound to get a negative review at some point during your business career. That’s simply the reality and nature of the world. It can be devastating for a business, but most people recognize that everyone makes mistakes. A couple of bad reviews aren’t going to put the nail in your coffin and close your business down.

Here are just some of the facts why online reviews are not to be ignored:

  • 68% of millennials trust online reviews, with positive ones producing an 18% average uplift in sales
  • Consumer reviews are more trusted than descriptions that come from other manufacturers, nearly 12 times more.
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business which means these decisions being made are made quickly, without much hesitation.
  • The top five industries to be affected negatively by online reviews are restaurants, hotels, doctor’s offices, hospitals and hair salons.

Negative reviews aren’t all bad; these have been known to create a buzz around your business and increase its exposure, unlike fake reviews that have been so outlandishly obviously fake and ridiculous that they go viral.
Want to learn more about how online reviews can make or break your business? Check out our infographic.

User Reviews are the King

User Reviews are the King

About the Author

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at websitebuilder.org. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies.

You want to optimize your ecommerce site, but where do you begin? What do you look for? What page elements are worth evaluating? This Uber complete 110-point ecommerce conversion optimization checklist holds the answer.

At Conversion Sciences, we have an ecommerce conversion optimization checklist that our team goes through when evaluating a new client website. And today, we’re going to share that ecommerce CRO checklist with you. This checklist includes virtually everything you’ll want to consider optimizing. And because we know you’ll want to test what’s working and what’s not, here’s the ultimate A/B Testing Guide to help you put together your very own A/B testing campaign.

This is not a list of everything you should test. It’s a list of everything you should consider testing. Optimizing an ecommerce site requires testing strategy and prioritization. It would take an eternity to test every single item on this list using proper testing procedures and this CRO checklist will help identify and prioritize conversion optimization opportunities.

If there is anything on your site worth testing, I can tell you with 99% certainty that it’s on this list. So, go through it, take your pick and start your ecommerce site conversion optimization work.

Ecommerce Conversion Optimization Checklist Navigation

To make navigation easier, we’ve broken our ecommerce conversion optimization checklist into 8 sections. Select one or simply scroll down to start with #1.

The Complete 110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist

110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist Download

Free. Click to Download

#1. Ecommerce Sitewide Conversion Optimization

Let’s take a look at some sitewide elements on your ecommerce site and make sure they don’t hinder conversions. We’ll cover sticky elements such as, dropdown menus, supernav dropdown menus, navigation order, links and copy, visual cues, value proposition, dropdown or model shopping cart. sitewide search, related items, header and footer content, channel-dependent pages and elements, modals for email collection and discounts, and live chat. Quite a jam-packed section but we did promise a complete 110-point ecommerce optimization checklist.

1. Sticky Elements

Sticky Header

Sticky Header

Sticky elements are items that remain fixed on the screen as the users scrolls up or down. The most commonly stickied page element is the header navigation bar. It definitely helps navigate your ecommerce site.

Stickied elements tend to attract focus and distract from other page elements, which means they can work both for and against you. Therefore, they should be included in your testing – especially on your mobile or cross-device testing.

Elements to Consider in a Sticky Header or Footer

In case you were wondering what to turn into a sticky element, here are a few to consider:

  • Website Top Navigation Menu
  • Directional Navigation (Main Shopping Categories)
  • Search Icon or Search Field
  • Add to Cart / View Cart
  • Click to Call button / Subscribe / Live Chat
  • Company Logo
  • Social Links

Elements that can be added to mobile and desktop stickies.

2. For Best Ecommerce Site Navigation, Check your Dropdown Menus

Dropdown Menu

Dropdown Menu

Dropdown menus are pretty straightforward and a staple of ecommerce sites and websites in general. They offer a quick understanding of the site’s information architecture and ready access to subcategories.

3. “Supernav” Dropdown Menus on Ecommerce Websites

"Supernav" Dropdown Menu

“Supernav” Dropdown Menu

If you look at many of the largest online retailers, you will notice that certain dropdown menus expand into large fields with more items and added visual elements. We called these “supernavs” here at Conversion Sciences and they can be a powerful tool for highlighting specific offers, deals and product categories. They could be difficult for a visitor’s eyes to parse, so test carefully.

4. Site Navigation UX: Hover or Click?

Should your ecommerce dropdown menus open as soon as the user’s mouse cursor hovers over them? Or should they activate upon an actual click? It may not seem like a big difference, but it’s a potential item to test for. If poorly implemented, they can be a barrier to site navigation.

5. Test Navigation Order on Menus and Sub-Menus

One of the most common problems we encounter is sub-optimal navigation ordering. Categories aren’t properly selected and ordered. Menus and menu item placement seems almost random. There is an argument for placing the most clicked navigation items toward the left or top. You can determine this using a heatmap report from CrazyEgg, HotJar, ClickTale and similar user and a/b testing tools.

6. Don’t Forget to Add Navigation Links

Another common problem we encounter is a lack of obvious navigation links to popular products or product categories. Ecommerce stores include feature images and headlines somewhere on the front page, but forget that they need to be added to the primary menus as well. Redundancy is not a vice, and when discussing your bread and butter products, it’s typically a virtue.

7. Change Link Copy

Your main navigation communicates your offering. Choosing the right words helps those who never click on your navigation. When testing navigation language, it is common to see an increase in conversions but no increase in clicks on the navigation elements we’re testing. Thus, ecommerce site navigation is a way to communicate your value proposition and offering.

After determining that all the right links are present, look at the word choice for each link. Is there a more accurate or intuitive way to define that category or other link heading? Could you be more specific? More general? Are certain categories selling like crazy when the user enters the website directly via the product page but rarely being clicked on via navigation?

8. Visual Cues

Visual cues are visual elements that point the eye in a specific direction. When optimizing your ecommerce website, make sure that your visual cues are working for you rather than against you.

Visual Cue

Visual cues are visual elements that point the eye in a specific direction. Make sure that your visual cues are working for you rather than against you.

9. Add a Value Proposition to your Ecommerce Site

It’s amazing how many ecommerce websites completely lack any discernible value proposition. While creating a unique value proposition can be a bit more difficult for stores offering numerous products, it doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Look for ways to define your value and pitch why visitors should continue shopping on your site at every opportunity.

Check out these 10 value proposition upgrades that increased conversions by at least 100%

Value Proposition Quiz

Are you quickly giving the visitor a reason to stay?

  • Are you the cheapest, highest quality, or do you have the biggest selection?
  • Do you have a generous return policy or warranty?
  • Do you serve a niche in the marketplace?
  • Do you have a unique brand voice?

10. Shopping Cart Dropdown or Modal

Should you use a shopping cart dropdown or a modal window on your ecommerce site?

Shopping Cart Dropdown

When a customer clicks on that shopping cart icon in the navigation bar, what happens? Are they taken straight to the checkout page or does clicking trigger a dropdown or modal window display? Customers wishing to review their shopping cart might prefer a dropdown. Customers wishing to get straight to checkout might be annoyed by the extra click. You’ll need to test to know how your visitors are responding.

Pro tip: Be sure to instrument your cart dropdown or overlay for tracking by analytics. It’s part of the purchase funnel.

11. Sitewide Search

Similar to navigation dropdowns, the search bar is a huge part of how visitors interact with an ecommerce website. Should yours be bigger? Should the written prompt be different? How should it fit into your layout? These are all important questions to ask when evaluating your overall navigation layout.

What to consider when optimizing your ecommerce sitewide search.

What to consider when optimizing your ecommerce sitewide search.

12. Related Items Based On User History

Upselling will definitely help increase your average order value. Test suggesting alternative or related products to your visitors. Where and how are you suggesting those products?

Ecommerce Related products: Upselling will reliably increase your average order value. Related Items Based On User History.

Related Items Based On User History

13. Online Store Header Content

If a visitor doesn’t find what she’s looking for in the body of a page, she will return to the top of the page. Your header should provide a next step.

Elements to consider in the Header

  • Company Logo
  • Value Proposition
  • Return Policy (if it’s part of your unique value proposition)
  • Navigation
  • Phone Number
  • Search
  • Click to call (Mobile)
  • Subscribe
  • Live Chat
  • Checkout/Cart
  • Clearance
  • Login
  • Sitewide Promo / Offers / Specials

14. Don’t Forget to Optimize the Footer Content for Conversions

In its lonely home at the bottom of the page, footer elements don’t get seen as much by visitors. Unless they know that’s where they’ll find the link to the information they’ve been searching for. Consider all of the elements you would consider for the header plus contact methods, privacy policy and DMCA, social media accounts, among others. Check your heatmap reports as well. You might be surprised by the number of clicks you’re getting in your footer.

15. Channel-Dependent Pages & Elements

A group of power shoppers was recently discussing one major apparel retailer’s retargeting ads campaign. They unanimously condemned those ads that featured a product that would lead to a page where that product was not even displayed. Keep the promises you make to your visitors.

What can you offer visitors coming in from different traffic channels? Are they directed to channel-specific pages? Are they served dynamic content? This can have a massive impact on your success in converting users from each channel.

16. Email Collection Modal

Email subscribers purchase from your online shop at a significantly higher rate than social followers or new visitors. The question is how do you plan to attract new subscribers? While users claim to find them annoying, popup modals tend to be very effective at converting visitors into subscribers.

Email Collection Modal: Attract new subscribers with a modal window.

Email Collection Modal: Attract new subscribers with a modal window.

17. Discount Modal

Discount Modal

Discount Modal

For ecommerce sites, one of the most effective types of modals is the discount modal. Users are already there to buy. Accepting a discount is a no-brainer. This 110-point ecommerce conversion optimization checklist is getting better by the minute, right?

18. Live Chat

Live chat and Chatbots have become effective tools to boost sales for eCommerce stores. It can be auto-prompted or offered in the Help section, and it’s definitely on the list of things we recommend to test on this ecommerce conversion optimization checklist.

Live chat for ecommerce stores. Definitely on the list of things we recommend to test on this ecommerce conversion optimization checklist.

Live chat for ecommerce stores.

#2. Ecommerce Site Homepage Optimization Checklist

19. Hero Shot

Your homepage’s hero shot is the above-the-fold area incoming visitors see as soon as they arrive. It’s one of the most important pieces of real estate on your website, and a top priority for split testing.

Ecommerce homepage hero image conversion optimization checklist.

Ecommerce homepage hero image conversion optimization checklist.

20. Dynamic or Static Heroes?

Dynamic Hero Shot

Dynamic Hero Shot

Should you utilize dynamic elements like sliders or other moving graphics? Or should you keep the page static? It’s important that you catch visitors’ attention here, but what that attention catches on is equally important.

Rotating carousels slow load times and only improve conversion rates if ordered properly and times perfectly. Large video backgrounds can bring a page to its knees, making the site seem slow and cumbersome.

21. Homepage Header Navigation

While many sites choose to keep their navigation consistent across the entire website, if there is any page where customization can be beneficial, it’s the homepage. This is the gateway to your business, and experimenting with different looks and functions on this specific page can be beneficial.

22. Homepage Value Proposition

Just like you need to emphasize your value throughout the website, it is especially important that you present unique value on the homepage, and more specifically within the hero shot. Some ecommerce stores emphasize quality. Others emphasize price. Others emphasize special offers like discounts or free shipping. You’ll need to test to know what works best with your audience.

Unique value proposition on an ecommerce site homepage.

Unique value proposition on an ecommerce site homepage.

23. Should You Add A Video?

Homepage Video

Homepage Video

Promotional videos provide a fairly consistent boost to website conversion rates, although I have yet to see many examples of them being tested on eCommerce stores. If you are struggling to differentiate your brand, it’s definitely something to think about and consider testing for. Be cognizant of increases in load time.

24. Primary CTA

Does your homepage have a primary Call to Action (CTA) or a handful that stand out? If so, how can those be optimized? If not, should you have one or more?

25. Should You Highlight Popular Products?

Online retailer featured popular products.

Online retailer featured popular products.

Should you highlight popular products or products you are looking to push? How prominently? Where on the page?

26. Should You Highlight Special Deals?

If you are advertising a promotion in the marketplace, your main landing pages should mention the promotion. You can highlight special deals on the homepage, category pages, product pages, and even in the cart. Consider a small deals bar, big hero shot, or sidebar displays.

Highlight special deals on your ecommerce site to increase conversions.

Highlight special deals on your ecommerce site to increase conversions.

27. Should You Include Testimonials?

Customer or influencer testimonials can build trust and advance the value proposition on almost any page of the website.

Website optimization checklist: Believable testimonials can build trust.

Website optimization checklist: Believable testimonials can build trust.

28. Should You Highlight Top Categories?

Should you promote specific products or highlight product categories? Should they be displayed in your hero shot or somewhere else on the page?

Online retailer category optimization checklist.

Online retailer category optimization checklist.

#3. Product Category Optimization

29. Faceted Search

Ecommerce faceted search. Help customers buy from you.

Ecommerce faceted search. Help customers buy from you.

Faceted search allows browsers to adjust their selection criteria on the fly, allowing for very customized searches. If you offer a large inventory and don’t have faceted search, it’s something worth re-evaluating.

Consider testing the order of faceted search categories. Also play with unrolling some categories in the facet menu by default.

30. Sidebar Navigation

Sidebar navigation is one of those things that can help or hurt. While sidebar lists can guide a visitor to the products they are looking for, the tyranny of choice can make a page overwhelming. Sidebar navigation may help on some pages and hurt on others. Our testing indicates that it really depends on your site and your audience.

31. Adjust Image Sizes

In general, more detailed images perform better than stock manufacturer images. Ecommerce layout is all about maximizing the value of limited space. Are your images too small to make an impact? Are they too big, obscuring other important information?

32. Category CTAs

Should you just list your categories or include CTAs to prompt entrance? Are your category CTAs effective or do they need to be improved?

Are your category CTAs effective or do they need to be improved?

Are your category CTAs effective or do they need to be improved?

33. List View or Grid View?

Product page grid view.

Product page grid view.

Product list layouts are easier for comparison shopping.

Product list layouts are easier for comparison shopping.

On category and search results pages, visitors will have a preference for grid layouts or stacked list layouts. List layouts are easier for comparison. Grid layouts fit more products onto the screen. You may give visitors an option.

34. Modify Row & Column Count?

For sites with heavy traffic, sometimes something as simple as modifying the number of rows or columns can impact your conversion rate. Should you have 8 products per row or 3?

35. Category Page Product Information

Deciding what to display on category pages is critical and worthy of a series of tests.  What product information should you display with each item? The options are almost limitless.

  • Product Image
  • Product title
  • Product description
  • Star rating
  • Price
  • Product options
  • Stock availability
  • Video or animation
  • Badging

Every audience will react differently.

36. What Type of Information Should Be Filterable?

There are many different ways to classify and categorize products. If you don’t offer enough filters, you can make searching difficult for users. If you offer too many options, you can create unhealthy friction in the browsing experience.

37. Endless Scroll or Pagination?

Do you break categories with hundreds of options into pages or do you use endless scroll? Most large retailers currently use pagination, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every eCommerce business.

38. Should You Include Special Badges?

Consider including special product badges to increase ecommerce sales.

Consider including special product badges to increase ecommerce sales.

Editor’s choice, top picks for 2019, new items, bestsellers etc. Should you include special badges or keep all things equal?
Consider some of  these.

  • New
  • Editor’s choice
  • Clearance
  • Popular
  • Best Seller
  • Limited Time
  • Hot Item
  • Free Shipping
  • Save 25%

#4. Product Page Optimization Checklist for Ecommerce Sites

39. Primary Product Image

Your primary product image might just be the most important single element of your product page. Does the image optimally display the product? Is it high quality? Is it big enough?

Product page conversion checklist: Primary product image.

Product page conversion checklist: Primary product image.

40. Add to Cart Button

Where should the Add to Cart or other CTA button go on the page? How big should it be? What color should it be? What should the copy say?

41. Price Placement

Where should you list the price? How big and bold should it be? Should you make it look discounted even when it isn’t?

42. Product Reviews & Ratings

User reviews have become a core part of eCommerce, as modern consumers place more and more weight in feedback from other consumers. Should you display reviews or ratings? If so, where? How obvious should they be? Should you only show reviews if they meet a certain threshold?

Product page optimization checklist for ecommerce websites: reviews and ratings.

Product page optimization checklist for ecommerce websites: reviews and ratings.

43. Product Value Proposition

Should you dive right into the product description or include a one or two sentence product value proposition?

44. Shipping & Return Policy

Are your shipping and return policies obvious or hard to find? Do they encourage trust in your brand or make users skeptical? Weak policies can result in lower conversions, particularly with first-time customers.

45. Product Sizing Chart

Are you including a sizing chart to help potential buyers understand your product dimensions? If so, is this enhancing the user experience? If not, should you add one?

46. Cart Success Modal or Navigate to Cart?

Cart Success Modal

Cart Success Modal

When a customer selects “Add to Cart”, does a modal popup or does it take them off page and directly to checkout? Modals tend to make it easier for users to continue shopping, while direct checkout navigation is more streamlined when you are expecting a single purchase.

47. Related Item Fields

When users are looking at a product, are you suggesting related or alternative products for them? This is Amazon’s #1 methods for increasing cart size.

Related items. Ecommerce conversion optimization checklist.

Related items. Ecommerce conversion optimization checklist.

48. Detail Sections

Truncated Content

Truncated Content

We believe that the Product Page should provide all of the information necessary for the visitor to buy. How you fit this information onto the product page is a question worthy of testing.

The options are many.

Visitors know how to scroll, so it may be find to simply list everything out, like Amazon. The question then becomes, what order?

You may have success with tabs or rollout sections that reveal the information with a click. Heatmap reports will give you an idea of which sections are most important. The most important should be open by default. Sections can be ordered top-to-bottom by visitor interest.

It’s important that key information is displayed pre-click, but it’s also important that non-essential information is available without being distracting.

49. Additional Social Proof

In addition to reviews, there are other forms of social proof that can be experimented with on your product pages. This could look like social sharing, displaying how many customers have already bought the product, influencer testimonials, etc. While reviews are fairly ubiquitous, other specific types of social proof might be even more powerful in your niche.

50. Trust Indicators

Could additional trust indicators improve your product page conversion rate?

Ecommerce product optimization with trust indicators.

Ecommerce product optimization with trust indicators.

51. Add to Wishlist

Wish lists let customers tell you exactly what to sell to them. If you don’t have a wishlist feature on your site, you should probably add one.

52. Additional Image Thumbnails

In addition to the primary product image, it’s important to evaluate additional images and the thumbnails displaying them. Are you including enough additional images? Do the image thumbnails displayed do a good job of showing off the product? Are they in the best possible order?

Ecommerce product information optimization: Additional image thumbnails.

Ecommerce product information optimization: Additional image thumbnails.

53. Project Scarcity

Are you including signs that indicate the product is scarce or in danger of running out? Whether legitimate or not, projecting scarcity on your product page can sometimes increase the conversion rate.

54. In Stock or Out of Stock?

Should you include copy indicating when a product is in stock or out of stock?

55. Image Hover

Image Hover

Image Hover

Should users be able to explore an image by hovering their mouse over it, or should you require them to click to explore the image?

56. Display Shipping Time

Should you display the estimated shipping time on the product page or wait until the customer begins checkout?

57. Promotion Messaging

Should you display special promotions on the product page, and if so, where?

#5. Shopping Cart Optimization

58. Proceed to Checkout Button

Where should the Proceed to Cart or other CTA button go on the page? How big should it be? What color should it be? What should the CTA copy say?

Ecommerce convert from cart: proceed to checkout.

Ecommerce convert from cart: proceed to checkout.

59. Cart Page or Straight to Checkout?

Should clicking on the shopping cart icon take users to a cart preview page or skip straight to the first page of checkout?

60. Continue Shopping Button

Where should the Continue Shopping button go on the page? How big should it be? What color should it be? What should the CTA copy say?

61. Discount Code Validation

Discount Code Validation

Discount Code Validation

What happens when invalid discount codes are entered? Is the automated validation system bug-free and optimized to keep users engaged with the checkout process? Have you tried giving users who enter invalid codes a small, limited-time discount to encourage them to make the purchase?

62. Product Descriptions

Should you include product descriptions on the cart page? If so, how long should they be?

63. Product Images

How big should the product images be on the cart page? Where on the page should they go? Can you use them as a visual cue to draw users’ eyes to your primary CTA?

64. Upsell Items

Should you include related items, recently viewed items, or other upsell-focused items to the shopping cart page? If so, where on the page should you places them?

Test upsell items when optimizing cart conversion rates.

Test upsell items when optimizing cart conversion rates.

65. Visual Contrast & Hierarchy

Shopping cart CRO checklist: What will be your visual hierarchy?

Shopping cart CRO checklist: What will be your visual hierarchy?

You might notice that Amazon’s shopping cart page is very monochromatic. It all sort of looks the same, and while it’s not necessarily confusing, it doesn’t draw your eyes to anything in particular. Meanwhile Yandy.com’s shopping cart has contrasting colors with a very distinct visual hierarchy. The eye is clearly drawn to the checkout box in the middle-right of the page. Which style will work best for you?

66. Payment Options

Are you offering enough payment options? Are you letting your customers know about the options you currently provide? Should you make additional payment options obvious at the beginning of the checkout process like Yandy.com, or should you reveal them more subtlety when it’s time to process payment?

67. Shipping Time

Should you reveal estimated shipping time on the cart page or attempt to use it here as a selling point? Or should you save it for another point in the checkout process?

68. Shipping Cost

Should you display the shipping cost (or lack thereof) on the cart page or save it for elsewhere in the checkout process?

69. Price Display

How should you display product pricing on the cart page? Should it be highlighted? Minimalized? Should discounts be displayed next to the original price?

How to improve shopping cart experience with price display.

How to improve shopping cart experience with price display.

70. Project Scarcity

Are you including signs that indicate the product is scarce or in danger of running out? Whether legitimate or not, projecting scarcity on your cart page can sometimes increase the conversion rate.

71. Trust Indicators

Could additional trust indicators improve your cart page conversion rate?

72. Remove Navigation?

One question you have to ask is where in the checkout process (if anywhere) should navigation options be removed. Having general navigation options can sometimes be distracting and prompt cart abandonment. Should you remove navigation on the cart page or after users begin the checkout process?

73. Promotion & Coupon Entry

Should you allow users to enter promo codes and coupons on the cart page or wait to provide that option on the payment processing page or some other page in the checkout process?

74. Cart Visual Design

Could a redesign improve your conversion rate? Are parts of your cart page visually unappealing? Does the page design reflect your brand? Should it be more design heavy or more minimalist?

Shopping cart redesign checklist: choosing a visual design.

Shopping cart redesign checklist: choosing a visual design.

75. Quantity Change Functionality

Should users be able to change the quantity of a given item in their cart from the cart page? Adding this functionality often enhances the user experience.

76. Multiple CTAs

How many CTAs are displayed on your cart page? How many should their be? Should their be multiples CTAs for the same link? Should their be multiple different CTAs? You’ll need to test to find out.

77. Add to Wishlist

Should you provide users with the option to add cart items to their Wishlist from the cart page?

#6. Ecommerce Checkout Optimization

78. Guest Checkout

Should you require all users to create an account or allow a guest checkout?

Ecommerce guest checkout optimization guest.

Ecommerce guest checkout optimization guest.

79. Add “Use Billing/Shipping Address” Checkbox

Most consumers have a billing address identical to their shipping address. Including a relevant checkbox that lets them copy/paste improves the user experience. At this point, most consumers expect this feature and will be annoyed if it’s not available, potentially even to the point of abandoning the checkout process.

Optimize the checkout process for conversions: Use billing address.

Optimize the checkout process for conversions: Use billing address.

80. Shipping ETA

Should you display the estimated time of arrival (ETA) before the order is placed? If so, there are quite a few different options and placements for offering shipping options and presenting the ETA.

Test offering shipping options and estimated delivery dates.

Test offering shipping options and estimated delivery dates.

81. Validation Errors

Validation Errors

Validation Errors

Validation errors and their accompanying notifications are a fundamental part of the checkout user experience. Any errors or sub-optimal elements can significantly hurt your conversion rate. Make sure that error notifications are obvious and specific, helping users quickly enter the correct info and proceed with checkout.

82. Checkout Copywriting

The copywriting throughout your checkout process is incredibly important. It’s not enough to just write something and leave it. If you want optimal results, you have to test.

83. Remove Sitewide Navigation?

One question you have to ask is where in the checkout process (if anywhere) should navigation options be removed. Having general navigation options can sometimes be distracting and prompt cart abandonment. Removing them, however, can sometimes annoy customers. You’ll need to test before you make a call.

84. Create Account Prompts

If you make account creation optional, where should you prompt guests to create an account? Should you prompt them multiple times or just once?

85. Add Trust Indicators

Could additional trust indicators improve your checkout conversion rate?

86. Add Risk Reversal Indicators

Money-back guarantees. Return policies. Quality assurance. Consumers fear risk, particularly when they are first ordering from your business. Highlighting policies that lower risk for the consumer is a great way to increase conversions.

Policies that lower risk for the consumer are a great way to increase conversions. Money-back guarantee.

Policies that lower risk for the consumer are a great way to increase conversions. Money-back guarantee.

87. Abandonment Remarketing Strategy

Do you have a pixel collecting data on your checkout page for remarketing ads? If not, you should.

88. Checkout Order Form

When collecting data from users, there is essential data that absolutely MUST be collected to deliver the product, and then there is non-essential data that is helpful for segmentation and marketing. The first category is just a matter of optimization. How can you request that info in the best possible way? The second category requires you to find a balance. How much can you ask for without creating too much friction?

89. Single vs. Multipage Checkout

There are case studies where splitting up the checkout process to multiple pages increased conversions. There are case studies where condensing the process to one page increased conversions. You’ll need to test to find out what works best for your audience.

90. Add Progressing Tracking

Letting users know where they are in the process and how far they have to go can encourage them to stick with you, particularly if your checkout process is longer than two pages. This can take the form of  breadcrumbs or a progress bar or some other form of visual progress indication.

Reduce cart abandonment rate if checkout process is longer than two pages. Progressive tracking.

Reduce cart abandonment rate if checkout process is longer than two pages. Progressive tracking.

91. Custom Checkout or 3rd Party Solution?

It used to be that a custom built checkout was the only viable solution for creating a top-of-the-line checkout experience, but that simply isn’t the case anymore. Nowadays, there are some very high quality 3rd party solutions that have hundreds of built-in integrations for any service or function you could possibly think of. In fact, if your custom checkout was built more than 5 years ago, it is very likely you will benefit from switching over to a 3rd party solution.

92. Separate Checkout Subdomain?

Should you include your checkout under domain.com/checkout or checkout.domain.com?

93. 1 Column or 2 Column?

Is there any significant performance difference between a single column checkout and a double column checkout?

Test your checkout process performance with Conversion Sciences' ecommerce optimization checklist.

Test your checkout process performance with Conversion Sciences’ ecommerce optimization checklist.

94. Sticky Order Summary

Will a sticky order summary enhance the experience for consumers and increase conversions?

95. What To Expect Next

Telling visitors what to expect next at each stage of the checkout process can enhance trust and reduce abandonment. How can you do better at setting expectations throughout your checkout process?

96. CTA Buttons

We’ve touched on CTA buttons a number of times already, but they are just as important to test within the checkout process as they are everywhere else.

97. Promotion Code Entry

If you incorporate coupons and discounts into your marketing, it’s important that your promo code entry field is easy to find.

#7. Account Dashboard CRO

99. Order Status

The goal of virtually any ecommerce business is to create repeat customers. You want people coming back to your site as often as possible, and one way to help facilitate this is with an active dashboard that provides up-to-date information on the status of customer orders. Are you providing your customers with the information they want?

Account Dashboard CRO to create repeat business. Order status dashboard.

Account Dashboard CRO to create repeat business. Order status dashboard.

100. Value Building Copy

The account dashboard is prime real estate for customer retention. It’s the portal through which returning customers will interact with your site or attempt to close their account. It’s a great place to have value building copywriting designed to keep them on your customer list. When was the last time your revisited this copy?

101. Reorder & Upsell CTAs

The dashboard is also a great place to upsell customers with special offers and data-based recommendations. Are you taking advantage of this?

Ecommerce dashboard testing checklist: dashboard upsell.

Ecommerce dashboard testing checklist: dashboard upsell.

102. Bulk Order Options

Would some of your customers buy more if they had a bulk order option?

103. Default Subscriptions

For subscription revenue models, are you providing users with a clear path to upgrade or modify their subscription? Are you re-enforcing the value from within the account dashboard or are you trying to retain customers by making cancellation difficult?

#8. Optimizing your Ecommerce Thank You Page Checklist

104. Add Survey

Converting a visitor into a buyer is really just the first step. What you do from here forward is equally, if not more important. Attempting to collect additional information about your new customer is one way to kickstart that next stage in the relationship with a better understanding of the customer.

Optimizing your ecommerce Thank You page.

Optimizing your ecommerce Thank You page.

105. Immediate Upsell

Is the most profitable post-sale option an immediate upsell? Or will that turn off new customers? This is a MUST TEST. Post-sale customers are already in purchase mode and might be in prime position for an upsell, but upselling can also backfire, so again… MUST TEST.

106. Email Signup

While email addresses are often collected during checkout, that doesn’t mean customers want to get your emails. Following up with an incentivized email signup offer prepares customers to receive future emails from you that aren’t strictly order related.

Thank You page email signup.

Thank You page email signup.

107. Encourage Social Sharing

Certain niches attract highly engaged customers who will happily advertise their purchase to friends, family, and followers. Are you giving these customers easy access to share about their purchases on social media? Is your open graph data setup correctly so that auto-click sharing generates attractive posts?

108. Account Creation

If you offer  guest checkout, the Thank You Page is a great opportunity to prompt customer account creation. Is that the best use of this real estate for your business?

The Thank You Page is a great opportunity to prompt for customer account creation.

The Thank You Page is a great opportunity to prompt for customer account creation.

109. Encourage Referrals

Referrals are THE highest converting marketing channel in existence. If you can get your customers referring your product to their friends and family, you are virtually guaranteed additional customers. Have you tried utilizing your Thank You Page to encourage referrals?

110. Confirmation Email

Confirmation Email on the Thank You page.

Confirmation Email on the Thank You page.

Everything you can do via the Thank You Page you can also do via the confirmation email. Check out our confirmation email writeup here.

Are you still here?

That was a lot to cover, and there is no way you’re going to remember it all. If you think this is something you’ll use in the future, go ahead and download the checklist PDF below.

Download the Complete 110-Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist

The Complete 110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist

110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist Download

Free. Click to Download

You already know that online reviews are a big deal.
But what you may not realize is that you have a TON of available options for taking control of your user review profile. There are some insanely effective ways to acquire and harness user reviews in 2017, and the businesses that are utilizing these strategies are achieving absolutely insane growth.
Today, we are going to cover some of the best strategies for acquiring user reviews and harnessing them to increase site conversion and growth.
But first, let’s look at the data.

What The Data Says About User Reviews

Sometimes different metrics reveal conflicting truths about a given subject. That’s not the case with user reviews. They make a significant impact from any angle we look.
Some of the more revealing statistics include:

  • Consumers spend 31% more on average when the business has excellent reviews.
  • According to Google, business listings that have 3+ start reviews receive 87% of total clicks.
  • Given equal pricing, guests are 3.9 times more likely to choose the higher rated hotel.
  • Customers who view user-generated content have a 133% higher conversion rate.
  • 59% of consumers won’t buy after reading 3 negative reviews

If there is any question on the importance of harnessing reviews, this infographic from WebsiteBuilder.org should definitively put it to rest:

 

Types of User Reviews

When you think about what a review is, you might picture an Amazon product listing, with a star rating out of 5 followed by a few paragraphs of text.
That’s certainly a common version of user reviews in action, but it’s not the only one. In order to understand how many strategies we have available to us for utilizing online reviews, we need to first understand just how many different types of reviews exist.
Here are a few common types of user reviews:

Testimonials

A testimonial is a review written specifically to highlight the upsides of a product and encourage those considering it to make the purchase. A testimonial is given by someone who has actually used the product, but is not intended to be an objective, pro/con analysis of the item. The goal of a testimonial is always to promote the product in question.
Testimonials can be written, recorded as audio, or captured in video and often need to be actively solicited.

Testimonial for OrbitMedia.com

Endorsements

Endorsements are essentially the same as testimonials, but instead of being given by an average user, they are given by someone with influence in the business’ niche. That influence can be as widespread as an international celebrity or as targeted as a niche blog.
When an endorsement is given, the endorser’s influence is being intentionally channeled in order to encourage more people to purchase the product. In order to receive an endorsement for your product or service, you will typically need to have provided some level of value to the endorser (through your product/service or in the form of direct payment) or have an existing relationship.

Endorsements for Aaron Orendorff

Endorsements for Aaron Orendorff

On-Page Reviews

An on-page review system allows users to publish their reviews of your product, good or bad, directly for public viewing. On-page reviews tend to be more trusted by consumers, as they are theoretically more objective than testimonials solicited by the business.
Businesses that host on-page reviews for their products are taking the risk that negative user feedback will paint their product as a dud for prospective buyers. The upside is that having a positive on-page review profile can communicate significantly more value to potential buyers than hand-picked testimonials.

On-page review for ByJodi.com

On-page review for ByJodi.com

Social Media Page Reviews

Certain social media platforms now allow businesses to open up their social pages for user reviews. Similar to on-page reviews, social page reviews can be either positive or negative and offers a risk/reward scenario for business.
On sites like Facebook, reviews are prominently displayed and easily accessible. Business also have the option of disabling reviews on their page for any reason, which lowers risk in the event a page receives too many negative reviews for the owner’s liking.

3rd Party Review Platforms

3rd party review platforms allow users to rate any business in a given category. They tend to be very popular with consumers, as 3rd party control of the site limits chances for businesses to manipulate their review profiles. Businesses are rated on these sites whether they wish to be or not, so the best course of action is usually to claim your listing, ensure listing information is accurate, and then respond to reviews.

3rd party review site listing for Close.io

3rd party review site listing for Close.io

Blog Post Reviews

The most thorough type of review you can receive is a full blog post dedicated to breaking down your product. These take some serious investment on the part of the user, and thus, typically only happen if their is something in it for the reviewer.
If your product receives a decent amount of search queries, that can be enough to prompt blog post reviewers. Affiliate programs and direct sponsored posts can also result in these types of reviews. If your product makes enough of a splash to be considered one of the top 10 or so on the market, you will probably also find yourself the subject of comparison/contrast reviews and “top _____” lists.

Conversion Sciences review of top A/B testing tools

Conversion Sciences review of top A/B testing tools

Youtube Reviews

Similar to blog posts, Youtube has become a popular destination for video reviews on a wide variety of projects. While visual items tend to perform best, anything that can be reviewed via a written post can be reviewed via video.
And just like blog posts, the best way to encourage Youtube reviews is to provide incentives for Youtube reviewers.

Youtube review of Freshbooks.com

Youtube review of Freshbooks.com

There’s More You Can Do Than Sit And Wait

So we know without a doubt that reviews can be a powerful force in our business, and we’ve seen the variety of review types you can use.

The question then becomes, how can we capitalize on these reviews instead of just passively waiting for positive reviews to roll in? Or if we are actively encouraging reviews, what more can we do to harness those reviews versus just hoping they catch people’s attention?
There are two primary objectives at play here:

  1. How can you collect more reviews & better quality reviews?
  2. How can you harness those reviews for the purpose of increasing conversions and driving growth?

We’ll look at each objective separately.

4 Ways To Collect A Larger Number of Quality User Reviews

The first step to harnessing user reviews is collecting them in the first place. Here are 4 great ways to do that.

1. Ask customers for reviews during the follow up process.

The easiest and most consistent way to get reviews is simply to ask for them. Give customers some time to experience your product and then include a review request in your follow up process.
The timing is very important here. Yotpo estimates 8.1% of customers will respond to review requests on average, but that number can be significantly increased by optimizing the timing of your requests. While Yotpo uses machine learning to optimize send times, you can optimize open rates to a lesser extent by split testing.
Since email is the preferred method for post-sale follow up, the subject lines will make a big difference as well. Be sure you are using subject line best practices:

  1. Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Use a familiar sender name.
  3. Use personalization tokens.
  4. Do tell them what’s inside.
  5. Start with action-oriented verbs.
  6. Create a sense of urgency.
  7. Use numbers.
  8. A/B test your subject lines.

Remember that not all reviews are created equal. If your Google My Business profile, for example, is at 3 stars, it might be more helpful to ask that users review that listing as opposed to your Facebook page. On the other hand, if very few people find your business through your GMB listing, it might be more effective to direct users to your on-page review section. It’s up to you to identify where reviews are most important and direct users there.
Here’s a simple follow-up template you can use, courtesy of Grade.us – click here for 6 additional templates.
[su_note note_color=”#7aed8d” text_color=”#000000″ radius=”10″]Hi Jan,
Thanks for choosing [your business]. I wanted to reach out personally and ask about your experience.
What was your experience like? (e.g. amazing, terrible, etc.)
We want to be better. Your feedback helps us accomplish that. If you’re willing, it only takes a minute or two.
Share your review here [link]
Thanks for your trust,
Andrew[/su_note]
It’s also important that your user experience is low-friction for those who choose to click-through and leave you a review. For written reviews, you could use a plugin like Rich Reviews, or if you are interested in capturing video testimonials, you could use an app like VocalReferences.

2. Provide incentives for customers to review.

One option for increasing your review count is to offer incentives for reviewers. By offering a discount, giveaway, upgrade, etc. you can encourage users who wouldn’t normally review to submit their feedback.
You’ll need to be up to speed on local and national laws if you go this direction, and even then, you can only really use this strategy for your own on-page reviews or internal feedback. Trying this strategy to encourage reviews on 3rd party review sites is the quickest way to incur big-time penalties with those types of sites.
As you can see in the JCPenney example below, largest businesses often use sweepstakes entry as their reward system, since this ensures a user’s individual commentary doesn’t in any way affect their chance of winning the reward.

JCPenney review incentive

JCPenney review incentive


Another great incentive that doesn’t really feel like an incentive is to hold a contest, where users compete with their own user-generated content. This works particular well with visual products or creative audiences, but it can work for a wide variety of businesses. Contests tend to work best when driven by social media marketing.

3. Send free stuff to reviewers and influencers.

The best, most thorough reviews you can get come in the form of blog posts, but like I mentioned earlier, in-depth, blog-post-length reviews take a lot of work, and simply asking someone to review your product in this manner isn’t typically going to cut it.
In most cases, you’ll need to compensate the reviewer, at minimum, with a free copy of your product. Some reviewers or publications that include reviews will do sponsored posts, but the best, most trusted reviewers won’t go further than accepting a copy of the product and will attempt to provide an unbiased review, for better or for worse.

Sponsored review of YOKO

Sponsored review of YOKO


Unless you are a big brand with an anticipated product release, you probably won’t be able to get the top reviewers in your niche. Instead, you’ll want to focus on finding influencers with small but highly engaged audiences.
Youtube and Instagram are both notably powerful platforms for getting these types of reviews, and Social Media Examiner has a great guide on running influencer campaigns in just this way:

  1. Find authentic influencers
  2. Hire by fit, not followers
  3. Track response to links
  4. Offer coupon codes
  5. Create titles that drive niews
  6. Optimize video for SEO

This approach is very targeted, and while it can scale, if you are looking to scale from the start, there is a better option.

4. Setup an affiliate program.

Creating an affiliate program is the easiest way to incentivize every single blogger in your niche at the same time. Everyone has equal opportunity to cash in on your company’s buzz by writing reviews and adding affiliate links.
Unlike sponsored posts, bloggers don’t have to explicitly state that they are writing the article with that incentive in mind. All they are legally required to do is acknowledge somewhere on their site that they include affiliate links on their site. Since affiliate marketing is so commonplace, most readers won’t interpret the presence of affiliate links as a suggestion that the review is biased, which is less the case with sponsored posts.
In other words, if you can get people active in your affiliate program, you end up getting the best of both worlds.
This model is particularly effective for services that require month-to-month payment. For example, ConvertKit chose from the get-go to put it’s growth stock on the affiliate train. They offered 30% recurring affiliate revenue (more than any of their competitors) and then got some big time affiliate marketers on board.  If you search for reviews, you will find page after page of blog posts promoting their product.

ConvertKit has a LOT of blog post reviews

ConvertKit has a LOT of blog post reviews


These reviews were instrumental in driving ConvertKit from a failing company at the beginning of 2015 to $518,000 MRR to close out 2016.
And as a user of ConverKit since 2015, I can tell definitively that it’s not the quality of the product or even the marketing that is driving growth. It’s a solid product, but what has ultimately been the key driver in its growth is the exponential effect of a well-run affiliate program.

3 Ways To Harness User Reviews For Increased Conversions

So we have our reviews now. What do we do with them? What can we do with them?
Every business model will work a bit differently, but the following three strategies can be applied to virtually any business.

1. Include positive reviews throughout your funnels.

The easiest way to use reviews is simply to plaster them all over your funnels, and you should absolutely be doing that. There are few better ways to improve site conversions than by adding generous helpings of social proof.
 
And while you no doubt understand how to add a testimonial or review to a landing page, you might not realize how effective it can be to add these reviews to your checkout pages as well. Neil Patel found that just adding a testimonial to his checkout page increased conversions by 6.38%, without any additional optimization.

Testimonial on checkout page

Testimonial on checkout page

2. Drive the narrative by responding to good & bad reviews.

People don’t like to be scammed. They don’t like receiving poor quality products. They don’t like bad service.
They also don’t like seeing hard working business owners abused. People understand that there are many consumers out there with unreasonable demands and a penchant for unfairly flaming any business that doesn’t submit to their insane demands.
When you are actively engaged with user reviews, you can help drive the narrative about your business instead of having it swept away by individual consumers. You can thank those who leave positive reviews and invite them to purchase form you again. You can respond graciously or cheekily to the ridiculous reviews. And you can learn from the reasonable negative reviews.

Owner responds to a negative review

Owner responds to a negative review


This will look different for every review type we’ve discussed. For blog posts reviews, you could thank the reviewer for posting and answers questions from readers in the comments. For reviews on your own site, you could make special offers or engage in other forms of customer appreciation.
By being active with reviews instead of passive, you can help shape the narrative on your brand.

3. Upsell reviewers.

This is perhaps the most overlooked strategy here. When someone positively reviews your brand, they are in a prime position to be upsold.
They have literally gone out of their way to mention how great you are or how positive their experience with your brand has been. Now is the time to move them to the next level in your funnel or simply offer them a refill, additional item, or any other form of upsell.
Having great segmentation is important here. Your upsell pitch needs to be hyper-relevant the the reviewer. And how you attempt to upsell will depend on the nature of the review.
If you are requesting a review via email, you could include an upsell offer directly under the review request.

Yotpo review email with upsell

Yotpo review email with upsell


You could also track reviewers and include them in a separate follow up sequence that attempts to upsell them later.
For blog posts or youtube reviews, you could offer a special discount to viewers. There are a lot of possibilities. The only area you will need to be careful with is 3rd party review sites, as they probably won’t want you using their platforms for upsells.

Don’t Sleep On User Reviews

User reviews are a big deal, and harnessing them can have a major impact on website conversions and overall business growth.
I hope you’ve found our comprehensive overview helpful today, and I’d love to hear if you have any additional review strategies that have worked out for you. Let me know in the comments!

Ecommerce is a now a $2.35 TRILLION pie.
It’s big. It’s getting bigger. And it’s why we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about ecommerce optimization.
For many new and even established businesses, however, the problem is less about conversion and more about getting people to your website in the first place. You need a consistent means to drive targeted traffic to your store.
To help solve this problem, we’re bringing you the following infographic from Visiture, highlighting the 3 most effective eCommerce marketing strategies in 2017.
 
Ecommerce Marketing Strategies