ecommerce optimization

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.

It can be dangerous to delay asking for the sale on your website. Optimizing for buyer intent helps you ask at the right time.

You should hire me.
I’m good at what I do, have helped some pretty awesome companies achieve killer results, and I reckon I could help you achieve similar levels of success.
If you’ve got copywriting or PPC optimization needs, I’m your man. Click here to pay your deposit now and secure my revenue increasing services!

Crappy pitch, right? Even overlooking the dreadfully generic benefit, poor copy, and woeful CTA there’s still something important missing.

An omission which would stop you from reaching out and laying down that deposit I so desperately want.

That something is your complete lack of knowledge and trust in me.

99% of the people who read this will never have heard of me. They’ll have no idea who I am, only a vague idea of what I do, and absolutely no inkling as to whether or not I’m good at it (save for my poorly worded benefit brag).

This is first contact for you and I. And for a first contact, that pitch is far too aggressive.

Unfortunately, this is the exact approach I see countless brands across the globe making day after day. They think all they need is a hard pitch, a well optimised landing page, and some relevant traffic.

But that’s not how sales are made.

No one makes big purchase decisions based on impulse. It might work for low cost items, but for big-ticket products or high end services you’ve got to foster a little trust before a pitch will be effective.

You’ve got to establish yourself as an authority; a provider of the highest quality. Only then will a hard pitch for high-priced products work.

This is the element missing from so many campaigns. It’s the element that not only makes the sale, but keeps your customers coming back to you time and time again.

It’s a shame that more business don’t focus on building relationships. And if I had to hazard a guess why, it’s because very few understand that…

Not all your Leads are Ready to Purchase

In fact, very few are at the point where they’re ready to open their wallet.

If you’ve spent any time in marketing and sales you’ll have heard the statistics. It takes anywhere between 6 and 12 touchpoints with customers to make a sale. You’ve probably also seen countless images like the below.

Customer touchpoints

Customer touchpoints

Source

There’s an element of truth to these beliefs. The view of a wholly linear sales funnel might be outdated, but the principle stands.

People don’t trust you enough to purchase after a single interaction.

Check the modern consumer’s browsing habits and you’ll see what I mean. Modern users jump from site-to-site, they use various devices, abandon, reengage, and complete purchase journeys at completely random times.

It’s honestly a bit of a mess. But figuring out how to make the most of the modern consumers scatterbrained approach to online purchases doesn’t have to be. And it all begins with…

Ignore the Concept of Touchpoints

When you follow the old linear journey and the belief that you must have X touchpoint for the sale it blinkers your focus.

The thought of there being a set number of touchpoints to make users purchase is absolute bullshit. I don’t walk into a store 6 times and on the 7th feel as though I must buy something simply because I’ve hit my touchpoint limit.

The same is true for the online purchase journey. People don’t buy based on the number of touchpoints alone. They purchase based on value.

Let’s put this in real terms, I recently assisted a client in optimising their PPC campaigns. When I took over, all campaigns targeted industry related keywords before directing users to the primary landing page.

If we imagine the client was in the real estate space, that meant searches like the below all directed to the same page:

  • What are the house sale processes in [area]
  • the best real estate broker in [area]
  • what’s in [neighborhood] for [kids/elderly/students]

The client believed that if customers stopped by his site often enough, they were eventually bound to hire him. He thought this repeated hard pitch was guaranteed to wear his customers down until they bent to his will.

It didn’t work well for him because, whilst he had a frequently visited site, it offered no value.

If he had instead offered something of value related to the user’s search, then people would have remembered him. Something like:

  • An eBook/guide explaining the house sale process
  • A sales page explaining why he was the best
  • A neighborhood guide that detailed all relevant areas

Taking this approach gives people what they want. It offers the value they’re searching for and would raise him in their estimation.

You have to shift focus to the customer. You have to examine the reason the user comes to your page/site, understand the problem they’re facing, and optimize to address that problem.

As Brian mentions in this piece:

A landing page has two very focused jobs:

  1. Keep the promise made in the ad, email or link that brings visitors to the page. We call this the Offer.
  2. Get the visitor to take action on the offer.

The offer is what I want to bring attention to here. People at different stages of the customer journey need different things from you.

Your traffic generation makes a promise that attracts them, your pages need to reflect and deliver on that promise.

So the first step is to stop directing users with different needs to a single hard sales page. You first need to optimize each page for buyer intent.

What Do I Mean Buyer Intent?

I’m sure you’re aware of the different stages of awareness and how they impact the length and detail of your landing pages.

If you’re not, I’ll offer a very quick explanation. Basically, the less aware someone is of your brand, the longer your landing page usually is.

Someone who’s having their first contact with your brand will need more information before they take any action.

On the other hand, someone who knows your brand well, understands the products you offer, the benefits, and maybe has bought something from you before won’t need as much information. All they need is the bare essentials of the product and offer.

The guys at Copyhackers put a great image together explaining this.

Awareness and Long PagesIt’s some killer advice. But, it’s excluded something something the marketing community has generally overlooked.

Buyer Intent

Length of page is great when considering the stages of awareness, but it doesn’t take buyer intent into consideration. Not all people buy products for the same reason.

Some products and services are indeed universal and customers from all walks of life purchase for the same reason. In those cases, you only have to consider the stage of awareness.

Take the below, once again from Copyhackers, as a perfect demonstration of a universal buyer intent.

Copyhackers address "Universal" buyer intent.

Copyhackers address “Universal” buyer intent.

The above would resonate with all people suffering from substance abuse. It’s a perfectly optimized page for those seeking help because intent, in this case, wouldn’t deviate between different people.

But in cases where buyer intent will differ, you have to consider what the user’s intent is and optimize accordingly.

I’ve chosen an extremely obvious example to highlight this in Upwork. Upwork is a great place to hire cheap freelance work (and a terrible place to offer freelance services).

The site ranks well for all terms relating to freelancing on both the client and freelancer side.

However, they have two distinct sides to the site. One is optimised for those who are looking to hire a freelancer, the other is for those looking for work.

Upwork optimized each of these pages for different buyer intent.

Upwork optimized each of these pages for different buyer intent. 

Both are optimized for different intent. They’re focused on a service which overlaps, but are completely different in their approach because they’re trying to convert two distinct groups of people.

I know this example is something of a copout because, whilst the services overlap, they have very different demographics with different goals.

However, it proves the point that the same service can have different pages targeting different buyer intent. Each one is aimed at providing a high level of value to its respective audience.

Optimizing for buyer intent in this way should be a common practice in every business’s marketing.

For example, eCommerce product pages should be optimised not just for the product, but also for who might be shopping. A woman shopping for jewelry herself will need different information than her partner who’s buying it as a gift.

Unbounce have good examples of this. They’ve built campaigns (from the look of it both PPC and SEO campaigns) that direct users to pages that mirror explicit needs and the search terms users are using.

For example, a search for “consulting landing page builder” directs to the below page which is set up to sell their consulting specific landing page templates.

This page is targeted specifically to consultanta building landing pages

This page is targeted specifically to consultanta building landing pages

Pop in a similar search for “SaaS landing pages” and you get the below.

This page is similar to the previous, but targeted at SaaS businesses.

This page is similar to the previous, but targeted at SaaS businesses.

Both are specific to the search term and offer the answer the user is looking for.

The service wouldn’t change as the end goal is still to get the user to sign up for an Unbounce account where, if I’m not mistaken, they’d get access to all of the free templates outlined on both pages.

The difference is simply in focusing on the need of the customer. If you want to implement something similar to the above, here’s what you need to do.

Focus on the Immediate Value

I’m a huge proponent of the one page, one purpose rule.

Whatever you’re selling, your landing page should only have one purpose. Anything more and you’ll just end up confusing yourself, and your customers.

However, buyer intent will dictate that immediate conversion goal. Let’s again imagine that my goal is to understand landing pages and that I’m a complete newbie to marketing.

My first search might be “what is a landing page?”, with that search I’d find the below ads.

There is one ad for "What is a landing page?" on the results page.

There is one ad for “What is a landing page?” on the results page.

One ad from Wix,which leads to this page.

Thsi page does not tell the reader what a landing page is.

Thsi page does not tell the reader what a landing page is.

The intent for me was to educate myself on the basics of landing pages. Does this page do that?

No (the dictionary response did a better job)! Again, it’s focused only on the sale and getting people to sign up.

It tells me that I can try a free landing page and create a stunning site, but doesn’t answer the question I asked. If I were truly seeking for information on landing pages, I’d bounce almost immediately and forget Wix within minutes.

What they should have done was provide something that educated me on the basics of landing pages.

That could be a comprehensive beginner’s guide blog post or even an eBook/guide behind an email gate.

The value for people at the highest level of awareness is not being answered here. And there’s a huge gap that could be filled.

What about those later in the purchase journey for landing page services searching “how to create a highly optimised landing page

Search results for “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

Search results for “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

There’s a couple of potentials in here. The WordStream result is the highest relevant result so we’ll use that in this example. If I click though, I find the below.

This page is highly relevant to the search term “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

This page is highly relevant to the search term “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

Does this answer the question I asked and is it targeted at those with an intent to learn more about the perfect landing page?

Hells yeah it is.

It’s exactly what I’d need at this stage. I’m looking for information on what makes a great landing page, and that’s exactly what I’m being offered. If this were a real search, I’d likely stop my search here to see what this guide is all about.

If they’d linked to the main WordStream page and tried to sell me their service I’d leave because I’m not interested in purchasing just yet. But no, they perfectly answered my question and offered the value I need.

Whether you’re running PPC campaigns or are optimising your SEO to bring in relevant traffic, ask yourself about the user’s intent. Ask yourself what’s the most valuable thing you can offer them right then and there. What’s the offer they won’t be able to refuse?

Stop thinking about the sale, and start thinking about the value.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll create more valuable touchpoint that create a longer lasting positive image of your brand. And once that touchpoint is down, you need to focus on the next step.

Build a Solid Follow Up Based on Previous Action

We all know email as the ROI king. As such, much of the follow-up information out there is focused on how to build relevant email sequences.

It’s all great advice and can really help in driving revenue numbers up. However, it’s also something that’s been covered time and time again.

So rather than flog a dead horse, I’m going to link to a great post on some awesome email campaigns from Jacob and move on to something that’s not covered as often.

What I want to cover is a tactic I recently stumbled across from Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer. It’s a relatively simple idea (as all great ideas are) that details how to offer value through some smart retargeting. A strategy which helped Ezra sell 84,000 units in three months.

Here’s the image of the sequence in action (and a link to a podcast where he explains it)

How to add value through retargeting.

How to add value through retargeting.

What I love about the sequence is how it’s focused on value which is in direct contrast to how most advertisers run their business.

If you check out a store, you’re usually just then served the same ad across either the display network or through Facebook ads.

The same ad the visitor abandoned is offered through retargeting.

The same ad the visitor abandoned is offered through retargeting.

Source

An example of a "hard sell" retargeting ad.

An example of a “hard sell” retargeting ad.

There’s that hard sell mentality of “well, they looked at the product so shove it down their throats until they buy”.

But with Ezra’s method you’re focusing on providing a more logical user journey packed full of value.

You can see how the initial video ad kicks things off. Ezra explains that he breaks things down by the engagement.

If they watch less than 25% then they’re not retargeted and tagged as a poor lead.

Between 25-75%, he’ll retarget them with more value building content. Something to establish the brand and product in a favorable light.

Over 75% consumed indicates a highly interested user, and so they’re sent to a long form sales page.

Ezra only pushes the sale on those who are most interested and most likely to convert. For those who aren’t ready, he focuses on the value they need to make an informed purchase decision.

This pre-sell engagement tracking and retargeting is an incredible way to build value with your customers and, for Ezra, led to $18,000,000 in sales form a single page.

It’s also not just a viable method for eCommerce. If we look once again at the WordStream example above we can apply the same processes.

They could track all users to that landing page (which I’m sure they are) and track how many make it through to the “thanks for downloading” page. Those who don’t might benefit from a retargeting campaign that either linked back to that page, or one with more information that offers the same download.

For those that download, you could retarget with the next logical step in their customer journey.

After downloading the basics of landing pages, you could retargeted with an eBook or article on the best landing page services for beginner CROs and copywriters through Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, and of course the follow-up email campaign.

You could also see if user’s are ready for the hard sell at that point.

This multi-touch campaign focuses on value. It provides the user with multiple touchpoints but, unlike most campaigns, doesn’t feed everyone you’ve contacted to your sales page.

Instead, it offers them the next logical step ensuring they take it with your brand. You’re still hitting those multiple touchpoints, but you’re packing each one with value which builds more trust in you and your brand.

Multiple Touchpoints Build Trust, But Only if Optimised into a Comprehensive Customer Journey

Each step you optimize needs to be focused on the immediate value the consumer is most looking for. However, you also need to keep your eye on the overall conversion goal.

As a starting point I’d recommend starting as close to the money as possible. Look at how you can optimize the sale and work backwards. Doing so brings more immediate gains, but it also means that with each subsequent optimization you’re simply adding more fuel to the fire.

You’re not optimising a stage for which there is no logical follow up established.

So stop focusing only on grabbing the sale. Look at the immediate value you can offer and build it into your wider conversion funnel. Do that, and you’ll see more people buying from you and becoming long term advocates of your brand.

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

Discover how top retailers hit 10% conversion rates by using these eCommerce optimization tips that increase trust and interest from customers.

The global average conversion rate for eCommerce stores is 2.32%. Some online stores, however, manage to get rates as high as 10%. Just how do they do it?

Some may attribute it to the quality of their products. Others might point to the quality of their traffic. But if you dig deeper, you’ll find that the world’s top retailers invest in creating an optimized experience for their customers.

For a store struggling to convert browsers into customers, there’s a lot to be learned from these eCommerce retailers. So in this post, I’ll show you how some of the world’s best performing stores use conversion rate optimization to get more customers.

1. Retail Conversion Tips: Reassure eCommerce Customers of their Financial Safety

Curious to find out how the world’s top retailers grow their conversion rates? A third of your customers hesitate to punch in their credit card details because of recent data breaches at major retailers. Reassuring customers that that their credit card information is safe at all times is a proven way to improve conversion rates.

For example, when you try to checkout on Alibaba.com, you see a bunch of badges assuring the buyer of the store’s security credentials:

Alibaba's security credentials

Alibaba’s security credentials

On NewEgg.com, you’ll see similar badges on the site’s footer:

New Egg's credentials

New Egg’s credentials

On ThinkGeek.com, there’s a separate section on its website detailing the site’s payment security protocols:

Think Geek's payment security protocols

Think Geek’s payment security protocols

WalMart.com has a separate section on its website to educate customers about its privacy and security policies.

Walmart's page devoted to online security

Walmart’s page devoted to online security

2. eCommerce Optimization Tips: Offer Multiple Payment Options

Some of your customers prefer to use their credit cards, some others like to use their existing Paypal balance. By limiting available payment options, you make it harder for customers to finish their purchase. In fact, one survey found that 56% of customers expect multiple payment options at checkout.

Take a look at the number of payment options Alibaba offers through Alipay:

Alibaba payment options

Alibaba payment options

Note that Alipay also localizes the payment form. If you’re accessing the site from China, you’ll see methods that American customers don’t.

Note that Alipay also localizes the payment form. If you’re accessing the site from China, you’ll see different methods available to you than a US-based customer

Note that Alipay also localizes the payment form. If you’re accessing the site from China, you’ll see different methods available to you than a US-based customer

Amazon isn’t far behind either. It also offers multiple payment options on its checkout page:

Amazon's payment options

Amazon’s payment options

Most payment processors will let you accept payments via credit cards, debit cards and even bank transfers. You can also integrate Paypal on the checkout page to give customers another option to buy your products.

3. Great eCommerce Optimization Tips: Make Cart Contents Visible at all Times

“What items are in my cart right now?” This is a question your customers have likely asked themselves as they browse through your products.

To get an answer, they have to click on the ‘Cart’ icon and navigate away to another page. This halts the customer momentum and creates friction in the purchase process.

Remove this friction by making the contents of your visible at all times.

For example, once you add a product to your cart on Quiksilver.com, you can see the cart contents by simply moving your mouse over the cart button.

Hover view of shopping cart on Quicksilver

Hover view of shopping cart on Quicksilver

Macy’s does the same. After adding a product to the cart, the cart contents are shown by hovering the mouse over the shopping bag icon.

Hover view of Macy's shopping cart

Hover view of Macy’s shopping cart

Customers easily see what all they’ve already added to their cart without navigating away from the page.

4. Enhance Trust by Emphasizing Awards, Testimonials and Certifications

With revenues of $2.6B, NewEgg is one of the largest private companies in America. Yet, NewEgg uses several trust markers on its site to assure customers of its legitimacy.

Scroll to the site’s footer and you’ll see a link to its awards and rankings. On this page, NewEgg offers a comprehensive list of all the recognition it has received:

New Egg's many awards and certifications

NewEgg’s many awards and certifications

In an industry (computer parts sales) where authenticity is crucial, such external validation helps assure that customers of the retailer’s trust worthiness.

NorthernTool.com takes a different approach – it highlights how the business has been “family owned and operated” for 30 years in its footer:

Northern Tool offers assurance by stating how long it has been operating

Northern Tool offers assurance by stating how long it has been operating

Try creating a similar page on your site listing any public recognition you might have received. This can be a blurb from a prominent publisher, an award, or a testimonial.

5. Retail Conversion Tips: Use HTTPS/SSL to Enhance eCommerce Security

After the recent string of data breaches at major retailers, your customers are obviously nervous about data security.
Adding a SSL certificate to your site – particularly the checkout pages – can help restore some of their confidence.

This is particularly true for users on modern browsers like Chrome or Firefox which highlight SSL certificates in the address bar.
Take a look at the SSL certificate visible on NewEgg after you add a product to your cart:

New Egg's SSL certificate

New Egg’s SSL certificate

This is a quick, cheap way to give your store a much needed security boost.

6. Humanize your Company to Increase Trust

If you scroll down to the footer at Overstock.com, you’ll see something unique: a link to the CEO’s Twitter feed.

Overstock gives you an easy way to access its CEO

Overstock gives you an easy way to access its CEO

Remember: people like buying from other people, not faceless corporations. For large businesses like Overstock, this is a particularly big problem. Adding the CEO’s Twitter feed on the homepage shows that there are real people with real values behind the business.

That’s just one way to humanize your store. Another way is to tell customers your origin story, your mission and your key people on your About page.

Here’s how Zappos does it:

Zappos humanizes itself by proving it has a sense of humor

Zappos humanizes itself by proving it has a sense of humor

By calling its CEO/COO/VPs “monkeys”, Zappos tells the customer that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Zappos takes this far beyond the About page. It also offers customers and other business owners tours of its offices, conducts Q&A sessions to help them understand Zappos’ culture, and shares its reading lists and core values with site visitors.

Sharing information about your company's culture has a humanizing effect

Sharing information about your company’s culture has a humanizing effect

You don’t have to go that far, of course. Even something simple as a company blog can go a long way in creating more trust.
For example, take a look at Patagonia’s employee blog: The Cleanest Line.

Patagonia's employee blog shares their outdoor adventure experiences and insights, it doesn't directly sell any Patagonia products

Patagonia’s employee blog shares their outdoor adventure experiences and insights; it doesn’t directly sell any Patagonia products

7. eCommerce Optimization Tips: Offer Unique Methods to Visualize or Test Products

Putting up high resolution imagery is old hat in conversion optimized design. To stand out from the competition, you have to find more compelling ways to help customers test or visualize your products.

MyHabit’s (an Amazon deals site) 360-degree videos are a great example of this. The video plays seamlessly when a customer hovers over the video button, showing off the product in rich detail.

360 degree views on My Habits

360 degree views on My Habits

Not all products require a video or 360-degree images though. For stores with limited items, creating dedicated landing pages is a great idea as well.

See how Apple does it for all its products:

Apple uses clean and unusual shots to display their products

Apple uses clean and unusual shots to display its products

Of course, not all product presentations have to be visual in the traditional sense. Costco sells printers by mailing prospective customers a sample page from the printer.

A mailed test page is a clever way to show customers how the product performs without setting up a physical store

A mailed test page is a clever way to show customers how the product performs without setting up a physical store

This is a clever way to show the customer how the product actually performs without actually setting up a physical store.

8. Assure Customers of Free Shipping at a Single Glance

In a survey of holiday shoppers, 93% of respondents said that free shipping drove them to take action. Free shipping also ranked as the second biggest factor in eCommerce purchases.

Telling customers front and center about your shipping policies is a good way retain visitors. Place this declaration in a highly visible area above the fold, preferably before customers have even had a chance to browse through your products.

For example, ASOS shows its shipping policies right below the navigation menu:

ASOS's prominent shipping policies

ASOS’s prominent shipping policies

This tells both local and international customers whether it’s actually worth spending time on your store.
JCPenney does something similar – you can see exactly how much you need to spend to get free shipping.

JCPenney's shipping policy

JCPenney’s shipping policy

This acts as an incentive as well. Customers who are unwilling to pay for shipping might bump up their order value to avail free shipping benefits.

Stores with physical locations can go a step beyond free shipping and highlight in-store pickup on their homepages as well.
For example, on Macy’s, you’ll see a big banner advertising its order-online, pickup in-store policy:

Macy's shipping policy is unique so is very easy to find

Macy has a unique return policy, so they’ve made it very easy to find.

It’s also a good idea to highlight your return policy if you’re selling products customers are anxious buying online. For example, AutoZone gives customers assures customers that they can return their purchases in any store, no questions asked.

Auto Zone's shipping polices

AutoZone’s shipping polices

9. Create Product Pages that Fit your Customer Personas

Your customers will use your store in different ways. Some will dig through technical specs, while others will browse through dozens of reviews before pulling the trigger.

Creating product pages that fit each of your customer personas is crucial for a high-converting eCommerce experience.
For example, NorthernTool.com gives visitors an option to print out reviews for the product:

Being able to print easily is important for Northern Tool's personas

Being able to print easily is important for Northern Tool’s personas

This is necessary since a lot of NorthernTool’s customers are older people who prefer to read on paper instead of a computer/smartphone screen.

In contrast, NewEgg’s customers are very tech savvy. To appeal to these users, NewEgg gives a detailed rundown of each product’s technical specifications:

Technical depth might overwhelm users on another site, but New Egg's personas demand it in order to make a purchasing decision

Technical depth might overwhelm users on another site, but New Egg’s personas demand it in order to make a purchasing decision

Such technical depth might overwhelm users on another store, but for NewEgg’s savvy customers, this is a necessity for making a purchase decision.

10. eCommerce Optimization Tips: Help Customers Buy with Guides, Ideas and How-Tos

Creating content that helps customers choose products offers three benefits:

  • Helps your store get social shares and traffic.
  • Increases eCommerce conversion rates by helping customers choose a product that fits their requirements.
  • Increases average order value by recommending higher priced products to customers.

This strategy is particularly effective for stores that sell difficult-to-buy products such as DIY supplies, computer components, etc.

For example, Lowe’s creates a ton of content aimed at helping DIY enthusiasts. This content is displayed prominently on the nav bar under “Ideas & How-Tos”.

Lowe's free how-to guides

Lowe’s free how-to guides

eBay takes things one step further by letting users create guides of their own. Such user-generated content (UGC) helps eBay attract a massive amount of targeted search traffic.

User generated content UGC helps eBay attract a massive amount of targeted search traffic

User generated content UGC helps eBay attract a massive amount of targeted search traffic

Kate Spade ditches the buying guide in favor of a Tumblr blog. This blog curates styles, pictures and even quotes that help customers choose while also propagating the Kate Spade brand.

Kate Spade Tumblr

Kate Spade Tumblr

For a number of upcoming retailers, content is the foundation of their entire store. For example, men’s fashion retailer MrPorter was originally a blog that turned into a store. Even today, its online magazine is the central focus of the store.

MrPorter's online magazine

MrPorter’s online magazine

Creating such helpful content can be a potent strategy for getting more traffic, more conversions and bigger orders.

10 eCommerce Conversion Optimization Tips from the World’s Top Retailers Summary

Globally, conversion rates for eCommerce stores vary considerably. While a few stores struggle to get 2-3% conversion rates, top retailers convert as many as 10 out of every 100 visitors.

To get such high conversion rates, top retailers use a number of tactics. These range from mitigating customer risk to creating quality content that helps people choose the right products. By using similar tactics on your store, you can radically increase conversion rates and boost your revenue without a change in your traffic or product-line.

Key Takeaways

  • Use security badges, multiple payment options and third-party rankings, awards and certifications to underscore your store’s safety and trustworthiness.
  • Reduce friction in the buying process by making your cart visible at all times.
  • Tell customers about your shipping and return policies as soon as they land on your site.
  • Create product pages that address FUDs specific to your customer personas.
  • Create content that helps customers buy in order to get higher conversion rates and more traffic.

We can hear the bells! With just a few days left in summer, parents are now easing their way out of summer camps, Disney vacations, and scrambling to prep their kids for the new school year.

Retailers reliant on the back to school rush have run out of time to prepare.

How have online retailers done in the months leading up to this peak period in their sales? Our report gives us a hint.

Preparing for Peak Season

There are two ways an online retailer can make the peak season it’s most successful.

  • Buy more traffic.
  • Increase the revenue earned per visitor.

We can determine the amount online retailers are spending for clicks on back-to-school keywords. We can also snoop to see if their websites are configured to maximize revenue from that traffic.

This report is meant for managers of websites with a strong seasonal component. While the report specifically addresses the back-to-school shopping season, the conclusions can be applied to bathing suit sales, Valentines retailers and any online retailer that gets a bump during the holidays.

Online Retailers Vulnerable to Competitors

At least 95% of competing organizations are collecting website analytics. However, only 13% of these organizations have a website optimization tool installed.

Organizations with larger ad spends are more likely to have website optimization tools installed. Oddly enough, those spending above $50,000 a month in online ads are sloppy. They barely out-spend retailers spending as little as $5000 per month on website optimization tools.

The largest segment of retailers is keeping up with bigger spenders in terms of website optimization tool use.

The largest segment of retailers is keeping up with bigger spenders in terms of website optimization tool use.

The website optimization tools we look for in the report are:

  • Click-tracking tools (also called heat map tools) that track where a prospects are clicking and how far they are scrolling. This reveals functional problems on specific pages.
  • Screen Recording tools will record visitor sessions for analysis.
  • Split testing, or A/B testing tools allow marketers to try different content and design elements to see which generate more inquiries.
  • Site Performance tools help companies increase the speed with which a website loads. Page speed correlates with conversion performance.
  • Social Analytics track the performance of social interactions relating to the site, such as likes, shares, and social form fills.
  • User Feedback tools provide feedback directly from visitors on the quality of the site and content.

There are a number of questions to be raised from this data. Do they not have the budget because they don’t invest in website optimization, or do they have fewer tools because they don’t have the budget?

We believe that the lessons learned here can be applied to any online retail business with seasonal sales. Download this report for free by clicking the image below. Let us know what you think.

back to school report cover

Ecommerce website decisions are often made without thinking about the impact on sales. In this article, we show you an unfortunate example of this and offer four lessons your ecommerce website can learn from them.

What is the last thing you want your visitors to see when checking out?

This, maybe?

Frys 404 page received during checkout

This is the wrong page to see in a checkout during the holidays.

This is the page we found when we clicked a button that is very important to a Fry’s Electronics, named “In-store Pickup”. It is the button visitors use to check out if they want to pick something up at one of Fry’s stores.

Frys in-store pickup button caused a 404

The In-store Pickup button in the lower right generated the error.

This is one of the most important buttons on the site, doubly so near Christmas when shipping gifts becomes an iffy proposition.

Fry’s has gone to in the hopes of getting visitors to click this. It’s a shame it doesn’t work all the time.

We were able to get past it by starting over. Then, they did this:

Frys requires visitors to confirm their email address

Frys.com requires visitors to confirm their email address and think up a password.

If I’m picking up in the store, why do I have to create an account?

Creating often results in higher abandonment rates. It seems that something as innocuous as picking a password can generate enough friction to scare off ready buyers.

The highest converting sites offer a guest account, and still ask for a name and email address.

For Fry’s, the value of creating an account is gaining the contact information of a person who might become a repeat customer.

However, the visitor doesn’t see the value of creating an account until the step asking for a credit card. Fry’s will save my credit card for me. Unfortunately, many buyers won’t ever see this.

The advantage of creating an account at Frys

The advantage of creating an account is that Frys.com will save my credit card information.

I let them bully me into this because I was buying a product that was hard to find. Otherwise, I may have chosen another retailer.

Our advice to Fry’s is to call Conversion Sciences and then consider some rules for shopping cart success.

The Complete 110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist

110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist Download

Free. Click to Download

Never, ever, ever have errors in your Shopping Cart.

It’s just crazy. We make hundreds of changes to websites each year, and we don’t break the site (knock on wood).

Fry’s will never see this error. Yes, it’s eleven days before Christmas. Yes, I can tell them exactly how to recreate it over and over and over.

For us, QA takes  a room full of devices of every (popular) make and model. Old iPads. New iPhones. Old Windows XP machines. Internet Explorer versions. Android versions. Safari versions.

Conversion Sciences QA Station

The Conversion Sciences QAtion Station has devices, operating systems and browsers from all eras.

Part of our job is knowing which ones to test.

I’m running a garden variety version of Windows 8 and a Chrome browser. I shouldn’t get this error.

If you require that your visitors create an account, sell them on why.

Explain that you’ll keep their information on file, that you’ll be able to contact them if something goes wrong with the order, that they will be able to track their order. Hell, offer them a discount for creating an account.

Otherwise, you’re asking too much.

Guitar Center offers a guest checkout and a social sign-in.

Guitar Center offers a guest checkout and a social sign-in.

Offer in-store pickup.

I wouldn’t have gone with Fry’s if my son’s keyboard was available elsewhere, but now that I know I can pick products up, I’m checking Fry’s first.

If you have a retail presence, invest in the store pickup model. Sears does a great job with the in-store pickup service.

Tell me the shipping cost before I checkout.

Many buyers will add something to the cart and enter checkout just to find out the cost of shipping. In Fry’s case, this behavior cause the error.

I went to check-out and to see if it could be shipped before Christmas. When I saw that they wanted me to create an account, I went back and decided to pick it up. When I clicked the in-store pickup button, KABOOM! I got an error.

So, not only is their site broken, but the requirement to create an account drives visitors to the broken path. More people seeing this error because they have to create an account before seeing the shipping costs. This means more will go back and click the deadly “in-store pickup” button. Worse, many will just say, “No thanks.”

This is why free shipping and flat-rate shipping is so powerful. It removes this variable from the visitor’s equation. It’s done; taken care of; not an issue; put to bed; signed off on.

That’s what we want for our visitors.

The most determined visitors will get through just about any poorly designed checkout process. The rest? It’s a coin toss, one that ecommerce sites will lose more often they want to.

The Complete 110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist

110 Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist Download

Free. Click to Download

High shopping cart abandonment rates are frustrating. So, we rounded up 10 eCommerce checkout usability techniques to charm your visitors into shopping on your site again and again!

There are many good reasons for shopping online rather than in person. But, even for those who regularly navigate the pitfalls of the Internet rather than the crowds at the malls, there are some frustrations that send customers screaming into another room, vowing to never again push the “Proceed to Checkout” button.

Well, maybe not really, but there are frustrations for online buyers that are better avoided if your intent is to maintain a healthy conversion rate. Statistics show that online shopping carts are often abandoned. Frequently cited complaints from regular shoppers include the following:

  • Unexpected add-on charges during checkout
  • High shipping charges
  • Complicated checkout procedures
  • Inefficient or time-consuming processing
  • Excessive security checks or, conversely, concerns about security
  • Unacceptable delivery options

If you suspect that your conversion rate should be higher, but you are unsure how to boost your sales figures, there are some relatively simple strategies you can try.

A usability study of the top 100 e-commerce sites produced the following statistics: There were an average of 5.08 steps required for checking out, and 24% of the sites required previous account registration.

Logical and not surprising, right? Other findings, however, were a bit surprising. Two-fifths of the sites asked for validation of addresses, half requested the same information twice or more, and even the top 100 sites violate eCommerce checkout usability techniques and guidelines about one-third of the time.

So, what’s a customer to do? Mutter a few angry words and flee the site seem to be common reactions.

“Keep It Simple” tops all eCommerce Checkout Usability Techniques

The KISS principle was a catchword for all sorts of business advice back in pre-Internet days, but it applies very well to online checkout. Your customers are busy people, and they want to run into your virtual store and be on to other pursuits in a minimum amount of time. It’s your merchant responsibility to help them do that. Your return? Their money and their eternal gratitude. And, likely, return visits!

Consider the following improvements to your site and your checkout procedures if your conversion rate is slipping. Monitor the results, and see what works for you. Think like your busy customers, and seek to make checkout as simple, as user-friendly, and as efficient as it should be.

The Effect of Language

A key skill most face-to-face salespeople have to master is “asking for the sale.” The way you direct your customers through your checkout process can make a difference.

Make it clear: Rather than a “Submit” or a “Next” button, consider a “Payment Options” icon or a “Pay Now” button. Having clear calls to action gives the user no reason to think and also gives them clear instruction on what to do next and also what to expect.

Consider a Single-Page Checkout for your eCommerce Site

A single page checkout may seem more complicated than breaking it down into several steps and pages. However, this simple move into a single page checkout may improve purchases greatly. UX Magazine reported that a French e-commerce site changed from a multi-page checkout to a single page checkout and conversions increased by 67%!

An example of a one page eCommerce checkout.

An example of a one page checkout.

Editor’s Note: We find that your audience may have a different preference when it comes to single-step checkout. Try both on your visitors before committing to one or the other.

Provide Several Payment Options

The kinds of payment available will depend on the price of your product line and your buyer profile. But offering choices is good and is likely to increase your customer base. So consider them carefully. Having options for credit cards and services similar to PayPal, for example offer the user more diverse payment options.

The key here is to let your visitors pay in the way they trust most= by offering payment choices. eCommerce checkout usability techniques.

The key here is to let your visitors pay in the way they trust most= by offering payment choices. eCommerce checkout usability techniques.

Make it Easy for First-time Buyers and for One-time Buyers

While requiring an account in order to purchase makes sense from your side of the fence, it can be an unnecessary bother for the customer who simply wants to order an item and move on. If you require a lengthy account set-up, you may lose a quick sale, whereas from a quick sale there is a good possibility that you might gain a repeat customer.

After issuing the sales confirmation, ask if the customer would like to open an account, you will be surprised how often the answer is yes at that point. After all, they are already invested into your company if they feel that the level of service that they have received is good and timely, this increases dramatically.

Keep buyers on your site, and be consistent with your branding

If you direct customers away from your site in order to register check out or complete the payment procedure, you may lose them. Just don’t do it!

Third-party shopping carts can make a visitor feel like they’re getting scammed. They often suffer from limited customizability as well.

Only Request Essential Information

Don’t raise suspicions by asking for anything that is unrelated to this specific sale. You can collect background information at another time, in another place — or not. But, the business at hand is completing a transaction, and anything that distracts from that goal has no place on the checkout page.

Instill Trust

Gain your customer’s confidence by having an SSL Certificate; reassure your buyers that you do not share any personal information, and comply with the standards of the PCI Security Standards Council. Display your security badges proudly on your site.

Improve Site speed

Make sure your site is up to date, that the loading speed is fast and that operation is efficient. A savvy online buyer with money to spend will not tolerate wait time.

Even boutique sellers should have state-of-the-art Internet connectivity and be lightning-fast (as much as possible) around the world. It is a shrinking globe after all, and e-commerce is global.

The checkout page should be as attractive and as well-designed as the rest of your website.

Ask for Needed Information only Once

If your site requires a second set of address details for ‘Billing Address’ on your checkout form for example, auto-fill the form to save the customer time and effort.

You will gain a loyal fan base by making the procedure so unexpectedly efficient.

Try Free Shipping

Try free shipping to lower shopping cart abandonment.

Try free shipping to lower shopping cart abandonment.

This seems to be the best catalyst for increasing sales. It is, from all reports, more of an incentive to a buyer than special offers, price reductions or “bundling” offers. If you can’t offer free shipping to everyone all the time, try it on a limited basis. And always be upfront about your shipping charges: Don’t spring those charges only on the checkout page.

Finally, take a lesson from the old-timers: Ask for the sale. Issue a clear call to action on your website in the product descriptions or on an appropriate page. Take a lesson from sites like Amazon. Be unambiguous with buttons such as “Add to Basket,” “Continue Shopping,” or “Checkout Now.” For the success of your business, learn how to simplify your checkouts.

Author Bio: Owen Sondergaard is an avid blogger and data enthusiast. Owen writes for CAMO Software who provides multivariate analysis software solutions.

We were very surprised by the marquee results of a TrustRadius survey on Conversion Rate Optimization.

While 72% of the companies surveyed have implemented some CRO processes, only 18% of them consider CRO as “Part of their DNA”.

We would speculate that many of these 18% of companies are in very competitive commodity industries, such as travel, office supplies, and pet apparel. In other words, they had to optimize or die.
These aren’t the only industries in dire need of optimization, however. While CRO isn’t a zero-sum game, you do not want to find yourself playing catch-up with your competitors. As this survey shows, CRO is a key competitive advantage online, just as SEO has been.
TrustRadius is in a unique position to conducted a survey of businesses. They offer some of the most helpful reviews of business software on the Web, and were able to get 4100 companies to complete the survey. This is statistically significant stuff.
Here are some of the highlights from their survey.

  • 58% of companies spend more than $10,000 per year on digital analytics, while 44% spend that much per year on A/B testing tools.
  • 59% of companies have plans to spend more this year than in the previous year on digital analytics tools, but only 48% plan to increase spending on A/B testing tools. Download the TrustRadius Buyers Guide to see what they are spending that money on.
  • The vast majority of companies (91%) use between two and ten digital analytics tools regularly.

Check out the full report now and then give Conversion Sciences a call to see what you can do to inject CRO into your DNA.

As Conversion Scientists, we obviously eat this stuff for breakfast.  We’ll show you how much money you could be making with our 120-day Conversion Catalyst™ program.  It’s free, and it’s invaluable.
Jump on a call with us at (888) 961-6604.  You’ll be glad you did.

There’s an old (and probably sexist) saying that I often apply to many online marketing decisions.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t, flaunt it more.

The online store Magic Of Fire has “it.”

        

  • A great product or service.
  •     

  • A bona fide value proposition.
  •     

  • Top people working behind the scenes.
  •     

  • Customers who will tell your story.
  •     

  • A great guarantee, warranty or return policy.

We have a scientific name for guarantees, warranties and generous return policies: Risk Reversal.
Magic of Fire offered an amazing guarantee. It goes something like this:
“Shipping is free. If you trust us enough to buy from us, we promise that, if you have any issues with your product or our service, we’ll pay to ship your item back at our expense and refund your purchase price.”
Now, can you find this promise on their product page?

Click it to enlarge the Magic of Fire Product Page.

Click to enlarge the Magic of Fire Product Page.


 
I put it through our Scanning Electron Microscope and eventually found a “Free Shipping” logo near the bottom of the page. I eventually found a link to their return policy, with the text “100% Satisfaction.”
Cliche is not flaunting. Avoid language like “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “No Risk” and “No obligation.” These no longer mean anything.
If you’ve got it flaunt it.

Risk Reversal Means Never Having to Say Goodbye

When you purchase from a glass and cement store (nothing is brick and mortar anymore), you know that you have an easy out if you don’t like what you bought. You’ll march right in there, slam it down on the customer service desk and demand your money.
Not so much online.
This makes buyers delay hitting that checkout button. They procrastinate, surf other parts of your site and wait for circumstance to save them from making the final decision.
This is especially true if you’ve done a poor job building trust and credibility with your site. The fear is that they will get a lump of coal deposited on their doorstep when they expected a snuggly with a heart-shaped pattern. And they will have no store to storm into.
It sounds “risky.”
Relational buyers will fear getting stuck with the wrong product.
Transactional buyers fear that shipping fees will ruin their great deal, especially if they want to return it (and they will return anything they don’t like).
“Risk reversal” turns “risky” into “safe.”
I recommended that Magic of Fire bring their fantastic return policy right up next to the Add to Cart button on their all-important product pages. I also recommended that they make their free shipping available all over the site, especially in the checkout process.
These two changes alone should deliver a significant boost in conversion rates and revenue per visit.

Does Risk Reversal Really Work?

Magic of Fire’s Mark Oakley called me for a free consultation. After meeting Mark over Skype and hearing his shipping and return policies, I bought a beautiful “star and moon” fire pit for my house.
Zappos has the most famous risk reversal story in the online world. Their 365 day return policy with shipping both ways is one reason their sales reached $1 billion in ten years. That’s amazing growth for a commodity apparel store.

Are you flaunting it?

This is just one mistake that businesses make when selling online.
Businesses who have great products or services with amazing value propositions and great reputations continue to struggle online.
We’re the people who change that.
Jump on a call with us at (888) 961-6604. It’s free, and we’ll show you how much money you could be making with our 120-day Conversion Catalyst™ program.

Update

Mark has apparently taken my advice to heart, placing his free shipping offer all over the site and adding risk reversal near his “Add to Cart” button.

Risk reversal on Magic of Fire Product Page

It’s not flaunting, but at least it’s there.


If you've got free shipping, flaunt it.

If you’ve got free shipping, flaunt it.


Want to find out how this turns out? Subscribe to The Conversion Scientist.
Let me put a finer point on the concept of “flaunting.” This is flaunting:

Make your best risk reversal offers pop on your pages.

Make your best risk reversal offers pop on your pages.


This 20 second design may not match your brand, but you should strive to find something that pops for something as important as your risk reversal.
I’ll give a free signed book to anyone who can tell me in the comments where I heard “If you’ve got it flaunt it. If you don’t flaunt it more.”
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