It doesn’t matter what your product is: statistically speaking, an optimised website is a website that sells more. When we talk about Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), we refer to all the practices that contribute to maximising your sales. CRO for e-commerce is a complex world involving data analysis, design thinking, and user experience. Creating a digital environment that will increase the likelihood of a visitor becoming a customer is a process that needs both testing and creativity, but understanding how the different metrics play with each other is an essential step to get started. Today we are going to look into a series of CRO strategies for e-commerce that will help you scale your webshop, even if it doesn’t have a high traffic volume.
The three CRO key metrics of an e-commerce
Before we get started with strategical approaches, let’s get definitions straight. When we talk about CRO for e-commerce, there are three fundamental metrics that need to be taken into account to boost both traffic and sales:
- CvR: the conversion rate of a website is the ratio of customers to unique visitors. If 100 people visit your shop and one person buys your product, you will have a 1% conversion rate.
- AOV: the average order value of each customer. This metric describes how much, on average, each cart is worth at checkout.
- RpV: the revenue per visitor is calculated by dividing the total revenue of your e-commerce in a given time period by the number of visitors. It shows the relation between conversion rate and average order value.
The revenue per visitor is one of the most important metrics in an e-commerce business, as it allows you to visualise clearly what the acquisition cost of each visitor should be and how much you should spend on advertising. CRO for e-commerce, therefore, does not only focus on increasing the number of people that buy. If done well, it can work toward increasing the total revenue by boosting the value of each order and improve the chances of retention. Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer, that’s why even if traffic is low, it’s essential to keep CRO best practices in mind.
Understanding the customer’s journey to increase sales
Once you know how to read your data, it becomes easier to study how your customer first comes across your brand and which path they follow until the transaction is completed. By looking at your Google Analytics dashboard, you can immediately see what channels are most relevant for incoming traffic. Users may be coming from social media, emails, organic search or through referrals, and each of these channels can be boosted to increase traffic.
What’s even more important than understanding where traffic is coming from, is checking where a user is finding obstacles in accessing your website. This means checking whether mobile users are bouncing back as soon as they reach your home page, whether some browsers are not displaying your site correctly or whether a transaction cannot be completed because of a technical flaw. Addressing the “low hanging fruit” can result in an immediate increase in traffic, and therefore in conversions.
An effective way to check your customer’s journey is by using heatmaps. Heatmaps are graphic representations of your website pages that show where the visitors look, click, and move with their cursor. Software like Hotjar can produce heatmap for your most important pages, which can help you visualise distracting elements and improve the position of buttons, text, or images.
Optimising your website for better conversions
CRO for e-commerce is often about finding creative ways to balance branding, communication, and design. Every marketer will have a slightly different approach to conversion rate optimisation, but some rules are always good to keep in mind.
First of all, remember that first impressions are important and most people have a very short attention span when it comes to web browsing. Your e-commerce shouldn’t only load fast; you should also show your products within the first three sections of your e-commerce. It’s fine to describe in detail what a customer should expect but highlight the product close to the top, both to give a visual example and to guide returning customers to the ordering page.
Optimizing your checkout page for better conversion rates is another essential step to increase conversions. The checkout page is one of the most critical areas of your website when it comes to e-commerce conversion rate optimisation. Remove headers and footers, have only one visible button and reduce to the minimum forms to fill. If possible, add an auto-fill option for the relevant information to help the user get to through the payment section.
This said, if you have some budget available it is worth investing in A/B testing with Google and Facebook advertising. By promoting ads with different texts or images you will be able to see which message is better received by your audience and drive more traffic to your website.
To see how the process of optimising a website for better conversions takes place in practice, read our case study on Fratelli Desideri’s e-commerce website, where we explain in detail how we increased the sales of luxury meal kits thanks to design thinking and A/B testing.
CRO for e-commerce: how to reduce abandoned cart rate
The abandoned cart is every digital entrepreneur’s nightmare. There is nothing more frustrating for an e-commerce owner than seeing their customer select a number of products to buy and then back out at the last minute.
There are various reasons why a person decides to abandon their cart just before buying, and understanding them can help you address the issue and improve conversions without much effort. While there are visitors who are simply not ready to buy and add products to their cart to save them for later, the most common motivation is the discovery of additional costs at the checkout stage. It can be either shipping costs or taxes you did not mention in advance. Making the full price explicit in advance will reduce the chances of someone abandoning the carts.
The same goes for delivery times. When they turn out to be too slow people may not have the patience to wait and go elsewhere.
Additionally, you have to consider technical issues: the checkout page may be too complicated to navigate, your website may not be responsive, or a payment method may be missing. Understanding the reasons behind cart abandonment can help you address elements have overlooked when designing your e-commerce and increase sales immediately.
What if the e-commerce is already optimised and people are still abandoning their cart? Cart abandonment will always happen; it’s just something that people do. There are strategies that you can adopt to reduce the rate. You can start by offering free or discounted shipping, simplifying your checkout page by removing distracting elements or adding a customer support service to your shop. The most powerful tool to address cart abandonment in an e-commerce site, however, is email automation.
Email marketing for e-commerce CRO
Using email marketing to remind people what they left in their shopping cart is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. By connecting your email marketing system to your e-commerce you can set up a series of automated emails that will remind the user to complete the order. Email marketing can be more or less aggressive depending on the brand, but a typical strategy in CRO for e-commerce is to send a notification to the user reminding them that the cart is still active and the order is on hold. If this doesn’t work, you can send a small discount to invite the customer to buy before it expires.
Of course, email marketing is not only used to address cart abandonment. Having access to a list of qualified leads will allow you to communicate the release of new products, special offers, and events that your brand is involved in. The basis of an effective email marketing campaign for e-commerce is timing and content. Being able to convert readers into customers through a newsletter means sending targeted messages at the right time and to the right people.
Every customer has a measurable life cycle, known in technical jargon as lifetime value (LTV). Think of this life cycle as a path that the user takes by interacting with your brand. Email marketing is effective when customers are sent interesting messages about the stage of the journey they are in at a given time.
CRO for e-commerce: some final words
In our previous articles, we have explored the different aspects of a CRO strategy for digital business, starting from lead generation to set up analytics software correctly. In this article, we’ve looked more specifically into growing an e-commerce by addressing some recurring issues we’ve found with our clients’ web-shops, both large and small.
For entrepreneurs that are starting with a new adventure with a digital business, conversion rate optimisation may not be the first thing to think about. Even a great product, however, will be unlikely to reach its full sales potential without an optimised website and a clear digital strategy. Luckily, you don’t have to do this alone. Scaling e-commerce sites is what we’ve been doing for the past five years here at Mowgli, get in touch to find out how we can help you.