The Ultimate Guide To
ECOMMERCE CONVERSION OPTIMIZATION
CONTENTS Introduction to Conversion Optimization Key Elements to Optimize • User Experience • Rotating Banners • Call to Action Button • Site Search • Product Recommendations - Bestsellers/New arrivals • Product Images • Product Videos • Product Description • Product Reviews • Checkout • Deals and Freebies • Wishlist • Customer Support • Cart Abandonment Emails • A/B Test Conclusion
INTRODUCTION If you are an ecommerce site owner, you’re probably not satisfied with your store’s conversion rates.
According to eConsultancy, only 22% of companies are satisfied with their conversion rate, and that number has been trending downward for the past four years. Getting a double-digit revenue lift from your conversion optimization efforts requires a thorough understanding of the dynamics behind a successful shopping experience and your conversion funnel. It is imperative to optimize the entire shopping experience for your visitors, right from the time they land on your site till the checkout page. In this ebook, we have organized everything that is required to offer an engaging customer experience on your site, from first click to final conversion.
USER EXPERIENCE A visitor gets the first impression of your site by its User Experience. A bold design and rich interface bolsters confidence in a site almost instantly.
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the enduser’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” Source: Jakob Nielsen & Don Norman
WHY IS USER EXPERIENCE IMPORTANT FOR CONVERSIONS? Over the years, hugely successful companies like Google, Twitter, eBay and Amazon have recognized that User Experience has a direct impact on their bottom line. These companies didn't succeed by chance. They continuously test every aspect of their business, with real users, to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. On the internet, the customer is king. At any point your visitors can opt to leave your website and go elsewhere - usually to a competitor. We have all experienced the frustration when we've visited a website that was slow or simply made it difficult for us to achieve our objectives. Similarly, if your users can't find information easily or have trouble buying your products they are likely to exit and shop elsewhere. And they won't come back.
According to Econsultancy, “A good user experience increases sales and online conversions, improves brand perception, and improves Google search rankings.” Here is a pictorial representation of the user experience honeycomb to describe all the facets of a great UX that must be kept in mind while designing an ecommerce store. User Experience Honeycomb.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON USER EXPERIENCE ConversionXL’s “Great User Experience (UX) Leads to Conversions” Econsultancy’s “E-commerce Best Practice Compendium”
ROTATING BANNERS Rotating banners are a known conversion killer. Multiple banner choices confuse shoppers and reduce conversions. Often, these sliders rotate too fast, making it impossible for visitors to absorb the information put across.
According to Practical Ecommerce, “Some conversion rate optimizers believe that rotating banners are distracting and removing them can see conversions lift by 10 to 25%.” A phenomenon called banner blindness is common among shoppers, who skip over rotating banners as they mistake them for advertisements. In this case, the whole purpose of showing banners (i.e. to impart more information) fails miserably. In spite of the many drawbacks, many ecommerce sites still use rotating banners but fail to guide visitors to the next step. Now, if you absolutely must use rotating banners, there are certain ways in which rotating banners can be used effectively. 1. Make rotation manual, not automatic 2. Keep minimum number of images 3. Keep messages short and to the point 4. Include calls-to-action on your banners 5. Switch to static banners
A great example of rotating banners are the ones on Sephora.com. They limit their slider to three images and have made sure that it is manual, therefore giving visitors control over what they see. Clear navigation buttons are placed on the sides so that they are easily visible.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON ROTATING BANNERS Nielsen Norman Group’s “Auto-Forwarding Carousels and Accordions Annoy Users and Reduce Visibility” ConversionXL’s “Don’t Use Automatic Image Sliders or Carousels, Ignore the Fad” Getelastic’s “Home Page Usability: 5 Simple Rules for Rotating Banners”
CALL TO ACTION Call to action buttons must catch the customers’ attention so that they are prompted to click. A well-designed call to action button (such as buy now or add to cart) should stand out and have clear, compelling text. Parameters like size, color, font, wording and positioning should be taken care of to ensure that the user understands the next step. CTA’s should be A/B tested to find the best combination of factors. An example of a creative call to action is the one on Headline Shirts, an online T-shirt company. They’ve added an animated character guiding visitors to the checkout button to make the payment. The character is ready to take off and evokes a sense of urgency, which brilliantly stimulates the customer to make a payment.
Checklist for a well-designed Call to Action
Clear text Optimal Button Size - Not too large or too small Contrasting Button Color Persuasive Button Copy Prioritize CTAs - Highlight different CTAs by using different colors and sizes Visual cues
MUST READ RESOURCES ON CALL TO ACTION Hubspot’s “9 Easy Ecommerce Calls to Action You Should Use” E-Commerce Call to Action Buttons” Econsultancy’s “10 Best Practices Tips on Ecommerce Call to Action” Econsultancy’s “5 Tips on Making Effective Calls to Action for Ecommerce”” Optimizely’s “A/B Test Ideas for E-Commerce Call to Action Buttons”
SITE SEARCH Around 30% of the visitors on your site use the search box to find products, which makes search a huge priority for ecommerce sites. A clear and wellpositioned search box improves findability and dramatically increases overall conversions. Apart from providing relevant results, there are two ways to optimize your site search for higher conversions - Visual Autocomplete and Faceted Search.
1. USE AUTOCOMPLETE FOR FASTER CONVERSIONS With relatively newer site search features like visual autocomplete, it’s possible to increase customer engagement and optimize conversions even further.
According to VWO “Visitors who utilize their autocomplete search feature are six times more likely to convert than an average visitor.” Flipkart.com, an Indian online retailer, uses autocomplete brilliantly. They offer category suggestions to let visitors reach desired products in fewer clicks and lesser time. It also shows popular products for the search query, helping engage visitors and prompting them to click-through.
2. USE FACETED SEARCH TO NARROW DOWN PRODUCTS If you have a large inventory, you probably would like to show more products to your visitors. But more choices lead to confusion and a paradox of choice. There is a way to combat the paradox of choice - Using search filters. Faceted search allows customers to dynamically refine searches by narrowing down search results using parameters like color, size, price range and others. It empowers users to create a personalized navigation path through successive refinements that help them to access their desired products faster. Here’s how Amazon.com shows detailed facets for each of its categories.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON SITE SEARCH Unbxd’s “10 Essential ways to Maximize Site Search Results” Unbxd’s “Visual Autocomplete – The Secret Weapon in Your Site Search Aresenal”
PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS Product recommendations have now become a necessity to increase online sales. Offering personalized recommendations are an excellent way to engage visitors on your site.
According to Yahoo Small Business, 62% of shoppers admit that the recommendations given to them help them in finding what they want and intend to buy. Personalized recommendations are like a virtual salesperson for an ecommerce site. They allow retailers to enhance product discovery and personalize a customer’s shopping experience at each stage of the purchase
As mentioned in Yahoo Small Business, Vendors who use product recommendations noticed an increase in their sales between 2% and 20%.
COMING SOON: Bigcommerce App for Personalized Product Recommendations
It’s essential that your recommendations are personalized and shown at the right places on your site, tempting visitors to increase their cart spend. Recommendation widgets such as ‘Topsellers’, ‘Recommended for you’, ‘More like these’ etc. help put relevant products before your visitors and convert browsers into buyers.
Below is an example of Puravidabracelets.com that uses product recommendations to personalize the shopping experience for their visitors. It recommends products based on the kind of products viewed, searched for, bought etc. It also shows products recently viewed but not bought, allowing visitors to resume shopping right away.
Any online marketer worth their salt, would acknowledge that it’s tough to attract visitors to a website but it’s tougher to make them engage & convert. Often, visitors leave your site because they don’t find relevant products or are ambivalent about their purchase. Showing personalized recommendations, just as visitors are about to exit your site, can dramatically reduce exit rates & increase conversions.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS Unbxd’s “Best practices for Placing Product Recommendations on Your Ecommerce Site” Unbxd’s “The Ultimate Guide to Personalizing the Customer Journey” Unbxd’s “6 Common Product Recommendation Mistakes You Should Avoid”
PRODUCT IMAGES Product images are easily the most powerful element on your site, and yet the most neglected. Consumers who browse products on websites want to see the products they’re considering for purchase in the highest detail, so they can make an informed decision.
Betsy Emery, CEO of TELLUS, an award-winning web design firm, says “Consistency and quality of product images directly impact conversion rate.” It is worth spending resources on getting product images right, as it directly impacts how your visitors feel about a product and whether they will make a purchase. Product images should be taken from different angles, and should be ‘zoomable’ to allow visitors to see even the most minor details. Checklist for better product photography: Blank white background Offer visual context Consistency across photos Show products in multiple angles Show products in action
A study shows that 67% of consumers consider images “very important” when they buy.
Here’s an example of Kith.com, which uses aesthetically pleasing images to capture their visitors imaginations.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON PRODUCT IMAGES Shopify’s “Is Your Awful Photography Losing You Sales?” Shopify’s “The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Product Photography” Kissmetrics’s “Why Presentation & Context are Crucial to Product Photos”
PRODUCT VIDEOS To improve conversion rates, ecommerce sites need to provide maximum information about their products to visitors. While this can be achieved through product descriptions and images, videos are the most effective way of
demonstrating a product to the customer.
Zappos, reported that videos improved product conversation rates between 6% and 30%. Product videos help shoppers understand how a product works, behaves, interacts, or fits. If you visit a product page on Simplybeach.com, you’ll find a video for each product, to give visitors a clearer idea of how it looks.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON PRODUCT VIDEOS Econsultancy’s “Online Video for Ecommerce” Practical Ecommerce’s “11 Product Video Solution for Ecommerce Merchants”
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION Just describing your product is not sufficient to make a visitor convert. Your product descriptions need to sell products. A product description should be written effectively to sell the product, making it attractive, specifying its benefits, and highlighting why the customer should consider purchasing it. It should cultivate a visitor’s interest in the product while providing all the necessary information to the visitor. Here, highlighting the benefits of each feature is the key. An important tip while writing a product copy is to keep your product descriptions scannable.
Based on research done by the Nielsen Group, 79% of their test users scanned any new page they came across with only 16% reading word by word.
Remember - your copy should be short and concise. The description should capture the essence: who the product is for, what it will do and why it is that good. Product descriptions on Beardbrand.com are a lesson in compelling product copy. Their descriptions not only highlight the benefits of the product but guide how customers feel about the product.
Cultivated by months of research and made with only the finest natural blends of oils, this is the best beard oil on the market. The Beardbrand beard oil is designed to be very lightweight and will help keep your beard conditioned and shiny. Because it's a lightweight blend, it won't weigh down your beard or feel greasy. The only thing left behind is the intoxicating fragrance. The Tea Tree blend is our most crisp and fresh-smelling blend. Imagine living on a Swiss mountaintop and taking a step outside into the brisk morning air. Breathe in that air and you will experience the same feeling as this fragrance. A very cool, clean, and crisp scent that you can wear any day.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS Shopify’s “9 Simple Ways to Write Product Descriptions That Sell” VWO’s “How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell Like Hot Cakes”
PRODUCT REVIEWS According to Econsultancy, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now essential for e-commerce sites. User reviews are proven sales drivers, and something that a majority of customers will want to see before deciding to make a purchase. Online shoppers find social reviews reliable and nothing can imbibe greater trust in a product than reviews by their peers. Reviews give them a first hand proof of how the product will work and what are advantages or drawbacks are. A site that implements product reviews enjoys greater trust by customers and sees higher conversions.
63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews.
PROTIP: A great way to collect reviews about the product is to send emails to customers who have bought the product and ask them to review it. Amazon.com does this by sending targeted emails asking buyers to review products they’ve just purchased.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON PRODUCT REVIEWS Search Engine Land’s “2013 Study: 79% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations” Shopify’s “Why Online Store Owners Should Embrace Online Reviews” Econsultancy’s “ Ecommerce consumer reviews: why you need them and how to use them”
CHECKOUT So your visitors added a few products in the cart and are ready to check out. Now, whether they complete the checkout process depends a lot on how your checkout flow has been designed. Long forms and unnecessary steps frustrate visitors & force them to abandon their purchase. Keep checkout forms short and avoid asking for avoidable details like fax number or salutation. The key is to stick to the essentials. A good practice for an easy checkout flow is to save personal details and auto-fill the information for next time. This saves visitors time and offers a more personalized experience. A popular example of this is, of course, Amazon that saves recurring customers the hassle of filling out their details repeatedly. Provide a checkbox, to allow people to use their billing address as their shipping address. IMPORTANT TIP:
Amazon.com has a very simple checkout form. It also gives its visitors an option to check the box for shipping address same as the billing address.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON CHECKOUT Hubspot’s “How to Create an Ecommerce Checkout Experience Shoppers Don't Hate” Crazzyegg’s “5 Examples of Ecommerce Checkout Done Right (And wrong)” Crazzyegg’s “6 Ways To Optimize Your eCommerce Checkout”
DEALS & FREEBIES With multitude of online shopping avenues available to the shoppers, it becomes essential for site owners to grab their visitors’ interest within seconds. And nothing works better than deals and discounts. Discounts entice customers to complete a purchase and therefore increase conversions. Merchandisers and store-owners must use their sites to creatively show discounts. For instance, it’s easy to create a stunning home page banner to display your special offer or offer a notification pop-up to catch customer attention & optimize conversions. Here’s a look at how Forever 21.com draws their customers’ attention to their discount offers with a stunning hero shot.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON DEALS & FREEBIES Economist’s “The Psychology of Discounting” Livescience’s “Why We Go Mad for Deals”
WISHLIST Not all visitors on your website will convert during their first visit. If you give visitors the option to add to wishlist, visitors may add a few products they like so they can purchase them in the future. As a retailer, you can use wishlist data in your marketing campaigns to nudge people to buy. All you have to do is send them relevant campaigns using the valuable data from their wishlists. They need to be reminded gently to encourage them to return to the site and buy the product. See how Spoolno.72.com offers its visitors to add products to wishlist for a later purchase.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON WISHLIST Econsultancy’s “Ecommerce product pages: where to place 30 elements and why” Nielsen Norman Group’s “Wishlists, Gift Certificates, and Gift Giving in E-Commerce”
CUSTOMER SUPPORT Effective customer support is vital in the ecommerce space to assist customers in real time. While shopping online, customers look for help with sizing, shipping information, return policy etc. An immediate response from customer support can help customers take a quick decision and complete their purchase. This can be done by providing live chat support to proactively engage with visitors and offer a personal touch to their shopping experience.
According to a report by Forrester Research, “44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.” Live chat if used effectively, can help you : • • •
Improve conversions Build strong customer loyalty Create a fervent base of devoted fans
Olark, for instance, helps you connect with your visitors in real-time, understand their concerns and provide necessary help before they leave your site. They track on-site behaviour such as product clicks, cart additions etc. and this information can be used to provide personalized customer service.
According to Olark, Customers who chat are 3x more likely to buy again. Here’s how olark tracks real-time cart information of a visitor which can then be used to provide relevant customer service.
Live chat can also increase your average cart size by upselling products to your customers. People who have added products to cart are already in the decision-making stage and by upselling them through live chat they’re more likely to add more products to cart.
According to a report by Crazyegg, “Additional order value from users who use the live chat function is around 15% higher than those who don’t.
A great example of upselling through live chat is of Virgin Airlines. They often use customer support to upsell to customers.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON CUSTOMER SUPPORT Shopify’s “Creative Ways To Improve Ecommerce Customer Experience” Woothemes’s “How to Offer Top-Notch Customer Support for Your E-Commerce Site” Wemakewebsite’s “5 benefits of live chat and 5 steps to consider before offering the service on your site”
CART ABANDONMENT EMAILS Each year, billions of products are left in virtual shopping baskets – just remnants of revenue that could have been made. Picture this - customers have spent time browsing your site, have carefully selected items but for one reason or another, they’ve abandoned ship at a critical point.
According to Shopify, 67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale. That implies that your sales numbers may only be one third of what they could potentially be. Now it may not be possible to persuade all cart-abandoners to go through checkout and triple your sales. But it’s worth putting in the effort to resolve as many lingering hesitations as you can, because a significant percentage of them are persuadable.
One of the most effective ways to recover lost customers after they abandon their carts are Cart Abandonment Emails. According to remarketing specialist SalesCycle, implementing triggered emails get results. Here are some interesting stats:
• Over an eighth (13.3 per cent) of cart abandonment emails are clicked. • The average order value (AOV) of purchases from basket abandonment emails is 19 per cent higher than typical purchases.
• Nearly half (46 per cent) of all cart abandonment emails are opened. • Over a third (35 per cent) of clicks lead to a purchase back on site.
The cart abandonment emails should be tempting to those who’ve abandoned their purchase and get them back to complete the purchase process. A cart abandonment email should have an attention-grabbing subject line, great copy, and good images etc.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON CART ABANDONMENT Shopify’s “13 Amazing Abandoned Cart Emails” Ometria’s “The Anatomy of a Winning Cart Abandonment Email”
A/B TEST None of the points we’ve mentioned in this ebook can or should be implemented without extensive testing. This makes A/B testing the one conversion optimization tactic marketers shouldn’t do without. Making changes to the site and not measuring the impact is an effort that goes in vain. You’ll never know what particular tactic worked the best for your site and enhanced the experience for your customers. There are two best practices you must keep in mind while performing an A/B test 1. Run all of your tests until there is at least a 95% chance to beat the original. 2. Consider running each test for 7 days to make sure the measured result can stand the test of time.
MUST READ RESOURCES ON A/B TEST Shopify’s “The Beginner's Guide to Simple A/B Testing” Practical Ecommerce’s “10 A/B Testing Tools for Small Businesses” Bigcommerce’s “A/B Testing for E-commerce Stores: What it is and why you should use it, plus 10 tests to try” Visual Web Optimizer’s “15 eCommerce A/B Testing Ideas to Make Your Cash Registers Ring Faster Than Ever”
CONCLUSION With rising competition to convert browsers into customers, you should aim to build a rich user experience and work consistently to offer a compelling shopping experience to visitors throughout your store. Conversion optimization doesn’t have to be hard and time consuming. Dedicating just a few hours of focused testing a month can result in significantly more customers and revenue. This guide should help you compete as it will teach you everything you need to know about optimizing conversions from beginning to end.
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