This blog on the broad subject of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is based on a presentation I gave to the Ecommerce Growth Club.
Let’s briefly define website conversion rates
The percentage of your website visitors that turn into customers – multiplied by the number of times they buy from you. Clearly, having good conversion rates is important for online sales, as well as for other websites generating website enquiries.
So, let’s assume that you’ve already invested in your marketing: your website, ecommerce, social media, Google & Facebook Ads, SEO, email marketing, video marketing, content marketing and PR.
All this marketing investment should be driving more traffic to your website. Logic says that, to maximise the ROI, you need to convert as much of that traffic as possible into customers, or get prospects to take the next step in your sales funnel.
I’m Christopher Lamotte, the Marketing Evangelist from Real Marketing!
I have provided holistic, multi-channel marketing consultancy to nearly 200 SMEs since 1992 – from strategy, branding and PR, to websites, digital marketing and content marketing – and I’m often retained as my clients’ Virtual Marketing Manager.
I’ve been working with websites and digital marketing for 24 years and marketing for even longer! Typically working for 4 to 8 clients at any one time, I manage marketing change and make marketing budgets work really hard.
So, are you putting enough effort into improving your ecommerce website’s conversion rates?
Many companies aren’t so you’re not alone if you haven’t focused on conversion rates. Most websites have lots of room for improvement.
What are good website conversion rates?
Website conversion rates vary considerably between industries and devices but most conversion rates for e-commerce websites are between 1 and 5% of website visitors. (Marketing Sherpa).
Median conversion rates are about 1.8% for ecommerce [and 2.4% for other rates]. However, the top quarter of ecommerce websites achieve more than twice that (5.31%) for median conversion rates.
Even more astonishing, Amazon conversion rates per session are 13% for non-prime customers and a massive 74% for Prime customers. No wonder Jeff Bezos is so rich!
You’ll be pleased to hear that improving the conversion rates from your website can cost surprisingly little – and doing this significantly improves the return from your marketing.
So, you should view improving conversion rates as a ‘profit multiplier’.
- To double your conversion rates, you just need to increase the conversion rate of 4 pages by 19% because of the power of compounding.
- If you can double your website’s conversion rate, you will halve your ‘cost-per-acquisition’ for each new customer.
- What’s more, doubling your conversion rates can increase profits by far more, perhaps even four times, because many of your costs are fixed.
If you study the best websites, you’ll see that they are extremely customer-focused. They are built as ‘engines of conversion’, with really good landing pages and irresistible offers, with clear, compelling copy. They’re easy to navigate, and have logical, smooth order flows.
So, How Do You Improve Your Website’s Conversion Rates?
CRO is a big subject. The bad news is that there are more than 100 ways to improve your website’s conversion rates. The good news is that I’m going to focus on just 10 key areas.
Tip 1. The 8 second rule
Have you heard of the 8 second rule? You have 8 seconds to convince a new website visitor not to bounce straight off your website.
We all know that first impressions count. Branding, website design and fonts are important. Your website needs to engage and persuade – to get your prospects to take the next step in the sales funnel.
Tip 2. Instantly communicate trust
Show people why they should trust your website. This is particularly important for your home page – you can do this with: testimonials and reviews; professional accreditations; clients and partners logos; claims supported by hard data; Paypal, Mastercard and Stripe logos; security statements; and, of course, good design is important.
Do you offer a guarantee? Offering a guarantee is a great way to make customers trust you.
You can add “as featured in” to shout about your press coverage, with logos for national and local papers, and trade publications below it – I’ve recommended this to several of my clients: an artisan ecommerce website; a natural skincare startup; and a personal trainer.
Tip 3. Have prominent calls to action
Ensure you have clear calls to action that stand out. Test different options; different colours, wording, positions.
During Obama’s election campaign in 2007, a call to action button on his fund-raising website was changed from ‘Sign Up’ to ‘Learn More’ – this raised an extra $60m for his campaign!
In practice, too many websites have poor calls to action. Many don’t even provide a phone number. Phone numbers should be prominent on every page and clickable. I eventually persuaded a web hosting company, a client, to add a phone number [his service had to reflect his USP captured in his strapline, ‘Web hosting with a human touch’].
Consider adding (live) chat – some customers prefer chat.
Tip 4. Clear website content
Your website needs to be written clearly, with short sentences, short paragraphs and no excess words.
A lot of us find it hard to write really good, clear content. I have a new client, called Eco Sash & Case, a window restorer and manufacturer in Edinburgh – I’m copy writing their website content.
I have another start-up client in high end, vegan designer bags – she’s good at writing so we were able to give the content to the web designer before the build started. As he said, it’s very unusual to receive the content before the website design starts!
Many of us struggle with writing good website content. Here are some more suggestions….
- Ensure you have a clear value proposition, or USP, probably on your home page.
- When writing, ensure you include benefits as well as features.
- Review the description and presentation of your products. Ensure your services are well packaged-up, well ‘productized’ – it makes them much easier to sell.
Watch out for the “curse of knowledge” – this is worth getting your head round – we all tend to use technical jargon on our own website – that’s because, you know your products so well that it can make it hard for you to describe them clearly and simply to strangers.
If you do struggle with writing clearly, blame your English and History teachers! At school we were encouraged to write ‘intelligently’ with long sentences and long paragraphs. One of my clients is a private school – the Headmaster gives me draft content for their email newsletters – I have to break up his long paragraphs and sentences. Slightly embarrassing!
And lastly, use video instead of text. We all know how powerful video can be.
Tip 5. Pricing affects conversions
Could you offer a Free Trial, Freemium Pricing or a Moneyback Guarantee?
Test decoy pricing.
Consumers tend to go for ‘mid-priced’ priced products.
Tip 6. Simple Checkout Process
Simple checkouts convert best and usually much better than multi-page checkouts.
Have simple contact forms: reducing the number of fields from 4 to 3 can boost conversions by 26%.
It’s all about usability, your users’ experience.
Tip 7. Take a scientific approach
Measure and test different pages and elements.
Firstly, ensure Google Analytics is properly set up, ideally with some goals. Measure: bounce rates; most popular pages; average session durations; pages per session; and, in particular, abandoned baskets for ecommerce websites.
Then, consider using A/B testing for key landing pages:
- One of the best tools to use is Google Optimize combined with Google Analytics – and they’re free!
- If you want to get really geeky, you can learn a lot more from heat tests, session recordings and click-mapping. (Hotjar, ClickTale and CrazyEgg are leading tools).
Tip 8. Run user tests
Carry out some user tests to watch how people cope with your workflows – so, give at least 3 typical customers specific tasks to do on your website – watch, or record, how they get on – listen to their feedback, you’ll learn a lot – user tests are quick and easy to carry out.
Arguably, they have many advantages over A/B tests, particularly for low traffic websites.
Tip 9. Get feedback on your website
- Add a Feedback button.
- Link to a SurveyMonkey or Typeform survey. Or, even, just to your contact form.
- When purchasers criticise you, they are probably right!
Lastly, Tip 10. Consider improving your current website, instead of building a new one
It sometimes makes more sense to get your current website working really well rather than investing in a new website. That’s what leading ecommerce businesses do – they like to make lots of incremental improvements.
If you do decide that you need a new website, ensure your designer is well briefed – give them a website map and a written brief – and ensure they put enough thought into conversion rates.
To sum up
Improving your website conversion rates is:
- A combination of good marketing, clear persuasive copy, calls to action, psychology and smooth user experience.
- Inexpensive in many areas.
- A profit-multiplier!
Thank you for reading this. Please ask me if you have any questions. If you’re serious about improving your website, ask me for a free Zoom website and marketing review.
Thanks very much to Carlos Muza for letting me use his photo from Unsplash.