4th July 2019 | Blog, Latest Articles

ecommerce conversion

So, you’ve got a good-looking, functional website up and running, and the visitors are flocking in. But are they converting? Conversion optimisation is an essential part of SEO and online marketing, as it helps to ensure that the traffic coming to your website will result in more purchases and more engagement.

How do you convert more of your website visitors into paying customers? Here’s a look at what goes into optimising conversion online.

What is Conversion?

Conversion is the term used when a visitor to your site performs the desired action you want them to complete. This might be purchasing a product, signing up to your mailing list, filling out an online form, sharing or responding to a post you’ve created.

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Take the number of times a user completes a goal, and divide that number by the number of visitors to your site. This will give you what is known as your conversion rate. As a site owner, you ideally want to get as many conversions as possible, maximising your conversion rate.

Conversion rate optimisation, or CRO, is the process of empowering more visitors to complete an action when they visit your website. It involves designing or modifying web pages in a way that maximises the chance of visitors converting before they leave the site.

Micro-Conversions vs Macro-Conversions

Every time a user visits your website, there’s an opportunity for a conversion to happen. The majority of conversions (81%) happen after a customer gets to know your site or your business. This can take a number of interactions (research points to an average of 7 or more).

Most user journeys involve completing a number of smaller conversions – which are known as micro-conversions – before committing to a bigger macro-conversion.

Micro-conversions might include:

  • Creating a user account
  • Signing up for your e-mail list
  • Adding a product to their shopping cart

Macro-conversions include:

  • Purchasing a product from your website
  • Requesting a quote for your services
  • Subscribing to your blog or another service you provide

The conversion rate optimisation process involves understanding how users behave when they visit your site, and what could be preventing them from completing a site goal.

CRO can be a very beneficial part of an SEO strategy. It can benefit you in the following key ways:

Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimisation

Excellent traffic to a site isn’t actually worth much if it’s not bringing about conversions. After all, if everyone who browses through a brick-and-mortar store does nothing more than window-shop and never leaves with a purchase, the shop owner makes no profit. The same applies to online businesses.

Conversion rate optimisation improves your return on investment. It gives you valuable insight into what motivates your target audience, which means you can adjust your marketing efforts to better meet their needs.

CRO also improves the overall user experience on your website, which helps to establish trust and build a solid reputation for your business online.

It all sounds pretty simple – encourage more visitors to make a conversion, and you’ll get a better ROI and bigger revenue. But here’s a sobering fact: A whopping 96% of visitors to a website leave without making a conversion.

online sale

Common Reasons behind Low Conversion Rates

First off, what makes a “good” conversion rate? Following a Google Ads analysis, search marketer Larry Kim has this to say:

“Across industries, the average landing page conversion rate was 2.35%, yet the top 25% are converting at 5.31% or higher. Ideally, you want to break into the top 10% – these are the landing pages with conversion rates of 11.45% or higher.”

If your conversion rates are below that coveted 11.45%, don’t be discouraged. Kim himself refers to sites with such high conversion as “unicorns”; they’re certainly not the norm. An average good conversion rate for a website is closer to between 2 and 3%. Not many people are going to make it into the “top 10” with conversion rates in double digits.

However, if your conversion rates are extremely low, there are some key elements on your website that could be holding your visitors back. Author and influencer Neil Patel has identified 4 core potential issues that any website owner can easily address to improve conversion.

Lack of CTA:
A call to action (or CTA) is something that motivates visitors to convert, and typically also tells them where and how to do so. If a call to action is generic, unclear, or even too demanding, site visitors will typically ignore it.

Lack of Value Proposition:
If you can’t explain to your visitors how your product or service will add value, they won’t see the point in investing in it.

Intrusive Advertising and Pop-Ups:
Pop-up advertisements can interrupt the flow of the user experience, and make it difficult for them to access parts of the web page. If pop-ups are poorly used and become too disruptive, a user is much more likely to leave without converting.

Ineffective Copy:
Your copy may be lacking something. Quality content that speaks to your target audience is paramount.

Of course, these are just a few factors that have been identified by those with extensive experience. Every site is unique, and the way it responds to the needs of the target audience will determine the percentage of the audience that converts.

Key Tactics for Improving Conversions

Here are some effective steps you can take to optimise the conversion rate of your website.

1. Craft Quality Copy:
Even the smoothest user journey won’t lead to a conversion if you’re not speaking their language. Your onsite copy is your core message; it will include your calls to action and your unique value proposition, informing your visitors every step of the way as you guide them towards the action you want them to take. Mediocre copy will lead to mediocre conversions!

Make sure your copy is all factually correct and free of errors. Cite your sources where needed, and write with authority about the topics you understand well. Above all, be sure to write with your target audience in mind first, with search engines a close second. Read Lilo’s guide to creating quality optimised content, for more tips of crafting strong copy and visual content for your site.

2. Offer a Unique Value Proposition:
A unique value proposition (UVP) or unique selling proposition (USP) clearly states how the user will benefit from the products or services you are offering to them. Not only that, it has to clearly describe what it is that sets you apart from others offering the same products or services (i.e. what makes you unique). For example, you might offer your services at a highly competitive rate, or you might have a very strong customer service focus that differentiates you from your competition.

When crafting your UVP, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problem are you solving with your offering?
  • How does this solution specifically provide value to the customer?
  • Why should the customer choose you over your competitors?

Once your unique value proposition is clearly defined, don’t keep it to yourself! Communicate it throughout your website, so that customers have a strong idea of what they’re getting from your offering, and have a clearly defined motivation to convert.

CRO Fast Fact: You have just 4 seconds to capture your site visitor’s attention before they decide whether to stay or leave. Make sure they’re easily able to figure out your UVP in this timeframe.

3. Include Testimonials and Case Studies:
Persuasive onsite content with the stats to back it up will lead to more conversions. Include feedback and reviews from past and existing customers (with permission), or publish case studies that prove the value of your products or services. This is a great way to improve the trust and confidence that visitors will have in your site.

4. Focus on Your Landing Pages:
Landing pages (entry-point pages, such as your home page, a product page or a services page) are meant to be high-conversion pages. These pages are where the majority of purchases, sign-ups or downloads will take place.

Your site’s home page is often where you get to make your first impression on visitors, and encourage them to explore your website further. Make sure it is well-designed and easy to navigate. Include links to information about your products or services. Invite the visitors to contact you, encourage them to read your blog, or offer them the chance to subscribe to your mailing list.

Ensure that the content on all landing pages is optimised to encourage visitors to take action. For example, if you are selling a new home cleaning product or appliance, your product landing page should ideally include the following:

  • A good quality image of the product
  • A succinct description of what the product does (i.e. what problem does it solve?)
  • A full ingredient list (if necessary)
  • Product specs such as size, fragrance, strength etc.
  • Video content demonstrating how to use the product
  • Feedback or testimonials from customers who have used the product
  • A call to action
  • A clear indication of the product’s price
  • A “Buy” or “Add to cart” button allowing visitors to easily make a purchase

CRO Fast Fact: Some studies show that adding video content to a landing page can increase conversion rate by more than 80%.

online conversions

5. Beef Up Your Blog:
Your company blog also provides you with endless opportunities to convert interested visitors. This is your chance to position yourself as a knowledgeable, authoritative source in your industry. Whether you’re aiming to educate, entertain, or both, a well-written and relevant blog with regular updates will keep readers coming back to your site.

6. Improve Your CTAs
Make sure any calls to action on your website are optimised to lead to better conversions. They should be simple and to-the-point, and stand out clearly without disrupting the user’s journey through the website. Rather than disrupting the user experience, a call to action should feel like the obvious conclusion to the user’s journey.

Make sure your CTA is specific and not too generic (for example “Download my e-book for free” is a better call to action than “Download now”). Ensure that it’s a quick and easy process for the user to complete the action. A qualified SEO consultant can help you to optimise and improve the calls to action on your website, as part of your overall CRO strategy.

CRO Fast Fact: Strong calls to action of 10 words or less usually see an uplift in conversion rate.

7. Make Smarter Use of Your Pop-Ups:
Large, full-screen pop-ups will make it harder for users to access your site content – especially those browsing on mobile. Talk to your SEO agency about the best way to include advertising on your website in a way that is unobtrusive and won’t interfere with potential conversions.

8. Keep Your Website Secure:
This is especially important for those with e-commerce websites. Cyber-security is a growing concern for online users. Research shows that approximately half of your visitors will check your website’s security before providing any personal or confidential information.

Building trust helps you to earn conversions, and security plays a big role in this. Be sure to display any verification tags, to let users know your payment systems can be trusted. “Trust symbols” like VeriSign or Symantec SSL can help to make prospective online shoppers feel more confident and safe in making a purchase.

When it comes to e-commerce, additional costs like shipping can also lead to shoppers abandoning their carts. Free shipping for orders of a certain value can help to discourage this. Be upfront with your shoppers about the total cost of each order, so they won’t get an unexpected shock when checking out.

CRO Fast Fact: Around 60% of abandoned online shopping carts are due to unexpected extra costs like taxes and shipping.

9. Optimise the Speed of Your Site:
Sluggish websites are so frustrating, you can expect plenty of abandoned shopping carts if your site’s speed isn’t optimal. Use a site speed test tool to determine if your website is loading quickly enough, and consult an SEO professional about the best ways to improve your load time if needed.

CRO Fast Fact: A mere 1-second delay in page load time can decrease your conversion rate by up to 7%.

10. Make Payment as Easy as Possible:
This is a big one for e-commerce site owners. The customers who come to your site looking to buy a product or service will want a variety of different payment methods. If you don’t accept their preferred method of payment, they’re likely to leave and try to make their purchase somewhere else.

It’s important for your online store to offer multiple payment options, including debit or credit cards, prepaid cards, mobile payments and platforms like PayPal. Some stores are even taking this a step further by offering cryptocurrency payment options.

If you’re operating on an international level, you should also consider that different visitors will be paying in different currencies. Displaying one currency on your site and expecting them to do the math is a surefire way to lose conversions. Use a multiple currency switcher tool that allows them to see how much they’re paying in their currency of choice.

11. Use Simple Navigation to Create a Short Checkout Funnel:
The navigation should lead your visitors through the site in a logical way that helps them to find what they’re looking for. The design of the navigation includes the strategic placement of the menus, as well as any anchor text or buttons you include in your on-page content.

The “checkout funnel” is a term used to describe the series of steps an online visitor will take towards making a purchase. This process starts with awareness, followed by interest, which leads to a decision and ultimately an action (conversion).

A shorter funnel is more likely to result in a conversion. Avoid long or complex checkout processes; you want to make it as easy as possible for your visitor to buy a product or service, while still keeping the process secure.

12. Optimise Your Site for Mobile:
More users than ever before are using mobile devices to browse and shop. A negative user experience with a website that’s not optimised for mobile use will discourage them from spending any time on your site. Responsive (mobile-friendly) design is absolutely essential, or you risk losing a large chunk of your prospective audience.

CRO Fast Fact: Mobile e-commerce sales are projected to make up 63.5% of total e-commerce sales in 2019.

13. Consider Your Colours, Graphics and Visual Elements:
Every detail of your website’s design counts. Good quality images and videos can lead to higher conversion – for example, a beautiful series of product photographs can show off an item to the best effect, and a video tutorial on how to use the product can encourage more visitors to buy it with confidence after seeing how it works.

Colour is a language all of its own, and different colours have different effects on your audience, even if it’s just on an unconscious level. That’s right, even colour can affect conversions. Red, for example, is an “energetic” colour that creates a sense of urgency, often used to promote sales. Meanwhile, blue is a colour that’s more closely associated with security and trust, and green is the easiest colour for the eyes to process.

14. Include Chat Support:
Potential buyers don’t only visit your site during office hours, and if your audience is international, they’ll be visiting from multiple time zones too. You need to be sure that customers from anywhere in the world, at any time of day or night, can get a quick answer to some basic questions they might have about a product or service.

Chatbots have become more and more sophisticated, and adding a 24/7 live chat app to your landing pages can help to give them additional support that will lead to them being more confident in making a purchase.

customer buying online

Conversion in Action

Here’s an interesting example of just how effective optimised conversion rates can be. Back in 2007, when former US president Barack Obama was running for office, his campaign team tried out a total of 24 different website design options. They did this by laying out simple pieces of promotional content and sign-up buttons in a variety of ways.

The team’s preferred design choice showed a sign-up rate (conversion) of 8.26%, but after testing, they found that a different design option, with just a few minor differences to the original, had a significantly higher rate of 11.6%. A total of 10 million people signed up, and with each one donating an average of $21, the team was able to achieve a difference of $60 million in fundraising! This is a notable example of how a small change in layout can have a big impact on conversion rate.

Conversion is a Long-Term Commitment

When it comes to converting site visitors, there isn’t any one universal formula for success. You may need to keep testing and tweaking multiple variants indefinitely. Conversion optimisation can give you quick results, but ultimately it’s a long-term game. There’s always room for improvement, as you look to attract new visitors to your site and drive them towards conversion.

The Lilo team provides a full range of SEO services, including site design that guides users down the path to conversion, with fast performance and mobile responsiveness. Our search optimisation strategies will bring targeted traffic to your site, and thoughtful web design tactics will help to convert those visitors into paying customers.