[Ultimate list] Conversion rate optimization best practices
If you’re a merchant, whether new or experienced, you know that getting traffic to your store is only the beginning of the story. You can easily find social threads, posts or questions about people having tons of visits per month, but the elusive sale is nowhere to be found. The most important part of the story is what you do with the traffic you get.
What is conversion rate optimization?
To understand the definition of conversion rate optimization, it’s easier to define the concept of conversion. Within the scope of e-commerce, conversion is the completion of a specific action that you expect website visitors to take.
Though the action can be anything from submitting a form, clicking on a button or making a payment, it’s necessary that the action is measurable to qualified as a conversion.
From here we have the definition of conversion rate optimization: The changes made to a website to maximize its rate of conversion.
Updating CRO knowledge
Optimizing conversion rate (CRO) is a matter of understanding how people behave towards your digital marketing efforts. You don’t need any CRO certification or degree, but fundamental training can provide you with basic knowledge and theory of how online business works.
Udemy courses, such as Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization 2018, is a good resource for you to equip yourself with fundamentals to optimizing conversion rate. Also, qualified marketing blogs is another way to stay up-to-date with the changes in the online world. Neil Patel, Moz blog, Medium, sometimes Wikipedia are to name a few.
Conversion rate optimization checklist
Below is a comprehensive checklist of 12 steps to improve your website for CRO. Each step will be further explained in a dedicated article and can serve as a tutorial, a guideline, provide you with the ideas, the general principle and also the skills needed to optimize your pages.
- Understand your customers
- Compose quality content
- Create effective design
- Build credibility
- Ensure smooth checkout
- Embrace social proof
- Enforce Fear-Of-Missing-Out (FOMO) effect
- Increase Average Order Value (AOV)
- Optimize page performance
- Optimize mobile experience
- Handle abandoned carts
- Experiment, A/B testing multivariate testing
Before diving in, there’s one thing for you to keep in mind:
Despite trying to cover all the aspects that might have impacts on website conversion rate, this article shouldn’t be applied as a fixed formula for all types of websites and industries.
Unique business model, strategy framework, industry benchmarks, even your purpose can result in a different approach to optimize conversion rate.
1. Have a plan to understand your customers
The truth is that most brands fail because they don’t understand their customers (enough). How can you appeal, persuade, and finally sell to someone if you don’t understand them?
An example from UnCommon Knowledge will ring the bell and remind us of why we need to understand customers and think like them, even if it’s not something we enjoy. UnCommon Knowledge had a product launch on the way and wanted to expand their reach prior to the launch. They tested 2 designs for the landing page: version A and version B.
As their audience is mostly women from 45 - 64 years old, they eventually determined that version A worked better because this audience needed detailed information before giving away their email addresses, so in this case, it was more effective to demonstrate the value and avoid over-simplifying the page. Headshot adds a personal touch and can increase conversions as well. But what if Uncommon Knowledge had a target audience from 22 - 32? Which version do you think would work better?
Let’s take a look at how you can understand your customers in the right way?
Essentially you need to find answers to 3 questions:
Who are your customers?
Customer personas, demographics, habits, favorite food, places to hang out, etc.
What are their pain points?
What customer is struggling with the most?
How do they look for the solution?
Customer journey from the pain point to a solution.
Make hypotheses based on the little data you gather from all the above questions.
Engage with customer
Now with tons of hypothesis, it’s time to put them to the validation with actual customers. There are several ways to get quantitative as well as qualitative data:
- Focus group
Become the customer
If you have time and resources and you want to go to the end of pain with your customers, be one of them. You should step into their shoes so you can imagine how they feel and react in different scenarios. If you sell clothes, go buy clothes online, or even household appliances and food.
2. The role of high-quality content
Products don’t sell themselves. A copy is a top salesperson that should address customer’s concerns and guide them to the checkout button.
Concise, action-oriented copy
No matter what you do for the “appearance” of your content, the actual value that it delivers is still the most essential. Powerful copy is the copy that sells benefits. Give people the reasons why they should choose you, not others. What kind of work does your product/service can complete? What benefits will they receive? L’Axelle improved the copy and gained a 38.3% conversion rate, 93% better than the original (Source: abtests.com).
Sell benefits, not features or ingredients
One big mistake many businesses make is to place their products on top. They have forgotten that the customer is the priority. Let customers know how the product will help them be more successful and make their lives better. For example, while women buy lots of cosmetics, they don’t actually buy cosmetics. They are buying the youth and beauty that they desire. Make it dynamic and intriguing, like kaya skin clinic below.
They switched the copy from “For Skin Consultation, Register Here” to “I want an expert opinion, sign me up for a skin consultant” with a social proof above. The test earned them 137.5% conversions compared to the original - an amazing result.
Pay attention to CTA copy
Content is also the copy that you write for CTA - which is extremely important. Changing the CTA helped GamesForLanguage increase conversions 83.4% by changing the copy from “Play right now” to “Instant demo” (Source: abtests.com). This again reminds us of a very simple rule - everyone loves free stuff. If something is free, let people know immediately.
Use micro-copy and directional cues
Another aspect that you should pay attention to is microcopy. They are tiny words but produce huge customer experience impact. Microcopy examples are error messages, contact form explainers, eCommerce hints. They can guide users through processes (especially checkout process) and provide directional cues, alleviate customer’s worries and drive them to complete the action faster.
Visual content is your friend. Incorporate visual copy that displays words, GIFs, videos, and images in the product description in an engaging and scrollable format. Make sure to use high-quality visuals, especially on your product pages.
In some cases, image sliders can outperform video by 30%, so don’t hesitate to do A/B testing. Device Magic wanted to test if the video or an image slider converted better, so they switched the original video on the homepage for a simple but modern image slider. The result was surprising: The image slider increased conversions from homepage to signup page by 35% and subsequent signups by 31%. Every website is different, so it cannot be surprising that an image slider outperformed video. Unfortunately, the video in question was too long (over 4 minutes) and was full of screencaps - not very exciting to watch.
Short, engaging video
In a different context, video helped Vidyard boost their email signups by 100%. According to the research from Treepodia, adding a video to jewelry sites increases conversions by 247%. But the key lies in the content of the video too. You should pay close attention to every detail, including the thumbnail for the video, the length of the video, and quality of the video.
Make it easy to scan, with clear heading structure and paragraph text. If possible, systemize your content into lists, especially on mobile display, so it is easier to read and best used in key spots. Swedish company Unionen increased their conversion rate by 15.9% with this small but effective tactic.
Versus version B:
Although you may have various valid facts and a clear, concise way to describe them in your copy, you may lose your prospects’ interest if the paragraphs are too long. A good rule of thumb among all writers from business to journalism is to avoid writing more than five or six sentences in a paragraph before finding a logical place to break.
3. Create UX optimized, efficient design
Presentation matters. No matter how well-crafted your wording and how meticulous your sales funnel, if your customers do not find your online store to be aesthetically attractive, a good portion of them will bail before they even consider the purchase. Attractive, cool designs are crucial to your online store’s success, and can increase the perceived value of your products.
Proper overall design
Easy-to-read font face and sizes
We’re living in a world where free fonts are as high-quality and easy-to-find as premium ones, which you can get on Google Fonts, Font Squirrel, TypeKit and MyFonts. Make sure the font size is big enough for people to see even if they minimize their browser. Don’t use more than 3 font families on your websites. Choose one for your headlines and titles and one for the body text and paragraphs. The last one can be used sparingly in promotions or graphics to catch attention.
Use an appropriate color palette throughout your site. Learn about your prospects and customers. If you work in the health industry, it’s better to stick with calm colors and exercise a smart use of negative space. Unless you work in the creative industry and you’re trying to provoke strong emotions for visitors, use common sense. Entrepreneur claims that the least effective colors are brown and orange, so steer clear. Some places like Adobe Color, Color Hunt, Coolors and Colors by HailPixel can help you find your inspiration.
It’s all about which color pops up better on the background of your web page. Performable tested their homepage with 2 buttons: One was green, other was red - both have the same text. They found that 21% more people clicked on the red button than the green button.
Adapting this practice by Performable, DMix.ca performed their own A/B test on their homepage CTA and found their conversion rate increased by 34% when they switched their CTA button color from green to red.
Your CTA should be one-in-a-million and instantly noticeable on your page. It must stand out from the rest due to its color and dimensions. Making the CTA prominent and easy-to-click increased conversions of Nature Air by an outstanding 591%. This method also helped Vineyard, a luxury hotel in London, achieve a 32.12% improvement. Make sure your CTA is above-the-fold or placed somewhere easy to spot, bold and clear.
With hundreds of responsibilities and tasks a day, nobody wants to learn how to navigate a store or find what they want, so make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy from your store.
Take Pure Cycles’s drop-down menu as an example, with its show-all navigation bar. When visitors click on each product list, instead of being redirected to another page, the products are displayed directly on the side for preview. This reduces transition time during which visitors may lose interest due to various factors either within or out of businesses’ control. This navigation bar also serves as the first level of product/information filtering, where visitors know better about how they want to proceed.
You should eliminate redundancy wherever possible. When in doubt, simplify. A clean home page helped the Weather Channel increase conversions by 225%. There is, and there should be, literally nothing to click on except the products themselves. Customers see no distractions, and they can go straight to the Buy button without getting lost in rabbit holes.
A search box can come in remarkably handy if your store sells more than one product line (which is usually the case). There are hardly any eCommerce sites that don’t have a search box now, which is a positive change for the majority. The question now only lies in how to improve the search. WaterFilters.net needed a search for their website so they turned to Google Site search. As a result of implementing the search, bounce rate decreased 4% and conversions increased by 11%.
Online retailer BrickHouse Security added product images to their search box, so when visitors type in a product’s name, a drop-down menu would appear showing products specific to those search terms with their images. This experiment resulted in 100% uplift in conversion rates. This tactic does help a lot in user usability and efficiency.
Effective product list
We tend to think that the more options that we can offer, the better the chance that customers will make a purchase that suits their taste. Doesn’t everyone love choice? The truth is quite the opposite. Based on a research conducted by Stanford University experts, when people are faced with lots of options, they tend to choose none of them because they feel overwhelmed. When there are a few selections, they are much more likely to convert, so give your buyers a smaller, but high-quality product set.
Product filter and search
A popular way to aid visitors and help them make decisions is to include product filters. BuyaKilt experienced a 76.1% increase in revenue, a 26% increase in conversions, and 19.76% increase in shopping cart visits by doing so. Epicurious allows customers to combine filters with a search bar, and edit them easily. Take a look at how the search will return healthy dinner salads:
Personalized product selection
Show buyers reels of personalized recommendations based on their browsing history and past purchases. It is personal, which strengthens the customer relationship, and eventually builds trust. Many retailers do this with the “You Might Also Like…” section. This is based on their shopping history - as it compiles a list of related items and products.
Compelling product demo
When it comes to visual, we have to admit: beautiful images sell products. Customers love to see every little detail in high-definition (where zoom-in feature works well) before they make up their mind. It can greatly reduce anxiety and increase their desire to buy. But go one step further - show it in action with a product demo. Here’s a GoPro camera in its working mode. Who cares what it looks like - everyone loves it instantly.
4. Build credibility
When a visitor lands on your site, their natural tendency alarms them to be suspicious. Are you credible? Do you have quality products? Do you take good care of your customers? Credibility is not something you can build in one day. It’s something you earned with efforts, blood, and sweat. There’s no shortcut to building credibility, but some tactics can be useful when you need to establish trust with your visitors.
Business traction refers to the progress of a start-up company and the momentum it gains as the business grows. There is no single way to measure traction, however, companies usually rely on customer response and revenue as indicators of their success.
The number of customers purchased can also be a powerful business traction indicator, especially for best-seller products. Look how Amazon has those numbers up for all products, lifting a huge barrier of doubt from the customer’s mind.
A mandatory place to subtly include business traction is the “About” page, where you show your customers the humans behind the company. To build trust, an “About” page should include unique details, such as who started the company, their reason, goals, and aspiration for this business. Communicate the story in a real and distinct manner — not as a faceless bureaucracy. For example, the “About” page for Popov Leather tells a simple, straightforward story about its origin authentically.
Genuine contact details
You may be starting out and barely setting up the mailbox or a business address, but the real business has real physical addresses. Again, don’t make visitors dig for information about your company. The Internet makes it easy for people to find the services and products they want, so make it easy for them to find yours.
Provide them multiple ways to reach you with contact forms, email addresses, and social media. Consider adding your phone number, along with your available time.
Furthermore, you can add affiliations on being featured in articles on publications like Inc, Wired, NPR, Forbes. Having the names of some giants will give a great deal of assurance to your customers that they can lay their trust in you because some enterprises already did.
Adding pictures of the person on a short page increases highrise signups by 102.5%, so plan for them when you can. If you’re working in B2B, client logos can make a great impact. Checkout how OptinMonster proudly displays their client's logos from Entrepreneur, HuffPost, and Forbes on the homepage in addition to an automatic counter of visitors.
Some popular types of credit badges are payment badges - for accepted payment and shipping methods, money-back guarantee badges, third-party endorsement, security badges, and SSL badges - for proving your eCommerce website is secured and hack-free.
You should, and must, have solid and clear policies, visibly presentable for your visitors. Don’t make your customers have to look for them, but bring them to the customers immediately when they need them.
Offering a free delivery policy can make your products much more enticing for customers. Think you can’t offer free shipping? Keep in mind that this is often a psychological game. $5 shipping can change a lot in the psychology of buying. It’s a small amount, but it is a barrier that turns people away.
If you already cover free delivery, don’t forget hassle-free return too. Most customers will read the return policy before buying. Check out how Hugo Boss aces this task by immediately telling customers that they can return the item for free. Plus, they will change it at the customer's request.
Rating / Reviews
92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials when considering a purchase. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, plus 72% of them say positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more.
According to Conversionxl, a good review profile usually requires:
- A balance of positive and negative comments
- Actual descriptions of product usage
- Comparing a product to competing brands
Also, consider the following factors:
- Shoppers prefer positive reviews over negative reviews (of course).
- Conflicting reviews (some love the product, some hate it) will likely cause your customers to move to a different product instead
Brands that share authentic user-generated content are constantly building more trust with their social audience. Check out how Fugoo intersperses review content and regular lifestyle images of customers using the speaker on their Facebook page.
ASOS does a very good job of collecting reviews with their #AsSeenOnMe campaign. Their customers can upload pictures of them wearing ASOS clothes. It gives people evidence that other people bought, love and trust your products enough to show it online to the public.
Don’t simply sort the reviews based on most common or most positive rating. With the influence of review content to sales, leave it at “most helpful” as default so customers can judge the product for themselves.
Testimonials are personal accounts given by certain customers about the quality of service provided by the seller of the product. Unlike reviews, they are generally positive accounts about the given product rather than a critical analysis of it.
Choose the most relevant testimonials to feature, especially on important places like your website and in marketing materials. Ideally, you would want to choose those written by your target audience, because people respond better to those they can relate. Furthermore, if you have any famous clients (celebrities or corporations), let people know. You can ensure authenticity by including the reviewer’s full name, job title, company, and a happy headshot. Video testimonials can work particularly effectively, but make sure they have a great showcase layout and the ingredients to shine naturally.
5. Ensure a smooth checkout and its benefits
Over 60% of buyers abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase - that’s a lot of people and money loss. Let’s take a look at some of the tactics that you can implement right away.
Simple user details input process
Most people abandon their cart because they are asked to provide too much information. The more steps people have to complete, the more likely they want to give up on the order. If you want to get as many conversions through the door as possible, make this part as easy as possible.
Take Expedia as an example. During the checkout process, Expedia included a field that asks for the “Company name” of the customer. They ran the test by erasing the “Company name” field, which in the end increased $12 million in profit.
Another case study is Flying Scot - a service that provides airport parking in Edinburgh proves that just a small change can create a huge impact. This is their original site.
This is the new version, which completely removed the Address and Flight information sections, making it much easier to handle.
The result was a 45.45% increase in visitors moving to the next step and a 35% increase in form submissions.
Cutting down on form field is just half of the story. The other half is making customers cruise through the form as quickly as possible. A high recommendation is to use address shortcut and validation. These tools support entry with 2 useful functions - they make it faster and easier for shoppers and ensure that addresses are accurate. The most common is to ask customers to enter a house number and postcode before the search for an address.
Another option is to use address predictor tools, which suggest matching addresses as shoppers type.
An alternative is to offer social sign-in. This solution provides an easy alternative to registration and can speed up the checkout process. Fundamentally, it avoids problems with passwords as users are more likely to remember social logins that they use regularly.
SaleCycle reported a 23% cart abandonment rate because customers have to create an account first. If you are willing to sacrifice user’s data to boost up conversion rate, try guest checkout. It’s unfortunate you can’t connect with them, but you can let them be your guest. Crate&Barrel even shed a spotlight on guest checkout to quickly comfort defensive shoppers.
If you have heard of Amazon’s “1-click” order button, let’s agree that it’s a game-changer that helps to alleviate cart abandonment ever since it was first released. This feature lets customers buy things with just one click without having to enter and re-enter billing, payment or shipping information.
Amazon’s “1-click” button has become a flag bearer for the convenient shopping experience that Amazon has come to be known for. Other systems are building their own legacy with connection to digital wallets that allow for quick purchase like PayPal, Apple Pay, etc.
6. Have a strategy for social proof
According to American Lifestyles 2015 report from Mintel, a global and award-winning provider of Market Research, 70% of Americans seek out opinions before making purchases. Skeptical consumers are seeking proof from unbiased third parties to back their buying decisions, rather than the brands that are selling the products.
This is where social proof comes into play. In the modern world where optimization is gradually becoming a phenomenon, social proof has become a decisive element, distributing significantly to your website’s conversion rate.
Social proof: Ideas for your implementation
Nothing is more convincing than confirmation from people who are actually using your products. Leverage your existing customer base carefully, any of the following types could be the one to sky-rocket your conversion rate.
Customer testimonials: Quotes, audio, video, live interviews, case studies, etc. Customer testimonials should be the first thing to think about when it comes to social proof.
Customer base: On your website, showcase the logo of the large, market leaders and influential customers that you are serving. Big brands are trusting you, this will be a huge push for hesitating customers who are looking for further proof.
Social share count: Genuine social shares can only be gained from valuable content, making itself look just valuable. Work smartly on your content and don't hesitate to show the achievement once you reach it.
Customer count: Well, you are serving thousands of customers. Thousands of people do not accidentally trust you. The number of customers you are serving is strong proof.
Ratings and reviews: Ratings and reviews are basic and direct ways for customers to share their experience with your service. Make sure this section is as easy to approach as possible so that anyone can reach out to leave or to read reviews on your website.
Trust badge: By essentially creating a secure connection for information (e.g., credit card numbers) to be transmitted, trust badges indicate that your site is technically and securely verified, that it is safe to provide you with their credit card and personal information and that the purchase is secured. SiteLock, McAfee or PayPal are typical examples of security trust badge.
Certificate or degree: Earning a certificate or degree issued by the authoritative organization in your industry indicates that you are approved professionally, which is what customers are looking for in the chaos of service providers.
Platform integration: Integration with trusted platforms is also a way to show customers your effort to play it seriously in the business game. Sometimes sincere and dedication DO make sense, as long as you keep your opinions and principles for long enough.
Remember: If your customer base is limited and you have yet to earn any trust badge, certificate or degree, stay calm and work hard for it. Being too eager to earn the first social proof might urge you to earn low-quality ones. Keep this in mind: No social proof is better than low social proof.
7. Enforce Fear-Of-Missing-Out (FOMO) effect
In case you don’t know, FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out” which is a powerful effect urging buyers to take action.
We, humans, are terrified of missing out on a sweet deal or offer, so the psychological trigger of urgency can contribute to an increase of 332% in conversions.
DaFlores, an online flower delivery shop, after hours of research, found out that visitors were concerned that their flowers would not be delivered on time and were not aware daFlores offered same-day delivery. Thus, they added a sense of urgency to the homepage, which said: “Order in the next x hours for delivery today”. This experiment gave a boost of 27% in sales for them.
Another tactic is to create discount coupon codes that customers can use at checkout for a limited time. When your coupon code expires this will drive urgency and shoppers will more likely go through with the purchase and not get distracted.
If something is not scarce, then it is not desired or valued that much. If everything is scarce, then scarcity itself lacks its value and people become too used to it. Studies of retail sales have shown that if more than about 30% of goods have ‘sale’ sticker on them, the effectiveness of this method decreases.
There are 2 types of scarcity:
- Quantity-related (for example, 2 seats left at this price): when something is in low stock.
- Time-related scarcity (for example, last day to buy): when it is a limited time offer.
Let’s look at an example from Booking.com - a company does many things very well.
There are a couple of scarcity triggers at play here:
- “Only 1 room left” - This deal won’t be around for long. Lock it immediately.
- “7 people looked for your dates in the last hour” - There may be some competition for the offer so you’d better be quick.
- “In high demand - Booked 17 times in the last 24 hours” - This is the most explicit scarcity example to inform that this hotel is desirable.
- “You just missed it!” - Oh no the sweet deal is already gone. You better beat out the others for the next offer you see.
Another more specific type of scarcity is exclusivity, like “30% off all items for elite members only”. This can act as a strong drive for people to sign up for membership cause they know they will be treated with more promotion and specialty.
8. Increase Average Order Value (AOV)
Buy more with discount
Meebox is a web hosting and cloud hosting company. They ran a test on the pricing page, which had discounts of 20% and 40% for the highest plan. These discounts applied only if customers locked in for a 2-year period. They soon saw a 121.56% increase in revenue, a 46.24% increase in Average Order Value, and a 51.85% increase in conversions.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Meebox saw an increase in conversions, but what is surprising is the increase in average order value. Perhaps customers were so happy to get the discount that they added more than they typically would to their order.
When offering discounts to potential customers, try to make it work for your company as well. It may not have been profitable for Meebox to offer a discount if they didn’t get customers locked in for 2 years. You can discount all you want, but if it’s not fiscally wise, it will not be sustainable.
BOGO (buy 1 get 1 for free)
It’s no secret that consumers like to get items for free, which is where the classic “buy 1, get 1 for free” tactic shines brightly. In an empirical study conducted by Maxwell Scientific Organization in 2013, 42.3% were highly satisfied when purchasing products under BOGO promotion, and 46.8% have repurchase intentions.
BOGO campaigns typically come with a time limit to create a sense of urgency and push customers to make a purchase. Also, pairing products from different categories can make a great deal for seasonal products or certain groups of targeted customers. Bargain Moose launched their Back to School BOGO, urging students and parents to get their free backpacks by buying shoes.
You can also choose other combinations aside from “buy 1 get 1”. Product types that can be purchased in bulk and customers can use simultaneously are ideal for a “buy 3 for the price of 2”, or “buy 5, get 2 for free” offers. EMP’s way of tackling the BOGO strategy can inspire you to do the same if you own similar product lines.
Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question. You will see the most obvious cases of upselling in software and service products. Shopify pricing page includes a very detailed comparison table between their different plans and lists all features and benefits that customers will get for each plan. Instead of bullet points and duplicated text, they use checkmarks to visually help customers size the offers.
For physical products, Apple opted for the same strategy by offering two options of their 12-inch MacBook on the same page, side-by-side. Here they’ve bolded the most noticeable differences between them, which are typically also what customers look for: storage and power.
Cross-selling is when businesses sell an additional product or service that complements the current one that customers are in consideration or have made a decision to purchase.
In Ecommerce, cross-selling or upselling are often utilized on product pages, during the checkout process, and in campaigns. For example, on eCommerce websites, usually, you will see the “You might also like” section filled with recommendations that match your preference and search history. Spyder the clothing brand even includes previously viewed items, so it is easier for their shoppers to go back to an item they might have been on the fence about.
Nintendo’s sales increased significantly when the company offered its console and video games together as a bundle at a lower price than if bought individually. Overall, they gained over 100,000 console sales and over 1 million video game sales thanks to the campaign.
When bundling products, choose items that complement each other or can be used together. Most importantly, they need to make sense to your customers, so research into customer preference is needed. Give them a diverse range of bundles to choose from, and emphasize the “saving” part i.e. how much money they can save if they take the offer.
Amazon spearheads the bundle concept with their algorithm, providing customers with tons of “Frequently bought together” options. They directly suggest these bundled products on the product page:
9. Optimize page performance
Your site needs to load fast in order to get more conversions. According to Hubspot, 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, with a 7% reduction in conversions for every 1-second delay. You can use PageSpeed Insights or WebPage Test to assess the current status of your site.
The central key to boosting load time is to compress image files. If you create images in Photoshop or Fireworks, you can use the “Save for Web” option to drastically reduce image size. An image quality slider lets you see the visual trade-offs between graphic file size and crispness. If you don’t have those, ImageOptim (for Mac users only) or TinyPNG do the trick just fine.
The golden rule is, make sure that your page load times are less than 3s.
10. Optimize mobile experience
Desktops offer a grand place to get creative, but mobile needs all the space-optimized. Whether your customers use the single or double-handed approach, certain parts of the mobile screen are just inconvenient for mobile users to reach. For single-handed users, the middle of the screen is the prime playing field.
Some users hold their phones with two hands. Because the horizontal orientation is more likely to be used for video, this won’t be relevant for mobile checkout.
In summary, the ideal layout to pay attention to should lie within the green area.
Typing on a mobile device has high interaction costs. It requires lots of time and efforts from users, even with a full keyboard and touchscreen. To minimize typing effort as much as possible, allow users to pick from a list, check a box, or use a default picker instead of typing. Check out how Homey utilizes a variety of mobile gesture functions in their app so users don’t accidentally activate or touch anything.
Smooth mobile checkout
There are some golden rules that you should take note of. Only add the essentials to checkout, as mobile checkout doesn’t provide the ideal space for upselling or cross-sell attempts, social media promotion or anything that might otherwise distract from the action at hand. Keep the checkout-free of all images and special font stylization, with the only eye-catching visuals that are really acceptable being trust marks and calls to action.
Form input should be simplified as much as possible:
- Design each field of the checkout form so that it stretches the full width of the website.
- Limit the fields to only what’s essential.
- Clearly label each field outside of and above it.
- Use at least a 16-point-pixel font.
- Format each field so that it’s large enough to tap into without zooming.
- Use a recognizable mark to indicate when something is required (like an asterisk).
- Always let users know when an error has been made immediately after the information has been input in a field and identify where the error occurred.
- Place the call to action at the very bottom of the form.
You should allow customers to use their browser’s autocomplete functionality to fill in forms. Adding a checkbox that automatically copies the billing address information over to the shipping fields will definitely help. Also, consider automatically changing the keyboard according to what kind of field is being typed in (letters vs. numbers).
Last but not least, you can connect to digital wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, etc.
11. Handle abandoned carts
Shopping cart abandonment is every eCommerce business’ concern. It is when a potential customer starts a check out process for their order, but ultimately drops out before completing the purchase. A high abandonment rate could signal many things, from poor user experience to a broken sales funnel. According to research conducted by Baymard Institute in 2017, the top reason for abandonments during checkout is high extra costs (shipping, tax, fees), at 60% of total survey answers. Other common reasons are complicated checkout process, signup requirement, lack of trust, and more.
Thus, is it important that businesses analyze their shopping cart abandonment rate, their customers’ preference, and the whole sales funnel to improve the factors influencing purchases made on their websites?
There are a few actionable tips that you can implement right away on your eCommerce website to reduce shopping cart abandonment rate, without having to turn everything upside down.
This neat little tool can be installed into your sales funnel, including the shopping cart and checkout pages, and will detect when a user is about to leave the page. Once activated, a popup message will appear that encourages customers to stay, oftentimes with an attractive deal that they will want to take. Avanchy Sustainable Baby Dishware even take the opportunity to promote their VIP savings club and gather leads through their short form:
Customers do not like to be deceived, either intentional or unintentional. Not knowing shipping costs and other charges is, unfortunately, one of the main factors that can easily catch them like a deer in the headlight. The solution is to make all additional costs clear before they add items to their cart.
Keep the cart visible
“Out of sight, out of mind,” they say. A badly presented shopping cart on your website can slip away from your customers’ attention. If you want them to come back to it, make it as clear as possible. Something as simple as a cart icon in the corner of the screen that expands to the full item list will definitely help your customers keep track of their purchase intentions.
Guest checkout and social login
If your customers only want a quick grab-and-pay on your website, do not prevent them from doing so. Guest checkout allows customers to enter the most basic details (like name, shipping address and credit card information) before completing their purchase.
Similarly, giving an option for social login will be appreciated by your customers. Creating an account can be tedious and time-consuming, but the real hassle is remembering all those accounts you make on all those different websites. Social login eliminates that barrier and offers customers a more compact solution - one key that fits all locks. Consider Google Plus and Facebook, which are the most common options available for users.
Cart abandoned follow-up
Did you try all the above and still some customers slipped away? Try to follow-up and ignite their purchase interest through some respectful but enticing invitations. A little push like cart recovery emails can convert abandoning visitors effectively, with an open rate of 46,1% in the industry. Send an email when the lead is still in the zone, typically 1-3 hours after cart abandonment occurs when the product is still fresh in their mind.
Office Max emphasizes the free shipping for orders above $50 in their cart abandonment follow-up emails, which may lead to successful sales after all.
12. Experiment, A/B testing multivariate testing
You can tell by its name. A/B testing is the technique of comparing two different versions of anything to find the version with the best performance. A/B testing is just as essential as all the above tricks for the conversion rate of your website. In the end, the ultimate thing to trust should be data, not your assumption.
A/B testing sometimes varies by the nature of the subject you are testing, but in general, it is suggested that you follow this pattern while conducting an A/B testing on your website:
Analyze people’s behavior on your site to find out what stops them from taking action. Starting with your assumption is not a bad idea. The elements you think have the most impact on your site’s conversion rate are the ones should be tested. Heat maps, which shows your site’s most frequently visited areas, is another clue for you on what to include in the test.
How should things be changed? If changed, what are the result supposed to be delivered and why?
Answering these questions gives you a hypothesis about the test.
“If the call-to-action is placed on both top and bottom of the page instead of just the top, the conversion rate will increase by 20% because visitors don’t have to scroll up the whole page to take the action.”
Once you have an idea of what should be changed, it’s time to run the test. Show one variant to half of your site visitors and another variant to the other half. Watch the data coming in and keep on testing until you have a conclusion.
What to test in for an optimized conversion rate?
You have many things to test within a single site. However, there are certain elements that are proven to deliver significant changes in conversion rates once tweaked.
A headline is the first thing to catch people’s attention in your pages. It’s your chance to tell visitors they’ve come to the right place before they leave. So keep it clean and short, focus on the core message and don’t forget an appealing success number, which looks something like this:
Focusing on your customers is the key to a converting copy. “Style” is also a thing to put on the scale. You might be familiar with a casual tone but a formal tone turns out to deliver a better result. The only way to make this clear is to test it.
Design and layout have a strong connection to customer experience in your site. Whether to use an infographic or a demo video, a paragraph or bullet points, a copy on the right or on the left, each pair of variants should be tested to find the better one, as just a slight change might lead to a significant change in conversions.
There’s a tool called Field Bottlenecks that helps you track in which field customers abandon your form. Tracking and collecting these kinds of valuable information will help much in testing what fields to include in your form. Button copy and the length of the form also make sense when it comes to optimizing conversion rate.
A call-to-action is the element that is closest to conversion, so make sure you test it thoroughly and find the version that converts the best. Text, color, button size all deserve your consideration. But the POSITION of the button should the first and foremost factor to test. Place yourself into customers’ shoes, hypothesizing carefully and find out the position that converts the best.
How long should the test be run?
Normally, around 200-300 unique visitors for each test variant would be enough for you to draw a reasonable conclusion.
This is a lot of information to process at one time, but you should always bear in mind that what works for one store may not work for others due to countless reasons. Regularly test things out to see what works best and what doesn’t until you find your secret growth hacking strategies. Growth is a non-stop process, so don’t ever settle in for just a little revenue.
If you find this checklist helpful, there’s more! The 10 sections discussed in this article will soon be expanded to 10 Conversion Talks topics with more insights and actionable tips. They are meant to provide you with the most updated and effective strategies to boost your business, so check them out!