8 ecommerce levers to improve conversion
A guide on levers pre- and post-purchase that help e-commerce merchants increase speed and rate of conversion.
You’ve spent hours determining the right product mix, developing buyer personas, and benchmarking competitor pricing. You’ve spent thousands on your Facebook ad campaign and SEO optimization to get shoppers to your site. But how do you actually convert your visitors to customers?
We’ve put together a quick guide on the top conversion levers pre and post-purchase and best practices for e-commerce merchants to increase the speed and rate of conversion. Some of them aren’t as intuitive as you’d think.
1. Make a great first impression
The average user spends less than 59 seconds on a site [Nielsen Norman Group]. How do you hold their interest? Keep distractions to a minimum. Although pop-ups can be useful calls to action, don’t overload the user with too many distractions that may annoy them.
Best practice: Understand your user’s digital body language.
Using eye-tracking software is a popular starting point. The key is to look for interactions – when and where are users scrolling through content, hovering over images, or moving the mouse to exit the site? This can inform you of opportunities to improve the website navigation bar, or specific landing pages.
2. Develop consumer trust
Without the ability to physically interact with shoppers, merchants need to find other ways to establish trust. Product reviews can be a double-edged sword, especially if you don’t already have a strong user base. According to a study conducted by Northwestern University and Power Reviewers, the optimal number of reviews per product is around 20. But showing that a product has 0 or a few mediocre reviews is much worse than having no review capability in site. What else can you do?
Best practice: Provide organized product details or FAQs.
Showing that you’ve anticipated your customer’s concerns establishes legitimacy and builds a sense of trust. Remember to highlight the most important elements of the product page and organize the FAQs, rather than provide a laundry list of items the consumer will have to sift through.
Take a look at Ample Food’s FAQ page below, which has clearly organized sections to direct consumers to their most common questions, as well as a search bar for even simpler navigation.
3. Provide on-demand, rapid-fire sales assistance
When it comes to customer service, today’s online shoppers want two things: Speed and convenience. An online store that doesn’t provide on-demand customer service runs the risk of frustrating the customer and, potentially, losing the sale. Bottom line: Be there for your customers at all stages (and hours) of their shopping experience.
Best practice: Kick up support to 24/7.
Having overnight and weekend customer support is one of the best ways to speed up a sale. Picture this: A late-night shopper is lingering over the “Checkout” button, but has one nagging question about shipping which isn’t fully addressed by the FAQs. If he has to wait until morning – or worse – Monday morning for an answer, he may be less inclined to make the sale at all.
Sound expensive? You may want to consider customer service outsourcing for after hours.
Best practice: Prioritize fast responses.
Online consumers have little patience for long holds. In fact, three-quarters of online customers expect help within five minutes [McKinsey]. If their inquiries aren’t addressed quickly, customers will gladly jump over to your competitor’s site. Make sure that you or your CS team is adequately tracking First Response Times and making improvements over time.
4. Move towards single-click checkout
Getting your customers to the checkout page isn’t enough. On average, 70% of those would-be customers still abandon their carts [Baymard]. Make it easy for your customers to pay you.
Best practice: Reduce form fields.
The average US checkout flow contains 23.5 form elements or 15 form fields. 25% of shoppers abandon a cart because the checkout process is too long or complicated [Baymard]. Eliminating unnecessary form fields is a no-brainer. Do you really need to validate a zip code?
Best practice: Provide a guest checkout experience.
How many account usernames and passwords can you realistically remember? Don’t require your customers to retrieve yet another forgotten password email. Instead, consider asking the customer to log into their account at the end of the checkout process. If you must, try to simplify account creation as much as possible.
5. Minimize card declines
Best practice: Fraud protection
Ecommerce merchants tend to think that one of their biggest nightmares is losing thousands to fraudsters. However, most don’t realize that they also might be losing even more potential revenue by unknowingly rejecting good customers (false positives).
Building out your own team of fraud experts is difficult, especially as fraud patterns change week by week. This is an area where most merchants turn to outside solutions, but most fraud solutions in the market still require some involvement, are largely rules-based, and err on the side of being too cautious.
6. Provide stellar customer support
Excellent customer service can be a small business’ key to converting customers…and then some. It creates brand “superfans” – a legion of customers who will always buy your product because you treat them well. Superfans are not only consistently evangelizing your business, they’re also more likely to forgive any hiccups, delays, or errors on your site that would otherwise send potential customers running.
Best practice: Provide multi-channel options.
The key to delivering top-notch customer service is making it easy for your customers. A big part of that is providing multi-channel support so that your customers can use their preferred method of communication to get in touch. What if the majority of your customers prefer to ask questions via Twitter DM? The only way to know that is to have many channels available.
As you select your company’s customer service channels (i.e. live chat, email, phone, Facebook Messenger, etc.), consider these stats:
- Customer satisfaction ratings for live chat are often higher than all other support channels [Live Chat Benchmark Report 2017]
- Chat is the preferred support channel of Millennials [Comm100]
Best practice: Surprise and delight your customers.
Whether it’s a special something in your customer’s order or a handwritten note to your most loyal superfans, giving your customers something “extra” goes a long way. It builds loyalty and ensures that your best customers keep coming back for more.
Best practice: Be empathetic.
Customers want to be heard. A bad experience on your site or with your product can be turned around with an empathetic and understanding ear.
7. Serve cross-device re-targeted ads
Help your customers shop by reminding them of your products.
Best practice: Build custom and lookalike audiences to serve personalized product recommendations across all devices.
A Google/Ipsos study found that 60% of online conversions start on one device and end on another. Identify your customers when they visit your site across various devices (desktop, browser, tablet, mobile). Cookie IDs track users’ movements in a site and remembers any selections they’ve made. Social IDs identify users’ social media accounts when they visit a website such that the merchant can see what products they browsed. Use a combination of Cookie IDs and Social IDs to build pixeled audiences and serve them personalized product recommendations on other sites (e.g. Facebook, Youtube, Instagram).
8. Experiment and analyze results
How do you know what works and what doesn’t?
Best practice: Track key metrics.
Don’t forget about measuring your progress. Understanding your conversion rates and calculating them correctly is the first step to measuring the impact of these levers. Compare your checkout conversion rates with industry averages and A/B test regularly.
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