Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is one of the reasons we do what we do.
When potential customers land on your ecommerce site, you want to make sure that it is set up to maximize your chances of a sale. CRO helps you achieve that.
In the online world, success always comes down to how well you’re able to meet the needs of your users. We prefer this user-centric approach to CRO because in the end, it’s about catering to them first!
Here’s a closer look at CRO and why it matters:
What is CRO?
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is defined by Moz as the following:
“…the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming customers, or otherwise. The CRO process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from completing your goals.”
So it’s not always about sales, but it’s about getting website visitors to take any desired action you have defined. A “conversion” is simply completing a site goal, which could include things like getting people to sign up to your email list so that you’re able to keep in touch with them.
CRO is a field that’s always evolving. As technology improves and our options for creating new website features expand, there is more testing and experimentation to see what will improve conversions.
If you were to do a search trying to find “best practices” for CRO, you might find conflicting information. An important thing to remember is that it’s about what works for your particular target customers on your website. Sometimes it’s not as simple as deploying “best practices,” but more about testing what really works for you.
How do you calculate conversion rate?
The equation is fairly simple:
Total transactions / Total site visits x 100.
You might have primary goals (such as sales or filling out a form) and secondary goals (such as social shares or viewing of specific pages). You can calculate conversion rates for each goal that you have.
Why does CRO matter for ecommerce?
CRO matters for ecommerce because optimizing can make a significant difference to your results. This is probably best shown with an illustration…
Let’s say you leave traffic generation as is (so no new campaigns) and drive a steady 1000 people to your site each week. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll say that order value averages to $250 per order. You have a conversion rate (for sales) of 3%, so of those 1000 people, 30 make a purchase for weekly sales of $7,500.
Now, imagine you put in place some new CRO measures. You work to make the checkout flow more simple, for example. That might help you to push your conversion rate from 3% to 5%. Now, you have an average of 50 people making a purchase, and average weekly sales of $12,500.
With one seemingly small adjustment, you’ve added $20,000 a month in new revenue. Not bad, right? Sometimes just a small percentage increase in conversions can work out to significant impacts on your bottom line.
There are some other benefits of conversion rate optimization to consider. Let’s say you wanted to increase sales. You set up some ad campaigns to drive more traffic to your website, but besides that, you didn’t do anything else to the site. You could expect that you’ll probably maintain something close to that original 3% conversion rate. However, if you optimized your website before initiating a campaign, you have the potential to make so much more.
Or, put another way, without spending any more money on driving traffic, CRO helps you to bring your acquisition cost per customer down. Your marketing budget could remain the same, but you’d convert more customers. This in turn means that your profit can go up and you may be able to re-invest more into growing your business. It’s a recipe for a win!
Are there CRO best practices for ecommerce?
Are there CRO best practices for ecommerce? Yes and no. Yes, there are some things that have consistently proven to be important for CRO at a big picture level, such as optimizing the checkout, but the smaller details of what works best can often look different for different ecommerce businesses.
If anyone is trying to sell you on ideas like “all buttons should be red,” be cautious – these are the kinds of details that vary according to who is doing the testing. It’s important to test and check for yourself.
With those things in mind, here are some CRO best practices from our perspective:
#1. Have a solid analytics setup
It’s surprising how many ecommerce businesses either don’t have an analytics package properly set up, or don’t regularly look at their reports to understand what their numbers are doing.
You need something like Google Analytics or an alternative so that you know what your starting point is with your numbers. It will help you to set your primary and secondary goals with the right information to know if anything you do is making an impact.
#2. Have reliable testing methods
The testing side of CRO is not an easy thing to achieve. Many businesses hire professionals in the field for this reason. You could also choose to use a software package that will help you to run basic tests. Optimizely and HotJar are two examples of these.
#3. Optimize your checkout flow
The “out-of-the-box” WooCommerce checkout has multiple issues that can make it cumbersome for customers. Basically, the aim of an optimized checkout is to reduce friction points for the customer so that they’re more likely to continue with the transaction.
You could test your checkout flow point by point, or you could use a pre-built checkout flow that has been tried and tested extensively. If your store is on WooCommerce, CheckoutWC is a great choice for an optimized checkout flow that can be quickly installed and set up.
#4. Use high quality images and/or video on product pages
This tip is pretty universal. An ecommerce customer has to be able to envision products, how they look, feel and work without being able to physically pick them up. Detailed, high quality images and videos help them to do that.
Besides that, using low quality images can give a poor impression of your ecommerce store. If you had no or poor quality images, that could just as easily be a reason for a customer to click away.
#5. Offer free shipping (if possible)
Free shipping can be a bit tough on smaller ecommerce businesses, but it does work to convince customers to go through with a purchase. In a world where Amazon offers free two-day shipping on almost everything, people tend to expect it.
If you think laterally, you may be able to find a way to either outright offer free shipping, or to do so for purchases over a certain amount. For example, you could increase your product prices to cover the cost of shipping if you can see you’d still be competitively priced. Alternatively, you might say something like “free shipping on all orders of $50 or more.” Some ecommerce stores are able to increase their average order value this way, too.
#6. Use cart abandonment recovery
Cart abandonment recovery strategies are a way you can get back some of the inevitable cart abandonments. You won’t win them all, but you can get at least some back.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) can be worth a lot of money to ecommerce store owners. The aim is to optimize the customer’s experience of your online store so that they’re more inclined to go ahead with a conversion (whatever that looks like for you).
Sure, sometimes you might have to pay for software or a service that will help with CRO, but generally speaking, if you’ve optimized well you’ll more than make your money back. The investment can be a turning point for the growth of your business.
CRO matters if you want to get the best possible results – that’s the bottom line.