How to increase sales through your website
Enthusiastic startups and seasoned e-commerce retailers all face one major challenge regardless of their visitor count, product or price – how to increase conversions.
Conversion rate is arguably the single most important metric for the majority of online retailers, and is especially significant when money is being poured into paid advertising such as Google Adwords.
The methods of increasing sales online have dramatically changed over the past 10 years, partly as a consequence of increased competition online. The e-commerce market is saturated, not helped by the introduction of low-cost services like Shopify and BigCommerce.Increasing sales online is no longer as easy as lowering prices or offering free shipping.
One way of delivering an exceptional experience and optimising the “purchase journey” is to invest in conversion rate optimisation (CRO). The concept isn’t particularly new, but it has been made more accessible and affordable thanks to the influx of split testing services like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimiser.
So what is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
In its simplest form, it is the ongoing process of making small considered tweaks to a website in order to increase conversions. The emphasis here is on the word “considered”. Conversion Rate Optimisation yields the best results when decisions are data-led (using tools such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg and Hotjar).
Many of our CRO clients have dabbled with CRO before engaging with Studio-40, unfortunately for a CRO project to be successful, dabbling just doesn’t cut the mustard! What’s needed is a thorough, almost scientific approach.
Common “tweaks” for improved conversions
CRO isn’t a “one size fits all” exercise. What works on one site may be a total flop on another. That said, consistent success can be had by complying with usability guidelines such as the following:
Display clear checkout steps
At every stage of the checkout, the user should know where they are in the process and what remains to be done.
Persistent checkout summary
Continually reminding the user of their cart contents and the information they have entered so far helps to reassure the user and minimise the need to stray from the checkout journey.
Reduce the number of form fields
Reduce the perceived complexity of your forms by only asking for the information that you actually need to progress with an enquiry or order.
Use tangible action verbs
Use action verbs such as “make payment now” rather than “Continue”. These spur the user into action.
Optimise for mobile
Yes, people do buy on mobile devices, so don’t alienate them. Read our post on mobile optimisation.
Do it yourself CRO
As mentioned earlier in the post, tools like Optimizely have made CRO accessible and affordable. We have seen a number of clients attempt CRO in-house, only to return to us a few months later with their tail between their legs. There are a number of reasons why in-house CRO often doesn’t reach its full potential.
- CRO is a balance of data and experience. CRO experts have years of experience to draw upon. They generally know what works and what doesn’t.
- In order to correctly analyse visitor data, you need to have an analytical mindset, and know how to accurately mine tools like Google Analytics for the relevant data.
- The lack of a clearly defined process results in “messy testing”, where hypotheses aren’t validated, and tests are poorly analysed.
- CRO is a time-sink, and as a result is either abandoned prematurely or rushed.
- Issues can be related to copy, visual design, or information architecture. It is nearly impossible to optimise any of these without being an expert in the field.
When it’s over, it’s… not quite over
Conversion rate optimisation shouldn’t be a one-time exercise. The web is constantly evolving, as are your competitors and your visitors. Our most successful clients (the ones with the highest conversion rates) invest in ongoing CRO. They continue to work with us because we can clearly demonstrate a return on investment. If you are interested in CRO and would like to talk to one of our CRO experts, give us a call, send us an email, or subscribe to our newsletter for monthly tips and tricks.