7 minutes

Back to the Basics: How to Increase Conversion Rate On Your eCommerce Store

Welcome to Part Three of our New Year Blog Series, Back to the Basics: How to Increase Conversion Rate On Your eCommerce Store.

This article was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated.

BVA is taking a full-service approach to helping you prepare for the new year. We’ve gathered insights across all of our teams, and are here to uncover what we consider to be the best tactics from a perspective that combines storefront strategy, marketing, creative, user experience (UX) design, Amazon, and more.

Optimizing your website for higher conversions, especially around peak selling seasons in eCommerce, is bound to give you an extra boost in sales and generate higher revenue (as long as you’re not slashing those prices too much and eating away at your margins). So let’s get right into your next question - how can you increase conversions?

Here are our top 7 tips and tricks when it comes to increasing conversion rates during the holiday season:

1. Pull Benchmark Data & Set Realistic Goals

Increasing conversion rates starts, like most metrics, with understanding your data. Tip number one: do not compare your conversion rate to generic eCommerce statistics and reports. Your conversion rate is dependent upon your product, your industry, and your own unique pricing strategy. Therefore, you should only pay attention to your own historical data.

To start, look back at your data from last year and find out how your storefront performed. What trends can you pull from the data, and where do you see room for improvement?

We recommend pulling this data from a combination of Google Analytics and your eCommerce platform -- it’s safe to say at BVA we’re partial to Shopify and Shopify Plus and their reporting tools. But, it doesn’t really matter where you get your data as long as you have access to it and are able to pull insights and actions.

eCommerce KPIs inside Google Analytics

Looking at eCommerce KPIs inside Google Analytics.

Next, try segmenting your data based on different criteria. Here, we’re talking about conversion rate, so try taking a look at your numbers from these perspectives (for example):

  • What gender is converting the most?
  • What are their interests? What are their demographics?
  • Are they shopping for themselves, for a spouse, or a child?
  • How are conversions different by region? National, international?
  • Are more conversions coming from a desktop vs. mobile?

Once you start to get a better sense of your historical data, you can accomplish two critical things (among many others):

  • Goals: you can set realistic and attainable goals for the upcoming quarters, based on how your storefront performed last year.
  • Targeting: you can gain a better understanding of which segments of your audience are converting the most, and then create a plan to target certain demographics or consumers by solving for and speaking to specific pain points.

2. A/B Test Everything

When it comes to A/B testing tools, we recommend Google Optimize because it’s free and allows you to run tests that are natively integrated with Google Analytics. We also work closely with solution providers like Nosto and Dynamic Yield, which not only allows for A/B testing, but also uses machine learning and predictive algorithms to build valuable customer segments in real time. These can be used to take instant action via personalization, recommendations, automatic optimization, and one-to-one messaging.

3. Content, Content, & More Content

Content, along with copywriting, is critically important in your overall eCommerce strategy. In the context of increasing conversion, it’s necessary to make sure your messaging and tone of voice is consistent across all channels, as this can greatly impact the user experience for your customers.

From a UX perspective, copywriting is a critically important factor when it comes to conversion rate. Any written message on your site is an opportunity to show your brand personality and gain trust with a user. Site visitors that find a delightful, consistent, and trustworthy tone across all your website copy are more likely to convert.

It's also essential that you make sure your site properly represents your offerings. If a customer doesn’t know what your brand is selling within three seconds of landing on the website, they’re going to have a negative experience and be more likely to bounce off the page.

4. First Check Site Speed, Then Increase Site Speed

“As a developer, the first thing to look at when trying to increase conversion rate is site speed,” says Courtney Freeland, Front End Developer Lead at BVA. “If there’s anything we can do to increase the speed of a page, we should do it. But try looking first and foremost at cart pages and product pages as those are the most likely to lead to conversion.”

How important is site speed and load time? Here’s the proof:

  • Studies show a 1% second increase in load time can reduce conversions by as much as 7%
  • Pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that take five seconds to load have a bounce rate of 38%
  • 47% of customers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less

A significant component to consider when it comes to site speed is image size. It’s imperative that merchants optimize images and compress file sizes so as not to work against site speed.

Shopify has filters (called Liquid Filters) that allow you to reduce the size of an image before it even renders on the page, which is a great starting point. Freeland specifically recommends using img_url to reduce the size of images, and also says that progressive JPEGs or smaller web format images are ideal as well.

Want to learn more about the steps to take to increase site speed? Check out our article here with our solution partner, YOTTAA.

5. Urgency & Scarcity Tactics Actually Work

In addition to traditional discounts, promotions, and buy-one-get-one (BOGO) offers, we’ve found that things like countdown timers and scarcity tactics really work when trying to increase conversion rate. Sure, they sound a little gimmicky, but the results speak for themselves.

For example, a split test done by WhichTestWon showed that when a countdown timer was placed on a product page, it converted nearly 9% better than a variation of the product page without a countdown timer.

Although your goal shouldn’t be to encourage visitors to make impulse purchases, you do want to try to get people that procrastinate to act faster. One way to do this is by communicating a product inventory or time shortage.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer timed shipping offers: “Order within X minutes and get free next day shipping”
  • Add a countdown timer: “Time left to buy at 30% off: displays countdown timer”
  • Try a flash sale: “Limited time only: take an additional 20% off your purchase.”
  • Advertise a limited quantity available: “Only 2 left in stock!”
eCommerce product page optimizations

Example of countdown timer, items left in stock, and social proof (people who have viewed and added products to cart).

When used correctly, scarcity and urgency can be effective tactics. But be careful, because false scarcity can do just the opposite.

Imagine shopping for an expensive new watch online and the countdown timer starts at 10 minutes for 25% off and free shipping. Your heart starts to race, your palms start to sweat, and you’re definitely feeling the pressure of making a quick purchase decision for something you’ve been thinking about for many months just because it has been too expensive.

Then you get distracted because your dog is barking at something in the next room. By the time you get back to your computer, your heart has sunk because you know you’ve missed out on a great deal and now will have to pay full price or go without.

But then… you see the countdown timer has actually just restarted and is back at 10 minutes. What?!

Maybe this is a win for the consumer (they still get the gift and the discount), but do they have trust in your brand? Probably not.

So although scarcity and urgency are effective, tricking potential customers should not be the objective. It is critical that you explain why a product is available for a limited time only and that you make sure the demand is there for your product before putting thought behind this strategy. Make sure you aren’t pressuring consumers to make a purchase they don’t want, because although that may lead to a quick conversion, you’ll later be facing refunds, returns, exchanges, or dissatisfaction with your brand.

6. Remarketing & Retargeting & Re… Wait What?

What better way to increase conversion than customers who you know have historically already made a purchase on your site?

You can start by pulling a list of last year’s shoppers around the time of year you’re looking to set a goal. The good news is, you already have email addresses, so getting back in touch with them will be easy and seamless.

Once you’ve collected your shoppers, segment them by persona group. This way you can make educated and informed decisions on what channels and messaging will be the best fit for each group. Successful remarketing strategies rely heavily on accurate audience targeting, which is easy and completely feasible if you take the necessary time to leverage demographic tools and dissect your data.

Once you have your persona groups, one strategy you can try is breaking each persona into two buckets: those that consistently pay full price vs. those that don’t. There’s no point giving someone a discount if they are willing to pay full price. Then, you can upload these lists to your email service provider (ESP) or even to Facebook, and serve up different ads and messaging based on their need for a discount code. This will improve your conversion rate as well as revenue, because you’ll avoid discounting your product when you don’t have to.

“Retargeting using Facebook Ads can get very complex, but is also extremely effective,” says Hani Haidao, Senior Media Manager at BVA. “You can segment based on touch points, interactions, products purchased, and gender, among other things. We usually break it out by top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, and also look at the data over one, seven, fourteen, thirty days, and so on.”

In addition to retargeting, don’t forget about remarketing, especially via email! You can use a remarketing strategy to get in touch with your past shoppers, as well as current shoppers that abandoned their carts prior to purchase.

The average shopping cart abandonment rate sits just under 70%, so a thoughtful abandoned cart remarketing strategy is a vital component for increasing conversion rate for any successful eCommerce brand. Try using a series of three emails to maximize impact:

  • The Accident: The first email should reach a user immediately after their cart is abandoned. Lead the email with a helpful reminder to the user that (oops) they still have items in the cart.
  • The Value Proposition: After 24 hours, lead your email with customer service oriented content that reminds the user why it is safe and preferable to buy from your brand as opposed to a competitor.
  • The Incentive: If the first two didn’t work, send the final email at 72 hours with an incentive or offer to persuade the user to complete their purchase.
abandoned cart
We love this example of an abandoned cart email from AWAY Travel.

7. Amazon Product Page Optimization for Mobile & Desktop

When looking at your conversion rate on Amazon, we suggest that you start by optimizing your product pages for both mobile and desktop. Here are a few tips from Riane Sanchez, Director of Marketplaces at BVA.

Content: Your copy needs to be optimized for customer education and must ease the decision to purchase. Make sure that it is clear to the reader what the product is, the benefits it provides, and how it works. This is also important for your AMS SEO efforts.

Images: Product imagery should include information rich product differentiators. Quality is key, as your product’s image is often your brand’s first impression and the first opportunity you have to generate a sale.

Enhanced Brand Content (EBC)/A+ Content: Amazon EBC/A+ is a premium content feature that allows sellers to modify a product description field of their branded Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) with enhanced images and text. All of your listings should have EBC/A+ content below the fold, which also enhances the mobile experience and has been known to increase conversions by an average of 11%.

Comparison Charts: Try featuring comparison charts on EBC in order to cross-sell other products that you’re selling on Amazon.

Be In-Stock: Ensure that your product is always in stock… after all, you can’t convert without inventory :)

“Optimizing your product listings is essential to your overall success on Amazon,” says Sanchez. "By optimizing everything from imagery to copy, you can drive higher click-through rates (CTR) through AMS as well as higher conversions, which will lead to more sales and improve your overall rank on Amazon.”

Concluding Thoughts

We’re hopeful that some of the ideas we’ve shared in this article will help you maximize your core metrics in 2021. Stay tuned for Part 4 of our Back to the Basics Series!

Check out our previous two articles in the series:

Have a project in mind or want to chat about any of these topics? Feel free to reach out to us here!