Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is one of the most important aspects of building a successful e-commerce and lead generation website. Enough traffic is of course the starting point for monetization, but without Conversion Rate Optimization, traffic can be completely worthless. Even worse – you can lose a lot of money through online advertising without converting enough visitors into customers.
So what is a good definition of the conversion rate?
The Conversion Rate (CR) of a website is the percentage of visitors who reach the action goal of your website, for example buying a product, downloading a download or subscribing to a newsletter.
For example, suppose 100,000 people visit your e-commerce store and 500 of these visitors have either created an account, bought something or subscribed to your newsletter, then your shop has a conversion rate of 5%.
The goal is of course to further improve or optimize the conversion rate. Because the better your CRO is, the higher your sales and the bigger the digital footprint of your business will be.
1. Reviews for more trust
Reviews of the product, especially on the landing page, are an important reference for the customer and play an important role in the legitimacy and reputation of the company and the product. They create trust, offer better insight into the product and also serve as social evidence (“If other customers like the product, I will probably like it too”).
Ratings on the landing page or product page increase the conversion rate, even if not all ratings are positive. A representative survey by Bitkom, for example, has shown that 56% of online shoppers use other customers’ experience and test reports as the most important decision-making aid. This is especially true when there is a lot of competition in the respective product niche.
2. Social Proof is important
Similar to reviews, the provision of social proofs aims to increase potential customers’ confidence in the company and the product. Social proof is thus a psychological tactic by which people adapt to the actions of others, assuming that these actions reflect the correct behaviour. It also becomes a tactic for optimizing the conversion rate through word-of-mouth.
An example of social proof is the display of social media buttons on the landing page and/or on the main page, linked to the company’s pages on social networks (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). Displaying the “likes” of the respective pages also gives the customer the impression that he is dealing with a reputable, legitimate company.
Other examples are visitor counters (e.g. “15 other visitors are currently looking at this product”) and conversion notifications (e.g. “Ms. X from P. has just bought this product”).
3. Site speed optimization
According to a study by Akamai Technologies, 40% of visitors leave a website that takes longer than three seconds to load immediately. It is therefore very important that the landing page loads fast enough to avoid losing a large proportion of customers at the beginning.
Performance testing tools such as GTMetrix or Google Page Speed Insights can serve as a starting point for a speed test. In order to keep the loading time of the page as short as possible, a not too complex website design, a reduction of plugins to the most necessary and the reduction of photos and videos (size and quality) usually help.
4. Design of the shortest possible conversion funnel
Roughly speaking, the conversion funnel is the path of the potential customer on the website or landing page with the ultimate goal of conversion (e.g. buying a garment). The shorter the customer’s path to conversion, the more likely it is that conversion will occur at all.
The Conversion Funnel would usually be too long or complex if the customer first had to create an account on a website, sign up for the newsletter, is redirected to a product page that is far too long and has to scroll down a long way to find the buy button of a product. Through this long process the customer often loses patience and leaves the site without making a purchase.
Keep the process as short as possible to avoid this (part of this is for example a not too long but informative product page, a clear CTA button and easy payment).
5. Placement and choice of words for the CTA button
Call-to-Action (short: CTA) describes the strategic placement of a button within a marketing process, which leads the user to an action, i.e. to a change in the user experience.
CTA buttons have a great influence on the conversion rate, as they motivate the customer to take the desired step. They should give a clear instruction, for example to buy a product (“View Now”, “Buy Now”) or to generate a lead. In the latter case, it is advantageous if the call-to-action emphasises the positive characteristics of the action (e.g. “Get ten free tips now”).
6. Discounts, coupons and free delivery
Discounts, coupons and free delivery are effective tools in optimizing the conversion rate. Online giants such as Amazon and Aliexpress use them for one simple reason: customers are more likely to buy a product – and the average shopping cart value is higher!
Those who can use discount coupons for their business have a clear advantage. According to a study by RetailMeNot, 91% of American users prefer websites where they are offered a coupon. Users with coupons spend on average 24% more money than users without coupons.
The offer of free delivery also improves conversions. Numerous A/B tests have shown that customers are more likely to buy a product if they are offered free delivery. Another possibility would be to offer free delivery only above a certain value of goods.
7. Optimization of the product page
The product page or landing page is the first thing that potential customers see, making it an essential tool for conversion optimization.
An optimal product page should inform, convince and entice to buy. Important for this are high-quality photos and videos, an interesting, informative and structured text, which if possible contains the USP (Unique Selling Point) and highlights important points and advantages of the product, as well as a short presentation of similar products of the shop, which could interest the customer (up-selling/cross-selling).
8. Different payment options
Not all users have the same preferences regarding the payment of a product. If you only offer one payment method, you may lose a considerable number of customers shortly before you reach your goal.
It is therefore important to offer at least the most important payment methods, depending on the country: For example credit card, Paypal and Apple Pay.
9. Optimization of the site for mobile phones
Just a few years ago, users used their desktops much more than their mobile devices. Nowadays, the number of visits to a website by mobile phones is higher than by conventional computers, and the trend is rising.
It is therefore becoming more and more important to optimize a website for the mobile version as well, so that a large part of the traffic is not lost immediately.
10. A/B Testing is a must
It is very likely that the competition will change their landing pages, CTA buttons, product placements, etc. A/B tests to see what works well for them.
A/B testing allows companies to test certain elements of the website and purchase experience, while collecting data on the results. In this way, hypotheses can be made and it is easier to learn why certain elements of their experience influence user behaviour, which in turn can optimise the conversion rate.
An example of this would be testing different colours of the CTA button, the choice of words in the text or even the targeting of the target groups. It is important here to test only one element in order to clearly determine what exactly has increased or decreased the conversion rate.
11. Retargeting of abandoned shopping carts
According to a study by Forrester, as many as 88% of customers abandon the purchase process after they have already placed a product in the shopping cart. Retargeting can help to bring these shopping cart dropouts back to the website through targeted advertising and ultimately achieve a conversion.
Since the user has already shown interest in the product or website, it is much more likely that he clicks on the advertisement, comes back to the website a second time and finally performs the desired action (e.g. a purchase, a download or a newsletter registration).
12. A clear refund or exchange policy
Often forgotten, but equally important: to present the user with a clear refund or exchange policy.
Usually customers are reluctant to shop in shops that make it difficult or even impossible to return or exchange a product. Therefore, a clear return, refund and exchange policy can prevent a sale or turn a visitor into a customer.
13. Multiple languages and currencies
Even if your site is in English and a large part of the world speaks English – Not everyone is a native speaker and even those users who speak English as a second or third language often prefer sites in their native language.
Another example are countries like Switzerland or Belgium, where there is more than one national language. Especially in these countries it makes sense to offer the website in different languages to reach as many customers as possible.
The more languages are offered, the more customers and markets can be reached – which in turn leads to better conversion rates.
The same is true for currencies – a plugin for converting currencies helps to reach more customers. This not only makes it easy for visitors to browse the site, but also makes it more likely to buy from a site that shows them prices in their local currency.
Conversion and the optimization of the conversion rate are enormously important – no business can exist without conversions. And no matter what your current conversion rate is, a higher conversion rate is always desirable.