By Owen Jones

A conversion is a visitor to your website who undertakes a desired action while they’re there. In an ecommerce context, your conversion count is generally synonymous with sales. Certain industries also count other actions as conversions, such as contacting the sales team through an online form.

In this guide to conversion analysis, we will look at seven crucial conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests every ecommerce business needs to do to maximize conversions from its landing and sales pages. But before we do that, we need to know where your conversion rates currently stand.

The Importance of Setting a Benchmark for Success

Before you undertake CRO, you need to know the average conversion rates for your industry. This is one of the benchmarks you can use to gauge your website’s success.

Conversion rates vary widely across industries and geographical locations. The chart below shows how much average conversion rates differ across sectors. Furniture products are the lowest at 0.68%, while food and drinks sit at the opposite end of the spectrum, with 3.58%.

Source: Growcode

Of course, you want to aim higher. On average, industry leaders’ conversion rates are five times the industry benchmark. If you’re going to take your business to the next level, you want your conversion rates to be somewhere in that top 25%, where conversion rates are often double the median.

If your conversion rates are far below the industry benchmark, on the other hand, you need to do something about it. Ecommerce is already a thriving industry and growing all the time. Your competition is going to increase, and low conversion rates spell trouble if you do not do something to improve them.

Many factors can affect your conversion rate, ranging from page load time to the quality of visitors your pages attract. In this guide, we’ll look at seven of the most critical areas of an eCommerce site to test through conversion rate optimization.

1. Optimize Site Speed

One of the simplest ways to improve conversion rate is by reducing the page load time. The reasoning is obvious: the longer a page takes to load, the more likely visitors are to get impatient and leave.

The graph below shows the relationship between page load time and conversion rates:


Source: Stratejus

Multiple studies show the impact of page speed on conversion rates. Amazon, for instance, is arguably the most cited example. The company estimates that every 100 milliseconds of site latency means a 1% drop in sales.

You’re not Amazon. However, page speed is important for conversions. When optimizing your page speed, focus on your home page, login, and checkout pages first. Then review the product and category pages. These are generally the most popular pages on your site, and therefore the most important.

2. Improve Website Navigation

What makes the best ecommerce sites popular? The ease of navigation is very high on that list. Everything on these sites, from landing pages to product pages to the checkout page, can be accessed within three clicks from the home page.

Much as a long page loading time will cause visitors to leave your site, a complicated eCommerce site design will frustrate your customers. There is no single catch-all solution for improving the navigation on a site. You can look into things like breadcrumbs, element prioritization, and reduced menu options.

PrintGlobe is a good example of an ecommerce website that went through a successful redesign. They discovered that visitors weren’t clicking on subcategories. To improve the site’s usability, they ran an A/B test on the side menu. Compare the original design (left) and the variant (right) below:


Source: Invespcro

PrintGlobe found that adding a navigation menu to the left side of the page increased website conversions by 18.5%. This shows that a page with smoother navigation will outsell competitors who make navigation hard for their visitors.

3. Add Scarcity to Create Urgency

No analysis of conversion processes is complete without considering how the site uses scarcity and urgency. These are proven conversion boosters, and marketers use them in a variety of ways to drive conversions.

Highlighting the scarcity of a specific product brings two benefits. First, showing that the product is in high demand increases its perceived value. Second, reminding the customer that a product is about to run out will urge them to buy it right away. Booking.com does a great job of highlighting product scarcity.

There are several ways to incorporate scarcity and urgency into your conversion strategy. For example, making an offer time-sensitive increases the chances of the customer hitting “Buy”. It would be best if you looked at how you can apply some of these methods to increase conversions on your site.

4. Add Free Extras to Boost Sales

A study from the University of Pennsylvania observed the spending habits of more than 13,000 consumers. Researchers grouped participants into three categories: tightwads, unconflicted, and spendthrifts.

While more than 75% of people are happy to spend money, if this study is to be believed, then close to a quarter of your prospective customers are self-proclaimed tightwads. You can use one or more different ecommerce pricing strategies to convince them to click “buy”. Your web copy and other site elements play crucial roles in appealing to these customers.

Source: GoInFlow

In the example above, the ecommerce site TrailCamPro highlighted a free shipping offer for deals over $99 through the main menu, alongside the generous returns policy. The small change to their site resulted in an immediate 20% increase in sitewide sales.

5. Add Social Proof to Generate More Sales

Before Amazon began allowing visitors to post product reviews in 1995, industry experts believed reviews would discourage customers from making purchases. In 2020, social proof has become one of the most important elements of ecommerce, and one of the first things businesses look at when they perform CRO.

There are many ways you can add social proof to a website to improve your conversion rate. One of the most obvious examples is by adding a public review system as Amazon has implemented.

Social proof notifications are another way to add social proof to a site. There are a lot of different, social proof notification software platforms on the market. They work by highlighting what products are being purchased through a site and the number of products purchased over a time period.

Evidence consistently shows that social proof has a direct impact on a site’s conversion rates. Adding social proof must be a priority when you perform CRO on your ecommerce site.

6. Reduce Cart Abandonment Rates

The average cart abandonment rate for ecommerce websites ranges from 60-80%. Any time you can decrease your cart abandonment rate, you can increase conversion rates and, therefore, profits.

There are several strategies you can try when you make cart abandonment reduction, including:

  • An exit-intent lightbox
  • Email sequences
  • A graphic of a shopping cart
  • Shopping cart design and copy optimization

BootCuffsSocks, an eCommerce store specializing in clothing, for example, used an exit-intent popup to incentivize people who were about to leave the store to make a purchase. Below is the lightbox that they used.

Source: Optimonk

Adding an exit-intent lightbox helped BootCuffsSocks generate an additional 601 new transactions in three months. You could easily improve sales still further by adding a relevant cart abandonment follow up sequence. This is what Liftopia did to decrease their cart abandonment rate by 15%.

7. Optimize the Checkout Process

The checkout is often the final obstacle to a visitor making a purchase from an ecommerce site. The graph below identifies the top reasons for checkout abandonment:

Source: Baymard

If you’re undertaking CRO testing on your checkout page and don’t know where to start, try addressing the reasons above first. Optimizing for these factors will go a long way towards increasing conversions.

Do What is Right for Your Business

CRO testing is unique to each brand and site and is not something that is easily replicated. Because each website is unique, you must create a CRO strategy that is right for your business, not try to emulate what another company has done. You can start with the tests I’ve outlined above, and decide which ones make the most sense for you to focus on. 

Regardless of your industry, CRO must always start with understanding your market and your customer base. The seven CRO tests I have just described are all proven to improve conversion rates, provided that you know what your customers want. It is very important to use CRO tools that provide accurate, actionable insight for crucial marketing decisions. You can only do this if you understand the audiences you are trying to reach.

Remember, too, that CRO is not something you do once and then it’s done. To remain competitive in an increasingly crowded and challenging ecommerce market, you must develop an ongoing CRO strategy and consistently adapt and develop. This is how you still stay ahead of the curve and ahead of your competition.

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