Understanding eCommerce Conversion Rate & Optimization

Having an easy-to-navigate eCommerce website can be huge for growing your business online. 

But what if things are slightly amiss? 

Customers are adding products to their cart, but not checking out. 

They’re searching for products, and leaving the site empty handed. 

Or worse, they’re rage clicking off your site, and going to a competitor. 

All of these tie directly into the overall experience of your website, and directly influence your website’s conversion rate. In this post, we’ll highlight more about conversion rates, and how you can implement an effective strategy on your eCommerce site. 

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?:

In its shortest definition according to HotJar, conversion rate optimization (CRO), is the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. Specifically to eCommerce sites, this can include purchasing a product, adding a product to a cart, or even filling out a popup form for a discount. On average, BigCommerce mentions that a solid eCommerce conversion rate is 2.63%, meaning that is how many users go through your site and make a purchase. 

It is easy to only want to look at the conversion rate data, and to start to set new benchmarks to achieve. Before you even consider new benchmarks, looking at your current customers’ engagement with your site is a must.   

How to learn about your customers’ behavior: 

No user will go through your site in the exact same way, which makes statements like, “we’re going to increase our conversion rate on add to cart clicks by 10%” sound good, but tactically speaking, hard to implement without customer behavior data. 

Google Analytics, or the analytics software in the backend of your eCommerce site can show pages users landed on, and exit pages, it can be hard to get to the “why” they left a page without a heat mapping tool. Solutions like HotJar or Lucky Orange provide data on how users engage with your site, and provide data points like rage clicks, frustrated visitors, and bounces. This can be filtered to show specific pages on your site, and filtered further to show any frustrations or pain points on the page, or even during the checkout process. 

Before making a game plan to improve your CRO, spending time understanding how your customers are already engaging with your website is an absolute must. At this point you may be asking yourself, “how long do I need to analyze my data for?” Sometimes, you will hear individuals say, “you need at least 60 days,” but in our experience, you can typically start getting an idea of where you can improve after 48-72 hours. 

With one of our clients we have been helping with CRO, we were able to notice within that timeframe that some users were searching for a product on their site that they no longer offered, and were being directed to an irrelevant search results page on their site. Frustrated users dropped off the site almost immediately, or searched again before dropping. By setting up a 301 redirect for the product, and directing it to go to a similar products page, the drop offs have already decreased for them, and users are making a purchase of the similar part.       

Now that you’ve got the user data and a plan, you’re asking yourself, “where do I even start?!” 

How to improve the CRO on your Magento, BigCommerce, or any eCommerce website: 

“It depends.” 

The most dreaded answer. 

In all actuality, CRO does depend on a variety of factors, and there is genuinely no “one-size-fits-all” approach to making improvements to your site.  

With that being said, the most common ways we have seen CRO improve include:   

  • General user experience enhancements: Are your users going through your site and finding the information they need?   
  • Optimize Category Pages: Can your customers find products they are looking for, and are they grouped with ones that are similar?
  • Optimize Product Pages: Can your customers add products to their cart, and check out easily? 
  • Simplify your checkout: Can your customers checkout with ease, and minimal friction? 
  • Content Personalization: Are offers presented to your customers relevant to them?  

Again, this is not meant to be an all encompassing list, and each website will be different. In the coming weeks, we will have individual blog posts tying back to the most-common ways above which we will link here. 

How do I implement a CRO strategy on my eCommerce site? 

It all starts with a good plan! 

Before you start making changes to your eCommerce site, we recommend making a documented list of priorities that ties into goals you set for yourself. On the topic of goals, make sure they are SMART, meaning, if you want to increase your checkout percentage 3% to 5% by the end of March, that is a realistic and achievable goal. Going from 3% to 50% by then is not. 

With a solid plan and goals to support it, you will be able to start implementing a new CRO strategy on your website. 

Now, the real question is, do you want to go at it alone with your team, or would you rather have some assistance? 

Should I work with an agency on conversion rate optimization?

Ultimately, this decision is up to you, your budget, and the bandwidth of your team. Selfishly, we could say, “absolutely! Work with an agency! In fact, we recommend you work with 121eCommerce!” 

Based on our experience, if there are budget concerns, but you have the bandwidth, our recommendation is to start small, and make enhancements to your website that you know your team can handle. 

As your site begins to grow, then it could be time to consider hiring a CRO expert for your team or of course, working with a partner. On the flip side, if you have the budget but not the bandwidth, we do recommend finding a partner to help you with your CRO. When researching partners, it is important to ensure you find the right one that can actually drive results, and are focused on metrics that truly matter. 

Some agencies may tout increases in site traffic or “we’re seeing more people on product pages” as a metric of their success. 

Yes, there may be more traffic driven to your site, but if users ultimately leave without making a purchase, it’s not helping grow your business. Site visits are not data that should be ignored completely however. It can help you determine if something is amiss with a dropoff in traffic, and it can (potentially) be tied back to your CRO.    

Above all else, your partner should have case studies, testimonials, or some sort of proof that they can deliver on what they offer. If they don’t, that should be a clear sign to look elsewhere.

Stay tuned for more on eCommerce CRO coming soon!