How to optimise your ecommerce site for conversions

Have you ever wondered how to optimise your online store to ensure that it converts better? One of the most important metrics for an online retailer, improving conversions is on everyone’s mind.

No matter whether you are a new start-up or an experienced online retailer, understanding your conversion rate and how to improve it can be a daunting prospect. To help you get to grips the basics we have come up with our comprehensive guide to improving your conversion rate.

What is you conversion rate?

Your conversion rate is a metric used to asses the health of your ecommerce business. One of a series of metrics used, the conversion rate refers specifically to the rate (%) of people who complete a specific action/process on your site.

calculating conversion rate

If you have a Google Analytics account it is easy to get your ecommerce conversion rate. Simply go to Conversions and then, Ecommerce Overview.

Google Analytics Ecommerce Conversion Rate

Why should you care?

As an ecommerce retailer you are likely to be paying for advertising, whether in the form of PPC, print ads or social advertisements, to bring traffic to your website. To achieve a greater return on your investment (ROI), it is better to convert a higher percentage of the visitors you already have than pay to attract more.

Additionally, optimising your ecommerce site will enable consumers to find what they are looking for more quickly, reducing your exit and bounce rate.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is important because:

  • Higher conversion rate = better ROI
  • More cost effective than finding new visitors
  • Defends against high bounce rates

Is my conversion rate too low?

Yes - the answer is always yes, there is always room for improvement. Having said that, it would be impossible for almost any retailer to achieve a conversion rate of 100%. Statistics from 2013 show that Sainsbury’s ranked first amongst European e-retailers with a conversion rate of 15%. Even Amazon, one of the biggest online retailers, only achieves a conversion rate of 6.3%.

Statista Europe eretailers ranked by conversion rate

Statista Europe e-retailers ranked by Conversion Rate

According to Marketing Sherpa, the average conversion rate for a retail or ecommerce company is 3%. That gives you something to aim for. If you’re already achieving this, give yourself a pat on the back – you're heading in the right direction.

How can I improve my conversion rate?

Before I continue I need to set one thing straight, conversion optimisation doesn’t require a complete redesign of your website. Whilst it can help, I would not recommend paying out until you have the data you need to produce a conversion-centred design. Leaping into things will prove disappointing and in some cases, costly.

The first step is to assess your website; this can be difficult especially if you’re the business owner, but try to be objective. Get a second opinion from colleagues and friends; ask yourself what works and what doesn’t? 

A great place to get conversion data is with Google Page Analytics. Providing an instant preview of on page conversion rates, it will highlight which areas of your site are attracting clicks and which aren’t.  

Google Page Analytics

Start with the homepage; your shop front. Your average consumer will wait 3 seconds for your website to load and take only 60 seconds to decide whether they want to stay. Making a good first impression is one of the most important things to get right.

Consider headlines, content, banners and imagery. Are they the best they can be? Review your content and make sure that it features relevant and engaging keywords that your prospective customers are searching for. This will increase your organic traffic and also lower your bounce rate as visitors will be finding content relevant to their search.

Do I need to split test?

Conversion optimisation is data driven and synonymous with website testing. Once you have assessed which aspects of your website need improving, you will need to decide how best to improve them for conversions.

For the smaller retailer, Optimizely is a great tool to help split test different variations. In its simplest form, Optimizely enables you can change the colour of a CTA button, showing one colour to 50% of visitors and another to the other 50%. Tests can get as complicated as you like enabling you to target specific visitor groups, geographic locations and more.

Optimizely split testing

If you plan on redesigning your website, you’ll need big data. There are lots of best practice design guides and top tips on the web, but when it comes down to it, your website and customer base is unique to your business. Data drives design, so spending the time finding what variations convert on your website will pay dividends.

So what do I need to do?

The big picture here is to not only work towards increasing your conversions, which testing will help achieve, but work towards achieving a better understanding of your customer base. In furthering your knowledge of your customers you will be able to offer a more targeted and user appropriate site that meets the individual need of your business and visitors.

The smart place to start is with testing. Challenge the status-quo to identify the features you need to keep and the bad stuff that needs to be binned. Quick Sprout has a great infographic on how to optimise conversions that identifies best practices for ecommerce – I recommend checking it out.

Need more help? At Netmatter we can help you to build a better ecommerce business. Call our team today on 0845 467 1221.

Catherine Durham

Catherine Durham

Digital Marketing Manager (Dip DigM)

Digital Marketing Manager at Netmatter, Catherine Durham graduated in Press & Editorial Photography. She has since gone on to work in digital marketing and ecommerce, with experience in SEO, copywriting, design and photography.

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