A high-traffic website won't help you if it doesn't result in meaningful conversions.
I’m sure you already know this, but the question is, how can you inform, educate, and persuade your visitors to purchase without scaring them away?
There are many eCommerce CRO tips available online. Trust me - I went through tons myself. While they might positively impact conversions in the long run, we marketers need impressive results, fast.
If you want to as well, I’ll be sharing 16 actionable CRO strategies for your eCommerce stores. These tactics are easy to implement, promise great results, and are backed by experts.
Let’s jump in.
What is eCommerce conversion rate optimization?
eCommerce conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of implementing techniques to increase your online store’s conversions.
How you define conversions here is subjective. It can be downloading an ebook, signing up for a newsletter, and perhaps the most important one, making a purchase.
Why is CRO important for eCommerce?
eCommerce CRO is key for increasing revenue, improving average order value, and following a customer-centric approach.
What makes conversion rate optimization so effective is while it promises big returns, it’s cost-effective to execute. A personalized email campaign with targeted offers to different customer segments will cost less than spending hundreds of dollars on paid ads.
This high return on investment makes spending time on eCommerce CRO worth it.
How to calculate eCommerce conversion rates?
Before you adopt strategies to increase conversion rates, you must know how this percentage is calculated.
By dividing the total conversions by total website visitors and then multiplying the result by 100, you’ll figure out your online store’s conversion rate.
If math stresses you out (you’re not alone), your data analytics software should do this job for you. Google Analytics is a free tool that you can use to track sales and monitor trends in conversion rates over time.
What is a good conversion rate for an eCommerce website?
Is the conversion rate of your eCommerce business good, decent, or poor? One way you can find out is by comparing against industry benchmarks.
As of June 2023, the average conversion rate for eCommerce companies is 1.86%. This is just an overall estimate and you may notice a higher/lower conversion rate for your industry type. For instance, the conversion rate for fashion brands is 1.57%, but for pet care companies, it is 2.01%.
In a nutshell, any figure exceeding the industry average conversion rate means you’re on the right track.
16 conversion rate optimization tactics for eCommerce businesses
So, how can you exactly drive more sales for your eCommerce store? The following strategies have been hand-picked for you to implement. Each comes with a real-life example, so you can see how they were used by successful brands.
1. Create personalized experiences for site visitors
Personalization is often talked about but rarely implemented properly. The most that companies do is address prospects with their first names and assume the job is done. However, creating personalized experiences is far more granular than this.
To truly tailor visitors’ experiences, you must take into account their demographics, interests, and location, among other factors. If you’re an apparel brand, you can leverage geolocation targeting to promote seasonal clothes or offer discounts for holidays local to a specific country.
Personalized experiences shouldn’t be limited to your website though. You can also incorporate it into your marketing communications. Daniel Chabert from PurpleFire uses email marketing as a medium for offering bespoke experiences.
“We implement advanced segmentation in our email marketing. People are in different stages of their buying journey. By segmenting your email list, you can personalize interactions for each stage, and even for different types of personas within those stages. Through this technique, we've seen an average increase of 30% in our conversion rates.”
The below personalized email from Outdoor Voices offers the recipient an exclusive discount for their half-birthday with the brand.
2. Add shoppable product videos to encourage engagement
With over 26 million eCommerce websites, the pressure to stand out is real. One way to create greater product desirability and generate higher conversions is by adding shoppable videos on product pages.
Shoppable videos merge entertainment and eCommerce together, enabling prospects to buy directly from videos. While high-quality product images can be engaging, they are static. In contrast, shoppable videos illustrate product usability, discuss benefits, and convey positive emotions that prospects can experience when using your product.
Take the example of Busy Baby Mat, an eCommerce store that saw a 11.49% conversion rate from shoppable video content created through Videowise.
3. Create a frictionless checkout process
A poor checkout experience is a vibe kill.
Unfortunately, the number of companies with complex checkout processes is more common than you think. Unnecessary steps, lack of guest checkout options, slow loading pages, and limited payment channels are some of the elements that contribute to a frustrating experience.
Imagine putting in all the effort to persuade visitors to convert only to lose them at the final step. To maximize sales, creating a frictionless checkout process is crucial.
A good example of this is Fashion Nova. Once on a product page, the visitor needs to hover on an image and a ‘Quick Add’ option will appear. Clicking on it will reveal the sizes the visitor needs to choose from, after which the product will be added to their cart.
On the checkout page, the shopper is given the ‘Express Checkout’ option to quickly process their payment. The ease of purchasing from the brand is extremely effective in encouraging repeat purchases.
4. Build trust with live social proof
Social proof is effective but live social proof is an untapped opportunity to drive greater conversions. This is because it plays with one’s fear of missing out and encourages them to take the final push.
Examples of live social proof include; recent purchase notifications (like in the example from The Sustainable Watch Company below), the number of visitors viewing an item, and any real-time feedback being received from customers.
5. Reduce cart abandonment to drive more sales
One quick strategy to increase eCommerce conversion rates is to reduce cart abandonment. The latter happens to every online store imaginable for reasons ranging from simply forgetting to buy to being hesitant to pay the high cost.
No matter the reason, a simple card abandonment automated email campaign can help recover lost revenue. Check out the example from Nomad below; not only does it remind the prospect of their forgotten purchase, but reinforces their return/exchange and warranty policies.
It’s important to note that a single automated email won’t be much beneficial. One should send at least 3 follow-up emails to convince prospects to convert. They don’t have to be rephrased versions of the same reminder email - one can offer free delivery while another could share the return policy for stress-free buying.
Tom Golubovich from Ninja Transfers shares the importance of follow-up emails for eCommerce stores:
“In terms of improving eCommerce sales and conversion, the one strategy that always worked best for me was employing follow-up campaigns. Follow-up campaigns such as retargeting campaigns work so amazingly well in eCommerce, and it's a real shame that many businesses fail to take advantage of this strategy. My conversion data and results historically show conversion rates spiking by about 30% after employing automated follow-up campaign strategies.”
6. Trigger contextual cross-sell messages to improve average order value
Cross-selling is a trusted CRO strategy as it increases the average order value and lays the groundwork for converting one-time buyers to repeat customers.
However, you shouldn’t bombard buyers with endless cross-sell messages. Only recommend products that are complementary to their existing purchase.
You can also look into the past behavior of a particular segment to determine how open they are to such messages. If there is some unresponsiveness, you can always offer an incentive to encourage them to buy multiple products.
The example of Sephora below is one to note.
7. Offer an incentive to increase conversions
Possibly the simplest (and quickest) way of driving greater conversions to your eCommerce store is offering an incentive. We, humans, are always up for a freebie and a good offer.
The incentive you offer can take the shape of a coupon code, free shipping, giveaway, or loyalty points.
To help you decide which incentive to choose, consider your main customer persona and their purchasing powers. A giveaway works great for students while discounts are suitable for young adults looking to stretch their budgets.
Just remember the incentive has to be interesting for it to create a buzz and gather a sizeable audience.
Fenty Beauty offers all new website visitors 15% off to encourage them to make their first purchase.
8. Leverage live chat software to end ambiguities of potential customers
Imagine a prospect ready to purchase but would like to know your return policy before they commit. They can’t find it on your website and eventually, go to your contact us page and email you from there. But it’s the weekend and no one is there to reply. As a result of this friction, they may decide to shop at a competitor's store instead.
To avoid this situation, you can integrate a live chatbot on your website to answer questions. There are many AI live chat tools that can be trained to answer frequently asked questions. This way you can provide help in case your support agents are unavailable.
The mattress company Leesa has an effective live chatbot to improve website conversions.
9. Optimize the customer experience for mobile users
Mobile users are responsible for generating 2.9% conversion rates on eCommerce stores. This means that one out of 50 mobile users converts. This statistic should be enough for you to optimize customer experiences for smaller screens.
How can you do so? By designing a mobile-responsive website that automatically adjusts to the screen size of the device. Also, say goodbye to lengthy paragraphs. Prioritize actionable words with appropriate font sizes so users don’t have to zoom in to read.
A mobile-friendly website should also remove unnecessary elements, load quickly, and have seamless navigation.
One eCommerce company with a successful mobile customer experience is Warby Parker. When the desktop website is viewed, three eyeglasses styles are displayed in a single row. Mobile websites, however, display only one design on a single row, so users do not need to zoom in and out endlessly.
10. Create a powerful search bar on your eCommerce website
An intuitive search bar has a greater impact on conversions than you may realize.
Many customers already know what they want or at least have an idea. Instead of manually finding out their desired item, they use the trusty search bar. But if it doesn’t show what is being searched for, chances are prospects will move on to a competitor in no time.
To create a powerful search bar, include placeholder text (like Search Amazon below), add autocomplete, and enable searching within product categories.
11. Offer a free trial of your product
Free trials work great for products with a high price tag or those with a strong claim, like removing acne marks in 15 days.
Often times people are interested in purchasing from a brand, but are afraid of getting disappointed. Free trials here help to make the decision-making process easier. Matthew Ramirez from Rephrasely, who is also a Forbes 30 under 30 alumni reinforces the importance of this CRO strategy.
“We've found that offering a free trial of our software helps to create a sense of trust and comfort with our brand and ultimately helps to drive conversions. We offer a 3-day free trial with all functions and modes in our site and provide a step-by-step guide for how to get started and what to expect. We also send weekly updates to users during the trial with tips, tricks, and best practices. It improved our conversion rate by 10%.”
The eCommerce brand Harry’s offers a free trial of their shaving kits that customers can try before making a final commitment, all they need to do is pay the delivery cost.
12. Survey visitors who exit your eCommerce site without purchasing
Why not ask website visitors directly the reason why they’re not converting? After all, nothing can be more effective than quality customer insights.
Once a visitor spends a certain time on your website or views multiple product pages, you can trigger an exit intent survey. Give them options to choose from but also, include an open-ended question for qualitative feedback.
Don’t just sit with this useful information. Use these insights to optimize the experience later on. For instance, if one didn’t purchase because of high prices, you can always target them with ads promoting discounts and offers. Ryan Mckenzie from Tru Earth follows a similar approach, which resulted in a 30% increase in sales.
“One of the most effective strategies that we've leveraged is remarketing. When potential customers visit our site and then exit without making a purchase, we stay connected with them through targeted ads displayed on the websites and platforms they visit afterward. This keeps our brand at the front of their minds and subtly nudges them toward completing their purchases.”
13. Incorporate FOMO in your product pages
The fear of missing out should be an important weapon in every marketer’s arsenal. It is extremely effective in driving impulsive purchases and generating quick word-of-mouth.
But how can you create FOMO for your eCommerce stores?
Mention the remaining items left in stock in product descriptions
Add a limited-time banner on a product category
Add countdown timers indicating when discounts end
Write urgency-creating words, like hurry and act fast, in calls to action
Asos creates FOMO by adding the ‘Selling Fast’ tag on popular products.
14. Launch a referral program for conversion optimization
Speaking of word-of-mouth, network effects are proven to boost conversions because if people don’t listen to marketers, they will to their friends and family.
But you can’t expect your customers to spread the word out of goodness from their hearts - you need to incentivize them as well. Cue in referral programs.
Marketers have been running referral programs for ages now and continue to do so because of how effective they are. You’re basically using your existing clientele to acquire customers for you.
Referral programs need to be exciting for both parties (customers and prospects) for them to perform well. You also need to promote them heavily on your website and marketing communications to reach the maximum number of customers.
The below referral campaign example from Bombas is worth remembering.
15. Leverage influencer marketing to encourage traffic on your eCommerce store
If people don’t listen to their friends and family, they probably will to their favorite influencers. With an ROI of $5.2 for every $1 spent, influencer marketing can help you boost conversion rates.
There are multiple ways to execute an influencer campaign. You can go for sponsored posts or influencer takeovers, but the secret to ensuring a successful campaign is choosing the right influencers.
Your budget will determine whether you choose a micro-influencer or a celebrity influencer, but whoever you select must be relevant to your industry, have a credible reputation, and shouldn’t be promoting competing products.
Take the example of the below-sponsored video created by influencer Brittany Vasseur featuring Ritual.
16. A/B test different CRO strategies to maximize sales
The last eCommerce CRO strategy on our list is A/B testing, which should always be a part of your marketing operations. It can help answer which design, copy, and layout elements result in greater conversions over others.
Ryan Mckenzie from Tru Earth has been using this tactic to improve conversion rates, by 25% to be exact. Here’s what he has to say:
“We regularly conduct A/B testing on our landing pages to identify what works best. For instance, changing the featured image, tweaking calls to action, and optimizing the checkout process have all led to notable increases in our conversion rate. By thoroughly testing and adjusting these key components, we're able to provide a seamless and compelling experience for our customers, which, in turn, drives our sales.”
Since you can test basically anything, it can be overwhelming to find your starting point. In such a case, trigger a survey (like Sapphire has done below) to determine which element needs to be improved the earliest.
The final takeaway
eCommerce CRO should be a continuous task because even if your conversion rate is higher than the industry average, it can always be improved. Which strategies you end up choosing will depend on your industry, current challenges, and what your budget allows.
If you don’t know where to start, adding shoppable videos to your website can bring in high conversions. With a tool like Videowise, you can easily create attention-grabbing videos in a matter of minutes. Book a demo to see it in action.