Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Khalid Saleh who is co-founder and CEO of Invesp Conversion Optimization
A survey by Adobe shows that 53% of businesses spend less than 5% of their total marketing budgets on conversion rate optimization efforts. And about 35% of these businesses reported less than 1% of conversion rate, when a good one on a average is around 3% globally.
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There are two reasons for this: many e-commerce business owners don’t know what their conversion rates actually are. Among the ones that do know, there is a pervasive belief that conversion rate optimization is slow, expensive and time-intensive.
The truth is that there are countless measures that will quickly boost your e-commerce conversion rate with little effort or investment.
These methods can be used by nearly any store, regardless of its size or target market.
1. Introduce a sense of urgency
Most online shoppers have a tendency to add items to their cart or save up for purchasing later.
Of course, you know what happens next: shoppers either head over to a competitor, or forget about their cart altogether.
The result: shopping cart abandonment rates as high as 68.3%.
One way to get shoppers to stick around and complete the transaction is to create a sense of urgency. When shoppers know that they don’t have much time to avail a special offer or buy a product, they are more likely to take faster decisions.
Here are a few ways to introduce a sense of urgency:
Create time-sensitive offers or discounts
Running a “24/48 hour only” sale is a great way to create a sense of urgency. Retailers have long used this tactic to stir action and increase e-commerce conversions.
In fact, the success of Groupon can be partly credited to its time-sensitive offers.
If you have a lot of these deals, you can even create a separate section on your site for them, like Amazon:
Create a sense of scarcity
Besides urgency incentives, another method to inspire action is to use scarcity incentives.
This can be as simple as showing customers how many products you still have left in stock. If a customer feels that the product might not be available for long, there is a good chance she will complete the purchase.
Here’s how Amazon does it:
Limit free-shipping period
There are two things your customers hate: paying for shipping, and waiting for shipping.
You can use this to your advantage to get people to take action. Offer customers free or fast shipping, but only if they order the product within a specific time-frame (say, 12-24 hours).
Amazon, for example, highlights that it will ship a product within two days, but only if the customer orders within 12-13 hours:
Sellers on Etsy often do something similar. They offer free shipping, but only if the customer takes immediate action.
This is a quick and effective way to create a sense of urgency.
2. Make use of compelling and uncommon call to actions
A call-to-action is what tells your visitor what to do, where to click and in some ways, what to buy. The call to action buttons defines the customer’s journey to conversion after landing on your website.
While most obvious examples of CTAs on e-commerce sites are the conventional ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add to Cart’ buttons, they aren’t always the best if you’re focusing on getting more e-commerce conversions.
Instead, try testing different button sizes, color, copy and location.
For example, Amazon uses an icon on its CTAs:
Brooks Brothers uses a slightly different variation of the ‘Add to Cart’ to maintain the image of a shopping bag (as opposed to a cart – what you’d use in a bigger store).
Firebox calls its shopping cart a ‘basket’ and uses an appropriate CTA:
BestBuy uses different CTAs throughout its website, including category-specific CTAs such as “Shop Laptops”:
Here are a few simple things you can immediately test for your CTA:
- Color: Test contrasting colored buttons that draw attention on the page.
- Copy: Change copy from ‘Buy Now’ to ‘Purchase/Shop Now’, and ‘Add to Cart’ to ‘Add to Basket/Add to Bag’.
- Location & Size: Change where you place your CTAs on the page, as well as their size.
- Design Elements: Test things like icons, shadows, gradients, rounded corners, etc.
While these should give you a noticeable bump, you can also test a few unconventional CTAs to draw attention to your offers.
Some of these are:
1. Social Proof CTA: This CTA includes social proof right before the call to action and matches it with descriptive copy.
Here’s an example from HubSpot:
2. Poster CTA: This CTA includes relevant imagery in the background and a marketing message on the CTA copy.
Here’s an example from StumbleUpon:
3. Banner CTA: This CTA is usually part of a large banner that occupies a dominant position on the screen.
Here’s an example from Amazon – a banner right at the top of the page.
4. Descriptive CTA: This CTA describes what the call to action actually does (“Customize Product”, “Buy With 1-Click”, etc.)
Here are two examples from Amazon:
3. Add trust elements to your product and checkout pages
Unless you have a lot of repeat customers, you’ll need to address visitor FUDs (Fears, Uncertainties, Doubts) before you can turn them into loyal customers.
There are a lot of trust elements you can use to address these FUDs on your web pages. Some of these elements, however, take longer to have an effect than others.
For example, while most of your customers will seek reviews when shopping (90%, as per one study), there is no easy way to source reviews quickly.
With that in mind, here are a few trust elements you can quickly add to your product and checkout pages for big wins:
Customer testimonials work like reviews, except you can source them much faster. Reach out to your existing customers and ask for their feedback on your product or your store. If the feedback is positive, ask for permission to use it on their site.
You can even source these testimonials from your social media pages. Here’s an example of how BBolder.com does it:
Social media signals
A product with a lot of love on social media inspires confidence. It subtly tells future customers that you can be trusted. After all, all those people sharing your products on social media can’t be wrong.
Here’s how Firebox shares the total likes, pins and tweets for each of its products:
This acts as powerful social proof – one of the core principles of persuasion online. It’s also easy to add for most of your products.
The “As Seen in” tagline along with a bunch of authority publication logos is a time-tested way to increase your site’s trust quotient.
If your products or your store have been mentioned in Forbes, Fortune, HuffPo or any big name publication, feel free to drop their logos on your product pages. You’ll piggyback on their authority and increase your store’s trustworthiness.
Here’s an example from LuxyHair.com:
Security badges, awards, and certificates
If you’ve been recognized by a reputed organization, or use any additional security on your site, be sure to show it off on your product and checkout pages.
Such trust elements assure would-be customers that your store has been around, that it meets compliance standards, and that it is good enough to be recognized by leading authorities.
For example, here’s how Bodybuilding.com increases its trustworthiness by showing off its INC 500 ranking and BBB, McAfee certificates:
What kind of a e-commerec conversion uplift should you expect from using security badges? While most companies offering security seals (and services) use case studies indicating 20 to 30% uplift in conversions, research conducted by Invesp shows that most e-commerce websites report an average of 5 to 7% uplift from these seals.
All of these are quick, easy ways to increase your site’s perceived trust. You should see an immediate bump in conversions after following these steps.
4. Use optimized forms
Contact forms are something that almost every e-commerce website has – whether it is to sign up, register or checkout, this is an element that no one excludes. But it is something that most businesses don’t give much time and attention to when creating. They just throw in everything they ‘think’ they need from the customer.
Instead of blindly adding as many fields as you can fit in (or worse, following what a leading retailer in a completely different market is doing), take some time to understand how customers interact with your site and what data you actually need from them.
Ask yourself: do you really want your customers’ city/state information when you already have their zipcode? Do you really want them to sign-up before they can checkout? And when signing up, do you want to ask for their address, phone number AND email address?
Here are a few things to keep in mind for quickly optimizing your forms:
- Err on the side of brevity. Ask for as little information as possible – you can always get customer data after they’ve bought something from you.
- Label all fields. It’ll make your form more readable and user-friendly. Labels on top of a field are better than in-field labels – they don’t get erased once a customer clicks the field.
- Make use of auto-fill for recurring customers. You can even take advantage of Google’s auto-fill data if your customers are on Chrome. Learn more here.
- Use more relevant CTAs than the standard ‘Submit’ button. See #2 above for more on this.
And finally, in the long term, always keep testing your forms and their structure.
5. Remove all distractions from the checkout page
I’m amazed at the number of businesses that continue to show the navigation bar, the footer, and other distractions on the checkout page.
Your checkout page should be completely distraction free. It should be a sandbox inside your store. The only way customers should be able to leave is by closing the window, or heading back to the store to purchase more items.
Removing distractions helps customers focus on the transaction, not other offers and pop-ups on your store.
A change like this is relatively easy to implement technologically and will give you a big bump in cart abandonment and e-commerce conversion rates.
6. Incorporate an exit-intent campaign
As stated earlier, the average shopping cart abandonment rate stands at 68.63%. This means that nearly 7 out of 10 customers who are committed enough to add a product to their cart leave your site without buying.
One way to get this rate down is to create an exit-intent campaign for your abandoning visitors.
An exit-intent campaign tracks user behavior and identifies people who are about to abandon a site (based on on-site behavior). These users can then be shown a relevant offer that will keep them sticking around, or come back to your site at a later date.
Your competitors are already using exit-intent campaigns. According to one study of the top 1,000 US e-commerce stores:
- 30% of stores are using pop-ups.
- 22% are using entry pop-ups
- 14% are using exit-intent pop-ups
- 6% are using both entry and exit intent pop-ups.
These pop-ups can be heavily customized to target only a small segment of your users with select offers.
For instance, you can create separate pop-ups for repeat customers and reward them for loyalty with a coupon code. Or you can create a pop-up that targets first-time abandoning visitors with an extra 10% to stir them to complete their purchase.
Take Indian retailer ‘House of Blouse’ as an example. They used an exit-intent cart abandonment campaign that offered a ‘cash reward’ for anyone who completed their purchase. It also asked for their email address to reveal the discount code.
This helps them not only get a customer, but also get a subscriber (who can be sold to again and again).
Over to you
There are a lot of tactics that an e-commerce store can use to boost its e-commerce conversion rates. Not all of these tactics are as effective or as efficient.
By following the above tactics, and running a strong CRO campaign, you can radically increase the conversion rate of your store in weeks, not months.
Here’s what you can takeaway from this post:
- Create a sense of urgency to inspire users to complete their purchase.
- Use more compelling CTAs all over your website to get users to take more action.
- Use trust elements to address customer FUDs.
- Optimize your forms for faster checkouts and to reduce abandonment rates.
- Remove all distractions from your checkout pages.
- Create an exit-intent campaign to turn abandoning visitors into customers (or barring that, at least a subscriber).
About the author
Khalid Saleh is the co-founder and CEO of Invesp Conversion Optimization, a leading provider of conversion optimization software and services. Invesp’s Pii powerful A/B testing engine allows users to test unlimited variations of a landing page and offers them a quick turnaround on ROI. Follow Invesp on Twitter, Youtube and Google+ for latest conversion rate optimization tips.