Chances are if you’re running an ecommerce business, you’re optimizing everything with the goal of conversions in mind: your ads, your email marketing, your posts on social media, etc. While some of these channels cost little more than the time invested, others will eat a hefty amount of your budget. You’re essentially betting that as long as you’re driving people to your website, they’ll convert.
The biggest issue with this kind of thinking is that if your website isn’t optimized for conversions, investing time and money into driving traffic to your website isn’t going to bring you the results you want. DTC brands start making the assumption that the more money they pour into their paid ads or their digital marketing experts, that means the more revenue they’ll make. You might have amazing CTRs or low CPMs with your paid ads, or your email campaigns might be getting high open and click through rates, but if your website is under-performing, all of these great stats won’t convert into sales.
The reality however is that in order to have a successful ecommerce business and ensure that the money and effort that’s being invested isn’t getting burnt month over month, you need to spend time and energy creating and optimizing your landing pages, not just the drivers getting the traffic there. Your ads could be optimized perfectly, but if your visitors are landing on pages with conflicting information, low-res product images, or a hidden call-to-action, the chances of that conversion actually happening are slashed.
The solution? Investing in conversion rate optimization.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the ongoing practice of optimizing your web pages to increase the likelihood of your visitors taking a desired action. In this case, The hard truth here is that too many brands throw together websites that aren’t optimized for conversions. Product pages need to build trust, relay information, and entice visitors to click that add-to-cart or buy-now button.
When done correctly, CRO will not only lower your customer acquisition cost (CAC) but become one of the most cost-effective ways to increase profit, not just drive revenue. Below is our list of some CRO best practices you can start implementing and testing on your site to help boost your conversation rates.
- Load Times
- Product Images
- Build Trust
- Working CTAs
1. Load Times
47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of people will actually abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load! What does this mean? Customers are impatient. The time it takes your page to load is really one of your first real impressions, and customers have high expectations. Your page could be immaculate, and the offer in your ad is too good to pass up on, but neither of those things will matter if people aren’t sticking around.
Solutions could be as simple as compressing the videos or optimizing the images you’re using on your page, other times, a larger issue could be at play, such as the theme you’re using (in which case, you might be looking at a site overhaul!).
Acknowledging and tracking your website’s load time, and then understanding how to shorten it is the first step to optimizing your site and its performance overall. For more information on how to check and optimize your website’s load time, check out this great article Shopify put together. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is also handy for evaluating your site’s performance.
As an additional tip, be sure to test your page speed on various browsers - not just the one you use!
2. Product Images
The quality of the image you use on your webpage speaks volumes about who you are as a brand. You could have the world’s most life-changing product, but if the images representing it don’t live up to the hype, you’ll have trouble getting people to convert (and may have them running off to a competitor, instead).
As we mentioned above: first impressions are important, and customers are impatient. Product shots are more often than not the first thing a visitor notices when they get to your page, and they will most likely form an opinion of you and your brand from them.
An important thing to consider is that most of your visitors have (probably) never touched, used, or even seen your product in person before, so selecting high-quality (zoom-able!) images that can help a potential customer imagine the above is critical. High-resolution images taken from different angles in flattering lighting are the way to go. Better yet, if you have a video of your product in action, or worn on a moving body, your visitors can truly get a sense of what it’s like.
Include a mix of lifestyle images and product shots to show the products’ materials, features, and what it’s like “in action” if a video is unavailable.
It’s no secret that compelling copy will entice people to take your desired action, while poor copy will have the opposite effect. In the case of product pages, we’re primarily speaking to the product’s description. Use the product description as an opportunity to get into your customer's head: what potential questions could they have about what you’re selling? If you’re an apparel brand, those questions could include the materials the items are crafted of, where they’re made, how you care for them, size guides, etc. Address all these points in a concise manner while also highlighting the benefits. Is your product waterproof? Scratch-resistant? Does it come with a lifetime warranty?
A few other bonus takeaways are to ensure the voice and tone you’re using on your product page matches the ad that brought them there to create a more seamless experience (yes, it matters!) and to be completely transparent when it comes to other important factors that could contribute to a consumer’s final decision. What we’re referring to here are things like shipping times and costs (no one likes those kinds of surprises when they get to the checkout page), and of course, whether or not the desired SKU is in stock. If you’ve done a good job at crafting part A and have addressed any potential questions or hesitations your customer may have while also talking up all its benefits and features, things like delivery times are less of an issue - especially if you’re upfront about them.
4. Build Trust
You can build immediate trust in your product/brand by putting reviews at the forefront - both good and bad. A product without a single criticism is sure to spark alarm bells for potential customers, while a negative review with a thoughtful reply (admitting fault if necessary) will have a positive impact, it shows you care and genuinely appreciate feedback. One of our favorite apps for gathering reviews is Judge.Me, which we listed in our marketing tech stack as one of our go-to-apps for Shopify stores.
Leveraging user-generated content (UGC) is another strategy. Seeing real people wearing or using your products helps add authenticity and builds immediate trust with your consumers (it’s also a great way to connect with your customers!).
Additionally, including contact information on your product pages (such as a phone number, address, and/or email, links to social media profiles, etc.) will help you look more reputable to a first-time visitor.
5. Working CTAs
At the end of the day, you’re working and optimizing to have your visitors click that add-to-cart or buy now button - otherwise known as your call-to-action (CTA) button. While a committed shopper will undoubtedly track down said button since it’s technically their only barrier to purchases, for others who may still be on the fence, the look, placement, and size of these buttons are crucial.
When it comes to your CTA, you want it to stand out from everything else and be accessible right away. AKA, don’t make your customers have to search for it. By making it a contrasting color, large enough to spot at first glance (i.e. not blending in with the background), and positioned after your size or color options (if applicable), you can ensure it won’t be overlooked and the next organic step is taken.
The idea here is to make purchasing your product as simple as possible. Your customers shouldn’t have to work to add something to their cart, it should be calling them from the moment they land on your webpage.
Additionally, it’s important to keep a close eye on all the links on your website, regularly checking to ensure they’re leading to where they’re supposed to. It’s not unusual to see a company update their social media handles for instance, but not the links to their new profiles on all their pages.
BONUS: Don't forget Mobile Users
One final note, make sure you account for Mobile Users: “79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months” - if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re falling behind. Take a few extra steps to make sure your store is optimized for mobile users so you’re capturing all potential customers.
CRO is a constant process of testing and then testing again, and being prepared to incorporate a dynamic (but structured!) process around optimization. Simple tweaks like focusing on product vs lifestyle images, or the fonts you select can really make all the difference, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see massive shifts overnight. A successful CRO process is one that’s incorporated into your overall strategy and is an ongoing and evolving conversation to ensure you’re making the most of your traffic and marketing efforts.
Here’s your CRO checklist:
- Load Times - make sure your webpage loads in 2 seconds or less.
- Product Images - use only high-quality product images.
- Copy - get into your customer’s head while writing the product description and answer any questions they might have in the copy.
- Build Trust - include reviews in the forefront of your product page to help build trust.
- Working CTAs - make purchasing your product as simple with easy to find buttons and links that work properly.