How Important Conversion Optimization Is for Small Ecommerce Sites
There are no two ways about it.
If you’re in ecommerce, you’re in business to make money.
Sure, there may be philosophical reasons why you provide your customers with top-notch service.
But ultimately, your goal is to ensure money exchanges hands quicker and more often.
The way to achieve that is through conversion optimization.
This applies to all online businesses.
In the ecommerce space, it’s even more crucial.
In this article, I’ll explain why. I’ll also get into how you can make some adjustments to your site to improve conversions.
First, let’s take it from the top.
What is conversion optimization?
In layman’s terms, conversion optimization is the process of increasing the number of visitors who take a desired action on your site.
Any number of activities can count as a conversion. It depends on your goals.
Signing up to an email list, creating an account, making a purchase, and downloading software are all examples.
Here are some more examples:
The more often these conversions happen, the more revenue your business receives.
In theory, it’s pretty simple.
In practice, it’s a little more complex than just getting more people to take action.
You need to get the right people to take the right actions at the right time.
That means there are quite a few pieces that need to be moved to ensure your conversion funnel is working as it should.
Here’s what prioritizing conversions can do for your business.
1. You can have a fighting chance against Goliath competitors
Every time I think of competition, I think of this simple yet profound quote:
It’s true in life, and it’s true in business.
Ecommerce is extremely competitive. Just look at the increase in sales within the industry over the span of eight years:
New players are entering your space every single day with the sole goal of snatching up your customers.
The only way to combat this is to make your customers so loyal to you that the competition doesn’t matter.
That can’t happen without first moving them through your sales funnel.
There’s one mistake I see small ecommerce businesses make all the time.
They focus on traffic generation without first having the systems in place to:
If you already have some traffic coming in, I recommend you spend some time optimizing your conversion funnel.
Because guess what? You may not be able to bring in as much traffic as larger sites. They have more resources, larger teams, and bigger advertising budgets.
You may not even be able to compete on price.
But you can still have a competitive advantage if you make use of conversion optimization.
2. You can get more bang for your advertising dollar
Organic traffic outperforms paid methods, hands down. A ContentMX client saw an 84% increase in organic clicks.
Here’s the thing though.
Driving organic traffic is a difficult feat.
It’s why many ecommerce sites turn to paid advertising.
As more businesses use this strategy, the price goes up.
Now imagine this.
You’re spending thousands every month on paid campaigns.
Your ad copy, landing pages, and other elements at the top of your funnel are not optimized to convert.
Wouldn’t the result be catastrophic?
There’s no way you’d get a solid return on that investment.
Let’s just say your funnel is good enough to produce sales. What if your systems were leaner and more efficient?
You’d get better results out of the same ad spend.
It’s a no-brainer.
Before you launch a paid campaign, map every path your prospect would take after they click on your ads.
Then, improve every touchpoint so that it converts at a higher rate.
3. The CRO process gives you a better understanding of user behavior
The way users interact with your site is everything.
It’s the closest you’ll get to reading your prospects’ minds.
It tells you what they’re looking for, what they respond to best, and what turns them off.
This means you can give users exactly what they want when they get to your site. Conversions would happen much faster because web visitors would have what they need at hand.
But you shouldn’t just glance at your analytics and make changes to your site based on that one analysis.
You need to monitor user behavior over time.
It’s the only way to notice patterns you can capitalize on.
Get a solid grasp on how to navigate Google Analytics. It’s one of the most powerful free tools for analyzing user behavior on your site.
Salesforce found that 56% of businesses rely solely on Google Analytics for their web analytics. Only about 11% don’t use it at all.
Here are a few things you can track right now:
These are just a few ideas. User behavior has many aspects.
How do you get this info?
First, find the behavior reports within your Google Analytics account:
You’ll see several subsections, each with insights on how visitors interact with your site:
Hopefully, you already have Google Analytics fired up.
Go through the reports, and collect all historical data.
Identify what’s yielding the most results, and double down on it. Then, you can pinpoint underperforming areas and improve them.
These insights are crucial not only for conversions but for every aspect of your digital marketing.
Content, social media, and email marketing are all areas that can benefit from analyzing user behavior.
Here’s the other thing about using analytics for conversion optimization: It prevents you from making changes to your site based on a hunch.
You’ll have concrete data to base your decisions on, and that’s how you avoid making costly mistakes.
4. The weak elements of your ecommerce site design will be revealed
Design has a lot to do with how well your site converts.
You should have a simple, easy-to-navigate layout.
Conversion optimization almost always includes a site redesign to ensure these factors are at play.
You’ll pinpoint the weak spots, and your site will evolve to have a cleaner layout.
Here are some things you may consider.
People underestimate the importance of images to boost conversions. This is the most life-like representation of your product.
Images should be high-resolution, large, and varied. This way customers can view your product from multiple angles.
It makes the product more tangible, which positively influences conversions.
Users should be able to browse through your products quickly and conduct searches without fuss.
That’s where a prominently-placed search box comes in: 30% of site visitors use search on an ecommerce store.
The quicker you can get customers what they want, the quicker you make the conversion.
That’s the point of navigation.
As such, it should be simple and distraction-free.
Add-to-cart buttons and checkout signs must be clearly visible.
I’ll admit. The right-colored CTA button won’t make your sales funnel.
But it can certainly hurt you.
Don’t think this is a major problem?
These statistics show the many ways businesses neglect their CTAs:
If you don’t have a color that stands out and compels visitors to click through, it can take away from the user experience.
This is where color psychology can come into play. Make sure you choose the right colors for your ecommerce site, and your CTAs will perform as they should.
It’s not just about color though.
The words you use have far more impact. I recommend using words like “now” and “today” that convey urgency.
These are just a few elements.
Here’s a good rule of thumb for deciding how your web pages should be designed.
Step #1: Decide the primary goal of the page. Zone in on one thing.
Step #2: Decide on the secondary goals of the page. These should be related to your primary goal.
For instance, let’s look at product pages.
The goal is to get users to add products to their carts, right?
Your secondary goal can be a catalyst to get your primary goal moving along. For example, you may decide you want more persuasive product descriptions, more social proof, etc.
These will help advance your primary goal.
Step #3: Make your primary call to action the most prominent element. This way you’re deciding for the user which action they should take.
Step #4: Include your secondary calls to action and nothing else. You don’t want to have anything on your page that doesn’t lead web visitors to your primary and secondary calls to action.
For creative elements, I always recommend split tests.
This is how you’ll know for sure which version of your site provides the smoothest user experience.
And that’s it!
5. Conversion optimization is a profit maximizer
Put simply, more conversions lead to bigger profits.
But know this: you need to tighten every aspect of your sales process.
There’s no point in optimizing for conversions at the top of your funnel if you can’t keep momentum as web visitors move through the funnel.
The best way to capitalize on all customer touch points is first to map your customer journey.
This is a map that illustrates the path your customers go through when they interact with your business.
Once you have that figured out, deciding what to optimize at each stage should be obvious.
Here’s an example of a customer journey map:
6. Your customer acquisition cost will be lowered
Conversion optimization is the silver bullet for reducing your customer acquisition costs (CAC).
Here’s the textbook definition of CAC:
In short, it’s the price you pay for acquiring a customer.
This one metric can make or break your business.
If it costs too much to convert a customer, your profit margins will be restricted.
Larger profit margins, on the other hand, give you more flexibility in your market. You’ll be able to serve your customers with more value and secure a spot as a dominant player in your space.
What does conversion optimization have to do with all this?
Here’s a scenario.
Let’s say you’ve decided to optimize your site for more conversions.
With a few strategic changes, you see a 3% bump in conversions.
The amount of traffic to your site hasn’t changed. Your ad spend is still the same. The only variable is what you’ve done to optimize your site.
The 3% increase in conversions means you’ll be acquiring more customers, resulting in more revenue, without employing more resources.
Granted, it may cost you to make changes to your site. However, the result is still the same.
Your CAC will decrease while your ROI increases.
Now, that’s a sweet deal.
7. You will have a more targeted customer base
When you optimize for conversions, everything about your marketing becomes sharper.
Your messaging and positioning will be hyper-focused.
This means you’ll attract the right kind of customers and repel those who aren’t your target audience.
You’ll be better able to serve your customers’ needs. This is bound to improve your customer lifetime value.
Here’s the other thing.
Businesses that master their markets, audiences, and positioning command more authority.
That’s ideal for the optics and even better for business.
Your perceived value will increase, which will no doubt give you the influence to land bigger profits.
If there’s one thing you choose to do for your ecommerce site today, let it be conversion optimization.
It’s an especially powerful tactic for small businesses.
Because you can get better results by using the same resources you have.
It means you can start to scale your business and make headway on your competitors without outspending them.
I’ll say this though: conversion optimization is not about making a few tweaks to your site and watching conversions go through the roof.
It doesn’t happen that way.
This is why my focus in this article is on the areas of your business that can benefit if you prioritize conversions.
The way you go about achieving that depends on your business and your customers.
What objections do they have to your product? What prevents them from taking critical actions?
Consider these questions, use the insights in this article, and your ecommerce business will be better for it.
How did your business benefit from conversion optimization?
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September 8, 2017 at 10:01AM