If you're reading this, you're probably not interested in brute-forcing a revenue increase at the expense of your customers' happiness.
And that's good news - because it means you're already thinking of your relationship with prospects as more of a sales conversation, rather than a sales conversion.
True optimisation relies on input from your customers, whether they haven't bought yet, they've come back for a return purchase, or they've decided never to shop with you (more on that below).
Every page they scroll through, every email they receive from you, every review they leave and customer support ticket they start... all of these are ways your customers converse with you.
Even the actual act of purchase isn't one-sided. It just means you provided enough information during the sales conversation for that customer to feel comfortable buying.
With this more conversational approach in mind, here are AWA digital CRO experts’ top tips on how to increase you ecommerce conversion rate. We will be grouping our tips into four areas in particular:
Your site will always receive visitors who won't convert, for whatever reason. Maybe they're not serious about buying. Maybe they're not actually your target market. Maybe they ended up there by mistake. The reasons are endless...
While it can be tempting to try to win those visitors over - especially when they're the largest slice of the pie - they're not the visitors who matter most.
These are the people who would absolutely buy if they just saw the right message at the right time, or if you helped them move past a particular anxiety (more about this later). All they need is a little assistance and encouragement, and they'll reward your efforts with a purchase.
One of the biggest wastes of effort you can make is trying to convert EVERY visitor, instead of focusing on converting more of the RIGHT visitors.
Stanford professor Steve Blank stresses the importance of getting "out of the building" and into the trenches with your customers to find out their real fears, motivations, pains, and desires.
When you run an ecommerce business, this conversation must also include non-customers - since what keeps people from buying is just as crucial as what pushes them to buy.
Doing this research simply means turning to the non-converters and asking:
Their answers will illuminate ways to improve your website messaging, emails, ads, and entire sales process that you never expected.
Bonus Expert Tip: The key here is to structure your questions in a way that leads to unbiased responses. To draw out truly useful information, aim for a light, observational tone that doesn't feel accusatory. For instance, say, "Could you describe your experience of the checkout process?" instead of "Why didn't you complete your checkout?"
You'll also want to chat with your sales staff regularly to understand how they experience and optimise the sales conversation in real-time.
Your brain, just like your visitors is wired to prolong your survival. You're constantly scanning the environment to decide what is and isn't safe, and acting based on that information.
Interestingly, this happens whether you're hunting for food and fending off dangerous predators... or simply shopping for a new pair of shoes online.
If they get the slightest whiff of "danger" from your ecommerce site, the "fight or flight" part of their brains will activate... and they might just turn tail and run.
Is your site having this effect on customers?
Similarly, if buyers feel safe, soothed, and attracted by your online store, they're much more likely to stick around and spend money.
These subconscious responses originate from a part of the brain psychologists often call the "lizard brain" - AKA the prehistoric, reactive parts of the brains that inform decisions even when we don't realise their impact.
Understanding and appealing to the lizard brain can help you create a higher-converting website.
Susan Weinschenk, a leading expert in this field, identifies seven ways your website can appeal to your shoppers' subconscious:
Copy changes are some of the simplest tests to run on your site - with some of the greatest potential for conversion uplift.
In one split test we ran for a client, copy alone gave a 36.7% uplift in sales.
So, our top tip to write more effective, higher-converting copy is:
For too long, web copywriting was about search keywords. True, users DO rely on keywords to find what they're looking for.
But behind the Google search bar is a real human, who communicates in simple language - not in complicated keyword phrases or stuffy jargon.
Here are five easy rules to finesse your website copy (you didn't think we’d stop at "write for real humans", did you?):
Once you've got your conversion-oriented copy, remember to present it most effectively on the page. A few rules of thumb that make copy easier to read, understand, and convince:
So, we have researched our potential customers reasons for purchasing, managed to soothe their anxiety through some onsite changes in copy and structure.
How frustrating is it to know that potential customers are getting as far as adding your products to the basket, clicking through to the checkout... and then abandoning their chosen items?
You were so close.
You ALMOST had the sale. But something about your website's checkout process pushed your user away.
Now, you can't know exactly what that thing (or things) was without doing some more research - whether that's usability testing, heatmapping, or session recording.
But one thing you can do right now to improve your checkout process, with no research required, is to take a closer look at your checkout form fields.
Research by experts like Rob Barnett, Ginny Reddish, Caroline Jarrett, and Gerry Gaffney presents a few ways to make your forms more consumer-friendly.
1. Treat your form as a relationship between your business and the potential buyer. To build trust, ensure that your checkout proactively guides the user, rather than punishing them for making a mistake.
Microcopy, which refers to the short pieces of copy that usually function as user guidance, is critical when it comes to form fields. Something as simple as showing the correct format of a phone number can help cut down on form-filling errors (and the associated frustration and checkout abandonment).
One thing to avoid at all costs? Forcing the user to start the form again just because of one small error. Error messages should always clearly indicate what was wrong or missing, so the user knows how to address what went wrong.
2. Obsess about your form's appearance. Eye-tracking studies show that the space people "see" around an input box is to the left and immediately above. Other positions are often ignored. If your instructions are located in the wrong place, you could be losing sales.
Other considerations: Are form fields and buttons easily visible? Does your form automatically move users along to the next field without the need to click or "Tab" over? All of these small usability considerations add up to a smoother form-filling experience for customers.
3. Experiment with asking for users' credit card number before you ask for "Name on Card". How often have you filled in the card number first, only to realise you've put it into the wrong box? This happens because you've already filled in your name once earlier in the checkout, so your subconscious skips straight to the number.
In the event that customers don't want to (or can't) complete your checkout form, the very best possible scenario is that they pick up the phone to call support or start a live chat.
But most won’t do that. And you’ll have lost an order.
As purchasers we crave the opinions of others - positive or negative - ‘social proof’ helps us to make buying decisions more confidently.
Everyone understands the importance of providing social proof and reassurance, but not everyone understands the crucial role they play in conversion optimisation.
AWA digital’s CRO experts have used these techniques to generate revenue uplifts of between 9 and 14%, so what follows is proven to be useful.
Researching reviews can lead you to understand why customers bought from you, and in some cases why they decided to buy from your competitors instead.
This is powerful information, when used correctly.
And accessing this information is easier than you might think. Simply scrape all your reviews into Excel (you can get someone off Fiverr to do this for you) and then generate a word cloud to discover the common themes.
Focus especially on the language used – as highlighted before, emulating the language your visitors use is a key tactic when writing compelling copy for your website.
Bonus Expert Tip: Double-down and do the same on your competitors’ sites and you’ll be even more surprised at what you’ll learn.
As well as understanding the reviews your customers are leaving, it’s important to understand how your website visitors are consuming this content. Use heatmap tools like Crazy Egg to see if your reviews are being noticed and clicked upon. Eyetracking tools such as EyeQuant reveal whether your reviews are even being seen. If your visitors don’t interact with or don’t even see your reviews (at the bottom of the page?) then you could be damaging your website conversion rate.
Based on this research - and we stress you need to do this first - you can test some important hypotheses:
Analysing reviews can help you get inside the head of your website visitors and making subtle changes to them can improve your sales. They are a superb source of insight into the sales conversation that is going on inside the heads of your visitors. With this research, you are in a great position to test some hypotheses that could substantially move the needle.
There you have it, some of the our CRO experts’ top tips. Hopefully, by implementing all the CRO tips above, you will see a significant upturn in sales and revenue.
If you need help with these CRO tips or building a specific strategy for you, we’d be happy to carry out a free expert review of your website.