eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices for 2020 - STRYDE

eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices for 2020

2020 is just around the corner, and at this point, almost everyone has some sort of eCommerce operation—whether it’s on Amazon or through your website.

Most vendors have gotten savvy enough to use Facebook and Google Ads, while also tapping into the power of social media posting to get attention. With all that marketing firepower, getting people to your site is not as big of a problem as it has been in the past.

The real challenge as 2019 wraps up and 2020 approaches is increasing your eCommerce conversion rates. The biggest thing you have to be aware of when doing CRO (conversion rate optimization), is understanding your website is a constantly evolving creature, and best practices from last year may not work in 2020. You’ve got to stay ahead of the curve and embrace innovation and new technology or risk falling behind the competition.

Whether you want visitors to sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, or enroll in a subscription service, you must know how to improve conversion rates—and conversion rate optimization is the science behind how to do that. Whatever goals you have for your online shop heading into 2020, consider these 20 CRO tips and best practices to improve your conversion rates in 2020 and beyond. 

#1: Understand your customers.

Understanding your customers and their behaviors are the foundation of a good CRO strategy. Without that knowledge, you’ll waste time and resources optimizing things that may not need it. There are plenty of analytic tools to break down customer behaviors, such as Lucky Orange. You can offer customers incentives for taking a survey. You can leverage their purchase history, comments, and reviews to understand their preferences. Getting a more intimate understanding of your audience allows you to make personalized recommendations, segment your marketing efforts, and create a sight design and user experience that speaks to their needs—all of which help improve your conversion rates.

#2: Make it easy to learn about your product. 

Think for a moment about shopping in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. When there isn’t anyone around to help answer questions, you get frustrated and go somewhere else. The same is true for eCommerce—perhaps even more so because shoppers have expectations of instant convenience. Make sure your FAQ section is thorough and easily navigated. Even more importantly, make sure you have a live chat option to address customer questions and concerns, whether it’s a real agent or a bot. In many cases, a chat can turn into a sale after the needs of the customer have been acknowledged and addressed, by carrying the customer from awareness into consideration and then to a decision. 

#3: Feature User Generated Content.

In today’s era of social media, shopping choices are often influenced by what friends and connections are doing. This has created a strong sentiment of customer trust in User Generated Content. UGC on your site can include videos and pictures. You can integrate your site with Instagram images using a service like Instafeed. Written reviews are also still important, but their power to instill a sense of trust goes even farther when they’re accompanied by pictures of the reviewers and their social media handles (which of course, verifies that they are a real person). If running on Shopify, some useful review apps include Loox and Okendo.  

#4: Make it mobile.

There’s no question about it: you’ve got to make your site mobile friendly. Mobile visits have already been outpacing desktop traffic since 2017. But the need for CRO is even more pressing with mobile because research shows that mobile visits have a higher bounce rate and that visitors spend less time on the site. It makes sense; sitting at a desktop is a more focused activity than checking your phone. That said, it’s important that the mobile version of your site looks amazing and presents a seamless user experience in order to get users browsing to come back later when they have more time to look around your site. 

#5: Write good copy.

And if you can’t do that, pay someone else to do it. The sales copy of your site is the first line of defense against a bad impression of your product or service, especially in the age of Amazon, where hack sellers abound. Spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and odd phrases are all red flags for consumers who want to avoid low-quality products or services. Beyond that, your copy encapsulates the feeling you want clients and customers to get about what you’re selling. A good copywriter (if that’s not you) will help you organize product information and write up descriptions that motivate people to buy or subscribe.

#6: Optimize your site’s architecture.

Make navigation for your customers as easy as possible. Customers who get lost in the maze of internal links won’t find what they’re looking for—so they won’t buy it. Improving store navigation through the layout and site architecture is an easy way to increase your CRO (and your SEO at the same time). Avoid unnecessary content that clutters the page and makes shopping confusing; make it easy to find products, make it easy to find product variants, and make it easy to check out.

#7: Improve your site’s SEO.

Many customers will start their search for a product by typing something into Google. This could include a direct search or a related but indirect informational query. You’ll want your SEO efforts to be layered so you can capture both types of searches. Find out what search terms people are using, and write up product tags and titles accordingly. Having a blog of keyword-rich content is also helpful, because it will pull in searches that are informational-queries—and that’s your chance to show expertise and turn visitors into customers. These visitors are already interested in your product, and appearing high up in the Google search rankings has built some trust in your business, which of course improves your CRO.

#8: Give payment options…or offer a payment plan.

Most online shoppers use credit and/or debit cards to make a purchase, but a decent amount also use PayPal—and an increasing number are using Mobile Pay options like those provided by Apple and Samsung. Providing multiple payment options (sometimes even ones like gift cards or cash on delivery) is a great way to increase your CRO. Even better is when you can be flexible about the timeline of the payment; if you can offer a payment plan, you’ll get more paying customers. This purchase-on-credit strategy is something that more and more vendors are offering through their site. 

#9: Get Social!

Don’t just rely on other people to talk about your product on social media. At the very least, you should be on Facebook and Instagram. Where you focus your energies will depend on what you’re selling. But no matter where you are, keep in mind that algorithms have shifted to reward user interaction, so it’s not enough to just post and keep your fingers crossed. You’ve got to interact with your audience, build rapport, and expand with some social media strategies like contests and using the right hashtags. Over time you’ll find that social media can pull in a huge amount of engaged traffic, which means improved CRO.

#10: Showcase your products.

It’s easy to snap some pictures right from your phone. That works well if you’re selling used items of Craigslist, but if you’re running an eCommerce venture, you can do better. Get a professional photographer (or at least someone with a sense of composition) to take pictures of your products in a lightbox. Find models to showcase your items in action (wearing them, playing with them, whatever). Get the items from multiple angles. A good product page will have several different pictures, so that customers get a better sense of the item—and get more decisive about buying it. If you’re selling services, use good stock photos or quality action shots.

#11: Deliver it quick…if they want. 

One of the biggest remaining advantages of brick-and-mortar operations is that customers can get their item right away. Some venues like Amazon have responded by offering services like Prime. Your eCommerce store might not be big enough to offer such expedited service, but you can still give customers some options when it comes to shipping. Whether you’re managing the stock yourself, or outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party, consider giving shoppers some options about how quickly they want the item. Having some nuanced options will make everyone happy; not all your shoppers will want to pay for same-day delivery, but some might.

#12: Offer ongoing support.

Transparency and accessibility are two factors that can build trust in your product, which of course gets more people to pay for it. When clients and customers see that they can have access to 24/7 support, concerns they have about sealing the deal will be mitigated by the possibility of getting help. Resolving customer issues quickly will also build positive attention around your brand, build rapport, and create possibilities for future sales with the same client. 

#13: Get Scarce. 

The Scarcity Effect has been used in sales forever. Nothing will empty a tray of hot baked goods like walking down the street and shouting get ‘em while they’re hot! You can use the same psychological strategy in eCommerce, running promotions that have customers racing against the clock to buy before the sale is over. Scarcity in terms of product availability can also drive up sales, so however you word it, make your shoppers think that this item won’t be around forever. 

#14: Make a great-looking homepage.

With all the work you put into SEO and social media marketing and paid ads, you want to make sure your customers land somewhere appealing. Think back again to those brick-and-mortar days. When you landed in a department store decked out with holiday cheer, you got into the spirit of buying (the spirit of giving could come later). No matter the time of year, your store’s homepage is the place to make a great first impression. Make sure your Call to Action (CTA) is prominently displayed and well-placed, whether you want visitors to buy something or to sign up for a newsletter.

#15: Capture leads.

Let’s face it: not everyone is going to buy something from your store. A good conversion rate in B2C eCommerce is actually between 1% and 2%. That’s right…if 100 people visit your online store, you should only expect 1 or 2 of them to buy something. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect the other 99 to walk away sight unseen. Capture leads with a popup that offers an incentive for providing an email. With a list of leads, you can build an ongoing marketing effort to turn previous visitors into repeat shoppers.

#16: Optimize the checkout experience.

This is a nice way of saying “upsell your customer.” Most stores have tons of candy and other small items by the cash register. These impulse purchases are placed in the hope that customers will spend a few more dollars on odds and ends. You can repeat the same strategy with your online store, and it’s even easier to do with automated product suggestions or upgrades. 

#17: Target and retarget

Once you have a list of leads, develop a targeted marketing strategy. Many businesses send daily or weekly emails with content such as recipes, advice, and gift ideas. With the range of email marketing suites we have today, you can also personalize emails for anniversaries, birthdays, and other client milestones. Retargeting is a long-term strategy, and it’s even more relevant today when consumers need as many as seven points of contact before making a move. Make sure you have some sort of system set up to send an email to customers who have abandoned their cart. 

#18: Learn about ads

With everything we’ve mentioned about site architecture and user experience, we would be remiss without mentioning the good old practice of paid advertising. Ads are easier than ever for the small business owner to leverage, because they’re so cost-effective: you pay per click, and can target them to a specific audience. Because the message is targeted and your brand has already been presented, paid ads can be a great way to boost your CRO with some engaged traffic.

#19: Develop a content strategy

Much in the same way you’ll want to get an in-depth understanding of your audience, you’ll also want to develop a content strategy. Content marketing today needs to be about more than just disconnected blogs, vidoes, and social media posts—it has to be tied together with an overarching theme an image that addresses your niche and builds a remarkable, memorable brand identity. If customers can associate your brand with that identity, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase when they visit the mothership.

#20: Make yourself look legit

This one may seem obvious, but with all the fraud going on today you need to go above and beyond to look legitimate and safe. Keep the look of your site stylish and professional (hire a designer or programmer if you can’t do that). Have an “about us” section and post photos of real people in the company, and maybe even some action shots of everyone at work. Have some language on the site about customer guarantees, return and refund policies. Reassurance is key to dispelling internal obstacles and increasing your CRO.

Final thoughts. 

These 20 tips cover a wide range of best practices, but they’re all geared toward improving your Conversion Rate Optimization. Don’t rely on one or two alone, but leverage the whole range of these ideas to increase the percentage of customers who reach the goals you have for them when they visit your eCommerce site. STRYDE specializes in eCommerce CRO services. We are happy to review your site and give you a free audit.

About Greg Shuey

Greg is a member of the executive team at Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn

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