Conversion Optimization for Online Retailers

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Hands holding credit card and using laptop. Online shopping

“53% of shoppers will leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load”

Online retailers spend billions of dollars each year to increase their site traffic. This amount is expected to continue increasing to $80 billion by 2020 (Source). As spending increases, the amount necessary to maintain, let alone increase page rankings, grows and the return on investment decreases. Due to this, many businesses are looking for ways to increase their ROI from visitors to their sites and reduce customer acquisition costs. Optimizing conversion allows businesses to improve their bottom line without investing in low return on investment options.

That’s not to say that conversion optimization is an easy task. For example, Market Motive identified over 250 different factors that affect visitors’ intent – whether it be browsing, learning more or shopping, there are numerous different ways a website communicates to the visitor. The question is, how does a business increase their conversion when there are so many different factors that influence a visitor?

The answer is that taking a higher level approach than going factor by factor helps us better break down the major driving forces behind conversion. All conversion factors fall into 3 buckets: Call to Actions, Statements of Value, and Statements of Relevance. By focusing on improving each of these buckets, we avoid not seeing the forest for the trees. From these points, an analysis is conducted and an action plan devised.

1.Calls to Action: Provoking an Immediate Response

Call to actions, or CTAs, is any word or combination of words that’s action-oriented. These are tools to help push the visitor further down the funnel towards purchasing. Examples include “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart”. These are crucial, as they help the visitor accomplish their intent, whether it’s looking for a product that matches their needs, or reading more in depth on a topic that interests them. In online retail, shoppers have a very low attention span; for example, 53% of shoppers will leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Source). In addition, it’s important to make sure that your CTAs match the verbiage of the previous page, whether it be making sure your Google AdWords copy matches the title on the homepage, or the wording on the purchase button matches the checkout page. Don’t forget as well that CTAs should be stylized to match the look and feel that best appeals to your target market.

2. Statements of Value: Differentiating One’s Place in the Market

Statements of value are the business’s opportunities to build value with the visitor, aimed at increasing the likelihood of purchase. The value proposition in the customer’s mind is the ongoing debate between the perceived amount of expenditure to purchase, and the expected return on that investment. Examples of value statements include “Made in the USA” or “High quality craftsmanship”. We can also use these statements to proactively answer questions that we believe the shopper will have in mind, like “Is there a return policy?” or “Can I get free shipping?”. Cultivating a sense of value helps build up the product value later on in the purchase funnel, when shoppers will encounter unexpected costs or are asked to enter in their personal information. When writing value statements about products, it helps to focus on benefits over features. This allows the visitor to begin imagining how the product is going to improve their life, overcoming any friction in the funnel.

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3. Statements of Relevance: Reassuring The Shopper

Statements of relevance help reassure the visitor that the website matches their intent in visiting and also how the product relates to the visitor. High conversion websites engage in a dialogue with their audience and showcase their content in an accessible, relatable format. For example, Netflix uses the statement “See what’s next” as their main text on their homepage. Immediately upon visiting, a visitor can see that the site relates to their intent to find the next show or movie that they want to watch. Other examples include user testimonials, blog snippets on topics of interest, and even pictures showing the product being used in a social context. In building statements of relevance, it’s recommended to spend time polling your customer base to find out what they best relate to; don’t just assume that your mindset is the one that a shopper will also have.

5 Useful Ways to Keep Shoppers Engaged

In addition to strategizing around these categories, there are some best practices that work well across most verticals:

  1. Position critical or key content above the fold (the point at which scrolling becomes necessary). Ideally, show product on all platforms without scrolling being necessary
  2. Use trust symbols in the footer, such as an SSL badge or the McAfee trust badge
  3. Aim for product descriptions of at least 150 words or more
  4. Create a returns policy page and a shipping page, and link both of them from the homepage
  5. All CTAs should be interactive. For example, including a mouseover hover effect that swaps colors when the mouse is placed over it, is excellent at providing visual feedback

User Testing and Tracking

Even with the above approaches, it’s important to understand that improving conversion is a long-term journey, not a short project. If at all possible, changes should be vetted with A/B testing and a robust sample size. Kameleoon recommends 100 conversions per variation; however, this may not be easily attainable within the short to midterm for businesses that are just starting. In other cases, there may be platform restrictions preventing A/B testing.

If that’s the case, user testing and feedback can help vet a particular change or design, or even help present a more diverse perspective to suggest changes. On a larger scale, recording visitor sessions and building heat maps can help pinpoint where visitors have issues with the site. These tools provide real time and aggregated visuals of visitor traffic pattern and usage. Even for businesses that have a considerable amount of traffic, it’s always good to do user testing and tracking.


Finally, it’s often worth getting an expert involved to do the heavy lifting. While a lot of these tools may be easily setup by a new user, fully harnessing their power to benefit your site takes an expert. Here at oBundle, we help clients everyday with everything from conversion audits to design and application development. Our experts have years of experience in ecommerce and are certified via recognized programs.

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