Conversion Rate Optimisation Best Practices

Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO is a hot topic for digital marketers these days, and rightly so.

Conversion rate optimisation is amending, tweaking and improving a website (as well as other digital marketing channels) to increase the amount of people that complete the intended customer journey and ‘convert’ into a ‘customer’ by carrying out the action that you desire.

Do not be fooled into thinking that CRO is only important for eCommerce websites. Even if you have a brochure website it should have conversion as the core focus. Whether that be converting visitors to a contact form or phone number, to download a brochure, or signing up to a newsletter or webinar, every customer journey should be designed to lead to a conversion.

I have put together this list of best practices for conversion rate optimisation. I have targeted this specifically at eCommerce websites because that is where my experience lies and where I have implemented these changes and seen improvements, but many of these best practices can and should be applied to non eCommerce sites too.

This is in no way fully comprehensive list of CRO techniques. I’d love to hear from you and find out what CRO techniques you have implemented and seen success with. Get in touch with me on charlotte@embryodigital.co.uk if you’d like to discuss!

Your website is being compared to every other website your customer has ever used, not just those of your direct competitors.

I’ve broken the best practices into the following sections:

1) Give a reason to purchase today

2) Reduce the choice available

3) Create a sense of urgency

4) Make your products shine

5) Keep them shopping

6) Give social proof

7) Create trust and give security

8) Increase the order value

9) Answer questions before they have to ask

10) Give excellent customer service

11) Make it easy for them to give you their money

12) If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

13) Listen, learn, test and amend

Let’s start converting….

1) Give a reason to purchase today

Start the conversion process as soon as the customer arrives on your website by offering them an incentive to check out with an entry pop up. Try using an incentivised newsletter sign up form so that you are growing your email marketing list at the same time as assisting conversion e.g. 10% off first purchase or free delivery on your order e.g. Under Armour

Great content and an attractive, simple offer makes filling in this entry pop up on the Under Armour website a no brainer

 2) Reduce the choice available

It has been proven in multiple studies that if you give your customers too much choice it can lead to ‘choice paralysis’, and actually result in fewer sales. Reducing the choice available, and guiding the customer to the products they need makes it easier for them and increases conversion.

Filters

Add filters for products (by colour, price, style, brand etc)

Search

As well as having a ‘search all products’ function, have a ‘search within a category’ function

Best Sellers

Show best-selling products clearly on home page or in navigation bar e.g. Wicked Uncle

Wicked Uncle display their best selling products in the navigation bar under the title ‘popular’

Compare

When you have lots of similar products, give the customer the ability to compare one item with another within your site e.g. Hayneedle

Hayneedle’s website allows customers to compare products with each other

One offer at a time

Don’t confuse customers by offering multiple different offers. Offer one, easy to comprehend offer such as ‘free delivery’ and promote it across the website and marketing channels.

3) Create a sense of urgency

Stock availability

Let users know how many items are in stock and if they are low in stock e.g. Amazon

An eCommerce best practice wouldn’t be complete without Amazon, who create urgency and manage expectations brilliantly.

Promote offer expiry dates

Time limit your offers or promotions. Show how many days/hours are left or just say that the offer is limited e.g. Made and Under Armour

Made show how many days and hours are left on their special offers to create urgency

 

The Under Armour website uses a header to display their offers

4) Make your products shine

Great content

• Avoid generic product descriptions from the manufacturer

• Describe how the product solves their problem and why

• Use content that speaks to your audience e.g. North Face

North Face have brilliant product descriptions that speak directly to their target audience. For example: “it’s 100% windproof, so you won’t feel any chills as you climb higher”. 

Great Photography

• Use high quality images

• Display both white background product photos and photos of the product in use

5) Keep them shopping

Add the product to their shopping basket without taking them off the page. E.g. Modcloth

Modcloth add your product to your basket, making it clear you have been successful in doing so, but do not take you out of shopping mode.

6) Give social proof

People will always believe other customers more than they will believe a company talking about themselves.

Service reviews

Reviews about your delivery speed, customer service and ability to resolve issues should be prevalent throughout your check out process to reassure new customers.

Made have a whole page on their site dedicated to displaying their Trustpilot reviews

Product reviews

As well as reviews about your service it is also important to gather and display reviews about the specific item the customer is looking at e.g. Amazon

Amazon actively collect product reviews via email as they understand the power of social proof, even for lower value items.

Testimonials throughout the copy

Include testimonials about your products and service on your content pages throughout your website, for example on the ‘About Us’ page.

The Gift of Oil incorporate customer reviews into their About Us page content, which breaks up the text and demonstrates the quality of their products at the same time as informing the customer about the company.

Best Sellers/Recently Purchased

Best sellers are also a form of social proof, and help to narrow the focus for those who are browsing your website and are not visiting for something specific.

Remember:

• Reviews from well known, external review sites e.g. Feefo & Trustpilot are more trustworthy than internal reviews so these are ideal, although can be pricey.

7) Create Trust & Give Security

Many people are still nervous about buying products online. A huge objection your eCommerce website has to overcome is the perceived security of their bank details and personal data.

SSL Certificate

Buy an SSL certificate for the whole site, not just the checkout page. This is a must for all eCommerce sites

Reinforce security with images 

•Incorporate security trust seals throughout the store, at every stage of the customer journey.

Using security seal images across a website reinforce trust from the customer and demonstrate that their card details are safe.

Reinforce security with content 

• “Pay securely now” or “checkout securely” on payment buttons/ checkout buttons e.g. North Face– this reinforces that the payment is secure.

Northface show their customers that they are in safe hands when they press checkout

Google Trusted Store

Become a Google Trusted Store. Google is probably the most well known and well trusted brand in the world. If your website is seen to be ‘endorsed’ by Google, the trust your customers associate with Google will be transferred to your site.

Communicate what you do with their data

Let a customer know that you will never sell on their personal details to third parties whenever you ask for their email address. Explain why you need the information you ask for- do you need a phone number so that they get a text from the courier you use? Let them know. This way you are preempting potential objections before they arise.

 8) Increase the order value without being distracting

Incorporate useful cross sell that genuinely relates to the products that the customer is looking at e.g. Hayneedle

Hayneedle display appropriate, discreet and useful cross selling throughout the customer journey, without distracting the customer away from making a purchase.

Be Helpful

Look at which products customers genuinely purchase together and that compliment each other, don’t just promote products that you want to sell.

Content

The content should be appropriate to the products on sale. For example:

• This would match… (for clothes)

• Other items in this collection… (for furniture)

• Delicious with… (for food)

Social Proof

• Customers who viewed X also viewed Y

• Customers who bought X also bought Y

Personalise

Make the cross sell specific to the items that the customer is looking at e.g. on the Hayneedle screen shot above, they show ‘Similar Arbors’ not just ‘similar products’

Don’t Distract Them

There are lots of different places to implement cross sell throughout the buying process but choose wisely and make sure that you don’t distract the customer from the check out process and end up reducing the conversion rate. Test one option at a time and see which has the biggest impact on average order value. And mix it up, regular users of your website will become blind to cross selling if they see it at the same point of their journey every time they purchase.

Places on your site you can up sell/cross sell:

• Home page/ navigation bar- they might have come to your website for something very specific but make sure you are giving the customers the opportunity to find a product they didn’t even know they need, wherever they land on your website.

• Product pages

• On the ‘added to basket’ pop out

• In the basket before check out

 9) Answer questions before they are asked

Display clear delivery and returns information clearly on the product pages and throughout the customer journey. This will stop the customer from leaving your product pages to try to find this information. A clear and low effort returns policy will also encourage them to check out e.g. ASOS & Made

ASOS reassure the customer by clearly showing on the product pages that they offer free delivery and free returns.

Made show all of the important information about delivery and returns in the footer of their checkout page

Make sure that…

• Key information is easy to find in the footer

• You display an estimated/guaranteed delivery date and manage delivery expectations

• You give the best possible delivery costs your company can offer, ideally free delivery. If not free, then it should always be a flat rate delivery charge. Over complicated delivery charges will reduce conversion rate.

Hayneedle show huge amounts of information on their product pages but it is hidden behind a simple menu. Customers are not overwhelmed by the information but can choose to view the information that is important to them. This keeps the product page clean and the information easy to digest.

Keep the product pages simple by hiding the information behind a menu, so only those who want to see it will see it.

 10) Demonstrate excellent customer service

Live Chat

If you are able to offer and monitor a live chat service, your customers can get instant responses to questions whilst staying on the website. This is much better than them sending an email and having to wait for a response by which time they may have purchased from a competitor/ decided against making the purchase.

Clear Phone Number

Ideally a local, free phone number should be clearly visible throughout the shopping process with a call to action eg ‘Prefer to have a chat? Give us a call’. This a) simply lets people know you are a real company with real people to talk to in the UK b) that you can help if they are having problems with the website and getting frustrated and c) accommodates customers who just prefer to order over the phone after browsing products online.

Set Expectations

Simply adding ‘we will always get back to enquiries within 24 hours’ will set and manage customer expectations which will make them less likely to get frustrated and purchase from a competitor.

11) Make it easy for them to give you their money

Remind them what they are buying

We’ve all added items to our basket and then started to have second thoughts. Should I really buy this? Can I afford it? Will it suit me? It’s a bit expensive….and so on. Many checkout processes do not actually show you what you are buying once you’ve added it to your basket. When you are just looking at an item description and a price, it is much easier to listen to those thoughts. So show them a picture of the item. They have liked it enough to add it to their basket, so keep selling it to them whilst it is in the basket.

North Face show a photograph of the item throughout the checkout process, continuing to sell it to the customer and prevent them from abandoning their basket.

Reduce the amount of ‘steps’ or stages to your check out

The standard Magento check out shows the customer that there are 5 or even 6 stages to the process. This can be reduced to a 2 or 3 step process (depending on whether the billing address is the same as the shipping address or not).

Made make checking out incredibly easy. There are just two steps to the process if your billing and delivery addresses are the same. The simple illustration at the top of the page makes it clear to the customer that the process is going to be quick and easy.

Address Finder

I love it when a website allows me to search for my address with my postcode, rather than making me fill in ‘address line 1, address line 2….’ Customers know that the only information a company or courier needs to find a house is a postcode and a house number or name, so why make it more difficult than it needs to be? It also keeps the page looking much cleaner and again shows the customer that you know their time is precious.

Made nail it again with this address finder, but make it easy to enter your address manually if there is a problem.

Social Check Out

Depending on your target audience and user demographics, you could incorporate a social check out. This allows your customers to link their social media account with your website and takes their key information from their account.

The users of ASOS’ website are predominantly between 16 and 30 years of age, and will likely be using at least one of these social media channels. Giving an social checkout means they don’t have to type in all of their details and they can log in using this method in the future. Plus then ASOS can stay connected with the customer through their social media channels and can retarget them with the items they have looked at. It’s a win win.

 

12) “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Even websites that are completely optimised for conversion rate and follow all best practice advice will still have customers that abandon their purchase. They may have been purchasing on mobile on the bus and reached their stop. Their young child may have run in crying. Their boss might have walked in. Or they might have changed their mind. But we haven’t lost them yet…

Abandoned Basket Emails

Have automated abandoned basket emails set up to remind them of the items that are waiting for them in their basket.

• Great subject line e.g. Yoga Rebel “psst…you’ve left something behind”

Yoga Rebel use a great subject line to get customers to open the email, and show a picture of the item that the customer had added to their basket to pull them back into buying mode. Those leggings are now in my wardrobe.

• Great content- this email is another opportunity to build trust

• Social proof- include reviews to help build trust.

• Offer an incentive- perhaps you could test offering a small discount or free delivery in order to help them convert

• Show genuine concern- did they have a problem with the website? Did they have doubts about the quality? Ask them for their feedback. And listen to it!

Email Marketing

Even the most persuasive and trust building abandoned basket emails do not have a 100% success rate. If you’ve ever designed one, please send it to me for inclusion in this post and a place on the wall of the Marketing Hall of Fame! However, if you have built, designed, tested and created an incredible customer experience across your website, that customer will have had a positive experience with your brand whether they purchased or not.

Plus, if you have followed these best practices, you will have collected their email address, ideally along with some information about which of your products they are interested in and key demographic details.

Therefore you have the opportunity to continue communicating with them and can try to convert them into a customer by creating targeted and inspiring email communications. And email marketing communications should also be optimised for conversion rate… but that’s for another blog post.

13) Listen, learn, test, and amend

LISTEN to customer feedback

LEARN from that customer feedback, your analytics data and from other websites

TEST different CRO techniques- what works for some sites and customers might not work for another. For bigger changes use A/B testing to determine whether a change will improve CRO. For smaller tweaks, monitor your analytics and drop off pages.

AMEND the website accordingly. Don’t be afraid to mimic what other websites are doing. Even the smallest websites can give as good of a customer experience as the biggest companies in the world.

“We have always been shameless about stealing good ideas”

Steve Jobs

I hope you’ve found this post useful. Like I said at the beginning of the article, this is in no way a fully comprehensive list of CRO techniques, and it will continue to change and evolve. I’d love to hear your feedback and any other CRO tips you’ve implemented and had successes/failures with.

If you’d like to discuss or implement any of these CRO best practices or if you have any other questions about your digital marketing, please get in touch with me on charlotte@embryodigital.co.uk