Improving Shopify Conversion Rates: First Steps

The Lines Are In the Water – Time to Set the Hook

Your Shopify store is looking spiffy. You have all your products in with glorious photos, you’ve poured heart and soul into those product descriptions and people are starting to take interest. People are starting to buy, but not at the pace you hoped for. What to do?

Reality Check: What is a Good Ecommerce Conversion Rate?

The first thing to consider is whether or not your numbers are all that bad. Globally, the average conversion rate hovers just under 3%. Not as high as you expected? Well, bear in mind that those numbers can vary widely depending on a number of factors from product popularity, price, marketing and about a bazillion other considerations. Just be realistic about your expectations; you’ll never get 50% of visitors to purchase no matter how hard you try.

Start With the Basics: Design, SEO & Speed

We’re focusing primarily on improving conversions, and assuming the following about your site:

  • The site gets high quality site traffic (this is an SEO consideration, which is a whole different discussion)
  • The site has a professional design
  • The site is well-coded, with no dead links or other glitches
  • The site has been optimized for speed

If your site is failing in any one of these areas, fix it before considering anything else or you’ll just be spinning your wheels.

Otherwise, start by looking closely at your checkout process. It’s always surprising how many shop owners have never made a purchase on their own site. If you haven’t, do it now and pay very close attention to the entire flow. Is it easy to add products to the cart? Is it easy to view/edit/delete items in the cart? Is the cart button easy to find? Does the checkout page look fundamentally different from the rest of the site (bad, very bad)?

All of these items can lead to user disconnect. The checkout process is obviously the most vital part of the process, and you can’t afford to make any mistakes here.

Help Users Purchase More: The Power of “Other Users Bought” Functionality

For most, buying a car is an excruciating experience. If forced to choose between negotiating for a car and eating a live octopus, there would be far fewer octopi in the oceans. However, car dealers have mastered the art of the “add-on” sale. They’ve recognized that the easiest time to get a purchaser to say yes is after they’ve already said yes. Paint protection? Sure! Extended warranty? Why the heck not!

Your site visitors are no different. If you haven’t invested time to associate related products (you bought this, so you’ll love this), you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Here’s the big secret though: most store owners only look at related products as a way to increase their average sale, which it certainly will do. The overlooked factor is that it will actually lead to higher conversions overall. Why? Because online purchasers typically have a threshold. One item in a cart is easy to dismiss, especially for first-time purchasers. They will often feel it isn’t worth it to create an account, add themselves to your mailing list and type all that info in for one purchase. Several items in a cart are much harder to walk away from.

Shipping – Damn You, Amazon

Our friends at Amazon realized it on a much bigger scale than anyone – people hate to pay shipping (shipping costs are one of the biggest reasons people abandon carts; more on that in just a bit). If you charge for shipping on your site, it’s entirely possible that the simplest and most effective conversion tactic that you can implement is to bury your shipping costs into your products and offer “free shipping”.

Sure, there’s risk here. You can’t know beforehand just how much it will cost to ship future purchases (unless you’re fortunate enough to have products that all work with flat rate shipping). You’ll have to guess at average costs; you’ll make money when you ship locally and possibly lose money when you ship across the country. The gains and losses should be minimal, and you may have to adjust your prices as you get a better handle on shipping costs. The good news is that by offering free shipping, you’ll have a lot more opportunities to get things dialed in.

Abandon Carts, All Ye Who Enter: Remarketing & Drip Campaigns to the Rescue

The average cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69%. We’ve already addressed two of the biggest contributing factors (disruption in the checkout process and shipping costs); assuming we’ve fixed these issues, what else can be done?

The answer here is remarketing and email marketing. Reach back out to those folks and let them know they forgot something – be sure to link them directly back to their cart. Hit them with ongoing email marketing campaigns. All of this can be automated, and if done properly can easily lead to double digit improvements in your conversion rates.

Credibility is King

If you asked us for the one thing that store owners get wrong most consistently, it’s establishing credibility. It’s an easy item to overlook; most people just figure that the beautiful product images and descriptions do all the work. Truth is, you might entice  buyers to be interested in your products, but when the time comes for them to pull out the wallet, they get extremely cynical. Some techniques to help establish credibility:

  • Be reachable. Boldly display your phone number. Bonus points for a toll-free number.
  • Display your address in the footer, or at the very least on the contact page. Buyers need to know they are working with a real firm, not a shell company shipping Chinese goods.
  • Qualify for and display trustmarks. TRUSTe, VeriSign, Better Business Bureau, Google Trusted Store – they all give buyers the confidence they need to feel good about typing in their credit card info.

Find Out What You Don’t Know

Most eCommerce pros will tell you they have it all figured out – there’s nothing they don’t know about selling goods online. That’s a big giant pot full of malarkey. I’ll be the first to tell you that we don’t know it all. We can’t possibly know – definitively – the exact call to action, the perfect showcase product, or the ideal offer that will make sales skyrocket. But I can tell you that we know how to find out.

Relentless A/B testing, focus groups and user studies are vital to the long-term health and growth of your store. Anything else, and you’re just guessing.

Need help implementing any of these techniques, or just have questions? Reach out to us – we’re happy to help!

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