When it comes to making sales, getting people to your ecommerce site is only half the problem. Before the money will appear in your bank account, your site visitors will need to actually make a purchase, that is, convert.
Ecommerce stores have an average conversion rate of 2.86%. This means that the typical ecommerce store is only making a sale for every 35 visitors. That’s 34 visitors not purchasing anything for every person that does.
Of course, your store is not bound by this stat, instead there are many things you can do to improve this number for your store.
Improving your conversion rate is actually one of the best ways to improve your sales and make money. Why?
Well, when you have an online store, there are two main ways to make more money:
- Increase your traffic.
- Increase your conversion rate.
However, scaling up your traffic through paid advertisements when you haven’t done the work to optimize your store for conversions is like pouring more water into a leaky bucket. Most of the extra visitors you drive to your site won’t make a purchase.
On the other hand, improving your conversion rate will enable you to achieve more sales with the same amount of traffic. The best thing is that there’s things you can do to increase this percentage without having to spend much money, if at all!
Here are 6 things you can do right now that will yield the biggest wins.
1) Build your brand with your target audience in mind
You need to know exactly who your target audience is and then make sure that your store, your ads, and your copy are appealing to them.
For example, Rainbow OPTX has built a brand around selling colourful sunglasses to young women who want to be seen as quirky and fun and make a statement with their sunglasses.
Everything from their website to their social media presence caters to that particular demographic.
For example, take a look at their Instagram pictures, and you’ll immediately get the vibe of the company:
Rainbow OPTX are not trying to appeal to everyone. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most people wouldn’t be interested in their products, because, blue sunglasses, really? Yet, they were able to build a profitable business in a competitive niche by catering to a specific demographic.
Remember, trying to appeal to everyone leads to appealing to no one, so figure out who your ideal customers are, and then go all out to impress them!
2) Write persuasive copy
Product copy is your sales pitch so it’s worthwhile putting some thought into it (and for Heaven’s sake, whatever you do, don’t use the product descriptions from your supplier!!).
One concept that you might find helpful here is the difference between features and benefits:
- Features are the qualities of your product (“These shoes are waterproof!”).
- Benefits are the results that your product provides (“These shoes will keep your feet dry and warm!”).
The general principle is that you should always focus on benefits when writing copy. This is because people buy products primarily based what benefits are and then rationalize their purchase decision with the more objective features.
For example, take a look at how Minaal describe their carry-on backpack, one of their best-selling products:
Minaal’s target audience are digital nomads, location independent people who roam the world working remotely from their laptops, and who prefer to travel as light as possible.
Pay attention to what benefits are emphasized in the product description. You will go faster through the airport security, you will avoid the luggage carousel, your expensive devices will be safe, etc. This is music to the digital nomad’s ears. Is it any wonder that people happily pay $299 for this bag?
Think about your ideal customer. Why would they buy this product? What problem does this product solve? What do they really want? Get in their heads. It will help you write product descriptions that sell!
3) Use high-quality product images
You know how people say that you shouldn’t judge the book by its cover? Let’s keep it real: we all judge books by their covers. Presentation matters!
Take a look at these product images from Mindful Souls. Do you see how they all look professional, tasteful, and appealing? This is what you should aim for with your product images.
I suggest you to take your own product photos. Get a portable photo studio from Amazon, take pictures of your products, then use Photoshop to edit the images. Yes, it will require some work, but the boost in the conversion rate will be worth it!
4) Use social proof
Us humans are social animals. When we are unsure about something, we look at what others are doing, and decide what we should do based on that. This is why social proof can help you boost your conversion rate!
Take a look at how Quip is using social proof in their Twitter ads by mentioning prestigious publications they have been featured in:
Then, once you click through to their website, you see more social proof:
And once you scroll down a bit more, you see, yes, you guessed it, even more social proof:
Now, sure, it might be a while until you gather 1000+ reviews, and your product might never get recognized as the best invention of the year by TIME, but you can still learn a lot from Quip:
Let Customers Leave Reviews
There’s an old Revoo study from 2011 that shows that you can significantly increase your conversion rate merely by getting 10 reviews and almost double the conversion rate by getting 50+ reviews. Does this data still hold up?
Image source: Revoo
I don’t know, but I’d guess that if anything, customer reviews are even more important now than they were 7 years ago, because we’ve all been spoiled by Amazon and have come to expect them in all online stores.
So add the review functionality to your store immediately because it might be costing you a lot of sales (you can use this plugin by Shopify to do that)!
You can take excerpts from the most glowing reviews, put them together into a slideshow, and feature them as testimonials.
You should go out of your way to try and get press for your store. Ideally, you should aim for being featured in a publication that your customers read, because then you will get the biggest social proof boost out of it. Once you do get press coverage, don’t be shy and flaunt it, preferably in a prominent place on your home page!
5) Offer FREE shipping
People absolutely hate paying for shipping.
This means that offering free shipping is a great strategy to improve your conversion rate.
In his book Free, Chris Anderson shares a story how Amazon introduced free shipping, and saw sales go up everywhere… Except in France, where instead of providing it for free, they charged 20 cents!
According to the UPS 2014 Pulse of the Online Shopper report, 93% of online shoppers take action to qualify for free shipping, with 58% of them purchasing additional items in order to meet the required threshold:
Image source: 2014 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper
Meanwhile, according to Baymard, 60% of people who abandon their carts do so because of the additional costs, which means that shipping costs are killing your sales!
Now, let’s keep it real, you probably won’t be able to offer free shipping on all orders without going broke, so what I suggest is to do the math and figure out what order value would allow you to offer free shipping while still retaining healthy profit margins. It might be a little tricky… But it’s going to be worth it!
6) Use abandoned cart emails
According to Sale Cycle, the average shopping cart abandonement rate for Q1 of 2018 was 75.6%, which means that 7 out of 10 customers that make it through your entire funnel change their mind at the last moment. Insane!
However, what’s even more insane is that most e-commerce stores aren’t doing anything to get those customers back, they just let them go!
Abandoned cart emails are the easiest way to bring those customers back. The average open rate for these emails is 15.21%, and the average click-through rate is 21.12%, and then, on average, a third out of these people end up making a purchase. These are sales that you would have otherwise lost!
You can use SmartrMail to automatically send up to 3 emails to the customers that did not complete their purchases. Don’t hesitate and don’t procrastinate. You are losing sales for no reason if you don’t have an automated abandoned cart email sequence set up!
There are plenty of wannabes out there. They don’t give any thought to their branding, they use terrible AliExpress images and product descriptions, they can’t be bothered to follow up with the customers who abandon their carts… And then they wonder why they aren’t making any sales!
Don’t be like them. Put in the time and energy required to turn your store into a brand that people want to buy from. Everything will be much, much easier after that.
But first, you have to do the work.