Ecommerce Conversion Rate Boosters | CRO Best Practices (Part 3/5)
Optimizing your website for conversion rates can have a massive effect on your bottom line, and top businesses are using it to ensure they perform at their financial peak.
The purpose of our conversion rate optimization training guide (CRO) is to help you do better marketing by understanding customers better and using that to increase conversions and ultimately increasing profits.
Conversion rate optimization best practices are examples of strategies implemented by other businesses that achieved increased conversions on their sites. While these strategies proved successful for a particular business, no two businesses are the same, and they might now work for yours. They should serve merely as a guide and starting point for developing your own successful conversion rate optimization strategies.
This multi-part course on CRO best practices is designed to help guide you through this process.
In Part 2 we looked at how web forms can be optimized to gather data more effectively, we explored the impact of ‘The Fold’, copywriting and what visitors see (and actually read) on your site, and how to use call-to-action buttons to guide potential customers along the route towards conversion.
For Part 3, we will investigate how e-commerce category pages can speed up the conversion process, take items from shopping cart to checkout, and how e-commerce sign-ups can influence the final call-to-action.
Conversion Rate Training Part 3:
E-commerce category pages
The category pages’ role is to help site visitors find what they want, need, or like. The quicker and easier this process, the quicker it may lead to a conversion and/or sale. Designing good category pages requires identifying four key roles of category pages:
- Narrow choice
- Sort products
- Identify the right products.
- Focus on finding the perfect product
Here’s a quick look at the four key roles that need to be met and what can be done to improve category pages:
Too much choice can be overwhelming — psychologist Barry Schwartz’ Paradox of Choice argues that the more choice people have, the more difficult it is for them to choose (and therefore take action). While several factors influence this, the general rule is that you have to narrow down the number if you want to make products stand out.
The best way to do this on a site is by choosing filters relevant to the products (such as style, size, and colour for clothing), and badges that make certain items stand out. The location of these filters and size and type of badges determine how effective they may potentially be.
Giving people the choice of how they want to sort products is important in making it easier for people to decide. People have different needs for different products. They may be price-sensitive for one type of product but maybe looking for recommendations on others, by giving them the option to sort products according to their needs.
The default sorting mode should be by ‘best selling’ or ‘top-rated’ to maximise sales. Never sort products by the date that it was added or its internal ID.
Sorting options should be above the product list or grid to make it easily accessible.
Like traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, when purchasing items online customers want to see three things — what the product looks like (good quality pictures), its specifications, and the price. How much focus is put on which of these depends on the product? Technology tends to be specification-heavy, while fashion is usually visual (with a few exceptions like athletic wear such as running shoes), whereas price should be prominent on ALL products.
Focus on Page:
Category pages are meant to make the decision-making process easier for customers (and lead to sales). Therefore they should be designed with his single purpose in mind. Look at every element on the page; if it doesn’t help the decision-making process or distracts from it, it must not be on the page. Another thing to consider is breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs let visitors know where on the site they are and makes it easier to navigate between pages.
Shopping cart pages
If you’re selling something online, you most probably have a shopping cart/bag/basket page. This is one of the most critical pages on your site because it’s one step closer to an actual sale. Optimizing this page can turn an interested visitor into a paying customer.
Here’s are a couple of ways in which you can optimize the shopping cart page:
Cart, Bag or Basket?
Online shoppers recognize the terms cart, basket or bag in terms of their function, and what you call it on your website is determined by what industry you’re in. Most e-commerce sites use ‘cart’ instead of ‘basket’ because in the physical world a cart can contain more than a basket, while fashion sites (as well as some tech retailers) tend to use the term ‘bag’. Do some user testing to see which will work best for your site.
Adding an item to a cart:
When a visitor adds something to the cart, they should receive clear confirmation. The cart contents should always be visible, including a ‘checkout’ button that stands out from the rest of the page. The idea is to both remind the customer that they have something in their cart, and guide them towards the next step — progressing to the next step.
Once an item has been added to the cart:
When the visitor adds something to the cart, the site can either display a confirmation and stay on the same page or go directly to the cart page. There are pros and cons to each of these choices, and the best way to find out which will work best for your site is to do user testing.
How to display cart contents:
Two factors influence how you should display the contents of a cart: clarity and control. It should be clear to the visitor what’s in their cart and the total cost (including shipping and taxes). It should also be easy to edit the cart like change (quantity, colour, size, etc.), change shipping information, or remove an item.
Manage visual hierarchy:
One of the most important elements in your site’s visual hierarchy is the ‘continue to checkout’ button. It should be visually prominent and should ideally display both above and below the cart.
Keep coupons small:
When a customer has a coupon, they will be looking for the area to enter it. Please don’t make it too prominent as it may make those without coupons feel excluded. Many sites only display coupon fields on their checkout pages.
Shipping & Security:
It’s important to let people know when they can expect to get their purchase to be delivered, as well as to reassure them that their transaction (and personal details) will be secure.
What’s in the cart, stays in the cart:
People have different reasons for not making the purchase straight away, so make sure the items are still in their cart when they do decide to follow through with the purchase, whenever that may be.
E-commerce checkout pages
The checkout page is the last step in the purchasing process and the final call to action. How this page is optimized can make a big difference. Here’s an overview of the four best practices of designing a high-converting checkout page
1. Credit card info last
Asking a customer for their credit card details should be the final step in the checkout process. They should know that once they’ve submitted their card details, the transaction has been finalized.
2. Credit card payment form
Design the credit card information form to look like an actual credit card. This makes it easier and more familiar.
3. Look secure
Display security logos or state security measures to reassure customers that their transaction is secure.
4. Keep credit card info on your system
Keeping credit card details on your site for future purchases will make the process much easier for returning customers. Security is a major concern here, so make sure you take the necessary steps to protect the information and tell your customers about it.
Many e-commerce sites require customers to sign-up, register or create an account before completing a purchase. While one can understand why they do this — to collect user data — forced registration is a major inconvenience to first-time buyers. Studies have shown that as many as 25% of visitors would rather not purchase as a result. This is not good news for conversions, at all, and thus should never even be considered as an option.
However, this doesn’t mean you should delete the sign-up process. There are subtle ways to incorporate it into the checkout process to make it less of a hassle to shoppers. Here’s a quick overview [for a more detailed analysis, see our Web Form CRO Guide]:
1. Choose words wisely
It’s been shown that the word ‘register’ is particularly off-putting to potential customers, so don’t use it.
2. Wait until the last moment
Wait until they are checking out, then offer the opportunity to create an account, but don’t make it mandatory to complete the purchase.
3. Guest accounts
Allow customers to purchase from you without having to sign in.
4. Incentivize sign-up
Give an incentive to sign up, such as a discount on their next purchase, etc.
5. Social logins
It is getting increasingly popular for sites to offer registration with social media accounts like Facebook. This takes a lot of hassle out of the process.
In the next part of this Fundamentals course on Best Practices, we will look at the best ways to design the homepage and pricing pages on your site to achieve maximum conversion, how to measure phone lead generation, as well as optimizing what visitors to your site see first, your home page.
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