Tips to Improve Your Online Conversion Rate
Converting a higher percentage of their website visitors is a goal shared by all cross-channel retailers. With the retail industry conversion rate average hovering around 3 percent, the opportunity is certainly there. In a session on the opening day of the NEMOA Spring directXchange conference in Boston, Brett Bair, senior director of strategic services at Monetate, a technology solutions provider for online retailers, offered several ways that online merchants can leverage data and testing to become more relevant to consumers, ultimately resulting in increased sales.
Being relevant is the holy grail of marketing, Bair said. For online retailers, that relevance manifests itself by taking actions that are informed by knowing your customers, including their past purchases and browsing history, their location (via IP address), and what device they used to access your site (e.g., PC, tablet, smartphone). Retailers benefit from offering relevant online shopping experiences in the form of increased customer satisfaction, engagement, conversion rate and customer loyalty. No artificial incentive can outperform relevance, said Bair, quoting a vice president of e-commerce from a top 20 U.S. retailer.
There are three steps that retailers need to take within their company to begin offering visitors a more relevant, and thus satisfying, online experience: have a plan, define the metrics that matter and empower a team to make decisions. The era of one-size-fits-all websites is dead, Bair said.
Retailers need to focus on the following four aspects of their website when devising their plan to become more relevant to consumers:
1. Landing pages: This isn't always going to be your homepage, Bair was quick to point out. It's any entry page to to your website — the homepage, a category page, a product detail page, etc. Bair cited some companies that are doing innovative things to make their landing pages more relevant to consumers. Destination XL calls out the address of its closest retail store location specific to each visitor; Urban Outfitters has begun displaying pop-up boxes with the message "You Have Items in the Shopping Cart" to return visitors who have abandoned their shopping cart on a previous visit (it's tracking a 3 percent increase in conversion for these visitors vs. those that don't see the message); and RevZilla uses a pop-up box on its landing pages as an email acquisition tool. The motorcycle apparel and gear retailer is offering consumers the ability to get the latest company news and special deals by signing up for its email program. It's realized close to a 100 percent uptick in email acquisition from this tactic, Bair noted.
2. Discovery (i.e., site search): Tactics such as autocomplete site search — i.e., the likely search term is filled in before the visitor is finished typing it into the search box — and displaying products as they're being typed into the search box have proven effective at minimizing the amount of abandoned site searches and increasing conversion from site searches, Bair said. When displaying search results, consider using "badging" to highlight new items for returning visitors as well as best-sellers for new visitors.
3. Selection (i.e., product detail pages): It's critical to have the necessary information — e.g., recommendations, shipping information, reviews — on your product detail pages to aid consumers in the purchase decision process, Bair said. Leverage data that you have on shoppers to create a more relevant experience. For example, if you know a customer has bought petite-sized apparel from your brand in the past, serve them up petite-sized options. Another option on your product pages is to create a sense of urgency with time-sensitive offers. Fab.com is doing this very well, Bair noted.
4. Purchase (i.e., shopping cart page): Much like your product detail pages, you need to have all the information customers are looking for (e.g., coupon information, taxes and shipping fees) on the checkout page to help them complete their transaction. Garnet Hill uses pop-up messages on the checkout page to help upsell customers. In fact, the retailer is hoping to drive certain customers — those whose total purchase amount won't produce a positive margin when paired with a free shipping offer — back into its website, essentially halting the checkout process. This unorthodox strategy has proven effective at driving up the brand's average order value (AOV), however.
Test to find a balance when it comes to free shipping, Bair said. If the threshold to get free shipping is too low, your AOV will suffer; if the threshold is too high, your conversion rate will take a hit. Make sure customers know on the checkout page how much more they need to spend to get free shipping (e.g., "Spend $9.42 more and receive free shipping"), Bair added. And when they do reach that free shipping threshold, make it known to them.
The process of optimizing your website to improve the customer experience is never over, Bair said, adding that data needs to be continually mined.