8 Strategies to Improve Your E-Commerce Conversion Rate

Your e-commerce conversion rate tells you how often you’re converting visitors to your site to buyers. This guide identifies a few strategies you can use to increase that rate.

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When it comes to selling online, businesses are laser-focused on the conversion rate — which makes sense. You’ve spent all this marketing money on getting visitors in the door. If they’re not buying at a high enough rate, you may be losing money.

But these conversion rates seem so stubbornly low it drives business owners crazy. Is this good enough? Should I be doing better? How do I get that number to go up?

That’s where e-commerce conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. For those starting an online business, we’ve laid out some simple steps you can take to increase that rate and increase your profits as a result.

Overview: What is an e-commerce conversion rate?

The e-commerce conversion rate is the ratio of transactions to visitor sessions and is expressed as a percentage. It basically tells you how often you’re convincing visitors to your site to purchase your products. For example, a 2% conversion rate means that one in 50 visitors are making a purchase.

A low conversion rate indicates there could be one or more problems when customers visit your site: they aren’t interested in what you have to sell, they think it’s priced too high, they had trouble navigating the site, or perhaps some other issue.

E-commerce conversion optimization is a key focus for businesses who want to increase their revenue and therefore their profits. If your conversion rate is in the gutter, it’s time to implement some new e-commerce strategies to raise it.

How do you calculate the conversion rate for your e-commerce sales?

Calculating your conversion rate is simple. First, total the number of conversions you had over a certain time period. Then, divide that figure by the total number of visitor sessions. Multiply that figure by 100, and you have your conversion rate percentage. Made even simpler, the equation looks like this: conversion rate = (conversions / total sessions) x 100 (add a percentage symbol to the result).

For example, if you made 234 sales in 11,700 visitor sessions, the equation would look like this:

(234 / 11,700) x 100 = 2%

What is the average e-commerce conversion rate?

E-commerce conversion rates vary widely based on what you’re selling and the industry you’re in, so it’s tough to peg a good conversion rate for e-commerce or say what the typical e-commerce conversion rate is.

However, if you’re wondering what the average conversion rate for e-commerce sites is, there’s an answer for that. Generally, e-commerce businesses will see a conversion rate of 1-2%.

A conversion rate lower than that is acceptable if you’re spending next to nothing on marketing, and a conversion rate higher than that is possible if you targeted your marketing efforts. But even if you’re doing everything right, it’s tough to get above 2% in the e-commerce world.

8 ways to increase your e-commerce conversion rate

So what can you do to boost your conversion rate if you think it needs a boost? Here are eight practical steps you can take to give your business a shot in the arm.

1. Presentation matters

Your website should be visually appealing, with lots of images and videos to entice customers to stick around. Don’t just tell them what you’re selling, show them what the product looks like, what it can do, and how it can help them if they pull the trigger. Offer video demonstrations of the product or service you offer, and publish video testimonials to increase the customer’s trust, which is key to earning a sale.

2. Make it easy to use

A store that is frustrating for your customer to use is deadly to your conversion rate, so explore a few e-commerce platforms to see which ones create an online shopping experience that will be simple for both you and your customer. Your site must be user friendly and the interface should be intuitive. Make the site mobile-friendly, which small business owners often overlook. Offer a variety of payment options.

3. Seamless checkout

Once your customer is ready to buy, you must get them through that checkout process as quickly. Keep the process short and sweet. If it’s too long and complicated, you may lose the sale. Get feedback from your customers and make tweaks. Customize the process so it makes sense for you and your customers.

4. Make them feel special

Entice new customers with special offers and deals, and reward returning customers with their own discounts. Play around with limited-time coupon codes, and consider contests or other marketing efforts to boost traffic. Loyalty programs will also help sales, encouraging customers to do their shopping with you to earn, say, a free shirt after spending $100 in your store.

5. Price to perfection

A key part of conversion rate optimization is getting the price right. You want it not so high it drives off too many customers, but not so low you’re struggling to break even on each sale.

Examine the competition to see what the market says is your product’s value, and recognize the cheapest way is not necessarily the best — so don’t just try to beat their price, especially if you offer extra value. Understand what your customers will pay and what the market will bear, which takes research.

6. Free shipping

People love getting free shipping, so make it happen even if you have to give your product a little price boost. It’s a good way to convert sales and encourages people to make larger buys. It’s also a nice bonus for customers who demonstrate brand loyalty. You avoid the risk of losing that customer at checkout when, after already being on the fence about purchasing the product, they see a big shipping cost added to their bill.

7. Provide security

Data breaches can ruin a company, so it’s vital to protect your customers’ information. Privacy and security are critical, and payment processes must be secure. Notify customers of any data harvesting you’re doing, and invest in security to protect customer identity and data. Use protocols like SSL for checkout procedures.

8. Keep them coming back

Loyal customers are extremely important, so they must be a key focus of your online store marketing efforts. Build an email list of users to send promotions and updates, and create groups and a community around your brand on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Develop new products and services to keep them coming back for more, and communicate with them about where your company is going. This builds relationships with your customers that will stand the test of time.

Track data for ideas on how to improve

Small business owners trying to find out how to increase conversion rates in e-commerce must collect data. By tracking analytics on key metrics such as customer lifetime value, customer retention rate, and cost per acquisition, you will learn how your customers behave and gain insights on what you're doing that's working, and what's not.

Track more than basic e-commerce stats. You should also examine data on logistics and inventory management metrics such as holding costs, rate of return, and inventory turnover. Armed with this information, you can implement strategies such as dropshipping or lean inventory management to drive down costs and increase the bottom line — even if your conversion rate doesn’t change.

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