A brief guide to conversion optimization in e-commerce

Tech writer Jake Anderson outlines some simple tips for making your e-commerce business user friendly in order to optimize sales


While the credo "sell more, earn more" is essentially true, getting there is a different can of worms. Consider a brick-and-mortar retail outlet. The owner didn't just open the store and start selling. She probably put a lot of work into selecting the location, décor, and general feel. In the same way, there are things you can do to optimize your e-store and increase sales.

Here's a brief guide to conversion optimization in e-commerce.

Improve your load speeds

Since e-commerce websites are built and maintained online, you won't have to worry about the location of your store, potential foot traffic, or anything like that. You will, however, have to technical issues such as page load speed.

How quickly does your e-store website load? According to research conducted by Google, over half of web users will abandon a site if it takes between three and 3.5 seconds to load (depending on mobile vs. desktop, respectively). So, if your website is slow and clunky, you are almost certainly losing customers.

To optimize your conversions, you'll need to improve your load speeds by compressing images, optimizing caches, optimizing for mobile, nixing redirects and cutting advertisements. This might sound like a lot of work, but it's worth it.

Share compelling copy

If you want to optimize sales, you'll need to consistently make improvements to your website. This can happen in big ways (such as improving load speeds) or in small ways, such as writing compelling copy.

What is compelling copy? It's the text on your website. Maybe it's the way you describe your products, or maybe it's something on your "About Us" page. Currently, your copy might be a little flat. Try adding some flair to your product descriptions or adding something personal to your e-store's bio. Update these every few months until you find that sweet spot.

Anticipate customer queries (and answer them!)

Piggybacking on the last tip, your copy should anticipate customer questions and answer them. Think about it, what is an e-commerce website for beyond making sales? It's all about delivering customers what they want. It doesn't matter if you are a medium e-commerce business running your e-store on Shopify or an international e-commerce giant, that fact remains the same.

Nobody understands your products better than you do. If you need to post a blog about cleaning and maintaining kitchenware, go for it. If you need to inform your shoppers that the sizes for your faux fur vests skew small, tell them. These are things your customers want and need to know. If they can't find that information on your site, they might leave to find an e-store that will answer their questions without a lot of digging.

Visit Innovation Enterprise's Ecommerce & Payments Summit New York, part of Future Retail Festival New York on April 2–3, 2019

Pay attention to SEO

Another way to increase traffic to your website (and potentially sales to new customers) is by working on your SEO.

If you don't already know what it is, SEO stands for "search engine optimization." The concept is pretty simple. When web users search "durable hiking sandals" they expect Google to deliver apt search engine results. Of course, Google wants to deliver good results as well. By enhancing your e-store's SEO you can tell Google and other search engines that yes, you are the right website for "durable hiking shoes."

Examples of search engine optimization include keyword repetition on important pages, creating a blog discussing relevant topics, updating your title tags and meta descriptions, adding labels to images and more.

Reengage with email marketing

But what if you want to bring in return customers? In this case, email marketing is your best bet. Email marketing is very inexpensive and delivers a high return on investment. Perfect for e-stores big or small.

Start by prompting buyers (or prospective buyers) to join your email subscription list for updates on upcoming products launches, exclusive coupon codes, and other news alerts. Share these emails on a weekly basis, at first, but play with the cadence as you get more comfortable with marketing outreach.

Leave a clear path to checkout

If your checkout process is confusing, clunky, or – heaven forbid – broken, you will undoubtedly lose out on sales. Be sure to clear the way to checkout by removing page redirects or advertisements. Better yet, decrease the number of pages customers have to go through to complete their purchase. Remember, an easy checkout process is a high-converting checkout process.

Using these tips, keep experimenting with the above tips to find the best formulae for your e-commerce website. After all, the only way to succeed is to get your hands dirty.

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