DE{CODE}: Post-eCommerce Site Launch: Optimizing Your Conversion Rate

You’ve launched your eCommerce website, now what? If you’re looking to strengthen the foundation of your digital store, this session will show you how to improve conversion funnels across your website or application for demonstrably improved ROI. Watch the video below and start optimizing your conversion rate!

Video: Post-eCommerce Site Launch: Optimizing Your Conversion Rate

Session Slides

Full Text Transcript

ALLIE BROCK: Hello. Hi, I’m Allie. And I’m Head of eCommerce at Box UK. Some of my role involves working with our eCommerce strategy at Box UK. But the majority of my role is actively working with clients and with our development teams to help deliver eCommerce platforms. I spend a huge amount of time looking at how these platforms are performing, and what improvements we can make to help optimize the conversion rates. So hopefully, today, I can share some of the insight that I’ve learnt in my number of years in this role. 

Starting off with a story from our team. So a client I worked with recently set as a challenge to help them improve their ecommerce conversion rate. And the UX designer on my team at the time came up with a quick fix that will pretty much guarantee a big increase. There’s no code changes. Sorry, everyone. And very little for product admins to do. So in order to increase your conversion rate, all you need to do is massively reduce the price your customers has to pay for products. That’s it. I’m guessing by now some of you will be thinking, well, why on Earth would I do that? I’m going to go out of business. It’s going to destroy my revenue. 

So let’s change the title of the talk slightly to a bit more lengthy but more accurate. Optimizing your conversion rate, and also increasing your revenue. Because when anyone talks about increasing conversion rates, the one thing they definitely don’t want is for revenue to be negatively impacted. So let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to help with conversion rates. 

So in order to get conversions, people need to be able to find your site, which sounds really sensible. Right? So you’ve launched your site. Your social channels are warming up. Your first marketing campaign has gone out. And you’re excitedly sitting there looking at dashboards that show orders coming in. What if those dashboards don’t light up? The first thing you need to look at in terms of increasing conversion rates is something that could actually be considered pre-launch. And that’s findability. So aside from marketing campaigns, what can you do to get your site in front of customers? Actually, ignore what– excuse me. Ignore what I’ve just said. What I meant to say is that in order to get conversions, customers need to be able to find your products. Not your site. 

So people find products. They don’t search for sites in most cases. So in terms of findability, let’s refine this a little so we’re talking more about product findability. So how do you help people find products? Well, one of the first things to look at– and again, a pre-launch thing– is actually technical SEO. Making a website faster, easier to crawl, and understandable for search engines are the pillars of technical optimization. So some of the technical SEO considerations I think you should be looking at is one, that it’s secure. Make sure your site is using HTTPS. And also that all assets are also being served securely. So that’s images, any relevant product sheets that are all attached to the site. 

Two, it’s fast. Since Google introduced Core Web Vitals last year, performance is a key ranking factor for sites. There are a number of tools out there that can keep you aware of your performance score. So things like Lighthouse, Search Console for example. And one key factor with performance, the main thing I think, is monitoring. Over time your site performance will start to degrade. It happens with software all the time. Don’t wait for errors to pop up to let you know this is happening. What you should do is setup MOT tasks as part of an overall development roadmap. So you monitor your site regularly, you do Lighthouse audits, and you act on performance issues before they become too big to resolve. And loading speed isn’t just important for SEO. It’s also really important for users too. You’re going to have a user’s attention for around 8 to 10 seconds. So if the time is taken up with a page loading, they’re just going to move on. 

And mobile friendly. In fact, mobile friendly is kind of like an outdated expression now. Google has been switching or switched to mobile first in 2019. So make sure your site is mobile first and responsive. And another technical SEO factor is around the URL structure. So making sure you’ve got your SEO -friendly URL structures is really important. They’re great for indexing. Also good for humans. Avoiding query strings, underscores, and for products in particular using a product title rather than a SKU or a product ID in your URL. 

Next up, we are looking at structured data. So product findability also includes making sure that your products are built using structured data. So having a product schema in place means your search engines will have more information on products available to them. So they can then display prices, and reviews, et cetera in organic search results. This in turn helps your products rank higher. And also increases the likelihood of a click through because key information– again price, reviews– is being displayed to users before they even arrive on your site. 

And the next thing that we could look at is product feeds. So product feeds are used by merchant center programs. So for example, shopping ads, product listings, buy on Google, et cetera. These need to be structured correctly so they can be consumed by these services. Now there’s a load of information out there on building product feeds, and also plug-ins. And they can help in terms of what you need to build. We chose to build our own product feed because that gave us more control over the content that’s output. And it also meant that we could make it not one service specific. So we could use the same feed for both shopping services and also for any affiliates that need product data in a structured way. 

The next pillar is around traffic sources. So let’s take a look at some of the typical traffic sources that are going to be sending traffic to your site. Firstly, organic. This is free and this is actually a great indicator to show you’re really getting your SEO sorted. But it is tricky at launch unless you’ve got an existing SEO presence, and you’ve done a migration correctly. Referrals, again, hopefully free, work on building partnerships with other sites so you can hopefully build referral traffic. And make sure that’s reciprocal. 

Then you have paid an affiliate. Now we’re diving into the not free stuff. But it can certainly drive traffic through to products. Although remember the impact on your revenue as a whole. Having good product feeds to really help to get the best out of paid traffic. And one of the other interesting feeds is social. So this is growing. Look at ways that products can be surfaced in social. So for example, Instagram shopping and Facebook shopping. I mentioned earlier that people are searching for products. Not sites. But actually, more and more, products have been surfaced in social so people don’t even have to search anymore. Products are now finding people rather than people finding products. 

So customers found your product. That’s awesome, right? You’re one step closer to a conversion. Actually, more importantly, you now have a lot of ways to screw this up, and to stop a customer from wanting to buy. Brands abandonment rates, which is the term used for customers that visit sites, view categories, and product pages, but don’t go on to buy, hover around 85%. So there’s a huge drop off rate between browsing and buying. Now obviously there are many reasons for this. People are going to be browsing, researching, price comparing. But for whatever reason, when someone lands on a product page, you have to give them a compelling reason to buy from you. And in a lot of cases, especially if you’ve done your content and technical SEO well, your product page is actually going to be your landing page rather than your home page. 

So let’s break down the product page. And look at things to consider in order to create the compelling reason to buy. Firstly, performance. I’ve mentioned it earlier. But it is important, so I’m saying it again. And if you didn’t catch the dev tricks for building fast eCommerce sites talk earlier today, I recommend you catch up with that one whenever you can. Product pages need to be fast. Lightning fast. If a product page is slow, a customer will have moved on to the next site before your page is even fully loaded. Wal-Mart found for every one second improvement in page load times, conversions increase by 2%, which for them meant an increase in revenue of $200,000. 

One second improvements can actually be really tricky to implement though. In which case, don’t discount small gains when you’re optimizing the performance of the site. Even the smallest speed improvement can help with improving conversion rates. For example, Mobify got a 1% improvement in a conversion rate with just a 100 millisecond improvement in page load time. After performance, another key indicator are images. So images are key content for customers who are choosing to purchase. They visually indicate the product is the right one for them. So make sure they accurately represent the product. And ideally have galleries of images that include products in their natural environment. What I mean by this, for example, if you’re selling kettles, have kettles with images of them in kitchens so users can see examples of them in terms of size, et cetera. And please don’t Photoshop these images. A quick search for Amazon Photoshop Fails is going to explain better than I can today. 

Also think about the image size and proportions. Product marketers will likely have invested in producing and uploading high quality images with super large file sizes. So consider using an image reciting function so performance isn’t negatively impacted. Another thing to consider is any potential layout shifts when images are loading. Make sure your images of a heightened width set. And consider using loading skeletons if your images are being loaded asynchronously. And next up is price. So make sure it’s really clear how much a customer is going to pay. Try not to clutter the page with too many prices. So including that, excluding that, sale price, bundle prices. And if you do need to show multiple prices, the one the customer is going to pay should be clear. So by that, I don’t mean necessarily bigger, but certainly clearer. Take some UX advice on how to do this. 

Also think about any hidden costs. Costs that may not typically be shown until checkout. For example, delivery costs, taxes, and any other fees. If you’re promoting free delivery on your site, make sure this is carried through to product pages. Remember, if you’ve got your SEO right, your product page is your landing page. So any promotions that you’ve got on your home page, try to somehow carry these through to your product page. 

A recent Baymard research article asked the question, have you abandoned any online purchase during the checkout process in the past three months? And if so, why? And 48% of respondents said they had because of those hidden costs. So that’s why it’s really important to make those visible on your product page. And then payment methods. So if a user gets to their checkout, and can’t pay with their preferred payment methods, it’s really frustrating. So consider showing these again on the product page. And another thing to consider with payment methods, don’t rely on just one. If that payment service goes offline, and they do– even the major ones– sorry, PayPal– customers are not going to be able to complete a purchase at all. So you’re going to have a 0 conversion rate. So give users a number of different options. And also that means that you’re covering yourself in the ability for people to actually pay. 

And next, we look at product availability. So that’s another strong conversion driver. And when a customer lands on a product page, they really assume it’s possible to buy a product. They just assume it’s in stock. So showing items in or out of stock is really important. There’s nothing worse than adding a product to your basket and then finding it’s out of stock at basket or even worse checkout stage. However, how you implement this depends on where the live stock information is stored. So if it’s only managed in Woo for example, it’s really simple to display. But if your stock levels are in a different system, you’re going to need to think about the best way to display up to date information without impacting the performance of a page, or possible API call volumes being too expensive. 

So one of our clients, they have the live stock check. That’s actually a quite expensive call for them. So we asynchronously load in stock information after the product page is loaded so it doesn’t impact the overall performance. You can even kind of dress this up with a nice loading graphic. Or text like checking live stock to make a user feel like it’s something worth waiting for. And if a product is out of stock, what does your product page do? Does it become a cul-de-sac or a dead end? If you can, look at ways to show alternative products as long as they are genuinely an alternative to the one the customer is viewing. So not just random, hey, buy this instead. This may need to be curated. There are plug-ins again out there that can help with this. But really think about curated content then to maximize your selling opportunities. 

And now we move on to trust indicators. So firstly, delivery and returns information. Customers want to know when they can expect to receive an order. And also what they need to do if they need to return something. We’re in an age now where I can see the time– delivery by 10pm. So people expect that kind of information. So make sure you’re delivering returns information is on the page. If your delivery terms are complicated– say you might have free delivery, standard delivery, premium delivery, or some order value dependent delivery– think about ways you can display this dynamically so you’re not having to display all the delivery options. Just the ones that are relevant to the product the user is viewing. 

And in terms of the returns process, place clear messaging on the returns process. And links to any terms of sale if you need to. So a customer doesn’t have to kind of seek these out. They don’t have to scroll down to the footer. We tend to not want them to navigate away from the page. So having that information visible and clear is really, really important. 

And another trust indicator is reviews. Now reviews are really important. In fact 97% of consumers typically read product ratings and reviews before they make a purchase. So having reviews visible with a standard kind of five star review indicator means customers can use user- generated content to help make a purchase decision. And look at ways to encourage reviews. So using third party review tools to gather reviews post-purchase. Post- purchase, this point is super important. The timing of the automation of when you ask for a review is really important. 

Don’t ask immediately after purchase. You should wait for a review invite until you’re confident the order has been not just shipped, but actually has arrived with that customer. I have a personal experience of being duped by good reviews. Recently, when I ordered a sofa, I did my research. I found a great company. Checked out the reviews. They had excellent five star reviews. All good. Confidently ordered a sofa. 16 weeks down the line, I start getting emails about being delayed. And then started looking into it and find out in terms of fulfillment, this company was terrible. Their selling experience was amazing. And they captured reviews at point of sale. So you’ve gone to the showroom. You had a cup of tea and some biscuits. Let you sit on all the sofas. Took your money. Got the review. The wrong time to ask for review. If you want authentic reviews, ask at the point you know that product is with the customer. 

And in terms of reviews, also respond to them if you can. When you open your platform to user- generated content, it’s kind of inevitable you’re going to get some less than five star ones. You can actually build trust even by responding authentically to less than favorable reviews. So make sure the review platform that you use does allow you to respond to these reviews as well. Users are going to see that you care about the whole customer experience, not just that selling side, And that’s super important. 

OK. And next we look at the basket. So by now, you think, OK, a customer’s they’ve added an item to their basket. You’re closer to conversion. Not necessarily. Many people hold products in their basket that they want to buy at a later date. They might need to wait till payday, for example. They might have seen something, added it to the basket, gone away, and then come back a few days later. And then go on to buy. Please think about basket persistence here, it’s really important. There is nothing more frustrating as coming back to a site and finding out your basket it’s been emptied for you. It’s really awful. 

Basket page. These are also a good opportunity for cross sells. So research has shown customers do actually like to be shown other products they can buy, so basket page is kind of prime real estate for cross- sells and up- sells. Again as long as they’re relevant to that customer. So items that are relevant to what they already have in their basket, or relevant to stuff that they’ve bought previously. I know it sounds simple. But I have seen sites that use the basket page for those kind of last- minute opportunities to sell random products. Relevance is key here. So always make sure that its products that you think that people are going to buy. 

OK. And then we get to the final stage. Checkout stage. At this stage, a customer is literally one click away from converting. So this is the time you start to keep noise to a minimum. You start to avoid any busy navigation. No cross sells and up sells on the checkout page. I know that there’s that tendency to go, oh, just one more thing. But if you’ve got someone at checkout at stage, you want to make it as simple as possible for them to check out. And you want to avoid too many distractions. Don’t trap people, though. Please make sure there’s an escape hatch there somewhere, so you can click on the logo for example. Please don’t trap them at that checkout. It’s a bit mean. 

Keep the fields that need to be completed to an absolute minimum. And here’s where you should be offering a guest checkout as well. The key conversion here is an eCommerce one, not a contact acquisition. So sites that offer post-purchase account creation where you’ve got 99% of the customer’s details already and you actually only need a password a much better option for customers than having to create an account pre-purchase. 

OK. So so good so far. Your conversion dashboard is starting to light up. 

At Box UK we talk a lot about turning dials. And that means making small changes that might improve conversions. For example, product recommendations. This could be out of stock alternatives, relevant cross- sells and up- sells, panels that show frequently bought together bundles, recently viewed and previously purchased products. These all give customers a way to view products that are relevant to them in a quicker way than having to navigate and search through the site. And again, while there are plug-ins available to help with these, this is a really good opportunity to look at developing and refining blocks, and building features that give you more control over the products that are being offered. 

With one of my clients that I work with, we noticed digging in through GA, we noticed one of the most popular products with the highest traffic to it had a page value of 0. And we knew why that was. It was out of stock. So obviously people were landing on that page, and they couldn’t buy it. So using a feature that we built to show out stock alternatives, we put on a relevant out of stock alternative. And we saw a 2000% increase in page value overnight. Just by that one small change. And in the last month, that one block, that out stock alternatives block, has actually contributed to 8% of the total revenue. We also implemented a previously purchased panel and have been testing this out to see how successful it is. That’s contributed to another 7% in March. And like I said, people might have been able to find these products by searching and navigating through. But by surfacing products that people want to buy, you can massively increase that conversion rate. And we’ve got proven stats around that, so there is some really good stuff to look at. 

OK. So in conclusion, I guess, you’ve looked at all the ways you can optimize your conversion rate. What do you do next? Well, next, you’re going to look at more ways to optimize your conversion rate. And this is an iterative approach. And the build measure learn leap that we see in software is relevant in terms of what you do next. It’s really important to be able to understand what is driving conversions. So you need to start looking at data and insight to make more improvements. And then look at then how you’re going to measure those improvements. In terms of tools and analytics, there’s loads out there. You can get real high end stuff. But personally I’m a big fan of the Google Marketing Suite. It’s free and it works really, really well. 

If you combine Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager and Google Optimize, and then start to filter down the insight using Data Studio, it’s a really powerful combination of tools to help build conversion dashboards. So unfortunately, there isn’t one single thing you can do to improve your conversion rate unless you would have risked that price slashing scenario I mentioned at the start. It’s a series of small gains that you build, measure, and learn from. I hope this has been insightful. Thank you so much for your time. Enjoy the rest of the conference. 

PRESENTER: And that is a wrap for DE{CODE} 2022. I hope you found it inspirational and are leaving with more WordPress expertise and new community connections. Look out for the recorded content on the site from Friday to catch up with anything you may have missed or watch a video again. I want to say a final thank you to our sponsor partners Amsive Digital, Box UK, Candyspace, Drewl, Elementary Digital, Illustrate Digital, Kanopi Studios, Springbox, StudioMalt, StrategiQ, Web Dev Studios, and 10up. A massive thank you for donating to our DE{CODE} fundraiser. We really appreciate your generosity. Now for everybody that has been interacting with us in our Attendee Hub and our sessions, we will pick the top three winners and let you know how you can claim your prize at the end of decode. 

We look forward to seeing you again at our future events either in-person or virtually. We can’t wait to bring you more on the latest WordPress development trends and how you can implement them to build WordPress sites faster. That’s all from me. Thank you very much for joining us, and take care. 

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