So we’ve reached the end of the series. Hopefully, you’ve picked up some ideas as to how you can increase the conversion rate on your eCommerce store by implementing simple changes. Now for the different conversion rate metrics to track your success.
We’ve repeatedly returned to the idea of ‘A/B Split Testing’ (achieving a goal in two ways to see which works best relative to the other). Why? It’s one thing implementing, for example, product review forms where there were none before: That’s going to increase conversion, granted. But what about choosing the most efficient form structure, call-to-action and promotional reward for taking part? What about improving the elements you’ve implemented already?
For that you’ll not only need the skills to make changes to a sub-set of pages or customer interactions, but you’ll also need to be able to understand what constitutes an improvement; what constitutes a ‘better’ design or a ‘better’ process?
To gather the right data and understand it, you first need to understand the actual conversion rate metrics for eCommerce sites and for websites overall.
Of course, you also need to factor in any fluctuations in the market. When you or your competitors run a promotion, everybody in the immediate market environment will see their conversion rates affected. Things go up and down seasonally too. The moral of the story is this… no equation can be taken on face value alone.
But with that said (now that you know the basics and understand the danger of being single-minded about conversion metrics) I’ll set you loose on some specific approaches.
Traditional Conversion Rate Metrics
Google’s traffic measurement and analysis tool, Google Analytics, delivers a wealth of valuable information pertaining to your conversion rates; such as clicks from one page to another, bounce rates and the average time spent on each page. These provide insight and information on the earliest-acting factors affecting eCommerce conversion.
The immediate visual impact, the value proposition and the brand efficacy are put to the test in the first few seconds of a visit, having a big impact on the bounce rate. Bounce rates can also be indicative of problems with the way search engines are indexing you: If you get found for the wrong search terms, you’ll have lots of the ‘wrong’ visitors bouncing off your site.
Further to these ‘given’ metrics, you can calculate other conversion rates from the data provided. The simplest way to view any conversion process is this:
An average website converts around 1-3% of its total traffic into a paying customer. Some convert 20% and above though so do some research into your industry before getting too worried or too comfortable with your own conversion rate!
Funnel Conversion Rate Metrics
If 1000 visitors land on your website and 100 of them add a product to their shopping cart, you had a 10% conversion rate at that step. If 20 of those 100 people clicked ‘Checkout’ to buy whichever product they had put in their basket, you had a 20% conversion rate at that second step. Overall though, according to the equation introduced above, the website’s conversion rate was simply 2% – a single data-point.
But there were 2 different factors in that process. If you only tracked that lone, ‘traditional’ visitor-to-sale metric you’d never know about the individual effects of those two steps. What if all 1000 visitors in the example above put a product in their basket (because your home page is so fantastic and they found they wanted instantly), but still only 20 people actually bought a product (because your checkout process was so bad)? You’d only know by looking at every step separately.
What is a step? Chances are your category and product pages will all look the same: That is to say, calls-to-action, images, descriptions and copy will be found in the same places. Similar pages will follow a template and will generally be ‘aligned’ (a good idea for the user experience). So in terms of efficiency of design and functionality, it doesn’t matter which ‘Add to Basket’ or ‘Read More’ button a user clicks or even for what category/product for that matter. It only matters that they clicked one of them.
By coming up with groups of similar conversion points, you can view the whole site as a funnel:
i.e. home page (start)
> category page
> product page
> ‘add to basket’
> start checkout
> complete checkout
This could even be extended to include:
> return by clicking link in follow-up email (with discount code)
> discount code redeemed
> share that the discount was redeemed on social networks
> take customer questionnaire on Twitter
>open follow-up email with another discount code
> discount code redeemed
… … … and so on.
Your website presents the start of a customer journey – through the content and toward a goal – through branding, design and calls-to-action. Each step of that journey should be planned and managed properly. The effectiveness of each step can be tracked using this method.
But we’re still talking in generalities. What about the very finest of details… individual page/product conversions.
Page-Level Conversion Rate Metrics
This is the most specific metric. Page-level conversion tracking is used to optimise the content on individual pages rather than groups of calls-to-action or general page structures.
A low page-level conversion usually hints at problems with the price-point, product images or copy. After all, the buttons and layout of the page in question will be the same as on all the other product pages that are converting. Therefore, by comparing this information to funnel conversion rates, the effectiveness of individual pages can be deemed as above-par or sub-par. Sub-par pages can then be analysed and improved accordingly.
So the key to eCommerce conversion is this: Make sure your site is being found for the ‘best’ phrases, then make sure the user journey is as smooth as it can be for those ‘best’ customers who find you; and then finally you can look into the specifics of individual pages.