The Definitive Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization for Ecommerce

The Definitive Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization for Ecommerce

Selling more of your products is essential to the growth of your ecommerce store and business. 

Everyone knows that, but very few know exactly where to start.

And even if you do know where to begin, you still have to read dozens of articles online and watch tons of videos to learn how to optimize your ecommerce, or electronic commerce, website to increase sales.

But what if you don’t have time to do all of that? 

That’s why, in this definitive guide, we compiled the best practices critical to conversion rate optimization.

After reading this article, you will have the knowledge you need to grow your ecommerce business by selling more products in less time.

Table of Contents:

  1. Design and Layout
    1. Personalized User Experience
    2. Easy Navigation
    3. Videos and High-Quality Images
    4. Mobile Friendliness
  2. Content
    1. Compelling Website Copy
    2. Social Proof
    3. Detailed Product Descriptions
    4. Strong Call-to-Action
  3. Site Functionality
    1. Search Results
    2. Effortless Check Out Process
    3. Allowed Guest Checkout
    4. Live Chat
    5. Site Security
  4. Marketing
    1. Search Engine Optimization
    2. Social Media Marketing
    3. Newsletters
    4. Multichannel Retargeting
    5. Abandoned Cart Emailing

What is a Conversion?

Conversions are the actions visitors take while browsing your website. Conversions vary depending on the end goal of your sales funnel and how you intend to convert more leads into customers.

For instance, simply adding a product to the shopping cart is a conversion if one of your strategies is to incorporate abandoned cart marketing.

Other conversion examples for ecommerce websites include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter.
  • Creating an account.
  • Downloading a product demo.
  • Requesting a free evaluation.
  • Purchasing a product.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization is the process of maximizing the percentage of desired actions performed by your visitors.

There are many improvements you can make to achieve higher conversion rates, but you need to set expectations and goals before you take any further steps.

Let’s start by answering the most important question:

What is a good conversion rate in ecommerce?

Before we can discuss an optimal rate to aim for, you have to keep in mind that your conversion rate is not an independent variable. You need to consider several numbers and aspects before setting goals or comparing results.

First off, it is fairly obvious that email signups yield higher conversion rates than those of product sales, because visitors do not think twice about submitting their email address to sign up for a newsletter, but they do grapple with spending their hard-earned money.

Additionally, your marketing strategy, target audience, and traffic source play a major role in determining your conversion rates. 

Look at this example. Which of these two audiences do you think converts more sales:

1- Traffic coming from Google after typing “buy winter shoes for women.”  


2- Visitors coming from social media to read a blog article.

It is  obvious that traffic “#1” converts a dozen times more than traffic “#2.”

So, the answer to the question, “What is a good conversion rate in ecommerce,” is one that is higher than your current rate. 

We cannot give you a precise number on a good conversion rate since it varies by industry, but we promise to leave you with something much better by the end of this article. We will share with you some insider tips and tricks that can double or even triple your conversion rates for low costs in little time.

How to Calculate Conversion Rate in Ecommerce?

With all of the tools and artificial intelligence we have in 2019, it is easy for any business to track every step of the sales process.

Here is how you can measure two different types of conversions: 

Repeat Measured Conversion

A repeat-measured conversion is calculated using the total number of sessions instead of unique users. Because sometimes, one user can perform a single action on your website multiple times.

For example: Selling everyday-use products or repeat-purchase products where your visitors can convert each time they’re on your website.

Repeat Conversions Formula

This applies to: Contacting your business, downloads, repeat-purchase products, etc.

One-Time Measured Conversion

One-time measured conversions are calculated by dividing the number of conversions over total number of unique visitors. Therefore, if a user performs the same action twice, it will only count as one conversion.

For example: Selling a product that can only be purchased once.

One-time Conversions Formula

This applies to: Email signups, account registrations, one-time purchase products, etc.

Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices

Ecommerce conversion rate optimization is a science with many variables in play, requiring improvement in multiple details to achieve higher conversion numbers.

Let’s jump right into it.

1- Design and Layout:

1- Personalized User Experience

Your website is the first interaction your leads have with your business before becoming loyal customers. It represents who you are as an ecommerce business and what it feels like to connect with you.

Because the first interaction with your website is key to hooking your customer, it needs to look like it was custom-created specifically for every single one or your customers.

  • Define the user persona of your average leads. 
  • Understand their values, desires, and limitations. 
  • Study where they come from, their pain points, and how you can help them.

After you develop a better picture of what your customers are like, you are ready to fulfill their needs by serving a personalized experience, enticing them to become long-term loyal customers. 

  • Use colors, imagery, and videos they can relate to. 
  • Create pages and sections that answer their needs as quickly and clearly as possible.

2- Easy Navigation

Just because you understand how to move through different sections of your website, your visitors may not.

After all, you have been there from the beginning — while they only had a few seconds before deciding to stay or leave. Within those first few seconds, a visitor is thinking, “how much time or effort is this going to take to find what I need?” Most people do not have spare time, and if they did, they do not want to waste it searching for information like a scavenger hunt.

We cannot count the times we have seen ecommerce websites struggle with conversion rates just by overlooking their website’s navigation. Navigation is so important!

It doesn’t matter if they do it on purpose or not.

And the examples are endless.

Someone who was about to purchase a product but couldn’t access their cart can turn into a lost client in a matter of seconds. Or, someone who wants to find a similar product in a different color but cannot find a color search filter will get frustrated and eventually leave. And, someone in a hurry looking for a specific product does not want to be scrolling through large areas of marketing text.

How to Improve Your Ecommerce Website Navigation?

  • Display important pages such as “Login”, “Register”,  “My cart”, and “Contact” across all pages on your website.
Ecommerce User Navigation
  • Have clear header and footer sections.
  • Use breadcrumbs and enumerated product page navigations. 

Looking for feedback on your site’s navigation? Get help from our highly-experienced team by requesting a free evaluation of your business.

Need Help With Ecommerce SEO Services?

3- Videos and High-Quality Images

This one may seem obvious, but using videos and high-quality images on your website is key to increasing your conversion rates.

Videos can be used in many different ways to establish trust and convert more leads. That is because online consumers are spending less time reading and more time listening. It takes less energy to watch than to read and scroll.

Using Video in Conversion Rate Optimization

So, can you use videos for better communication with your audience?

Ways you can use videos on your website:

  • Teach your visitors how they can use your products.
  • Show charity collaboration.
  • Present product testimonials.
  • Show product close-ups.

TIP: Make sure your web server can handle hosting videos, or utilize a 3rd party service if it can’t.

Images can also make a huge effect on maintaining your reputation as a trustworthy business. 

An image is one of the strongest elements to catch a visitor’s attention on a website. It is the first thing online consumers notice before reading or interacting with your website.

Conversion rate optimization Using Images

For your product photos: invest in a good DSLR camera to take HQ pictures.

For stock photos on your website: you can buy high-quality stock photos online or use free stock pictures websites to download images when you need them.

Here are some go-to sites that provide thousands of free stock photos for ecommerce.

4- Mobile-Friendliness

In 2018, 40% of retail ecommerce sales in the US came from mobile customers. And as the number of mobile users keeps growing, that percentage is expected to go up. 

Although website responsiveness easy to implement, this simple tweak has a larger effect on conversion rates than any of the other elements of the list. For instance, you’ll lose 49% of your total sales if your website is not mobile-friendly.

Mobile Friendly Ecommerce Website

But, to this day, we still see ecommerce websites that are not mobile-friendly.

Not sure if you’re one of those businesses? Check tactic #4 in our previous article to see if your website is responsive.

2- Content

1- Compelling Website Copy

Copywriting is in direct relationship with your conversion rates. It can solve all of your communication problems and lead your customers to the last phase of your sales funnel.

Great content on your ecommerce website informs your visitors about you, who you are, how you can help them, and where they can get started.

However, copywriting is not design.

Compelling Website Copy

While your website design is easy to review, you need help from a professional copywriter to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your web copy.

There are too many principles and rules to keep in mind when writing copy. And it is never clear where the problem is when your numbers begin to drop.

You know it is not converting. But you don’t know how to improve it. And to make things worse, you cannot learn everything about copywriting just to review your website.

Does that sound familiar? 

Not to worry! We have you covered. If you need assistance with your website copy, do not hesitate to reach out to us here. Our expert copywriters will take care of the rest.

2-Social Proof

When human beings don’t know how to act, they conform to other groups to feel safe. In other words, they outsource their sanity by looking at what others are doing. 

“If everyone is buying from this business, then it’s the right thing to do.”

Ways to improve your social proof game:

1- Display reviews on your products’ page, testimonials on your checkout page, and expert recommendations on your home page.

2- Ask your customers to leave reviews and testimonials on your products and services after they try them.

3- Detailed Product Descriptions

There is nothing more annoying to a user who is ready to check out but needs to visit other websites to learn about the product.

If they’re frustrated, they may end up buying from your competitor’s website where things are explained better.

Tips on how to write product descriptions for ecommerce

1- Your product description should be as clean and detailed as possible, but always on point.

2- Explain everything about your different items while including other important information such as multiple images, shipping details, user ratings, the benefits of using the product, etc.

Ecommerce Product Description
Detailed Product Description

3- Consider hiring a professional content developer to write your product descriptions for you. If your product descriptions are unclear and full of errors, the customer may regard that as a sign for low-quality and leave your website.

4- Strong Call-to-Action

Calls-to-actions are essential to achieving your site’s aims and objectives. 

When a user lands on your website, your design and copy should communicate a clear message to them; a call to a desired action that you want them to take. 

Strong Call-to-action

A good call-to-action needs to be clear and direct about what you want your leads to do. It also has to be catchy and draw attention. 

Tips on how to create a powerful call-to-action:

  • Communicate in strong actionable language.
  • Create a high hierarchy and contrast between different elements such as buttons and backgrounds.
  • Imply urgency by using words like “Now”, “Today”, and “Immediately”.

3- Site Functionality:

1- Search Results

Ever been on an ecommerce website where the search function doesn’t work?

Those are a dime a dozen.

Perhaps it’s due to the vague correlation between search and conversion rates not being clear.

Fair enough, but the correlation is there. 

When a visitor who is ready to buy types the name of an item to search, but nothing turns up, or the wrong item appears, it is understandable that they would leave your website and never come back again.

How to improve search on your website?

  • Display the search bar everywhere on your website.
  • Improve your search functionality by making results fast and accurate.
  • Develop an autocomplete system to show more related products.
Search Function For Ecommerce Websites
  • Include smart and relevant breadcrumbs in your search result pages.

2- Effortless Check Out Process

The checkout process is the heart of conversion rates. If you make it inconvenient and complex for your users, you are shooting yourself in the foot by pushing away potential customers.

How to Create a Convenient Checkout Process for Ecommerce

1- Enable Multiple Popular Paying Options

Let’s be honest. 

We all hate it when we get to the last step of the shopping cart process only to realize that the only option available for payment is Paypal.

Your website has to allow multiple payment gateways that most of your users are familiar with. 

Payment Options

The most popular payment processors are Stripe, Square, SecurePay, and Apple Pay. Make sure the pay the amount stated is clearly listed on whichever processor you use or it can result in the cancellation of their order during the checkout process.

2- Break Down the Process Into Multiple Pages

Ever felt overwhelmed by the huge number of boxes and inputs you had to fill before completing an order?

We all have. So please, don’t do that to your customers if you want to keep them.

If your payment process is long and complex, create multiple pages for different steps of the process and use clear buttons for the “Next” and “Previous” pages.

3- Allow Credit Card Information Storing

There is a reason why almost every major ecommerce website online today allows payment information storing. 

Typing in your credit card details every time you want to make a purchase is intimidating and often inconvenient. Especially when the information gets mistyped and you have to retype 16 digits again until you get it right.

Storing Credit Card Information

That is why you need to allow credit card information to be stored on your website. Your customers will surely be grateful for how easy it is to buy from you and therefore purchase more of your products.

3- Allow Guest Checkout

If the majority of your customers are repeat shoppers, this probably isn’t the best strategy for you. It will cause you some problems down the line.

However, it is the answer for many ecommerce websites.

Online customers resent having to create a new account every time they are on a new website that doesn’t offer guest checkout because it takes more time. 

Guest Checkout for Ecommerce

And sometimes an easier option for them is on your competitor’s site that allows guests to complete transactions without saving any of their information. 

4- Live Chat

According to Invesp, 83% of online shoppers require support assistance before they can complete a purchase. 

Often, customers have lots of questions about your products and need personalized assistance.

If you can’t offer live chat, make sure you list your contact information, including your email address, phone number and contact forms in easy to find sections of your website.

5- Site Security

Website security is a no-brainer for ecommerce businesses. Unlike other sites, ecommerce websites contain sensitive data about your products and customers.

But not only that. 

If your website doesn’t the proper security, search engines will keep it lower in search results — while customers will stay away from it for their own safety.

How to Make Your Ecommerce Website Secure?

Here are some steps you can take to make your ecommerce website secure:

1- Choose a safe hosting service provider.

2- Use Secure Payment Gateways such as Paypal, Stripe, Skrill, etc.

3- Migrate from HTTP to HTTPS.

4- Keep your website’s system, themes, and plugins updated.

5- Backup your database regularly.

4 – Marketing

1 – Search Engine Optimization

There are many ways ecommerce SEO and conversion rate optimization complement each other in the online business world. And by combining the two, you’ll get the lion’s share of your target market sales.

If you want to rank high on Google, your ecommerce pages have to be well optimized for SEO.

How to boost SEO results for ecommerce websites:
1 – Improve your headlines, URL structure, internal linking, and keyword research.

2 – Use relevant keywords in your pages and product descriptions. 

3 – Launch a blog for your website and create quality content that helps your readers overcome their challenges.

4 – Create the best design, copy, and site functionality to increase dwell time and lower your bounce rates.

5 – Improve your page load speed by losing unnecessary elements and large files.

6 – Hire a digital marketing services company if you need outside assistance.

Need Assistance with your Ecommerce SEO?

2- Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a great tool to increase brand awareness, boost traffic, and sell more products. 

No matter what your business is about or what products you sell, there’s always a place for your ecommerce business on social media. You can find all kinds of audiences online that are ready to interact with your business and offer you their attention.

Tips to Promote Your Ecommerce Business on Social Media

1- Decide on the platforms that work well with your business. Because each platform contains different audiences and marketing strategies.

The most popular ones for ecommerce are:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Twitter

2- Create a content marketing strategy that resonates the most with your potential customers and helps drive them to your website.

3- Interact with your social media followers by asking them questions, mentioning them in your posts, replying to their comments, etc.

3- Newsletters

Newsletters are another powerful form of communication that you should incorporate if you want higher conversion rates.

Conversion Rate Optimization using Newsletters

By sending newsletters regularly, you will keep your brand visible in front of your existing customers. This improves your relationship with them and entices them back to your website to consume more content and buy more products.

With the right tools and techniques, it costs you nothing to start a newsletter.

So what are you waiting for? 

How to Get Started With Newsletters

1- Build an email list of existing customers by asking them to subscribe to your newsletter.

2- Create an email marketing calendar for daily, weekly, or monthly content.

3- Send emails regularly while keeping track of and measuring important email marketing metrics such as open rates and click-through-rates.

4- Offer special deals and coupons for your loyal customers to keep them coming back.

4- Multi-channel Retargeting

We know for a fact that ecommerce businesses lose 96% of their visitors. And once gone, those leads are lost forever.

Unless there is a magical way to bring them back and convert them into customers.

Good news! 

The magical way exists, and it is called multi-channel retargeting.

Retargeting is a strong marketing technique that allows you to re-engage online consumers who visited your website but didn’t convert. It works by displaying your ads throughout different marketing channels to increase brand awareness and purchase intention.

This is one of the most effective marketing tactics. 

Chances are, the potential customers you retargeted will recognize your business from the second ad. Which encourages them to revisit your website and give your products a second chance.

And the best thing about all of this? Retargeting could cost ten times less than the standard PPC campaign. 

Do not miss this chance!

5- Abandoned Cart Emailing

Check this out: 

69.57% of online shoppers in 2019 have abandoned a cart by leaving a website without making a purchase. These numbers have always been this high for decades.

Sometimes it is beyond your capacity to convince a customer to complete a purchase.

However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do to boost conversions.

Many users who end up abandoning carts are registered to your website, which means that you can send them reminder emails to urge them to complete their orders. And you should!

Abandoned Cart Emailing

Start an automated abandonment email marketing campaign for abandoned cart reminder on your website, then send regular reminders to your customers about completing their orders.

By using the right headline, messaging, reminder emails, and an offer they can’t refuse — you’ll increase your sales conversion rates with little to no effort.


And just when you think you are all done with conversion rate optimization, we reveal the truth to you.

You’re not!

Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process of trial and error, and you will never reach a maximum conversion rate. We implore you not to settle for your next highest rate. There is always something you can do to grow your business.

Do you want to sell more products and take your ecommerce business to the next level? That is precisely what we specialize in at SurgeStream. Check out our conversion rate optimization services or request your free evaluation today. You can also fill in the form below. We will dedicate a team of professionals to help you identify your conversion rate challenges and overcome them strategically and successfully.

About SurgeStream

SurgeStream is a full service digital marketing and SEO company that works with small to medium sized businesses in order to help increase their website's online visibility.

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