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Every month, a great number of people probably visit your brand’s website. But, chances are, only a few of them end up making purchases or turning into customers. What happens to the remaining visitors? Do they bounce, never to return? Or are they waiting to be convinced to take the next step and complete a transaction? To understand why some people make purchases and others don’t takes a bit of psychology. But, what you can do to increase the chances of your leads turning into customers takes ecommerce conversion rate optimization.

Here’s what it is and how you can make it work for your brand.

Intro to Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

It’s very likely that your brand doesn’t have a website just for the fun of it. The odds are, you have a website because you’d like the people who visit it to do something. That something can be signing up for a newsletter or mailing list. It can be chatting with a representative from your brand for more information. Or, in the case of ecommerce, it’s making a purchase.

When a visitor to your website takes the action you want them to take, it’s known as conversion. Conversion rate optimization refers to the process your brand uses to increase the number of people who perform that action.

Figuring Out Conversion Rate

A bit of simple math goes into figuring out what the conversion rate is for your ecommerce website. To find out your conversation rate, divide the number of people who’ve performed the action you want them to take by the number of site visits over the course of a specific period (such as one month).

For example, let’s say 5,000 people visit your site over the course of a month. Of those 5,000, 50 end up buying a product. Computing 50/5000 gives you 0.01, or a 1 percent conversion rate.

A one percent conversion rate might not be that bad. But, it does mean that 99 percent of visitors are leaving your website before they complete the action you’d like them to take.

Why You Should Care About Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

Ecommerce conversion rate optimization helps you increase the number of leads that end up converting.

There are a lot of options to help increase your customer base or conversions. You could find a way to convince the people who already visit your website to take action. Or, find an additional 5,000 people to visit your site (in the hopes that some of those new visitors will also convert).

Your best bet is usually to focus on converting the leads you’ve already got, rather than continually chasing new leads. If you try to keep chasing new leads, and ignore the existing ones, you’re going to eventually run out of people, and your brand’s growth is going to hit a wall.

Ecommerce conversion rate optimization focuses on working with what you’ve got, then finding a way to make it better.

How to Use Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

How can your brand use conversion rate optimization (CRO) to turn existing leads into customers? While there are many tactics you can try, effective CRO all comes down to this: improving the user experience on your website so that people feel compelled or inclined to take action.

Ways To Implement Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization:

Add visible calls-to-action.

Give visitors to your site some guidance. What is it that you want them to do? Calls to action help people take the next step, whether that is joining a mailing list or making a purchase. Where you place those calls to action matters.

Hubspot reports that CTAs included at the bottom of blog posts aren’t super effective, as people have learned to tune them out. But if you include an anchor text CTA (in the middle of the post, in the form of a header), you’re likely to get more action. Hubspot did its own small test to compare, and found that CTAs at the bottom of a post generated 6 percent of leads, while CTAs as an anchor text in the middle of a post generated as much as 93 percent of leads.

Get to know your customers.

Why aren’t people converting? Did you ever think of asking them? Don’t underestimate the value of customer surveys when it comes to finding out what makes the visitors to your brand’s website tick.

Offer a perk.

Deals abound online, and a lot of shoppers are going to be comparison shopping. While you don’t want to undercut yourself so much that you lose money on each sale, sweetening the pot by adding a deal can help to improve your conversion rate.

What’s the best type of deal to offer for CRO? Free shipping. High shipping costs are among the top reasons for customers to abandon a cart or not make a purchase. One Australian company found that it was able to increase its conversion rate by 50 percent just by offering default free shipping (no code required).

Simplify checkout.

Speaking of abandoning carts, nearly 70 percent of shoppers have filled up an online shopping cart and “walked away” within the past three months. While the cost of shipping and taxes was a primary reason for cart abandonment, another common reason was that the checkout process was too complicated.

Simplifying the checkout process can increase your site’s conversion rate by more than one third. There are a few ways you can improve CRO by simplifying checkout. One option is to ask for zip code first, then auto-populate city and state fields based on the information provided. Another option is to skip asking for the type of credit card being used — you can figure that out based on the number entered.

Be available to visitors.

“Is this brand for real?” That’s not a question you want people asking as they hover between buying or not buying. One way to improve your CRO and get people to purchase is to be there for them.

That can mean having a phone number and email address prominently displayed on each webpage. It also means having a “live chat’ option so that people can speak directly to a customer service rep without having to navigate away from the page. British clothing brand Boden has a live chat button fixed to the side of the page on its homepage, category pages, and product pages.

You’ve heard the saying “work smarter, not harder.” Ecommerce conversion rate optimization lets you find a way to work smart by improving existing resources to make a sale.