Conversion Rate Optimization: How to Design Your Site for Sales
Increasing sales on your online store can feel like an elusive, never-ending goal for every entrepreneur. You often have to squeeze out extra budget to run paid ads, drive additional traffic to your site, and identify new potential customers. You’re always chasing the “more”: more ad impressions, more traffic, and more shoppers.
What if you could meaningfully increase sales without touching your acquisition costs? Conversion rate optimization can do just that: help you make more money from your existing pool of potential and current customers.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about conversion rate optimization. You’ll learn what conversion rate optimization is and how to identify areas of opportunity for your store. We’ll also share eight examples of common conversion rate optimizations that you can make today.
What is conversion rate optimization (CRO)?
The best way to understand conversion rate optimization is to break apart the term itself, and answer some more basic questions: What is a conversion? What is a conversion rate?
A conversion occurs when a visitor completes a goal on your site. These goals can be classified as macro-conversions, the highest impact actions potential customers can take (think: making a purchase or signing up for a free trial). They could also be micro-conversions, smaller actions like creating an account or subscribing to your email newsletter. Macro- and micro-conversions are both important parts of a healthy eCommerce funnel, but require different levels of effort and strategies. For example, you’ll likely focus on retention, brand loyalty, and repeat purchases for visitors who complete macro-conversions. On the other hand, those who complete micro-conversions may need a higher-touch nurture approach, requiring you to send frequent emails to educate visitors on your company and products, stay top of mind, and build a relationship. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on macro-conversions, specifically getting visitors to complete a purchase.
Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete that desired action. It is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of visitors to your site and multiplying by 100.
Here is the formula to determine your conversion rate:
(Conversions / Total Visitors) * 100
For example, let’s say you had 50,000 people visit your store last month. Of those visitors, 2,000 completed a transaction. Your conversion rate would be 4% (because 2,000 / 50,000 * 100 = 4).
And finally, this brings us to conversion rate optimization: the process of increasing the percentage of your site visitors who convert. So, if your baseline conversion rate is 4%, aim to increase it to 5% or 6%. Even with a seemingly small increase in your conversion rate, you can wind up making thousands of dollars more per year.
How to identify areas for optimization
In an ideal world, you would constantly be optimizing every part of your store, from the homepage to individual product pages to the shopping cart. In reality though, you have limited time and resources, and your energy is better spent focusing on the pages that can make the biggest impact on your business. But, how do you know where to start?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for every business. The key is to truly understand how your customers experience your store so you can create a customized conversion rate optimization plan. For some, optimizing the homepage may provide the biggest opportunity for improvement in sales. For others, focusing on the later stages of the buying funnel (like the shopping cart experience) can be more effective.
Here are five ways you can better understand your customer journey and identify areas for optimization:
01. Learn how customers navigate your site
Look at your website analytics to see how customers browse your store. For example, the “Users Flow” report in Google Analytics can show you in what order customers visit your pages. (In other words, where do most customers go after they visit the homepage?) You could also use the “Navigation Summary” report to select a particular page, like a specific product page, and see where customers travel next. Understanding this behavior can help you focus your optimization efforts on the pages that matter most, and help guide customers to those pages. Or, conversely, help you identify if you are guiding customers to the wrong place or if they are dropping off after visiting a specific page.
02. Identify your best-selling items
Conversion optimization is usually made up of many small tweaks that, over time, can have a big impact on your bottom line. However, if you make these small tweaks on your most popular product pages, you can see results much faster. Identify your best-selling items and work on making those pages the best they can be. (Conduct A/B testing so you don’t risk making negative changes!)
03. Analyze search data
If you have a search option on your site, use it to gather information about what customers are looking for. Use Google Search Console or SEO software Moz to see which branded keywords customers search for most often when they’re looking for your site. For example, if many customers are Googling your store’s return policy or shipping fees, it may be a clear indication that this information is an important part of their conversion journey, but is too buried on your site.
04. Read customer support inquiries
Take the time to read customer inquiries and look for patterns that could help inform your website strategy. For example, what are the most commonly asked questions? You could both alleviate the burden of customer support and improve the customer experience by responding to those issues clearly on your site. Try to incorporate the answers organically where it makes sense in your store. Then create an FAQ page to respond to all of them in one place.
05. Conduct user research
If the metrics aren’t painting a clear picture, go directly to the source: your customers. Use Wix Chat to talk to site visitors in real time and gain insight on their shopping experience. Add a lightbox with a coupon code to encourage customers to fill out a form with their feedback. You can also include that form in your automated emails that go to customers who abandon their cart or make a purchase.
Eight expert examples to optimize your conversion rate
Once you’ve identified where you’re going to focus your optimization efforts, it’s time to think about what you’re going to change.
Here are eight examples areas of optimization to help you get inspired:
Use high-quality visuals
Add clear CTAs
Design for mobile
Highlight customer reviews
Create a clear navigational structure
Speed up the checkout process
Offer payment options
01. Use high-quality visuals
Bring your products to life with professional product photography, and videos. Adding a strong visual element to your product page lets customers feel confident that they know exactly what they’re buying, even if they can’t hold the product in their hands. In fact, 90% of Etsy shoppers said the quality of images is very important in their decision making process. Depending on what you’re selling, a video explaining how to use a complicated product or a before-and-after video could give customers the extra motivation to click the “Buy Now” button.
BeagleDrones seamlessly integrates videos into their product pages. As you scroll, you visually discover more and more things their drones can do (from filming high-speed car chases to aerial landscape views). In BeagleDrones’ case, these videos offer two main benefits—first, they highlight the quality of the drone footage, underscoring the value of the product. Second, they inspire you, subtly motivating you to imagine the films you could create with your own drone.
02. Add clear CTAs
Displaying a button on your website won’t necessarily get customers to take action in and of itself. You also need to make sure your CTAs are worded and designed clearly, eliminating any possible ambiguity. Use a CTA that makes it abundantly clear to shoppers what will happen when they click. Incorporate active words like “Start Shopping,” “Add to Cart,” or “Buy Now.” Aso, use bold, contrasting colors and larger fonts to make sure your CTAs don’t get lost on the page.
It’s hard to miss the “Add to Cart” CTA on Furry Necks’ product pages. Their CTA font is bold, the text is easy to understand, and the button is outlined in a different color to catch your attention (it’s important to note that the green and red outlines still mesh well with the rest of the page—the colors aren’t overwhelming). It’s also immediately clear what will happen when you click the button, eliminating any potential questions or confusion.
03. Leverage whitespace
Avoid clutter to create a defined, obvious path to conversion. Too much imagery or text can distract customers and send them down the wrong path. If you’re not sure how much whitespace to leave or how to use it effectively, a good guideline to follow is the rule of thirds: Divide your page into three rows and three columns. The focal points of your page are where the vertical and horizontal lines meet—this is where you should place the important imagery and text.
Surf City Still Works, a distillery, designs their product pages with ample whitespace to help potential customers focus on what matters most: the image, product description, and CTA. The page is minimal, but not bare or empty—you still have enough context to learn more about the product or navigate to another part of the page. Keep this in mind as you incorporate whitespace in your designs: you want to reduce clutter, not eliminate valuable information.
04. Design for mobile
When mobile devices account for approximately half of web traffic worldwide, an online store that works smoothly on mobile is no longer just a “nice to have”—it’s absolutely necessary. Think beyond the basic mobile-friendly elements (like automatically resizing the page or using hamburger menus) and find ways you can make your shopping experience even more convenient on a smaller screen.
If you created your website with Wix, use the Wix Editor to optimize your mobile site. Click on the phone icon to edit your store. There you can quickly resize or rearrange your content to make sure it all works smoothly for mobile shoppers.
Women’s clothing store Cottons offers a completely mobile experience to complement their desktop site. At the most basic level, the site looks beautiful on the smaller screen. It maintains its visual aesthetic with clean, uncluttered pages and well-defined CTAs.
Cottons also takes it one step further by keeping the user experience at the forefront. The buttons are large enough to accommodate bigger hands or unsteady fingers, the “Contact Us” form automatically displays the numerical keypad to make it easier to enter your phone number, and the hamburger menu offers a quick way to navigate the site.
05. Highlight customer reviews
Studies have shown that displaying customer reviews can increase conversion rates by 270%. Leverage the power of social proof and feature customer reviews for people browsing your store. You, as the company, can write as much as you want about how great your products are, but it’s far more impactful for this same messaging to come from neutral third parties.
For example, Lamarsa, a coffee machine company, gives customers the option to leave feedback and displays it on their product pages. While the product descriptions cover the technical specifications of the coffee machine, the customer reviews add more color around the entire product experience—from shipping times to the ease of operation and customer service. Each review includes a customer’s name to help make it feel more personal.
06. Create a clear navigational structure
While the navigation bar isn’t the most exciting part of your site, it is one of the most important. The navigation bar guides your customers through your store, helping them discover products and gain information. Don’t bury important policies and features in footers or sub-menus. Instead, make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find FAQs or learn about your return policy.
Bakery Fisher & Donaldson has perfected their navigation bar thanks to a minimalist structure and clearly labeled menu items. Potential customers can easily find the most helpful information, like delivery details and the return policy, without feeling overwhelmed by too many options. The text is easy to understand, indicating what type of content will be found on each page.
07. Speed up the checkout process
Some customers may like adding items to their cart as they continue browsing your store and some may want to spend some time on your product pages before deciding to buy. Others, however, are looking to find a specific product and complete their purchase immediately. To speed up the checkout process for them, include a “Quick View” option in your product catalog that lets customers take a closer look at the item and add it to their cart without leaving the page. You can also give customers the option to expedite the checkout process by including both an “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” button on your product pages.
For those who take longer to decide, encourage them to complete their purchases even after they’ve left your site by using automated abandoned cart emails. This will remind them that they left an item in their cart and bring them back to your store. Abandoned cart emails are an effective tool to optimizing conversion, as nearly half of all cart recovery emails are opened and a third lead to a completed sale.
When you click the “Buy Now” button on Abbyspace’s product page, you are dropped into the checkout flow right away. You are presented with one page where you can enter your shipping details, select your delivery method, add payment details, and place your order. If you had selected the “Add to Cart” button, it would have taken you three extra clicks to get to this page.
08. Offer payment options
Up to 16% of customers will abandon their cart if their preferred payment option isn’t available during checkout. Ensure that customers feel as comfortable as possible when making a payment on your site by offering a variety of payment methods.
Useless Treasures, a fine art shop, lets customers pay with PayPal in addition to credit card. Not only does PayPal offer an established, credible payment option, it also makes the checkout experience more convenient for customers. Instead of manually entering their billing address and credit card details, they can rely on their payment information already stored within PayPal.
Do more with what you already have
Conversion rate optimization is one of the more straightforward approaches to increasing sales. Perhaps its best quality is that it allows you to do more with what you already have. You don’t have to worry about allocating budget or acquiring new customers. Instead, you can focus on making your online store a more delightful and fluid experience for your customers—and enjoy the increase in sales this’ll bring.
Looking to grow your business? Make use of the many professional eCommerce features provided by Wix.
Managing Editor, Wix eCommerce
Daniel is the Managing Editor at Wix eCommerce, where he uses his experience as a merchant, journalist and marketer to create content that helps online businesses grow.