Increasing conversions is hands down one of the most challenging parts of running an eCommerce website in 2021. But at the same time, it’s not impossible. With the right tools and expertise, businesses can ramp up sales and turn an eCommerce website into a conversion machine. In this ultimate guide, we’ll take a look at strategies and tools that you can use to do just that.
Editor’s Note: This ultimate guide discusses various challenges of eCommerce websites in-depth – as a result, this is a very comprehensive and long document. To make navigation easier, use the Table of Content below to skip to the part you’re interested in most.
Alternatively, the entire guide is available in an attractive PDF whitepaper that you can download for free and read anywhere.
Designing the Sales Funnel in an eCommerce Website
In more technical terms, a sales funnel is a series of steps that businesses want consumers to take in order to secure a sale. In more general terms, a sales funnel can be thought of as the journey that every consumer takes as they navigate through your eCommerce website. In order to increase our conversions, we must design our online store around this journey.
The process of designing a sales funnel has been studied very well and one of the standard frameworks that many sales funnels are based around is called AIDA, short for Awareness. Interest, Desire, and Action. In this guide, we’ll look at different methods and strategies that businesses can adopt in order to improve the conversion rates of their eCommerce website.
For instance, one of the biggest challenges that many online store owners face is generating Awareness – after all, getting the ball rolling is the most difficult part of any endeavor. More importantly, getting visitors to convert is a numbers game. Most eCommerce websites only see a conversion rate of about 3% which means improving traffic to your website is critical to increasing conversions. The method we’ll explore to increase traffic is SEO.
At the same time, it’s equally important to generate interest and desire – we’ll discuss numerous strategies for both of those as well – whether that’s by integrating modern technology or by leveraging major world/calendar events.
But before we get to any of that, we must address the basics – the fundamentals upon which a true conversion machine of an eCommerce website can be built. We’re talking about things like eCommerce branding, choosing the optimal domain name and hosting, payment service providers (PSPs), etc. And as simple as some of this stuff might seem, getting it wrong is still very much a possibility.
That’s why we’ve created a separate guide for optimizing the fundamentals of an eCommerce website where in addition to the basics we just mentioned, we also compare the biggest eCommerce CMS platforms out there and which one might be the best for you.
You can read the full guide for free here: Optimizing the Fundamentals of an eCommerce Website.
With that clear, let’s jump right into the actual steps and strategies you can take to turn your eCommerce website into a conversion machine.
Understanding and Improving eCommerce SEO in 2021
Search Engine Optimization is a critical step to achieve traffic and get audience attention for your website. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of comprehensive SEO guides made specifically for eCommerce.
We will focus on the best practices to optimize your eCommerce site for search engines but before that, we need to understand the basics of SEO and how it works.
Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is the practice of improving how a search engine indexes and ranks your web pages. For eCommerce websites, we want to prioritize certain keywords that our potential customers will search. For instance, if your eCommerce business sells plants, we want to optimize our website (the landing page) and its numerous web pages for plant-related keywords.
Search engine optimization lets Google, and other search engines, know what your website is about, its content, and if it contains the answer to a query. In essence, the more optimized your website is, the higher it’ll rank on search engine’s result pages.
What many businesses do not realize is that the effects of SEO are not immediate – far from it. Generally, it takes anywhere between 3 to 6 months for your ranking to change. Unfortunately, this leads many eCommerce websites to ignore SEO and focus on other channels of traffic. However, once the effort has been put in, organic traffic is one of the best methods of inbound marketing that continues for a long time.
In a nutshell, SEO practices are essential to any eCommerce website and the following optimization strategies will help your eCommerce website rank higher and higher in search engine results pages.
One of the first things to do for improving SEO is to research exactly who your competitors are, what they are up to, and what audience you want to target. Competitive analysis can reveal important information about your direct competitors – what keywords they are ranking for, what kind of blog content they are publishing, where they are getting their backlinks from, etc.
Another great optimization tip is to fully understand your niche and create long-form content on low-competition, long-tail keywords. Finding these low-competition keywords becomes much easier with an intimate knowledge of your industry and niche.
Competitive analysis can also give you a kickstart on keywords, the number of backlinks needed, and other SEO practices. Furthermore, we’d advise you to use a tool called SEMRush. It’s very comprehensive and provides critical information.
Using the Correct Keywords
Keywords are one of the big players in SEO. They are the ones that tell the history of your content. You should know a couple of things:
- Don’t overdo them: you should assign one keyword per page/product. Optimizing for more than one keyword may send the wrong signals and end up not ranking at all.
- Pick the right ones: We suggest going for high CPC, high volume ones. Those are the ones that are going to return the most traffic.
- Pick keywords with high intent: Although some keywords may have a higher volume of search, not all of them have the same intent, you should pick the ones with higher intent of making a purchase. Long-tail keywords usually fare better in this aspect, but they may vary according to your niche.
- As a last tip, remember to fill your product headline, descriptions, meta description & data along with image alt attributes and subheadings accordingly.
For this step, we suggest trying tools like Keywords Everywhere, UberSuggest, and Google’s Keyword Planner.
Focusing On Your Homepage
The most crucial element of any website is the homepage, also known as the landing page. The homepage tells us a lot about the company. Your homepage should look to inspire confidence in the buyer.
For SEO, focusing on the homepage is one of the most effective ways to optimize the website with minimal effort and budget. To optimize the homepage, add homepage title tags, homepage meta descriptions, and content containing keywords relevant to your niche. That said, focus on other pages is still important – at the very least, ensure that they all have basic meta information and relevant eCommerce keywords.
Simplify Your Site
The best way to sell is by making the products readily available to the customer. If they can’t easily find what they are looking for odds are they are not buying it from you.
Creating fewer clicks to view products and an easier-to-navigate website will certainly improve SEO and improve customer satisfaction and usability. Search engines like Google reward websites that are more responsive and simpler in navigation with higher positions on SERPs.
Using internal linking can also help boost SEO optimization on eCommerce websites as it shows how one page can be related to another. We recommend using tools like Google’s PageSpeed or seositecheckup.com in this step.
Creating backlinks is another powerful way of signaling to search engines. A backlink is a link that goes from one site to yours.
An easier way to understand how they work is with an example. Imagine you are looking at an article published by a competitor’s eCommerce website, and the author mentions “delicious pizzas,” and there is a link to “Mama Joan’s Pizza.” When Google crawls said blog, the anchor text “delicious pizzas” and the link get associated, and with enough people signaling “delicious pizzas” to “Mama Joan’s Pizza” Google will start showing up Mama Joan’s when you look for delicious pizzas on Google.
Of course, this is an oversimplification of things but in a nutshell, securing backlinks is going to have a visible impact on traffic on every page of your eCommerce website.
A rule of thumb is, the more backlinks you have from high-quality websites (preferably in your niche), the more powerful your own domain becomes. This is thanks to something called Domain Authority. A simple way to achieve this is by guest posting on blogs which are to do with your niche category.
Utilize Bootstrap for Developing
Using a good bootstrap framework is crucial for the responsiveness of eCommerce websites these days. What Bootstrap does is optimizes the view according to which device visits your online store, ensuring it’s always sized correctly to the screen. That isn’t to say that Bootstrap is the only way to do it. You may not require to use it at all, but it’s what we advise in this step.
Avoid Cluttered URLs
Cluttered URLs are a nightmare for any search engine as they contain so many stop words. With stop words, search engines tend to ignore the full link, which means it ranks lower. To optimize the URL optimally, try to create links with no stop words like “A” or “No.” Instead, use the main keyword separated by dashes (-). This can be useful when you’re creating product pages for your online store.
Design & Edit With Consumers In Mind
With consumers as the main focus on eCommerce websites, you must think like a consumer and design your website with them in mind; This will better optimize your site and provide the best possible user experience for your customer.
Make sure your content is for humans and not robots (remember, SEO isn’t all about keyword stuffing) and your online store should still feel more personal & meaningful.
If you are not design-inclined, you could always reach out to a Software Development Company to help you.
Additionally, you can use the following paid/free SEO tools to improve traffic and conversions on your eCommerce website.
- Keywords Everywhere
- Google’s Keyword Planner
- Google’s PageSpeed
Optimizing Your eCommerce Site for Major Trends
Viral marketing is extremely powerful today and leveraging the increased spending power of consumers during global events such as holidays will certainly help improve conversions on your eCommerce site.
So how can you prepare your eCommerce website for these major sales periods? Here are our top tips to stay ahead of the curve and improve revenue, whatever the event may be.
Review Your SEO Keywords
Listen to what your customers say. It’s a powerful way of interacting with your eCommerce site visitors & audiences with what they care about.
If you have used SEO plugins or tools like “Google Ads” or “Google Search Console,” It would have provided you with an array of information to plan for major events in your industry including holidays and seasonal trends like the back to school week.
For keywords, use tools such as “Google Search Console” to provide the most used keywords relevant to your eCommerce business to optimize SEO ranking in search engines further. The higher you rank, the more of an advantage you will have during the busy period.
Tweak your existing Google Ads; try to use ads that contain words like “best, cheap, deal, or gift” to create a sense of urgency & presence.
With more traffic pouring in than ever before, it’s crucial to have a fully working navigation on your website to provide your audiences or customers with a way of searching through the website to find what they need.
You could solve this in the form of a search bar, navigation bar, or quick links. Remember to use the internal linking tool rule, which is a maximum of 3 clicks from the homepage; This will help provide better usability and provide a much more responsive website.
If web development isn’t your strongest point, seek help from web development companies to gain support during such crucial times.
Optimize Your Promotions
A no-brainer, at regular intervals, you should be reviewing your eCommerce website’s campaigns, products, and sales.
Create more sense of urgency with deals that expire, timed offers, and bundles and provide a way of telling customers you have limited stock. This will create a fear of missing out and will attract more customers to purchase products immediately. Also, optimize the wording and shipping styles for these promotions, as customers often disregard items with high shipping prices.
We all know advertising a product for $15 with free shipping will get more sales than one that’s $10 and has $5 shipping; Free shipping will always seem like you’re providing better value.
Create A Promotions Calendar
While deals and specials may be more existent than ever during this period, it’s crucial to have a calendar to release specific deals; The execution needs to be on point to achieve the desired effects.
With conferencing tools like Zoom & Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to communicate with your eCommerce team to launch products and escalate issues if they arise to appropriate team members.
Provide Fast Service
An eCommerce website is all about quality service and efficiency. People don’t want to wait for products to be listed or delivered; they want it now.
Waiting is even more detrimental during anticipated and crowded sale seasons but also more difficult to avoid. With more customers, traffic, and sales than at any time during the year, this period must be as seamless as possible.
Security Is A Must
Increased traffic and sales are all good, but with that comes increased dangers and possible attacks. Site downtime is always bad, and during these periods must be completely redundant, meaning your site must be up and running at all times.
Having a firewall configured to stop and protect against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks is necessary. Several other attacks may try to attack your site during these periods, like XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) attacks, trojan & malicious calls, and many more.
Using SSL certification and HTTPS certification will ensure no attack can be carried out, causing downtime or malicious damage to those who visit your website.
Increasing eCommerce Conversions with Modern Technology
One of the most common themes in strategies about effective marketing and increasing sales is product differentiation. However, that’s easier than done when it comes to eCommerce sales due to the sheer amount of businesses in a niche. Since the barrier to entry is relatively low, it’s easier for niches to fill up quickly. At the same time, product differentiation is extremely important because it’s virtually impossible for online businesses to compete on price.
In essence, the eCommerce platforms are increasingly competitive and one of the best ways to ensure continued sales is to adopt modern technologies to differentiate your eCommerce website from the hundreds of others. Upcoming technologies like AI, ML, VR, and AR are increasingly used to hook customers.
AR and VR
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are game-changers in all industries, not only eCommerce. It’s said to be currently reshaping many industries to adapt to the new times. The vacation rental online eCommerce company Airbnb is working on AR and VR to mock the rental areas to their customers before they book their place and visits through Airbnb.
The education sector implements AR and VR to improve the learning outcomes of students during their interactive sessions.
It is forecasted by Loop Ventures, 75% of U.S households will own a smart speaker by 2025. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant are programmed to talk with humans, allow voice search, and assist in multi-tasking your work.
Big Data Analysis
Big data analysis creates a personalized experience for customers. Big data serves in-house personalization that could create an impact on IoT.
Experimenting with data analysis will enable the industries to highlight the favorites of each customer and its behavior during certain times of the year.
Conversational AI or Chatbots
Chatbot’s experiences are similar to brick-and-mortar greeters or salespeople. The online store can communicate with multiple customers at a time while giving them a feeling of a personalized experience.
It’s said that “ a picture is worth a thousand words” but “a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words”. Having a video of your products will allow your customer to feel the energy. 62% of customers would watch a video of the product rather than going through the pictures of words. Zwift, a fitness app is using videos to attract customers for their fitness products. It diminishes the barriers of culture and languages. A podcast or short videos helps customers to be part of your brand.
The most advanced generation in the current time is the Millennials. By the year 2020, the world will have half of the kids as adults. These kids are technically proficient, technologically advanced, and are multi-tasking.
Email marketing is another popular option as consumers can receive newsletters, discounts, and other important alerts about your eCommerce website. Additionally, emails have become an indispensable tool for effective retargeting (Amazon being the biggest example of this application). When done right, email marketing will 100% result in greater sales and converted visitors.
Limiting COVID-19’s Impact on eCommerce
One of the biggest examples of a major “event” that has driven eCommerce sales through the roof is the COVID-19 global pandemic. The shuttering of brick and mortar shops, travel restrictions, and quarantines meant that for a long time, buying through online stores was the only option. Even a year later. that’s still the case for many people
Though the world slowed down, COVID-19 has accelerated the e-commerce sector by 3 to 4 years. According to Business Insider, the reliance on eCommerce in the year 2020 has increased Amazon’s business by 20.2% worldwide, all of this due to people who switched to eCommerce due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
But even with the growth, eCommerce hasn’t been immune to the impact of the global health crises and it’s still recovering from the impact. That said, as we begin our recovery drive in 2021, eCommerce store owners can adopt specific strategies designed to limit the pandemic’s impact on sales and logistics.
Shifting resources from stores to eCommerce
Most businesses that have an eCommerce website also have a brick-and-mortar store that is slowly recovering as the vaccine rollout continues and businesses open. As a result, many business owners are tempted to shift resources away from eCommerce and back into their physical stores.
This is not a good idea as an increasing number of consumers will continue shopping online even after the pandemic has subsided. Although physical stores will always play an important role, business owners should absolutely stop focusing on their eCommerce websites as the economic recovery continues.
Shifting from websites to apps
Mobile apps allow you to connect directly with your loyal customers. As smartphones are widely used, having your store in the customers’ pockets is easy. Apps create a secure connection with the customers, providing multiple features that may not be available on a website and also tracks and stores their previous searches or their details. In essence, vendors must work towards building and deploy apps alongside their eCommerce website. To simplify things, they can also develop progressive web apps which are also great for attracting the mobile user base.
More ways for transparent payments
We have transparent payment systems, but since 2020 these systems are used to avoid personal contact and streamline the process. The transactions with wearable technologies and devices with payment gateways enable automatic fast transactions with a low risk of identity theft.
After all, the entire point of this guide is to increase conversions and sales on your eCommerce website, and what better way to do that than simply adding new ways to complete payments while simplifying existing payments systems.
Conclusion: Increasing Conversions with eCommerce Best Practices
The strategies we’ve explored in this guide range from as simple as a few clicks to developing new applications from scratch. However, businesses shouldn’t dismiss or implement strategies based on the effort they required but on the basis of their ROI (measured in conversions in our case).
At the same time, non-tech companies and especially legacy businesses can have a hard time accurately assessing the costs and expected gains from these strategies. That’s why we recommend working with an eCommerce tech solutions provider that can answer your questions and help you solve major eCommerce website challenges.
If you are planning to start or revive your eCommerce journey contact Big Kitty Labs. We will guide you through the complete process of eCommerce platforms while applying the latest technology that ensures the edge against your competitors.
Big Kitty Labs is one of the leading software development companies in Columbus Ohio that has been developing applications, websites, and software for over 10 years. Contact us for free discovery and consultation on your next project!