The Ultimate eCommerce Optimization Guide: 13 Steps to Instantly Boost Revenue

Is your online store performing as well as it could?

Unless every single person who visits your store makes a purchase, there’s always room for improvement… and it may not be as much work as you think.

If you know where to look, then just a few small tweaks can mean a 50% lift in sales (or even more).

But changing the wrong things could just be a waste of your time – or even have the opposite effect and hurt your conversions. It’s tough to know where to start, when there are SO many possible aspects to optimize.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to eCommerce optimization. It takes you step by step through the most important optimizations for your eCommerce store, so you can get more customers, make more sales, and recover lost revenue from abandoning visitors.

Ecommerce Conversions – What’s a Good Rate?

Before we talk about optimizing eCommerce conversions, let’s define what a conversion looks like and discuss what’s a good eCommerce conversion rate.

Typically, a conversion means someone has saved an item to buy later, added an item to their shopping cart, or made a purchase. The conversion rate is the number of people who take action, as a percentage of the number of people who see your page.

According to Monetate, the average eCommerce conversion rate is about 2.77% globally.

average ecommerce conversion rates

However, there are wide variations depending on location, the device people are shopping with, and the actual conversion action.

You can find out your own eCommerce conversion rate in Google Analytics, and from there you can set a concrete goal to improve it. The eCommerce optimizations below will help you achieve it.

Here’s a table of contents to help you jump straight to the area you want to optimize first.

  1. Improve Product Pages
  2. Optimize Your Pricing
  3. Use Personalization
  4. Optimize for Mobile
  5. Use an Upsell
  6. Create Urgency With Flash Sales
  7. Overcome Other Specific Objections
  8. Reduce Cart Abandonment
  9. Build an Email List
  10. Split Test Your Email Optins and Campaigns
  11. Automate Your Email Marketing
  12. Get Feedback
  13. Troubleshoot Common Errors

Ready? Let’s get started …

1. Improve Product Pages

Your first step should be to make sure your product pages are convincing visitors to buy. Here are some tips on achieving that.

Make it easy to navigate your site so shoppers can find new products wherever they are. Baymard Institute recommends using breadcrumbs based both on product hierarchy (where they fit within a range) and history (where people have visited on the site). Here’s an example of breadcrumbs from the Amazon site:

You can also help your product pages do better with catchy, SEO-friendly titles for your products. That’ll help the pages to rank in search, and will help shoppers to more easily find what they need.

Product images are key, because it’s one of the ways shoppers see what they’re getting. Include images that show different aspects of your product, or show the product used in different ways and contexts.

For example, Modcloth shows customer photos as well as model photos for its products.

optimizing ecommerce product pages with model and customer photos

Similarly, use video to let shoppers see what products look like and how they really work. Zappos does this with shoes, and it’s pretty effective.

Zappos Product Video

Product descriptions help shoppers see what their life would look like with your product. At least, the best ones do. Stay away from standard product descriptions from manufacturers and craft your own.

Other ways to improve your product pages include:

  • Using product details to flesh out specifications
  • Using ratings, reviews, views, and likes to to provide social proof of your products’ appeal
  • Getting the pricing right – we’ll talk about that in the next section

Learn more in our guide to creating high converting product pages.

2. Optimize Your Pricing

It’s important to get your pricing right, or no one will want to buy.

There are all kinds of tweaks you can make that help you earn more. Here are a few that can have BIG impacts…

Compare Two Products

For example, did you know that putting two products side by side can increase sales for the lower-priced product? Williams-Sonoma was having trouble selling a breadmaker, till they put it side by side with a premium version. All of a sudden, the lower priced item got very popular, and sales almost doubled.

breadmakers

Have a Clear CTA

If you want people to buy, you’ve got to tell them to buy. That’s why it’s important to have a clear call to action (CTA) that:

  • Uses action words
  • Lets shoppers know what to do next, like “buy now”, “add to cart” or “get this item”

If your CTA is on a button, make sure the color stands out so it’s highly visible.

Reduce Analysis Paralysis

Sometimes visitors can be overwhelmed by the number of options on offer. On a pricing page, it’s best to keep copy short, and highlight the preferred option to reduce this. Here’s an example from the WPForms pricing page:

wpforms optimized pricing page

You can also get visitors to commit to a small action first, like viewing a demo.

This relies on the Zeigarnik effect, which means that people who start an action are more likely to complete it. It’s why OptinMonster’s Yes/No Forms work so well. AtHoc used them to get a 141% boost in sales-qualified leads.

athoc_optinmonster_lightbox

Try Charm Pricing

Another eCommerce optimization to get more sales is to use charm pricing. Using numbers ending in 9 to price items can increase conversions, doubling them in some cases, says Gumroad.

gumroad study

The best thing to do is split test different versions of product and pricing pages to see which type of pricing works best for your customers.

Use Live Chat

Live chat, mentioned when we talked about product pages, also works well for pricing. That’s because customers like the chance to talk through their questions with a real person. In fact, being able to ask presales questions resulted in a 38% rise in conversions in one study.

Check out WPBeginner’s roundup of live chat solutions to get started with this.

Other ways to optimize your pricing include:

  • Highlighting product benefits
  • Building trust with trust seals and secure payment logos
  • Offering free trials

See our guide for more help with pricing page best practices.

3. Use Personalization

The past few years, personalization has been a hot topic for eCommerce.

Personalization means showing your customers relevant, personalized offers and content. You can do this based on the data you already have from web and social analytics that shows who they are, what they like, and where they’ve been on your site.

Gartner says good personalization can boost profits by 15%.

gartner-ecommercepersonalization-statistics

Be Relevant

Here are some tips on eCommerce personalization. First of all, the best personalization is smart and targeted.

Visitors hate seeing irrelevant content. OptinMonster can help you segment and target marketing campaigns on your site so they’re always relevant.

Highlight Related Products

If you’re looking for a shortcut, try highlighting related or recommended products. Research from Smart Insights shows 68% of eCommerce revenue comes from recommending products with the language “visitors who viewed this product also viewed”.

ecommerce personalization examples smartinsights

Adjust Site Navigation

You can also get smart about personalization by adjusting site navigation based on visitors’ interests. When we looked at women’s products on ASOS, the next time we logged in, the site took us straight to the right page.

ecommerce personalization examples - asos

Personalize Marketing Emails Based on Behavior

You can personalize eCommerce marketing even when people leave your site. That’s a smart trick Amazon uses. If you look at a product, the next couple of emails you get from them will tell you about related products and deals. One tool to help with this is Barilliance.

ecommerce personalization tools

Show Discounts By Category

Another eCommerce optimization option is to tailor your offers to the section of your site a visitor is browsing. OptinMonster’s Dynamic Text Replacement can help with that.

ecommerce optimizations - dtr

Inc Stores grew their list by 300% with the same feature, creating a version of their flooring campaign to target home gym users.

retargeting campaigns incstores

Here are some more ways to use eCommerce personalization:

  • Personalize onsite search results
  • Adapt homepage banners to user behavior
  • Use visitors’ location to personalize offers

OptinMonster’s geo-location feature can help with that last point. This was one of the features that helped Sportique boost conversions by 200%.

sportique lightbox campaign

Get more examples of eCommerce personalization in our guide.

4. Optimize for Mobile

One eCommerce channel you can’t afford to ignore is mobile. That’s because more people use mobile devices than desktops. It’s also a key channel for researching products and services.

mobile seo 2018 - statista chart

So you definitely need to improve your mobile conversion rate. Here are some tips on mobile conversion optimization.

Speed Up Your Site

Mobile users have limited patience. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of mobile users will leave.

kissme

That’s why you have to look after render start time (RST). That’s how long it takes for the first content to show up on your site.

Sites with great RST boost engagement by 50% over sites that load slowly, giving you more chances to get and increase conversions.

duda rst mobile conversions

To speed up your site:

WordPress site owners can also follow these tips on improving page speed from WPBeginner.

Use Videos

According to our video marketing stats roundup, 90% of consumers watch videos on mobile devices. Even more important, 84% of consumers have made a purchase after watching a video.

That’s why it makes sense to use video marketing to boost mobile conversions. Explainer and product videos are a good start. You can also grab mobile visitors’ attention with a video popup. This is easy to create with OptinMonster. Check out the video below to see how to do it.

Optimize For Mobile Search

Mobile SEO is an important part of winning conversions. With Google’s mobile-first index a reality, you can’t ignore this if you want mobile users to find your content. To do this:

Learn more about mobile SEO in our guide.

Use Mobile Marketing Campaigns

To win more conversions from mobile users, it’s essential for your marketing strategy to include campaigns that target them specifically. OptinMonster can help you create high-converting campaigns that comply with the latest mobile marketing best practices.

In addition to having a wide range of mobile themes, OptinMonster gives you a mobile version of our advanced exit-intent® technology. It’s called the InactivitySensor™, and it lets you show campaigns to mobile users whose attention has wandered. Here’s how you can target inactive users with a popup.

You can also easily create mobile optins, like this campaign that boosted conversions by 150% for White River.

increase-mobile-conversions white river

Read our guide for more tips on increasing your conversion rate from mobile users.

5. Use an Upsell

Upselling is a proven tactic for increasing eCommerce revenue. You can encourage people to buy a more expensive version of a product they’re already interested in:

  • On the product page
  • During checkout
  • After checkout

You can also upsell to your current customers. It’s way easier to sell to existing customers than new ones. Plus, targeted recommendations bring in about 30% of eCommerce revenue. And there’s a rise in customer lifetime value. That means over time, you earn more.

probability-of-selling-groove

To use upselling effectively:

  • Make sure you show why the upsell is valuable
  • Get the pricing right – Kissmetrics recommends 60% cheaper than what’s in the cart
  • Use social proof to make it more appealing

OptinMonster customer Whole Whale used upselling to double conversions. Some other ways to upsell include:

wholewhale cross sell popup

Here’s a guide to boosting eCommerce revenue with an in-cart upsell.

6. Create Urgency With Flash Sales

SALE – for some people, those are the best four letters in the alphabet. And they can pay off big for eCommerce retailers. In 2017, holiday sales alone totaled $50 billion.

How can you get your share? By using urgency. People are wired to act when a situation’s urgent. Basically, we all want to grab something good before it’s too late. And the right marketing can trigger that reaction.

One good option for eCommerce retailers is a flash sale. To make this work, you’ll need to:

  • Use urgency-based language to do with time, speed or scarcity
  • Trigger the fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • Include an active, urgent, CTA, like “Get Your Discount Today!”

You can also make your sale more urgent by:

  • Showing the competition for an offer, as Amazon does below
  • Displaying stock levels
  • Offering a doorbuster, which is a sale within a sale

21 amazon urgency with deal claimed percent

One easy way to highlight a sale is to use OptinMonster’s countdown timer theme. You can also offer countdowns via our Black Friday, Spooktacular, and Holiday themes. For example, Christmas Lite Show converted 16.49% of abandoning visitors with an expiring coupon offer.

ecommerce optimization christmas light show

And Kennedy Blue used the countdown timer to boost sales by 50%.

kennedy blue floating hello bar

Here’s how you can boost your sales with a countdown popup. And here are some more ways to increase conversions with urgency.

7. Overcome Other Specific Objections

Occasionally, it can take a while for your customers to decide to buy. Sometimes that’s because of a long sales cycle. At other times it might be because of three common objections to buying:

  • Price
  • Product fit
  • Competition

Price can be a sticking point for many buyers. However, you can overcome that objection with flash sales, as described earlier, or discount offers.

Product fit is all about buyers determining if the product is right for them. One way to do that is to make that process easier. For example, Kennedy Blue lets customers offer free color swatches so they can choose their colors before selecting wedding and bridesmaid dresses.

growth tools kennedy blue optinmonster slidein

And of course, sometimes prospective customers think your competitors have an advantage over you. You can solve this by collecting customer feedback.

This can help you to learn why they are leaving your site, and optimize the process for the future. Here’s how we do that at OptinMonster, with an exit-intent popup:

optinmonster collecting customer feedback

We’ll talk more about customer feedback later in this guide.

8. Reduce Cart Abandonment

One of the biggest issues for eCommerce retailers is shopping cart abandonment. Baymard Institute says the average cart abandonment rate is 69%. Even if you accept this as normal, every business wants to earn more, right? That’s why this is such a crucial eCommerce optimization to implement.

Here are some proven techniques for reducing cart abandonment.

Use Exit-Intent®

OptinMonster’s advanced exit-intent® technology detects when visitors are about to leave the page and pops up an offer to get their attention. It’s proven to reduce abandonment, helping Wild Water Adventures to recover sales worth $61,000.

wildwater_tripplanning

Here are some more ways to use exit intent popups on your site.

Cut Out Surprises

Shoppers hate getting surprises when they’re ready to check out, especially when it comes to cost. In fact, 60% of people abandon carts because of shipping and other cost surprises.

If you can afford it, offer free shipping. It’s one of the top incentives for shopping online. And if you do, let people know multiple times, like this example from Walmart.

checkout page best practices - free shipping

And a customer-friendly return policy is helpful, too.

Include Multiple Payment Options

There’s nothing worse than getting ready to buy and finding that the retailer doesn’t accept your credit card, or your electronic or mobile payment solution. In contrast, the right payment options can triple conversions.

Wondering which ones to choose? The most popular options are:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Paypal
  • Cash

Mobile payment solutions are getting more popular, too.

Keep a Visible Cart

One way to keep potential purchases top of mind is to use a persistent cart, that shoppers can see from every page of your site. It’s a reminder that there are items they want to buy. A simple way to do this is to have a cart icon, like this one from Amazon:

Amazon Cart Icon

Offer Guest Checkouts

Having to create an account can be a major turnoff for 37% of shoppers. Our advice? Save the sale by offering a guest checkout process. Let people buy, and then offer them the chance to save their information. They’ll be much more receptive after a successful purchase.

checkout page best practices - walmart guest checkout

Send Abandonment Emails

If you want to get people to complete a purchase, remind them there’s something in the cart. If you have their email address, abandonment emails can recover the sale.

Ideally, you’ll send the first one within a couple hours after abandonment. Send a second email a day later, and a third a day after that.

Your abandoned cart email series could look something like this:

  • Ask if recipients experienced issues with the checkout process
  • Show the items left in the cart
  • Offer a coupon as an incentive to complete the purchase

Here are some abandoned cart email examples to inspire you.

Use a Coupon

Coupons are a big factor in making a purchase, so it makes sense to offer one when you’re looking to reduce abandonment.

Offer your coupon at the right time and people will want to buy. As well as an in-cart upsell, mentioned earlier, you can target your coupon to people shopping on high-value pages, and to those who have already reached the checkout page.

Scott Wyden used discount coupons to recover 21% of abandoned carts.

Scott Wyden Exit-Intent Campaign

Here are some more ways to optimize your checkout page to reduce cart abandonment.

9. Build an Email List

One of the best ways to build a relationship with your customers is through email marketing. Email marketing is proven to have great ROI, which means more sales for you.

Here are some ways to use email marketing effectively to promote your online store.

Nail the Subject Line

The first thing email recipients see is the email subject line and the preview text. If they like them, they’ll be motivated to open your emails. That’s why it pays to optimize them both.

subject lines are an important aspect of ecommerce email marketing strategy

Start by creating an enticing email subject line that tells recipients what your email is about. Follow that up by teasing the contents in the preview text. That can help convince recipients to open your email.

Personalize Your Emails

Everyone knows that personalization makes people more engaged with your emails and your marketing.

But it’s not just about using email recipients’ first name. Make recipients happy by tailoring emails to:

  • Their gender (like showing male clothing to male recipients)
  • The emails they’ve engaged with before (if they’ve clicked a link in a previous email, your next one can showcase a related item)
  • What they’ve bought on your site (highlighting complementary products)

Here are some more examples of eCommerce personalization.

You can also use OptinMonster’s onsite retargeting to show special offers to subscribers who visit your site after clicking an email link.
PodcastInsights grew subscribers by 1099% with onsite retargeting.

PodcastInsights_exit popup BF

Go Seasonal

The holidays are an important time for eCommerce retailers. They’re responsible for 20% of annual sales. That’s why it makes sense to use major holidays and other special occasions to give your emails some extra interest.

The period between October and January includes a lot of holidays, but it isn’t the only time of year you can do holiday sales. You can also brand emails for observances like:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Back to school
  • The first day of fall
  • The winter solstice

OptinMonster makes it easy for you to match holiday emails to onsite marketing campaigns with several holiday themes. In fact, Christmas Light Show used one of our holiday themes to convert 30% of visitors with an exit-intent lightbox popup.

sneak peak of new themes you can use for holiday marketing campaigns

Here are some more tips on holiday email marketing.

Use Transactional Emails

If you’re not marketing to customers via transactional emails, you’re missing an opportunity. Most people open order confirmation and shipping emails, so use that space to:

  • Brand the emails for a seamless customer experience
  • Recommend related products
  • Make a discount offer recipients won’t want to refuse

For more help with eCommerce email marketing, check out our tips.

10. Split Test Your Email Optins and Campaigns

We briefly mentioned split testing above, but it’s worth coming back to. That’s because it’s such a powerful strategy for improving eCommerce marketing. Eczema Company improved conversions by 158% simply by split testing its campaigns.

A lightbox campaign that integrated the Yes/No forms we mentioned earlier outperformed other variations.

If you want to get started with split testing, check out:

11. Automate Your Email Marketing

Using automation in email marketing is a proven way to drive more sales and get more repeat customers without having to spend a lot of money on paid promotions.

We mentioned a shopping cart abandonment email sequence earlier. But beyond abandonment, you can try other email automation sequences. For example, you can create a popup to offer abandoning visitors a coupon, freebie or other lead magnet. Then you can send a series of emails to let them get to know you and build trust.

Welcome Non-Buyers

Welcome emails are also important, as they get four times as many opens as regular emails.

welcome email engagement rates

A good welcome email series for non-buyers could include:

  • An introduction, along with delivering the incentive you offered for signing up
  • More detail about your brand, with an invitation to ask questions
  • Showing off some of your bestsellers and related customer reviews
  • Sharing a piece of great content that subtly educates buyers about your products and services
  • Social proof

Check out some more welcome email examples here.

Reward Your VIPs

Most of your sales will come from a small percentage of customers who buy repeatedly. So it’s worth nurturing these customers a little.

You can easily identify and segment these customers in your email marketing software, then send a series of emails that show you recognize their loyalty to your brand.

In other words, let them know they’re important to you by offering a free gift or coupon that’s exclusive to them.

Win Back Disengaged Customers

At the other end of the scale, don’t ignore the customers who seem to be ignoring you. Instead, make an effort to win them back with a re-engagement campaign.

To do this, you can send a series of emails including:

  • Noting that they’ve been quiet and asking why
  • Highlighting anything that’s new since last they visited your store
  • A coupon or offer that makes them want to come back
  • Offering the chance to unsubscribe if they’re really not interested – this helps keep your email list clean

Learn more about email marketing automation in our ecommerce automation guide.

12. Get Feedback

Want to eliminate the guesswork in eCommerce marketing? Get customer feedback. It’s the only way to know if your customers are happy, and how you can provide a better service for them.

Kennedy Blue uses an OptinMonster popup to convert 7% of abandoning visitors, just by inviting them to complete a survey.

kennedyblue exit survey

That’s a lot of sales to save. In fact, Kennedy Blue saw sales increase 50%!

You can easily use OptinMonster to collect feedback from your customers. For example, you could ask:

  • Did you find the items you wanted today?
  • How can we create a better experience for your next visit?
  • Would you like to hear about new deals?

These questions give you the chance to connect with potential customers.

Read our tutorial on using OptinMonster and WPForms to create a survey popup.

You can also collect customer feedback by:

  • Putting a button on your website
  • Offering a coupon or other incentive
  • Using live chat

Learn the best ways to collect customer feedback in our guide.

13. Troubleshoot Common Errors

We’re almost at the end of our eCommerce optimization guide. Before we go, let’s look at a few common errors that affect the user experience on eCommerce websites, and can reduce conversions.

People Are Bouncing

Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting just one page.

Getting visitors to stick around longer will help you increase sales.

A high bounce rate could be due to site speed, usability errors, or just a lack of engaging content.

You can find your bounce rate easily in your Google Analytics dashboard.

Higher bounce rate shown in Google Analytics dashboard

To keep your visitors on your site longer, see our guide on ways to reduce bounce rate and boost conversions.

SEO Is Poor

We mentioned SEO earlier, and this is crucial to improve eCommerce conversions. Optimizing your pages helps people find your products online when they search for related terms. That means more visitors, and more potential sales.

But you only get the conversions if your site delivers what’s promised. That’s where our earlier tips about optimizing product pages and pricing come in.

Use our ultimate guide to SEO to really nail this eCommerce optimization step.

External Factors Are Tanking Your Sales

Sometimes a drop in conversions isn’t about you; it’s about what’s happening beyond your online store.

For example, maybe your target customers are distracted by something new your competitors are offering. If you’re aware, you can adjust your marketing campaigns to try to win back those customers.

To do that, you’ll need to pay attention by setting up alerts to see what your competitors are doing. Google Alerts can help with this. You should also monitor social media activity with a tool like Mention.

Learn more about improving eCommerce conversion rates in our guide.

That’s it!

Now you know how to handle eCommerce optimization, step by step, to really boost sales and revenue.

Next, check out our tips for using content marketing to appeal to customers, and strategies for growth hacking your business.

And follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more in-depth guides.

Sharon Hurley Hall is a technical writer at OptinMonster. Sharon has been a professional writer for more than 25 years, and is certified in content marketing and email marketing. Her career has included stints as a journalist, blogger, academic writer, university lecturer, and ghost writer. Find out more about Sharon at sharonhh.com

Comments

  1. Matthew Woodward May 14, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Hey guys

    Great post! Keep them coming 🙂

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall May 16, 2018 at 5:27 am

      Glad you enjoyed it, Matthew. 🙂 For more on eCommerce, check out our roundup eCommerce personalization tools.

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