Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates

Website conversion rates can spark controversy over their definition and accuracy as indicators of success, but the concept seems here to stay.

Website traffic graphs

Your conversion rate is the figure that determines the bottom line of your e-commerce business. In fact, the actual rate may be less important than the fact that it trends upward.

The conversion rate metric is defined as the percentage of website visitors who actually complete an action that you want. By measuring a percentage of traffic, you can gauge how well your site is doing regardless of traffic levels. But rates vary from site to site and there aren't any standardized measurement techniques.

For a retail website, the conversion rate is usually the percentage of visitors who actually make a purchase from the site.

The rates vary according to industry, target market, site quality and other factors, but generally range from 0.5 percent to 8 percent, and even more than 10 percent for the lucky few.

So, given that this metric appears here to stay and is used as a benchmark by many, what can you do to boost your conversion rate? Several things, according to a study titled Merchant Secrets for Driving Conversion, conducted by Chicago-based consultancy the e-retailing group and based on interviews with 30 merchants.

While many factors that drive conversion rates upward are situational, the study shows that several appear to work for everyone, including:

When selecting the location and nature of the items on the product page, consider:

Entry and Exit: While you're at it, take a close look at where your online shoppers land on your site and where they leave. Exit pages could indicate a place where you need to add some encouragement to stay or to buy. And if you compare conversion rates based on where customers landed, you may find that some of those landing sites need improvement.

The Basic Tenets

Conversion is essentially driven by sound selling practices specific to a merchant's business model. The Merchant Secrets for Driving Conversion study by the e-tailing group in Chicago lists these ten basic tenets that successful online retailers follow:

  1. Designing a well-branded site/store/catalog.
  2. Stocking desired merchandise at a fair price.
  3. Offering consistent policies and convenience tools across all channels.
  4. Providing intuitive navigation throughout the site.
  5. Presenting key pages with well thought-out design and functionality.
  6. Deploying merchandising features that meet the needs of your primary shopper types.
  7. Testing suggestive selling strategies to increase the average order size.
  8. Maintaining a keen awareness of the competitive landscape and category benchmarks.
  9. Striving to deliver more personalized shopping experiences.
  10. Prioritizing responsiveness to customer actions and communication.

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