It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You’ve put a huge amount of effort into setting up your new ecommerce venture, and also possibly spent quite a lot of money launching and promoting it, and then… nothing. Just a trickle of orders, far less than you were expecting. What went wrong?!
Getting more orders is a fundamental challenge for any ecommerce business, but fortunately there are lots of potential improvements that can be made to get your conversion rates higher and generate more revenue. In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Analysing Traffic and Behaviour – including traffic quality and sources, heatmaps, and more
- Cart Abandonments – are you missing out on recovering lost sales?
- Product Pricing – is yours competitive?
- Pagespeed – is your site fast enough?
- Trust Signals – do people trust your brand?
Analysing Traffic and Behaviour
Traffic quality – are you getting the users you want?
Just because you’re getting large amounts of traffic doesn’t necessarily mean that orders will come flooding in – bot, spam and fake/malicious traffic is all too common, and unless you know how to spot it you might well wonder what’s happening. Fortunately, this is easy to spot in Google Analytics:
- Bad quality traffic will tend to have very high bounce rates.
- It can also come from countries where you don’t have customers, so if you were in the UK and got 90% of your visitors from Malaysia then that might be a cause for raised eyebrows.
- Check your referrals – referral spam is a common source of bad traffic.
If you’ve identified bad traffic, you can set up filters in Analytics to exclude it. If you’d prefer a done-for-you solution, we’ve found Loganix to be a successful option in the past.
Traffic sources – be aware that some channels have lower conversion rates!
Tied to the above, some channels unfortunately don’t convert as well. In our experience, Google/Bing organic and paid generally tend to be the best, with emails not far behind. Social traffic typically doesn’t convert as well, so if you’re promoting your store purely through social ads and not seeing results, it may be a good idea to investigate alternative traffic sources.
Intent – are users definitely interested in purchasing?
If you’re acquiring users through either organic or paid search, it’s possible that they might be coming to your store through the use of phrases that indicate a low probability of converting (either at the top or bottom of the funnel). One instance that we came across was a client’s (animal medical supplies) shopping feed bringing through customers who were searching for human topical creams, rather than dog-based ones as intended . As fantastic as Google Shopping is for generating revenue for ecommerce, sometimes at a 10 or even 15X ROI, targeting options are more limited than with text ads. Although this was solved easily and quickly with negative keywords, it does go to show that it’s important to keep an eye on how users are reaching your site.
Other Analytics areas to check
Here’s some quick ideas as to what you could look at in Google Analytics to get a better idea of why your sales aren’t up to what you thought they would be:
- Drop-offs – by looking at the user/behaviour flows in Analytics, you may be able to pinpoint at what stages of the funnel users are dropping off the site.
- High bounce rates – do any pages have unusually high bounce rates? If so, it may be an idea to investigate them in more detail.
- Device types – do mobile or tablet devices convert particularly badly, for example? Although mobile devices tend to have lower conversion rates anyway, it is worth checking their stats vs. desktop (which almost always converts better) to see if there’s an anomaly. Maybe your site doesn’t display well on mobiles, and users find it difficult to complete orders on these devices.
You might also consider using heatmap software (such as VWO or Hotjar) to track how users interact with you pages. Visual representations of user clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour can be very informative, as your users might be interacting with your pages in a way you weren’t expecting!
Do customers change their minds about ordering from you? If they do, you’re certainly not alone. According to Barclays:
Brits abandon online baskets worth almost £30 a month, potentially resulting in more than £18 billion of lost sales each year.
This can happen due to a number of reasons, so if you notice a lot of abandoned carts on your store make sure you check the following:
It’s not uncommon for users to think they’re either getting free or cheap delivery, only to find that they actually have to pay a whopping delivery charge at the end. If you can, try to keep delivery costs to a minimum, and be upfront and honest to customers about how much they’ll pay – this will avoid bad feelings later.
Is your shopping process broken ?
Regularly putting through test orders is a great way to prevent the above, which can be very frustrating for users if they’ve spent 10-15 minutes trying to order something from you, only to find that they get to an error page at the last step!
Is the process too long long, or are there too many compulsory options on checkout?
The average user is unfortunately easily bored, distracted and put off; as a result, if you can streamline the process for them as much as possible, this will help to reduce abandonments through cognitive overload.
Are you using abandoned cart emails?
Abandoned cart emails are a fantastic way to recover otherwise lost revenue. Although possibly not practical cost-wise for stores with low turnover, for medium-to large size ecommerce businesses, the benefits might be surprising. According to Moosend:
45% of cart abandonment emails are opened; 21% of these are clicked on, while 50% of the users who clicked purchase.
We’ll keep this one brief, as it’s a fairly obvious one. Having said that, how price-competitive are your products? Consumers today are very price-sensitive, and depending on the industry you compete in you may well be up against behemoths like Amazon (in which case differentiating yourself in other ways is probably a good idea given Amazon’s dominance in pricing, product availability and shipping). Still, it’s a good idea to be at least roughly on the same pricing level as your nearest competitors.
There are a few quick ways to see how competitive on price your products are:
Google Shopping can be a great research tool for finding out what a given product is selling for at a range of retailers all at the same time, which makes it ideal for research for smaller store owners where there may be less products to promote. Have a look at the products you sell on Google Shopping, and see if you can compete with competitors on price (and if you can’t, is there anything else you can offer the customer instead to persuade them to order from you?).
Extracting data yourself
If you run a larger store or have many products to check, then unless you have easy access to industry price data (or are happy to pay for it), one relatively easy way of gathering product price data is to do so yourself using a tool like Screaming Frog, which we’ve previously looked at in this blogpost.
According to Google:
53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
This is a pretty staggering statistic, and goes to show how important page loading speed is to the average online shopper. Gone are the days when consumers would wait patiently for a dial-up or low speed broadband connection to load the site of their choice; we at Agency51 tend to work on the basis of 2-3 seconds being an optimum level to aim for (studies have shown that anything much below this actually induces a level of cognitive dissonance for users of sites with anything more complex than a Google-level interface, which ironically might actually reduce conversion rates)
One easy way to deal with pagespeed problems is via image compression. Ecommerce stores often use attractive-looking but very resource-intensive HD images, which can result in the loading speed of your product pages dropping to a crawl. Here’s an article we’ve previously written on how to do this yourself (although if you have the budget, there are paid options that are best for when scale is needed):
Other easy tips for improving your pagespeed (that usually don’t require developers!) include:
Keep your site lean if you need to – regardless of whether you use BigCommerce, Shopify, WordPress, or other platforms, the less resources that the page needs to load the better. This often means using as few plugins as you can, for example.
Check the theme – many themes are bloated and hurt performance, and if that’s the case then changing it can help the whole site’s speed. Most off the shelf site themes, regardless of the platform, should have a test page that you can run through pagespeed tools such as Google Pagespeed Insights. If you’ve already bought a theme, do some research to see how it compares to others (forums are often good for this sort of thing) and consider switching if it doesn’t stack up well.
Hosting – whilst your hosting is taken care of if you’re with the likes of BigCommerce, if you’re organising the hosting yourself then it can often pay to check that you’re getting fast, reliable hosting. Something like PickupHost can help you to check how fast your server is, as can checking your ‘crawl stats’ in the ‘settings’ section of Google Search Console and the site speed section of Google Analytics:
Be careful when researching hosting online, as a huge number of the ‘reviews’ are actually affiliate sites, which each receive a commission when you click or purchase and so are not exactly unbiased! To check this, hover over the link to the hosting provider’s page – if it looks like this made up example:
It’s probably OK, but if it looks like this with a lot of extra text after the link to the page, it’s not likely to be an entirely honest review!
Do users trust you and your brand? This is increasingly a problem with ecommerce stores built on low barrier-to-entry entry platforms, such as Shopify, where virtually anyone can set up a store with minimal effort and a basic store design that doesn’t exactly scream “I’m the next Amazon!”. With that in mind, it’s important to signal to users that they can feel comfortable buying from you. There are several ways we can do this:
We’ve covered this before, but the security of your website visitors should always be paramount and so the below is worth repeating:
- Make sure your site uses HTTPS – If it doesn’t, information going between your site and the user is unencrypted, which opens you up to a world of hurt not just in terms of lost orders, but in terms of SEO as well.
- Check your site has no Malware on it (using a tool like Sucuri’s Sitecheck).
- Ensure that your databases and back-end systems are secure – data breaches are rarely fun!
Contact information and customer service information
The types and amount of contact information needed depend on the type of website. Contact information and customer service information are extremely important for websites that handle money, such as stores, banks, credit card companies, etc. Users need a way to ask questions or get help when a problem occurs.
For shopping websites, we’ll ask you to do some special checks. Look for contact information—including the store’s
policies on payment, exchanges, and returns. Sometimes this information is listed under “customer service.”
It’s important that visitors are easily able to contact your brand in the event of a problem, and having clearly-marked information available on how you handle common queries and issues is always important.
Here are some other trust signals that can help users decide to shop with you, that you might consider implementing if you haven’t already:
- Product/brand Reviews (Trustpilot, Feefo etc.).
- Trust badges (payment methods, security-related badges and so on).
- Press and media mentions, or any awards won.
- Are you on social networks? Businesses in most industries will most likely have at least one potential social channel they can use to connect with customers.
- Make sure you fully fill out your Google My Business profile, if you have one – the extra information on you within search will encourage users to trust you.
We hope that you’ve found this guide useful. Getting more orders from your online store can feel like a mammoth task at times, so why not get some help so you can focus on running your business? Contact us today to find out more about our services!