What if I told you that you can increase your store’s ecommerce sales by 10% in just one week?

What if I also told you that this wouldn’t require dropping prices, running expensive ads, or making major changes to your site?

Sounds impossible, right?

But the truth is that you can get 5, 10, even 20% higher ecommerce sales by following conversion rate optimization (CRO) principles.

I’m not saying that making blind changes to your website will get you these quick wins, but there are some best practices that you should follow when your analytics data tell you where your website is leaking money.

Some of these testing ideas take just minutes to implement and can increase your bottom line dramatically. But don’t forget! Always be testing!

In this post, I’ll share with you 7 testing ideas for when you need to test specific areas in your funnel with the purpose to increase your ecommerce sales.

[su_note note_color=”#f87e5b”]In case you’re wondering, you can download the remaining 3 in a free cheatsheet at the end of the article.[/su_note]

1. Create quantity or time-sensitive offers

Using scarcity (i.e. quantity based) and urgency (i.e. time based) incentives is one of the oldest tricks in the book for getting more customers.

By limiting the quantity or availability of a product, you do things:

  • You increase the perceived value of something. The logic goes that if something is difficult to get, it must be valuable – like an antique artifact of a rare metal.
  • You compel more people to take action. If your buyers were on the fence before, seeing that a product they like would be available for just 4 more hours will get them to act.

According to one study of shoppers at the University of Nebraska, using scarcity tactics in retail stores increased consumer competitiveness and urgency.

Most of the world’s top performing stores are already using this tactic to get more ecommerce sales.

For example, Amazon tells you when one of its products is about to go out of stock:

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Other stores go the other way and only sell a limited quantity of each product. Once the product goes out of stock, it doesn’t come back on sale.

For example, on Woot (another Amazon owned site), products are sold for a limited time and in limited quantity. Once the deal goes away, it isn’t offered again.

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Another model is to offer products for only a few hours in a flash sale. Petprosupply does a wonderful job with this, advertising its flash sale prominently on its site:

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How to implement this

Using urgency and scarcity incentives is easy – just create a promotion on your site for a limited time. Advertise this promotion to your existing customer base, or even run a dedicated campaign using it to get new customers. The secret is to align the message in your ads with the landing page’s copy. 

In total, setting up this type of test shouldn’t take you more than 2 working days, including:

  • creating the offer
  • writing copy
  • designing for the banners and the landing page (s)
  • implementing the landing page
  • creating an A/B test

2. Manage your shipping costs better

Shipping costs are a big deal breaker for most of your customers.

Just take a look at this chart from Business Insider:

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There are two things every ecommerce store owner should know:

  • Most customers would prefer to see the shipping cost upfront
  • Most customers would also prefer to leave altogether than pay shipping charges.

Aversion to paying for shipping is one reason why Amazon Prime membership has skyrocketed to 46M users worldwide.

There are two ways you can manage your shipping charges better and get more customers to take action:

1. Declare all shipping charges and taxes upfront

“Sticker shock” when shipping and taxes are added to the price is one of the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Showing exactly how much shipping costs and how much customers need to pay in taxes is one way to reduce this sticker shock.

For example, GAP shows a clear breakdown of shipping costs for each item:

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Office Depot also gives you an estimate of the shipping as well as taxes in the cart itself:

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2. Offer free shipping under certain conditions

Offering free shipping for all orders is an easy way to get customers to complete their purchase.

However, you can create a better sense of urgency by offering free shipping only if the customer meets some conditions.

One way to do this is to offer free shipping for orders above a certain threshold. Amazon, for example, offers free shipping for orders over $45:

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This can increase your AOV (average order value) as customers buy more instead of paying for shipping.

Another method is to offer free shipping if customers order within a specific time frame.

For example, Lakeside.com offers $5 shipping if the customer orders within a day:

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This is a great way to address a key customer pain point (shipping price) and use it to create a sense of urgency.

How to implement it

This is an easy offer to implement – simply set your terms for free shipping, create a coupon or an offer, and advertise it on your site. Using tricks specific to conversion optimization like the ones mentions above will help you get more of your campaigns.

3. Add trust elements to your product pages

When a customer lands on your site, there are two things he wants to know:

  • Whether your store can be trusted
  • Whether the product he wants to buy can be trusted

Overcoming this trust deficit is a major challenge for any store. Even when a store manages to position itself as a trustworthy retailer (usual for large stores like Amazon or NewEgg), it still has to convince customers that a particular product is worth their money.

Thankfully, there are a number of tactics you can use to quickly erase this trust deficit and get more ecommerce sales.

  1. Show your social following

Showing how many people follow your store on social media is a great way to earn trust through social proof.

After all, if 100,000 people follow you on Facebook, you must be doing something right.

There are two ways you can use this tactic:

  • Show your store’s total social media following.
  • Show the number of shares, likes or pins for each individual product.

For example, when you land on CoffeForLess.com homepage, you’ll see the store’s total social media following in the sidebar:

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Firebox.com does the same thing, but for individual products.

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This works particularly well for Firebox since its product catalog is small and highly shareable.

Pro Tip: This tactic can backfire if your store of any particular product has very few social shares/likes. A store with 20,000 likes on Facebook appears trustworthy; one with just 8 likes appears otherwise.

How to implement this

This is a very simple testing idea to implement. Just grab the share and share count buttons from your 3 best social networks and test placing them on your site. 

  1. Show your endorsements and media mentions

If your store has been mentioned in the media or has won any endorsements or quotes from authority figures (such as a top designer, blogger or author), it’s a good idea to show them on your store.

Doing this acts as further social proof of your store’s trustworthiness.

For example, KlearGear.com shows off publications it has been featured:

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How to implement this

This is another simple thing that you can test. Just grab the logos of authority websites where you’ve been mentioned and test placing them in a prominent location, such as a sidebar or just below the fold. But remember to always prioritize your tests according to an A/B testing plan.

  1. Use customer testimonials

Customer testimonials are a bit like reviews, but they are much faster and easier to source. Unlike reviews, of which you need dozens to be useful, even a handful of positive testimonials can improve your store’s trustworthiness.

For example, NewEgg maintains a massive database of testimonials on its ‘About’ page. So far, it has collected over 32,327 testimonials from customers – powerful social proof for anyone doubting NewEgg’s service quality.

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How to implement this

If you already have a handful of testimonials, you can quickly create a page to list them all, like BBolder.com:

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This shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours.

If you have to source testimonials, you can either directly email your top customers, or ask your social media followers about their recent purchases. If they have something nice to say, ask them for permission to use it on your site.

4. Add customer photos to product gallery

You probably already know that high quality product photos can increase your conversion rates.

However, these photos don’t really show customers what your product looks like in use. They also don’t give customers an idea of the product in context – its size, its colors, and how people actually use it.

One way to work around this limitation is to add customer photos to your product gallery. Such user-generated content (UGC) can boost conversion rates by anywhere from 5 to 10%.

For example, Amazon lets customers upload their own images to each product page. These pictures are shown next to reviews to help customers make better buying decisions.

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ThinkGeek sources pictures straight from social media. It runs a Twitter hashtag – #geekfamous – to curate pictures from customers. It then shows these pictures on the homepage:

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…as well as each product page, even offering a $100 prize for the best submissions:

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How to implement this

Using UGC photos on your site used to be hard (which is perhaps why only 3.3% of top 500 retailers use it). However, a bunch of new startups are offering Ecommerce stores the ability to source, manage and show UGC photos easily. Check out Pixlee.com and Storybox to start.

5. Assure customers of security at checkout

According to research by Gemalto, There were over 245M breach incidents recorded in the first half of 2015 alone. Each major data breach costs a business an average of $3.8M in direct and indirect revenue. Even major retailers such as Home Depot aren’t safe – a data breach in 2014 led to a loss of 56M customers’ credit card data.

Understandably, your customers are apprehensive before giving up their credit card information. According to one poll, 58% of customers worry about using their credit cards to shop online.

Assuring customers that their financial and private data is safe with you can go a long way towards decreasing shopping cart abandonment.

There are multiple methods to do this. We’ll take a look at some of the easiest methods below:

  1. Show payment method icons on checkout pages

Showing customers all the payment methods available to them visually is a quick way to reinforce your site’s security. This is a simple hack any store can use with minimal effort on checkout pages.

For example, the checkout form on EddieBauer.com shows a row of available payment icons.

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Interestingly, the icons are grayed out initially. When you enter a card number, the icon associated with that card (Visa cards start with ‘4’, Mastercard cards with ‘5’) lights up – a neat visual hack to ease the checkout process.

How to implement this

  • Make a list of payment methods you accept (Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, etc.)
  • Find their logos online
  • Use these logos on checkout pages
  1. Use third-party certifications and badges

You’ve probably seen certifications and badges like this on your favorite Ecommerce sites:

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(That, by the way, was from the footer at NewEgg)

In one survey by ActualInsights, 76% of customers said that their purchasing decision and trust perception was influenced by security badges on a website.

Of course, not all security badges have the same effect. According to Baymard, the following badges offer the best sense of security to customers:

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Try adding these certifications and badges on your site as well. You can place them on your site footer, the product page, or the checkout page.

Zappos, for example, shows a couple of badges and assures customers of its safety on the checkout page:

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A few certifications you can get are: Norton Secure, McAfee Secure, TRUSTe certificate, BBB Accredited Business, Trustwave, GeoTrust, etc.

How to implement this

Adding these certifications is as simple as getting approved, then adding the relevant badge on your site. Test placing these badges at your site’s footer as well as the checkout page. Remember that starting optimization with the checkout usually generate faster wins, because people are engaged and have a high purchase intention.

6. Remove all distractions from checkout pages

Your checkout page should have a single purpose: to move customers forward in the checkout process.

Links to the navigation, company pages, footer links, etc. only distract customers and stop them from finishing the purchase.

This is why most retailers remove all but the most essential links from the checkout page.

Take, for example, the stark difference between Walmart’s product page and its checkout page. Walmart’s homepage and product pages are very busy, while the checkout page has just two outgoing links – to the company’s privacy policy and terms & conditions.

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How to implement it

For most Ecommerce stores, removing distractions would be as easy as deleting the navigation menu and footer from the checkout page code. But it’s not that simple. There are a couple of things you should also keep in mind:

  • Make sure that your logo is not clickable – it’ll take customers back to your home page.
  • Ensure that you have all legally required links on the page, such as a link to your privacy policy and terms of conditions. Most people don’t read these anyway, so you’re not in any danger of losing customers this way.
  • Give customers a way to understand where they are in the checkout process. A good way to do this is to use a multi-step checkout process that visually identifies each stage, like Amazon:

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7. Use an exit-intent campaign to pitch customers offers

According to Baymard institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate globally is around 68.63%.

This means that out of 10 people who add something to their carts, 7 will jump ship without buying anything.

If you can cut this down even by 10%, you’ll make 1 extra sale, instantly doubling your conversion rate.

One way to do this is to give abandoning visitors targeted offers through an exit-intent campaign.

Here’s how it works: an exit-intent tool tracks user behavior on your site. If this behavior shows that the customer is about the leave without completing an action (such as finishing the purchase), it triggers a pop-up showing a relevant offer.

Here are some examples of pop-ups created with Omniconvert web personalization feature that will stop visitors from abandoning your website:

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How to implement this

Omniconvert offers an advanced exit intent technology, allowing the insertion of variables for personalization such as “City”, “Country”, “Cart Value”, etc. in pop-ups. This way you get a higher conversion rate for your pop-ups and stop more visitors from leaving your website without taking action.

Continue reading…

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