Conversion rate optimization is a no-brainer goal for anyone doing business online. However, it’s a well-known statistic that for the average ecommerce site just short of 3% of website traffic turns into a sale. Clearly whatever conversion rate optimization best practices retailers use are lacking. 

If selling products is your key goal, you could just upload your catalog onto Amazon and hope they use their conversion magic. (After all, 49% of online shopping excursions start on Amazon.) But that would leave your business vulnerable to Amazon’s less palatable business practices. Plus, you’re losing out on all the user behavior and product data that drives personalization and helps you grow your company.

A site visitor’s second option when looking to make a purchase? Google. If you’re lucky enough to get a potential customer onto your own website, it makes sense you’d want to do everything in your power to convert as many of them to paying customers, right?

This brings us back to optimizing for a higher conversion rate, which falls into three buckets — hope, AI-powered search, and personalization tactics.

Most retailers have recognized that hope is not a strategy and have invested in robust search that includes highly relevant search results, type-ahead suggestions, and dynamic facets that allow customers to seamlessly drill down into those results.

But for to turn a good conversion rate into a great one, you should augment great search with machine learning that uses behavior data to provide personalized recommendations. In addition, merchandisers can harness the full power of analytics and conduct A/B testing to see what changes yield the best results. 

Let’s take a quick tour of each best practice to see what they are and how they contribute to conversion optimization.

5 Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy Best Practices 

Ecommerce search is a crucial touch point driving a very large portion of retailers’ online revenues. On average, 30% of ecommerce visitors use on-site search and are known to convert between five to six times higher than non-site search visitors. 

Customers have come to love product recommendations as well, according to McKinsey’s conversion research, which found that 35% of what consumers purchase on Amazon and 75% of what they watch on Netflix come from product recommendations.

It’s not about whether search is better than recommendations or vice versa. Rather, you should focus on making the most out of how these tools complement the customer experience, which translates to a higher conversion rate.

CRO Best Practice #1: Turn Disaster Into Discovery with ‘Zero-Result’ Recommendations 

Zero-results pages increase the risk of customers abandoning an ecommerce site. They typically offer few or no paths for customers to get back on track, making it a UX dead end. 

When there’s little or no helpful guidance or content on a zero-results page, customers have two options: either think up a whole new product-finding strategy or abandon the site, often to Google or Amazon. 

Zero-result recommendations help turn this potential disaster into an opportunity for product discovery by pointing customers toward other products they may be interested in.

CRO Best Practice #2: Personalize Shopping Experiences With Session-Aware Recommendations

Session-aware recommendations deliver personalized shopping experiences by showing customers items related to their searches without the need for high volumes of data or logged-in users.​ 

Session-aware recommendations (also known as recommendations for cold-start shoppers), work by using machine learning to understand user intent based on interactions observed in an ongoing session and analyzing the search and browsing behavior in real-time. These recommendations need to remain relevant throughout the user’s session by also detecting intent changes and adjusting along their journey. 

In Episode 1: Digital Personalization at Scale: Fact or Fiction? of our podcast, The Ecom Edge, Ciro Greco, Vice President of AI at Coveo, and podcast host, Diane Burley, Content Head, Coveo debunk how small retailers can personalize without the need for “big data” and the myths around digital personalization.

CRO Best Practice #3: Create Urgency With Tailored Offers 

Tailored offers based on what you know about both your customers and the products you sell can be used to intelligently incentivize purchases using smart personalization strategies. 

For example, you can both increase loyalty and repeat purchase by predicting when customers will need to stock up on their favorite products and then auto-serve personalized replenishment prompts. 

A returning customer would then see a “it’s time to stock up” notification, like was done by our customer MAC, who witnessed how 67% of those banners would be clicked, thus promoting further purchases on their website. 

CRO Best Practice #4: Prevent The Bounce

Another opportunity to increase conversion lies in understanding shopper potential exit behavior. For example, a customer highlighting the product name likely is going to copy-paste it in another tab in order to price-shop. 

Exit behavior detection technology allows you to understand when and why a shopper might leave your site and serves a relevant offer that compels them to stay and purchase.

See how Express Gifts took advantage of this technology.

CRO Best Practice #5: Deploy the Brilliant Basics

Product badges, also known as product labels or product stickers, are effective at highlighting products in your online store. Product badges that specifically focus on social proof, scarcity, and urgency have proven repeatedly to be the most effective. You can apply a product badge by combining some text or an image with some design flair to make the badge stand out. Social proofing is a way to show customers what shoppers like them are buying and gives them the confidence to add to cart.

Badges can help create impetus and urgency for the desired action you want site visitors to take by highlighting social demand, like in the example displayed here. Our customer Crocus badged products on the description page with the number of times the item had been viewed or purchased; e.g., “viewed 12 times in the last 24 hours,” which resulted in a 1.26% uplift in conversion rate. 

Need Help Growing Your Conversion Funnel?

The above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to increasing conversions along the customer journey on your ecommerce website. Because the majority of consumers start their shopping journey on Google or Amazon, as we previously established, to successfully compete against digital giants, you must create value beyond price and availability. What does this mean? Offering an amazing user experience that provides personalization and relevance. 

Our own research has shown that 88% of customers are faced with an overwhelming amount of choice online-the above conversion optimization strategy tactics enable you to cut through the noise and help meet the needs of each customer individually along their shopping journey. 

This is just the first part of course, you also have to understand how to properly measure the performance, set up A/B testing that is effective so you can optimize — we will dive into all that in our next piece.  

Dig Deeper

If this article piqued your interest in furthering your conversion rate optimization initiatives, then you’ll want to check out our Ultimate Guide for Conversion Rate Optimization. In it, you’ll learn much more about each of the points briefly outlined in this article. 

Download your copy todayEbook: Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
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About Andrea Polonioli

Andrea is a Product Marketer for our Commerce line of business. Prior to joining Coveo, he was at Tooso, the acquired AI search ecommerce startup. He has a passion for innovation-driven companies and a research background in cognitive science. When he is not working, he is likely to be experimenting new dishes, travelling or hiking.

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