The Beginners Guide To eCommerce Conversion Rates

Everything You Need To Know About Conversion Rate Optimisation For Your Online Store

Your marketing efforts have paid off and your getting loads of visitors to your online store – whoop whoop! 

The only problem is sales are still low – why aren’t your visitors turning into customers? 

The great news is that knowing your conversion rate and improving it will help you get many more sales without having to increase traffic to your website. 

In this guide you’ll find loads of useful tips and tools for tracking and increasing your eCommerce conversion rate. 

+ Plus I’ve created a handy downloadable pdf checklist that you can use to turn your online store into a conversion rate superstar!

Ummmm - So What Is A Conversion Rate??!

In basic terms, your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website and complete the desired action – aka spent all their money on your lovely products! The higher that conversion rate percentage is, the better your store is doing at turning browsers into customers. 

A high conversion rate is what eCommerce dreams are made of!

But why is it important to know your Conversion Rate?

Keeping track of your conversion rate helps you to make decisions about how to improve your store. Knowledge is power (mwahahaha) so by knowing your CR, you’ll be able to tell if changes you’ve made on your website have improved how many customers are buying your products, or if they have led to a decline in sales 🙁 

Without having a benchmark conversion rate figure, you really can’t tell what’s working and what isn’t.

Right then, how do I calculate my online store's Conversion Rate?

How Many Visitors Did Your Store Have?

First we need to find out how many visitors are taking a look around your online shop. To do this we are going to pop on over to Google Analytics and grab the number of visits (sessions) your website had in the last 30 days.

Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to Audience > Overview. Here you’ll see lot’s of lovely numbers, but it’s just the Sessions we are looking for right now. In the example below you can see there were 8,573 sessions (visits) to the website.

Sessions Google Analytics

How Many Sales Did Your Store Make?

Next we need to know how many sales you made in the same timeframe (we are looking at the last 30 days).

This particular store made 250 sales during this 30 day period.


The Conversion Rate Formula

To work out your websites overall conversion rate use the following formula:

Total Number of Orders ÷ Total Number of Sessions x 100 =  Conversion Rate

So for our example the maths would look like this:

250 ÷ 8573 x 100 = 2.91%

The store used in this example currently has a 2.91% conversion rate.

Okay that makes sense, but what's a good eCommerce conversion rate?!

According to Invespcro the average conversion rate for eCommerce websites globally is about 2.86%. This can change dramatically depending on which country you sell in, your product niche and a number of other factors. As a rule only the best ecommerce stores manage over a 5% conversion rate, and many online shops tick by with just a 1% conversion rate.

While looking at other businesses conversion rates can be interesting, it isn’t really that useful. At the end of the day, if you just try to beat your previous conversion rate your store will always be improving.

How To Track Your Conversion Rate

I highly recommend keeping a log of your stores conversion rate month by month. This way you can see how it is performing as you make changes and improvements to it.

There are a number of ways to do this, but the easiest is with a good ol’ spreadsheet.

Conversion Tracker

Conversion Rate Tracking Spreadsheet

You could create your own tracking sheet – it’s not that hard. But just incase your too busy and want to make life easier you can steal mine here! I’m such a giver!

Enter your name and email address below to grab your free copy of my conversion rate checklist.

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Reasons Why Your Conversion Rate Is Low

So your conversion rate is a little on the low side – please don’t panic! It just means there lots of fun ahead as we test ways to improve it. Doing experiments on your website to improve conversion rates is actually called Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO for the geeky internet peeps out there.

So where do we start with this CRO stuff?

Well, below I have listed the top reasons an eCommerce website can suffer from a low conversion rate. It’ll be worth going through your site and seeing if any of these reasons could be effecting your store.

1. You have an ugly baby.

Right, I’m going to be blunt here.

Are you sure your website is actually as good lookin’ as you think it is?

I know you’ve put your heart and soul into building it, but nowadays customers are REALLY fussy about buying from sites that look old, outdated, or designed by someone who still calls the internet the “world wide web”.

There’s really no excuse for an ugly site nowadays – whether you’ve built your eCommerce store on Shopify, Woocommerce or another platform, there are amazing designers who have taken the time to create beautiful themes that are ready to use. You can then just tweak the colours to match your branding, add a logo and… ta da, your website looks gorgeous.

2. Your trying to sell to EVERYONE

#RealTalk – stop trying to please everyone, and let’s make your site perfect for your ideal customer. It can feel counter intuitive to actively ignore huge swathes of the population, but trust me it’ll do wonders for your conversion rate to focus on your most valuable customers.

First, take the time to really think about who your perfect customer is. To create your ideal customer persona you’ll want to answer a load of questions about who they are. Questions include things such as what their name would be, how old they are, what they do for living and what challenge they have that your product would solve.

Once you know who your ideal customer is, you can make sure your website is designed with them in mind. You can answer their specific questions, use a language style they’ll enjoy and create imagery that will help them imagine having your product in their life.

Trust me, getting to know your ideal customer intimately is really important and I’ll be popping some more information, tips and tools on how to do this onto the blog very soon. Make sure your signed up to my emails so you don’t miss out!

3. Your site is pants on mobile

Did you know that the number of sales made on mobile devices increased by 65% between 2015 and 2016, according to GoMoxie?

This means that if your website doesn’t look wonderful and perform perfectly on mobile devices your straight up losing sales.

And even if your customers mainly purchase using their desktop/laptop – I’ll happily put money on them having checked out your products and website on their mobile phone first.

Mobile shopping is only going to get bigger and bigger, so I highly recommend making sure your website provides a great experience to anyone who pays it a visit.

4. Your product images are poor quality

In the old days, customers were able to touch, squeeze, poke and get a good old eye-full of products in real life before they handed over their hard earned money. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to achieve this when selling purely online.

This means that having super duper product images (and videos) is incredibly important. 

Now, you could invest in an expensive camera, get some proper lights and spend a millions hours attempting to take and edit the photos yourself. That’s what I did.

And ohhhhhh I regret that now!

I wish someone had just told me it’s well worth finding a great local photographer, and getting them to use their equipment, knowledge and editing skills to do it for me.

Thankfully nowadays it’s even easier to find fantastic photographers, just jump on Instagram – there are loads on there!

5. Your product pages are distracting

There really can be too much – too many images, too much text, too many things to look at. Added all together, these things can become incredibly distracting and stop customers doing what you ACTUALLY want them to do – which is clicking the buy button!

Keep your product pages clean, with only the most important information and best images on them. You should make sure the buy button is your only CTA (call to action) so customers have no doubt about what to do next.

6. Your would-be customers don't trust you

Put yourself in your visitors position. Perhaps they have only just stumbled across your online store, and while your products seem to be exactly what they are looking for – they have never heard of your brand before!

It makes sense that at first they would be wary of trusting you. This is all part of the “customer journey” – I’ll go deeper into this another day, but in the mean time there are a few things you can do to show new customers just how trustworthy you are.

These are called Trust Signals. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Adding customer reviews to your product pages.
  • Displaying clearly your returns policy.
  • Be easy to get in contact with – via email, phone, chat box and on social media.

7. Your checkout is too complicated

Did you know that two thirds of purchases are abandoned at the checkout, with 27% of people saying it was because the checkout page was way too complicated (according to the Baymard Institute).

Thankfully it’s pretty easy to improve your checkout experience and improve conversions. Here are some great ways to do it.

  • Keep your checkout pages clutter free.
  • Only ask for information you really need to complete the order.
  • Include the product images of what the customer is purchasing to remind them why they are buying.
  • Add trust seals (such as payment processor logos) and shipping information.
  • Allow guest checkout.

Great Ways To Quickly
Improve Your Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate Optimisation Checklist

Quickstart Conversion Rate Checklist

I have created this handy printable checklist you can use to go through your website and see which areas could use a little  optimisation.

Enter your name and email address below to grab your free copy of my conversion rate checklist.

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Use this checklist to go through your website and work out where you can optimise your online store. Improving the items on this list will help increase your conversion rate. Those in the know call this process Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO.

+ Use High Quality Images

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth saying again. Make sure your imagery is really great quality – good lighting, not blurry – you get the picture (pun intended). You’ll need images of your products on a white background (these are known as pac-shots or pack-shots) as well as lifestyle photos showing your products in a real life situation.

+ Easy Menus & Navigation

You may have seen online stores with mega menus filled with fancy images , categories galore, and links to here, there and Timbuktu – but honestly, they are serious over-kill and just end up confusing customers. Your much better off keeping things simple and guiding your customer exactly where you want them to go.

+ Clear Call To Action

Again, life is easier when you keep things simple. Each page on your website should have just one really clear call to action. On product pages this should be the buy button, and on other pages it should be leading customers towards the correct product page. Keep offer pop-ups, email sign-ups and social media buttons to a minimum – clutter just ain’t cool.

+ Customer Reviews

Social proof is a huge factor when somebody is deciding to make a purchase. I’m sure you’ve done it yourself – checking the reviews section before splashing the cash on some new thingy, making sure  other people were satisfied by the product and service. Don’t worry too much about the odd bad review either – there’s lots of research out there that shows that this makes reviews seem more trustworthy. Just make sure you follow up with the low scorer to find out how you can make improvements.

+ Persuasive Product Descriptions

If your selling a product that is manufactured by someone else and sold by other online stores, you must re-write the descriptions. Using the manufacturers words will do nowt for your SEO, and your store won’t stand out. Make sure you write your description with your ideal customer in mind, and include details that will help them imagine all the ways they want and need the product in their life.

+ Competitive Pricing

If customers think they can buy your item from another site cheaper they probably will. However, I don’t recommend lowering your prices so much that your no longer making any money on your sales – instead add value to the customer. Provide a better service, tell the customer why your product is better quality, and shout about being a small business – trust me, customers love supporting the cool independent store when they can.

+ Smooth Checkout Process

Your checkout needs to be simple, clutter free and smooth. Checkout abandonment happens frequently, but by keeping everything working well and the process as clear of obstacles as possible you’ll have more customers complete their purchase.

+ Trusted Payment Processor

Paypal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Klarna, SagePay – There are plenty of online payment processors to choose from and each one will give your customers a little extra confidence in your store. I generally advice having at least two and no more than three options to take payment (more than that is just going to clutter your checkout and confuse customers) – I like Paypal and Stripe personally.

+ Display Contact Details

Don’t hide your contact email address, customer service phone number or social messengers – wannabe customers need to see that they can easily get in touch with you about any queries or issues they may have.

+ Clear Returns Policy

There are rules when selling online regarding the rights customers have to return items. You should clearly display your returns policy on your site so that customers can feel confident that if the item isn’t what they want, they’ll be able to return it. Your returns policy should include how long customers have to return items, if they have to pay for the return postage and if customised items are eligible for return.

+ Automatic Cart Abandonment Emails

Did you know you can create an automatic email to send customers a reminder to finish their purchase? Hella fancy right!  If you haven’t already got this setup on your site I recommend visiting your email provider (I use Klaviyo for my eCommerce emails) and creating one now. Even if they only get 10% of customers to come back and complete their order – well that’s 10% more than you would have had without it. Seems like a no brainer to me.

+ Have An SSl Certificate With Https Enabled

Google made it pretty clear last year that sites without an SSL certificate would be penalised in search rankings which means it’s pretty darn important to have this sorted. It can be a bit technical to sort yourself, especially if your sites been up for a while so it may be worth finding a web developer to help. Basically SSL Certificates act as a padlock, protecting sensitive information such as credit card information, usernames, passwords etc.

+ Product Images On The Cart Page

If you’ve been on an online shopping rampage and filled your digital cart to the brim, by the time your actually ready to purchase you might not be able to remember the items you’ve selected! Displaying the product thumbnails on the cart page helps avoid customers getting confused, and will increase the likelihood they’ll complete their purchase.

+ Allow Guest Checkout

Sometimes you don’t want to create an account when your shopping with a new retailer. It just feels like extra faff. Allowing customers to checkout as guests makes life easier.

+ Designed For Mobile

I discussed this earlier, but with people using their mobile phones as mini computers for hours and hours every day, making sure your website is easy to use on mobile is really important. Lots of customers will discover your products while browsing social media, pinterest and google on their phones – make sure that the first time they meet your website it’s giving a great impression.

+ Provide Expertise On Your Blog

Not only is it great for SEO, but adding a blog to your online store (and updating it weekly) will provide loads of value to your customers. After all, you live and breathe your niche and products every day so there probably isn’t anyone better to discuss the beautiful details. Be proud of your expertise!

+ Cheque Your Spelling

I did that on porpoise by the way 😉 Jokes aside, people do expect a certain level of professionalism and bad spelling can be very off putting. I’m human (yup not a robot), so I totally understand that the odd letter-addition will slip through the net once in a while. But, if you can get a fresh pair of eyes on content before you hit publish you won’t get so many know-it-all emails – Yay! Now, how many spelling and grammar mistakes have I made in this blog post? Winner gets a biscuit.

+ Speedy Website

Oh we are all so impatient nowadays! Chances are, if your site doesn’t load quickly customers just aren’t going to stick around. Sorry, places to be, people to see, don’t you know we are too darn busy to wait for your tardy website to load! 

+ Share Social Proof

Are your customers taking beautiful pictures showing your products in real-life use? Fantastic! Well this is a perfect example of social proof – and just what wannabe customers would love to see. Make sure you get permission to share the images – you should always ask the photo owner if it’s ok.

+ Clear Shipping Costs

As much as being able to afford giving every customer free shipping would be lovely, as a small business it’s just not possible. It’s always best to show your postage costs clearly and early on the customer journey so that no-one gets a nasty surprise when they reach the checkout. While your at it add in the the expected delivery times – customers feel alot more comfortable when they know roughly how long it’ll take for their new items to arrive.

I really hope you find this blog post about conversion rate optimisation useful, and you begin to see an improvement in your stores sales. I’d love to hear what your current conversion rate is and the plans you have to improve it in the comment section below. As always, if you have any questions leave a note below and I’ll try my best to give you a good answer 🙂

Here’s to lot’s more conversions and customer!

Chat soon, Liz

Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew is a British e-commerce entrepreneur and coach. She is the owner of online scented candle retailer Osmology and is passionate about helping women realise their online business goals.

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Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew is a British e-commerce entrepreneur and coach. She is the owner of online scented candle retailer Osmology and is passionate about helping women realise their online business goals.

Recent Posts

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