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BizReport : Ecommerce : June 11, 2020

How to improve ecommerce conversions

By the end of 2021 ecommerce is expected to hit the $120 billion mark, but there remains room for improvement. According to a recent WEVO survey 78% of marketers are not satisfied with digital conversion rates and that 7 in 8 attempts to improve conversion rates fail. Here's how merchants and brands can improve online conversion rates.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What is the main issue or problem in marketers improving conversion rates?

Janet Muto, President, WEVO: The biggest challenge that marketers face in trying to improve conversion rates is using "rear view mirror" tools. Today's digital marketers can see the past: what visitors did, the pages they visited, who visited, where they bounced, how many clicked, and where and how many "signed up" or purchased. What marketers don't know is the "why" behind what visitors do or don't do. Therefore, they never have the full picture on what to test for to improve conversion rates. Instead, they rely on best practices, opinions from others in the organizations or their own ideas (button colors, imagery, content) to be successful. This effort results in only incremental changes (button colors, imagery, headlines) rather than substantive ones. These changes are generally not based on what the visitor would like to resonate with them. 

Kristina: We're seeing many more people spending more time online during the pandemic - they're looking for news, connecting with friends/family, and they are buying from merchants. Is this helping conversion rates?

Janet: The answer varies dramatically by category. More people are buying more online with the pandemic accelerating an ongoing trend. For some products, conversion and businesses have. However, for products that are not as critical, or worse, not needed, in the industries of travel, tourism, and luxury goods, visits and business are down considerably according to industry resources from Hubspot, Bigcommerce, Wordstream. On balance as of April, Wordstream reports that conversion rates are down despite huge leaps from the "winner" categories.

Kristina: What can merchants and brands do now to begin improving digital conversions?

Janet: The most important thing to do to improve digital conversion (and engagement in this distracting time) is to get into the heads of your prospective visitors and customers. This should always be top of mind even before the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and marketers. We need to understand what our customers want and know them first. 

Today, visitors now have a completely different emotional state today than they did two months ago. It's important that companies address this state of mind quickly and do so with a sense of urgency. For years, websites have focused on usability that eliminates usability "friction" e.g. speed bumps that keep visitors from acting. Today, marketers  need to eliminate the emotional friction as well and meet visitors where they are. 

For example, a certain image or a message that worked earlier this year may have changed in perception and doesn't resonate today. It may be a quote from a customer that just doesn't jive well. Understanding customer feedback on offers, online experiences, and products can pinpoint the elements that are not meeting new expectations.

By understanding visitors and the needs for their product or service, brands can craft an experience that is far more effective than their current or past one. In doing so, it helps to improve digital conversions, increase a page's effectiveness, reduces the risk of crafting a message that doesn't work, or worse, turns visitors off, and lastly, that feels relevant to the times.

Recently we have seen the impact of COVID-19 on our visitors mindset and actual responses to our customers' pages. In higher ed, students are highly concerned both about the virus and how they will be able to live the "normal student life" they dreamed of when working hard in high school and applied to colleges. In the telecom arena, there is a much higher desire to see security (think Zoom bombing) of the collaborative solutions we are all using. And overall, we have seen a decrease in visitors scores on all pages, reflecting the concern we all feel. 

Kristina: Once they have begun optimizing for conversion increases, how long will it take to begin seeing results?

Janet: Conversion optimization, like learning, is a continuous process. Measuring conversion and iterating on a page (iteratively) can take weeks and months. However, merchants can eliminate the long optimization process that occurs live in the market, by Pre-Live testing. This method is more efficient to gain a better understanding of the performing page. By understanding customer needs, aspirations and goals, building a page that reflects these, and testing Pre-Live, merchants can get to a much higher conversion from the start.

It is less a function of time to results, and more a function of time to create the new tests, design and build the new page and then launch it. 

Kristina: If they aren't seeing conversion rates improve, what should they do?

Janet: You need to take a deeper dive into understanding your customers and their response to your page before you can "know" what to change and test. With customers in mind, your decisions need to be fact-based and data-driven around the why of visitor behavior. There is technology that helps to improve conversion rates with this data insight that blends artificial intelligence and customer feedback to provide actionable recommendations for marketers before launching a campaign or web page. It can help marketers learn what isn't working, or missing, or just in the way. It provides its customers with the insights and tools to know what to change in order to increase conversion.   

Tags: customer experience, CX trends, ecommerce, ecommerce experience, ecommerce trends, WEVO

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