Here’s a little secret: It doesn’t matter how much traffic you drive to your online store if your ecommerce conversion rate sucks.
In other words:
More traffic does not guarantee more sales!
But… I’m getting ahead of myself.
First of all, what are conversion rates and why are they so freakin’ important anyways?
In today’s post, I’ll tell you why conversion rates are one (if not the) most important part of the ecommerce equation, and how you can boost your website’s conversion rates overnight and start making that cash register come to life by adding 3 little things to your website’s header.
A little about “The Big C”
Conversion rates refer to the amount of visitors to your website that take the action that you want them to take.
It is calculated by using this simple formula:
Number of Leads Collected / Total Traffic to Site x 100 = Conversion Rate
So, if for example 1 person out of 4 that come to your website end up taking the action that you WANT them to take, you’d have a 25% conversion rate.
Makes sense right?
Now, conversions in the online world can be a variety of things. For example, getting people to pick up the phone and call your business, signing up for your newsletter, or in our case, getting visitors to click that final “Place Order” button on the checkout page and completing their purchase!
The thing is…
Ecommerce has very different conversion rates compared to other type of websites.
A blog owner that relies on advertising (such as Google AdSense) as a business model, doesn’t care that much if visitors buy or don’t buy an advertiser’s products after they click on the ads they placed on her blog.
Because she gets paid every time a user clicks that ad.
However, what blog owners get paid for each ad is pennies – maybe a few dollars if they are extremely lucky – so they need to drive massive amounts of visitors to their blog every month (I’m talking hundreds of thousands), if they wish to turn their web property into a profitable business.
There’s thousands of blogs out there today that follow this model: From tech news websites, to celebrity gossip blogs, funny meme blogs (my own guilty pleasure), among many others.
Now, let’s take a look at our situation: An ecommerce website.
We don’t need 100,000 visitors a month to build a successful business.
Not even close.
You can build a profitable online store with just a few visitors a day. For example, let’s say that your website receives 50 visitors a day. If you put in a little bit of work, do your homework and achieve a decent conversion rate of 2%, that means that there’s a very good chance that at least one customer will make a purchase every day out of those 50.
Not too shabby right?
Imagine getting a bit of profit from your little niche store every single day. Before you know it, all those little profits WILL add up and you’ll be running a pretty successful business!
More traffic is not the answer.
Unfortunately, many new store owners make this critical mistake when they first get started…
They focus more on driving more and more traffic to their store, instead of CONVERTING that traffic to paying customers!
I know because I made the EXACT same mistake when I got started.
Let me tell you about a small ecommerce project of mine called Safety Canvas.
Safety Canvas is a small Shopify project I quickly put together to test if there was a market for safety posters that were targeted at industrial sectors such as construction and Oil & Gas.
Having worked in the Energy sector for a few years, I have an intimate understanding of this industry and figured there might be a need for these type of products – seeing as how knowing and following safety regulations can be the meaning between life and death in these type of high-risk job industries.
Choosing Shopify was perfect for this project because I could easily connect my store with Printful (an on-demand printing company), meaning I wouldn’t have to pay anything up front to create these posters.
I would simply create some poster mockups, and then once an order came in, I would simply forward it to Printful to print it and then ship it to my customer.
You gotta love dropshipping.
Here’s an example of one of my “products” – a safety poster about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) starring the one and only Uncle Sam…
So 2 weeks after officially launching I started promoting my new store to friends & family, in niche safety forums, and of course: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Unfortunately, my store still read “No orders.”
I was discouraged but not defeated.
I knew trying to drive organic traffic (i.e. non-paid traffic) through SEO or writing tons of content would take way too much time and effort – especially when I didn’t know if there was enough demand for this type of products to build a real business out of it yet.
And I wasn’t planning on spending 6 months on SEO and creating content just for it to fail miserably.
What I needed was a quick and dirty way to test my safety posters niche with less than $200.
So I decided to invest in some advertising and setup a Google Adwords campaign to drive some targeted paid traffic to my new store – so when people would do a search on Google for terms like “safety posters”, my ad will appear on the right hand side as a sponsored result.
Before long, I was getting some healthy traffic to my website.
I know because I was paying for it.
Since Adwords works on a PPC (pay-per-click) model, every time a Google user clicks on your ad on the search results, you have to pay “The Big G” money.
However, another week went by and I still hadn’t made ONE sale!
It was time for me to go back to the drawing board…
You need a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Frustrated, I did what any other rational person in the 21st century with access to the Internet would do…
I fired up Google and typed in “How to increase conversion rates.”
And this is how I came across this great list from VWO on the top 10 ecommerce websites by conversion rate.
And all of a sudden, I saw things as clear as day.
All these high converting stores had one thing in common:
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that was visible in their header for maximum visibility!
Now, if you’ve never heard of a USP before, I woudn’t blame ya. I’ve only recently been introduced to this concept.
What it means in a few words is this: Why should your customer buy from you andnot your competition? What sets you apart from the pack?
Having a solid USP somewhere that’s visible throughout your website is one of the keys for increasing conversions – especially if you are a brand new store that no one has heard of!
Think about it for a second…
Let’s say you are shopping online for a replacement mirror for your motorcycle.
After a Google search, you end up in a store you’ve never heard before.
They seem to stock the product you need at a good price, but you still have a few questions about it being the right fit on your motorcycle – after all, your bike’s trim model is not listed as a match on the product’s page.
You don’t see a phone number anywhere. Only a stupid contact form.
Ugh. Who knows how long it will take from somebody to email you back?
You also try to find where exactly this company is located, so you can at least know how fast shipping times will be (as they are not mentioned anywhere on the website).
After doing some quick scanning and looking at the “About” page, it’s nowhere to be found.
Frustrated, you close your browser and try another Google search.
A second motorcycle parts store pops up. They stock the same item, with the same trims mentioned – but no mention of yours. Seems like a copy-paste job from the manufacturer’s website, just like the other website.
However, this store does show a phone number right at the top of their store. Even better, their return policy is prominently featured as well – so if you make a mistake and order the wrong part, you can always return it and get your money back.
So you immediately grab your phone and call them. After a few minutes, a friendly rep tells you that even though the website doesn’t show your bike’s trim as being compatible with that product, it will be a perfect fit. And of course, in case it isn’t, you can always send it back within 30 days.
Which website would YOU be inclined to buy from?
Increasing my ecommerce conversion rate by adding a “USP Header”
So it was time for me to get to work.
Even though my Shopify template was looking great, it still didn’t have any of the trust-building elements that a solid USP can offer you.
1. ADDED A FREE SHIPPING OFFER
Free shipping is no longer an added benefit. It’s quickly becoming the standard for all online retailers since Amazon came into the game.
There is a powerful psychological incentive when we as customers are offered freeanything. RJMetrics has an excellent post on the psychology of why offering free shipping is such an effective marketing tool. I highly recommend you check it out.
So I decided to offer “Free Shipping” within the U.S. and factored that into my pricing strategy by raising my product prices slightly to make sure I wouldn’t be losing money on any purchase.
2. ADDED A 60-DAY RETURN POLICY.
The second thing I did was to include a 60-day return policy.
Why not the standard 30 days?
I think Tim Ferris said it best in his entrepreneurial classic “The 4-Hour Workweek:”
So that’s exactly what I did. I was now offering my customers DOUBLE the peace of mind that if for any reason they were not happy with their new safety posters, they had a full 2 months to return them to me.
3. ADDING A 1-800 PHONE NUMBER
I initially had my cellphone listed at the top of my store.
When I had my first potential customer call me, I simply answered like I always do:
“Hello. This is John speaking.”
Not the most professional greeting ever, right?
I immediately decreased the confidence the other person had initially of my store and my business.
Questions may arise in their mind like “Who the heck is John? Did I call the right place?”
I simply had no way of telling whether people calling my cellphone were friends or potential customers calling Safety Canvas.
Thankfully, I found an awesome service called Grasshopper, which provides solo entrepreneurs like myself with a 1-800 number that can be forwarded to any cellphone. All for around $12/mo.
This not only gave my store instant credibility by having a 1-800 number instead of a local area code, it also allowed me to screen calls to my store – so that when my next customer called, I first received an automated message from Grasshopper letting me know this, before their call was connected.
And here’s a little pro tip:
Instead of paying Grasshopper almost $100 for a voice-over professional to record a greeting for your new 1-800 number to make you sound Fortune 500, head on over to Fiverr and get it done for only $5. Fiverr is the home of talented (and hungry) professionals that will do everything from logos, web design, voice-overs, video, etc. for only five freakin’ dollars!
It’s crazy to me as a designer, but it’s a huge opportunity as a business owner to get any kind of work done for cheap.
My first $100+ order
After I made those three changes, I was ready to resume my AdWords campaign for another week and start driving traffic to Safety Canvas one more time.
Most of my $200 ad budget was gone, so I decided to thread carefully and set my daily spending limit within AdWords at only $20/day. I really wasn’t sure if redoing my header with a USP would do the trick – or how long it would take to see results.
Thankfully, it didn’t take long.
As a matter of fact, I got my first sale that VERY SAME DAY.
I remember it well. It was a Monday morning and I was sitting at a Starbucks going through morning emails when my phone rang.
I picked up and the Grasshopper automated system let me know that there was a real customer on the other line. I pushed 1 to be connected with them.
I got my game voice on and picked up.
Me: “Thank you for calling Safety Canvas. This is John speaking. How may I help you?”
Customer: “Hi John. I just found your store through Google and had some questions about shipping times.”
Me: “Of course. I’d be happy to answer them.”
Cue conversation about shipping times.
This person (let’s call him Richard), sounded like a sharp guy. All his questions were answered in my FAQ page which was prominently shown in the header section, and while there was a chance that he missed it – I think he just wanted to make sure there was as real live person on the other end of the line before giving his credit card information to a website he’s never heard of.
So after hanging up the phone, I saw a Shopify notification on my phone.
Richard had just placed a $106.20 order with me.
I was ecstatic and grinning from ear to ear like an idiot. I immediately forwarded my order to Printful so they could take care of it and dropship the posters to Richard as soon as possible.
My new USP header had worked – and more importantly – this was a very important step in validating whether Safety Canvas could turn into a real business.
Summary and time for action
If you haven’t made your first sale yet, it’s something quite special.
You see, it’s not just about the money you made. It’s about validation for YOUR idea and having real, CONCRETE proof that people are willing to take out their wallets and give you money for the solution you are providing.
So, if you are currently struggling to make your very first sale, here is my question for you:
Do you have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) on your store?
Because if you don’t, it could be the reason your store is still struggling to make that very first sale.
Remember, if your website is not designed for conversions, all the traffic in the world is not gonna help you – it’s just gonna cost you.
So stop wasting time and make the necessary changes already. Head on over to Fiverr to take care of adding USP elements to your store if you can’t do it yourself. Make sure they are visible throughout your entire website.
Elance is another great option. Although be prepared to pay much more here as these are usually more experienced professionals.
Here’s a fantastic example of how GlassesUSA.com incorporates their USP elements inside the header, as well as a bar at the top of their store:
If you need even more inspiration, check out this great list compiled by ConversionIQ.
I promise you that once you have a solid USP, you’ll start hearing that cash register come to life.
Have you implemented a USP on YOUR store? What kind of results did you get? Share them in the comments section below – I would love to read about it.