CRO is the foundation any successful e-commerce store is built upon. Will Laurenson, founder of Monkey Blocks, talks us through the most crucial things to look for when optimising your website’s sales.
Q: Will, thanks for joining us. Let's start with Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) for e-commerce businesses. Take us through how you would first approach a project for a company?
A: Hi Adam, thanks for having me.
So, the first and most important thing to look into is analytics. Is Google Analytics set up properly, tracking goals, ecommerce, and various traffic sources properly. It’s so important you get this right because if you can't analyse your site performance, you can’t find the problems, it’s as simple as that. While it’s ‘ok’ to just have the basics in place, ideally you want to be tracking each acquisition channel separately, looking at different device types, geo-locations etc. You might think that conversion rates are poor, but actually it could be 1 channel that you’re investing quite heavily in, but which is performing terribly and pulling the average down.
If you are setup properly, I’d do a detailed audit of your customer behaviour flows in GA, run some heatmaps using a tool like Hotjar, and gather feedback from all your customer segments; super valuable, have bought a few times, bought once, have given an email but never bought, and have only visited your site (you can also do this last one with Hotjar). You need to find out why some people come back frequently, why others have only bought once or twice, and what has stopped people buying.
But remember, people will tend to tell you what they think you want to hear, or they’ll name features and problems that aren’t really problems to deal with. ‘Oh I noticed you didn’t have Paypal as a payment option, I think that'd be a good idea’ - from someone who has never used paypal. Some of the information will be them trying to help you, but not actually being helpful. So you’ve got to really dig into the meaning of the feedback and really understand it, and some of this will be done by looking at the data in parallel.
Once you’ve got the feedback and analysis you’ve got to think where the real problems are, and where you can apply the best leverage. A lot of people will look at their ecommerce flow and see that only 40% of site traffic visited a product page and so assume that’s the problem, however, these are the least engaged, and lowest intent visitors. What you actually need to do is look at the people who have visited checkout, added something to basket, viewed a product, in that order. The people on your checkout are ready to buy, that's why they’re there, so you’ll have a much easier job optimising that step and generating revenue.
Then it’s just a case of deciding what tests to run, and putting a process in place to do this properly, running confidence tests to determine whether your control or test version has performed better, and then getting these successful tests properly implemented on site.
Q: If you had to list the most recurring top 3 factors to enhance CR for an e-commerce store, what would they be?
A: I think without a doubt the most important thing is to make it easy for your customers. It should be easy to find the product they want, easy to pick the right shape or size, do any personalisation, find the information they want, whether that's about the product itself or your returns policy, easy to add to basket, get to checkout and complete that final hurdle.
It sounds obvious, but so many sites get this wrong. It takes 4-5 clicks to get to the product you want, or you have to register to checkout, or when you hit ‘add to basket’ you get taken straight to the checkout. Shipping policy isn’t clear, promo codes aren’t validated until the last step (making customers wonder if they should hit Confirm Order). All these things that website owners look at and say ‘but it's right there…’ it’s obvious to you because you look at that site all day every day, it's not obvious to the customer who at that moment might be looking at 10 different websites.
We’re now at the stage where you need to build and design for mobile. Having a dynamic site isn’t quite good enough now. It helps massively don’t get me wrong, but with mobile ecommerce exploding at the moment, you really need to be thinking about how someone would use a site differently on a mobile, and how you can make that experience better.
Q: A lot of e-commerce merchants have contentious debates about what payment options to offer the consumer. What are your thoughts on this subject?
A: Don’t go overboard with the ‘alternative’ options as you risk the paradox of choice, whereby having more options actually makes it harder to make a decision. I think if you offer credit/debit card, and paypal you’re covered. Amazon Pay never really became a thing, payment wallets like Neteller are mainly used for things like gambling.
I’d 100% recommend having mobile payments as well; Apple Pay and Google Wallet. It’s amazingly easy, possibly dangerously so. I know my consideration for a purchase is reduced if I don't actually have to type in payment details.
Q: In regards to customer acquisition, what's your best advice to bring it down amidst growing costs across the board for most brands in this area?
A: Obviously make sure you’re targeting the right people, you’ve got some great adverts, and you’re retargeting people who do click them.
But then it becomes about the site, and this is what a lot of people neglect. The think that once the site is generating sales at a roughly ok CPA for them, they just need to drive more and more traffic, and any problems they have are on the advertising side.
If you can increase the number of people who view a product by 15%, increase the number of people who add a product to basket by 15%, and increase the number of people checking out by 15% you’ll generate 52% more revenue.
And just to be clear, I’m not saying increase the rate from 20% to 35%, it's 20% to 23%. It’s small numbers, small optimisations, but when they compound they generate huge end results.
Q: How can people contact you to learn more?
A: Hunt me down on LinkedIn - Will Laurenson, or feel free to email me, email@example.com.
I’m posting new tips and articles on my blog at monkeyblocks.com and I run the Customers Who Click podcast.