9 Ecommerce Strategies to Optimize Sales

Let’s face it: Website visitors can be skittish.

If you can convert them into paying customers, you can generate more sales without ever having to change a price. But for that to happen, you need to clear the path to purchase.

Now it’s imperative that you get your homepage and site structure down cold.

You’ll want to advertise through paid search campaigns, display advertising or social media ads. But if your site design isn’t optimized for conversions, you won’t get a return on that investment.

Fortunately, there are many ways to encourage your visitors to take action by using simple (and proven) ecommerce techniques.

Here are 9 top tips for encouraging users to take that next step.

Conversion Tip #1: Free Shipping

The most common reason visitors abandon a purchase is shipping cost. Your solution? Offer your customers free shipping, and clearly state that benefit on your site.

  • 39% of customers would purchase enough to get free shipping.

In addition, a study by Compete states that:

  • 93% of online buyers would be encouraged to buy more products if free shipping were offered.

By offering free shipping, you can increase conversions as well as the size of your orders. Check out this article from Web Marketing Today for some great advice on how you can offer free shipping to your customers.

 free shipping

Conversion Tip #2: Show Discounts and Specials Clearly

Discounts and coupons are powerful marketing tools that allow you to:

  • give your clients special offers on products or categories
  • let wholesalers purchase at special rates
  • provide incentives through your offline advertising
  • help clear “difficult to sell” stock amongst many other uses

In the Oneupweb consumer study, 95.5% of respondents cited clearly stated pricing and shipping information as an influential factor in making a purchase decision. Don’t be a victim!

Make sure a product’s price is clearly stated, whether on your homepage or on the product page itself.

If at all possible, try to calculate taxes and shipping when products are added to the cart so your shoppers know the final price before they ever get to checkout.


Conversion Tip #3: Referral Discounts

Test #1

Optimizely tested a call to action (CTA) for an outdoor gear retailer’s refer-a-friend program and found that active outdoor enthusiasts are significantly more motivated by “Earn Rewards” than “Get Rewards.”

In the case above, “Earn $25. Invite Friends,” increased program engagement from the baseline, “Invite a Friend. Get $25,” by 60%.


The lesson? Offer referral discounts, and while you’re at it, test different ways of presenting the offer. They work, obviously, but they can still be optimized.

Test #2

Or take a tip from Airbnb and offer a product credit in return for referrals.


The new program encourages users to invite their friends by offering them cash credits to be used towards future Airbnb bookings.

According to Courtney Boyd Myers, writing for thenextweb, Airbnb got good results from the program.

Airbnb first tested the new referral program in a hugely successful closed-beta program of 2,161 existing members, which brought in 2,107 new members, nearly a 1:1 ratio of community goodness.

Conversion Tip #4: Add Reviews and Ratings

Figleaves ran an experiment to see how product reviews and ratings affected conversion rates. They found that products with reviews had a 12.5% higher conversion rate than products without reviews.

More importantly, the conversion rate for the same product—after adding reviews—was 35.27% higher than it was before adding reviews.

They also found that the number of reviews mattered a lot. Products with 20 or more reviews had a whopping 83.85% higher conversion rate than those without.


Conversion Tip #5:  Take Your Email Marketing Beyond the Inbox

Over the next few years, we’re likely to see a lot more ecommerce companies combining their email marketing campaigns with related social advertising.

In a study where a leading retailer in the US targeted 925,000 email subscribers with both its regular emails and coordinated Facebook ads, subscribers who received both ads were 22% more likely to make purchases than those who only received emails.

The potential of what you could do with this strategy is mind-boggling.

Imagine a customer purchasing a product online, then finding an advert on Facebook five minutes later with a popular upsell product. If they don’t buy the upsell, you could then send them an email with a discount on that specific upsell product.

Wishpond has written about how to set up these kind of adverts, along with strategic ideas to experiment with in this post.


Conversion Tip #6: Use videos to draw attention to your company’s website

Using video in the right way will have a direct effect on user engagement.

Short explainer videos are an excellent way to help visitors quickly understand your company, your products, and your services.

Visually showing your product in action gives visitors a better understanding of how your product works.

That helps soon-to-be customers get more comfortable with making a purchase, thereby boosting both your revenue and your conversion rate.

In fact Salesforce.com recently added an explainer video to its homepage and increased conversion rates by 20%. Approximately 30% of visitors watch the video and approximately 50% of those viewers watch the video in its entirety.


Conversion Tip #7: Add Live Chat to your Conversion Rate Optimization toolkit

Live chat has the potential to close the gap between the online shoppers and retailers. You have the chance to connect with your potential customers and build their trust.

Recent studies have shown that 68.5% of CompUSA customers used live chat while browsing the website:

  • 32% percent of them used live chat during the final phases of the buying process.
  • And out of the 32%, 10% percent converted into a sale. At this point, it is still relatively early in live chat implementation; however 28% of e-commerce websites now offer live chat.

Young helpdesk operators

Conversion Tip #8: Security Badges can Increase your Conversion Rate

With the rise of ecommerce, the need for trust signals has become critical. Many “trust badges” are associated with SSL, or secure sockets layer, and they

Case Studies: There are a number of case studies highlighting the benefits of adding Norton Secured (VeriSign), AllClear and McAfee Secure.

Blue Fountain Media saw a 42% increase in sales.

VeriSign prepared a case study showing a 30% increase in conversions for Central Reservation Service, an online hotel booking site.


Conversion Tip #9: Increase Urgency

There’s a reason why urgency is last in this list. All the points above must be in place before urgency will work.

Adding urgency doesn’t work if your offer is full of distractions, or if your value proposition is crap. It won’t work if your offer’s irrelevant to your audience, or if your audience doesn’t trust you.

Urgency is a strong catalyst, but it doesn’t stand up very well on its own.
After doing everything mentioned above, here’s how urgency skyrocketed one campaign’s conversion rate.

Below are two variations that I tested on the offer’s landing page. As you’ll notice, the only difference is that one communicates urgency and how many packages have been bought, where the other does not.

Variation A:


Variation B:


This is one of the most impactful A/B test I’ve ever run. The conversion rate of variation B was almost 3x that of variation A.

Here’s what happened to our conversion rate as we gradually rolled out variation B to all users. Our conversion rate went from ~3.5% to ~10%.


Since running this campaign two years ago, I’ve become fascinated by the power of urgency, and I’ve found multiple ways to integrate it into my strategy—boosting blog traffic, online sales, and engagement.


By implementing each of the tips above, not only will you see an increase in sales, conversions, revenue, and profit, you’ll build a reputable brand for your products and services.

Whether you’re offering free shipping or discounts, adding reviews or adding a security badge, you’ll see more consistent profit levels—which will allow you to continue to scale and grow your business.

Does a particular ecommerce experience stand out for you? If you’ve had a smooth, hassle-free experience that made you want to order again, I’d love to hear about it. Please tell us about your experience in the comments.

Read other Crazy Egg posts by Chawki Trabelsi.


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