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Conversion Optimization

19 scientific strategies to increase your eCommerce conversion rate

Still using the age-old conversion tricks in 2023? Try out these proven scientific strategies to increase your eCommerce conversions.

19 scientific strategies to increase your eCommerce conversion rate

Ok, you've probably been reading a lot of articles around how to increase your eCommerce conversion rate, so we are not going to bore you with details that you already know.

Instead, in this blog, we've compiled a list of 15 scientific strategies — based on human psychology — that you can apply to increase your conversion rate.

Now here are some facts:

The average conversion rate for eCommerce: 1.3%.

But there are successful eCommerce businesses hitting a 2x-5x rise above the average.

The best part? It's not rocket science.

We just have to ditch the tactics that don’t take behavioral science into consideration.

Instead: 

Focus on understanding your customers' psychology to convert them and if you do it well, to retain them too. 

1. Offer unbiased information (Prägnanz Law)

Research has found that the human mind deconstructs complex and ambiguous elements into simpler forms to understand and act on them — this is known as the Law of Prägnanz or Pithiness.

Most high-converting eCommerce websites simplify their messages and offer unbiased information — this helps reinforce customer trust and propel purchase decisions. 

Why the principle works

  • Customers love websites that are easily understandable, clutter-free, and without distractions.
  • People trust businesses that are honest and transparent about their offerings.
  • Buyers shop with confidence when they know they’ll get an answer to their questions.

PetMeds is a good example of a brand that applies this law effectively. 

They use clear, concise, and easy to understand messages on their website homepage.

PetMeds uses clear messaging on its eCommerce website

The brand features critical info like shipping rates and features like price match— there’s no hidden information.

For further guidance, shoppers can also pore over their FAQ section. 

PetMeds uses clear messaging on its eCommerce website

How to apply & increase conversion rates

  • Offer potential buyers unbiased information they can trust & act on
  • Make your website message simple, easily understandable, and clear
  • Be honest about who SHOULDN’T use your product.
  • Create content that helps shoppers solve problems

Caveat

Your homepage MUST communicate who you are, what you do, and your value proposition within 10 seconds — and guide them on the next steps without ambiguity.

2. Give before you take (Reciprocity Principle)

It’s always easier to give after receiving — this is because receiving creates a feeling of indebtedness.

Savvy brands leverage the reciprocity principle to make their prospects more ready to buy — the giving can be in the form of discounts, free eBooks or free product samples if shoppers sign up for a newsletter. 

Why the principle works

  • Gifts can connect people emotionally to brands and help set up meaningful relationships between them
  • Heavy discounts can encourage shoppers to buy more than they initially planned
  • Retailers that published coupons on their eCommerce stores saw 26% higher average order values from their customers
  • Free shipping makes 79% of US consumers more likely to shop online

Let's take the example of men’s grooming brand Harry's.

The brand offers buyers two weeks’ product trials at a fair price, with free delivery and a cancellation option.

The trial sets allow buyers to test the products before upgrading.

Harry's offers two week product trials to customers

Harry’s also features a membership program that gives buyers a 10% discount on all products, free engraving on all relevant Harry’s-branded products, and free expedited shipping on all orders above $45.

How to apply & increase conversion rates

  • Give discounts and coupon codes to buyers
  • Offer free shipping 
  • Capture contact information with free offers
  • Give free consultation
  • Offer free product samples or trials
  • Send a free product catalog (plus samples)
  • Offer valuable free eBooks, PDFs, guides — or other knowledge-based resources

Caveat

Understanding the perfect gift for each stage of the buyer’s journey becomes crucial if you want to make an offering that customers will find highly valuable.

3. Ask for favors without hesitation (the Ben Franklin Effect)

Named after the well-known political philosopher Benjamin Franklin, this concept states that if you ask someone for help and they offer it, chances are that they’ll be open to doing more favors for you. 

Studies reveal that the Ben Franklin effect steers a 24% higher positive response among those performing the favor. 

In the eCommerce world, this translates into what retailers know as micro-conversions.

One of the famous campaigns that used this concept was Lay’s Do Us a Flavor campaign—which earned it a 12% hike in sales. 

Lays Do Us A Flavor campaign sought votes on popular products from customers

Target does this too and it uses its copy effectively to appeal to customers.

See the phrase 'help other guests' and how it makes the task look easy with 'just a few steps'.

Target makes it clear they're asking for help when they seek out customer reviews

Why the principle works

  • Humans look at justifying their actions and avoiding cognitive dissonance
  • We usually have a positive impression about people who we do favors for

How to apply & increase conversion rates

  • Ask for simple favors at first (request favors at multiple interaction touchpoints – like a popup to encourage email signup and then automated email confirmation for product delivery)
  • Say thank you when customers complete offering the favor (like a thank you email after a purchase)
  • Build a rapport by adding timely incentives (for example, if there’s a new product line released, see if you can add free samplers from it for spends over a certain amount)
  • Use gamification to increase engagement and offer rewards 

Caveat

Keep in mind the variability aspect of this concept i.e. it may not work when the customer isn't too invested in doing the favor or the amount of time it’ll take to do it.

4. Make information super easy to consume (Cognitive Ease)

Prospects are less likely to act when it takes more effort to understand information and act on it — especially when they’re busy.

Successful eCommerce brands understand this — they typically do the following:

  • Use shorter signup forms
  • Make checkout simple & effortless 
  • Optimize their websites for mobile

In fact, mobile-friendliness lies at the heart of eCommerce conversions — over 60% of eCommerce traffic and 53% of sales are through mobile commerce..

Why the principle works

  • Clear messaging leads to shoppers acting fast
  • 94% of first impressions about a website has to do with how effectively it’s designed
  • Shorter forms convert better  — removing a field from the form can increase conversion by 26%
  • A simple checkout process improves cart conversions — 11% will abandon the cart if the process is complicated

Check out how coffee accessory brand Keurig uses this concept to increase their traffic and website checkout rate.

Keurig showcases its website content in consumable bits

Keurig understands how to use colors and images to create an aesthetic and visually-engaging store design.

Creating an account is super-easy — no long-form, just four fields.

Keurig makes it easy for users to sign up for a free account

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Make the website messages straightforward and clear
  • Use self-explanatory product page images and videos
  • Make forms, buttons, and page navigation super easy
  • Have complex content appear in segregated blocks & sections
  • Simplify the checkout process

Caveat

Long forms can discourage form submission, but the more data your form collects, the more hyper-personalized your campaigns can be — and personalization increases conversion

In a study by Econsultancy, 93% of companies increased conversions by personalizing their SEM and email personalization helped 92% boost conversion.

5. Help customers take decisions faster (Hick's Law)

In a world full of choices, decision making becomes difficult. This is what plagues customers trying to shop in your store. 

The term for this is choice paralysis or Hick’s Law.

Psychologists Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman came up with this concept in the 1950s.

As per their findings, a greater number of choices increased decision-making time.

One of the first studies on choice paralysis was conducted on jam. 

With fewer options, people naturally purchased more. 

The Jam Study found that a lesser number of choices improves decision-making time

Smart eCommerce brands reduce the choice paralysis for customers yet still offer them a lot of options - reducing cart abandonment and several other severe outcomes. 

See how ASOS eases decision making by neatly categorizing all their product options:

Asos neatly categorizes their products for the benefit of shoppers

Why the principle works

  • Reducing choices helps in faster decisions
  • An overdose of choices leads to decision fatigue 
  • Too many choices lead to buyer’s remorse (where customers feel regret for the products they didn’t choose)

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Offer personalized recommendations based on behavioral evidence & activity history
  • Feature comparison charts & guides 
  • Limit the number of similar recommendations as well as for upsells and cross-sells

Caveat

Solely focusing on reducing choice paralysis doesn’t help. 

Optimize your eCommerce website user interface to reduce cognitive load.

Simpler interfaces, minimalistic designs and distraction-free navigation helps in better decision-making. 

6. Play hard to get (the Scarcity Principle)

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a major driver of sales.

60% of millennial consumers said they often make reactive purchases within 24 hours after experiencing FOMO.

Successful brands  use limited editions, clearance sales, and time-sensitive coupons to create scarcity and play hard to get.

Pure Formulas is a perfect example of this.

It has a dedicated page where it publishes current deals to make them easily accessible to visitors.

The company uses time-sensitive coupons to create scarcity and drive sales.

Pure Formulas uses time-sensitive coupons to drive conversions

Why the principle works

  • Consumers hate missing out on good deals
  • Humans have a primitive desire for exclusivity — this makes limited edition promos effective — it taps into this desire

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Offer time-sensitive discounts and coupon codes
  • Use a count-down timer in promos to create urgency
  • Run flash sales at strategic times — holidays, black Fridays, back-to-school periods and during celebrations, et al.
  • Use retargeting ads to offer time-sensitive coupons to people that abandon carts

Caveat

Abusing coupon codes could lower the perceived value of your products—so use them intelligently and strategically.

Hey, you'll love this: 14 Ways to Use FOMO and Boost Your Conversion Rates

7. Make offers compelling not pushy (the Fitts Law and Visual Salience)

The Fitts Law states that the time it requires to move a pointer (e.g. cursor) to a target area (e.g. CTA button) is a function of the ratio between the distance to the target and the width of the target.

Visual salience is the subjective perceptual quality that makes a thing stand out and grab attention but not large enough to make them obnoxious and threatening.

Successful brands ensure  their page elements (like CTAs) and offers are visually salient, easily accessible, and non-intrusive.

Tropick is a high-converting eCommerce brand that ensures their visual cues, the language they use and the messaging on their pop-ups are all on-point. 

Tropick ensures their visual cues are all precise and easy to process

Why the principles work

  • Address people’s quickly dwindling attention span 
  • Make important visual elements and offers easily noticeable

How to apply & increase conversion rates

  • Allow options like guest checkout & one-click checkout
  • Put a cheaper or more expensive product alternative within the buyer’s view
  • Offer bundled products & use price anchoring to highlight them

Caveat

Making your CTA buttons bigger than necessary can make them look threatening, pushy, and intrusive — and this is not good for conversions — users often have a distaste for threateningly large lettering.

Returns on your mind? Read: Reduce eCommerce Returns with Intelligent UX (+ Smart Handling ideas)

8. Make your products the showstopper (Center-stage Effect)

Given a choice of products, customers like to choose the one in the middle. 

This preference towards the middle or the center option is driven by psychology.

Due to the central fixation bias of humans, the tendency is to look at the center of things. 

So, the central fixation bias followed by the gaze cascade effect is what makes us choose something unconsciously even before we consciously decide to go for it. 

This propensity for the center or the middle item is seen in various instances such as numbers, multiple-choice tests,  game shows, and shopping, etc. 

Several researchers have found the center-stage effect at work in real-life scenarios.

An offer placed at the center naturally becomes more attractive than the rest

Gas stations use it to promote premium gas that few customers choose by placing the expensive option in the center. 

Gas stations typically place the premium gas price in the middle

Why the principle works

  • Humans have a general tendency to look at the center and avoid the edges
  • Attention improves the chances of decision making  by creating a loop

How to apply & increase conversion rates

  • Keep your most expensive and popular products highlighted in the middle 
  • Combine this effect with discount messages to drive more conversions
  • Use this principle to highlight bundles

Caveat

An exception when the center stage effect doesn’t work is when the products are placed sequentially. 

Research finds out that in case of information that is sequentially placed i.e. top to bottom or left to right chances are that people choose the first or the last option.

Want to make your eCommerce products stand out? Read 15 creative ways to display eCommerce products (w/ brilliant examples)

9. Make your images inspire engagement & action (Principle of Figure-Ground)

It’s been proven that across social channels, images & other visuals are the biggest drivers for audience engagement. 

Moreover, 75% of shoppers rely on product photography to make purchase decisions. 

The scientific principle that upholds such behavior is the visual principle of figure-ground. 

When the figure-ground is stable, shoppers can clearly discern the foreground from the background. 

Designers also use this principle in unstable ways to create a certain dynamic around images and other visuals. 

Here’s an example from a product visual from Daily Harvest (where it’s clearly established that the object is in the foreground). 

Daily Harvest includes product photos that maintain figure-ground stability

Why the principle works

  • Strong use of figure-ground helps shoppers engage deeply with the subject of the image
  • Intentional destabilization of the principle (where the foreground and background are not clearly distinguishable),can incite interest and create visual tension – leading shoppers to explore more and for longer

Here’s an example from a product gallery from FAE Beauty 

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Maintain a neutral colored background – white, black, beige etc. works best
  • To ensure figure-ground stability, make the subject of the image much smaller than the background or a lot bigger – this size contrast helps shoppers focus
  • Position your subject lower in an image if you want it to clearly be seen as the figure – elements positioned higher are naturally considered the ground. 

Caveat

Even if you apply the principles of size and contrast well, figure-ground might be unsuccessful. 

And the reason could be improper focus: what you want to be seen needs to be in sharp focus and the rest can be blurred, diluted or enlarged. 

For more inspiration, check out: Common Image Optimization Misconceptions in eCommerce (+ Solutions)

10. Highlight more information through visuals than text (the Picture Superiority effect)

Compared to 2020 when 46.5% claimed they’d used visuals in 91%-100% of their content, 2021 saw 56% claiming the same. 

Over a period of time and across thousands of experiments for eCommerce businesses, one thing has become clear:

Content, when visual, is processed better by shoppers than when it’s in text. 

Scientifically, this has to do with the picture superiority effect – the phenomenon that makes people remember visuals much more than text. 

Why the principle works

  • 65% of the world population happens to be “visual learners”
  • Images & other visuals are able to break down complex bits of information for easier understanding
  • Visual content make it possible for shoppers to relate to the context of the product being used (and a human visuals just take this a step further)

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Use icons to highlight any immediate benefits you want to convey (for example, if your product is sustainable, bring in a suitable yet familiar icon for it)
  • Use visuals alongside chunks of text to convey the essence 

Here’s an example from Warby Parker

Warby Parker uses visuals to make complex ideas easy to process
  • Use logos and visuals for line items like payment methods or third party certifications

Caveat

Too many visuals placed without a systematic approach, can be highly confusing for a shopper. 

Offer clarifications through text wherever needed, and visual content becomes more impactful.

11. Leverage endorsements in multiple ways (the Milgram Principle)

People obey and trust those they perceive as authority figures.

Social psychologist Stanley Milgram experimented with measuring people’s willingness to obey an authority figure that instructs them to perform acts conflicting with their conscience.

He found that a very high proportion of the subjects would fully follow the instructions, though reluctantly.

Successful eCommerce brands understand this principle and  use endorsements, buyer reviews, testimonials to reinforce brand authority.

Here's how The North Face leverages endorsements to improve its conversion rate.

The brand runs a social media challenge — #NeverStopExploring — that encourages their customers to share a photo of themselves wearing the gear.

TNF features the photos on the homepage when they tag them.

The North Face leverages UGC to establish their authority as a brand

The company also shows ratings and reviews on product pages from verified buyers.

They share the percentage of the reviewers that recommend the product to other buyers. It makes this bold and conspicuous.

The North Face features reviews from verified buyers

Why the principle works

  • Consumers get motivated when they see people having a great time with a product they intend to buy
  • Shoppers check customer reviews before purchasing — 92% do this
  • Online buyers trust product reviews 12-times more than the product description and sales copy
  • User-generated content is a goldmine — 85% of consumers find them more influential than brand images or videos and 43% say it’s a great way to discover new products
  • Companies that use user-generated content see an 18% increase in revenue
  • 70% of teens trust influencers over traditional celebrities and 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Use—Those who bought this also bought—on the product pages to recommend products to buyers
  • Display testimonials from happy buyers on the homepage
  • Use case studies from happy buyers to eliminate buyer remorse
  • Add reviews and product ratings from verified buyers
  • Display images of real people,  authority figures, or celebrities that endorse or use the product
  • Issue gift cards to enable customers to buy for those they care or love — this way, they’ll indirectly create awareness and endorsement for the products
  • Encourage buyers to spread the word on social media — get them to post photos of them using your products
  • Use an affiliate program to expand your reach, dive into uncertain terrains and piggyback off people’s goodwill

Caveat

Fake reviews, testimonials, and endorsements are counter-productive — avoid them. 

Use real reviews by real customers (even better if you tag them as being from a “verified buyer.

12. Make visitors feel at home (Law of Past Experience)

74% of senior business executives believe customer experience impacts the willingness

of customers to become loyal advocates.

Successful eCommerce brands create positive experiences for buyers to make them feel at home.

They provide robust customer support, send real-time notifications, and create personalized experiences.

Like Currys PC World does.

Currys is a British company that retails home appliances, computers, televisions, and consoles.

Currys’ live chat support enables visitors to chat in real-time with support agents and get instant help.

The brand also makes it convenient for people to shop on the go - providing both Android and iOS mobile apps.

Currys PC World features efficient customer support


Why the principle works

  • Positive experience drives return visits – 74% buy based on experiences alone
  • Buyers feel more relaxed when they deal with brands with responsive customer support
  • 61% will pay at least 5% more if they know they’ll receive satisfactory customer support

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Make live chat non-negotiable 42% of customers prefer live chat compared to just 23% for email and 16% for social media or forums
  • Use geolocation to serve personalized web content to visitors from different locations
  • Develop a mobile app to enable engagement, anytime, anywhere
  • Provide helpful support articles on the website
  • Use email & push notifications to send updates on offers & restocks 

Caveat

It annoys visitors when they use the live chat and don’t get any available support. 

A chatbot should take over the conversation when support staff goes offline.

We think you'll love reading: Top 20 lead nurturing emails in eCommerce

13. Build customer shopping habits (Priming)

Priming occurs when a certain stimulus influences our responses to further stimuli without us being conscious of it. 

In real life, this is what happens when we see a good or relevant advertisement.

Next, when we actually see the product in a store or online, we’re wired back to how positive we felt viewing the advertisement & are more likely to make a purchase. 

In a survey, coupon codes were found to be priming users to expect products at a cheaper price.

The presence of coupon codes made users leave the checkout page to find a code and reduce the total.

To counter this, Vox makes it possible for shoppers to apply coupon codes at checkout without having to leave the page. 

Vox helps customers apply coupon codes on the checkout page

Why the principle works

  • Priming helps shoppers process similar information and access related memory easily (hence, offering stimuli to direct customers to certain actions can help improve conversions)
  • Through priming, customers learn to recognize what will be valuable for them 

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Use incentives for product exploration & gamification to boost engagement
  • Apply it to subscription-based or repeat orders ( before the add-to-cart option, you can ask if they want the product for the short term or long term and show quantity options accordingly)
  • Apply it to prime shoppers to buy higher priced products (you can drop a survey asking if they’re looking to choose products based on price, quality, or both. Most will likely go for the 3rd option because it promises better value)
  • Use specific palettes for your site depending on your audience and what you want them to feel
  • Using storytelling in your homepage, about us page and product pages
  • Use visual content that shows the product in use or the lifestyle context it can be used in

Caveat

Be careful to prime in moderation. 

Negative priming leads to the opposite results. 

For example, during email signup, you can decide whether to mention that you won’t spam them since mentioning it will prime them into thinking about spam. 


14. Actively create customer loyalty towards your brand (Framing)

65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers. 

And that means only one thing: loyalty counts high and has to be sustained over the long run. 

When you start applying the principle of framing into how you communicate about your eCommerce business, brand loyalty has the possibility of growing. 

Put simply, the principle of framing suggests that how a piece of information (visual/ideological/values) is presented has a lot to do with how it is received by someone. 

While many brands claim to do socially and environmentally responsible work in eCommerce, not as many attain the status of Burt’s Bees

A big part of how well-received the brand is, has to do with how they “frame” their communication. 

Here’s an example:

Why the principle works

  • When a brand communicates through a primary framework shoppers view the world with, the latter experience increased relatability
  • Brands that use the frame of stories manage to create a deeper, long-term connect with customers

One brand that’s known to drive their narrative of “clean fashion” consistently and go great with conversions is Everlane. 

(They even have a section on their website called “Everworld Stories”)

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Bring your brand’s values to the forefront (use your homepage, about us page and product pages to drive informational value)
  • Follow your brand narrative with aligned actions (for example, if you talk of 24/7 customer support, make sure it’s really a feature)
  • Tell your shoppers why your discounts are too good to be missed (set the right context)

Caveat

Using just one mode of framing (say, values) may not be enough. 

Apply it across the way you design your storefront, engage with customers across social media and how you craft the messages & visuals in your email campaigns. 

15. Price products intelligently (Decoy Effect)

The higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded — this is basic economics.

But for savvy brands, it’s not always the case.

They use decoys to get more consumers to opt for the more expensive price package or drive more sales.

Product bundles, point systems, different pricing options, varied subscription-based price points and tiered loyalty rewards can all be used to apply this principle. 

Here's how Bellroy leverages the decoy effect. 

Bellroy manufactures wallets, bags, phone cases.

Bellroy uses price decoys to convert more customers

The brand joins two or more products into a bundle and offers a single price lower than the aggregate of the two prices.

Bellroy backs their offers with a three-year warranty.

Why the principle works

  • Customers stick with brands that offer a loyalty program
  • Loyal customers spend up to 67% more than new customers (so, it’s easier to increase their AOV through the decoy effect)
  • Shoppers buy more when brands offer something in return (discount, reward for loyalty etc.)

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Offer different pricing options and bait the package you want shoppers to pick
  • Use points to make customers return for more buys
  • Arrange some of your products into bundles and price them intelligently

Caveat

The decoy effect in the eCommerce business gives up part of the profit for more sales — this might affect the company’s bottom line. 

16. Don't underestimate the power of "free" (the Zero Price Effect)

As human beings, we all are drawn towards free things.

Take the example of how Baskin Robbins offered a free scoop of ice cream to everyone when Dubai became the World Expo 2020 hub.

The zero price effect explains this urge to get free stuff.

Perhaps the greatest example of this can be understood from the experiment carried out by psychologist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely.

In a stall were displayed 2 products—Lindt truffles, a luxury product, and Hershey’s Kisses, a lower quality product.

When the prices for them were 15¢ and 1¢ per piece respectively, around 73% of customers purchased Lindt.

However, when the prices for Lindt dropped to 14¢ per piece and Hershey’s was offered free, then 69% of customers chose Hershey’s and only 31% chose Lindt. 

See how Zappos highlights the zero price effect – with free shipping on the banner and adds some urgency to let customers purchase fast to avail of the free benefit. 

Zappos highlights the elements that the customer can enjoy for free with their purchase

Why the principle works

  • Customers are usually loss-averse and effort-averse (free items help them avoid the associated emotions)
  • Shoppers associate “choice” with a free option (if there’s an option of buying a single product or buying a product with a freebie, most will go with the second option)

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Offer small/tiny product samples with repeat orders
  • Add free shipping (research finds out that free shipping that helps customers save $6.99 is more valuable than a $10 price slash)
  • State what’s free (be it a sample or a surprise gift) throughout the entire checkout funnel

Caveat

Zero price effect works better for hedonistic products. 

Whereas utilitarian products are functional, hedonistic products are used for fun and pleasure. 

So, customers may feel more motivated to buy a free chocolate than a free bag of rice. 

17. Use “loss” as a winning strategy (Loss Aversion)

Humans are scared of losses — they value loss more than an equivalent gain.

An average human will rather not lose $5 than gain a $5 — this primitive tendency is what psychologists call loss aversion.

Successful eCommerce businesses understand how to use it as a winning strategy.

Instead of just giving, they also help their customers to prevent losses — they offer customers protection, money-back guarantees, and easy returns—92% say they’ll buy again if the return is easy.

Let's take an example from Dollar Shave Club.

The brand deals in men’s shaving and grooming supplies.

It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and also allows customers to cancel their subscriptions anytime.

Dollar Shave Club offers more control to shoppers when they choose from their subscription plans

Why the principle works

  • People don’t want to lose — they’re loss averse.
  • Customers want an easy return process—67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase.
  • People don’t want to buy something they’ll regret—a money-back guarantee helps eliminate buyer remorse & free returns increase security

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Introduce a shopper-friendly return policy (some brands offer an extended returns window)
  • Offer a money-back guarantee (attach necessary terms & conditions)
  • Offer a year’s warranty
  • Offer buyer/seller protection (if you run an eCommerce marketplace)
  • Make easy cancellations possible

Caveat

Loss aversion only works when people know there’s something to lose — hence when you offer a slashed price & anchor it, it becomes clear to shoppers if they didn’t take it, they’d be missing out. 

18. Meet customers EXACTLY where they are (Instant Gratification)

Customers love instant gratification — they hate to wait — they crave immediacy.

47% expect websites to load within two seconds.

Successful eCommerce brands understand this simple principle.

They don’t keep their customers waiting.

They offer them instant access, quick delivery, and real-time order tracking.

The Great Courses nails the instant gratification principle.

The brand provides unlimited video and audio learning for college students. 

Renowned professors deliver the courses.

The courses are available on the go—on TV, computer, and mobile devices.

The Great Courses makes their content super accessible to customers

The Great Courses also allows instant downloads.

Learners can download courses and learn offline and at their own pace, on a platform of their choice. 

Why the principle works

  • Real-time order tracking helps eliminate uneasiness
  • Customers want fast loading websites 
  • People love taking action on the go — mobile apps convert better than mobile web
  • Customers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that has outstanding customer service

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Deliver products in a couple of days (or same day if possible)
  • Make the website lightweight and fast loading
  • Make digital downloads easily accessible
  • Provide product delivery tracking
  • Make your contact details instantly visible and usable
  • Develop a mobile app for your store
  • Offer express shipping
  • Offer a 24/7 feedback & customer support feature

Caveat

Too much focus on instant gratification can lead to brands compromising on quality at various levels  - we understand the pressure is real because 45% of consumers say they will switch brands if a company doesn’t actively anticipate their needs.

19. Build a community around customers (Principle of Unity)

Research has proven that 43% of customers spend more on the brands they feel loyal to. 

Some of the smartest eCommerce brands cultivate higher levels of customer lifetime value (CLV) by cultivating a sense of community. 

This is related to the scientific principle of unity, which belongs to the social tier in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

Put simply, a brand that nurtures a feeling of community is able to see customers engage with it beyond transactions – which ironically increases transactions over the long run. 

A brand that has done this for years is Gymshark

From sending emails that spark both warmth & curiosity to creating Gymshark Central, their content hub that lets members share, comment and interact with each other. 

Gymshark creates a sense of community through the language they use in their email

Why the principle works

  • People like to define themselves as belonging to a group of their liking
  • Once customers share similar preferences in products, they instantly build a rapport
  • Customers prefer brands that help them connect to their own values (in Gymshark’s example, those who like to stay fit have an opportunity to come together)

How to apply & increase conversion rate

  • Enhance the ways customers can create reviews (along with text, make it easy for them to upload their photos and videos)
  • Feature a Q&A section across product pages, where if a shopper asks a question, another can answer
  • Create a “trending” section on your website and social media (using the most appropriate #hashtag)

Caveat

Overuse of language that carries a sense of community, can come with its own problems. 

To avoid doubt and suspicion on the part of customers, drive the sense of “we are one family/community” only across chosen pieces of content – for example, welcome emails, newsletter sign-up, when someone purchases something for the first time etc. 

FAQs on eCommerce Conversion Rate

1. How is eCommerce conversion rate calculated?

eCommerce conversion rate explores the relationship between the total number of sales and the total number of website visits.

So, the following becomes the formula for eCommerce conversions:

Total number of conversions / Total number of visitors * 100

Google uses the same formula - only replaces ‘conversions’ with ‘transactions’ and ‘visitors’ with ‘sessions’. 

So, let’s say you’ve had 200 sales in a month and visits from 1000 shoppers, then your conversion rate would be 20%. 

2. What is considered a healthy conversion rate in eCommerce?

eCommerce conversion rates across industries seem to lie between 1% and 3% generally. 

According to merchant net profit platform IRP Commerce, as recently as May 2022, the conversion rate across eCommerce businesses averaged at 1.78%.

When businesses aim for a baseline conversion rate of 3% +, it’s considered to be a good benchmark to have. 

3. What factors contribute to eCommerce conversion rates staying low?

There are a bunch of varying factors that can come together to make your eCommerce conversion rate fall or keep it at a low level. Here are some of the most significant ones:

  • Unoptimized product pages. This essentially means visitors are not converting on your product pages for several possible reasons: not knowing how to act, not finding the information they need, not seeing good deals, not seeing suggestions that match their preferences & lifestyle etc. 

  • Confusing or outdated search & navigation . The search functionality on an eCommerce website is the foremost factor that contributes to shoppers finding their way through the complexity of landing, product and category pages. 

  • Low or badly timed customer support. In the lack of a brick and mortar setup, customers may need advice and information on a bunch of queries. A lack of either can lead them to feeling lost and not converting at all. 

  • A painfully long checkout process. Too many steps after a product has been added to the cart can annoy customers no end. Once they have already picked a product, they don’t want to spend extra time paying for it or being offered a payment confirmation notification.

  • Lack of mobile optimization. Many eCommerce businesses have the misconception that whatever works for their websites, will also work on mobile. However, mobile needs very targeted optimization strategies to impact conversions in a positive way. Here’s an exhaustive list.

4. For what length of time is eCommerce conversion measured?

While there’s no standard answer for this, most businesses come to conclusions about their conversion rate over a period of time. 

For example, if you’re running a marketing campaign, it may be wise to observe the trends across a minimum of two to three months to come to conclusions about conversions. 

5. Does improving eCommerce conversions need a strategy?

The short answer to this is: yes. 

The strategy aspect is often referred to as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). 

CRO looks at optimizing various key parts of your web and mobile sites to make them more engaging, accessible and relevant for potential customers. 

Some key aspects that you can consider making more effective through CRO are:

  • High-intent pages (like the homepage, landing pages, product pages and checkout page)
  • Overall design and UX
  • Copywriting
  • Quality and relevance of visuals
  • Navigation menus
  • Product recommendations
  • Pricing & offers
  • Returns & shipping

6. What are the common misconceptions around eCommerce conversion rates?

  • Implementing CRO best practices will instantly resolve conversion issues. This is a big illusion because uplifting your conversion rate means a bunch of other things, including having a robust marketing strategy and innovating on product offerings as time goes by, amongst several more. 

  • Some branding tweaks here and there, and sales will improve. This is a dangerous assumption made by many businesses that think branding is ONLY about the look and feel. In reality, branding is about WHAT you do to make your customers’ buying journey a whole lot easier and enjoyable. 

  • Doing what a competitor is doing will change the conversion rate for the better. Nothing is farther from the truth. Even in the same category, every business is different - right from their USP to the way they prefer engaging with customers. So no two businesses employing the same techniques can ever have the same results. 
Wondering how to turn around your CRO efforts? Read 17 *Underrated* Conversion Rate Optimization Ideas for eCommerce

7. Does eCommerce funnel optimization help eCommerce conversion rates?

Yes,it absolutely does.

To start with, visualize your conversion funnel to know the journey a potential customer is going to make. 

The idea is to make sense of every little detail that a customer might encounter as they negotiate engagement with your brand and either decide to buy for the first time or decide to buy again. 

To ensure you optimize your eCommerce funnel in a relevant way, here are some questions you may want to ask - 

  • Where are your customers in their buyers’ journey? (Typically some customers will be at different stages of the usual 4-step funnel process)
  • What are their main problems behind why they want to engage with a brand like yours?
  • Given where they are in the funnel, what are their expectations from you as a brand?
  • As a brand, how can you help your customers solve their primary problem AND offer them enough reasons to keep engaging with you?

8. What are some unusual ways of improving eCommerce conversions?

There are a number of understood ways of improving eCommerce conversion rates, but there are some rare ones too.

If you’re keen to implement some unusual practices, you’ll need to remember that the devil is in the details.

Here are some that work well when applied with care and consideration. 

  • Use your primary CTA to talk about the value proposition. More than something feel-good, customers are willing to take action on something that promises them tangible benefits. A prime example is Shopify’s “create your store”. 
  • Make your live chat feature multiple languages. You guessed it right - everyone talks about the live chat feature but not enough about how the chosen language of communication keeps it relevant. We suggest featuring at least two more important languages apart from English to make it relevant for a wider audience. 
  • Employ odd pricing. It leverages slight adjustments to pricing and reaps big benefits. It creates the illusion of a much better price alternative whereas it in fact is not. For example, consider $12.79 instead of $13. This is an instance of odd pricing that makes the customer pay attention only to the first two digits to come to a positive buying decision. 

To sum up: increase conversion rate ecommerce

Ready to follow in the footsteps of these high-converting eCommerce websites? Then implement these ten psychological secrets to transform your eCommerce store into a conversion machine.

  • People do business with brands they trust—offer customers unbiased information and be transparent about your offerings.
  • Offer discounts, free eBooks, or anything of value to customers—give before receiving from them.
  • Use cognitive fluency on your eCommerce to drive engagement—use lovely images, make your website easily navigable and simplify the checkout process.
  • Use the scarcity principle to create urgency—offer time-sensitive coupons and run limited edition promos.
  • Use visual salience to make your offers and other essential elements of the website stand out and easy to access—offer guest checkouts and use product recommendations to provide options for shoppers.
  • Display endorsements, testimonials, professional badges, buyer reviews, and ratings on your website—they help reinforce brand authority.
  • Create a seamless customer experience for web visitors—make them feel at home anytime they visit your eCommerce store.
  • Use the decoy effect to drive more sales—offer price packages, use a point system, and run reward programs.
  • Customers are loss averse—in your brand message, communicate what they tend to lose rather than what they'll gain. Also, offer them free returns, warranties, or money-back guarantees to help eliminate buyer’s remorse.
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