When it comes to any ecommerce business, there’s no job that connects all departments at once - simultaneously - the way a Chief Revenue Officer does. Unlike a VP of Sales (the driver of most customer revenue in a traditional business model), a CRO is responsible for the full customer lifecycle. That means they’re not just invested in selling their ecommerce business’ products, but in making sure customers know about the product, are enticed to learn more, and of course eventually buy the product.
Altogether, this process of taking any ecommerce site user from visitor to purchasing customer is known as a conversion, and it often falls on the CRO to optimize this process from end to end. Below, we present some of the winning practices when it comes to conversion optimization, and give you a few shortcuts to not only boosting sales, but to better managing your business’ money throughout the entire process.
1. Keep It Simple
It’s going to be tough to convert users into customers if they can’t even navigate your site. Believe it or not, working directly with your company’s IT department falls firmly in line with any good CRO’s daily duties. The first focus should be your ecommerce landing page. Make sure the design is simple and easy to understand from a set of first-time eyes. You may think your product - and by extension, your brand - is easy to understand, but you’ve got intimately more knowledge than any fresh visitor. If you lose sight of who your audience is, it might be just as hard for your audience to see you too.
By focusing on simple themes and accessible design, along with a layout that feels intuitive to navigate, you’ll make sure your message is getting across very clearly. Just as importantly, you’ll be ensuring that your potential customer can get from A to B to C that much faster. As we said above, in all likelihood, you already have an IT department to help execute all of this for you, but if you’re a very new brand, we recommend working with a site like Squarespace to design a simple & easy-to-navigate experience for your customers.
2. Go Faster On The Go
Speaking of speed - don’t forget to optimize your site for mobile use, either. According to Google, 58% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if the process is a fast one. Simple sites run faster on smartphones, and if you’re looking to convert customers, no more than 3 seconds of loading time per click or refresh will do.
If you really want to ramp up the speed of your funnel, consider developing an app as well. Button’s 2019 Mobile Commerce Report revealed retailers’ apps convert users at a 14% higher rate than mobile sites. This isn’t a task to take on lightly - having a bad app (which then becomes a poorly-rated app) can often be worse than having none. So, work with your IT department or hire a third-party developer to make sure your app’s performance meets your standards, and that the user experience matches the one on your actual site itself. If you don’t have the budget for a third-party developer, Microsoft’s Xamarin is a free service that’s fairly easy to use for any IT professional, and can get you started on building the app of your superconversion dreams.
3. It Pays To Be Social
Having the quickest, smoothest site and app in the world is all well and good - actually it sounds pretty great, but your online presence is far from complete until you’ve also got a top-notch social media strategy. Work closely with marketing or a separate social team to develop a voice that reflects your products and overall brand, stands out from the crowd, and actively engages with your audience.
The final part of that is vital: it’s easier to convert casual browsers into new customers if they see you’re taking care of the customers you already have by responding to comments (both positive and negative), and prompting users for feedback. There are also numerous ways to plug your social media directly into the sales funnel, all of which reap big rewards. In fact, according to HubSpot, social media sellers had an 18% larger volume of new customers and 15% higher conversion rates last year than ecommerce brands with no social media integration.
4. Customers Need Customer Reviews
Spiegel Research confirms what you should already know - that 95% of consumers read online reviews about a desired product before deciding to purchase it. In other words, customer reviews should be front and center of any marketing campaign. In fact, you’re going to want to devote 20-25% of your annual marketing budget to them. What exactly does this mean? Well, reviews don’t tend to write themselves. We strongly discourage you from buying fake reviews to get your product noticed (the practice is largely illegal, for one), but that might lead you to wonder what other options are available.
There are several providers available online who can grow your customer reviews quickly - all with varying degrees of detail and care. A good review is a descriptive one, though, so avoid services that promise large quantities of simple, three-word responses. They might not be fake, but they might as well be what you’re paying for. There’s also no reason to spend more resources than you should for services that only deliver results through a free-product-giveaway-per-review system.
Revioly offers an attractive business model that satisfies both these quandaries. You list your products for free through Revioly’s online marketplace, and Revioly’s users then click through to buy it - either through your own sleek website or nearly any third-party retailer. Users receive a rebate after writing a detailed review that meets the criteria in Revioly’s comprehensive template. You get quality reviews for your products by only spending a fraction of their total MSRP, instead of giving them away for free. No matter which provider you choose, however, make sure it’s one that feeds your budget and rewards you with the kinds of reviews customers will actually want to read.
5. A/B Test Everything
Finally, the practice that ties all the others together is this one, and while marketing and IT may be highlighted, it really involves working with the whole team at once. A/B test every aspect of your customer lifecycle - from page layouts to copy, media, CTAs and even button placements. To put it differently, test at least two versions of everything we just mentioned to see which one is more successful. If one version leads to higher conversion, you can keep testing to secure proof before locking it in for all visitors.
Crazy Egg is just one tool available for this, and should be fairly easy for any senior marketing manager or IT professional to navigate. On top of its conversion rate-testing capabilities, it can also tell you where on any page viewers spend most of their time, along with video recordings of a typical user navigation.
All of these practices can lead you to better conversion optimization, but what’s key here is consistently breaking down work silos, and getting all teams in better communication with each other. A CRO’s job becomes much easier when marketing, sales, IT & other departments are in sync, and aware of where they all fit into a constantly-changing big picture. Ironically, keeping them informed is another great practice of a truly skilled CRO - help yourself out by helping everyone.