Photo by Malte Wingen
This list is compiled as much as a resource for us to refer back to when looking to optimize a client store for conversions as it is a collection of information that we thought would be good to share with other Shopify partners, experts and merchants.
Below is the list available at a glance and the rest of the this page elaborates on what to consider and do for each of them.
- Enhance your Search
- Use Product Videos
- Improve your Navigation
- Add a Site-Wide Promo Bar
- Use and Promote Social Proof & Reviews
- Up-sell, Cross-Sell and Bundle
- Emphasize Call-to-Actions
- Add Guarantees, Trust Seals & Value Propositions
- Incentivise email subscription
- Give a Stock level indication
- Add a Countdown timer
- Provide back-in-stock notification
- Recover your Abandoned Carts
There will undoubtedly be many other things you can do to increase conversions, but if you haven't implemented all or some of these, doing so will very likely have a marked impact on your store's performance.
Enhance Your Search
Google has changed the way we use the internet and depending on which way you look at it, it's either a pain or something really great. Focusing on the positive, the user experience enhancement that comes from a good quality search feature on your site is of great value to you as a merchant, especially if your product catalogue is not small.
Search is now an expected feature on a site; and not just the ability for you to type in a word or phrase, hit search and get some form of result, but to have good quality suggestions shown to you based on what you're typing, and even while you're typing too. Where we're at in technology these days the suggestions given while typing would look like mind reading wizardry in the past.
Thankfully there are options for you as a merchant when it comes to enhancing your search and subsequently improving the "findability" of your products. Usually this would come in the form of an app and there are a few to choose from.
Use Product Videos
People have researched the phenomenon and statistics are pretty clear that the use of video in your store is a good idea to promote conversion. Combine this with the fact that most if not all of you have a smartphone in your pocket capable of high definition video, there isn't much of an excuse to not be tapping into this means of promotion.
We've personally used animated "explainer" videos for our own stores and client stores which are -in our experience- best produced by Bread and Beyond. We also have a number of merchant clients that produce their own videos with either the founder or some other personality in the company explaining things in basic and succinct terms. These days you can even edit the videos into something presentable on your phone itself.
It's also important to note that these videos shouldn't only be on your home page or hidden away on a "videos" page but can and should go on your product page since this is likely your point of conversion.
Improve your Navigation
Most Shopify themes come with "sufficient" navigation options with the ability for dropdown and fly-out menus, but merely sufficient isn't going to earn you any extra points with your customers. Points being conversions.
I'd list out the following main points to consider when improving your navigation:
- Make use of a good mega nav type structure. This allows you to merchandise products from within your navigation and drastically improve findability and subsequently your customer's user experience.
- Keep your navigation laser focused by segmenting it into logical groupings. By this I mean keep your product related navigation together and your "other" information like customer service, returns, t's & c's and account related stuff in their own spaces. In the screenshot of MVMT watches you can clearly see that the left of the header is product related while the right is more user related.
- Don't fear redundancy. Sometimes putting a link in multiple places is good practice. For instance, mirroring your top level categories in your footer will drive internal traffic with customers that have finished reading your terms, or viewing a product that wasn't exactly what they were looking for. Give your customers multiple ways of getting to different places on your site. People have different habits on the web, so try to give them as many practical options to navigate around your site.
It's important to note that although your customers need access to the more meta things your site has to offer (login, refund policies, contact us, about us etc.) 99/100 times you want your product to be front and centre. People looking for those other things will find them in your footer or wherever is a good place to put the links that don't clutter your interface.
Add a Site-wide Promo Bar
Like in the example above from GymShark, it's useful for you and your customer to have a bar on your site that can offer up promotions or at least communicate value propositions like free shipping or perhaps a link to a clearance collection.
Often these types of elements would only be added on the home page or in one specific area of the site. This restricts the reach of this message to only people that came in via your home page (often they don't) and is a lost opportunity to drive conversions. If the element is site-wide or "global", it will allow you to offer this information to anyone, anywhere on the site.
Use and Promote Social Proof & Reviews
People rely on others to tell them what to buy. What is good, what has worked for them and it will inspire confidence in those would be customers that are on the fence.
If you have a social presence where your customers are participating and ultimately giving you an unpaid endorsement, you should leverage this to the best of your ability. Real people saying good things about your brand should be shared.
There is a great app for social reviews called YOTPO that a lot of our merchant clients use with great success and comes highly recommended by most Shopify experts.
Even if you don't have a lot of reviews or strong social channels in place, you can manually take testimonials from customers (with their permission) and elegantly display them on your site for prospects to view. These can be incredibly powerful and can include industry influencers that are clients of yours or sometimes even more effectively the man on the street approach that gives your store a sense of humanness and relatability.
Instagram is a great way of allowing social endorsements and a client of ours Easy-Macro make exceptional use of this medium by curating photos taken by their customers with their product and then embedding this photo stream on their store.
Over-doing things can also result in a "Christmas tree" looking product page, but putting social proof and reviews on your store is definitely worth doing elegantly and in the right places.
Up-sell, Cross-sell and Bundle
While technically not conversion optimisation, offering your customers superior alternatives, accessories and items that commonly go with the one they're buying is going to increase your average order value which is much the same thing in the long run.
An interesting fact about Up-selling:
"According to Forrester research, product recommendations such as upsell and cross-sell offers are responsible for an average of 10-30% of ALL eCommerce side revenues! Amazon announced that 35% of all their revenues were a direct result of cross-sells and upsells."
There is a saying I often use when consulting with our merchant clients and that is:
Emphasizing everything emphasizes nothing.
–Me, quite often
What I mean by that is that there is often a desire to draw large amounts of attention to everything on your site. New things especially seem to be given disproportionate amounts of focus by newer merchants.
Ask yourself what your primary objectives of the site are. Chances are #1 will be selling product (Add to Cart, Buy Now etc.). There will also quite likely be secondary "conversions" like a mailing list signup or an inquiry. Make sure that the elements on every relevant page (home page, product pages, collection pages) are set up to draw attention to the things that cause your virtual till make that virtual ka-ching sound.
A great example of where this is often done wrong is putting your Add to Cart button low on the page (eg: under your description), having it a muted colour and a size that does not make it stand out and compounding this, having loads of distracting content around it.
To make your call-to-actions stand out, you can use any or all of the following techniques:
- Placement - Fairly simply, make sure your call-to-action is placed in a location where your customers will expect it to be.
- Isolation - If you can separate the call-to-action from the rest of the content on the page with physical whitespace, it'll draw attention to itself and stand out more on the page.
- Contrast - The more different the call-to-action looks in relation to the rest of the content, the more it will stand out. You can use colour, size and shape to create contrast between your call-to-action and the rest of the page.
- Proportion - Related to the contrast technique above, having your call-to-action proportionately different in size to the rest of the content on the page allows it to stand out and draw the user's eye.
In short, the trick is to resist the urge to draw your customer's eyes to everything and be very selective and specific about the things you want people to be drawn to and then make sure those things stand out and make sense to them.
Add Guarantees, Trust Seals & Value Propositions
These elements are often underestimated in terms of quite how much benefit they provide in terms of inspiring a customer to convert. If you remove the perceived risk of the purchase, show confidence in your own product and communicate the measures you've taken to secure and protect their information the customer is far more likely to convert.
Of utmost importance is that these guarantees, trust seals and value propositions should be located close to the call-to-action element on the product page. They can also be placed throughout your site and in your footer, but the place where they matter most is where the customer is about to hit the big –hopefully emphasised– button that takes them towards payment.
Some great ideas for these elements could include the following:
- Speedy shipping - One of the biggest considerations for buyers is how long they'll need to wait for their product. Giving an indication of the speed of shipping may greatly increase their chances of buying.
- Free Shipping - If you offer it, making it known that shipping may be free can be a big factor in the customer's decision to purchase. Since shipping costs are often only shown quite far down the checkout process, this can help a lot to keep the customer moving towards buying.
Product guarantees - If you're willing to guarantee your product your customer is far more likely to be inclined to purchase it knowing that you stand by it's quality.
Country of manufacture / sourcing - If you can, stating that your product is manufactured locally can appeal to your more patriotic customer and they may even choose your product over a cheaper product that is of unknown origin or "Made in China". In cases where the product is manufactured in or sourced from a location desirable to the buyer (eg: Italian leather) this can appeal to the discerning buyer who can appreciate the quality that is synonymous with that location.
- Secure transactions - These can be created pretty easily by a half decent designer, else you can grab from most stock image sites.
- PCI Compliant Hosting & Cart - The standards by which Shopify adheres to and is certified by is worth mentioning to inspire confidence due to the seriousness with which their data is handled.
- Payment method logos - This can can serve a dual purpose of the big name brands (Visa, MasterCard, Paypal) being recognized and therefore inspire confidence, as well as immediately show the customer what they'll be presented with in terms of payment methods.
Incentivise email subscription
Having your customers sign up for a mailing list is probably the next best thing after them buying from you. It gives you opted-in permission to promote your products directly to their inbox.
You can make your subscription form as focal as you like and give as many promises about how you won't spam them and how you'll let them know before anyone about specials and promotions... but there won't be anything as effective as giving them something in return for subscribing.
What you use to incentivise signups is something only you can determine, but often it's a free small gift with a first purchase or a single use discount code that they receive after signing up.
Whatever you do, give your customers a reason to subscribe rather than a vague insinuation that you'll occasionally send them some kind of regular email.
Localising your store is more of a task to better serve a specific geographic region than conversion optimisation itself, but if you find that the wide-net approach of having one Shopify store serving too broad a region (if not global), consider having a separate instance of Shopify catering for each region.
We have a number of merchant clients that have Shopify instances catering to different locations. Usually it's a country difference like USA, UK etc. and while you may think it's just their own currency that people want to see, there are so many other factors about localisation that are beneficial to your customers... and subsequently to you in terms of conversion.
Localisation with a separate instance of Shopify for each logical region allows you provide the following:
- Checkout in the customer's own currency.
- Ability to market to that region's specific events and holidays.
- Ability to market to that region's potentially different seasons (if applicable).
- Use the predominant language (or even the flavo(u)r of English) of the region.
- Use familiar payment methods and shipping providers.
This isn't necessarily a quick fix solution to waning sales in other territories but is certainly a solid strategy to expanding into new regions and maximising the potential of these regions.
Give a Stock level indication
To promote urgency, it's useful to show the customer how many items are still in stock. This sense of urgency can inspire the customer to purchase sooner for fear of losing out.
This can be done quite simply with an app like While Stocks Last or if you have a suitably skilled Shopify coder at hand, they should be able to implement a solution fairly quickly in liquid.
Add a Countdown timer
Similar to the stock level indication, the countdown timer promotes urgency by indicating to the customer that they only have a certain amount of time to act before losing out on a deal or same day delivery (or similar).
Also as above, you can actually use an app for this like Countdown Cart.
Provide back-in-stock notification
If your product is out of stock when your visitor arrives and you don't allow back ordering... unless you're capture their details right then and there, there is a very good chance that sale is lost forever.
Some themes come with a rudimentary form that simply sends you their email address, but it would be wise to take this issue a bit more seriously. Almost all of our merchant clients that need this functionality use the BackInStock app.
What it does is allow your customers to request a notification when the item is back in stock, and when it is, the system automatically emails them letting them know they can come back and place their order.
The number of otherwise lost sales recovered by this app more than makes up for its monthly license fee.
Recover your Abandoned Carts
Sometimes your customers will become distracted and lose your tab or start watching a video about cats. Sometimes they'll be close to the verge of completing their order and suddenly change their mind for whatever reason.
You can literally think of them as customers that came into your physical store, put some items they wanted into their shopping cart and somewhere between doing so and paying, they simply wandered out the door with their hands empty.
You won't be able to recover every abandoned order, but you can definitely make sure that those that are salvageable are given every opportunity to follow through.
If you're on Shopify's "Shopify" plan or higher, you already have abandoned checkouts available to you as a feature and I advise making full use of it. If you're on a lower plan or want to implement even more deliberate methods, there are still plenty of options in the form of apps to prevent order abandonment and also recover them.