Doing More With Less

How to increase your conversion rate after the COVID ecommerce demand wave crests

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon to ecommerce. For most industries, ecommerce sales grew dramatically in the first half of 2020 due to the effects of the virus. In fact, according to Forbes, ecommerce has seen a 129% increase since the previous year in the U.S., with projections that it will lead to a total of $709.78 billion in sales in 2020. The sheer volume of ecommerce traffic is up dramatically as well.

There’s no denying this increase has come because of the pandemic, and most of it has been at the expense of brick and mortar stores. Many people who are worried about the risk of shopping in retail stores have switched to buying online. Others were forced into it because they had no choice when stores closed. Whatever the reason for this trend, for an ecommerce marketer the fish were essentially jumping in the boat for quite a while.

The initial wave has passed, however, and market conditions are changing. Government lockdowns have eased, more stores have opened, and customers once again have choices for where to spend their money. Plus, there’s a phenomenon known as COVID Fatigue, which is basically that some consumers are weary of staying in and shopping online, and as soon as restrictions are lifted they scurry back to their favorite stores. They’re willing to tolerate a bit more risk just to be able to shop in person again.

This is borne out by the statistics. Cognovi Labs has technology which tracks and measures consumer emotions that affect economic decisions. Their data shows that COVID awareness and panic levels have both been steadily decreasing since the worst part of the crisis in the spring of 2020.

In that same period, online growth has also been decelerating.

Although consumers are feeling a tad more optimistic, companies are not. Corporate optimism – and along with it corporate advertising budgets – has not increased. Normally the first reaction to declining traffic and revenue for a business is to increase advertising spend, but the numbers show that ad spending is actually down in 2020.

What to do? One approach is to increase conversions. If traffic is stagnating, you can still increase revenue by converting more of your visitors into customers, thus increasing your conversion rate. Increasing the conversion rate is Goal Number 1 for many companies these days. Typically, this is done through a process known as conversion rate optimization, or CRO. CRO uses a test & learn process to gradually modify a company’s website through a series of experimental changes, and then implementing the changes that are proven to increase the conversion rate. Every step of the process is designed to increase the website visitors’ motivation, decrease their fears, and reduce any friction the site may be causing.

Here’s an example of how we use CRO for our clients. A women’s sports apparel ecommerce retailer was getting solid visitor traffic but a low conversion rate. Enabled Concept was asked to use the Enabled CRO approach to help increase the conversion rate.

We went to work, using several tools of the Enabled CRO process during the discovery phase, such as session recording and heat maps. The information we gathered during that phase led us to several hypotheses. The central one was that the website’s slide show, or carousel, was causing site friction by distracting and confusing visitors. We carefully tested the carousel hypothesis and found that it was correct. Our research indicated that with certain changes to the carousel format it would lead to a projected 25% increase in conversion rate and revenue.

The entire process took less than six weeks. What’

s more, it was executed on a gain-sharing basis so the out-of-pocket cost to the client was $0.

Our model for the CRO process looks like this:

1. Discover – We use site analytics, session recordings, heat maps, and social media scraping to create detailed customer profiles: who your customers are, how they found you, what they want, how they move through your site and why.
2. Hypothesize – We then develop a set of testable hypotheses about which elements of motivation, fear and friction are prompting visitors to abandon your site and what might persuade them to stay.
3. Test – We create and test multiple site variations, each focused on assessing the validity of a specific hypothesis.
4. Learn – We then analyze the test results to determine if the variant produced a statistically significant improvement in your site’s conversion rate.
5. Improve – Next, we implement the successful variants to make them a permanent part of your site. Finally, with all the winning variants implemented, we measure the new conversion rate of your site.

Conclusion

CRO is a perfect tool for ecommerce sites who want to increase revenue without increasing advertising spend. It can be executed in weeks or months, and can deliver double digit revenue increases at no cost to the client.
That’s worth saying again: with CRO, it’s not at all uncommon to achieve double digit growth in revenue from your existing traffic with no increase in advertising spend.
It’s an effective way to deal with COVID Fatigue and the corresponding drop in website traffic.

 

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Ron Bisaccia