Magento Conversion Rate Optimisation: Getting Started

The Basics

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the process of amending your website with the objective of increasing the percentage of your visitors completing a desired action. For an ecommerce store, the conversion rate is a simple calculation:

 Ecommerce Conversion Rate (%) = Transactions / Sessions * 100

The two approaches to optimise a website are using A/B/n and Multivariate testing. In simple terms:

  • A/B/n tests the performance of full pages against each other. An A/B test is pitting your existing page (known as your Control) against an alternative version or versions.
  • Multivariate tests multiple components on a page, which allows for a greater number of page variations to be tested at the same time.

Neither option is better than the other, both can be used effectively to optimise your site.

And the good news is you can implement your Conversion Rate Optimisation strategy using the Magento platform.

Why is CRO important?

CRO can have powerful benefits to your ecommerce store. Even a small percentage point increase in your conversion rate can have a significant positive impact on your revenue.

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. 100,000 Sessions per month, with a £30 AOV and 2.0% Conversion Rate delivers £60,000 Revenue per month.
  2. 100,000 Sessions per month, with a £30 AOV and 2.1% Conversion Rate delivers £63,000 Revenue per month.

Lifting your conversion rate from 2.0% to 2.1% is a 5% increase and will improve your annual revenue from £720,000 to £756,000. Delivering an additional £36,000 revenue per year.

There is often a high level of scrutiny on performance of acquisition channels. You may now find greater commercial benefit to improve on-site conversion, which could improve the effectiveness of all traffic sources.

What is your Objective?

To start off, you need to define what are the desirable actions for visitors to take. This will depend on your sector and the purpose of your website. Even with your Magento store there are likely numerous sub-goals based on different customer scenarios leading up to a transaction.

If your products are a more considered purchase, with a longer research phase, then you may define actions which are less of a commitment for the visitor. These could include:

  • Email newsletter sign up
  • Catalogue request
  • Download a white paper or join a webcast
  • Start a 30-day free trial
  • Social media engagement

Not all improvements will have a noticeable impact on your end conversion rate. Creating micro-conversions as a gauge of success will determine what impact your changes are having. For example, the desired action on a product page is usually Add to Basket. So, it is wise to monitor these micro-conversion rates to have a better understanding on how successful experiments have been, rather than just monitoring the overall ecommerce conversion rate.

Developing Your CRO Strategy

Identifying the biggest opportunities for improvement can be the most difficult part of the process. There are several data sources which will help, and should ideally include both quantitative and qualitative.

User Data (Quantitative)

Use Google Analytics to discover where opportunities lie. For example, which step has a high exit percentage? Enhanced ecommerce tracking will help you get a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of each stage in the funnel, and identify micro conversions to optimise, which add up to improving your ecommerce conversion rate.

Smart Insights has a wealth of comparison and benchmark data for different industries, devices and source channels which you can check against your own analytics data. Use comparisons with caution, however, as every store is unique.

Heat map tools such as CrazyEgg and Hotjar can also help to identify opportunities. You'll discover how far down the page your visitors are scrolling, and how your current CTAs are being used (or, more importantly, not being used).

User Feedback (Qualitative)

Online user testing tools and surveys are a cost effective way to gain valuable insight into what your users are thinking, and why. Tools like What Users Do and User Testing allow you to watch videos of customers using your website and, crucially, talking through what they are thinking as they attempt to complete specific actions. This verbalised thought-process cannot be easily inferred from analysing quantitative data.

Consult your customer survey results, or create a short website feedback form using Survey Monkey. Ask just a few questions relating to the users experience and note any recurring issues.

Conversion Rate Test Ideas

Tests can be broadly categorised into two types: cosmetic and behavioural.

Cosmetic changes include changes to call-to-action button colour or position, and can make the buying process easier. Behavioural changes provide additional information such as product scarcity or popularity, to affect the propensity to purchase.

Recent research published by Qubit alarmingly concludes that cosmetic changes have no positive impact on uplift. However, it is wise to read through to the Appendices, where you can see the results of each experiment included in the analysis. You'll find that cosmetic experiments do continue to have a positive impact for many companies. However, this study concludes that on average, behavioural changes deliver a greater positive impact.

Taking the findings from this research, my view is that if you are to implement cosmetic changes, then the nearer to the end goal the changes are made then the greater the impact you can have on your overall conversion rate. A visitor who has reached the payment step in a checkout is showing a high degree of user intent to purchase, and you need to question why they would abandon their purchase at this advanced stage. Here you need to make the functional process of buying as seamless as possible. Make cosmetic aspects such as form fields easier to understand and buttons clear to see for the user.

Whereas, someone on the Product Page may still be in the 'consideration' stage and still need convincing whether to add to basket. I believe this is where behaviour improvements will have more significant impact. Showing stock remaining, or how many customers have purchased or viewed the item recently stimulates the need for the user to act quick or risk losing out. And no one wants to miss out!

For anyone just starting out, I would continue to recommend beginning with some cosmetic tests in order to understand the platform you've started using. You may need further integration work in order to deliver some of the behavioural tests, and doing something now will be better than delaying testing longer. If you do start with cosmetic tests, always have in mind that these experiments are just the beginning of your optimisation efforts.

CRO Tools for Magento

There are a number of CRO tools available for integration with Magento. Two of the most widely used are Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely, both with 30 day free trials and free extensions on Magento Connect at the time of writing. You'll likely need some technical support for implementation on your site, but both tools are developed with the 'non-techie' end-user in mind.

Seven Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes

  1. Before you begin, form a hypothesis
    • What do you want to happen as a result of the amend to the website? What metric do you want to improve? Use that metric as the primary measure for success
  2. Don't assume a winning test on a different site will also work for you
    • Take inspiration from others' successes and failures, but your site and your audience are not the same as theirs - you need to discover what works for your store.
  3. One test at a time
    • Running multiple tests at the same time runs a high risk that both results will be invalid.
  4. Don't test everything
    • It is still ok to make changes without testing. Just keep an eye on analytics post-release.
  5. Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should
    • Don't allow technical capability or design wizardry to prevail over solid user experience.
  6. Don't jump to early conclusions
    • Tests need volume in order to provide a statistically significant winner. Tools typically tell you when a winner can be declared, but don't be surprised for tests to need many weeks to reach a conclusion with the necessarily confidence level. Time is likely to be the limiting factor on how many tests can be run which goes back to choosing tests wisely.
  7. Learn something from every outcome
    • Some tests may not show a clear winner, or only have a marginal improvement. Don't panic. Now you know, and can move on to the next test.

Remember, you are ultimately trying to make the process of buying hassle-free for the visitor, improving the user's experience. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug is an entertaining, easy-to-read book covering the basics of usability.

To gain some inspiration from case studies and to test your knowledge in a 'guess the test winner' challenge, spend some time on Behave.

Finally, if you're finding it difficult to justify the time or financial investment, remind yourself that any amend you make to your website will have one of two outcomes. One of those outcomes is that your conversion rate and revenues decrease. Having a robust conversion rate optimisation plan in place will help minimise the risk of this happening.