Optimizing Your Site For Shoppers: 5 Ways to Make Buying Easier

Improve & Optimize Your Experience With a UX Audit

On March 22, Searchspring & CQL partnered to discuss site optimization and five ways you could make the shopping experience easier for your customers. The following highlights are a compilation of recommendations from Sue Hunter, VP of Strategy at CQL, and Colleen Schneider, Lead Customer Success Manager at Searchspring.

Before you start any site optimization, you need to have an understanding of how your site is performing and where to start optimization. There are 4 metrics that are essential to understand how your brand is performing online:

  1. Conversion Rate: It is important to understand the typical conversion rate for a vertical (apparel, beauty, home decor), as conversation rates vary greatly based on the products your brand offers. Your third-party partners are very familiar with vertical benchmarks, so reach out to them to find out how your brand’s conversion rate compares.
  2. Click-through Rate: Review your click-through rate and ensure the traffic is high quality with intent to purchase. You want to increase click-through rates for high quality traffic. 
  3. Product View Rate: Your product view rate defines how much of your traffic views products. You’ll want to optimize your site to get this metric as high as possible, since this is where the Add to Cart button primarily is located.
  4. Add to Cart Rate: Lastly, review your add to cart rate (of the products viewed, how many are added to a cart), as this will tell you how effective your product information is at converting shoppers.

Once you’ve identified your areas for optimization and have set benchmarks for your brand, you are ready to start testing site enhancements. The following 5 Tips to make buying easier will provide some actionable ideas for enhancing the user journey through your website.

  1. Enhance site navigation for a seamless user experience. Site navigation includes your headers, menus, footer (which is often overlooked), and home page which houses key navigational elements. These areas have direct impact on your brand’s key performance metrics mentioned earlier. Recommendations include:
    • Use icons for easy of scanning and navigation.
    • Revisit fonts (weights, size, and colors) for ease of scannability.
    • Ensure menus are easy to read and click-through (for example, separate your featured collections from your brand categories).
    • The more products you have on your website, the more prominent your search bar should be. Shoppers who use the search bar came to your site with an intent – a product or a category they were looking to buy. Shoppers that use search are much more goal oriented and convert at a higher rate.
    • Prioritize mobile. As ecommerce marketers, we use our laptops or desktops, but many shoppers are using mobile. Take a mobile-first approach in your design and optimizations. Also, review your 3rd party widgets and determine how they impact the mobile experience. Many of these cover key areas of your site and conversion may be suffering.
  2. Personalize product recommendations and marketing campaigns. Personalizing the shopping experience will have a direct impact on your site performance. Powered by AI, personalization of product curations based on user behavior can be included throughout your site. Here are several recommendations:
    •  Looks at your traffic type (Google Analytics will show this). You can segment your traffic into new traffic and high return traffic. New users would get best sellers, and returning traffic would get your newest items.
    • Use site behavior to determine categories that are regularly viewed by users, and promote that category.
    • Focus on product listings, product curations, and product recommendations, basing them on user behavior. Using AI and merchant controls, you can fine tune your product recommendations and add them to your home page, product page, cart, zero results pages, 404s, and order confirmation. The more relevant the recommendations, the higher they will perform.
    • Reengage shoppers with email and SMS. This includes abandoned browse, abandoned carts, and win back campaigns. Use personalized recommendations to target your campaigns, just as you do on your website.
  3. Streamline the checkout process and offer multiple payment options. Checkout is the whole process of your site – the entire journey that starts with browsing and ends with an order. Here are the top recommendations for streamlining your checkout:
    • Minimize clicks to add-to-cart.
    • Bypass listing pages where there is only 1 product.
    • Use autocomplete where possible.
    • Use Add-to-cart on Product Listing Pages (PLPs).
    • Reduce field entries (default billing address to shipping address; use tool tips for custom fields).
    • Ensure promotions carry through. The promotions seen on home page and category pages should be visible through the payment pages, so there’s no drop-off at checkout.
    • Minimize opportunities to leave, such as removing site navigator in the checkout flow.
  4. Leverage customer feedback and data analytics. The goal of your analytics program should be “how do we send the highest quality traffic to the site, so they convert when they arrive?”  To best analyze your site behavior, we recommend the following:
    • Start with key reports in Google Analytics: Review the ecommerce analytics overview, shopping behavior report, checkout behavior report (where people are falling out of the checkout process), and the site search report to learn more about how your users are shopping.
    • Use Searchspring reports to show how campaigns and product recommendations are performing, including the Search Insights Report and the Category Insights Reports. These reports will show you what queries and page listings people are looking at most often.
    • Use an A/B testing tool. You should get in a habit of “test & learn.” The answer for how to best optimize is not always clear. For example, your shoppers may like the default search results or they may perform better with a curated list. Your shoppers may perform better with personalization or without. There are many elements to test and see how your shoppers response.
    • Use heatmaps or scroll maps to get a holistic view of site behavior. Microsoft Clarity is a free tool to use.
  5. Identify a follow up marketing strategy that works for your company. Marketing teams should focus a lot of time on reviewing their zero results report from search. Using the data from this report, the following marketing strategies can be used:
    • Expand product lines: If items are being looked for regularly, it may be worth adding new items to your product mix. This is a great opportunity to share these results with your merchandising teams.
    • Create merchandising campaigns: If a shopper searched for “purses,” check out “bags” instead. This offers alternative merchandise campaigns for products or brands that are similar but not an exact match to your product portfolio. Instead of not giving any result, your brand can offer alternatives, letting the customer know that you hear them, your search isn’t broken, and you have similar items that may help in their search.
    • Create collections and category pages that have gaps: If shoppers are searching for categories or collections and getting zero results, you can create new collections. This not only helps your customers, but also your SEO.
    • Create synonyms to find relevant products: Create synonyms to match product types. For example, if people are searching for “jumpers” and you’re selling “pullovers,” a synonym would direct shoppers to the correct category or collection, bypassing zero results.
    • Create redirects to the right pages: Simple redirects for footer items like “contact us” or categories like “new” will lead people exactly where they want to go on  your site.

We hope you found these site optimization tips helpful! You can view the entire webinar below. Would you like CQL to help with your website optimization?