Kent Hamilton – The BigCommerce Blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:45:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kent Hamilton – The BigCommerce Blog 32 32 28 Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Steps Guaranteed to Increase Sales in 2018 Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:00:42 +0000 Does this sound familiar? I built a website, promoted it on Facebook and am getting a lot of visitors, but…]]>

Does this sound familiar?

I built a website, promoted it on Facebook and am getting a lot of visitors, but no one is buying.

Yea, that happened to me, too. When I first launched my business on BigCommerce, I had the site up and running rather easily. It looked the way I wanted it to. It worked the way I wanted it to. All I had to do, I thought, was get traffic there and presto: I’d have revenue coming in.

That isn’t how it happened at all.

When real visitors landed on my site –– pushed there by real advertising dollars I had spent on Facebook –– none of them were turning into real revenue. That’s when I realized I had more work to do. Building a profitable business isn’t just about setting it up well, it looking nice and then driving traffic to it. Instead, those are just the very first steps.

There are nuances to earning that sale –– what we will call “conversion” from here on out –– that are crucial for all business owners to know. And conversion doesn’t just happen: you need to optimize for it.

This applies whether you are just starting up and running the whole show yourself, or if you are an ecommerce manager or marketing director who has signed up to hit massive goals and KPIs for the year.

First, let’s begin by defining a conversion –– which often has a different definition business to business.

Understanding Online Store Conversion Rates:

Conversion rate is defined as the percentage of visitors that land on your website who complete a desired action. You need to know your end goal to accurately define conversions that align with business goals.

An ecommerce conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who purchased something from your online store (in a set period of time).

However, this metric is not the only way to measure success of your online store. Below are typical conversions for an ecommerce website:

  1. An online sale.
  2. A user adding a product to their cart
  3. A user adding an item to their wishlist.
  4. Email signups.
  5. Social media shares.
  6. Any KPI your company finds valuable.

This ecommerce CRO guide covers how to increase ecommerce conversion rates on your site. Each of the bullets above are worth a guide all their own (the links of which above will get you on the right track).

“Conversion” is such a broad topic because it can be impacted by every aspect of the user experience on your site. Conversion rate optimization is the process of improving the shopping experience to drive a specific KPI — usually, sales.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can be conducted on landing pages, category pages, or any other customer touchpoint.

What is a good ecommerce conversion rate?

Average ecommerce conversion rates are 1% – 2%. Even if you are doing everything right, you can still expect to win the sale around 2% of the time.

The following 28 steps are what helped me to reach 2% conversion on my own site. The outcome of these steps is measured by conversion rate, but in reality they all made a small, incremental improvement to the overall shopping experience.

A 2%+ conversion rate should be the baseline goal for your online store. Once you hit that and are doing all 28 of the below effectively, then you can move onto more advanced conversion rate tactics.

How do you calculate conversion rate for an ecommerce website?

A quick example: If your online store is getting 5,000 visitors and 50 conversions for a set period, that means your store’s conversion rate is 1%. Simple as that! Divide conversion into visitors and you have conversion rate.

Most analytics tools provide conversion rate in any segmentation of the data, which we’ll get into in the sections below.

Before we go through what to do to increase conversions, we need to know exactly what your current visitors are doing to setup proper ecommerce conversion rate benchmarks for your online store. Where are customers getting stuck and how are they interact with your website? Once you find your benchmarks these should be compared to measure success.

Of course when experts talk about increasing conversions you will hear a common theme:

Test, test, test.

I am all for testing. However, it is important to know what are your current conversion issues are and understand the basics before you can know what you should test.

Utilize the Following Tools To Improve Ecommerce Conversion Rates:

There are some invaluable and very useful tools to help analyze your current conversion rate issues. The following five are my personal favorite conversion analysis tools.

1. Inspectlet.

This is an amazing tool that will let you record every move your visitors make on your website. It will show you the users IP Address, location started page, where they came from and how long they stayed.

Sign up for an account and put a script tag on your site to start the session recording process. There is a free version that allows you 100 recorded sessions per month if you just want to get a feel for what your users are doing. Just add a script tag to your website and then login to your Inspectlet account. Click on a session to see the recording of each user’s interactivity on your website.

inspectlet-dashboard (1)

2. Mixpanel.

Mixpanel allows you to view your website visitors’ actions by placing event catching tags on various elements of your ecommerce website. This will not record like Inspectlet does, but it will give you a very detailed snapshot of what is happening based on where users click, how many times, etc.

This will help you determine how useful certain form fields are or how important certain sections of your website are to users. You can also setup A/B testing to determine which layouts and fields convert better. This mixpanel account shows a website I worked on and tracked various button clicks. This showed me what users were clicking on most which helped me tweak the form and content — a necessity for effective conversion rate optimization.

mixpanel-pic (1)

3. CrazyEgg.

CrazyEgg is an eye tracking tool that lets you see where users are scrolling and interacting based on heatmaps, scrollmaps and overlay tools.

The confetti type view in crazyegg will show you everywhere users have clicked on your landing page and the colors signify greater or fewer clicks. Heatmap analysis helps you understand what users do once they get to your site, oftentimes unveiling opportunities to make certain aspects of a page easier to navigate.

crazyegg-pic (1)

4. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

For most websites, I suggest setting up Google Analytics or something equivalent. This gives you a great view into your website visitors including:

  • How visitors found your website: This could be from keyword searches in google, referral websites or direct visits.
  • How long visitors stay on your website
  • Where the visitors are from
  • If the visitors are returning or new
  • What browser, operating system and if the visitor used a mobile device or desktop/laptop
  • How many visitors converted (based on goals setup) and the interaction that lead to the conversion
  • Link to your Google Adwords campaign to track paid traffic as well

Set Up Google Analytics with BigCommerce

Your step-by-step guide to getting Google Analytics set up for your BigCommerce ecommerce store.

Google Search Console will gives you a peek at what keywords users are typing to find your website (if they click on your website or not). It also shows you various errors that may affect your website rankings such as slow loading pages, broken links, etc.

Verify Your Site with Google

Be sure to verify your site with Google to enable Google Search Console tools.

5. BigCommerce Analytics.

If you have your store running on BigCommerce, the platform has an Analytics section in the administration panel that shows all abandoned carts including what products were in the cart at the time of abandonment.



There are also analytics on In-Store Searches that will show you what customers are typing into the built-in BigCommerce search tool. This underutilized conversion optimization tactic helps you bridge the gap between what your customers are looking for and your on-site language and content.


Look at keywords your potential customers are searching for that *are not* showing up. This can help you determine what you need to add into the store, for example.


BigCommerce Analytics has multiple other Analytics dashboard, but they are most useful when you have customers. The two above will help you diagnose conversion problems without customers.

There are a few other great tools out there, but this should be more than enough to get visitor interaction information to figure out where your website is lacking or excelling in regards to conversion rates.

Ways to Boost Your Ecommerce Conversion Rates:

1. Use high quality product images.

Think about what you want to see when you are shopping. When you are shopping online you can’t touch the product or put it on. The best thing you can do is to show as detailed an image as possible so that the customer knows exactly what they are getting. I suggest using as high quality images as possible depending on how close you want customers to zoom into the image.

How to Master Product Photography on a Tight Budget

Here’s how to create great product photography with very little money.

2. Offer free shipping.

I am not 100% sure why this is such a big deal, but it is. Blame it on Amazon –– everyone does. But facts are facts and everyone likes to think they are getting a deal. Offering free shipping makes customers feel like they are getting some sort of deal even if they aren’t.

Think you can’t offer free shipping? Keep in mind that this is often a psychological game. Increase your product prices to cover shipping cost if that’s what needs to be done.

Is Free Shipping Really Sustainable?

The experts over at ShipperHQ say, “Absolutely.” Here’s how to do it.

3. Provide coupon codes.

Create coupon codes that customers can use at checkout to get a specific amount off or a percentage of the purchase.



4. Adjust product prices.

If you are selling brand name items that a lot of other stores offer, unfortunately you might have to price your products at or below the average price in order to compete. Be sure to adjust your prices frequently to see what resonates. Also know that the quality of your marketing and imagery will heavily influence the price someone is willing to pay.

Fitness brands like Lululemon and Outdoor Voices have done this extremely well. Just check out the article in the New Yorker praising Outdoor Voices’ products. They have clearly targeted the right audience. Market your brand to the right audience, with the right messaging and the right imagery, and the revenue will come in.

We De-mystified Product Pricing

Why value-based pricing works best (both for your customer and your bottom line).

5. Tweak and test your ecommerce checkout process.

If your store checkout process is too long, complicated or unconventional, you may lose a lot of customers right as they are ready to buy. This crucial step  in the funnel is where a lot of your split testing, A/B tests and site tweaks should take place.

Of course, there are industry standards for most hosted ecommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, but you may still need to tweak the process based on your customers.

For example, BigCommerce offers an optimized checkout out-of-the-box that is technically a single page (with a few drop downs and a persistent view of the product(s) being bought).


Out-of-the-box optimized checkout example.

Some brands like to take this even further and build off that optimized checkout to create a true one-page checkout where you can see the entire checkout process when you land on the page. Multiple BigCommerce partners can help you skin this as needed.

landing page optimization

One page checkout skin example, powered by Intuit Solutions.

6. Use cart abandonment software.

If you are getting a lot of abandoned carts –– i.e. Someone lands on your site, puts an item in the cart and then leaves –– then abandoned cart software can greatly increase your store conversion rates.

This software works with users that have added items to their shopping cart, entered their email and details and then left your store. Some ecommerce platforms offer this software free as part of the store functionality. Thankfully, BigCommerce is one of those.

Here’s an example of the first email from a BigCommerce customer after an abandoned cart.

conversion funnel

Their software allows you to create follow-up emails that will send the user an email with their cart contents as well as allow you to give them a coupon code to get a discount as an incentive to complete their order. Decreasing abandonment rate should be a high priority for online store owners, since this cohort of users have demonstrated interest — and abandonment is often between 60 and 80%.

user centered design


The success of this software is different for every store, but there is no doubt that it helps pretty much 100% of ecommerce stores that use it. Some stores see as much as a 30% increase in their website conversion rates. Acting on cart abandonment by itself can take you from low to average conversion rate.

Abandoned Cart Calculator

Use this Abandoned Cart Calculator to see how much more revenue you could be making.

7. Use live chat software.

I have had mixed results with this. I believe this can increase conversions, but I would suggest that if you choose to use live chat software if you are truly available during business hours to immediately respond to customers that request a chat.

Do not let the software go into the mode that says you are currently unavailable and that they can leave a message. That sends a bad signal. It would be better to not implement at all if you can’t be there when they want to chat.

What this does though is build a direct communication line from your potential customer to you. Creating a real human connection will help build trust for this purchase as well as lifetime loyalty in the future.

Get a Live Chart Software App Now

Here’s your full list.

8. Let customers know your ecommerce store is safe.

This is subtle, but a really big deal. You need to build a certain level of trust in a short amount of time for customers to be willing to enter their credit card information on your website. Split tests have shown that trust signals can significantly increase conversion — so don’t miss out.

Finding ways to enhance your on-site trust and credibility should be the basis for many of your conversion rate optimization activities.

Customers want to know that they are dealing with a legitimate store that has industry standard security measures in place that ensures them their credit card information will be protected. Here are a few things that help:

  1. Install SSL at checkout (out-of-the-box on most ecommerce platforms) and site wide if possible.
  2. Show small images of credit cards, PayPal and other payment options as a visual signal that you use customer-trust payment options.
  3. Display some sort of McAfee, GeoTrust or other security badges, and make sure that you actually have an active account with them. Don’t just add an image if you aren’t truly secure.

SSL How You Need It

In addition to the shared SSL certificate used by all BigCommerce stores, BigCommerce also offers dedicated SSL certificates verified by GeoTrust.

9. Setup structure so visitors can easily find products.

Structure your product categories in a logical manner, but make sure you use as few levels as possible to allow a user to reach a product as fast as possible.


I simplified mine like the above. Oftentimes, it is also necessary to allow customers to Shop by Color or other various fields.

Setup a rotating banner to showcase top products. Here is an example from Trust the Bum.


Rotating image 1


Rotating image 2


Rotating image 3

Also, implement a website search to allow customers to find products easily. The faster a visitor can find a product, the more likely they are to buy from you.

10. Make your checkout form easy to understand.

Make sure that everything on your checkout form is completely understood, such as CVV and input formats. In fact, if you can, I would have the fields limit only what can be typed into certain fields to make it easier for users.

So, when a user types a credit card number, format it for them as they go along to make it easier to read and harder to mess up.

In a date field, don’t let the user type, but have a date picker or dropdown.

The user is already reluctant to enter their personal credit/debit card info already. Don’t give them any reason to feel uncomfortable or make it hard for them to check out.

Digital wallets help tremendously with this. Digital wallets are payment processors like PayPal Express, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and others. These systems allow users to sign in with their account information and then pre-populates everything for them. It is faster for them, and more secure for everyone.


Learn more about what Couture Candy and other stores are seeing from implementing Digital Wallet solutions like Amazon Pay.

11. Always show shopping cart contents.

Show a shopping cart icon with a link to get to it after the user has entered an item into the cart. If they can’t find the cart they can’t checkout.

Also, be sure to show customers what they are actually buying as they checkout. As mentioned earlier, BigCommerce’s optimized checkout does this out of the box.


Example of an out-of-the-box checkout for BigCommerce customers.

12. Let customers checkout as guests.

Allow users to checkout without signing up for an account. You will have their name and email address when they buy anyway. Forcing the user to register is just giving them another reason to leave your store.

See image above to see how that works.

13. Give detailed product descriptions.

Make sure you describe the product in great detail so the customer knows exactly what they are getting. Remember, they can’t touch the product and they are not in a store where they can ask questions. This will also prevent returns.

How to Write Product Descriptions That Grow Sales

Your step-by-step guide to 2x growth via product descriptions alone.

Even better: add a product video or demonstration.

user centered design

All of Sierra Designs’ products have videos featured on their product page showing the product off and in use.

All of this helps to build your SEO ranking as well –– so it is beneficial for your for multiple reasons.

14. Allow customers to review products.

Why do so many people buy from Amazon? Because of the reviews.

Remember the last time you went to buy a product online. Did you search for reviews before buying? I bet you did.

You could even offer customers a coupon code or other type of incentive next time they purchase as a reward for providing a review. Also, ask the customer to voice any complaints to you so you have the opportunity to address any issues as this will help you receive more positive reviews.

Generate 62% More Revenue

Product reviews and testimonials are powerful. Here’s how to use them to sell more.

15. Make your “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons prevalent.

Sometimes a user is thinking of buying and can be further prompted to do so by an actionable button that says exactly what to do and that stands out from all the other surrounding text and images. The absence of these buttons is often the result of marketers overthinking things. As long as you’re not obnoxiously hitting people over the head with CTAs, I’d worry first about losing conversion by not making these buttons easy to access. BigCommerce now offers a customizable Buy Button that you can easily add to your site to gain those conversions.

“Simply changing our CTA from black to a blue color has reduced abandoned carts by up to 50%”

Jeremy Hagon, Marketing Manager, Andreas Carter Sports

16. Provide product testimonials if applicable.

Ever heard the statement ‘Facts Tell, but Stories Sell’? Well, it’s true. Testimonials are way more powerful than just a list of features.

Prove your product works by using real testimonials. Start by offering your product for review to prominent review websites (that give honest reviews) and use this as a starting point for your testimonials.

Hint –– press reviews counts!


17. Have a great product return policy.

Most customers (over 50%) will read the return policy before buying. Don’t over-promise here, but definitely make it as painless and as easy as possible for customers to return products (within reason). This may not sound like conversion optimization, but is another example of basic business practices acting as CRO.

How to Create a Return Policy That Sells

Customer-first, but within reason. Here’s how to strike the balance.

18. Optimize for mobile devices.

Your ecommerce store needs to work on mobile devices. Hosted stores such as BigCommerce support this out of the box, but you may need to tweak how it looks and works on a mobile device for your own specific business needs.

Mobile Responsive Out-of-the-Box

Check out all of BigCommerce’s mobile responsive themes, created by Pixel Union. Or browse 15 additional mobile responsive themes over on ThemeForest.

19. Have a phone number.

You can buy a toll-free phone number for fairly cheap using services such as (which is where I bought my number for


I would also suggest having a professional record the phone menu or voicemail for you if you are a smaller store so that you can project a more professional image and make customers feel more comfortable buying from you.

You can find professional voice over freelancers on and I have personally used and recommend

20. Provide valuable content.

Write useful and valuable content to supplement your products. The more value and information you can provide your customer, the more likely they are to buy from you (as opposed to a competitor that does not offer as much).

This includes writing valuable content on your product landing pages, but also using blog content to educate, inform and engage your target audience. This will also help to increase organic SEO traffic.

Again, not traditional conversion rate optimization, but still moves the needle.

See below how Kap7 uses content about water polo drills and tips to supplement their expertise in water polo swimwear.


21. Try and catch customers before they leave.

Once a customer leaves, they are most likely going to buy from somewhere else.

While I hate pop ups as much as the next guy, but the last chance you have to catch a potential customer is the moment they are trying to exit your website.

You can use software such as MaxTraffic, OptiMonk, Sleeknote, Sumome or OptinMonster. Your goal here is to collect an email and drive your subscription base. Your subscription base (whether they are customers or not) are people you do not have to spend money on to advertise or market to –– because you can send them an email, instead. You want that list to be as large and engaged (i.e. actively opening the emails) as possible.

Email Marketing Integrations

Checkout BigCommerce’s full list of one-click email marketing integrations. Or, you can use Zapier to connect with your favorite platform.

22. Grab visitors’ attention quickly.

If you can’t grab the visitor’s attention in the first 3 seconds, then you probably have lost them.

Images will be the first thing someone sees and uses to judge a website subconsciously. Make sure if you are going to use large images on the homepage to choose carefully and try to catch the visitors attention in a positive way.

How to Use Visual Merchandising to Drive Engagement

Merchandising isn’t just for brick-and-mortars. Here’s how to merchandise your site to drive sales.

23. Use “Calls to Action” sparingly.

Don’t overwhelm a visitor with too many options and CTAs on one screen. I suggest having an ‘Add to Wishlist’, ‘Share Icons’, ‘Add to Cart’, ‘Learn More’, etc all in the same area on the same page.


Drive the user to the call-to-action that you want them to perform on that page. If they are on a product page, then use ‘Add to Cart’. If they are on the Cart page use: ‘Proceed to Checkout’.

Ecommerce CTAs

See how dozens of other stores use CTAs to earn more revenue with each visit.

24. Use a tripwire offer.

A tripwire is a low-cost almost undeniable deal to get a visitor to purchase from you.

This does two things:

  1. First, it allows you to “get the money flowing” as perfected by American Pickers. This builds trust.
  2. The second thing is does is allow you to offer a higher priced / upsell to the current customer. You can now approach them as a customer and treat them as such. Give them special treatment and offer them something they cannot get as a normal visitor. This is just a longer process of building trust. You can also use this as a way to grow your ecommerce email list, which allows you to sell to the list at any time even if you don’t try and sell them something immediately.

The Badass Beard Care team was done this perfectly. They offer a free sample of the product in an ad on Facebook. The customer only pays for shipping. This gets the product in the customer’s hand, and gets that customer’s information to the marketing gurus at Badass Beard Care.

conversion-rate-optimization-free-sample copy

25. Do small incremental changes.

When tweaking your website, be sure to do small changes so you can test and measure what changes helped or hurt your conversion rates.

26. Dare to be different.

Explain why a visitor should buy from you. What makes you different from all the others selling the same products. What is your Unique Value Proposition. Why would I buy from you?

The Complete Guide to Writing Copy That Sells

Be funny. Be smart. Be you! Otherwise –– why should someone shop with you over anyone else?

27. Spell check.

Yes, you read that right. Make sure you spell everything correctly. Not doing this may hurt your sales as people will lose confidence and trust in your company.

28. Measure your ecommerce conversion rate optimization success.

There are a couple of ways to make sure your tweaks and changes are working. The obvious one is to verify that your conversion rates are increasing.


BigCommerce tracks your store’s conversion rates day-over-day, week-over-week, month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, year-over-year and in any customizable way you want to see it. You can view it easily on your dashboard, or on the Analytics Dashboard.

There is more than just increasing conversions, though, as you want to make sure your value per customer or bottom line is increasing as well.

It’s more important to know what you are going to do with the traffic you receive than to just try and always get more traffic. Make the most of what you already have and then push for more traffic.

What to Do With Your New Customers:

The conversion optimization game doesn’t end when you make a first sale. It doesn’t end when your make your 100th sale either. It’s great that you now have customers, but now is the time you go from that 2% conversion rate to something much higher.

Small tweaks can seriously boost your bottom line, and while your front-end conversion rate is now optimized for 2% conversion, and getting you customers, it’s time to optimize your back-end conversion rate. This means you’ll now want to focus on driving repeat purchases in a predictable way.

Why predictable? Because once you have a baseline average conversion rate for your site and a steady repeat purchase rate from already existing customers –– you can better determine how much to spend on advertising to win a customer over. This is because your ROAS (return on ad spend) lowers as repeat purchases increase.

Ecommerce expert Bryan Bowman calls this the “Value Ladder.”

At this year’s PROSPER Show in Las Vegas, he gave a fantastic presentation about how to build a value ladder, beginning with free educational content (i.e. your blog) and moving people up the awareness ladder to increased sales with your brand. Here is how he drew it out.

Literally, he hand drew it.

beginners guide to conversion rate optimization

Here are the steps he described –– paraphrased here –– to build a value ladder.

The free stage:

Potential customers begin at an unaware stage. They don’t know they are looking for your product. You must educate them –– in a non-salesy way. If you are selling fishing lures, for instance, start with content about, “Seven Reason Why Your Last Fishing Trip Wasn’t Successful.” Maybe only one of those reasons is fishing lures.

At this stage, work to capture emails via pop ups as described below, or retarget visitors with ads to pull them back to the site. They are now aware they might have a fishing lure problem.

The $ Stage:

In this first conversion stage (if you are measuring conversions as a sale), a customer may only be comfortable enough with your brand to buy something small. Offer an inexpensive lure that can help solve their problem as a tester. This is similar to the Badass Beard Care “free product” offer mentioned earlier.

At this point, you will have the customer’s email and can begin using an email nurture stream, rather than additional advertising dollars to continue them up the value ladder.

The $$ Stage:

Now, they have tried your lure and like it. Offer them a subscription service to multiple lures, or monthly lures. Or, offer them a bundle. Either way, you are moving them up the value ladder.

The $$$ Stage:

Often, each stage will require a new “awareness” problem. For instance, say you now want to sell someone a tackle box for all their new lures. First, you have to educate them on why their current tackle box isn’t fitting the bill.

In this way, the value ladder often starts over. The difference, however, is that you already have the customer’s business and email address. You don’t need to re-advertise to them. You just need to keep them engaged with your brand and content via email nurture streams –– and lead them down a new, higher cost funnel.

The $$$$+ Stages:

At this point, your ecommerce business is more mature and it may make sense to partner with other brands to offer fishing trips (for example) to your audience and move them even further up both the value and engagement ladder. This is where your big ticket item purchases will occur –– after someone has purchased with you and trusts your brand.

Additional Metrics to Help Measure Ecommerce Conversions:

Beyond how well your store converts there are a few other metrics that matter when discussing conversion. That’s because they are indicative of engaged or disengaged user behavior. Moving these metric sin the right direction will generally help your overall store conversion rate.

  • Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who leave after viewing a single page. A high bounce rate is not a good thing – for some reason (or reasons), people aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your store, so they are leaving immediately after landing on your site.
  • Exit Rate, often confused with bounce rate, is the percentage of people who leave after viewing the page. Your exit rate lets you know the last page that users view before they move on. A very high exit rate on a specific page can be a red flag — this is one metric you can look to drive down with landing page optimization.
  • Click through rate: The number of people who click a link to your website from an ad or email. Optimization for AdWords or email marketing campaigns often focuses on getting more users to click through to your website and take an action — or even engage on social media.

You can find these metrics in your Google Analytics account under “Behavior > Overview”

  • Average Session Duration is an engagement metric that gives you a general idea of how long people are sticking around your site. A high bounce rate means a low average time on site — visitors aren’t sticking around long enough to do whatever it is you want them to do (convert).
  • Average Page Depth (AKA Pages per Session in Google Analytics) is an engagement metric that tells you how many pages a potential shopper visited before leaving. This metric is simply total pageviews per session duration. Note that more page views can mean more engagement but also can mean a lack of clarity in your conversion funnel if no conversion is present.

You can find these metrics in your Google Analytics account under “Audience > Overview”.

Final Word

The value ladder isn’t perfect for everyone, but it does do a great job at explaining why it is important for you to think through what you will do with your customer once you get them in. Driving repeat business is extremely valuable, both in terms of revenue as well as brand engagement and interaction. It is how you actually build a brand –– not just a flash sale site.

But, before you can begin on the value ladder, it is important that you first make sure your website is converting at a baseline level of 1-2%. The 28 steps mention in here will help you to accomplish that and not waste precious advertising dollars.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments below!

Want more insights like this?

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The Content Strategy to Triple Ecommerce Traffic (And Exactly How to Do It) Fri, 03 Mar 2017 15:00:49 +0000 Let’s talk about ecommerce content marketing and it’s importance. So many online store owners and marketers ignore the power of…]]>

Let’s talk about ecommerce content marketing and it’s importance.

So many online store owners and marketers ignore the power of content marketing. But, every other traffic-driving activity you do will work even better for you (that means lower cost of acquisition) if you have a good content marketing strategy and execution.

I could dive in and tell you all about PPC (which I will) or how to optimize your site for search (which we will talk a bit about), but neither of those activities will get you a 10x boost in traffic without content marketing.

What is Content Marketing?

In general, content marketing is creating content and sharing it to targeted audiences to generate more leads, solidify branding and drive more customers to your website. It’s a form of inbound marketing, where you provide information that online users are looking for.

Let’s briefly talk about developing a content marketing strategy and how this will take your marketing efforts to the next level.

What Should You Write About?

For an overall content marketing strategy, you can utilize methods such as creating videos and ebooks, setting up PPC campaigns and writing blog posts to maximize audience reach.

In order to maximize traffic, you will want to build an authority website. You can do this by writing relevant, fresh content. Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a content marketing evaluation for your existing blogs, there’s a gameplan for you.

Let’s get right into how to do this step-by-step, with content marketing tips that will get you started on the path to free traffic.

1.Use Google to Research Content About Your Niche or Selling Vertical

First, go to Google and type in something along these lines:

  • news about “your niche”
  • top stories “your niche”
  • press release “your niche”

This will bring up the latest news and press releases about “your niche.”

Learn more about the parameters of niches in this article on vertical markets.

2. Determine Niche-Specific Content Gaps on Which You Can Earn Backlinks

If you are looking to get more traffic, then you will want to get as many backlinks as possible. More importantly, you want obtain backlinks from powerful blogs and influencers in your niche.

This is the secret weapon to making ecommerce content marketing work for your business.

If you want to get a high amount of traffic to your blog or website, then try creating posts with tons of valuable content in long-form posts instead of creating a lot of smaller posts. The reason is that people will be more inclined to share a long, valuable post rather than small posts that only give small amounts of information at a time. I learned this strategy from Brian Dean at A master at getting high value backlinks the right way.

That Google search you did is incredibly important. Look at what Google suggests at the bottom of the page based on your search. This gives you a clue to how Google categorizes content for this search.

Here is an example for a search on “news about selling futons online.”



Looking at other search queries related to that, someone selling futons should write content that targets these key phrases. If I were you, I’d start by answering “What is a futon” and building out a long form piece that helps to educate a customer on what it is, the differences and benefits, and how to find the right one for them to buy.

3. Use Google to Find Your Most Compelling (and Challenging) Competitors

Now, look up competitors by typing in search terms related your niche in Google. Let’s say I am looking up “futons.” This brings up a list of competitor websites. I try and choose one that looks like it is most relevant or similar to my own site.


In this case I would probably choose as a competitor to analyze.

4. Use Buzzsumo to Analyze Your Competitor’s Site and Content

Next, go to

Enter the competitor website and click search. This will show you the most recent content created by that competitor as well as what social media platforms their content has been shared on the most.

Here is an example search:

content marketing team

You can see the most recent content written and what social media platforms their content was shared on. This is just an example to show how you would find popular content in your niche to write about.

Your next goal is to write a piece of content on that topic that is 10x better than what you competitor did, and then share that with the right audience to earn it the distribution you know (thanks to Buzzsumo) it can get. Without producing seriously standout posts and guides, your ecommerce content marketing efforts will likely be in vain.

Social Media Marketing: How Should You Share Your Content?

Now that you have your content down, it’s time to start sharing it with your target audience.

Start out by determining where your target audience spends most of their time.

Social Media Marketing is just one facet of your overall ecommerce strategy but it’s a very important one. You might want to learn about the demographics of each social media platform so you can decide which one to target for your marketing strategy.

  • Instagram is very visual social media place. If you have a product that has lots of great images then this may a place to show off your product.
  • If most of your product is informational and text driven then you might want to use Twitter as this will allow you to give a short description of what you just wrote about on your blog or website and point users to it. It is a better way of letting your users know there is new content and a short description of what is it about without sending out an email every time.
  • Even though I would say this is an “older” social media platform I still wouldn’t count them out as they are continuously innovating. You will probably have a very loyal fanbase on Facebook. Also, if you are looking to get real time feedback or do real time teaching then you may want to consider Facebook Live as they handle all of the technical aspects of running a live video session.
  • This is another social media platform that is heavily focused on visual appeal and images. The benefit is others can tag your product or website images that will then show on their wall and automatically create an underlying link that points to your specific product page.
  • If you are wanting to target business minded individuals then I would absolutely suggest
  • If you can create videos then YouTube is a great way to share your content. Videos are engaging and generally have higher conversion rates when building your audience and email list.

You’ll want to build up a community on the platforms that are most relevant to you. That means you need to post frequently and keep your audience up to date. And there are a variety of ways to do this.

One great way in the current age of Facebook is by creating private or invite-only groups. I know –– this goes against all basic reasoning (i.e. less people will see your stuff). But this strategy is working incredibly well for multiple people, including The Hustle, A Better Lemonade Stand and AMZ Profit Pros.

These groups allow increased engagement from your audience. Check out how the founder of The Hustle engages with active community members to get feedback for his product on the cheap (and drives up loyalty, too!).

content marketing tips

With 35 interactions on that post (including mostly comments!), they earned a 2.5% engagement rate based on the audience size. On Facebook, an average engagement rate for a business post is 0.5%-0.99%.

Additional Resources for Advertising on Facebook

Guest Blogging: How to Get More Backlinks for Your Content

Guest posting on blogs or similar websites is a great way to get more traffic. Let’s use my website as an example.

You would go to Google and type in “futons,” “futons for sale” or “cheap futons.”

If you want to narrow your search down to articles or blogs writing about your niche, then just add that to your search such as: “futons blog.”

Once you find blogs with similar content, you can ask if they accept guest posts. If so you can write a great article on their website and get a link back to your website in return.

Search for blogs that write about your niche. Links from websites that relate to yours will help you more in Google than a link from a random website that does not relate to your business. Targeted referral traffic is very valuable as well and should not be overlooked.

Here are some major, heavy hitting websites where you may try to become a guest post contributor. You may or may not be accepted, but if you are then you will create a great place to share content and have a link back to your website. Make sure you have quality articles to submit before you try these:

  1. Become an Contributor
  2. Apply to Be regular Content Contributor. You can contribute on Forbes opinion page. Just submit your completed article here:
  3. Have a one time post idea submit to: Contribute regularly as a columnist. You can find out more and submit a request to this email:
  4. Submit a well thought out article to contribute here for consideration: If you want to learn more before you submit an article for consideration you may want to read what they say about becoming a contributor here: Contribute to Business Insider
  5. This will tell you how to submit to FastCompany: Submission Requirements. After you are satisfied with an article that you think will fit well on then you can go ahead and submit it to: Editor – Rich Bellis at

This website lists out even more places to guest post that may not be as hard to get in.

PPC Campaigns: How Should You Advertise Your Content?

You can use PPC to get immediate traffic, but just make sure you have a plan for what you will do with the traffic.

Are you trying to get sales? Build up your email list? Solidify your brand in the marketplace?

Your goal will determine how you setup your campaign and how long you run it. Usually this is more of a long-term investment than merely an immediate revenue-generating strategy. You can also use PPC to help determine what content to target in the long term based on testing and results.

For ecommerce sites in particular, use PPC to test and tweak your product conversion rates.

The way things are placed on the page, the content, the product descriptions, the about us page, the shipping info and return policy, whether you have a phone number on the top of your website and safe website symbols such as SSL and BBB images, etc. All of these things can help or hurt your conversion rates.

This could be the difference between making side money and making unbelievable, work from the beach money.

Let’s say you get 100 visitors to your ecommerce store daily. Just using this number to make the math easy. Typical ecommerce conversion rates range from 1% – 3%. So, if you are like most average ecommerce stores, you will make 1 sale per 100 visitors. If you could get 2 more sales then you have just increased your sales to 3%.

Small changes can make a huge impact on your bottom line. Using PPC to get more immediate traffic is a no-brainer, but working on conversion rates is just as if not more important than getting a few sales.

Increase Your Revenue 220%

Focusing on customer conversion and lifetime loyalty can increase your revenue 220% in less than a year.

You should also use PPC to determine what content converts the best so that you can determine which keyword phrases to target for the long term.

You don’t want to build out a content marketing strategy and write random articles that do nothing for your sales or that help you reach your goals.

You can find out fairly quickly what content users want through PPC by monitoring not just clicks or traffic, but actual conversion. From there, you can determine which content you should invest more time and money into creating.

Which PPC Platform Should You Use?

When trying to decide which PPC advertising platform to use, remember there are specific users and mindsets you are targeting with each.

For example, let’s briefly compare Facebook Ads to Google Adwords in terms of its audience.

Imagine you are searching for a futon. You go to google and type in “futons for sale” or some keyword phrase.

Google Ads (Adwords) show up on the top and side of the search results. The user is searching for a specific product and the Adwords ads that show up relate to exactly what the user is proactively looking for.

Now let’s go to Facebook. Suzy Que is checking out her latest friend feeds when an ad appears on the right that says “Need a cozy Futon?” Suzy was not even looking to buy something, or even thinking of shopping, much less buying a futon.

These are just a couple of the slight differences in why you would choose one PPC advertising platform over another. They each have strengths and weaknesses depending on what you are trying to promote.

Become an Expert: How Should You Drive Sustained Traffic to Your Content?

Another way to get more traffic to your website is by becoming an expert. People will look to you to provide valuable content and may ask you to contribute to high ranking blogs –– which gets you those valuable backlinks you need to land on page 1 of Google search.

A couple of cool ways I have found to do this is to answer questions for users (and don’t try and sell something to them). Give away value and people will want to eventually pay for your expertise.

Here are a few ways to start.

1. Answer questions on

Just sign up for a free account and begin answering questions related to your business. I would suggest not trying to sell unless it is very relevant to the question they are asking. Doing this increased my traffic by 200%.

2. Respond to subcategories

Again, just try and offer value. If you try and sell or self-promote on Reddit you will be banned (or ghosted), so this is more of a long-term strategy.

3. Comment on relevant blog posts and videos

If you have something of value to add then leave a comment on a blog post or YouTube video. This will help get your name and brand out there.

4. Seek out related podcasts

Once you have a little traction for your website and/or niche, then you may want to reach out to related podcasts that do interviews.

They are always looking for podcast content. This will help increase your audience and credibility.

If you have enough valuable content to offer, then you may consider starting your own podcast but there is a huge time commitment so make sure that is a path you want to take.

Ecommerce Podcasts Worth Your Ear

5. Create a video teaching series

Create a video teaching course and put it on, Vimeo, etc.

You don’t have to give away everything in this series, but definitely give away enough value to make it worth it for someone to watch and want to learn more.

You can also offer this course on places such as,, and more depending on the content.

6. Create Valuable Assets for Others

Here are a couple ways to create value through content for your targeted audience.

1. Create an infographic.

Create an infographic about how to “fix a futon cover step-by-step” that will help others in your niche. Let’s say you are showing customers how to fix their futon cover. If the graphic is good enough you may get links back to your website by others using this infographic to add value to their audience.

2. Do market related studies.

Search for recently posted blogs and news articles about your niche and offer up related polls and surveys. You can hire people from, and Mechanical Turk to do these polls and surveys for you.

You help them by adding relevant, real-time user feedback and you get a link back to your website and content in return. I learned this from Dmitry Dragilev of JustReachOut is a great tool to find content and journalists related to your website (check out his How To Pitch Press Guide for more tips on email outreach).

We Have Traffic, What Now?

Now that we have gone through a few ways to drive traffic to your website let’s talk briefly about what to do with them once they are there to bring them back and offer enough value for visitors to share your content with others.

I could go through an entire series about what to do with traffic once they have found your site, but I want to focus mainly on ways to increase traffic through user interaction.

1. Make your content easy to share

First of all, if you have a blog or section of your website where you are writing valuable content, make it easy to share. If you are using WordPress, then this is incredibly easy. You can add social sharing buttons using a WordPress plugin.

Two I would suggest are:

  1. Ultimate Social Media
  2. AddToAny

How BPI Sports Blends WordPress and BigCommerce

BPI Sports sees 207% increase in revenue.

If you are not using wordpress then there are tons of free widgets. Here are some I would suggest if you are not using wordpress:

  1. addthis

2. Setup a webinar

If you are comfortable teaching and interacting with people, then you might consider setting up an interactive webinar.

The beauty of this is that you can record it and offer it at any time for users to view later. I would suggest using something like WebinarJam for this as it is incredibly simple to use.

Ask those that visit your website to sign up for the webinar and to share the webinar with their social media accounts. You can offer an incentive to those sharing if you would like to gain more viewers.

3. Create a useful related software tool

Now I know this may scare some people off when reading about setting up a software tool. There are plenty of freelancers that would enjoy helping you build a software tool for your website and will do it for reasonable prices.

You can check,, etc to find a development expert.

Having return visitors to your website is just as important as getting them there the first time.

Here is an example of a simple tool. It is a google rank checker. If you are teaching others about SEO and internet marketing it may be useful for them to check their website rankings from your website based on particular keywords.

If you are in the real estate, mortgage or banking industry you may consider having some sort of calculator written that will help users determine the amount of home they can afford or how much they will pay based on total home cost plus amortized loan payments over time.

BPI Sports, an ecommerce site, has even set up a quiz to help users build their own customized plan. This is an example of another tool.

BigCommerce does this as well. You can check out the Total Cost of Ownership Calculator or Abandoned Cart Calculator, for instance.

These are obviously just examples but you can create a useful tool for your audience that will keep them coming back to your site as well as give them an incentive to tell others about it.

Final Word on Content Marketing

Getting more traffic to your site is only the first step in growing your business. Once you have them there, you want to engage those users, build brand loyalty and trust and make sure that that traffic comes back again –– this time without you having to pull them in via an ad.

This is why a content strategy is so helpful. You can use content in ads to pull customers in, then engage them in that content to prove your expertise which will earn you trust for the long term.

You aren’t going to convert every single visitor to a sale the very first time they land on your site. With the average ecommerce conversion rate being 1-3%, you need another way to capture interest and grow brand awareness. Your content marketing strategy is one way to do it.

And once you have your strategy in place, you need a team to execute — but that’s a lesson for another day.

Just be sure you have an email capture form, too, for anyone who doesn’t want to buy, but does want to hear from you more often.

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