For online merchants, no value has more significance than the conversion rate. Whether you’re sitting down with colleagues or investors, negotiating with service providers, or attending a conference or expo, this magical percentage is a currency all on its own. It is, in other words, one of the basics of e-commerce. Yet merchants continue to unwittingly suffer losses in sales because they fail to take certain factors into consideration. What are the leading conversion killers in e-commerce? That is the question Stefan Grieben, COO of novomind AG, addressed during a conference at this year’s dmexco. It was a discussion, of course, that we could not afford to miss. We’ve outlined the most important points of his speech for you below.

Performance

With performance we mean load times, or the first possible obstacle between the user and your brand’s web content. Although it is recommended that a webpage take no longer than 2-3 seconds to load, in practice it has been shown that after just X.X seconds customers give up and click on the “back” button. They simply assume the page is unavailable, or that there is a problem with the browser. Short load times are therefore vital for keeping potential customers on your website.

Another thing to consider is UX Design: performance is also measured by how much relevant information a customer can see in a certain amount of time. But beware: overly embellished, unstructured, and cluttered webpages tend to have a negative effect on conversion rates.

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Personalization

One of the objections Stefan Grieben often hears from online merchants is that customers ought to be able to see everything they have on offer. Certainly, you will not want to withhold content from customers. But imagine you have a prospect in search of a bathrobe who has to browse through 50 pages of men’s shirts just to get to the desired section. The chances she will find (and then purchase) what she is looking for drop dramatically. Here, the key to success lies in the intelligent use of data: the goal should still be to provide the customer with a wide selection of products, but such a selection should also be easy to maneuver.

Responsiveness

By the year 2021, it is expected that 50% of all e-commerce transactions will take place via mobile devices. Some studies find similar figures to already be applicable today. Nevertheless, online merchants continue to design their online stores primarily for desktops. And while the “mobile first” slogan on everyone’s lips just 2-3 years ago has surely lost some of its meaning, one thing is clear: those who think customers are OK with having to constantly rotate, zoom, and slide their smartphones just to click on an item are likely to see these customers shop elsewhere.

Customer service

For customer service to be effective, it must be easily accessible. That means it should be available via several different channels, and if possible, around the clock. Online forms and contact email addresses work well, but personal contact by phone, live chat, or video is even better. If round-the-clock availability is more than you can handle, you should by all means ensure the best possible access in each of your sales territories: if your customer service department can only be reached by dialing an international number, and is located in a different time zone than that of your customer, then you can expect a meager conversion rate.

SEO

Positioning oneself around the right keywords is the basis for any flourishing online business. But SEO is not just achieved by the savvy placement of meta descriptions and backlinks. An often underestimated criterion is the reliability of available URLs. John Muller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, points out that 301 redirects, for example, are only practical if the content at the new address is the same as that which was found at the previous URL.

Over time, or during a relaunch of your website (which can also include updates to certain content and text), it is easy for redirects to pile up. Google sees these redirects as errors and consequently lowers the ranking of your site.

A/B tests

Those looking to sell as much as possible will not only seek to reach the maximum number of consumers, but also to get through to the right consumers with the right message. A/B tests, live or pre-recorded, are a good way to provide potential customers with targeted content, and thereby effectively increase your conversion rate. However, unless these tests are conducted properly, they will have the opposite effect: if the reference groups examined are too small, you will obtain biased results and come to erroneous conclusions. Your results must be checked to ensure they are statistically significant in relation to the number of visitors and amount of conversions.

Poor product data

A final key factor when considering conversion rates involves complete and comprehensible product data. For international websites, it’s especially vital that translations be accurate and tailored to the respective country. But that’s not all: language-independent factors such as the thoroughness of technical information also play a role. Let’s take the case of a potential customer who wants to buy a brochure binding device, but is unable to find information on how many pages of a certain format can be bound. Such a customer, if unsure, will go for another product, one likely being offered by one of your competitors.

Conclusion

If you wish to optimize your conversion rate, you’ll need more than just attractive prices and enticing pictures. On the one hand, you’ll have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and make the user experience as smooth and dependable as possible. On the other hand, while doing the above, you’ll want to keep an eye on how these same criteria are evaluated by the main search engines, and avoid corresponding SEO and conversion killers.

Looking for information on how to create international product data to optimize your conversion rate? Check out our guide for some useful tips:

Learn how to internationalize your product information thanks to our guide

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