Part 1: Introduction and Principles
Why This Could Be the Most Important Ecommerce Guide You Ever Read
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”Peter Drucker, the man who invented modern management
A large mining corporation in the early 1900s sent engineers to a rural area. The mining engineers from their mineral discovery work believed the soils to be littered with gold. The mining company setup shop to tap the riches below. 6 months later and 100 meters into the Earth, they found nothing. The company could not fund further exploration in the region with opportunities elsewhere so they departed.
A couple came along that year to buy the property. They heard what happened with the mining company then proceeded to get out their rusty shovel, sifting pan, and explore the grounds where the company dug. One foot in, the couple found a three pound nugget gold. Then another. And another.
I am sick of seeing good ecommerce entrepreneurs who have worked their butts off doing a lot right to get sales, but they miss 20% of tasks that lead to 80% of results. You pour copious time into your products, thousands of dollars into a nice looking store, and hundreds of sleepless nights to get traffic, only to be left with sub-par sales (or none!). Unbeknown to you, you could be one foot from sales you dreamed about. Here is one example.
The Goliath Product that Broke an Online Store
A store owner had no idea why people didn’t buy one product. It was a beautiful garden statue handcrafted by indigenous people of the land who used ancient stonework. Nothing like it was available anywhere.
The statue’s product page had great photos, video, a clear call-to-action, and an interesting product description. It only cost a few dollars more than the ugly mass-produced statues from competitors. It was built to get sales. A lot of people were seeing it yet none bought. Zilch.
The store owner decided to buy the statue herself after her frustration with sales. She added the product to her cart then proceeded to the checkout. She typed her address details to order.
And there it beamed into her eyes. She was like a deer caught in headlights.
The shipping cost was over one thousand dollars! No sane person forks out a few hundred dollars on a statue to pay triple for shipping.
How to Maximize Your Store’s Conversion Potential
“During an interview at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, a reporter asked him
what he thought was man’s greatest invention. Einstein paused but a moment and replied, ‘Compound interest.'”Bank Performance Annual in 1978
This could be the most important ecommerce guide you will ever read. It is a complete step-by-step guide to get visitors buying – and to buy more over their lifetime – from your Shopify store.
Your store’s ability to efficiently turn a visitor into a sale is the difference between a wildly successful store and one that bleeds on tight 20% margins. I refer to the number of store visitors who turn into customers as your conversion rate.
The most common conversion rate is 1-2%. The metric itself is often flawed because stores have bad analytics that track spam bots, employee page-views, and factor in other behaviors like blog posts. If you write a blog post for your store that gets read a lot, your “conversion rate” will melt! (I will show you later how to correct this.)
One puzzle piece could make all the difference for your store to turn 30% more visitors into buyers. Throughout this guide you will learn what many stores have done to achieve incredible sales. Some even doubled sales from one small alteration. Drastic changes are not always possible but nor are they always necessary. As you improve bit-by-bit working through this guide, these small improvements add up, until soon enough twice the people purchase from you.
An increase in conversions lets you instantly pocket more money. You can spend more on advertising, out-bid your competitors in AdWords to drive extra clicks, and invest elsewhere for growth to extend your advantage. You feed the additional revenue created out of “thin air” into further traffic acquisition for added sales. A conversion rate improvement creates waves for years.
How many times do you need to fold a standard piece of paper to make it reach the moon? One thousands times? One million? Scientists calculate forty-two times. People are poor at comprehending compounded numbers.
A 20% increase in product views, 15% boost in add-to-carts, and another 15% jump from order completion is not a one-off boost of 50%. The lifetime sales from your store increase at least by 63% because more people reach the next step to order. If you do $50k a month, that’s now $81.5k. What do you do with the profit from the $31.5k? You reinvest for more sales. The power of compound! An investment in conversion rate optimization (CRO) is one of the wisest decisions you can make to increase your sales.
No one knows the exact conversion rate your store can reach. Rather than obsessing over your rate, your goal is to improve revenue per visitor month after month. I also want you to think about check-marking your store for the six critical areas of conversion optimization:
- Positioning. Get your positioning right and the rest flows to create a greasy chute that nabs sale after sale. I’m horrified at how no other conversion guide or book discusses this lifeline of ecommerce success.
- Design. A beautiful store is not one that gets you sales. Amazon is ugly yet functionally brilliant. The crux of good ecommerce design is revenue. Discover the design principles any store can use to jack-up sales.
- Technical. If your visitors cannot convert, they cannot convert. Learn the tactics without being a coder yourself to speed up your store, spot mobile device issues within one minute on thousands of phones, hunt down broken links, and bandage other problems that stop sales.
- Product. Get simple tactics to improve your products and make them desirable. Also understand the anatomy of a high-converting product page that make your products sell like hotcakes.
- Pricing. Price strategies are the quickest, most-guaranteed method to affect your profit overnight. Mathematically maximize your profit with simple price strategies.
- Checkout. At last, fix the problems your store has with cart abandonment, get customers to buy more, and help your fans build your business for you.
It is the exact formula I use to rocket my client’s sales. I created this ultimate guide to boost your Shopify ecommerce conversion rate because I’ve seen profit growth that has brought tears to the eyes of store owners. 100% jumps are not rare.
How to Use this Guide to Make and Not Break Your Store
“I discourage passive skepticism, which is the armchair variety where people sit back and criticize without ever subjecting their theories or themselves to real field testing.”Tim Ferriss, “The Human Guinea Pig” and author of The 4 Hour Workweek
The ideal scientific approach to research and conversion improvement is to compare a variation against the original known as “the control”. This is known as a split-test where 50% of people use the new version while 50% use the control. You discover the version that results in the most sales then have the best performer become the control in a King-of-the-Hill-style battle. You can rinse and repeat an infinite number of variables and variations.
I recommend a tool called Visual Website Optimizer to test in Shopify. It’s a popular tool in the conversion industry, simple to navigate, and quick to implement in Shopify. Convert Experiments is another great tool and the best at tracking revenue for stores who use the checkout.shopify.com domain. Optimizely is poor unless you are on Shopify Plus.
Conversion bloggers always say to test, but it’s often a cop-out for miss-understanding the conversion principles and is unrealistic. It will take you years to test the conversion tips in this guide. Markets and technology change and you want the best chance of results now.
You cannot test everything taught. If your store gets 400 transactions per month, 1 test with a single variation may take 1 whole month to get a conclusive result! Low transaction stores should make educated changes then invest money into driving traffic.
I recommend you reach 200-300 transactions per variation with a statistical significance of 95% for the most time-efficient accuracy. This means there is a 5% chance the improvement is not due to the actual variation and is the scientific standard for most research.
All optimizers need to make educated assumptions. Ask yourself these three questions to decide what to test:
1. Could it negatively impact sales? Hard to judge without a lot of conversion experience. Most things can, but technical improvements rarely do. Everyone wants a store to load faster. Speed up your store then test something else.
2. How far off the mark are you currently with what is suggested? If you’ve given your “about page” no thought, the updated version based on what’s worked for others is more likely to aid than hurt.
3. Is this likely to have the biggest impact on sales? You can form a hypothesis of impact from experience, surveys, usability research, and data analysis all revealed in this conversion guide. A conversion expert is valuable to hire because he or she can identify what is likely to impact sales then craft an effective improvement. Changes to unavoidable touch-points like site design, the home page or the checkout are best tested.
Read the guide from beginning-to-end because the lessons build on each other. While you can apply the collection of conversion-jolting ideas, case studies, and hacks in any order, you want to implement what will generate the biggest profit. Start at the checkout to capture easy wins that impact revenue then proceed to positioning where you unlock your biggest jump potential. Get your positioning right and the rest flows to create a greasy customer chute that gets visitors to the finish line.
You test because you will encounter a change that for whatever reason, decreases sales for you. Be satisfied you found a way to not do something and you did not permanently implement the change.
“Testing leads to failure, and failure leads to understanding.”Elbert Leander “Burt” Rutan, aerospace engineer
Let’s begin your optimization by learning how to make a visitor buy from you instead of a competitor or online giant:
About the Author
I help Shopify stores rapidly get more visitors and profit. At 6’9″, yes, I play basketball! If you liked the guide and want help to increase your sales, see my conversion optimization service for Shopify.