Part 1: 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 father of 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 set up shop to tap the riches beneath. 6 months later and 100 metres into the Earth, no gold was mined. 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 so they got out their rusty shovel and sifting pan then explored the grounds where the company dug. One foot in, the couple found a three-pound nugget of gold. Then another. And another.
98% of people who visit your store, give up on buying from you. Some people get seconds away from submitting their payment information then stop. Each person has a reason for pressing back on the browser, closing the tab, or putting down their phone that causes them to not spend money. You need to find out why then create change. That is the essence of Shopify Conversion Rate Optimization.
Good entrepreneurs work their butts off doing a lot right to get sales, but they miss 20% of tasks that lead to 80% of results. Unbeknownst to you, you could be one-foot from sales you dreamed about.
The Goliath Product that Broke an Online Store
A store owner had 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 cost $200, a few dollars more than ugly mass-produced statues from competitors. In other words, it was built to get sales. A lot of people were seeing it yet none bought. Zilch.
A friend was visiting the store owner one day as they talked about decorating the friend’s garden. The store owner grabbed a phone, showed the friend the statue, and she fell in love with it.
She went to buy the statue right away. She added the product to her cart then went to checkout. She typed her address details to order.
“Is it possible for me to pick this up from somewhere?” asked the friend. “Why?” said the owner.
The friend showed the checkout page on her phone. The owner’s eyes grew wider with lips pulling apart. The shipping cost for the $200 product was accidentally over $1000.
How to Maximise 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
How many times do you need to fold a standard piece of paper to make it reach the moon? One thousand times? One million? Scientists calculate forty-two times. People are poor at comprehending compounded numbers.
Compounding is the reason this could be the most important ecommerce guide you ever read. It is a complete step-by-step guide to get more visitors buying and buying more, from your Shopify store. I created it to boost your Shopify ecommerce conversion rate because I’ve seen profit growth that has brought tears to the eyes of store owners.
Your store’s ability to efficiently turn a visitor into a sale is the difference between a wildly successful store and one that bleeds profit on advertising because enough people don’t buy enough.
The number of store visitors who turn into customers is your conversion rate. The most common conversion rate is 1-2%. The metric is often flawed because stores have bad analytics that track spam bots, include employee page-views, and factor in other behaviours like blog posts. If you write a blog post for the store that gets read a lot, its “conversion rate” will melt from the high pageviews on the blog. (I will show you later how to correct this.)
No one knows the exact conversion rate your store can reach. One conversion hole patched up can turn 30% more visitors into buyers. Some businesses even double sales from one alteration.
Rather than obsessing over your rate, your goal is to make an element more effective for whatever purpose it was created for.
The best default CRO goal in Shopify is to increase revenue per visitor since most ecommerce elements exist to sell products. Measuring revenue per visitor rewards changes that result in more people buying and people buying more.
However, there are micro-purposes. FAQ pages exist for customer support so you’d optimise such a page by reducing the number of inbound enquiries for support. The performance of a store’s search function can be measured by the number of pages viewed and search queries performed so you’d optimise it by getting people what they want faster.
Drastic changes are not always possible, nor are they necessary. As you improve bit-by-bit working through this guide, small improvements add up, until soon enough, twice the people purchase from you. The more profit you get per visitor, the bigger your advantage over competitors. Throughout this guide are changes rooted in real results to achieve incredible sales.
It’s easy to under-estimate small wins. One 20% increase in product views, 15% boost in add-to-carts, and 15% jump from order completion is not a boost of 50%. Sales increase by 63% because more people reach the next step to order. A store doing $50k in sales a month with these three improvements grew to $81.5k a month.
What do you do with the profit from $31.5k? An increase in conversions lets you instantly pocket more money. You could out-bid competitors in paid channels to drive more traffic, invest in product development that sets your business apart from others, or hire people who can do what you don’t want to spend time on. Profit is created out of thin air that spirals into growth. That’s the power of compound. A conversion rate improvement creates waves for years.
You achieve small wins by ticking off six critical areas of conversion optimization that make up the rest of this book. This is the formula the Digital Darts team uses to boost a client’s sales:
Shopify Conversion Rate Optimization Outline
Why this could be the most important ecommerce guide you ever read. Unlock the principles to turn casual visitors into raving fans while saving you time and money from wasted tests.
Position right and the rest of marketing 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.
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.
If your visitors cannot buy, you’ll never make a dollar. Learn the tactics without being a coder 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 screech sales to a stop.
Your offer matters. Elevate your product game with proven ways to make your products irresistible and master the art of creating high-converting product pages.
Price strategies are the quickest, most-guaranteed method to affect profit overnight. Mathematically maximise profit with simple price strategies.
At last, fix the problems your store has with cart abandonment, get customers to buy more, and help your fans build the business for you.
Insider Secrets to Save Time and Money By Optimising for Conversions
I discourage passive scepticism, which is the armchair variety where people sit back and criticise without ever subjecting their theories or themselves to real field testing.Tim Ferriss, “The Human Guinea Pig” and author of The 4 Hour Workweek
A/B Split-Testing or Multivariate Testing
The scientific approach to research and conversion improvement is to compare one variation against the original, which is the control. This methodology is known as an “A/B split-test” where 50% of people see version A while 50% see version B. The outcome for an A/B split-test in ecommerce typically discovers the version that results in the most revenue. The best performer becomes the control in a King-of-the-Hill-style battle.
An alternate form of split-testing is multivariate testing. Three or more variables are mixed in all combinations. Mathematics then calculates what combination of variables are most effective. Multivariate testing is faster than if each variable was A/B tested, but it takes longer to achieve a reliable outcome.
Based on the time to do most tests and their statistical significance, I think you want to be doing 5,000 transactions per month for multi-variate testing. Most Shopify businesses based on their transaction volume are suited to an A/B split-test. Furthermore, large changes like website redesigns, product page layouts, or different landing pages are easiest to do as an A/B split-test.
The Best Testing Tool in Shopify
Use Convert.com to test in Shopify. It is a popular tool in the conversion industry, is quick to implement in Shopify, and has a growing repository of knowledge to conduct various tests. Convert also has unique advantages for Shopify Plus merchants like theme testing, debugging transactions for tests run on the checkout, and granular tracking based on language, location and demographic data.
Testing tools can damage conversions from the time it takes for a page to load and the time to paint the first pixel. Moreover, based on how all tools work, flickering can occur where content appears then quickly disappears as it gets modified. Depending on what is tested, the page speed can vary which alone hurts the reliability of a test. Convert has SmartInsert technology to avoid flickering.
Here are additional tips I have to best work with your testing tool in Shopify:
- Design changes often need a designer. The visual editors of testing tools are harder to work in then you think.
- Always track revenue. Include the post-purchase page in Shopify.
- Fully integrate the tool into Shopify. For Convert, follow their documentation. They also have a Shopify integration knowledge base that I’ve helped clean up. For Visual Website Optimizer, implement the tracking code in Shopify.
- Fully integrate the tool into Google Analytics. This lets you segment any piece of collected data based on the test variations. While one variation may not increase revenue, the time on site or adds to cart may change. Data in analytics from a variation can lead you to test a hypothesis.
- Fasten the creation of variations by leveraging theme features. Duplicate the theme in Shopify then change the non-published theme. Preview the theme, copy the source code of changes, then paste the code into your testing tool.
- If you append
?view=listto any collection URL, your store will use the
collection.list.liquidtemplate. If you use
?view=gridat the end, the store will call the
collection.grid.liquidtemplate. The method can be used on any liquid file. Different product page designs can be tested with this method.
- The coolest trick is how you can test major design changes. Read my guide I wrote for the Shopify blog on how to test for revenue, themes, and nearly anything.
Another useful testing tool is Microsoft Clarity. Integrate Convert with Microsoft Clarity to replay sessions and see heatmaps. As you go through the data, the tool may provide further test hypotheses for future iterations.
If you build landing pages through a third-party tool, many have their own split-testing feature. I recommend Zipify Pages to quickly make landing pages, which comes with its own testing tool.
How to Quickly Test
If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness.Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder
“Will this theme convert better for my store?” Marketers love to say, “test it.”
“How does this new ad compare to my old ad?” The ad buyer says to “test it.”
“Should we position the order button here or there?” You know the answer: “test it.”
However, the saying to test everything is unrealistic. It can also be a cop-out for miss-understanding conversion principles. You will take years to test every conversion tip in this guide. If your store gets 1,000 transactions per month, 1 test with a single variation may take the whole month to get a conclusive result.
Markets, technology, and expectations of shoppers change every year. You want the best chance of results now, not in 5 years time. You cannot test everything.
The need to test can be skipped by asking yourself whether a change can negatively impact sales. You require experience in conversion rate optimization to make this judgement since many leaders and managers have destroyed conversions by making changes that are “guaranteed to be better”. You don’t need to test fixing broken functionality for a particular device or browser as that will help shoppers. Every shopper wants a store to load faster so speed up the store then test something else.
In a test, I recommend you reach at least 200-300 transactions per variation with a statistical significance of 95% for the most time-efficient accuracy. Statistical significance means there is a 5% chance the improvement is not due to the actual variation. A 95% statistical significance is the scientific standard for most research.
If you’re doing less than several hundred transactions per month, make educated changes then invest money into driving traffic. All conversion rate experts make educated assumptions to save time.
PIE Framework for Testing
Big improvements with a large potential gets you more profit and makes testing fun since conclusive results happen faster. If you make tiny trickles of growth, the changes take months to test, which discourages you from further tests.
There’s a methodical way to decide what one element to test among hundreds of ideas. The PIE framework categorises each idea based on:
- Potential. How much improvement can be done? Potential is the hardest variable to measure since it is subjective. You can cross-reference what is advised in the book and other trusted sources, against what you’re doing to judge an idea’s potential.
- Importance. What is the severity of the idea? Content that is high traffic, high visibility, or close to the checkout is of high importance. You can form a hypothesis of impact from experience and research. A conversion expert is valuable to hire because the person can identify what is likely to impact sales then craft an effective improvement.
- Ease. How much effort is required to implement the idea? Low effort tasks lead to quick implementation.
Group your ideas into a single Google sheet. Categorise them in the PIE framework then add an example for inspiration. Let this sheet form your optimization library to save time and money.
Reading Shopify Conversion Rate Optimization
Now that you know the power of conversion optimization, principles to optimise, and the core tools to get you there, here’s what to do to get the most out of the guide.
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.
The checkout is likely to have the highest importance since you are closest to the transaction. 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 are to test because you will change things that for whatever reason, decrease sales. Be satisfied you found a way to not do something and you did not permanently make 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: