Website Design Tips to Boost Your E-commerce Conversion Rate

When your e-commerce website conversion rate is poor, finding a solution can feel overwhelming. But there are principles you can apply to build a website design that converts visits to sales, and in this podcast, two SEO and email marketing experts will talk you through it.

Ramin Ramhormozi and Michael Trang, managing partners at SKU Agency, use data-driven SEO and email marketing to drive qualified buyers to their clients' online stores and help convert more sales. 

Ramin and Michael discuss how conversion-focused design can impact your e-commerce conversion rate in this episode. 

The Life of a Social Media Micro-Influencer

Ramin: Let's talk about this social media influencing. What's going on there? Tell the audience about it.

Michael: Outside of working for SKU Agency and focusing on e-commerce, my girlfriend and I do some competitive kayak angling. One day, we just decided to start posting our catches and our adventures online. And it started taking off a little bit. People started noticing, and people started following. And then before, you know it, people started reaching out, companies started reaching out and asking if we would promote their products and things along those lines.

So we kind of just inadvertently became these micro-influencers. We don't have millions of followers like the Kardashians and those other Hollywood types. But you know, within the fishing industry, we do have some influence. Not only over our region, but we have some people following us nationally and internationally.

It's been fun. It's a hobby. We post pictures, and people like it. And, you know, we get a lot of interaction with companies and just other social media people in general.

Once you get to around a thousand followers, I think you have some draw. There are different levels to it, and depending upon how many followers you have, the engagement and things along those lines, you can ask for different prices for rate sheets for things you promote. 

Out-of-the-box Themes Aren't Great for Conversion Web Design

Ramin: Let's segue into this fascinating topic called conversion-focused design. You have made sure that as an agency, we continuously put our attention in that direction because our job is to help our clients get a good site up and running and help them make money and grow their business.

What is your definition of conversion-focused design?

Michael: In my experience as a graphic designer and a front end developer and SEO manager, I've found that there's design, and then there's a design that's conversion-focused.

I would say conversion-focused design is a design that implements specific techniques that help your user convert with whatever you're trying to have them convert on.

Ramin: And, we as an agency focus our attention on the Shopify ecosystem. What is your opinion on the out of the box theme? Are they conversion-focused, or do they need a lot of work to get to that place?

Michael: Those themes are vetted by Shopify. And companies need a placeholder when they're putting together a demo. So there is some design consideration when they are building those themes.

Out-of-the-box, they're reasonable. They probably have most things in there, but a lot of the things that have to do with conversion-based design are the details: the images you use on the site and the actual content you're putting on the site.

It's not just the framework because when you buy a theme, it's a blank skeleton of a theme. So you're tasked with putting in the right information and then making it look nice, adhering to the brand and also conversion at the same.

Using Conversion Focused Design to Inform Your CTA Button Placement

Ramin: Okay. So then, how do you know where to put that CTA? And why is it important to be in one spot versus another?

Michael: A lot of novice designers and merchants rely on the theme itself to make those decisions.

A lot of times, when you get those themes, those call to actions are put in certain places, which is fine. But in general, there are a lot of things that go into designing for conversion.

Placement of the CTA is a big deal. There's a visual hierarchy as well. For example, if you have a picture and it's all circles and all the circles are the same size, none stand out. But if you have one circle that's twice as big as your eye, your eye naturally gravitates toward that circle.

The same principle applies to web design. If all the elements on the page are the same weight, then the user doesn't notice anything.

So make sure that you understand the visual hierarchy of the things on your page. That oftentimes translates into the call to action being bigger than everything on the page. 

Alternatively, it can be a contrasting color. Color theory has a lot to do with designing for conversion.

Let's say the brand has primary colors of purple and gold and whites, and you see that all over the site. If you put up a call to action that's purple or gold, it's just going to blend in with the rest of the site. So you need to think about having some kind of tertiary or quaternary.

The last thing you want to do is have the user wandering around, not knowing what to do. 

There's a great book called Don't Make Me Think. It's a website design guide on techniques and tips not to allow your users to be confused.

Tell your users what to do on your site. If you want them to click a button, you want them to fill out a form, make it obvious. Don't make them think about what to do because that's how bounces and drop-offs often happen.

Good Conversion Web Design Understands the User Persona

Ramin: If you have users just stuck on a homepage and they don't know where to go, that's where you have conversion problems.

Michael: Yeah, totally. The first step is understanding your audience.

That means not only looking at your analytics but understanding who your audience is. If you're catering to the elderly, you may want something visually bigger so they can see it better. If you're catering to a younger demographic, you want the site to be a little more hip, a little more modern. 

The first step is understanding your persona and your target audience. We go through a litany of questions to understand how the user works their way through the site.

Not only through the site but then after the purchase is made and what that buying experience looks like. That lends itself to repeat customers: how your buying experience happens.

There's also digging into analytics, looking at competitors, and doing a competitive analysis to see what everybody else is doing out there.

Bounce Rates & Drop Offs Are Symptoms of Poor Lead Conversion Design

Ramin: Okay. So let's say a client comes to us and they already have a site design. What are you looking at first in the analytics to see if there's a problem? What are those key metrics that you're looking for?

Michael: I'm looking inside Google Analytics by looking at the drop-off rate. We're looking at the behavior flow. Usually, you'll see users transition from the path they're supposed to follow. 

In e-commerce, you're usually going from a homepage either directly to the collections to look at the products that you're about to buy or straight into a particular product.

It depends on the user and your product offering as well. They are looking for where people are dropping off, looking at the time on a page. Traditionally, if a user is spending a lot of time on the page and the product doesn't necessitate much reading, that could be an indicator that they're not sure what to do or they're not ready to purchase. 

By the time you get to a product page, you should only need to look at it for a little bit before you click that add to cart button and get out of there and start purchasing. If they're there too long, something is going on that we probably need to investigate. Those are kind of the baseline metrics that I start with. 

Bounce rates as well. That lends itself to a number of things. It could be page load speed, or it could be that there's no obvious call to action, or there's not enough trust. So seeing those numbers and seeing where people are dropping off, that's a red flag that there's something going on here.

Track Your Metrics to Measure Lead Conversion Changes

Ramin: So you look at those metrics, and you identify a problem. Are you coming back to those same metrics to identify if you've had that lift? 

Michael: Yeah. I mean, we're always tracking metrics. We're always trying to track our efforts to make sure that we're delivering for the client. Let's say on a particular product page the conversion is low: 0.5 or something.

We make the appropriate adjustments. Let's say the CTA wasn't obvious, the product offering was a little off, and maybe we do some pricing analysis and see what competitors are doing. And we adjust the price of the product as well. 

We're looking at the metrics, giving it enough time to get traction or get enough users to provide substantial data. And then we're looking back from the previous site and seeing how things are going. Usually, you're going to get more conversions when you're done working with us.

Establishing User Trust is Key to Conversion Web Design

Ramin: Let's say somebody's watching this, and they're not ready for an agency to take them to that next level. They want to do it themselves. What one to three things could they do immediately without redesigning their site that could positively impact conversions from a design perspective?

Michael: First and foremost, keep it simple. You've got to get your product out there. You've got to have a good product offering before diving into these metrics. Make sure your product offering and brand are in order before you go down that road. 

But after that, if you're going to be playing around with these design elements that help with conversion, I would probably look at the things that have a bigger impact.

In the world of Joe DIY, I would probably say, make sure that people trust your brand. When you land on a site, you can tell right away. I think we've all landed on the site where you feel I don't know about these guys.

The design elements are off, or the design is antiquated. Make sure that you establish trust on your website, whether through your other marketing channels, showing the user, or advertising to the user. The whole marketing rule of seven says a user will have to touch your brand seven times before they convert or take some kind of action on your brand.

I think nowadays, it's more like 11 because of all the content coming at users. To establish that trust, whether it be outside of the website or actually on the website.

That could mean trust badges, certifications such as the BBB, A plus rating, etc. But trust is bigger than that. It's bigger than just these trust badges.

It's getting the user to feel comfortable purchasing from you. You can do things to help them guide them through that, like reducing the friction of trust. When you land on a new website, you've never seen this brand before, you think, do I trust buying from these guys?

One of the best things is the fact that they're on Shopify. You don't have to worry about any weird things happening inside the checkout. So that's kind of a nice thing to have. That's one of the reasons why we go on Shopify. In addition to that, having outside reviews or customer reviews helps, too.

I don't know the exact number, but referrals account for 80% of user traffic on websites, just websites in general. 

When they refer somebody to you, you're like, oh, okay, well, I trust that person. They're vouching for this company, so I'm cool. I'm good. I can shop with them in it. And the same thing applies at a micro level to reviews in general. That's why Amazon reviews are so important.

And that's why reviews on your product page and in general with your business are super important. When you're starting out, you have no trust.

From a design standpoint, make sure your site is up-to-date, that it looks the way it should, doesn't have broken links, and doesn't have broken images. Images indicate to the user that you care about your site. 

Having an online store is like having like two stores. You can't just treat it like it's just this other thing that you've got on the side to help facilitate more sales. It's an actual store, and you've got to treat it as such. You don't leave your brick and mortar store with a cracked window. So you wouldn't leave your online store with a broken link.

Working with Shopify to Build Conversion-Focused Websites

Ramin: What, what do you, what do you love about Shopify? What is it that gets you excited about Shopify?

Michael: The main thing is that they're tech-forward. They're looking forward to the future. They're constantly putting out updates, are constantly making the platform better, and in turn, it consistently helps our clients do the things they want to do.

They're focused on building their platform and making it better, and continuing to grow. And I think that's one of the biggest things that excites me about Shopify, outside of the fact that it's just way easier to use than most of the other platforms and easier to build in.

I know they haven't blown out their wholesale channel for regular Shopify clients. It may be good to cater a little more to the wholesale feature or the wholesale portion of the business on the regular Shopify platform.

We run into a lot of hurdles with that. I mean, I know they've addressed some of it with OSTP 2.0., especially with the meta fields being included, which allows us to do some fancy stuff on individual products.

Ramin: That's interesting because we see many brands that previously were selling business to business now wanting to go DTC. However, they still want to have a strong footprint in the business to business or wholesale side of things with the same site.

Take-away Tips for Designing for Conversion

Ramin: If you're going to launch a new site, you're going to redesign a site. It is important to have it in good hands. It's important to have it with a team that understands and puts a lot of effort into it. But for anybody who's doing it themselves, take that moment to try to understand what conversion website design means.

Get into your analytics. Jump in, see where the problems are, and see where the drop-off points are in your business. Make some minor design changes that you can make within the theme that would have that lift, and then go back and monitor it.

Michael: You're putting forward your best guess of what the user would do. So you're putting yourself in a high percentage position to convert and get the numbers you want. But ultimately, users are going to do what they do, and the numbers don't lie, and that's going to help dictate your decisions moving forward. It will tell you whether or not the things that you've done work. 

Do the split testing and AB testing. I've used tools like Unbounce and Optimizely, and those are super helpful. They help you quickly test. You don't have to mess with too much code to do your testing. And it's kinda fun.


Call SKU Agency to Take Conversion Website Design to the Next Level

If you found this blog helpful, check out the full podcast on our YouTube channel, listen in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio (or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts).

We love to see business owners who take their lead conversion and website design in hand. But we also know that it takes an expert eye to make a real dent in the competitive landscape of converting leads to sales for your e-commerce business. 

That's where we come in. Our crack team at SKU Agency are experts in using website design, SMS marketing, and email marketing to target the right customers for your e-commerce business and convert them to expanding, sustained sales growth. Give us a shout when you're ready to watch your lead conversions lift.

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