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How to win at e-commerce optimization with micro conversions

3 Minute Read

If you look up best practices on e-commerce optimization, the first thing that is talked about is conversions. In other words: making sales or getting signups. And while that is the end goal of most e-commerce sites, and what Google Analytics considers reaching your goal, it’s not an easy target to achieve. E-commerce completions or macro conversions represent a completed sale on an e-commerce site.

According to Statistica, in 2020 the cart abandonment rate ranged between 67% and 96%, depending on the industry. If you’re only focused on macro conversions, these stats reflect that the majority of visitors to your site aren’t buying and that you’re no closer to converting them into customers. But micro conversions tell an entirely different story. Micro conversions track the small steps a website visitor takes that lead them toward a final conversion. They help to pinpoint what is happening inside the customer journey - what is working, where friction and drop off points occur and provide steps towards identifying where improvements could be made.

E-commerce optimization for the whole customer journey

The digital marketplace is extremely competitive, just getting visitors to your website requires a major investment including search and paid tactics for better search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) campaigns. Once visitors get onto your website you want to ensure you can get the most value from them and their time spent interacting with your brand. Customer experience optimization is singularly focused on identifying and prioritizing how to reduce friction and drop off points across the entire journey. This is where micro conversions start to play an important role. If a customer journey has several micro conversions factored into it, it becomes easier to identify where friction is happening, where the journey could be changed to drive better outcomes, and implementing winning ideas and combinations.

Where and how to make website improvements?

One of the challenges for digital leaders is growth and achieving results within a short time frame while dealing with a customer journey that is inherently complex. There are so many variables influencing whether or not a customer will buy, and this changes between individuals, and over time. As a result, it can be really challenging to uncover exactly what will contribute most to improving conversions at any given step and across the entire customer journey.

Experience has shown that small changes in design, layout or wording can influence customer buying decisions. The problem is the ability to test which variables and which combinations result in the best customer experience. Additionally the digital experience and target audience are different between digital channels such as mobile phones versus desktops, which creates even more variables to experiment.

A case study: How to experiment to find which micro conversions have an impact

There is incredible value in being able to implement ideas on everything from the length of the product description and specific wording, to where it is placed on a page. We recently conducted an experiment for a retailer client with the macro conversion goal of increasing purchases.

We ran an optimization on two pages for mobile users. Namely: the product detail page (PDP) and shopping cart page. Within these 2 pages, 8 key elements were identified as well as 25 unique ideas the client wanted to test. The resulting experiment had 72,000 different combinations. AI driven experimentation gave the ability to efficiently test through the entire set of variables to really drill down into what was important to website visitors and look at all the possible alternatives that drove them closer to clicking the buy button.

At first, the experiment focused on the strength of individual ideas and measuring their impact towards the goal. This then informed the next generation of experiments, namely which combinations of ideas performed best. As the process continued, machine learning identified which of the ideas visitors were responding to and built on this success to find the best performing variations. Micro conversions were identified as when visitors clicked on a specific product description, or clicked the call to action (CTA) button which added the product to their wish list or cart. Each micro conversion in the customer journey helped identify winning ideas or combinations which culminated in a short list of the best performing variations.

As the experiment unfolded, the results for mobile and desktop users were as follows:

  • For mobile users: 141 treatments were intelligently served to visitors. The resulting 7 best winning experiences drove a 7% lift in increased purchases.
  • For desktop users: 10 winning combinations were identified which resulted in a lift of 8% increased purchases. What was most interesting was that some of the best performing ideas were the exact opposite of what worked for mobile users.

This specific experiment highlighted the importance of being able to serve different experiences and journeys to mobile and desktop visitors. Optimizing for micro conversions helped to find and fix the friction points in the customer journey and played an important role in achieving the overall goal of making more sales (macro conversion).

Having an intelligent solution that can handle the complexity of an e-commerce site across all digital channels, and deliver answers quickly, offers a distinct advantage. The best ideas or combinations of ideas are those that accomplish the macro conversion goal. But it’s the ability to optimize micro conversions in the customer journey that highlights what the winning ideas are.

A 7 – 8% lift and increase in purchases is significant and by further focusing on micro conversions has the potential to drive even bigger growth over time as new learnings are discovered and improvements are made to every step of the digital customer experience.

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