How To Start & Grow Your Business

5 Universal Tactics to help Increase Conversions

Sean Cook
Jan 16th, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 4 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Make searching easy with predictive features. 2Discover faults by analyzing the most searched terms. 3Implement a ratings and reviews feature.
  • Must login to save

Marketing Strategy

Leadership-hand holding test tube Photo Credit: Sergey Nivens

Just as there are different types of online shoppers, there are a number of variables that affect how, when, and why they convert. Factors such as seasonality, traffic sources, competitive offerings and product or service categories can all affect a shoppers’ willingness to buy. Many of these factors you don’t control. But some of them you do.

Here are five universal tactics that can help you increase conversion.

Responsive Design

In an age where mobile represents up to 30% of a website’s traffic and, according to Google, 61% of mobile visitors move on to competitors’ sites after encountering a frustrating mobile browsing experience, optimizing conversion rates across each platform has become non-negotiable. Unfortunately on most retail sites, the process of trying to purchase something on a mobile device can be tedious and frustrating. Providing an optimized user experience has some serious upside – according to Case-Mate, an optimized experience across devices has reduced their cart abandonment rate by 35% below industry average

Site Search

According to Econsultancy, up to 30% of your site visitors will use the search box. The good new is that those who choose to search typically have some idea of what they’re looking for, are further along their purchase journey, and thus closer to conversion. Make sure your search results are complete and accurate.

Implementing predictive search (which auto-completes searches for shoppers) helps your visitors search faster, correct misspellings, find results quicker, and even discover answers to questions they didn’t even think about ahead of time.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

Audit top searches and make adjustments – continuously

  • The beauty of site search is that shoppers are telling you exactly what they want. Don’t ignore this information. Audit your top searches and use this information to make results more accurate, and tailor them based on actual conversions. Search-specific promotions/banners can be tagged to specific search results.

Accentuate the negative

Pay attention to the negatives in search can yield hidden opportunity, including:

  • Results that aren’t showing up for searches
  • Items that are not being found.
  • Items that reveal a weak product mix.
  • Items that have a low conversion rate for search terms.

A “Zero results” search reports can help you identify missing content on your site or a problem with your site search engine. Zero search results indicate that people are typing in phrases you simply didn’t think about, a common word that is misspelled, or missing content on your site.

“Worst converting phrases” adds another dimension. Queries that have weak engagement tells you that people are interested in your product and finding it, but there is an underlying issue with your product, your presentation, or your price.


Subscription programs, aka auto-replenishment programs are very profitable for repeat-purchase items with limited shelf life, or those which get consumed quickly. Within these categories (vitamins, razors and diapers etc.), the shopper often knows exactly what they want and their expected usage, and it is just up to the retailer to tailor the program to their needs. Nutrex-Hawaii has driven the popularity of its program by giving subscription customer an instant 20% discount and free shipping if they sign up.

A variant of the subscriptions program, “Product of the Month Clubs” are also hugely popular, even popping up among Internet 500 retailers. In them, customers try different samples monthly of a given specialized or localized category, such as grooming products, wine, flowers, and ice cream.

Gift Registries

Gift registries/wish lists have built-in credibility. If someone is willing to create a wish list or gift registry, they are already a fan of the brand or retailer. That is a good indicator of brand loyalty and high conversion. Email and social sharing make it even better because the shopper receiving the email wants to please the sender, and was just told exactly what to buy. The shopper may never have visited the online store before or after the event, but if they get an email invitation to a baby shower and link to the registry, conversion is almost a guarantee. Consider different types of gift registries you can offer beyond wedding, births, to include other special occasions

Product Reviews

Peer reviews allow shoppers to look past the marketing and merchandising hype and hear about the product from fellow consumers. Many consumers nowadays search for the name of the product plus the word ‘review’, or related words such as ‘ratings’. Having reviews on your site improves the odds of capturing this traffic. Some retailers allow sorting and filtering by star rating, and build in promotions and marketing materials around top rated products. Implementing on-domain a ratings & reviews engine can help drive more relevant traffic to your site and increase likelihood to convert.

This article was written by Sean Cook and published on Multichannel Merchant, covering all aspects of marketing, management and operations for companies using catalogs, direct and digital/ecommerce channels.

Sean Cook is CEO of ShopVisible.