online shopping

As e-commerce sellers, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of trying to drive more traffic to your site. The proverbial wisdom can make us feel like we need to be in all the places at once – posting on Pinterest, goofing around on TikTok, sharing in Facebook groups, chatting on Instagram Stories, etc.  The list of content creation is never-ending!

Before you fall down the rabbit hole of trying to get more eyeballs on your products, there’s one little metric or KPI (key performance indicator) I suggest optimizing on your site first – your conversion rate.

What exactly is a conversion rate?

Your site’s conversion rate is a metric that tells you how much of your traffic converts to paying customers. You can calculate it by dividing your total number of orders during a time period by the total number of visitors during the same time period.

So for example, if last month you had 300 orders and 12,000 visitors, your conversion rate would be 2.5%. In other words, for every 100 visitors to your site, you can expect to get about 2.5 sales or orders.

Another interesting way to think about it is like this – if you want to make one sale, you need to get 40 visitors to your site. If you continue to convert at 2.5%, 40 people should get you one sale.

A typical e-commerce conversion rate for craft sellers is usually in the 1-5% range.

I suggest you take a moment to determine your site’s conversion rate for the past year/quarter/month and write it down somewhere handy. If you decide to implement some changes, you’ll want to be able to compare back to this number to see if your work made an impact.

Why is conversion rate such a powerful metric?

It may seem like a relatively straightforward stat, but understanding your conversion rate and making the most of it can make a big impact on your bottom line.

First, knowing your typical conversion rate allows you to work backward to nail down your marketing goals. If you know how your site usually converts and how much you want to make in sales, you can figure out how much traffic you need to get there and work accordingly.

Knowing exactly how much traffic you need to hit your goals and creating a plan to get there is a lot more actionable than simply trying to “drive more traffic” to your site.

Second, improving your conversion rate means you are creating more sales, even with the same amount of traffic. It’s generally an easier way to boost your revenue than just trying to get more visitors.

To drive that point home, let’s say you’re converting visitors into orders at a rate of 2.5%. In January, that resulted in 300 orders at $30 each, so $9,000 in revenue. You implement some suggestions (coming below!) to try to improve your conversion rate in February.

In February you again get the same amount of visitors (12,000), but you’ve successfully optimized your conversion rate to now be 3%. You’ve now got 360 orders in February, which is $10,800 in sales. That’s a 20% increase in sales revenue just from increasing your conversion rate by half a percent!

Making these optimizations is usually a lot easier and quicker to make an impact than building your traffic, which can take a long time and a lot of work. Plus, you don’t really want to spend your time driving tons of traffic to your shop until you know it’s already optimized to convert, otherwise you may be doing a lot of hard work for nothing.

Improving your conversion rate

A lower conversion rate is can be attributed to a few things. Here are a few general examples:

  • Unprofessional site or product presentation
  • Lack of customer confidence
  • A confusing or difficult user experience
  • Obstacles at checkout
  • A relatively high volume of unqualified traffic to your site

If you want to focus on improving your conversion rate, you want to take measures to reduce the above issues. In general terms, you want to make the path from browser to buyer as easy and obstacle-free as possible. You want to anticipate customer questions and objections before they come up, and make your potential customer feel secure and safe on your site.

Ideas to optimize your conversion rate

Let’s get specific! Review this 22 point checklist to increase your shop’s current conversion rate:

  1. Polish up your photos and make sure they look professional and polished.
  2. Check product listings and all shop copy for grammatical errors or typos.
  3. Clarify and simplify any potentially confusing copy, pricing, or shop policies.
  4. Get rid of any out-of-date shop announcements, banners, copy, images, policies, etc. (Nothing looks as unprofessional as having a holiday announcement up during the summer!)
  5. If you don’t have one already, add an “about me” page or info about your brand and yourself so potential buyers know who they’re buying from.
  6. Ensure you fully flesh out your shop policies and FAQ pages. If your potential buyer doesn’t know your shipping terms, turnaround times, return or exchange policy, sizing info, etc. (any answer to a question they may have), that can prevent them from hitting the buy button. Sprinkle the link to your policies or FAQs anywhere your customer may need these answers.
  7. State your shipping costs upfront. Additional shipping charges are one of the leading causes of cart abandonment. (Bonus points if you’re able to offer the always-controversial free shipping!)
  8. Verify your SSL certificate is up-to-date and working correctly.
  9. Add secure checkout icons to your checkout and cart pages.
  10. Provide as much positive social proof as possible on your product pages, checkout page, and throughout your site.
  11. Use clear navigation terms (not made up or cutesy ones) for your product categories and menus so your customer can easily find what they’re interested in.
  12. Link to relevant or related products when it makes sense so customers can easily find products in another color, size, etc. if applicable.
  13. Make sure announcements, pop-ups, banners, etc. aren’t impeding the browsing experience in different browsers and especially on mobile.
  14. Walk through the checkout process on different browsers and devices (computer, tablet, mobile) to make sure your site and checkout pages look right on all platforms. (This is so important to check on mobile where things often look wonky compared to your desktop!)
  15. Remove any and all unnecessary links, sidebars, or widgets on your checkout page. You do not want to distract your potential customer away from checkout once they are there!
  16. Allow for guest checkout in your shop if possible. Forcing the buyer to create an account increases cart abandonment.
  17. Remove any unnecessary fields from the checkout process. (If you don’t need a customer’s phone number, don’t ask for it. The fewer steps for them, the better!)
  18. Offer as many payment options as possible (credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, Sezzle, Amazon Pay, AfterPay, etc.).
  19. Improve your site’s load time. Checkout rates drop 7% for every one-second delay in your page’s loading time. You can use Google’s free insight tool to test your current speeds.
  20. Add a live chat support feature to your page to answer potential customer questions in real-time.
  21. Set up abandoned cart software or follow up emails. Several e-commerce platforms have this ability!
  22. Consider investing in retargeting ads to bring back visitors who abandoned their cart.

Implementing just a handful of these can create big results in your business. I always suggest making it a priority to optimize how well your site converts visitors into sales before building up your traffic. This one-two punch is a recipe for leveraging your work and creating a greater financial impact.

Janet LeBlanc

Janet LeBlanc


 Janet LeBlanc is a Certified Public Accountant and financial educator for entrepreneurs. She’s also a mother of two located in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2014, she founded Paper + Spark, where she offers educational content, tools, and spreadsheet templates for makers. Her goal is to help creative entrepreneurs become more confident and less confused about the financial side of running their business. If you’re ready to bring your entrepreneurial dreams to life with more clarity and step into the role of CEO of your biz, learn more at paperandspark.com.

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