We launched the “CR25” project in June 2014 with the goal of establishing a 25% increase in conversion rates in Q3 2014 versus Q3 2013 for clients using our International Retail Platform (IRP).
Our project focused on the following areas of our IRP websites:
- Technical and UI improvements — design, layout, navigation, font sizes, site speed, etc.
- Messaging improvements — copy, international targeting, USP banners, etc.
We prioritised improving conversion rates for desktop and mobile phone traffic with limited focus on tablets.
Overall, we found that our simple initiatives dramatically improved year-on-year conversion rates for our clients in Q3 versus Q2. In particular, we have seen a 23% increase on desktop and a 10% increase across all devices, with desktop conversion surpassing 25% growth versus last year in each of the last two months.
We spent the first month of the project gathering a baseline dataset of existing conversion rates for a representative cross-section of IRPs: the top IRP sites by revenue with more than 18 months’ revenue history.
This allowed us to make a clear comparison between this year and last year. It also allowed us to look at the conversion rate in more detail, breaking it down by device type (desktop, mobile and tablet) for each site.
Having established the dataset, we implemented the CR25 initiatives on the top sites and then replicated the initiatives across all IRP client instances.
We implemented the following initiatives across all of our client sites.
1. Site Speed
Research shows that site speed has a direct impact on conversion rates. We identified this as a key area for conversion gains and decided to use Google Site Speed recommendations as the basis for our actions.
- We reprocessed thousands of product images and optimised them across all of our client sites.
- We updated the default image processing settings.
- We passed key website promotional banners through an image optimiser service.
- We recommended other potential speed improvements for implementation in the next IRP development roadmap.
2. Desktop User Interface
- We updated IRP footers across all of our client sites.
- We checked for consistent messaging, links and navigation.
- We updated the look and feel of a number of desktop websites.
- The work here will be replicated in all future builds of the IRP.
3. Mobile User Interface
- We redesigned the look and feel of all of our clients’ mobile sites.
- We introduced clear calls to action.
- We introduced more prominent ‘Buy with PayPal’ buttons (one-click).
- We updated all messaging.
- We created mobile versions of all custom content pages and checked they were correctly linked on all of our clients’ mobile sites.
- We updated currency messaging to improve international conversion.
- We checked returns policies and messaging for consistency and content.
- We added Trustpilot ratings where possible.
- We audited and updated key site banners for country-specific messaging.
- We audited and updated product descriptions.
Results and Comments
We split our results into separate sets for desktop, mobile and tablet. All statistics are generated by Google Analytics.
- Desktop remains the main source of traffic across all IRP websites and is the primary conversion driver.
- The CR25 project started in the last two weeks of June and it was possible to see the returns on desktop conversion almost instantly.
- Whilst Q2 was hovering around the same levels as 2013, in Q3 desktop conversion month-on-month grew consistently in comparison with 2013.
- July showed 17% growth on 2013 levels and August and September both returned an impressive 25%+ increase on the same time last year.
- Results over the quarter averaged out at a 23% increase on last year.
At the start of the project we realised that mobile traffic has been growing constantly year on year across the IRP network. Conversion rates on mobile were sitting at around 40-50% of those of desktop. Whilst this is consistent with industry averages, it obviously still leaves room for improvement.
- We implemented redesign work across all sites from the middle of August. The results of this are apparent in September’s figures, with the mobile conversion rate finally catching up with 2013.
- These results are even more impressive given the significant increase in mobile traffic across our dataset, with one major site seeing mobile now surpassing desktop as the most used device.
- With more traffic, especially on devices on which consumers traditionally have difficulty trusting for transactional purposes, to keep the conversion rate on a par with last year is an impressive result.
- It could also be argued that, whilst mobile conversion remains low, more and more people are using multiple devices before making a purchase; the improved experience on mobile is undoubtedly having a knock-on effect on desktop conversion.
Our focus was on desktops and mobile phones, tablet results nonetheless make interesting reading.
- 2014 tablet conversion rate has struggled to keep pace with 2013 but, as with the mobile and desktop statistics, we’ve seen a solid performance in September reduce the gap again.
- The results further highlight the importance of segmented data and segmented approaches to solving problems.
- Total conversion rates mirror those of desktop. Measured against last year’s performance, overall Q3 figures show a 10% increase versus Q2.
- Even more significant is the trend in August and September (undoubtedly helped by strong mobile and desktop performance in these months) which shows this year’s conversion rate figures starting to pull away from 2013.
- Overall, results are extremely positive. Conversion rate on desktop in August and September achieved the 25% increase in conversion targeted.
- Mobile and tablet figures have also seen solid progress in the last six weeks of Q3 but, with increased traffic to these devices, it is clear that more targeted work is required to help increase conversion.
- The simple CR25 initiatives have helped to dramatically improve year-on-year conversion rates for our clients in Q3 versus Q2.
- Overall we have seen a 23% increase on desktop and a 10% increase across all devices.
- Desktop conversion surpassed 25% growth versus last year in each of the last two months.
- Clean design and messaging is an easy and painless way to improve conversion. Use design and styling where possible to make important messages stand out and be seen.
- The more segmented your approach to data collection and optimisation, the better the results and the clearer the overall picture.
- Split the overall conversion rate into as many areas as possible (e.g. device type, traffic stream, age and country demographics, new users vs. returning users) to further improve conversion optimisation.
- Optimising the mobile version of your website is essential.
- There are differences in navigation experienced on tablets; you should optimise for these accordingly. This is particularly important today with tablet use slowly but surely taking over market share from desktop.
- In the same way you would a physical shop, you should check websites for consistency and errors on a regular basis. We have clearly seen the effects of this on conversion.
- The IRP’s powerful country and language specific messaging capability can increase conversion if it used to its full potential. Think about who your users are and what messages they need to hear.
- Activate local currency payment options where possible to increase conversion.
- Optimise images to reduce their size without reducing their quality. Quality imagery and descriptions are paramount to improving conversion.
- In CR25 we focused on the broad appearance and usability of our websites. There are many more areas outside of this remit (e.g. promotions, pricing, stock, remarketing) that are vital to conversion and require constant attention to detail.
There are a number of areas of conversion optimisation that we will be focusing on. These include:
- User surveys
- A/B testing
- Email remarketing
- Cart abandonment analysis
- Click mapping
- Usability testing