dont need traffic for conversions

You Don’t Need Traffic To Improve Conversions

Is your website relatively new, or otherwise lacking in the traffic department?

Don’t be embarrassed.  It’s perfectly normal. 😉

A common misconception is that you need to run A/B tests to effectively improve conversions on your website.

In order to run effective split tests, or “A/B tests”, you do need a certain amount of traffic.  This is basically a true statement.

However, you are by no means limited to A/B testing when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO).

CRO is really about using tools and techniques to execute strategies which will yield the most conversions from your website.

Or to put it another way, CRO is the practice of making changes to your website with the goal of increasing the chances that users will take a desired action.

While there are some great techniques and tools for A/B testing, those of us who don’t get thousands of conversions per day have options as well.

There are tons of small, easy changes you can make to your website, and to your digital marketing, that can produce significant results.  And you don’t need an A/B test to tell you if a change results in success.

Listen to your customers, watch your analytics and sales numbers, and make one change at a time.

Improving conversions can dramatically improve your bottom line.  Think about it this way… if you can double the number of existing visitors who make a purchase, you can essentially quadruple the effectiveness of doubling your traffic. Here’s a quick illustration to show you what I mean.

Ecommerce Conversion Optimization Illustration
Coupled with a doubled conversion rate, doubling your traffic will quadruple revenue!

It’s typically much more time consuming and/or expensive to double your traffic than it is to double a low conversion rate.  And you can double a low conversion rate even if you have low traffic.

Here’s What To Do If You Have Low Traffic

Focus on qualitative information.  In terms of CRO, this means we’re talking about improving the quality of a certain aspect of your website, rather than focusing on improving the quantity of actions that are taken.

Qualitative improvements to your ecommerce site can come in many forms.

Start With the Basics

Is your site optimized for speed?

In other words, do your pages load fast?

Speed matters.  Lack of speed kills conversions.  You need to test your site speed to see what might be slowing your site down.

My tool of choice for site speed analysis is GTMetrix. It’s free, simple to use, and provides a very detailed report of all of the speed sucking aspects of your website.  And what’s even better is they have tons of content on how to actually fix the problems identified in the report.

Run your site through this tool and start implementing the recommended updates.

Follow Best Practices

You may not get 5000 visitors per week, so you can’t really tell if something like a product title change will result in a drastic conversion shift.  BUT, you CAN follow proven best practices that are known to work for a majority of ecommerce sites.  Right?

  • You can make sure your product photos are high quality and include people using your products.  …And, make sure you have lots of them (photos) for each product detail page.
  • You can also list pricing and shipping cost details as early as possible in the product page and/or checkout pages.
  • And you can provide product descriptions that include benefits to the customer, not just features and specifications about the product.

Right?  You can do those things.  And if you do, you’re very likely to improve conversions.  There are tons of best practices like this that you can follow.

Here are a few great resources for more ecommerce conversion rate optimization best practices:

9 E-commerce Best Practices to Stand Out From a Saturated Market


Get To Know Your Customers

I wrote a more in-depth post about understanding your customers and their impact on conversions, earlier this year. But the gist of it is this…

Optimal conversions come from providing a better user experience.  And better user experience is a result of understanding who your customers are, and what they want.

You can get to know your customers by using things like:

  1. Surveys
    You can email your customers and/or use tools like surveymonkey to ask brief, but specific questions
  2. Observing their behavior on your site with heat mapping tools and session recording tool
    Using a tool like crazyegg, you can see where customers do and don’t take actions on our site…this gives you great clues about where to position key calls to action.
  3. Live Chat
    You can utilize live chat to engage with them during their session, and ask questions in real time (Oh, and having live chat also boosts conversions in real time)
  4. Conducting usability tests
    Take advantage of easy and affordable crowd sourcing tools like or to see how real people use your site.  This can be incredibly eye opening!

Reduce Conversion Friction

The lower your traffic, the fewer conversions you’re going to get.  So, it makes sense to do everything you can to lower the risk of someone leaving a page before they convert.

You want your actions to be as friction-less as possible.  For example, the ‘Add to Cart’ button.  Some sites use “Buy Now” as the text for these buttons.  That may make sense for some sites, but in general, “Buy Now” creates more friction than “Add to Cart” or “Add to Basket”.  “Add to Basket” for example, may feel like less of a commitment than “Buy Now”.

Therefore, you’re likely to move more customers that one step further down the conversion funnel when using lower friction calls to action.

Another way to reduce friction is to focus on a page’s overall conversion flow.  What I mean by this is, for any given page, how easy is it for a user to take the desired action.

for any given page, how easy is it for a user to take the desired action.

A desired action may be to click a button, fill out a form, etc.

You can improve conversion flow by following this simple process on any page:

  1. Determine what you want the user to do. Fill out a form? Buy an item? Select a size? Get a quote?
  2. Pretend you are a user, and look at the page from their perspective.
  3. Decide  – how easy is it to convert? How hard? What gets in your way? And, how often are they presented with the call to action?

Examining any page with the above keen eye will yield some strong conversion optimization opportunities.

Think About Your Buyers Funnel

An ecommerce buyers funnel essentially consists of this:

Cconsumers realize they need a thing –>  then they go through a series of steps until they buy that thing  –>  and then hopefully they buy more things  –>  and ultimately they might become a brand advocating unicorn, if you’re really good (notice I didn’t say lucky).

Most funnels are about the same.  This is how I visualize it:

ecommerce buyers funnel
This kind of visualization can be helpful as the basis for your marketing and customer service structure.

Let’s quickly review each step of this buyers funnel:

  1. Awareness: Consumer becomes aware that they need a thing.
  2. Consideration: Consumer starts researching the thing and evaluating the businesses that sell it.
  3. Preference: Based on their research, they begin to develop a preference for a certain product and/or a seller.
  4. Purchase: They spend their money and buy the thing.
  5. Loyalty: They return to the seller to buy more things.
  6. Advocacy: They reflect on their purchase (reviews, social media comments, etc), and in some cases become ‘fans’ or advocates of the product/brand/seller.

This sort of funnel framework helps us think about how we’re going to get in front of and interact with consumers as they move through the buying process.

But HOW do we advance the buyer through each of these stages?  And how do we visualize that?

What the typical buyers funnel above doesn’t address is Experience.

Instead of just thinking about where a buyer is in their journey, we can do one better by understanding what they are experiencing at each stage in the funnel.  Most experiences are encountered at more than one stage in the funnel.

This allows us to focus on the important things at each funnel stage, and ignore the things that don’t matter.  Ultimately, helping us better-determine what to test, and when.

Here are 7 experiences that a buyer will encounter at any stage in the funnel, and how they fit together.

  1. Discovery
    What is motivating a consumer to visit a page, what is their traffic source.TIP: Understanding the discovery experience helps us with better targeting and messaging and with congruence between the two.buyers funnel experiences
  2. Look & Feel
    Page layouts, navigation structure, branding, button colors, etc.TIP: The little wins and low hanging fruit are often found in Look & Feel changes.
  3. Value
    This one is a biggie.  Value is part of the entire user experience.  It’s how you convey to the customer that you are unique,  and that your offer ,TIP: Customers will measure your value in terms of brand & reputation, and product & service.
    buyers funnel
  4. User Friendly
    This is similar to, yet slightly different than Look & Feel.  By User Friendly, I mean, how easy or difficult is it to complete any desired action.  Rather than focusing on aesthetics, we want to focus on usability.  …it’s all about eliminating obstacles & friction.TIP: This is best optimized by conducting usability test, observing users while they use your site, documenting the problems they have, fixing them, then testing the results.
  5. Influence
    How are you influencing your visitors to take the desired action?  What is expected of the user, and what is being offered should be crystal clear to the visitor at every stage. You also need to consider how you are encouraging them to take action.  Are you offering value and alleviating anxiety?
    Ecommerce Buyers Funnel
  6. Assurance
    Trust is what we’re after at this stage. You need to constantly be building and re-assuring trust in you, your brand and your products. Testimonials, badges and other trust symbols go a long way to winning that trust.
  7. Interaction
    A more interactive shopping experience yields higher conversions. Providing interactivity gives you the opportunity to make the customer feel more connected to you and your products. Common interactive elements of a website can include personalization, comments, community areas and live chat. You could also include  interactive product visuals like 3D product models, 360 views, etc.

Buyer funnel

So there’s your ecommerce buyers funnel. I know it’s a lot to take in, believe me.  But I think it’s important to think in these terms. To visualize in this way… because it puts you in the mindset of the customer and their journey.  And that is exactly where the biggest conversion gains are made.

Implement and Analyze

Do you think you can make conversion improvements even if you don’t have a shed load of traffic?  I KNOW you can. Hopefully this what you’ve read has convinced you, and you’ll get to work on getting more sales!

Take what you’ve learned in this post and apply it!  What have you got to lose?

Take note of each change (or group of changes) you implement, then give them some time before implementing the next changes.

Then, open up your analytics and track your results.  This is the only way to truly understand how your changes are impacting your conversions.

(NOTE: Want 10 Simple Tips on Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment? Copy & paste these ten proven ecommerce conversion rate optimization tactics to lower shopping cart abandonment and get more sales. Get them here.)


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