70 conversion optimization tips for a Magento shop

Raphael Thiel —  February 7, 2013 — 6 Comments

E-commerce has become one of the best ways to sell products today. The Magento application is one of the biggest shopping platforms. In this checklist we like to show you how to become individual and more successful. Your competitors are not sleeping and a good communication between your Magento shop and the visitors decides about the success. The checklist will help you on how to convert a visitor into a shopper and how to make your business more profitable. Often there are only small changes needed to reach the goal, because you have done a lot of tuning before.

Start / Home  Site Optimization

    1. Show your bestsellers on home page

      You can find your bestsellers at Magento Backend: Reports->Products->Bestsellers

    2. Offer more than an order button

      Not every customer likes to do an online purchase, often older customers, which mostly do not trust the internet, like to do there purchase by phone, fax or mail.

    3. Show a video of your company on your home page

      Trust is a very big aspect, which turns a visitor into a shopper. Showing your company, your team and how you work, helps to get a higher trust. Creating a nice video is not expensive and takes only some hours.

    4. Localize your Magento shop to specific countries

      When you sale products international, make sure that your customers understand, that you offer an international shipping. For this you can use an identification by IP and redirect them to a storeview in their language. For example, an US customer with a US IP goes to www.your-shop.com/us

Navigation Optimization

    1. Category structures

      The number of categories should correspond with your inventory. We only recommend to create a category, when you have a minimum of 20 products in it. Also you should try to have as less as possible sub categories. Too much categories can confuse the visitor.

    2. Sort category structure by popularity

      Categories with a higher popularity should be on top! You can use google analytics to find best clicked categories.

    3. Create categories names based on what people are searching for

      To find the best category names, you can use names which your customers are searching for.
      Go to Standard Reporting-> Content-> Site Search -> Search Terms

      A good alternative could be to do a research on ebay or amazon. Keep in mind, that these platforms spend millions per year for just getting a perfect sorting and naming on their platforms.

    4. Use a Compelling Business Tag line

      Create a short text under your logo. Please note, that this business tag line gets the same attention as your logo. This line could be a summarize of the experience you are offering.

    5. USP ‘Unique Selling Points’

      A strategically presented USP helps visitors to break the „mental barrier“. A great USP can be:
      Easy Returns, Free Shipping, Price Guarantee, Risk Free Shopping or the count of Facebook likes.

Product Search Optimization

    1. Test your search for accuracy

      Often users search for the same products in singular or plural. The search result should be the same!
      If a product is not shown in the search results as it should be, you can add product tags by hand at:

      Magento backend at: Catalog-> Tags -> „Add a new Tag“

      There you can fill in the search tag and place it to the product.

    2. Implement an intelligent search

      For shops with a big product catalog you should use a better search engine than built in Magento search. For this we recommend to use „solr“ or „elasticsearch“. Just because this is a far too complex thematic, we will write a separate article about shop search in the next weeks.

Product Page Optimization

    1. Take only high quality product images

      The product image is the most important point on product and listing pages. The product images are the first points visitors will notice, when they are browsing your store. Products with good images will have a better conversion rate than products without images or with images in less quality.

      Pay attention to following facts which generate a better emotional response:

      - Default ( base image) should be the highest quality
      - Do not use generic stock images. It´s better to take actual pictures in best with real persons using/showing your products
      - Try to show more than one image, different angles make a product more „touchable“
      - Try to design a nice photo background ( If you sale a toaster you should put some bread, fresh tomatoes and eggs in the photo background ) A tasty photo has always a higher emotional response!

    2. Product’s description

      - Don´t use standard product description text from the manufactory
      - If you have a multi store, each store view should get its own description
      - Key features of the product should be appear at the beginning as paragraphs bullets
      - Try to keep natural, it´s the user which decides if a product will become a hype!
      - Bullet points help to make information easier to understand
      - Magento offers a short description. Often customers are in hurry, this will be the first case, where a product get customers interest. Additionally, you should pay attention to create an individual summary of the full description.

    3. Product Videos for top selling products

      Often an image can´t transport the feeling of a product like a video. A video doesn´t need to cost the world, you can try to create it by using your smart phone. More important is, that you stay natural!

    4. No Surprise on product page

      Often visitors leave a shop, because information is not shown correctly or is missing.

      This should be checked:
      - Price must be shown on the product page
      - Price should be shown in large, bold formatting or different colors
      - Shipping and handling price should be shown directly under the product price
      - The checkout process should be also no surprise, all information must be there, before the customer adds the product to shopping cart
      - Do not add additional cost in the checkout process
      - Show the count of product stock!

    5. Show the Product delivery time
    6. Allow to select delivery date in check out
    7. Enable “Out Of Stock”-Notification

      In best do not show products, which are out of stock.

    8. Invite customers to leave reviews for bought products

      http://www.mgt-commerce.com/magento-review-reminder.html

    9. Higher trust through relevant information to turn visitors into shoppers

      - Security: Let the visitor know that your magento shop is secure and that their privacy will not compromised
      - Accurate shipping & tax details
      - Offer different payment methods and show them

      - Additional information about your products, company like FAQs can help to reduce a break in check out.

Checkout process optimization

    1. Persistent shopping shopping cart

      Customers often add products to shopping cart, but they do the checkout some days later. Here your cookie lifetime should be high enough, that the shopping shopping cart is still full, if the customer returns after some days.

    2. Make sure, that the user doesn´t need to enter same information twice in checkout process

      A visitor doesn´t like to spend much time for the check out. If the same information must be filled out twice, the user gets nerved and often they stop their purchase.

    3. Preserve information on a validation error

      Nobody likes to enter all information again, when a needed field was not filled.

    4. Try to reduce the needed fields ( * ) as much as possible
    5. Write example information in the needed fields ( Name: John Smith )
    6. All fields should have labels
    7. The checkout form should be linear

      For this you can find very good examples at companies like amazon, or apple shop. In this case we wouldn´t recommend to try to create a complete new way of checkout process.

    8. The expected length of the input should match to the form field length
    9. Each button should be named specificly

      Additional information to your buttons can help to reduce possible irritations
      - „Continue shopping“ – add more products to shopping cart
      - „Continue checkout“ – continue the checkout and pay

    10. Offer a guest checkout
    11. Do not create an unasked customer account!
    12. Display validation errors correctly

      Often these errors are displayed at the top of the page, where the customer do not see the information.
      It´s better to mark the error field.

    13. Don´t complicate password selection

      We all know, that most customers do not use save passwords, but your shop is not the customers mail account! Try to make it as easy as possible.

    14. Checkout button placement

      Make sure, that the primary buttons do not confuse the user. Here you should place the button on the right or left corner, same color at the bottom of the frame.

    15. Set as much as possible checkboxes pre checked

      If you have a standard payment, or default shipping, it should be pre-checked.

    16. Redirect to shopping cart after the customer has added the product to shopping cart

      Make it as easy as possible for your customer to get to checkout. If a customer likes to buy more products, he will „continue shopping“ after he has added a product to shopping cart.

    17. Each checkout step should become a logical number; also a one step checkout

      Breaking the checkout process into steps makes it easy for the customer to fill the forms. The big benefit of different steps is, that the user can get individual information, for example about the shipping cost or delivering time.>br>

      All steps beginning at shopping cart. ( Automatically redirect after product is add to shopping cart )

      - Step 1 Register or guest checkout
      - Step 2 Shipping Information
      - Step 3 Billing information ( one click solution for copy „shipping information“ )
      - Step 4 Pre selected payment method
      - Step 5 Pay
      - Step 6 Success page with all information about the order

    18. Never surprise the customer in checkout by extra costs!
    19. The newsletter signup should be not pre checked; let the customer make his own choice

Communication optimization

    1. Meta tags

      Write individual meta tags, in best you do this as you would create adwords commercials.
      The quality makes the difference. The time you spend for these details will help you to get a huge improvement on your online business!

      To create meta tags you can use our free serp editor for magento:
      http://www.mgt-commerce.com/magento-serp-editor-extension.html

    2. Check all Auto-responder emails

      Keep in mind, that these mails are the first contact to your customer. These mails help to reduce the load of work and the customer gets information about shipping or that an order was placed sucessfully! Also it helps to get a higher trust!

      You should check following things:

      - Company name and logo
      - Mail formatting
      - Support or help center
      - Your social media links like facebook

    3. Check your mail sending method

      Often mail do not arrive at the customer, because the customer´s mail provider marks your mails as spam. This can have different reasons, for example wrong sending method or just mistakes in mail formatting. To prevent this, you should setup a good mail provider for sending mails like Amazon „SES“ or „mail chimp“.

    4. Check each functionality: reset password, registration, or newsletter signup
    5. Order confirmation mail should contain only all information about the order

      Doing additional marketing should be done in other mails. If you put commercials in the order confirmation mail you only run the risk of confusion.

    6. Send shipped information

      This reduces questions from your customer. If you send a tracking number, they can follow online where and when the products will arrive.

    7. “Thank you”- messages and success pages

      Please keep in mind, that the difference between a physical local store and your magento shop is not this big! So you can use the chance to get a bit more interaction with your customer, this could be:

      - A request about signup in the newsletter
      - Invitation to social media sharing
      - Asking for feedback
      - Offering support
      - A discount for doing the next purchase
      - A store credit for come back
      - Adding trust points

    8. Show your social media, facebook likes or twitter followers
    9. Check each error message, 404 page, no search results page

      This pages are built by developers!
      However, often these smart guys have no idea how to communicate with customers and the messages feel a bit harsh. :)

    10. Your „about page“ should be an impressive page

      - share your company story
      - show people behind the company
      - maybe you like to share some facts?
      - write in your natural voice
      - it should be more than just some text
      - be authentic

    11. Support – contact – imprint pages

      Displaying a phone number, a street address and the town should be a basic! Your customer is no computer. Often a short touch by phone helps to break the emotional barrier before the customer does the purchase. Alternative options could be a live chat, email or fax.

    12. Usability testing

      Usability tests can´t be done often enough. Just asking some friends and family, is often the first kind of testing, but you can also hire professional testers like http://www.usertesting.com/
      Take care about the test results, redo tests after you have done changes!
      testing, testing, testin

Speed optimization

Don´t let your customers wait! Every millisecond on page load time counts. High performance is not just good for getting a better SEO, it´s for getting a much better conversion rate. Every page should be fast as possible.

    1. JavaScript

      Reduce JavaScript as much as possible. The browser must parse the JavaScript content. Minimized amount of JavaScript lines speeds up the page load time.

    2. CSS

      Try to clean up your css, often there is a bunch of unneeded lines and rules.

    3. Combine JavaScript & CSS files

      Whenever it´s possible, you should try to combine js & css files.

    4. Optimize images

      Normal product images don´t need to have a file size of more than 300kb per image. Unneeded information in jpg header like exif data can be deleted with tools like http://www.smushit.com/ysmush.it/

    5. Combine images into CSS sprites

      Try to reduce the number of images by combine them into a sprite. A great tool to do this is: http://spriteme.org/

    6. Use a CDN for your static content

      A CDN ( content deliver network ) helps to reduce the load on your server. Also the visitor gets the static content from CDN, which is the nearest to him. We can highly recommend to take amazon´s CDN!
      We have developed a nice tool for amazon´s CDN and Magento:
      http://www.mgt-commerce.com/amazon-cloudfront-file-invalidation.html

    7. Try to use as less as possible third party extensions for your front end

      It is not the biggest secret, that more than 98% of all third party extensions for Magento are not well developed. Often they generate a performance bottleneck, which will slow down the best servers.

    8. Take a server which can handle your Magento shop

      It will stay a dream to take a shared hosting server for a Magento shop and getting a good performance. For this you can visit our hosting and server setup service: http://www.mgt-commerce.com/high-performance-server-setup.html A good solution will not cost a lot, it must be done only once right. If you have no well done server configuration it costs you new customers every day and this is expensive!

    9. Server configuration

      For this we have written a nice blog article at: http://www.mgt-commerce.com/blog/magento-on-steroids-best-practice-for-highest-performance/ If you don´t like to spend weeks of work, we can offer this as service at: High performance server setup service

    10. Performance bottlenecks by not well developed shop code

      High performance can only reached if every detail is well configured. Often the code is not well done, for analyzing possible performance bottlenecks you can use our developer toolbar:
      http://www.mgt-commerce.com/magento-developer-toolbar.html

    11. Usage of a full page cache

      To reduce the load of the server and to speed up your Magento shop you can install a caching system like our full page cache:
      http://www.mgt-commerce.com/speed-up-magento-by-full-page-cache.html

Shipping and return policy

  1. Minimize the shipping time as much as possible
  2. Tell the customer the expected date when his product will arrive or give him a tracking number
  3. Offer a selectable deliver time in checkout
  4. Write a clean and easy understandable refund policy
  5. If possible, offer a free shipping
  6. Offer different shipping companies
  7. Offer express shipping
  8. Offer a good return policy

6 responses to 70 conversion optimization tips for a Magento shop

  1. Great article however in some cases you can’t get around third party extensions. The standard layered search for example is to basic and 9 out of 10 shops would need more options. Downside is that the layered navigation is also one of the most resource heavy items on the frontend.

    Do you have an suggestion for a good working and options extending Layered Navigation module.

    • Hello Reind,

      thank you for your comment.

      Let me explain this point a bit better. You are complete right, magento out of box has too less functionality. But you need to care about what kind of extension you install and which developer has created it.
      The benefit of a third party extension should be that it will work fine, instead of getting a performance bottlenecks or a broken magento core functionality!
      But exact at this case starts the main problem, an extension which slow down your shop can´t be a solution.

      So the question should be how to detect high quality extensions?
      And here i like to come back to your comment.

      1. A lot „must have extensions“ are complete useless.
      2. A well developed extension has a high price out of serval reasons.
      3. High skilled developers will take more than 65€/ hour
      4. You should better take the „installation option“ when you buy an extension
      5. Having a test or dev system for checking new extension a long time before you copy it to your productive system.
      6. In case an extension has issues, you should not be afraid to remove it, also when you have paid for it. A good solution works well, else it is no solution.
      7. Try to keep the focus on getting new customers through better communication and commercials instead of research on how to get a better business by new extensions.
      8. Use analytics to find out if the new extension makes a difference in conversions. If not remove it!

      Best regards,

      Raphael

  2. Hi guys,

    Nice list – have never seen optimization tips broken in that kind. Communication optimization – I guess Magento is helpless here :)

  3. Very nice write-up. I absolutely appreciate this website. Keep writing!

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  1. Angelica - February 8, 2013

    [...] If you’re in e-commerce and using Magento as a platform, you must check out these 70 conversion optimization tips from Mgt-commerce.com. [...]

  2. February’s ExpressionEngine, WordPress, and Magento Content | @nexcess - February 26, 2013

    [...] 70 conversion optimization tips for a Magento shop – eCommerce has become one of the best ways to sell products today. The Magento application is one of the biggest shopping platforms. In this checklist we like to show you how to become individual and more successful. Your competitors are not sleeping and a good communication between your Magento shop and the visitors decides about the success. [...]

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