Conversion rates tell you how well your website is turning visitors into paying customers. Improving your conversion rate is about appealing to customer behavior and buying habits.
But getting your customers to click isn’t an easy feat, especially with all the noise online today.
Does your customers’ behavior feel like a mystery to you? How can you possibly know what your site visitors are thinking?
You can start answering these questions by unpacking your site analytics. I’ve spoken to a handful of ecommerce experts to learn what reports help you better understand your site visitors and optimize your website.
Below, you’ll find five Google Analytics and Shopify reports that unearth the information you need to increase your conversion rates and sales.
Note: Running these reports won’t immediately increase your conversion rates. To improve your ecommerce CRO, consider setting goals against which you can compare your site performance. Learn more about setting up goals for Google Analytics here.
1. New vs. returning visitors
The new to returning visitors ratio reveals the portion of visitors and customers who choose to come back and browse. New traffic is exciting, but your number of returning visitors indicates that your website, product, and/or purchase experience left a positive impression.
Run this report in Google Analytics by clicking Audience > Behavior > New vs. Returning.
The key to increasing ecommerce CRO is understanding your audience and how they shop—new visitors and returning visitors have very different buying habits.
According to a 2018 study, returning visitors:
- Added items to carts 65.16% more than new visitors
- Converted 73.72% more
- Spent 16.15% more per transaction
Why? Well, a new visitor is likely browsing your site and getting familiar with your products, similar to a window shopper. Unless they came to your site via word-of-mouth, they might not be looking to make a purchase right away.
Use newsletter prompts, pop-up discounts, and cart abandonment emails to engage with new visitors. If they make a purchase, great! If not, use these levers to provide a pleasant experience, build a positive relationship, and encourage them to return.
On the other hand, returning visitors are already familiar with your store and probably visiting to shop (if they haven’t already). The best way to welcome return visitors to your website is with ecommerce personalization tactics like customized product suggestions and user-generated content. Consider including the latter on your product pages alongside professional product photography.
Not only does ecommerce personalization make returning visitors feel recognized, but it may cut their path to purchase in half. Plus, personalized shopping experiences have been shown to yield up to 15% higher conversion rates.
2. Acquisition by source/medium
How does your website acquire traffic? Once people land on your site, where do they go from there?
Run this report in Google Analytics by clicking Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
First, if any paid campaigns aren’t driving traffic, this report will show you where you can tweak your projects. Are your CPC ads barely making a dent? Turn them off and reroute those efforts into organic or email campaigns that may be attracting more visitors.
For those campaigns that are driving traffic, use this report to trace your user experience. This is particularly helpful if you see high traffic but low conversion rates.
Do all paid ads, social posts, and email campaigns match the landing pages to which they link? If not—and your visitors are expecting a different product or offer—this could be the culprit of a low ecommerce conversion rate.
Another variation of this report is the Users Flow report in Google Analytics. This report provides a graphical representation of visitor traffic, from where they entered your site to what pages they visited and where they exited (which we’ll unpack next).
The Users Flow report is a helpful addition to your acquisition analysis, as it identifies any loops.
“A loop occurs when visitors repeatedly navigate back and forth between two pages, such as clicking from the homepage to a product grid page then back to the homepage,” says Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good.
Loops may indicate confusion on a particular page. This insight gives you an opportunity to clear up the information and help visitors become customers.”
3. Exit pages
The pages on which your visitors choose to exit your site reveal where your user experience is lacking—or breaking altogether. While the Users Flow report provides this information, we encourage you to run an Exit Pages report to dig deeper into where your visitors left your site.
Run this report in Google Analytics by clicking Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. You can also see exit rates under All Pages.
Narrow down your Exit Pages report results by filtering out pages not intended to produce a continued action (e.g., an informational page like About Us). Do this by clicking Advanced and adding a filter for page URLs containing “/product/”—or whatever URL path you’ve set up for your site.
Review the specific pages from which visitors are frequently exiting. Don’t worry if your homepage is at the top of the list—that’s pretty common. If they’re product pages or high intent pages, like a Contact Us page, review your website copy, product imagery, and customer reviews.
Consider setting up Scroll Depth triggers in Google Analytics to see how far your visitors travel on each page,” he says.
If [visitors] are not seeing important information like pricing or calls to action, consider reorganizing the page or driving people lower with arrows, continued imagery, and compelling copy.”
Allbirds vertically displays its product photography across each product page, encouraging visitors to continue scrolling to see the rest.
If your visitors are leaving at a cart page, consider setting up a cart abandonment campaign to bring them back to your site. (The average desktop cart abandonment rate is about 70%; a simple drip email campaign can be a valuable second chance at a first impression.)
Another way to mitigate cart abandonment is with a simple checkout experience. If visitors can’t find it, don’t trust it, or don’t feel like navigating through it, they likely won’t convert to customers.
Your ecommerce checkout experience directly affects the success of your store—18% of visitors abandon their cart due to a complicated checkout process. A simple one-click checkout (like Shop Pay) has been shown to increase conversion rates by 35%.
4. Sessions by device
As we acknowledged before, improving your ecommerce website CRO is about appealing to how your customers shop. One way to do this is by meeting them where they are—by understanding whether they shop on their desktop, mobile device, or tablet.
Your Sessions by Device report in Shopify shows you what devices visitors are using to access your site. You can also see a breakdown of this data on your Overview dashboard.
Did you know that global consumer mobile spending is anticipated to reach $270 billion by 2025? Fifteen percent of US adults only have access to the internet via their smartphones, and over 50% of shoppers stop visiting ecommerce sites with lousy mobile experiences.
Your shopping experience matters, and the device on which your shoppers browse can directly impact whether or not they make a purchase.
Google Analytics can also help you dig deeper into how your visitors are shopping.
Click Audience > Technology > Browser & OS to examine what browsers your visitors use to check out your site. Toggle between Browser and Operating System to see if any bounce rates or session duration metrics stand out. Next, visit Audience > Mobile > Devices to see the specific devices your visitors are using.
(Note: This is another spot where setting conversion rate goals in GA can help you identify outliers. Without goals, you can’t compare site performance over time.)
So, what should you do with this information? “If you see very low conversion rates or super high bounce rates on certain devices, that may mean the shopper experience is broken on those devices,” says Birkett. “Use a test called BrowserStack to QA your site experience through different platforms, like Android or iPhone.”
You can also manually review each browser and device UX. Visit your ecommerce store on any browsers and devices with high bounce rates and walk through the checkout process. Are all links intact? Is it easy to read your site copy or recognize your product images? Is the menu accessible? Is your site loading quickly?
If your answer is no, return to the drawing board and improve the shopping experience on these devices. You’ll see your conversion rate improve in turn.
5. Site searches
Your ecommerce site searches reveal how your visitors are using your internal site search engine and what they’re searching for.
This can alert you of trending products you weren’t aware of and inform how you potentially restructure your site.
Given that it displays the exact search queries, this report can also help you understand how your visitors and customers are talking about your products. You can adjust your product names and descriptions accordingly.
Digging into the specific queries can tell you:
- Specific terms (like “Nike Free Run”), which may indicate returning shoppers who know what they’re looking for
- Broad terms (like “running shoes”), which may indicate new visitors who are browsing your site for the first
Reviewing broad terms also shows you where your navigation may be broken or poorly designed, as this may indicate that visitors can’t find specific pages or categories. For example, if a top search on your site was “login” or “shoes,”yet you offer both links in the main menu, your visitors may be struggling to find those links.
The Top online store searches with no results report is similar in that it collects all search queries that didn’t return a result on your website. This report alerts you to product names or descriptions that need to be adjusted, as well as potential sales that failed to convert.
Using this data to improve your site search experience can also strengthen your conversion rate. If someone can’t find what they need, they certainly won’t buy.
Both reports can also inform your team’s SEO and PPC strategies, as they provide direct insight into how your visitors are searching for your products.
Note: To run these reports, you must have a theme with a search bar. Visit the Shopify Themes store to learn more.
Increase ecommerce conversion rates: better analytics, better tests
Optimizing your ecommerce website conversion rate isn’t a mystery, it just requires a healthy relationship with your analytics platforms.
Start with these five reports to understand what your visitors are thinking when they visit your website. You’ll soon learn how to turn those digital window shoppers into loyal customers.
To read more about ecommerce conversion rates, check out our guide to advanced CRO tactics.
Want to get deeper insights into your customers’ shopping experience? You can save time analyzing a ton of reports by working with one of our technology partners.