How to Use Ecommerce Metrics to Boost Sales (7 Convincing Case Studies)
Is your business on the right track, or are you stuck scratching your head as you look at ecommerce metrics? With the wealth of tools and data, it can be hard to determine what’s useful and what’s not. To help you do a little light analysis and laser-focus on what’s important, we’re presenting five of the top considerations for your ecommerce site. While we will have some averages for things like cart abandonment, your goal is to use this data to understand your current customers and what they want. From there, experiment, test, and grow.
Table of Contents
- Conversion Rates and Leads’ Sources
- Cart Abandonment
- Returns and Refunds
- Interest Hours vs Sales Hours
- Email Opens and Clicks
- Customer Acquisition Costs
- Customer Loyalty and Retention
Conversion Rates and Leads’ Sources
We often measure the health of our businesses on sales and conversion rates. It tells companies how their message is being perceived and whether we need to work on creating a new route or just fine-tuning current efforts. Conventional wisdom says you should be in the 2% to 5% conversion rate to be doing well, and this generally still stands. According to Smart Insights, your channels will range from around 3% (paid and organic search) to 1% and less (social and display ads).
This means that customers with high intent that are looking specifically for you or what you offer are more likely to convert. The site change is to target these users and their search intent. Look for places to restructure the way you’re writing your blogs and site pages to sound more like speech — next year, half of all searches will be based on voice and that impacts results. Answer the questions your customers are searching for online to gain a better chance for search preference.
And finally, build your site to be fast and get people to exactly what they’re looking for. If you’re taking more than seven seconds to load, you’ve lost them and their intent. If pages are cluttered or what they’re looking for is hard to find, you’ve lost them again. You need to be simple, quick, and built around the customer who is asking a voice assistant to find you.
Case Study: Prominent USPs increase sales
Budapester was driving significant traffic to its mobile and desktop website but couldn’t close the deal in most cases. People were looking across it in the standard F and T patterns. However, people weren’t finding things that they connected with enough to buy. Studying its conversion rate, the company realized that it needed to improve its website performance. What we like about their follow-up work is that it didn’t require a major site overhaul using IT and custom coding.
The company simply focused on small tweaks it could do to address its traffic specifically for sources — more than half of its traffic came from Safari browsers, signifying a variety of mobile and other screen needs. To tackle this revelation, the site shrunk its header, reduced the logo size, changed icons to be more standard, and highlighted products and discounts as well as pricing. Everything was easier to scan, which meant that the large traffic coming to the site was able to see what they liked and found it easier to buy.
The changes were able to be done within its existing system and containers, making it relatively simple to A/B test and implement. By focusing on images and content, reducing the header and logos unrelated to the sales, the company was able to increase overall conversions by 12.5%. On mobile alone, the conversion rate was up 29%.
For online shopping, cart abandonment rates average to about 70% to 75%, with some sectors going higher or lower. The core reasons for abandonment have stayed fairly consistent:
- Final prices
- Surprise fees
- Complicated steps
- You’re asking for too much information
The biggest defector to purchase is a lack of trust. When customers don’t trust you or when you do things that make you appear untrustworthy, they’re going to leave the process. For pricing and fees, the only thing you can do is be honest and upfront. Don’t hide taxes or shipping costs until the final page. There are tools you can integrate to display taxes and shipping costs based on order size and location. At the same time, there are content adjustments you can tackle too.
Case Study: Build trust and clarify benefits
Growth Rock and Amerisleep were able to increase checkouts by 13.9% — improving sales and reducing cart abandons — by adjusting messaging leading up to direct purchases. The company identified its abandon rate as a lack of trust and that customers didn’t feel compelled to purchase right away.
They highlighted the cost of the purchase sooner and delivered more information. At the same time, they boosted trust by shifting messaging from “a good night’s sleep,” to discussing how they deliver the improved sleep and the benefits you specifically get from that better sleep.
By highlighting the importance and boost, plus giving you a reason to get it today with the copy above, Amerisleep was able to create that sense of urgency as a reaction to low conversions. Direct copy, clear benefits, and simplified order buttons are all clear in the update. By focusing on why people weren’t converting, they identified copy issues that they could address directly.
For your company, look for similar ways to tackle objections with your copy. You’ll also want to look for signals that show you’re not trusted. A common one we noticed in reviewing the commerce space is that customers aren’t trusting of the checkout process. Here, a valid SSL certificate is very important.
If you don’t have this certificate, customers may get warnings that drive them away when it comes time to pay. You should also look for ways to incorporate payment methods customers want and their related trust badges.
At the same time, reconfigure your checkout requests. Get it down to a single page where the customer can log in if they want. If not, give them a simplified checkout process that doesn’t ask for anything beyond what you need — name and address for shipping, email for sending the receipt, and payment info.
Extensive forms drive people away, so avoid them whenever possible.
Returns and Refunds
Our next two ecommerce metrics are tied together because they have a similar impact on your bottom line and your teams. Return rates are around 8% to 10% for ecommerce brands in general, though industries like apparel have higher returns than others. The most common reasons for returns are often the same reasons that people ask for refunds: broken or damaged when arrived, it doesn’t look like what your website showed, doesn’t live up to expectations or simply just didn’t like them in-person.
The mission is to turn as many returns as possible into replacements for goods or at least turn a refund into a profit driver.
Your process for addressing returns and refunds is two-fold. First, you want to create an online return support that is as simple as the checkout process. Allow people to look at their orders and ask for returns and refunds within your system. The more you can do it via a site or chat — and fewer emails or calls to customer service — the better for most ecommerce buyers.
They want hassle-free, friction-free efforts, which can have multiple impacts when we get to this case study.
Why do this? Because 95% of people who are happy with the returns process will buy from that retailer again. And, more than 80% of people who return a product are already repeat buyers. They’re your core target, so treat them right by making things simple.
The other thing to do to reduce the impact on your bottom line is to find the right warehouse tech or fulfillment partner. Having a plan for handling returns, reviewing products, and approving returns to give someone a replacement or refund is 100% mandatory. Concrete plans ensure all customers are treated fairly and that you’re not wasting money.
You don’t want to have the warehouse that puts returns you could resell on a shelf at the back to be forgotten. Because, you’ll then re-order from suppliers and spend when you had usable inventory. Those old products in the back also take up space, preventing you from housing more goods that could be sold.
Case Study: Get credit for your work
JOLYN offers workout clothes and swimsuits. Before its work with Return Logic, the company could take up to two weeks before processing returns, which meant that up to 70% of its customer support tickets were returns related.
By working with a logistics partner, they could manage returns more quickly and lighten the workload on their service teams related to returns. It was a smart way to save labor costs and improve their overall customer satisfaction.
There was an added benefit, too. By making the returns process simpler, JOLYN saw its request for store credit jump from 20% of all returns to 30%. This allowed the company to keep more of its sales and revenue, while it also dropped operational costs.
Simplify the process and make your requirements clear, including the UX and UI elements, and your company can improve in multiple ways.
Interest Hours vs Sales Hours
Our last metric to consider isn’t a hard number, but a habit you want to track. It’s simple and involves just two customers:
- When do your customers look at your website most?
- When do they buy? Ecommerce is 24/7 and you want to be able to generate interest and sales at any hour. If you’re looking at your site and seeing a mismatch, you should dive deeper into these numbers. See what buyers do, such as asking questions or calling your help line.
You might need a chatbot or site redesign to answer questions to generate those 3 a.m. sales. Or, you might discover that your target market is in a certain geography, allowing you to focus localized marketing efforts. Fire up Google Analytics to see traffic details and then use your ecommerce or CRM tools to analyze order data.
Build your site and experience to the people who want to buy from you.
Case Study: Tidio finds cost reductions with always-on service Through its service efforts and partnerships, Tidio has determined that companies can save up to 30% of customer service costs by responding to their queries in a timely manner. That means having 24/7 support through chabots.
Employing an FAQ bot on its own site led the company to cut the number of questions that its support team had to handle in half, daily. It saves customers time and delivers a positive experience. Plus, they’re willing to use these options to get questions answered whether you’re “open” at that time or not.
A Hubspot study found that 71% of customers are more willing to use chatbots in order to receive quicker query responses. That 24/7 support can then essentially help you qualify leads. The kicker, from the same study, is that more than half of site customers are more likely to buy from you if you have a chat option that prevents them from having to wait in line for service.
Not only does an FAQ bot handle the most common questions for you, but it’ll also help you reduce your customer service costs and provide a boost to potential sales. These efforts can compound other benefits – especially around things like shipping pricing and cost confusion – when the tools are able to answer all of the questions your customers have.
Email Opens and Clicks
For ecommerce stores, long-term success often comes in the form of email. After someone signs up for a coupon or makes a purchase, you’ve got a proven method to reach out and establish a connection. Each successive step can provide support and information, with an occasional, light sales touch designed to build a few extra sales along the way. It’s how you scale.
Well, at least that’s how it is supposed to work.
Ecommerce stores should track their email opens and clicks to see if they’re being effective or if your marketing isn’t making it. Perhaps you’ve sent too many and things automatically go to the spam folder. Or, you only push sale after sale, which causes your audience to tune out after a while.
If you’re not useful or helpful today, why would they open your email tomorrow?
Thankfully, most ecommerce and marketing tools give you plenty of metrics and analytics to help you track things. You’ll see open rates and clicks among nearly every option. If you’re not experiencing the rates you need, it’s time to A/B test with content mixes, times that you send things, how often, and much more.
A/B testing tools are typically built in and simple to use, so you’re testing similar audiences with reliable information.
There’s a downside in all of this, unfortunately. Today, most web and mobile email clients, and even those installed Outlook and Mail apps, can be set to automatically block images and prevent them from loading. That includes most of the pixels that, when they load, track how much people open your email.
If you can’t get an idea of true opens, it’s hard to understand what is or isn’t working and how to improve it. Thankfully, there’s a smart way to ensure that your metrics are correct: Ask.
Case Study: The simple survey
Customers are willing to tell you a lot of information about their preferences, especially if they feel like it’ll lead to them getting more of what they want. Your mission is to figure out how to ask. Keeping surveys and questions brief, plus making it easy to respond, can help generate insight.
Now, we also know that when people are clicking through these surveys, you’re getting a good measure of open rates and engagement. They’re your core audience — the one that’s profitable to keep happy!
Let’s talk about how to get them to respond.
A favorite case study of ours in this space comes from Society Socks. This sock subscription company used surveys during and after the buyer’s journey to help people find the right information, get to know the customer, and get feedback. It’s how they determine target markets and understand their customer satisfaction.
By working with feedier, Society Socks built a pleasing and simple set of surveys that had a great user interface and clean visuals. Plus, most were very short and took only a few seconds. They began generating quick, useful data.
The company then continued to refine and send different questions and surveys, spread out across the buyer’s journey, to segment multiple times to determine multiple personas. As it progresses, the company adds rewards to generate further interest.
Overall, it’s email engagement and response rate increased by 200%, increased by 200%, validating open rates and other email metrics.
Customer Acquisition Costs
Another important metric to review is the cost per acquisition (CPA), or the amount you’re spending to gain each new customer. It’s one of the more difficult things to measure because you’ll need a robust marketing technology stack to track expenses for your campaigns and initiatives, including things like blogging and SEO work.
What you want is to have a cost that’s significantly lower than you’re the average lifetime value of a customer (CLV), so that you’re running a business generating enough revenue to acquire customers, sell products to them, and serve them over their lifetime. If your CPA is higher than the CLV, then your marketing alone is going to eat all of your cash on hand.
A big cost in the marketing space is paid ads, so many hope to spend a lot on content to drive engagement as well as SEO benefits that bring in customers. It’s a long-term strategy that can work, but we don’t think you should abandon paid ads altogether. Sometimes, it’s just about being smarter and choosing your spend wisely.
In the ecommerce space, it might mean focusing on the type of ads — and content — that sell best. For you, that means visuals.
Case Study: Placing Smart Bets
ECCO Shoes focuses on stylish, tough, and environmentally friendly footwear in the UK. And, for a while, it was spending a lot of money on text-based Google Ads. This led to a high cost per sale not only because of the keyword competition but also because it was struggling to get the right people to see its ads.
The company began working with Digital Gearbox and instead switched its efforts to image-based Google’s Shopping ads, specifically the Product Listing ads. It worked to identify top sellers and popular models, and then chose a specific subset of products to advertise within the feed. It refined the campaign over time to look for targeting methods that generated interest and clicks at lower costs.
Visuals were a main driver of this interaction and testing visuals made it easier to find the right images to use, keeping traffic high as it worked to reduce targeting costs. Promotions and other elements in the visuals also helped drive interaction.
By shifting from text to visual ads, ECCO was able to decrease its cost per conversion by 14%. This means it was already saving money and generating more revenue. Pair it with results from running a quality campaign — 24% higher visits, 28% increased conversion rate, 38% increase in average order value — and the focus driving down CPA yielded meaningful results.
Your takeaway is that physical products need to be seen, and Google’s Shopping ads are a top way to help generate that visibility.
Customer Loyalty and Retention
A final metric to review is your customer retention rate: the number of people who buy once and then come back to buy again! Generally, it’s cheaper to keep existing customers around and get them to make additional purchases than it is to market to new customers and push them through your entire sales funnel.
ne study says that it is not only 5x cheaper but also loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones.
Among the best methods to retain people after an initial purchase and turn them into repeat buyers is to provide rewards and bonuses. You can do this through defined loyalty programs where you track rewards and create large campaigns, or keep it simple and send everyone in your mailing list a coupon at different points during the year.
This metric builds nicely off of CPA, helping you increase lifetime value and further minimizing ad and other costs.
You’ve seen these programs your entire life – the process was popularized in the late 1700s, if not before. That means the processes for creating and running loyalty programs are well established. That’s great news for any ecommerce company because it means you have options to automate many steps and follow proven protocols to increase loyalty, retention, and purchases.
Case Study: Turn to Proven Extensions
Our final case study looks at platforms more than specific applications because you’ve got a lot of tools that can start working for you right out of the box, especially if you use common platforms like Magento 2. Mageplaza is one of the larger producers of plugins and modules such as customer attributes that can make it easier to tailor your efforts to specific customers.
By combining these features with loyalty programs, you can customize content and offers to the right audience and then reward them. That way, you can quickly A/B test both messages and offers, being rewarded twice when someone buys – first when they buy and second when they validate your program and messaging!
Mageplaza customers say that its rewards points program has increased its loyal customer base by up to 30% thanks to the extension and how it automatically recognizes existing customers.
Even newbies in this area can quickly turn to a mailing list into a powerful solution to secure more loyalty and generate greater revenues.
Ecommerce stores are awash in metrics and data. It’s hard to use sometimes but can also lead to significant insights that protect and grow your business. These six metrics and case studies are here just to give you some idea for what to do next.
Whether you’re focusing on open rates, customer acquisition, cart abandonment, or something else entirely, what we do know is that the customer is always at the heart of an ecommerce experience. Treat them well, be honest, and work to understand them. Achieving those three things will guide your business to a brighter future where people want to shop with you specifically.
Author: Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.