Traffic vs. Conversions: How to get started in E-Commerce

Conversions and Traffic in Online Shops
Author: Haydar Yuece // 13min

Anyone who runs an online shop has the goal of selling their products to as many people as possible. This requires visitors (traffic) to the website who ultimately perform an action (conversion), i.e. the actual purchase. Shop optimisation is not least a question of budget, because both the generation of new traffic and the actual conversion optimisation often take a lot of time and money.

Many shop operators therefore ask themselves the question: When and how exactly do I start with conversion optimisation? We want to answer this question for you in detail!

Increase Traffic vs. Conversion Optimisation

For most people, the conclusion is obvious: the higher the number of visitors to the website, the better for sales. But only when the conversion is right, i.e. the conversion of a visitor into a customer or user, is the online shop sustainably successful in the long term.

So it stands to reason that both disciplines of online marketing must work together efficiently. Nevertheless, conversion optimisation in the online shop is primarily the linchpin that ultimately ensures sales. If the streams of visitors are right, but no customers are gained from them, you as a shop operator should take a closer look at conversion optimisation. In this case, the expensively generated traffic is not being used optimally. Ultimately, it is not the quantity of visitors that matters, but rather their quality.

Traffic measures such as targeted social media marketing, recommendation marketing or other advertising campaigns ensure that a continuously growing stream of visitors is gradually built up. Advertisements are also a good way to increase traffic in the short term.

Conversion optimisation in the online shop, on the other hand, ensures long-term success and is especially important when there is already a medium to high visitor flow. This is how the expensively generated traffic is really used.

How to divide the budget between traffic and conversion optimisation is a case-by-case decision. If you do not yet have a visible website and must first assert yourself against the competition, you should first boost traffic. If the first visitors arrive, conversion optimisation can be started in the online shop in parallel.

If, on the other hand, you already have a large number of visitors but no real sales, you should reduce the budget for measures to increase traffic and invest in conversion optimisation. If online merchants have to make a decision for budget reasons, conversion optimisation should be chosen for the online shop. Even with little effort, conversion optimisation measures can achieve great effects that sustainably increase sales.

Traffic Increase in Online Shops

There are various measures to increase the traffic on a website. Above all, advertising in the form of ads on Google, in social media or on other websites is a good way to address one’s target group with precise targeting and to increase traffic. Today, a large number of parameters can be set within a campaign so that exactly the right people are addressed in the right environment and at the right time. Spreading loss is avoided, the quality of the visitors is increased and the costs can be planned by setting an advertising budget and billing per pay-per-click.

SEO, on the other hand, pays off especially in the long term, as ranking usually takes some time, but in return it directs visitors to the site in the long term. Especially at the start, it is important to increase traffic. If the ranking of the website in the search results is not yet sufficient, Google Ads is a good way to increase traffic. If a visitor comes to the website from an ad, he should usually do something. Buy a product or book a service. Conversion optimisation comes into play at this point to ensure that this happens.

traffic and conversion optimisation in ecommerce

Before Starting with Conversion Optimisation

With the increase of the conversion rate, shop operators want to sustainably increase the execution of a desired action on the website by a visitor. A lot of factors on the page itself contribute to this. Starting with the layout, through the content to the purchase process and check-out, there is usually a lot of optimisation potential for increasing the conversion rate.

In principle, all elements can be optimised. With such a selection, the question naturally arises as to what really makes sense for your own conversion optimisation. So how do you start with successful conversion optimisation?

Conversion Optimisation in E-Commerce

Before you start a strategic conversion optimisation, you should clarify two questions in advance: What actions do you want visitors to take? What is the goal of this action?

The actions that website visitors should perform more of with the optimisation can include:

  • Buying a product
  • Booking a service
  • Registering on the website
  • Watching a video/listening to a podcast
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Starting a download
  • Contacting the company
  • Participating in a webinar
  • Visiting subpages
  • Leaving a comment or a rating


Goals of the campaign can be:

  • Selling products and services
  • Generating leads
  • Winning new customers
  • Increasing customer loyalty and gaining regular customers
  • Increase brand awareness


Define Macro Conversions

So that conversion optimisation can take effect in a targeted manner, the so-called macro conversions should be defined beforehand. For online shops, it is also worthwhile to work with intermediate goals, the micro conversions, which map the entire process of the customer journey. In this way, even partial steps on the way to a purchase can be analysed in the best possible way and used for conversion optimisation.


Analyse Target Group

In order to continuously align the website with customer requirements, it is also important to know your target group. Only in this way will optimisation measures be effective, for example by changing website elements such as headlines, content and visual presentation, but also form functions, search and filter functions, length of the purchase process, services and remarketing.


Understanding Conversion Optimisation as a Process

It is important to understand conversion optimisation as an ongoing process, because the last few years have shown that the market and customer expectations are constantly changing. The Corona crisis shows how quickly this can happen. Companies should therefore understand the process as a cycle that must be firmly integrated into the strategy. This is the only way to ensure usability at all times in the long term.

Step 1 of Conversion Optimisation: The Analysis

First of all, it is important to find out why the desired action is not carried out by visitors and which pages, elements and co. are important for this. Possible reasons for poor conversion can be:


  • The buying process is too complicated.
  • Trust is lacking.
  • There is no data security.
  • Products are cheaper elsewhere.
  • The design is confusing.
  • Incorrectly placed teasers and banners are distracting.
  • The site is not optimised for mobile usability.

Collected data is used for the analysis with the help of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Quantitative Methods

The quantitative methods show, among other things, from where the users come to the website and how they move around the website. The target indicator of the quantitative methods is the “How? What is the behaviour on the individual pages? How does behaviour change when factors change? What is the perfect process for the customer? Analytics tools, standardised surveys, A/B testing or user & usability tests are used for this purpose.


Qualitative Methods

Qualitative methods are about understanding why users, visitors and customers show a certain behaviour. So here the question is “Why?”. Why is the buying process not optimal from the customer’s point of view? Why is an action not carried out? Why is the purchase aborted shortly before the order is placed? Here it is a question of asking the customers for feedback. Open surveys, interviews, focus group discussions or even eye tracking are suitable. Collecting qualitative data is more time-consuming, but also brings the most added value for conversion optimisation, as the experiences come directly from the target group.


The collected data is then analysed and a status quo is established. This now reveals the potentials to which the conversion optimisation measures can later be directed. A first and quick overview is gained with web analytics tools. With the help of the conversion funnel, the first areas of improvement are quickly found and at the same time it becomes directly visible what added value conversion optimisation brings with it in terms of its increase and the increase in turnover.

A simple example from e-commerce: the analysis showed that a high percentage of customers always abort the purchase process when they are asked to select a payment method. The survey also showed that the target group does not find their preferred payment method and would like to have more options to choose from. The element “payment method” is classified as capable of optimisation. The decision on where to place the element in the prioritisation should be made based on the web analytics tools and the ranking of the survey.

Step 2 of Conversion Optimisation: The Solution Ideas

In the next step, ideas are collected on the basis of the analysis data. The respective elements are taken into consideration. In addition, the appropriate solutions are collected and theses are formulated.

To stay with the example of the payment method: If “purchase on account” is introduced among the payment methods, more customers will decide to make a purchase because this payment method is preferred by the target group.

Proven methods that support idea generation are competitive analysis and special staff workshops within a project. This ensures that all specialist departments are included in the process of conversion optimisation and that a different perspective can flow in due to the specialist expertise.

It is important that the solution is measurable and that all collected ideas are prioritised, otherwise one quickly gets lost in too many possibilities. Prioritisation can be done internally or directly by the customers with online survey systems. Onsite and panel surveys are available for this purpose. Onsite surveys are established directly on the website. With panel surveys, suitable users are selected from the database and surveyed on a recurring basis.

Step 3 of Conversion Optimisation: The Creation of Variants

Once it is clear which elements and which measures are to be used in conversion optimisation, a wireframe and a test landscape are created. All persons involved, such as web developers, copywriters and marketing staff, work interdisciplinarily and ideally in project groups. In addition, special factors, such as those from neuromarketing, can be taken into account at the same time.

For our example, this now means: The company creates and implements the “purchase on account” in the payment methods via an external provider in order to minimise the risk of failure and embeds the new element strategically.

Step 4 of Conversion Optimisation: The Variant Test

Once the variants have been created, the “hot phase” begins. Now the new version is compared with the old version. An A/B or multivariate test is suitable for this. The users of the website are randomly shown page A or page B. In each case, the conversion rate is always the same. The conversion rate is always recorded. At the end of the test phase, all relevant data is collected. Such a test is carried out until a statistically significant amount of data is found.

In our example, some users are presented with the old payment methods, while other users can now also purchase on account.

Step 5 of Conversion Optimisation: The Evaluation

After the A/B testing, there will be a winner. If the new variant is well received, the element is established on the page. Now, of course, it is advisable to document the further course of action and to use exact key figures for performance.

If the payment method “purchase on account” increases the conversion, the new method is permanently placed on the page.

Further Solutions for Conversion Optimisation

Those who want to improve their conversion optimisation in the online shop and the checkout can fall back on smart solutions such as those from uptain. These can be implemented quickly and directly ensure an increase in conversion without website operators having to invest a lot of time in analyses. Since the uptain® ALGORITHM recognises customer characteristics and reasons for abandonment, a personalised approach can be made and the supposedly lost visitor can still be converted into a customer. In this way, it is possible to optimise the conversion with little expenditure of time and money and at the same time to take appropriate measures to increase traffic.


The Visitor wants to abandon the Shopping Cart

Personalised Exit Intent Popups support undecided visitors who have a full shopping cart but are still on the verge of abandoning it. Depending on the reason for abandonment, the visitor receives a personalised Exit Intent Popup shortly before shopping cart abandonment, which convinces them not to make the purchase. The situationally appropriate exit intent pop-ups ensure that the abandonment rate is reduced by up to 30%.


The Visitor has already abandoned the Shopping Cart

Even if the customer has already abandoned the purchase, he is far from lost. With the personalised abandoned cart emails, shop operators actually win back visitors they thought were lost. The e-mail retargeting is also carried out according to the reason for abandonment and customer characteristics, so that the recipient feels addressed in the best possible way.


Unknown but interested Visitors in the Online Shop

Newsletter Popups are ideal for achieving a sustained high conversion rate. With these, you convert unknown but interested visitors into quality newsletter subscribers who become returning customers through skilful newsletter marketing. Here, too, content, incentives and tone are tailored to the visitor.

Increasing traffic and conversion optimisation in the online shop are both part of a comprehensive online marketing strategy. In which area more budget is used is always a case-by-case decision.

Those who need more visibility and visitors should first increase traffic and gradually tackle conversion optimisation. If, on the other hand, you already have high visitor flows but no sales, you need to focus on conversion optimisation in the online shop. Smart tools such as those from uptain are a good solution for combining both disciplines in a cost-efficient way.

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