With a booming rise in e-commerce businesses, there's increasing competition among brands to get and keep more shoppers. Conversion marketing is a powerful tool in attracting and keeping those shoppers: it deploys conversion optimization best practices to acquire, convert, and retain customers in a way that benefits your bottom line.

The most efficient conversion tactics (those with the highest ROI) are the ones that drive more leads to your store, boost conversion rates, and increase revenue, without raising costs or creating a lot of additional work for your team. Examples of actionable tactics in conversion marketing include pop-ups, targeted ads, A/B testing, customer experience optimization, checkout page improvements, measuring website performance, and bounce rate improvements.

Of course, one of our favorite tactics is text messaging: brands using Emotive have seen double-digit conversion rates with SMS engagement campaigns for abandoned cart recovery, Black Friday sales, back-in-stock reminders, or upselling new products.

Let's take a closer look at conversion marketing and how you can improve conversions at your own e-commerce website.

What is conversion marketing?

Conversion marketing means using marketing practices to optimize your conversion rates. (For e-commerce brands, a "conversion" means a shopper engages with your business and eventually becomes a paying customer.) Conversion marketing, or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a key tool in your digital marketing toolbox because it gives you lots of ways to achieve better results. For example, small optimizations to your SMS opt-in conversion rate, your website registration conversion rate, your email signup conversion rate, your abandoned cart conversion rate, your checkout conversion rate, or your loyalty program conversion rate can all add up to bigger profits.

How does conversion marketing help your online business?

Increasing conversion rates is the most efficient way to grow your business because it can help you generate more revenue using the resources you already have. Sure, you could invest money in paid ads to generate more traffic, but unless you can convert existing traffic into sales you won't get the most from your investment. Making incremental changes that result in a higher conversion rate can have a huge impact. Here are some of the benefits conversion marketing can bring:

  • Acquisition of new website visitors and repeat customers

  • Reduction in overall customer acquisition costs 

  • Increased average order value (AOV) and customer lifetime value (CLV)

  • Higher return on ad spend (ROAS)

  • Google analytics data and metrics measuring the performance of your web pages

  • Customer feedback and data you can apply to future marketing campaigns

What are some examples of conversion marketing metrics?

Conversion marketing begins with evaluating the conversion points at your e-commerce store, and figuring out which of these metrics you want to optimize. There are dozens of e-commerce marketing metrics you might focus on, but here are some of the most popular ones.

Sales conversion rate

Your sales conversion rate is the number of sales at your online store, divided by the number of unique visitors, multiplied by 100. The average e-commerce sales conversion rate is 2-3%. This is a lagging indicator but is the best holistic representation of your store's health.

Cost per acquisition (CPA)

This is the marketing cost of acquiring a single customer, calculated as your marketing expenses divided by your conversions. You can also measure your customer acquisition cost (CAC) by including ALL expenses, not just marketing.

Average order value

As obvious as it sounds, AOV is an important metric to track over time and across segments. Increasing your AOV doesn't mean just selling more of your most expensive items; it might mean increasing multiple-item purchases or add-ons.

Web traffic

Optimizing web traffic at your store might mean looking at different aspects: your traffic sources (paid vs. organic Google search, referrals vs. direct, social media), traffic patterns, and how your audience moves through your website content (bounce rates and exits).

New vs. returning visitors

Are most of your site visitors repeat shoppers or new ones? Are you treating these two groups differently with dynamic content? Knowing whether shoppers see your store as a one-time or frequent destination can help you tweak the essential details of their experience.

Web session length

How long do visitors stick around at your website? Are you seeing patterns or differences between those who convert (shoppers who buy) vs. those who are simply browsing? Seeing your website through the eyes of your customers can help you optimize flow so visitors take the desired action.

Email / SMS opt-in rate

If you're using pop-ups on your home page or landing pages, you'll want to measure what percentage of site visitors opt into signing up to hear from you via email or SMS. Ideally your opt-in rate is higher than your opt-out or unsubscribe rate.

Click-through rates

Clicks are a marketer's candy: they tell us where shoppers engage with our site and where our content is relevant. You should be tracking click-through rates everywhere, from social media channels to email and SMS messages to calls to action on your product pages.

Shopping cart abandonment rate

Cart abandonment is a common phenomenon for most e-commerce websites, with the average cart abandonment rate hovering between 70 and 80 percent. But improving this conversion rate by just a few percentage points can increase sales revenue by thousands of dollars.

Loyalty program membership

The Pareto principle tells us that nearly 80% of your sales will come from about 20% of your customers. Nurturing the loyalty of those customers is key, and rewarding their behavior with a loyalty program is also a good way to keep track of their engagement.

What are the best conversion marketing strategies to adopt in 2022?

Given the competitive e-commerce landscape and the need to manage costs while scaling your business, conversion marketing is an effective way to do more with less. But where do you start? We've put together a few strategies we think are key if you want to successfully grow your brand in 2022.

1. Identify your target audience and understand their preferences

Before you start optimizing your conversion rates, it's imperative to know whom you're optimizing for. "Everyone" is not a viable target audience; you likely already know what demographic and psychographic characteristics your customers possess. What's the average age and gender of the people most likely to buy your products? Where do they live and what's their approximate income level? What other kinds of products do they purchase? In what online communities or social media channels do they spend time?

Identifying your target audience's main characteristics, preferences, interests, and habits can help you better understand how to design your store's shopping experience to appeal to them. You probably want to codify this data as one or more buyer personas and marketing segments, that you can use as a reference point for your optimization efforts.

2. Create content that's relatable to every segment of your marketing funnel

Once you've defined the audience most likely to be interested in your products, you want to create shopping experiences that engage your audience and motivate them to purchase. Highly customized, relevant content is more likely to yield conversions. This is where personalization by segment and channel is crucial, because what works for one segment or persona may be different from what works for another. For example, you probably want to use different marketing copy in the emails you send to past customers vs. potential customers, and address shoppers by name in your SMS campaign vs. talking to them more generally in social media posts.

3. Create website content that guides shoppers to purchase

Once you've developed buyer personas you might also want to map out a buyer's journey: this journey illustrates the path to becoming a customer, and all the points along the way where a user interacts with your website.

For example, new shoppers hearing about you for the first time might enter your store through a Google search, social media, or your home page. Since they're seeing your brand for the first time you'll want to show them you are credible, that you sell appealing products, and that you understand what shoppers like them are looking for. Later, these same visitors might be comparison-shopping: they may be looking at your product quality, item price, or shipping options compared to those at similar stores. And during the checkout process, you're more likely to convert shoppers with easy login or registration, discount coupons, or personalized abandoned cart content.

4. Make your landing pages engaging

Unlike product pages, landing pages are designed to convert shoppers from a specific segment, campaign, or traffic source. Landing pages are relatively easy to put together and can be A/B tested to identify the elements that lead to higher conversions.

For example, let's say you sell gardening supplies: shoppers who come to your site from a paid ad with a picture of your gardening gloves might be interested in different kinds of gloves, not just that one particular pair. Your landing page might feature all the products similar to those you advertised, with navigation that makes it easy for shoppers to customize their search even further. A landing page targeted to repeat visitors might use social proof (customer star ratings, user-generated videos, etc.) to convince shoppers to make the purchase, while a landing page for existing customers might welcome them back and remind them about earning bonus points in your loyalty program.

5. Use SMS and email marketing to continue the conversation

Think shoppers aren't thinking about your store when they're not there? Think again. Even if we're buying products online that we tell ourselves we "need," the buying process is still an emotional decision, and your conversion marketing tactics should appeal to shoppers' emotions. Building relationships with shoppers is key: you want to start the conversations early and have them frequently. This earns you trust and familiarity during the consideration process and keeps your brand top-of-mind when the shopper is ready to make a purchase.

Email marketing is an effective tool for staying in touch, but text marketing reaches shoppers where they are (on their mobile devices, frequently) and has a 98% open rate (compare that to email, with an open rate of just 20%.) A two-way text messaging platform can have an even bigger impact on conversion rates since it gives you the ability to reply to questions, create immediacy with limited-time discounts or promotions, and direct shoppers to the products that interest them most.

6. Represent your brand and products with high-quality images and video

Most humans are visual. An appealing image or video is going to do a much better job getting our attention than words on a page, and beautiful product images can suggest quality and desirability.

Video isn't just a highly sharable format, it's also been found to improve a number of conversions: SEO, bounce rates, and time spent on a page. Video is a terrific format for invoking an emotional response, profiling your products in-depth, and storytelling (helping visitors imagine themselves with your product or brand.)

7. Incorporate live chat for instant, automated communications

Live, automated chat services, or chatbots, are an increasingly popular choice for e-commerce websites. Chatbots are an effective way to increase the time visitors spend at your website, respond to questions, and guide users to the products they seek.

Most chatbots can be customized to interact with your customers based on cues you choose, answering their most commonly asked questions and directing them to relevant pages based on keywords or phrases. Chatbots can also be a source of customer feedback and data that can help you further optimize your store.

8. Speed up your website's pages

Page load speed is a key ranking factor for SEO, but it's important not just to Google. Shoppers these days won't wait for the complex scripts and overly large images on your site to load; they'll just shop somewhere else instead. Visitors are especially impatient when browsing on their mobile devices, which Statista says now account for 61% of all organic search traffic in the US.

In today's e-commerce marketplace, you shouldn't be losing traffic to competitors based on site speed. There are lots of tools out there (many of them free) to help marketers test and optimize your page load time, for both desktop and mobile visitors. And once you've identified any performance issues you can prioritize how you'll address them.

9. Harness social proof

Social proof is one of the most powerful influences on purchasing decisions. Three-quarters of us will ask friends, family, or colleagues for recommendations before making a purchase, and 70% of us will trust reviews from people we don't even know. If you're not featuring third-party validation or customer reviews at your store, you're missing out on this effective conversion marketing tool.

When shoppers don't know you well, they have to form an opinion of your brand and your products based on the information in front of them. Providing customer reviews builds authenticity and trust, and helps new shoppers form a positive opinion of you. Customer reviews can take the form of star ratings, written reviews, quotes, testimonials, or case studies. If your products have been reviewed by an independent third party, make sure to feature that prominently, too.

10. Track what works (and what doesn't)

Conversion marketing strategies can help you gather more data about your shoppers, so you can better understand them and optimize your store for their desired experience and behaviors. But it can also help you better understand which conversion metrics are most influential on revenue, and therefore where to focus your optimization efforts. Keep track of what you're changing and when, so that you can test the impact your changes are having. When something works, try to automate it: for example, if a text message sales promotion worked well, try scheduling them on a regular cadence. Test the campaign alongside an email campaign to see if they're more effective together. Test different messages to determine the wording or call to action that works best.

Small changes, big returns

Conversion marketing is a powerful tool for e-commerce marketers because small optimizations can yield big returns. When your business isn't performing the way you'd hoped, or when you just want to accelerate sales, look to conversion marketing tactics to turn more passive shoppers into paying customers. Optimizing your conversion rates is a high-impact, low-cost way to get more money from your digital marketing muscle. Try out these ten marketing strategies to grow your company and reach your business goals.

Want to learn more? Read how to Increase AOV with Post-purchase Upsells, and improve customer engagement with these nine strategies.