9 Essential Tips for E-commerce Category Pages to Increase Conversion Rates
Every wonder how you determine the overall effect the optimization of one group of pages will have on the overall website? If I run a test on category pages and see a 30% uplift – it will not be reflected overall throughout the site; i.e. you won’t see 30% uplift in your overall conversion rate.
Why is this? Well, the reality, not each page on your website has the same impact on your conversion rate optimization project.
At Invesp, we assign the different of pages on a website a specific “value” which we call the conversion correlation factor. The conversion correlation factor is the percentage increase in the overall website conversion rate as a result of increasing a particular page conversion rate. If a page has a 10% conversion correlation factor, it means that increasing conversion rate for that page by 30%, will increase the overall website conversion rate by 3%.
The homepage usually (of course every site is different) has the low conversion correlation factor value because customers don’t convert there and drop-offs are highest on that page (customers aren’t invested). As your customers move through the site, this correlation (again depending on your site and analytics) generally increases. The highest correlation value is usually in the checkout, which is a general “win, win” page to optimize.
So what does this all have to do with increasing conversion rates on category pages?
1. Funnel pages.
You should know the stats of your site, and of course the page you plan on optimizing like the back of you hand. And in order for to begin the process, you also need to recognize the “value” of the category page before determining how to optimize it. Arguably, a customer at the homepage hasn’t’ invested in your site, but as the customer browses and is engaged at the category page level, going from one area to the next, it’s quite likely that they will move on to the product page where the correlation is quite high and a customer is “more likely” to convert. This means, your category pages must engage the customer enough in order to persuade them to move to the next step. You must remember that website visitors do not make purchase decisions at the category page level; they make the purchase decision at the product page level. Category pages are funnel pages, their main goal is to funnel visitors to the right product page. Thus, you need to include information on the category pages to help visitors find the right product for their need and remove any element that distracts the visitor from that goal.
2. Do the math.
Analytics provide a great data but you will need to tweak it out a little bit for pull data specific for your category pages. Analytics provide some of the following metrics for the whole website. Again, remember to examine the data specific to your category pages:
- What is the page/session value? This allows you to gauge whether or not your website is engaging enough to visitors. If the the page/session value is too low, it indicates that your visitors are not engaged enough. If it’s too high of a number your visitors may be confused and unable to find what they need. What is value is “too low” or “too high”? that will depend on your website.
- Average time on the page: If the customer is moving quickly through category pages, and bouncing back and forth, they may be confused. However, if they spend 20-30 seconds browsing your page, this is positive.
- Pre-product page abandonment rate (PPAR) is the rate of customers abandoning the site at the category level and PRIOR to making it to the product pages.
- Category Flow Through Rate(CFTR)measures the rate at which customers are flowing form category page(s) to product page(s).
All the other bounce, exit, etc. are all important to review and actually all contribute to determining the overall conversion correlation factor.
How do you pull data specific to you category pages? There are couple of ways you can do this in Google analytics:
1. using regular expressions.
2. customize your GA script to report data at the overall category page level as opposed to the standard reporting for each page.
3. Don’t underestimate large banners or headlines.
It’s rare to find a customer that has utilized the space below the header but before the product listings properly:
We’ve highlighted a space on bikebandit.com which we know can be used more effectively. It’s above the products, and you can send a message, a value proposition, or a persuasive argument to your market personas to proceed. We have found that this space is critical to include marketing messages catered to the personas of your market. Of course, the design and content that you will be placing need a lot of research and optimization, but in all of my experience, there is not a single client that I’ve had that did not benefit tremendously from paying heed to the importance of this area.
4. “The navigation, Dammit”.
Don’t forget that just because you know your site really well, it doesn’t mean your customers do. Having clearly outlined navigation may sound like the most obvious thing, but many websites create usability nightmare while attempting to create a “nice” design.
The example above is from TonzOf category page. I’ve highlighted the left area in the category page(s) because it is potential a great place for placing category level navigation allowing customers to navigate to where they need to go on the site. Is a left navigation always the way to go? Of course not, but in a case such as tonzof.com, it is quite challenging for the visitor to move from one category to the next because of lack of navigation. Simplify it for your customer and reap the benefits.
5. Feature Friendly.
What works for one site rarely works for another, even if they are in the same vertical. We’ve seen companies copy competitors’s websites only to be continuing at the lower end of the conversion rate spectrum. Using product features on your category page, depending on your offering, is a good idea. Needless to say, that the features must be relevant to what the customers typically look for in a product. Of course, your commerce package must allow you to add these features at the product level. You can then allow visitors to filter down a particular category using these features. At a minimum, you should be able to filter products by product price, brand and model, best sellers, and new arrivals. Additional features will depend on the product you sell.
6. Allow them to compare.
Allowing visitors to compare products is additional plus. This works great for comparing appliances, like in the example below (of course note that placement and design are critical elements for the effectiveness of this feature).
There are some companies that allow comparison for products within a particular category. Others allow comparison from multiple sibling categories. If your technology platform allows for the 2nd option, by all means go ahead and use it.
7. Use widgets.
Widgets offer a great way to narrow products within a category, thus allowing visitors to find what they are looking for in a faster way. The two great examples we have for widgets come from: an auto parts seller:
And form a clothing line seller:
8. The right amount of Product information.
How much information should you show with each product on the category page? There are of course the basics: Price, item title, item picture, and product star rating (if available). Additional information must be considered carefully. There are companies that like to show product SKU and model numbers. Unless customers usually search for these, we do not see a great value from adding them.
9. Purchase decisions are not made at the category level!
This is a golden rule to remember. It will also help you determine what information you should include in terms of product information in the category page. Notice the amount of information BestBuy chooses to include for each product listing in the image above. Ask yourself, when was the last time you added an item to your cart from the category page.
There are many other ways to improve category pages, but as long as you do not consider the site an “extension” of yourself or your team, but rather it is the “customer’s site, you will begin to see things very differently.
My name is Ayat Shukairy, and I’m a co-founder and CCO at Invesp. Here’s a little more about me: At the very beginning of my career, I worked on countless high-profile e-commerce projects, helping diverse organizations optimize website copy. I realized, that although the copy was great and was generating more foot traffic, many of the sites performed poorly because of usability and design issues.View All Posts By Ayat Shukairy
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