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Measuring eCommerce Site Performance: Conversion Rate and the Precise Metrics to Use

 

Conversion Rate

It’s the most common metric used to measure the health of your eCommerce store.

But is it accurate?

In this guide we will explain why conversion rate does not actually provide an accurate measure of your site’s health and break down the metrics you should be looking at. We’ll detail why each one is important and give some tips on how to improve their performance.

Along the way, we mention how Adobe Commerce helps your eCommerce store optimize each conversion metric.

Why Conversion Rate is The Wrong Way To Go

Let’s start by examining how conversion rate is calculated: take the total number of orders and divide that by the total number of visitors to the site. A simple enough calculation- in fact, a bit too simple. The above calculation only takes two endpoints into account- a user landing on your site and a user making a purchase. But user behavior on a website is far from linear.

Think about it this way: if you owned a brick-and-mortar store, how would you measure its success? If you were to calculate conversion rate you would have to position someone outside the store to manually count how many people walk in, and at the end of the day divide that into the number of people who bought something. What does that number actually reveal about your store? Or I should ask- what doesn’t that number reveal? It doesn’t uncover the number of people who walk in and then leave 5 minutes later empty-handed. It doesn’t point out someone who bought three items but at one point had put six other items in their shopping cart.

I could go on, but the point is from the moment someone enters a store- either brick-and-mortar or an online store- that person embarks on a journey that may or may not lead to a purchase. As a store owner, you should pay attention to the steps involved in that journey and improve each one. It’s the most thorough and comprehensive way to increase the likelihood that someone who enters your store will make a purchase.

So back to your eCommerce store- what is the best way to measure its health? Conversion rate will only tell you how many people bought something. But what about the other visitors? I’m referring to the ones that come to your site, view some products, maybe even add something to the cart, and then leave without buying. It’s important to pay attention to these users because they have already taken the first step of entering your store. If you don’t understand how they interact with your site, then you won’t know where to improve. And the fact is, it’s easier and cheaper to focus on converting existing users than it is to put time and money into bringing in new qualified traffic.

Ok, now that we’ve covered why conversion rate is a misleading metric, let’s get into the metrics that do matter. As I already mentioned, visitors to your online store embark on a customer journey.  They move through several crucial steps on the way to checkout. The success of each step is measurable and represented by five key conversion metrics.

The 5 Conversion Metrics You Should Pay Attention To

  1. Bounce rate
  2. Found Product (PDP Views)
  3. Add to Cart
  4. Cart Abandonment
  5. Checkout Abandonment

In the following sections, we examine each metric and show you where to find it. Then we’ll explain what some of the root causes are for low performance and detail how you can improve.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate = all sessions/single page session

The first step a (potential) customer takes on their buyer journey is to simply find your store and enter.

Bounce rate represents the success of that first step. It’s the percentage of visitors who land on your site and leave without viewing any other pages or taking any sort of action on the site.

These are the folks who find and walk into your store, only to walk out moments later empty-handed.

Bounce rate can be found in Google Analytics Universal under Behavior-Overview. Choose the date range in the upper right-hand corner.

In Google Analytics 4, bounce rate has been replaced with engaged sessions. Engaged sessions can be found under Acquisition-Overview.

[Note: this metric is the bounce rate site-wide, but it’s equally important to take a look at specific pages.]

Bounce rates range widely from site to site and generally fall anywhere between 30%-70%. If your bounce rate is 70% or higher it’s time to make some changes.

There are a couple of obvious reasons why a store would have a high bounce rate:

  • Page load time– site speed is worth mentioning first because it not only affects bounce rate, but also site performance across the board. Nobody wants to sit around and wait for a webpage to load. And by sit around and wait I mean 2-3 seconds. Conversion rates drop about 2% with every extra second of load time. Compressing images, leveraging browser caching, and reducing your redirects are just a few ways to increase site speed.
  • Page design & layout/user experience- if you’re not having load speed issues, then take a long hard look at site design and layout. If people are leaving your site without interacting, then they might not be able to find what they came for. Or perhaps it’s time to update your UI/UX. Design/UX is something that will come up repeatedly throughout this discussion since just like site speed, it is an essential component of overall site performance.

Improving site performance is not the only reason to pay attention to bounce rate. A high bounce rate can also negatively affect SEO and Google Ads campaigns. With Google Ads, you place bids on keywords in hopes that your ad will show up when someone searches for those words. But that might not be enough to get your ad posted. That’s because Google ranks ads based on both bid dollars and something called Quality Score. Google does this in order to ensure the quality of search results. Your Quality Score is based on CPC and bounce rate. The lower your bounce rate, the higher Google ranks your ad.

How Adobe Commerce helps decrease bounce rate: Adobe Commerce is a cloud-hosted platform, ensuring healthy site speed. It’s also extremely customizable and offers multiple updated themes and design elements that encourage visitors to explore or search. 

Found Product (PDP views)

Found Product (PDP views) = total site users/product page views

For those users who successfully find your store and decide to wander around for a bit, the next step in the buyer journey is to find the product(s) they want. 

Found product, or Product Detail Page (PDP) views, is the number of users who view a product page. Often overlooked, this metric is crucial for one obvious reason: almost all site visitors will pass through a product detail page on the way to actually buying something. 

PDP Views can be found in Google Analytics Universal under reports go to Conversions – Ecommerce – Shopping Behavior Analysis. Note: Enhanced eCommerce view is required for access to this report (turn on Enhanced Ecommerce).

In Google Analytics 4 this information can be found under Life Cycle-Monetization.

PDP views also offer a glimpse into the user path. It can tell you if users are finding what they are looking for and can also indicate if shoppers are just browsing or searching for something specific. The greater your understanding of the user path, the more precise actions you can take to keep those users moving towards a purchase.

When looking at this metric, it’s a good idea to analyze it from two sides- PDP views per conversion and per user. Calculating these metrics is fairly straightforward: PDP Views/Users and PDP Views/Transactions. This will show behavior differences between customers who ultimately buy and those who don’t.

Low PDP views can largely be attributed to two things- poor search functionality and bad navigation and taxonomy.

You may not have put much thought into your site search, but you definitely want to. Site users who search for items on a site are more likely to make a purchase than users who are just browsing. So you want to ensure that users are able to find what they’re looking for. Any strong search functionality will marry logic and design while taking into account search types, autocomplete, and results page.

Users who search may be more likely to buy, but you don’t want to ignore the browsing shoppers, for whom navigation is key. When site navigation and taxonomy follow proper UX and design, it clears the way for users to move further down the buyer journey and land on a product detail page. Main navigation presents overall categories and offerings, while clearly laying out the path towards specific products. If users find navigation difficult to follow or frustrating to deal with due to poor categories, they won’t stick around just for the challenge of figuring it out. Areas to focus on include categories, subcategories, menu type, and location.

How Adobe Commerce helps increase Found Product: Elasticsearch feature quickly and accurately executes advanced product searches making sure users find exactly what they are looking for. Layered navigation also narrows customer searches using filters for any attribute, merchants can add different attribute sets for products. Adobe Commerce includes AI that powers product recommendations, sending customers to additional product detail pages.

Add to Cart

Add to Cart = total site users/add to carts

Continuing along the buyer journey path, the next step customers take is adding select items to the cart.  As the name implies, Add to Cart is the percentage of users who have added an item(s) to their cart. 

Add to Cart Rate can be found in Google Analytics Universal Under reports go to Conversions – Ecommerce – Shopping Behavior Analysis. Note: Enhanced eCommerce view is required for access to this report (turn on Enhanced Ecommerce).

In Google Analytics 4 this information can be found under Life Cycle-Monetization.

At this point, the shopper is on the product detail page and has some level of purchase intent. And so add-to-cart rates are tightly correlated to Product Detail Pages, especially in terms of UX and design. Low rates can be attributed to poor placement of the add-to-cart function, confusing or lacking product descriptions, poor customer reviews, and other page layout errors.

Standard product detail page design is a subject matter on its own, and not one we are discussing here. But our recommendation is that merchants dedicate time and attention to optimizing product pages. Site users who fall within the target customer segment are likely to spend the majority of their time on product pages. Following guidelines and research on UX best practices can have a significant impact on increasing conversions. 

Some key areas to pay attention to are: product descriptions, clear call to actions, customer reviews, mobile design and, page layout.

How Adobe Commerce helps increase Add to Cart: flexible design allows for products to be displayed in a user friendly and easy to navigate layout.

Cart Abandonment

Cart Abandonment = orders/add to carts

Cart abandonment is the percentage of visitors who add an item(s) to their cart but leave your store before actually purchasing. 

Cart Abandonment Rate can be found in Google Analytics Universal Under reports go to Conversions – Ecommerce – Shopping Behavior Analysis. Note: Enhanced eCommerce view is required for access to this report (turn on Enhanced Ecommerce).

In Google Analytics 4 this information can be found under Life Cycle-Monetization.

Cart abandonment rates tend to trend high, around 65% -70%, mostly due to general shopping behavior. Shoppers think of the “add to cart” function as a wishlist builder. They see something they like while browsing and instinctively throw it into the cart. But actual buyers intent is not always there. 

And then there are the comparison shoppers. The people who place an item in a cart, get a cost estimate and then search for the same or similar item on other sites. They will ultimately purchase whichever is cheaper or meets their specific requirements.

As a merchant, there’s not much you can do to get those shoppers (wishlist and comparison) to complete the checkout process. Just remember to keep this segment in mind when evaluating your store’s cart abandonment.

Those shoppers are not the only ones adding to the cart and walking away. There’s a healthy chunk of shoppers who genuinely intend to purchase an item and then don’t. The reasons for abandoning a cart vary, but most are tied into user experience and site layout (yep, those two again). Fortunately, these are things that as a merchant you can work on improving. 

Here are a few of the top barriers shoppers face when dealing with shopping carts:

  • Lack of shipping, delivery, and payment information– this is repeatedly listed as a top reason why shoppers will abandon cart. Be sure to list all relevant information including, shipping cost, estimated delivery time, acceptable payment options…
  • Poor navigation from cart to rest of site and vice versa– easy navigation is key site-wide, and that includes cart. When a user adds to cart, allow for the option to view the cart immediately or continue shopping. And when shoppers are viewing their cart, they should be able to easily return to continue shopping. Unclear navigation from cart to site and site to cart can frustrate shoppers.
  • Cart indicator– When a user adds to cart they expect to see an indicator on the cart icon. It sounds simple, but the absence of something expected can turn off customers.

The most effective way to try and bring back customers who abandon their shopping carts is remarketing. Abandoned cart emails provide a simple and easy method for winning back these customers. And they really do work- about 30% of all eCommerce sales are due to abandoned cart emails.

How Adobe Commerce helps decrease Abandon Cart: cart abandonment emails are automatically triggered when a customer abandons their cart.

Checkout Abandonment

Checkout Abandonment = orders/users who initiated checkout

The final step in the buyer journey is making a purchase, in other words checking out. Checkout abandonment is the number of visitors who start the process and then leave without completing the purchase.

Checkout Abandonment Rate can be found in Google Analytics Universal Under reports go to Conversions – Ecommerce – Shopping Behavior Analysis. Note: Enhanced eCommerce view is required for access to this report (turn on Enhanced Ecommerce).

In Google Analytics 4 this information can be found under Life Cycle go to Monetization.

The customer made it this far, they got to your store, browsed or searched, found what they wanted, and are ready to pay and leave. You don’t want to lose them here. 

There are several reasons why someone might walk away in the middle of making a purchase. Some of the top reasons include slow or glitchy checkout, demanding the creation of a customer account, too many steps, and a bad return policy. Overall if the checkout process is long, complicated or not working properly, customers will not hesitate to leave.

It is best practice to have an option to purchase as a guest. And to avoid those long lines that drive customers away- instant purchase is the way to go. It’s also important to monitor the performance of your checkout and confirm that it works smoothly.

How Adobe Commerce helps decrease Abandoned Checkout: Adobe Commerce’s streamlined process ensures quick and easy checkout. The shopping cart is optimized based on research and best practices to remove friction.

What Does All This Mean for You and Your Site?

So now you know the true way to measure your site’s success and how to improve performance. It seems like a lot of information to take in, a lot of data points to measure and interpret. But if there is one little nugget to take away it’s this: It doesn’t take much. A minor increase or decrease in any one of the metrics detailed above can have a huge impact on overall sales. A one percent increase in add-to-cart or a two percent decrease in bounce rate can add a lot to your bottom line.

Adobe Commerce is designed with all this in mind. Its features and capabilities help improve conversion metrics and deliver continuous growth.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

To help you visualize how these factors affect your bottom line, we’ve created a Conversion Rate Optimization Calculator

If you would like a guided tour of our CRO Calculator, reach out today! We will be happy to walk you through your site metrics and detail how to make minor improvements.

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