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19: eCommerce Benchmarks to Gauge Your Success

19: eCommerce Benchmarks to Gauge Your Success

If you don’t know what metrics you should be looking at in your eCommerce business or aren’t sure what they all mean – this is the episode for you! We’re going through all the important metrics, what you should be aiming for and what to do if you’re missing the mark. 

Today we’re getting nitty-gritty with some important numbers to help you figure out how your eCommerce business is performing and where you might need to dig in and optimize your online store. Plus I give you some tips on what you should focus on if you find one or more of these are off. 

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Website conversion optimization and benchmarks 

You’ve probably heard me mention this before but the average conversion rate of an eCommerce website is only 1-3%. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t sites that are converting higher than that, because there definitely are… but if you’re below 1% conversion, you’ll definitely want to start digging in. 

Conversion optimization is a whole discipline on its own, so I’m just going to touch on a few things you can start looking at to figure out where you’re missing it. 

Shop your own website

Often we forget to experience the website as our customers do. Going through the WHOLE process — searching your website, navigating your collections, adding to your cart, and completing a full order — will show you what elements of your site are a little bit wonky and not quite working right. 

Conversion rate per traffic channel

The different traffic channels are organic, paid, email, and social media. It’s likely that one or two channels will convert at a significantly lower rate than the others. Focus on the experience you’re giving people who come from those channels so you can make sure you’re attracting the right people to your online store. 

Cart abandonment rate

The average cart abandonment rate is 68%. I’m sure many of you have looked at your cart abandonment rate and thought damn, that’s super high. Unless you’re inching up over 73-ish percent, don’t worry too much. Don’t ignore it, but understand that it’s pretty typical. 

Ensure you have a cart abandonment flow in place. You might even want to play with an exit intent pop-up for new visitors to try and snag their email in exchange for a discount. 

If your abandonment rate is way above the average, make sure you go through the entire shopping process because there might be something broken in the experience there. Like maybe it’s super slow, or hard to navigate on mobile for instance. 

Add to cart 

The average add to cart rate is 13%. Your Shopify data will be much lower than that because they’re counting everyone that visits your website. In Google Analytics, the number is based on the number of people who actually show shopping behavior on your website, which often is only about 50% of the people who visit your site. 

Listen to episode #17 for more information about Google Analytics and all of the Google Tools

If people aren’t adding items to their cart, focus on auditing your product page. 

  • How are your product photos? 
  • Is the add to cart button above the fold? 
  • Do you product descriptions accurately describe your product?
  • Do they have all the information they need to make a purchasing decision?

Remember: People buy with emotion and justify with logic, so when you’re writing product descriptions make sure you’re selling them the dream or the solution. 

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on your website and leave before visiting any other page and the benchmark is 34%.

Having a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing. On a blog website, it’s possible the customer got all the information they needed on the first page they landed on and then left completely satisfied. As an eCommerce website though, you’ll want to aim for a lower number. 

Determine where to put all your focus by isolating the pages on your site that have the highest bounce rate. If a blog on your website is the cause of your high bounce rate then encourage your visitors to click other links and stay longer. Start by featuring your products with obvious links for the customer to click or link to other related articles or posts — this is called internal linking and helps Google understand your website better. 

A high bounce rate on your home page may be caused by slow loading times, which people are too impatient to wait for. Just like your conversions, you could be attracting the wrong traffic to your site and people are turning away when they realise it’s not what they want. Go back to looking at your traffic sources and see which has the highest bounce rate.

The other reason could be that you just have a shitty homepage. People will leave immediately if your site looks janky or untrustworthy. 

Time on page and number of pages viewed

The benchmarks for these are 3 minutes and 35 seconds and 5.9 respectively, but this can vary widely based on your business. My recommendation is look at these last and just keep a running tally of the results on a weekly basis. Make note of any anomalies. After a few weeks of tracking you’ll see the pattern for your site. Make sure there’s no random jumps in either direction and if there is, do you know why these occurred?

For more on reporting including a free downloadable template, check out Episode #7

Customer Return Rate

The Customer Return Rate should be about 25-30% — depending on your business. Subscription businesses will see a much higher rate. If your numbers are significantly higher it might mean you need more new customers and if your numbers are significantly lower then it’s time to look at ways you can boost your customer return rate. 

Check out episode #12 for a deep dive into acquiring new customers

Check out episode #15 for more details on customer retention

Email conversion optimization and benchmarks 

Email has its own set of benchmarks. These are the numbers that the email service providers are looking at when they’re deciding if they do or do not want to deliver your email. 

Yep, just because you send it, doesn't mean they’re going to deliver it. Deliverability is a HUGE part of email marketing and you can quickly kill your reputation and end up in the junk box, so let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. 

Open rate 

Aim for a 20% open rate. If you’re averaging 17-18%, that’s fine. Once you get down to 12% or single digits on a regular basis, you’re in trouble. 

While you can certainly make small improvements by testing subject lines and send times, the biggest culprit here is sending to unengaged subscribers. The first step to fixing your open rate is only sending emails to people who have opened or clicked an email in the last 90 – 180 days. Adjust this a bit based on how often you currently send emails.

Start with a 90-day engaged list and then slowly increase the length of time. As you increase the number of days your open rate will go down. If it starts to dip super low again, shorten the number of days. 

Click rate 

You will likely see two different click metrics in your account. Click-through which is based on just the people who opened your email and click rate which is based on your total sends. I’m focusing on the latter and you want it to be above 4%. 

The numbers I’m giving you are what the email service providers want to see, not necessarily the averages of actual numbers. So if you’re in the 2-3% range, you’re doing pretty good. Once you get below 1.5% it’s time to take massive action. 

How can you fix a shitty click rate? On top of targeting your emails towards already engaged people, make sure you have clear calls to action. Limit your calls to action to only 1 maaayybe 2. If there are too many options in front of your subscribers they might become overwhelmed. 

The exception is monthly newsletters because there may be a lot of different things you’re going to cover and that’s okay — as long as your people are engaged! 

Consider whether this email is relevant to the audience you sent it to. It’s possible you enticed them with a great subject line, but the content wasn’t what they expected or just didn’t entice them to click. 

This metric is based on the total number of people you sent it to so if you’re sending to unengaged people who never open your emails they won’t click it either. Once you stick to sending to your most engaged audience, this will naturally go up. 

Bounce rate

Different from website bounce rate, email bounce rate means that emails have bounced back because the address is non-existent. Stick to under .5% here. 

Some people do get rid of old emails but usually, this is due to typos. If you’re only getting emails through pop-up forms where the customer is typing them in themselves, you should have fairly low numbers. You’ll see the most errors when you have an in-person element to your business, whether that’s a brick-and-mortar business where a cashier is typing the email address or events and markets where customers are writing it on a piece of paper. 

Double-check with the customer if you can’t read their handwriting and make sure your employees are double-checking their work and/or spelling the email back out to the customer before they save it. 

The spam rate

This is the rate at which people mark your emails as spam and you want this to be under .08%. If your spam rate is higher than this, you might be sending to people who haven’t opted into your email list at all, or you might be sending too many emails to them. 

Your spam rate is the highest weighted metric and a high rate will quickly get you into the junk box — pay close attention to it!

Klaviyo has a cool feature called smart sending which prevents the system from sending an email to someone who has received an email from you within a specific window of time. The default is 16 hours but you can change this. Always use the smart send function when you’re sending email campaigns or broadcasts to prevent annoying your subscribers. 

Conversion rate 

This is going to vary based on the type of email you’re sending, and the industry you’re in. Grab this week’s freebie so you can compare your results to that of your specific industry. These are a few conversion rate metrics for automated emails. 

Welcome Series – 3.04%

Abandoned Cart – 2.86%

Winback – .86%

Browse Abandonment – 1%

If your numbers aren’t quite hitting these numbers or the averages for your specific industry, go back to the previous numbers like your open rate and click rate to see if you can pin down where you might be missing it. 

Sometimes it can be as simple as updating your copy to make it sound more personal, other times you might have to test subject lines or send times, etc. Just do what you can to be better than you were yesterday. Don’t get caught up trying to hit every last number and get tunnel vision. Tweak here and there, test a couple of things and continue improving. 

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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