key conversions

6 Data Hacks to Create Valuable Repeat Customers

Identifying the six conversions that should matter most to print studios, and how to turn a site visitor into a lead, then a customer, then a repeat customer, by eliminating bottlenecks in your eCommerce buying process.

The goal of every business is to create long-term, repeat customers.

If you’re an art and photo printing business, you probably spend much of your day focused on accruing a healthy roster of loyal customers that come to you regularly for their printing needs and know how to use your services without much need for additional support.

These customers are easy to work with and super-profitable.

The only thing standing in your way? Bottlenecks.

marketing bottlenecks

Bottlenecks in your eCommerce ordering process are lowering your conversion rates across the board – preventing new customers from completing their first order, and return customers from racking up multiple sales acwith you.

Let’s take a look at how to identify and “open up” these bottlenecks by removing friction points that are preventing sales.

The end goal here is to develop an all-encompassing strategy that attracts site visitors, converts them into leads, converts those leads into customers, and then converts those customers into long-term, repeat customers.

The Key Conversion Milestones

how to look at conversion rates

In order to identify a bottleneck, you first look to your conversion rates. There are several, so let’s define each of the key conversion “milestones” that occur whenever a person visits your site and goes through the process of placing an order (or not).

We’re going to look at six of them in detail, and there is a science to guiding visitors past each.

Key conversion milestones

We’ll also look at how to tell if your current conversion rates from each milestone are healthy, and, if not, what you can do to see improvement.

Remember, visitors only convert at a specific milestone when they have enough confidence in your company and your offering that they are willing to give you a small incremental commitment required to move past that step.

Once you understand what the buyer is experiencing at each milestone, and have a strategy to eliminate the bottlenecks, you’ll maximize your lead acquisition rates and clear the path for huge Checkout Conversions.

But before you can make a sale, you’ll probably start with a lead…

Milestone 1: Lead Conversion

how to track lead conversion

A Lead Conversion occurs when a visitor gives you their email address.

Do you have a strategy in place to quickly capture email addresses of your visitors? If you don’t, this is a HUGE missed opportunity.

This is because when people come to your website for the first time, only a small portion are ready to buy on the spot. Many may be willing, however, to give you their email address on their first visit!

You could collect email addresses from as many as 20-30% of your total visitors, vs. only ~3% who will actually proceed to checkout (for Art Storefronts customers, this number is much higher).

improving lead conversions

Therefore, if you don’t have any strategy to capture these emails (aside from the occasional person who fills out your contact form), you are missing out on capturing a TON of leads that you can eventually turn into customers!

Capturing these emails requires a very specific strategic approach – otherwise, you won’t capture them.

Do I Have a Problem?

You may if you are not capturing around 3x more emails than new customers (those who actually place an order).

For example, if you generate 5 new customers, you should have collected at least 15 new email addresses in the same time period. 5 from the new customers (who always provide an email address), and 10 from those who did not order.

lead conversions

If you are not capturing any leads, or a very little quantity (even after implementing our proposed solution below), you have a marketing problem. You can’t acquire leads if hardly anybody is visiting your site.

How to Solve it:

In order to resolve a bottleneck in this milestone, you first need to implement a lead capture tool.

Just having the tool activated won’t do much, though.

You need to set it up according to best practices so that it is a value point on your website rather than an annoyance.

For example, it should only appear to new customers and as such, it should contain a first-time customer discount (where after joining the list, they are immediately sent a 1-time coupon which they can use immediately).

Milestone 2: Uploaded Image Conversion

art conversion rates

An Uploaded Image Conversion occurs when a visitor uses your upload tool to upload an image.

When you are receiving a solid number of visitor uploads when compared to your overall traffic, it is a good sign. Uploading an image requires a little bit of commitment from the visitor, and it means your website has given them enough confidence to do so.

To calculate your Uploaded Image Conversion Rate, get a count of the new leads you have generated on your site during the last month. Then, find out how many of these leads have uploaded at least one image.

Divide the # of leads that uploaded / total # of leads generated.

Or, if you are an ASF customer, just visit your Upload page in the Site Manager, click on the “Uploads” tab, and the information is all here.

upload conversions

Do I Have a Problem?

If your Uploaded Image Conversion Rates are low, meaning you are not generating uploads, the problem could be a result of several things:

1. You don’t have enough traffic. Check your statistics section to see if you have at least 150 visitors of direct traffic.

If you don’t have enough traffic, you don’t have an upload problem, you have a marketing problem! You should be spending all of your time on marketing so that there are actually enough people to use the upload tool.

If this is you, and you are an ASF customer, the first thing you should do make sure you have completed Phase 1 of our Success Plan.


This will help your business be found by potential customers searching for your services in your region, empowering you to take advantage of all the free traffic possible. You need targeted traffic in order to generate sales.

2. If you have enough traffic, and are still not generating uploads, it likely means your site is confusing or has poor design/usability.

Perhaps you don’t have clear calls to action where people can easily find your upload page as soon as they are ready to order. Or, your upload page may be cluttered with a ton of information and images, pushing the upload tool far down the page, well “below the fold”. All of these mistakes cause lower upload conversions.

One of the best ways to diagnose and resolve design/usability issues is by using Inspectlet.

With Inspectlet, you don’t have to guess at what your site visitors are having trouble with on your site, you can see it first hand. Once you install it, Inspectlet records live visitor behavior on the spot, allowing you to watch exactly how visitors are using your site.

inspectlet software

You can see where they click, what pages they view, and what they are or are not doing. For example, if visitors are not finding your upload page, or your upload buttons, you will see it first hand (it will be an embarrassing moment, I promise, but incredibly helpful).

Google your top competitors and analyze the buying experiences they provide and compare it to your own.

Check your own Google Analytics, go to the Content section, and examine the page views of your Upload page as a percentage of total visits. This will tell you how many people have actually made the decision to even visit your upload page. If only a small percentage are reaching this page, this means your visitors don’t even have upload intent. In other words, they are not even close to ordering. You need to think about why.

Do they need more information about your services that you are not providing?

Is your site design so bad, that most visitors are immediately leaving? (this would show up in the form of a high bounce rate percentage).

How to Solve It

Here’s what you should be doing.

Have a clear call to action to upload, which appears site-wide.

Make sure you have a link to upload in your navigation menu, and it should be no further than the 3rd element in the navigation, when reading from left to right.

how to improve conversion rates

The text should read “Upload Your Image” or “Upload a Photo”. If your text is confusing, like “Upload to Print”, you may get no clicks. This verbiage may sound obvious to you, but confusing to your visitors.

Remove any clutter from your upload page, so that the upload buttons are ALWAYS “above the fold” (visible without having to scroll down the page).

Milestone 3: Add to Cart Conversion

add to cart conversion rate

An Add to Cart Conversion occurs when a visitor adds an item to their shopping cart.

Simple enough. But this is a significant sign of commitment. It means your website has passed the design/usability smell test. It means the information you’ve provided has answered the typical questions and assuaged the concerns of your prospective customers.

It also means your upload page was easy to find, and that your pricing and product offerings were acceptable. Great job, but there’s more bottlenecks to be found at this stage that will prevent checkouts from occuring.

Do I Have a Problem?

The first thing you need to do is study your Add to Cart conversion rates. If you are an ASF customer, you can see the Add to Cart conversion rates in the Statistics section of the site manager:


how to find add to cart conversion

If you have successfully passed the previous milestones, and are not seeing Add to Cart Conversions, you have a problem. This means people are uploading images, they are reviewing your product options and your pricing, but for some reason they are just not taking the next step forward.

How to Solve it:

Are you providing your customers with enough information? We have seen bottlenecks occur on websites where a canvas option is offered, and there is some text explaining what it is, but none of it makes sense to a visitor.

how to fix confusing design

Walk through the order process from the customer’s point of view, and ask, “Do I provide detailed information and pictures about the different products I offer?”

“Have I made pictures available showing exactly what the customer will be getting?”

Common questions your visitors may have when trying to place an order include things like, “Is this a gallery wrap? What does your gallery wrap look like? What does a corner look like? What does the back look like – Does it come ready to hang on a wall?”

If you don’t clearly answer these questions and do so in a way that your visitors understand, their buying intention will come to an immediate halt – and most of them won’t even call you to get their questions answered; they’ll just leave and find another website that does.

If you think have provided enough information but are not quite sure, the best way to test this out is to add a live chat tool like Zopim for 2-3 days. The questions you receive from your visitors will tell you, in their words, the questions you are not answering.

live chat tools

As you receive questions, ask yourself how you can modify your text or add pictures to clarify your offering and prevent additional questions from coming in.

Pricing – when your pricing is too high in relation to your competitors, people may get sticker shock. The first thing you need to do is Google your competition and do a pricing comparison on your best selling prices.

If your pricing is too high, consider adjusting it. Or, even better, offer a really aggressive discount using a coupon code in conjunction with the Announcement Bar for the next month as a test (by aggressive, we mean 25% or higher).

If you begin to see an uptick in Add to Cart conversions, you know it was your pricing causing the problem.

Milestone 4: Checkout Conversion

how to improve checkout conversion rate

Here we go, we’re finally ready to start making some sales.

A Checkout Conversion occurs when a customer completes a checkout on your website (i.e. they officially placed an order).

Do I Have a Problem?

Here, you will need to study your data and compare your “Add to Cart” Conversion Rate with your “Checkout Conversion” Rate.

If you have a high “Add to Cart” Conversion Rate, and a low “Checkout Conversion” rate, it means something negative is happening after that customer adds something to their shopping cart.

At ASF, your checkout conversion rates for traffic sources like Google Organic, Yahoo, Bing, and your direct traffic, should be between 5-11%.

How to Solve it:

low checkout conversion rate

Whenever we encounter a situation where the “Add to Cart” Conversion Rate is high, and the “Checkout” Conversion rate is low, it usually comes down to one of two things:

1. Shipping Rates – either shipping rates are too high for that specific customer, or something is going wrong with the way you have set up your shipping rates. Maybe they are seeing an abnormally high rate.

Whatever it is, The way to determine if this is the problem is to view the unsold cart and get the city & state of the customer. Pretend you are the same customer on your website, go to the checkout page, and audit the shipping options you see when using that city & state as your shipping address. Does everything look normal to you?

2. Merchant Account – do you have a problem with your merchant account? Is your merchant account provider allowing you to accept transactions? The way to determine if this is the problem is simply to go through the checkout process yourself and attempt a checkout. Does it work as normal?

Milestone 5: Repeat Customer Conversion

repeat customer rate

At this point, you’ve successfully removed the bottlenecks in your eCommerce ordering process. Congratulations!

Next up? Get those customers back. Let’s talk retention.

Currently, you’re managing to get an initial order from a larger percentage of your visitors. But what percentage of new customers are you turning into repeat customers?

We consider a basic repeat customer as someone who placed a second order with your company. Therefore, your Repeat Customer Conversion Rate will be the number of repeat customers / total new customers generated during a certain period of time.

If you are an ASF Customer, we provide an insanely detailed Retention Report:

retention report

This report allows you to track new customers in “cohort” groups, so that you can see how they perform over a period of time. For example, you can track all of the customers you acquired during March 2016, and over time, see how many of them turned into repeat customers.

If you’re not generating repeat customers, you have a leaky boat problem. You are good at acquiring new customers, but how long will your “boat stay afloat” if you are not aware of, and focused on, increasing the percentage that turn into repeat customers?

“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one” – Harvard Business Review

Do I have a Problem?

If your Repeat Customer Conversion rates are really low, you have a leaky boat problem. Let’s patch it up.

How to Solve It

There are many strategies you can implement in order to create repeat customers. Email marketing being the cheapest and most effective. Here, we are not referring to constantly lobbing out discounts. Instead, you should have a strategy that builds a relationship with your customers based on providing value.

Look what we do here at Art Storefronts.

This article, and our entire business model, is all about providing you with value. We’ve got expertise and knowledge in the art & photo eCommerce space and our approach is to write about topics that will provide value for anyone in the business (regardless of whether they are a customer, but especially so if they are a customer).

We’re looking to build a long-term relationship with our customers, and our goal is to position them to become the dominant players in the industry in the next few years. Doing so will reward us with repeat business.

Similarly, consider how you can build a better relationship with your customers based on value? Take some time to think about how your business is aligned with your customers, and what you can do to help your customers become more successful at what they do, or happier with the products you sell them.

Milestone 6: 5-time Repeat Customer Conversion

5-time repeat customer

A 5-time Repeat Customer is what we would call a bonafide long-term customer.

They have surpassed every milestone, and are now deeply connected with your business. It’s a significant step past the Milestone 5 “Repeat Customer”.

This is a “finish line” sort of metric that we find to be highly valuable. Your business spends every waking moment trying to get them to this finish line (whether you are actively thinking about it or not), and this metric will show you just how many customers are actually reaching it. This metric is essentially a report card on the entirety of your printing business.

ASF Customers are able to track this metric in the same Retention Report we mentioned earlier:

how to view retention report

Do I have a problem?

If you aren’t turning at least 50% of your customers into 5-timers, you have a problem and you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

You aren’t spending enough time nurturing these customers. You are letting them buy the first time, and maybe another time, but after that, they are likely being swayed to buy somewhere else (because they have little to no connection or relationship with you) and you are losing them completely.

Furthermore, if your competitor is establishing a deeper connection with your customer, you’ll likely never get them back.

How to Solve It:

Follow the recommendations made in Milestone 5, but this time, think about it from the perspective of creating long term customers. Do you have a strategy in place that is ushering new customers along to their second, third, fourth, and fifth orders? If not, get started! As with anything – test, measure, implement.


Key conversion milestones

As you can see, the process of converting first-time visitors into 5-time repeat customers is not a passive process. It begins right when the person lands on your website for the first time. It requires that you have an overall strategy.

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[…] you just how many leads were acquired versus customers, a key metric we recently highlighted in the 6 Key Conversion Milestones of Art & Photo Printing Websites. We refer to leads as “contacts”, because whenever a lead is captured within the ASF […]

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