[Guest post by Tony Messer from PickaWeb]
Fed up with the constant Google algo updates and the fierce competition and escalating cost of paid search?
If you’re looking for a significant boost to your online sales then it makes sense to start with something that you have 100% control over: your website.
From Live Chat to Responsive Design, Security Badges and the optimization of Transactional Emails, here are 21 proven ways to help you significantly increase your conversion rates.
1. Offer Live Chat
Not using Live Chat? Get ready for a pleasant surprise. In fact, if you’ve got traffic and you run an eCommerce site then using a Live Chat tool will give you about the fastest return on investment you can imagine. Whether it’s inquiries, upgrades, upsells, billing, delivery, returns or email capture, Live Chat is a fantastic tool for any eCommerce owner serious about improving conversions and customer satisfaction.
2. Lights, iPhone, Action!
If a picture paints a thousand words then imagine what video can do. Whilst video doesn’t necessarily mean creating a Hollywood blockbuster, it does mean conversions. In fact, consumers are increasingly demanding video to help them make a decision. Nowadays, you can even produce great videos with an iPhone on a tight budget so there’s no excuse not to join the successful online retailers using video.
3. Use Responsive Design
A Responsive Website is not just future-proofing your website. It is a vital tool to ensure your online survival. If you aren’t familiar with Responsive Website Design (RWD), it is a technique for ensuring that your website looks good whatever device is viewing it. This is especially important for mobile customers because mobile is where the action is – now and in the future.
4. Keep a Responsive Navigation/Menu Too
So you’ve gone Responsive, great. Just don’t forget to test the best menu option for your site. Whilst the 3 bar menu seems to be the most popular approach, there are other options. One of the options larger eCommerce sites will face is which items to include. With the mobile site you don’t have the space to include those beautiful drop down menus that look great on the desktop site, so it is important to think mobile when designing the menu.
5. Speed Up to Sell More
It’s a given that faster websites convert better. It’s even a Google ranking factor. If you thought that “all-you-can-eat” hosting offer looked really attractive well you weren’t alone – you’ll be sharing precious server resources with thousands of other customers. The simple truth is that cheap web hosting is a false economy for eCommerce sites. Whilst there are dozens of ways to speed up the front end of your site, the hosting is where the rubber hits the road. Switching to either a virtual or dedicated server or failing that to Solid State (SSD) hosting is going to give a guaranteed speed increase.
6. Engage with Your Home Page
What’s your home page for? Traditionally the home page exists to sell, sell, sell. However, the catalogue look is a bit 2005 nowadays. Online consumers are far more demanding and with the move to Response Design discouraging the “catalogue only” look the home page is now an opportunity to engage with your visitors by clearly identifying your Value Proposition to achieve higher conversions.
7. Strategically-placed Security Badges
The security implications involved with accepting online payments come with the eCommerce territory. Whilst using a well known security badge is known to increase conversion, there are instances where it has actually decreased conversion. The hypothesis is that raising security concerns unnecessarily or too often can impact conversions. However, a good testing programme where the type, positioning and frequency of the badge should result in a positive increase.
8. Improve Site Search & Recommendation
If customers arrive via Google, the chances are they will want a rich search experience on your site rather than wading through a clunky navigation. If you don’t have a great search feature then you are in good company as detailed research shows that even some of the US top 50 eCommerce retailers are weak in terms of on site search. Obviously there are outstanding search and recommendation tools available if your existing site search is not up to the job.
9. Optimise Your Category Pages
Optimising category pages is often overlooked in the scramble to optimise individual product pages. But the way that you present and order your category pages can have a big influence on the conversion rate. Just deciding on whether to list products in a grid view or a list view can radically affect conversion rates.
10. Don’t Skimp on Product Images
You’ve done all of the heavy lifting to get your potential customer to your product page. A poor choice of images is the fastest way to lose a sale. Conversely, good images can have a significant effect on conversion rates. If you’re using cheesy stock images, now is the time to ditch them.
Using the manufacturer’s images? Maybe they’re not the best for conversion purposes. Instead consider larger, high quality images which show the product from different angles or 360 degrees. If you can afford a professional photographer then try it on your best sellers and measure the conversions. If the results are positive calculate the ROI on all of your products.
11. Or Product Descriptions
As with images, improving product copy can have a huge impact on conversions. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all approach. The best approach is to focus on your target customer and highlight the benefits.
Unless you have a very specialised product try to avoid jargon. Also try to avoid using the manufacturer’s description. Apart from the dangers of duplicate content and potential Google penalties they tend to focus on the features rather than the benefits.
12. Make Sure Your Captcha Is Sales-Friendly
Ever had a problem with a CAPTCHA? Me too. Sure, fake orders are a problem but the only way to prevent them 100% is to disconnect your server from the internet. If you have an illegible CAPTCHA on your checkout page you are putting a potential barrier in the way of a sale. Consider other forms of fraud screening or IP management or else consider a sales friendly CAPTCHA.
13. Showcase Your Customer Reviews
You have the ideal product and your potential new customer is looking for ways to justify their purchase with you. Genuine product reviews can help to influence their decision. According to one study on customer reviews nearly three quarters of customers say that positive reviews increase their level of trust in a business. For best results use a 3rd party review system such as TrustPilot.
14. Tap into Exit Intent Tools
They’re almost there. Products in the shopping trolley. They’re about to go to the payment page, then bang, they’re off, never to return. An exit intent tool uses a predictive algorithm to predict when a user is about to leave by tracking their mouse movement and make an irresistible offer via a pop up. Some may say they are an annoying distraction but there is evidence that they do increase subscription rates with no increase in bounce rates. Fortunately there is an increasing number of well priced exit intent tools to choose from.
15. Smooth Sailing through the Checkout Page
When you consider that over two thirds of purchases are abandoned at checkout then you can see that this is an area that is screaming out for improvement. Streamlining the checkout process, save shopping cart, email follow up (where possible) and guest checkout are all valid ways to reduce abandonment. The mantra you need to keep repeating is “just make it easy.”
16. Beef Up Your Thank You Pages
Is there an awkward silence after a purchase is completed? Let’s face it, most “Thank You” pages are an afterthought. But in fact Thank You pages are a great opportunity to continue to build a relationship. Upsells, cross sells, suggestions, surveys, feedback, free reports, links to popular content, testimonials, seasonal promotions… the list goes on. Use your imagination, but don’t leave your customers there with nothing to do.
17. Improve Transactional Emails
Often considered the ugly duckling of email marketing, transactional emails have a significant advantage over marketing emails: very high open rates. So why not make use of this often over-looked opportunity. So if you’re not making best use of them, maybe now is the time to pimp up your transactional emails.
18. Keep in Touch with Responsive Emails
Sending text emails only? Maybe now is the time to switch to responsive emails. Why? Because nearly 50% of email is opened on a mobile now. Responsive email best practice means focusing in on font size, copywriting, images and your call to action.
19. Send a Welcome Pack
Everyone loves a freebie. So why not surprise your customers with a well thought out welcome pack. The trick is to delay sending it so that your customer receives it several days after their purchase. Here at Pickaweb we call it the “Thud Factor”.
Use your imagination, but there’s no need to go overboard. A small well thought out gift, maybe some candy and a thank you card is all that’s needed to create a great first impression.
20. Keep Customers Engaged with Drip Emails
Thought drip email campaigns were for nurturing new prospects only? Think again. You can effectively use drip email campaigns with existing customers. It is a well established fact that it is easier to sell to existing customers, but most effort seems to be in attracting new sign ups. Drip campaigns can be used effectively in a number of different ways such as education, upselling, cross selling and improving customer retention rates.
21. Strategize Your Promotions
Customers love a discount. They are also more likely to remain loyal and refer friends and family to sites that offer an incentive. That isn’t to say that you need to aim to corner the bargain basement, all year round, closing down sale market. You’ll just encourage the wrong type of client. But a well thought out promotion strategy can significantly increase both sales and customer retention.
There’s a lot to take into account with eCommerce Conversion but don’t let that dishearten you. Just go for some easy wins initially and you’ll gradually find yourself getting more and more comfortable with the testing involved.
So what are your favourite tips for conversion? Did we miss any?
Leave a comment below with your recommendations.