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Many people believe that once you have attracted traffic to your website, by whatever means, then website conversion is simple. They will be drawn to your products and services, have their credit cards ready and within seconds you will have your first order. If only this was the reality of the situation!
The key to any successful e-commerce business is to increase click through links and reduce shopping cart abandonment rates. There are many ways you can increase orders but the simplest is to optimise your website design and functionality. Focus on your customers, put yourselves in their shoes and give them what they want. Don’t give them what you think they want. There is a subtle difference and we’ll help by highlighting important factors to consider for improving your website’s conversion rates. Let’s dive in…
Whether you are selling shoes, web hosting or any other type of product/service you need to make your content and your website stand out. The likelihood is if you search for any subject on the Internet you will find hundreds of thousands if not millions of websites covering the topic. What makes your website different? Why would you stand out in a crowd? Why should people keep coming back to you?
Your content should be memorable, informative and easy to read. When people find quality content from your website on different platforms, adding inbound links could help to boost traffic. But above all, visitors should not have to click on several links to get to that memorable content. If you ensure that each individual webpage selling products/services is optimised for that particular subject than hey-presto, immediately your customers will see exactly what they want to see. Making your site stand out in a crowd does not necessarily mean an all singing all dancing website. Having simple informative and well-presented content can be a game changer.
In the early days of a new e-commerce operation you will have your core product/services and high hopes for the future. There can often be a temptation to sell peripheral goods. These are not necessarily your core products/market but are in some way associated with your potential customer profile. On the surface this sounds simple, sell your core products and sell some peripheral items for a few extra dollars. However, in practice this can be a little confusing for customers.
There may be future opportunities to add peripheral goods to your website. However, in the early days it is best to focus more on your core market. As you build up a reputation your customers will trust you more. This trust may well give you the opportunity to sell peripheral goods. However, if a customer lands on your website looking to buy a particular clothing, don’t push them towards the shoe section. Keep them focus, keep them warm and reduce the options available. It is also vital that you keep up with market trends. And most importantly ensure that you are selling products that your customers are looking for.
How many times have you landed on an e-commerce website which looks great, has everything you need but there is little or no detail about the company, contact details or address. Reducing shopping cart abandonment rates with fewer clicks is great. However, a lack of company and contact details can have the opposite effect. There are many situations where customers filled their shopping carts ready to check out, but checks for the company details. However, one last look at the owner of the website throws up a few suspicions. Why are they so secretive? They may even ask, why is there little contact information presented?
Interestingly, those who use the Amazon will be surprised that it can be extremely difficult to find contact numbers. Especially if you are a business partner. The retail side is very smooth and well-developed. However, even the big companies don’t always abide by the simple rules of business.
A scattergun approach to advertising can often be a temptation in the early days, the opportunity to bring as many customers in as possible as quickly as possible. In reality it can, and likely will be, very different. By definition, a scattergun approach will mean that the majority of people who see your advert may have a broad interest in your subject matter but not necessarily any specific interest in what you have to sell. As a consequence, your website’s conversion rates might flat-line and in some cases you may struggle to replenish your advertising expenditure from online sales.
On the subject of advertising, it is better to focus on particular areas of the online community where you know your customers will often reside. If you are looking to sell football equipment then advertise on a football site, don’t go for a health website, fitness website or a general lifestyle website. Focus advertising on opportunities which are truly focused on what you sell, the more focused the better. The broader, the less chance of converting. Check out the following summary of the more successful Facebook advertising subjects:-
Even the best websites will see returns from customers. They might have not understood what they were buying. There could be genuine issues or they simply changed their mind. It may seem bizarre to suggest that you should promote your returns policy. The fact is that returns could potentially incur further expense. Nonetheless, think about it. If you have a potential customer looking to acquire a product they may have some concerns whether it is an exact match to their requirements. If they are not aware of your returns policy they might err on the side of caution. Worse yet, they could walk away to purchase from a competitor with better transparency. Then again, if they see your active returns policy they may be willing to take a chance.
In reality, the vast majority of customers who buy products online tend not to return them. Especially if there is a relatively small surcharge. They like the idea of a returns policy, and in some cases they will return products. Having a return policy fosters an increased trust factor which will prompt them to go ahead with a borderline purchase. The best policy in business is to be upfront and honest.
If you have been investigating advertising methods then you will likely have come across the concept of A/B testing. In simple terms this means taking two very different approaches to marketing a particular product/service. Then, seeing which one has the best conversion rates. The ability to increase click through links may depend on something as simple as a more eye-catching image, a different advertising focus or even bundling products together for ease of purchase. Take a look at this example which saw Barack Obama raise $60 million by “running a simple experiment” which included A/B Test:-
If a potential customer lands on your website with the intention of buying a product/service then to all intents and purposes it is your sale to lose. Too much fluff in your content, a lack of direction and instruction can see you lose a customer. Therefore, keep your content as simple as possible and on subject. If you do need to go into finer details place this towards the bottom of the page. This ensures that customers see the more focused and informative content when landing on your website. If they require more detail they can simply scroll down the page and read till their hearts content.
In many ways this gives you the best of both worlds, those who are literally ready to buy will be encouraged to do so with the simple focused content. Those who maybe require a little more detail have the option of scrolling down the page and reading more about the product. It is also worth noting that content which sells well today may not sell well in two years because of changing trends. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in updating your content and making it more relevant as you go along.
It goes without saying that your menu navigation system is vital when looking to increase click through links and reduce shopping cart abandonment rates. You should look to optimise website design as much as possible to make things as simple as possible. If a potential customer lands on your website and they require three or maybe four menu clicks to get to where they want to be, you have a good chance of losing them. Maybe highlight the most popular products but also ensure minimal key clicks to get from your homepage to any of the products you have for sale.
The scenario is a little different for information only pages but sales pages, get them on, fill a basket, pay up and leave. It may sound callous and cold but the quicker you close the deal from the moment a visitor lands on your website the better.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to cold hard cash. Therefore the payment option on your website should be highly visible at all times. Many people prefer to use the shopping basket system. This is often highlighted in the top right-hand corner of all e-commerce web page. This is useful because for many shoppers there is an expectation that the icon will be there and when they are ready they simply click on it, check their basket and pay. To stand any chance of being successful in the longer term it should only take one click to access the payment system.
Click, check the basket, get your card out and pay – by making the system as simple as possible you will secure that sale.
In many ways web hosting and analytics go hand in hand when looking to optimise website design and increase your online sales. Google Analytics is one of the more popular systems and allows you to check everything from basic traffic to the most popular pages, bounce rates to your top selling-pages and much, much more. This is the kind of system which is invaluable when it comes to A/B testing as you can track user paths, where they land on your website as well as exit pages.
If a webpage is attracting significant traffic but has a high bounce rate and limited sales, does the content need tweaked? Alternatively, there may be scope to improve webpages which secure significant sales for you and good traffic. In the world of e-commerce there is always something you can improve and it is only by checking your analytics that you can monitor your customer experience, what is working and what needs improving.
There are other ways and means of improving click through to impact your traffic and conversion rates. These include: direct mailing of newsletters, competitions and special offers. In many ways it is simple, focus on what your customers are looking for and give it to them as quickly as possible. Remember, the vast majority of customers who land on your website already know what they would like to buy. They are literally hovering over the buy now button, but may just need that little extra nudge which is often as a consequence of greater trust in your website.
Looking at the situation from a broader perspective, a reliable web hosting package is also very important. The more uptime your website has the greater the scope to sell and in this day and age every website should be available 24/7.