Entering this shopping season I was asked by several friends in (non-competing) etail businesses for thoughts, ideas, or tips to increasing online conversion. So I thought I'd capture some of my thoughts here.
My strongest advice to grow and sustain online results is to understand your customer (and act accordingly), and to build a culture of strong measurement, rigor and accountability (Must read book: "Execution").
However, if you’re looking for some quick ideas to improve conversion, below are some ideas I’ve seen work...
First, some context... There are essentially 5 customer purchase questions that are critical to answer if you want to improve conversion:
Can I find the item I’m looking for? – The benefits of search engine marketing is that most visitors come to your site to find a specific item or shop a category. Product selection and brand choice aside, the easier it is for them to find this first product they are shopping for, the less ‘leakage’ you will get.
Can I find something that interests me? – Whether visitors start looking for a specific item and continue to shop, or someone comes to your site on to do ‘shopping’, you need to make sure they find products that are tempting to buy. Products that are popular, cool, interesting, differentiated, and low priced.
Do I really want this product? – In the process of “A.I.D.A.”, this is “Desire” stage. Do visitors really have the desire to buy that product. You obviously have to answer all relevant questions, but moreover, provide the details in a compelling way to persuade a customer to buy. Why this product, how does it help me, and why now?
Can I get it for the right price? – Let’s face it, the Internet is the great price equalizer. Have you seen Froogle, epinions, shopping.com, deal.com, and the popularity of coupon sites? So, you need to have a good price, but moreover, can do a few things to convince prospects you have a great price…no need to go elsewhere.
Can I trust this company? – Unless you’re like Land’s End, enjoying 70% repeat business from familiar customers, you have to convince new prospects that you are a trustworthy company. Online shopping is growing fast, but shoppers are still afraid of working with a no-name brand, especially if the site looks ‘sketchy’. Familiarity and trust in a brand is one of the top 3 obstacles to buying from an online retailer.
Can I buy easily? – This is where usability and the art of persuasive reassurance are critical, starting from the home page and ending at checkout thank you page. There are many opportunities for the visitor to rethink their purchase along the way. The above questions are critical to resolve, but along the way, if the visitor gets stuck, none of the work you’ve done will make a difference. It’s just too easy for a frustrated online user to decide 'to come back later' – unfortunately, they rarely do.
Within these questions, or stages of purchase, here are some top suggestions to help increase online conversion:
Can I find that item I’m looking for?
- Tune your internal search engine to match top search terms to product pages
- Put top sellers on home page. People buy on impulse or recommendation.
- Match the landing page to the marketing campaign. Use vanity urls for offline advertising.
- Test your categories, naming and navigation with customers. They’re less intuitive than you think.
Can I find something that interests me?
- Put top sellers on home page
- Add related items to a product view
- Add relevant, topical-based shopping navigation or search
- Add interactivity to pull visitors into your site or a page
Do I really want this product?
- Display larger product pictures
- Show the product in action
- Headline the results your product promises
- Feature benefits in the copy
- Make it easy to read – bullets, short sentences/paragraphs, conversational.
- Add substantiated recommendations (“4 out of 5 dentists…”)
Can I get it for the right price?
- Add a limited time promotion to a product or category
- Use Free Shipping (#1 online promotion)
- Show a good, better, best options
- Show comparisons to competitors
- Slash through pricing
- Repeat the deal or promotion on every page
Can I trust this company?
- Clean up the site design
- Add testimonials
- Add security certifications
- Add affiliations
- Get listings in BizRate, Froogle, Epinions, etc.
- Show your personality
- Increase the font size
- Less is more
- Highlight your money back guarantee
- Include privacy, contact us, about us pages.
- Add a phone number
Can I checkout easily?
- Add a call to action on every page
- Copy the best-practices in cart and checkout
- Add reassurance statements (security, guarantee, etc.)
- Add a phone number on every page
Each of these warrant several pages of explanation and exploration. This is a primer for things to think about. If you’d like more details on any of these ideas, or if you are interested in a site evaluation, email me.