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E-Commerce Effectiveness: 10 Tips to Increase Conversion Rates

July 15, 2013

10 Tips to Increase Conversion Rates

Fact: In 2012, the average conversion rate for web-only retailers was 3.4%; retail chain, 2.7%; and consumer brand manufacturers, 2.2%.* Put another way, more than 96% of visitors could walk away from your e-commerce site without taking action. You work hard and expend resources to get potential buyers to your website, but what does it take to close a sale once they enter your virtual store? Does the experience of buying your goods online match the quality of the products you’re selling? For many businesses, the answer is no. Fortunately, there are common sense fixes you can make to enhance your customer’s e-commerce experience and your bottom line results.

Improve Usability & Understand Purchasing Behavior When our e-commerce team works with clients, one of the key elements we look at to determine success is website usability and user purchasing behaviors. Below are some simple strategies we have found that will help improve your usability and, in turn, impact conversion rates:

1. Have a highly visible phone number. If you have an inside sales or customer service staff, get those phones ringing! Getting your customers engaged with your employees generally results in a higher conversion rate and higher average order value. A bold, ever present phone number, and a call to action, encourages users to pick up the phone, get more information and get much closer to the point of purchase.

2. Convey credibility. If your brand is not known by a web shopper, take steps to establish credibility in their mind beyond having a well-designed, functional website. For instance:

  • The ‘About Us’ section of a site is the perfect place to tell the story of your company and the people who work there.
  • Don't forget the human element -- include pictures of your facilities and the people your customers may speak with.
  • Gather customer testimonials and work them into key pages on the site.
  • Highlight awards, industry certifications or patents.

3. Micro-transactions provide more touchpoints. Many sites only give visitors 3-4 action options (e.g., buy something, sign up for an email newsletter, contact us, exit the site). But think about a typical retail transaction in the brick and mortar world. For example, when you shop for paint, in addition to talking with the clerk, you can take home brochures and paint samples. Do the same in your virtual storefront. For instance, give users a takeaway that provides additional information to make an informed purchase. This will, in turn, single out people who are displaying purchasing behavior. Examples of virtual takeaways might include a digital or physical catalog, sample product or access to educational assets.

4. Adapt your site to the way your customers purchase. Understanding the intricacies of how your customers purchase should dictate site design and checkout flow. Are your customers government agencies? Large institutions? Have regulatory oversight? Do your customers have other industry or product specific purchasing considerations? For instance, I recently bought a diamond for my fiance’s wedding ring. Since this is larger than your average online transaction, the e-commerce site did a very smart thing. They allowed for two forms of payment during the checkout process. Brilliant (both the strategy and the stone)!

5. Competitive advantages, spell them out. Complete this sentence: Our customers buy from us because _____. Is that same advantage you just articulated clearly spelled out persistently throughout your website?

6. Every page is a landing page. Unlike a physical store, users enter your website and experience more than just your home page. Take a look at each type of page of your site and ask from a customer perspective, “What if this was the first page I viewed?” Make sure that each page includes your phone number, your main navigation and calls to action.

7. Review analytics for organic search queries. Your web analytics have a wealth of information and many stories to tell if the data is interpreted correctly. A great place to get inside the head of your customer is to review the keywords that drove people to your site from search engines. We like to look for ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ searches to understand the motivation of the customer.

8. Always be improving. Fractions of a percent in conversion rate can make a big difference on a website’s revenue over the course of a year. Are you undertaking any conversion rate optimization? This involves running tests on page layouts, calls to action, shopping cart flow and any other factor that influences user behavior on your site.

9. Lifecycle marketing. Are you marketing to customers and potential customers throughout the customer lifecycle from Awareness to Retention? One of the most common gaps we see is the lack of well thought out trigger email programs to follow up with customers, ensure they are having a good experience and sending follow up offers to encourage additional purchases. This is much different than blasting your whole list on a monthly or quarterly basis.

10. Mobile versus Tablet. While tablets are more mobile than desktop devices, do not lump tablets in with mobile when interpreting web analytics. Make tablets their own line item in report breakouts to get a better grip on how users behave per device category. Use this data as the foundation for user experience decisions on website refreshes and redesigns. Implementing a series of small user experience enhancements can help drive your conversion rate in a more positive direction. When it comes to e-commerce, these fractions of a percent can lead to increased online revenue without additional media spending. The result? A direct improvement to your bottom line. * Source - Internet Retailer

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