Improving conversions, i.e. making more sales in the eCommerce world, is a general goal for any virtual store front owner. If only one person out of every 100 visitors makes a purchase on a given site (a conversion rate of 1%), it might be safe to assume that getting 200 visitors will double that number. And while that may be true, there are a number of changes that could be made to the site that could increase that rate without increasing the traffic.
It’s important to consider the questions that a potential customer asks themselves before they make a purchase. They need to trust the site, and have the assurance that real people are behind it. There are a number of other potential concerns and questions that the visitor may have and in this article I will discuss how to ensure some of those questions are quickly answered.
Tips to Improve E-Commerce Conversion
1. Is It Easy For Customers To Contact The Company?
It should be very simple for the visitor to be able to contact the company. In general, people won’t feel comfortable making a purchase on a web site where the contact information is difficult to find. It should be prominent and available on every page. Including the contact information in the header, in the top right perhaps, could go a long way in making the visitor feel comfortable that the business is legit. In WordPress you can make this happen by modifying the header.php file in the theme.
More than that, there should be multiple ways into which the visitor can make contact with the various departments. There should be a separate department for sales, customer support, and perhaps billing. Phone numbers are the most important arguably, even in the online world. Toll-free numbers are better, and toll-free numbers for all countries served is even better. Naturally there could be a non toll-free number for local calling.
Next of course is email contact which is the easiest to accomplish when working online. Displaying the email address using an image (to avoid scanning of email addresses that leads to spam) is one way, but even easier is to provide a simple contact form. Having a dropdown list for different departments is very helpful.
A somewhat more advanced means for contacting, but still very easy, is to setup a live chat or live support system, which is perhaps tied into a ticketing system in some way, if relevant. Providing support by email, by live support, or by phone will make a customer/visitor feel at ease, but it’s also smart to provide support in terms of articles, forums, and guides whenever appropriate to save time. Even providing as much information as possible in the product descriptions can eliminate unnecessary contact and man/woman hours, which leads to the next conversion tip…
2. Are There Sufficient Details About Each Product?
If a potential customer is fully informed about a product it could, as pointed out above, eliminate the need to contact the company, which saves everyone time. But it could also increase conversions. If the visitor has to wait around for a response, he may head to another site to get his needs met. So, it’s great to answer all questions up front.
Information overload can be come a problem here too, so a balance is key. One solution here is to provide additional information with a click, that way the visitor will only have to look if they choose to. For example, there could be a list of frequently asked questions that expand when clicked to see the answer.
If there is a lengthy description for the product that could benefit SEO as well. But to make it easily readable for humans, consider plenty of white space, headings and bullets. Also be sure there are multiple “buy now” or “add to cart” buttons throughout, at least at the top and the bottom of the description. Some sites will get fancy and float the button down while the web page is scrolling.
Visual information is also valuable. If labels can be provided, especially for food items, that is beneficial information for the customer. Be sure they could be viewed in full so the customer can read all details of the label. Even if the product can be demoed in pictures and videos that could help the buyer make a decision. Of course, information like dimensions, sizes, colors, and other attributes are also important.
3. Is The Web Site A Secure Place To Shop?
Unless doing an express checkout where the credit card and billing information is collected by the payment processor, a secure site is necessary. This is done with an SSL certificate. Modern web browsers warn users when a connection is not secure prior to entering any payment information and most people would abandon a cart if that’s the case, and rightfully so.
Even when using express checkout it still isn’t a bad idea to use SSL on certain parts of the site. In fact some payment processors require its use on the thank you page, because sensitive information is sometimes passed to that page. Depending on the level of security required, the cost for a certificate can range from $100 to $700 or more for a year. Some hosting providers will provide one for free with certain hosting packages.
4. Are Customers Informed About Other Products Available That They May Be Interested In?
Up-selling and cross-selling can increase sales and conversions. If a person is looking at a particular product, they may ultimately decide not to buy because it isn’t for them. They may click the back button and do another Google search. But if there is a “related products” section, or an area displaying products with the label “customers who bought this product also bought…” then more sales can occur. You can see this in action on Amazon.com and the Apple iTunes store among many other online stores.
It’s similar to a brick and mortar grocery store where someone might pickup a bag of apples and there is rack next to the apples with a candy apple making kit. Sales of the kit will likely take place when normally the customer might not have thought of it.
There is also the upselling strategy where the company can alert the customer that if they spend another x amount they can get free shipping or some other freebie. Tagging products in the cart with reminders that sales for certain items end soon or are “ending in 24 hours” can create a sense of urgency and the company may see less cart abandonment as a result. Abandoned carts is a big problem, so it is important to remind customers of certain perks to fulfilling the purchase. But there is still hope when cart abandonment does occur. I’ll discuss that next.
5. Is There A Re-marketing Strategy In Place To Turn Browsers Into Customers?
Remarketing or retargeting is a very good way of bringing people back to the eCommerce site. The people are placed into “groups” by way of a cookie in most cases. The groups can be very complex like “people that looked at red widgets,” but a very popular group is “people that left items in their cart and didn’t fully checkout.”
There is code that is placed on each page of the web site to track the customer’s progress through the site. In WordPress this can be done in the “footer.php” or “header.php” theme file and will show up on all pages of the site. Because there is a new type of tracking in place, it is imperative to mention this in the legal pages on the site. Check with someone certified in this are for more info on what to include and where. Google provides general information on this.
Now, what happens is certain groups are defined ahead of time and people get placed in one or more of those groups based on the pages they visited or didn’t visit. For example, if they visited the “cart” pages but not the “thank you” page, they are labelled as a “cart abandoner.”
Then, when they visit another web site that participates in an Ad Exchange of some kind (Google AdSense is an example), then a re-targeting ad might display asking the visitor to come back and complete their order. Clever marketers are offering discounts for the items in the cart and are placing coupon codes on the ads. The URL can be defined so the marketer can bring the customer right back to the checkout page and even apply the discount automatically.
Depends on the site where the re-marketing ads are purchased the marketer can decide how often the ad is shown to the same customer, how many times in a given day, when to start showing it, and how many days before stopping the ad from being shown. If at anytime they end up buying, they are removed from the “cart abandonment” group and no longer see the remarketing ad. This is good because a lot of times the marketer is paying for “views” of the ads and not clicks when doing remarketing.
Sometimes a conversion takes place just from the user seeing the ad over and over and “brand awareness” takes place. They may never click the ad and complete the sale (which would be a click thru conversion) but they may just decide to revisit the site by typing in the domain and complete their purchase. This is called a “view thru conversion.” The customer viewed the ad but didn’t click, but the ad is still responsible for the sale.
Companies that bid on ad space in the ad exchange include AdRoll, Simpli.fi, Google AdWords (as you probably know), and many others. Each company has their own set of features and customer service strengths.
Now, in the case of AdWords, the ads would show up on sites where the web master is a Google AdSense publisher. As you probably know about AdSense, is that in general those ads are “contextual.” This means the ads that get displayed are related to the surrounding content in some way which increases the likelihood the visitor would be interested. It’s different with remarketing. The ad doesn’t have to relate to the content at all. It could be an ad linking back to your online store and the person viewing is someone that has been there before. It’s your opportunity to get them back for the desired conversion.
6. Is Your e-commerce Checkout a Fast One? (Bonus Tip)
If your shopping cart checkout is too lengthy then there you will have less conversion as more customers will abandon the cart during the tedious checkout process.
You should use a checkout system that has a quick and easy checkout process so your customers are done quickly. If you are using WordPress to power your online shop then you should consider using the WP eStore plugin as it offers a very quick and easy checkout process.