No one starts a business to simply volunteer their time and resources. Your website may be the finest one out there, but if you’re not selling, something somewhere is not clicking with the potential customers who browse your site.
Many merchants focus on increasing traffic thinking that if more people visit their site, they will consequently sell more. Though this thinking is not entirely wrong – more visitors does increase the likelihood of selling – it is unrealistic to believe that 20% more visitors will translate in a 20% increase in sales.
Before working on increasing traffic therefore, you need to make sure everything about your current site moves visitors to act.
Before delving more into this, if you are new to e-commerce, I urge you to read the article “12 Basic Tips for E-Commerce Newcomers” which provides essential marketing advice to attract and retain customers.
And now, here are 7 strategies to increase your business’ conversion rate and make sure your visitors become loyal customers.
1. In all you do, consider your target customer
Your target customer must be clearly defined and you must always have it in mind when executing your marketing plan.
Some businesses build several user types, or personas, with different personalities, yet with common motives, preferences, and behavior patterns which as a group represent the brand’s target audience. Other businesses only work with one target customer type on which all their marketing decisions will be based.
In any case, whether you create new content, new pages, or new product pages, ALL should be done with that target customer type or group in mind.
2. Spark reactions
All advertisers know that humans are emotional beings. One may think he is making a rational purchase, but really what lead him to this brand, this website, this product, or this particular business will be driven in large part by emotions: desire, urgency, joy, love, and so on.
No matter what your content is – blog posts, social media posts, advertisement, promotional offers, item descriptions, etc. – what you write must engage your target customer. Choice of words is therefore crucial.
Use few words
The more your message is clear, direct, and simple, the more likely you are to draw the attention of users. The Internet is a fast-moving world. You may only have a split-second to engage a customer.
Choose words appropriate to your target customer
Depending on such factors as gender, age, or social profile, some people or customer types react better to positive wording.
For example, here are two sentences:
Both sentences have the exact same message: these shoes are comfortable and will make hiking so much more enjoyable. The difference is the first phrase uses negative wording (“sore”) and the shoes are not portrayed as belonging to the customer. However, in the second phrase, the tone is affirmative, the wording is positive (“pure pleasure”), the benefits are highlighted (‘mind and spirit’) and the shoes already belong to the customer.
Other customers, depending on the message we want to convey, or their type, may react more to negative wording or even fear.
There are no magic words. It is really important to fit with the ‘persona’. One thing is sure: don’t choose words at random. Consider the emotional reaction your wording will provoke.
Choose words that will encourage buying
Words such as ‘FREE, OFFER, GIFT, RECEIVE, NEW, SAVE, BENEFIT, QUICKLY, ONLY’ are just a few examples.
These types of words give the customer the impression that we’re giving him something or that he will miss out if he doesn’t quickly take advantage of the offer.
These are the types of words you want to be using in your ads, on your sites, and social media accounts.
3. Accompany your customers through the whole buying process
Let’s take another example:
You are in a shopping mall with hundreds of outlets. A product on sale grabs your attention in a window. You decide to walk in.
Inside the store, an employee is busy stocking the shelves. He doesn’t even notice you coming in. You try to find the product on sale, but to no avail. Eventually, you find the product. The employee finally acknowledges your presence but doesn’t reach out.
It turns out the product is not marked down as the promotion indicated. You decide to ask about it and the employee tells you the price is right. The promotion ended yesterday but the manager hadn’t had the time to take down the display.
I’ll bet you will swiftly walk out of the shop empty-handed and chances are you will never go back there.
Why would it be any different in a web store?
- Remember, whatever you do, you should always have that target customer type in mind. It must be clear for this customer where to go on your site at all stages of his browsing experience.
- Everything on your site must be consistent: your image, your style, your tone, your offers, and so on. There cannot be any contradicting or confusing information. Otherwise, your customer will simple go elsewhere in the shopping mall of e-commerce.
- Lastly, your product pages must be as clear and detailed as possible:
- Your product images must be good quality and we should be able to see the product through different angles, maybe even zooming in on the product details.
- A customer must also be able to visualize variations of products through images.
- A product’s measurements, weights, and dimensions must be clearly specified.
- The “Buy Now” button must be easy to find and simple. This is not the time to try and be original. Simple is efficient.
Your website visitor may have landed on your product page directly through a link that you published, and not necessarily through your homepage. It’s very likely that he is not familiar with your brand at all. NEVER neglect your product pages!
4. Simplify the buying process
To improve the conversion rate, you must make sure the steps that lead your customers to finalize their purchase are as simple as possible.
At the final stage of payment, I advise against requiring the user to create an account in order to complete the purchase. Don’t risk losing the sale… Alternately, give them the choice.
Be careful not to ask too much information about your customer. You can always obtain more information later by other means, such as a newsletter subscription.
In other words, if the customer is ready to pay, let him pay! Don’t distract him with non-essential questions…
5. Make sure you are easily identified
Your branding must be carefully crafted so that customers come to recognize your logo, your style, and your tone.
Of course, you want to stand out from the crowd, but remember to be consistent in everything you do. There should be no disconnect in style between your social media posts, website, newsletters or anything else you publish.
6. Interact with your customers
That sounds obvious, but this is a necessary reminder. In the above example of the store, the employee was not concerned with the needs of the customer. Don’t make the same mistake.
- Be active on social media, but not just to plug your products. Share with your customers valuable information so they come to see you as an expert in your field (link in French).
- Build trust by personally replying to customer messages and inquiries when possible or entrust this to an employee. A simple ‘thank you’ note following a customer comment will demonstrate that you have your ears to the ground.
- Try to understand the needs of your customers. Use social media to ask them questions, offer them a discount in exchange for filling out surveys on your social media platforms or through your newsletters. Ask them to react to your blog posts by asking questions or inviting them to share their experiences.
- Make sure they can find answers to their questions if a problem arises at any point in their shopping experience on your site.
- Make sure your customers can easily contact you through various means, especially by phone. Yes, phone is still very important to some people!
- When you see a customer has abandoned his cart just before paying, why not reach out to find out what prevented him from buying and see how you can help him with his purchase, perhaps even offering an incentive for him to come back? True, this requires time, but such a personalised approach will make a huge difference.
- Finally, when a customer makes a purchase, send him a personalised thank you note by email with a voucher for a future purchase, for example.
- In short, do ALL you can so that your customers feel valued. If they write comments on social media or by email, bring it to the fore on your website by indicating their name and city, or the name of the business (for commercial customers). In return, why not mention these business’ website?
7. Make good use of software
Lastly, here are a few interesting software options that can help optimize your conversion rates:
Hotjar is awesome because it allows to survey customers, to understand their journey on a website, and see what we can’t notice from our vantage point as a web entrepreneur. Since we are seldom the target customer for our website, this software helps us to better understand how our target customer thinks.
Usertesting.com is another handy software! It allows you to enter your target customer profile – say, a 35-year old woman that loves animals – and to ask X number of people corresponding exactly to this profile to execute different tasks on your website. The people will execute the required task while recording their screen and voice so that you can see and hear what they think and how they find their experience.
You will be surprised by the results! Many e-tailers tend to build sites that match their preferences instead of building it according to the preferences of their target customers. Usertesting.com helps to correct this tendency and to see if the website structure hits the target or not. This is a MUST to improve all online stores.
In conclusion, don’t hesitate to use such tools as Google Analytics in order to help you understand where and when you lose customers. Beyond statistics though, think HUMAN:
- Consider your target customer
- Spark reactions
- Facilitate navigation and purchasing on your site
- Build trust by being in contact with your customers and by being consistent in your brand image
How about you? What advice would you give to improve sales? Want to share an experience with our readers on the topic? Don’t hesitate to add your comments below!