A few small businesses have recently contacted me that have been struggling to turn their web visitors into buyers. In fact some were struggling to even get enough visitors in the first place. Worse, some were seeing visitor growth but sales conversions spiraling downwards!
They needed a solution – and fast! Somehow, in their panic, I think they thought I could wave a “magic online sales conversion wand” – (puff of smoke) and hey presto the enquiries and orders would start flooding in.
Admittedly, after reviewing their sites, there were some easy wins to be sure. But there was nowhere near the time to get them in place, and to monitor the impact. Had they contacted me a few months earlier their situation mightn’t have been so desperate.
Understandably, every business is different and what constitutes success for one business may be very different for another. However, there are some universally good things you can do to improve your web sales conversion chances. They are easy to put in place – as the classic 80′s magician Paul Daniels would say “That’s magic!” Actually, no Paul – it just needs a little time and effort…
Top tips for improving your web sales conversions
1 – Have you tried using your own site lately?
Ask your customers
OK right away, my easiest action for you – call a few customers. Yep, get them on the phone (no email surveys) and ask them how they find using your site – warts and all. You’ll uncover a wealth of information – feedback NOT just limited to the website user experience.
Is your website too frustrating?
This is one of the top culprits for nose diving sales conversions. Are there too many links? Is there too much to do at once? In web body copy, less is generally more – use headings, use short paragraphs and use bullets. If you need more product or service details, link to separate pages.
Also, pay attention to colour choices – use complementary colours that sit easily with visitors. A relaxed visitor is one that stays longer, visits more pages and buys.
Is your website easy to use?
Although I specialise in search engine consultancy services, I’m a bit of a fanatic of when it comes to physically browsing around a website. What’s known as the web user experience. First, is the site fast – if your pages take longer than 10 seconds to load I’m long gone!
Is the page navigation where you expect it to be (top and left), clear and easy to use. Does the navigation lead you where you expect it to – and for large sites is there an obvious AND accurate search function near the top?
Oh, and don’t forget to test your site on different browsers and screen resolutions – many still don’t!
What do you want visitors to do?
Remember, users don’t like scrolling down long pages to find what they were promised when they used a search engine, or clicked through from another site.
So make your ‘bread and butter’ call to action easy to find near the top. And make it clear what you want them to do – it can be a button (“download brochure”) or a short form (“start your free trial”).
2 – Be clear on why you are better or different
Tell them why they should buy from you!
Don’t be shy – I know it’s not very British, but people are proactively looking to buy products and services online. Many are in the mood to buy and have little patience. So make it obvious why a visitor should buy from you and nobody else.
Further, you need to clearly state why you are better or different from your competitors. You only have seconds to grab a person’s attention – strong offers in web headlines and sub-headings count.
Are you speaking to your audience correctly?
Remember, you need to speak to visitors in the language they use – you’ll connect with them quicker and show that you understand their needs.
Keep stiff, jargon and over salesy copy to a minimum. Use a conversational style and clear language as this naturally builds rapport and trust. This leads me on to…
Are you giving visitors enough reasons to trust you?
People buy from people they trust. With regards to gaining trust online – more is more. Positive client feedback shouldn’t be a page buried deep in your site – use testimonials throughout the sales process to reinforce your credentials.
3 – Pay special attention to web forms and shopping carts
Keep web registration processes short
I speak to many businesses that suffer with high abandonment rates for their web forms and shopping carts. I see non completion rates as high as 75% regularly! This largely stems from overwhelming long, confusing and poorly designed forms. Or forms that simply don’t work reliably due to a lack of testing!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a marketer at heart and I love a good database. But ask yourself – how will knowing your customers fax number really improve your bottom line? So, keep web registration processes as short as is possible.
For lead generation, you only really need name and email and possibly telephone – plus company if selling to business folk.
In particular, for shopping carts, break the process into logical small steps and ensure you test every step ruthlessly. Then, to remove remaining gremlins, get some loyal customers, colleagues and friends to test and feedback.
Oh, and avoid making every single field mandatory – if somebody can’t complete a field, they’ll leave quickly – sale lost!
Keep visitors in play by offering help
Every web form or shopping cart should have a link to a feedback form so that visitors can let you know why they couldn’t complete a transaction. Fixing these issues will make a huge difference in sales and keep your customers happy.
Remember, not everyone may want to use your shopping cart
Although many customers are happy to fill out web forms, there’s still plenty who would rather ask questions and speak to someone in person. Don’t make it easy for such a customer to go elsewhere.
Appeal to a wider audience by making your contact information or customer service number clearly visible. Create and maintain a frequently asked questions page to help out of hours site visitors.
4 -Search engine optimisation that aids conversion
Use META tags that help sell
Meta tags are primarily used to help search engines quickly identify what a web page is about. And that text is often displayed in the search engine results. Often there is a danger of over stuffing these with too many keywords.
When writing your meta tags (title and description), do use keywords, but try and write the title and description tags so they work in unison as compelling reason to visit your site.
Does every web page stand on it’s own merit?
On the web you must remember that it is individual web pages and not websites that are listed on search engines – or linked to from external sites. This distinction is often overlooked. Why am I telling you this?
Because every page of your site must stand, indeed sell, on its own merits. You need to think of every page as a landing page – don’t rely on your homepage as your one and only shop front.
In fact, these days you’ll be lucky if 40% of visitors ever see your homepage. So treat every page in isolation, search engine optimise its content so it’s found for specific searches and has clear calls to action that drive enquiries and sales.
What happens if a visitor uses a broken link?
Say somebody cuts and pastes a link to your site that’s wrong, or mistypes your link from a marketing piece – what would they see on your site?
I’m amazed that so many websites still display an ugly server error page – known as a 404 error page. It has none of your branding, navigation – in fact nothing to distinguish that it was your site they were trying to reach.
This is a potentially missed sales opportunity – and it’s easy to fix. Simply create a custom 404 error page for your site. Be sure to include a helpful explanation as to why the error might have occurred. Plus, include key links and contact information.
Are you using alt text for graphic files?
Do use alt text for any graphic files, particularly main calls to action, so that users with disabilities (or for people with images switched off in their browsers) can still see and act on them.
I hope you found this article interesting and useful.