SEO 101

How to Make Sure Your Visitors Buy

You pay good money getting visitors to your website. So how can you make sure they buy once they arrive?

SEO ecommerce SEJ How to Make Sure Your Visitors BuyAre you optimising your website? Not search engine optimisation, conversion optimisation – the art of making sure your visitors buy.

Because whether you pay for clicks through advertising or attract customers through your wider marketing work, all your visitors cost money.

That makes it essential that you maximise the chances of each individual making a purchase, signing your petition, leaving their details, or whatever your goals are. Converting from a visitor to a customer.

The Cheapest Way to Boost Your Sales

Conversion rate optimisation is one of the cheapest ways to boost your website’s revenues because you’re not paying for more visitors – you’re simply making more of the ones you already have.

Depending on your in-house expertise, you may need to make an initial investment into testing and redesigning your pages.

However, once your site is slicker and the customer journey is simpler and more effective, more of your visitors will convert.

That means each visitor is more valuable and maximises your returns.

Recognise Your Under-performance

If you think you can improve your site’s conversion rate, you have to accept that parts of it are underperforming.

Before you begin working on your website’s optimisation rate, you need to accept that it will need to change. You may be attached to certain designs, styles, processes and customer journeys, but you need to set your preferences to one side.

Your website’s design must be based on careful customer testing and not what you personally like.

Embed Conversion Optimisation in Your Company’s Culture

If you have a large website then there could be many different employees editing it. You need to make sure that they all understand the importance of conversion optimisation, otherwise your hard work will be gradually undone.

Make sure any employees with the power to edit are involved or at least informed about your optimisation and testing. Try not to alienate them by overturning their sections of the website without discussing it first.

Talk to Your Customers

You are almost certainly too close to the project to independently assess what changes need to be made. You’re too familiar with the website and, while you can step back, you can’t ever be a fresh customer.

But you need to understand how these visitors view your website if you want to improve their experience.

Perhaps you can improve conversion rate simply by assessing your pages yourself. However, if you want to maximise returns, you’ll need to talk to your visitors about what they want. It can be hard to persuade people to take the time to feedback but here are some important things to consider:

Talk to those who don’t convert

The most important thing is to get some feedback from the visitors who don’t convert. You want to find out why they gave up and what their intentions are – will they buy the product elsewhere?

Offer an incentive

It’s hard to get people to take the time to give you feedback on your website, especially if they’re leaving it without converting. A pop-up inviting them to complete a survey won’t be popular, but it’s a very useful tool for you.

Offer an incentive to them to complete the form, like the chance to win a big-ticket item. ‘Complete this survey for a chance to win an iPad’ is far more tempting than simply asking for their time.

Assess Your Visitors’ Behaviour

If you can’t get people to take the time to feedback, or if you don’t have the budget, you can still learn a lot from their behaviour.

Assess at what point they abandoned your website. For example, if they bounced as soon as they landed then you know that your paid search isn’t attracting the right kind of customer.

If they added items to their basket but then abandoned at the checkout then there could be a more subtle reason they left. Consider whether you’re asking for too much information or if your last-minute charges for postage are putting people off.

Look at where you’re leaking customers and then tear those segments of the site apart until you find out what’s failing you.

Test. And Test and Test and Test.

So, your customers have told you what they don’t like about the site and you’ve redesigned the segments that are leaking visitors. What next? Next you need to test all your changes; first of all to see if they’ve made a difference and secondly to see if you could make your website even more effective.

Just remember to test one change at a time, that way you can get a clear picture of how effective each tweak has been. Your site might be performing more strongly but that’s no reason to tolerate small weaknesses.

Make Your Customer Journey Smooth

If your advertising is spot on and you have confidence in your product and price, then the main reason your visitors aren’t customers is that the journey to purchase is fiddly.

Think about it, how often have you left a site in irritation, simply because you can’t navigate it easily (HMRC self-assessment pages, I’m looking at you)?

You need to make sure customers can easily navigate your pages or you will lose them. Here are some things to consider:

Calls to action

Make sure that at any moment, your customers can complete their transaction if they get bored of browsing. Place calls-to-action on every page – you never want it to be a struggle for them to give you money.

Keep them on the site

The longer your visitor is on your website, the more likely they are to convert. So, give them stuff they want, from news articles and customer reviews, to a chatty blog or useful forum. Whatever it takes to keep them browsing.

Give the site an appealing feel

Design the look and feel of your website around the customers you know you have. For example, teenagers will respond to a very different style to pensioners. Current account customers are looking for a business feel, whereas a mum shopping for baby clothes wants something cutesy.

But what every customer wants is a website that looks professional, secure and trustworthy, so prioritise that.

Offer everything on a plate

If you make your customers hunt for information that they need then they could feel as though you’re trying to hide something from them and lose confidence.

That’s why it’s so important to provide all the information they might need, from your privacy policy to delivery charges. Make sure they can find it in a hurry or you look like you’re afraid to be transparent.

Pay Less for Your Customers

Clearly lowering the amount you spend per customer is one way to maximise your return-on-investment. So don’t rely on paid search advertising alone to drive visitors to your pages.

It can deliver purchase-ready customers to your pages, but it also requires ongoing investment. The day you stop paying for clicks is the day your visitor numbers drop off a cliff.

But some initial investment into other customer-generation tactics can help you cut the cost of each visitor, as well as ensuring your visitor numbers don’t rely on ongoing investment.

Invest in organic search engine optimisation. This kind of investment keeps on working, meaning it becomes gradually cheaper to attract each customer. And if the budget is ever cut, you won’t immediately lose all your visitors.

What does success look like?

The most important thing is to know what you count as success before you begin. If you’ve measured your website’s current performance then you know how well you’re doing at the moment. It’s up to you to set goals.

Work out what returns you expect to see on your investment, and what you can realistically hope to achieve. If you’re using an agency to complete the work on your pages, ask them for their expected targets so that you can make sure they’re achieved.

You can’t form an opinion on how successful your work has been unless you can measure it against your expectations and ambitions. Understanding what you will consider success to be is vital in any online marketing sphere.

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Kevin Gibbons is founding director at Quaturo, a content marketing agency in London, and frequently writes/speaks within the search industry at various blogs and events.

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3 thoughts on “How to Make Sure Your Visitors Buy

  1. I agree.

    In the ‘old days’ we used to talk about the ‘sales funnel’ – it’s still there, it has changed, but the basic principals are the same – do everything you can to get your potential customers (at the top of the funnel) down to the bottom!

    In online terms, there are several points along the journey where you may loose your potential customer – each must be examined and minimised.

    They are:

    Being found in the first place – SEO
    Convincing your customer to click on your search listing – meta data, rich snippets, schema.org
    Compelling your potential customer to follow your ‘call to action’ (every page should have one)
    Dealing with the sale efficiently – Back office systems
    Ensure your new customer comes back for more – CRM, Back office systems

    Easy!! (if only it were)

  2. Thanks for the tips. My traffic has been up but sales have not increased and I am left scratching my head. I am sure there is a problem somewhere but cannot figure it out. I like the idea of the survey. When working online it is difficult to know what is going on in a client’s mind.