Who wouldn’t want every single visitor to their website to make a purchase (or three), before they leave? Unfortunately, in the real world, we know average website conversion rates hover between 2 and 10% depending on the industry and how efficiently the site is being run.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way. The leaders in each industry have a significantly higher conversion rate, thanks to a combination of factors, often including an optimized website and a pro-customer orientation. Even if you cannot match the deep pockets or the brand equity of an Amazon, eBay, or Zappos, you can definitely try to beat them at those aspects of conversions which are entirely in your hands and free (or inexpensive) to boot.
Let’s take a look at some simple tricks that youcan use right now to boost your website conversions:
1. Design and UX
The web is flooded with advice on great design and smooth user experience (UX) for website owners. You may have read about these a lot of times, but in the interest of covering all bases with conversion optimization, here goes:
a. Colors and Contrast
Use colors to your advantage. Pick a color palette for your site and stick to it. Splashing color arbitrarily not only kills your site’s aesthetics, it also does nothing to focus the user’s attention on the most important thing on the page. Use contrasting colors, ample white space and at least a rudimentary understanding of color theory to guide your users towards your Call to Action.
b. Richer Images, Allow Zoom, Video if Possible
Rich, well-shot images instantly liven up any site and add character to your brand. Avoid using the same stock photos that one finds at every corner of the web, try to pick custom shots to give your site an exclusive look. Most importantly, make sure your product images are large, clear, and offer views from different angles. A customer who makes a purchase on the internet is usually unable to touch and feel the product before putting down money for it. Allow them to make a more informed decision with stunning product shots that can be zoomed in to view minute details.
Amazon offers detailed product images and a video to give a more ‘in-store’ feel to shopping fashion:
Google, with its simple search bar and minimal buttons, would probably be one of the fastest websites in the world, right? Wrong. Alexa.com pegs Google as an ‘Average Speed’ site which takes about 1.87 seconds to load.
Yes, you read right; 1.87 seconds is average. To prevent your customers from dropping off your site out of sheer boredom, try to keep it running as fast as you can manage.
You need to strike a balance between high quality images that render well and web-optimized images that take minimal space on your server and load quickly. Another simple and often free fix is to use a caching tool. This saves the latest version of your webpage on the server and loads this page super quick when a user tries to access your website. If reducing the size of your site is beyond your control, you can opt for a content delivery network like Amazon Cloud Services to speed up your site.
3. One CTA Per Page, Clear Message Construction
Studies show readership drops drastically after the first few sentences of your message. This means that most users will read your headline and maybe the first paragraph. In fact, 38 percent might not read anything at all.
Your headline has to be clear, succinct, and catchy enough to grab eyeballs. The content on the page should help the customer understand your company in one quick glance. Create a sense of urgency through your copy that makes a user not want to miss out on a limited opportunity. While crafting your message, think what 30 second elevator pitch you’d give a millionaire venture capitalist and then proceed.
Groupon uses a clean interface, prominent CTA button in a contrasting color, and sticks to one clear message on the page. Everything on the page screams, “Buy now!”
Your “Call to Action” or CTA is the most important part of your page – that’s your money shot. Make your CTA the hero of the page. Help it pop out with contrasting colors, giving it enough breathing room on the page in the form of white space, and offer visual cues like arrows or images with protagonists looking at or pointing at the CTA button to urge immediate action.
4. Inspire Trust
Whom would you trust with your retirement savings – a professional bank with smart, qualified bankers who are trained to grow your investments or your long-time mechanic whose part-time ‘banking’ business offers you double the interest rate? I’d probably go with the name brand bank. So would most buyers, thanks to the ‘trust’ factor.
In an age where credit card information is compromised by hackers regularly, building faith in your brand is paramount.
You can do this in various ways:
a. Security Seals
Displaying seals from Truste, Norton, or Verisign offer familiar payment security assurance to customers that tell them their payment information will be protected. Make sure these are shown prominently on the site and unfailingly on the payments page.
If you have an offline and online retail presence, harmonizing payments and payment methods between the two is absolutely essential. A secure cash management system that works with most payment providers and straddles both online and offline payments like Shopify’s cash register would be a good bet. You might also consider using reputed platforms such as Shopify to accept bitcoin payments to provide more payment leeway to shoppers.
b. Social Proof
Actual client pictures and testimonials of your overall performance as a company act as reinforcements to show a potential customer you have a track record of happy customers. Product reviews by real customers help make that conversion quicker, especially on e-commerce sites.
c. Return Guarantees and Free Trials
These are simple, tried, and tested methods to push that undecided customer into making a purchase. If your product is decent, you can be assured of a sale right there.
5. Test Obsessively, Regularly
Adopting all these tips into your webpage is not enough to ensure conversions. What may work for one type of business may be totally wrong for another type of business. You need to check what works for your business and continue doing so on a regular basis to keep your site running at peak capacity.
Set up conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests for your web pages using various types of testing methods – A/B Tests, multivariate tests, and usability tests. You can use tools like Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer for split tests, and sites like TryMyUI for usability testing.
Why is usability so important? According to Jakob Nielsen, the father of usability testing, the average business metrics improve 83 percent after a usability redesign.
The idea is to see testing as a routine maintenance activity, instead of scheduling a test once every few years and then undertaking a mega transformation of your site.
This may be a lot to digest in one go, but believe me, it helps to fix these basics before bigger problems come knocking at your door.
Don’t beat yourself up if your website doesn’t pass muster with every single tip listed above. Even the mighty can stumble sometimes, as we can see in this entertaining post. The important thing is to figure out where you might be missing the mark and fix these problems before it costs you millions of dollars in lost conversions.
Featured Image: jeuxsansfrontieres on DeviantArt (used under CC license)
Post Image: MarketingSherpa. Used with permission.
All screenshots taken September 2014