There are many ways to drive traffic towards your e-commerce website. Search engine optimization can move your site closer to the top of the search results, pulling in droves of interested visitors. Social media can generate buzz for your brand and a good email list can help keep prospects informed and interested. None of these techniques are worth much, however, if they don’t convert into a sale.
When you’re first starting out, it’s a common error to focus on traffic rather than on leads and sales. True, traffic is the lifeblood of any online enterprise — but only if you can establish a good conversion rate. These tips will help your enterprise to turn clicks into real sales.
Every successful enterprise starts with a solid and effective plan. The same goes for Web-based enterprises. Determine what you’re offering, how you’ll deliver it and what makes your business outstanding. Think about the elements your site will need to communicate with your visitors and what they’ll need in order to make a purchase. The better your focus at the beginning, the less patchy, fragmented or confusing your site will be.
If your site is already up and running, the first item on your checklist should be your page load times. If there’s one thing that will send prospective customers fleeing, it’s a page that takes too long to load completely. Even a fraction of a second can be enough to cause your visitors to disengage. By streamlining your design and getting rid of any extraneous elements, you can shorten load times and make certain that you’re not keeping your customers waiting.
While multimedia elements such as audio and video can add value to your site, they can also be distracting and irritating. Media should not play automatically or obscure other elements when it launches. If the first thing your visitors have to do when they visit your site is close down an intrusive video or animation, they won’t be well disposed towards buying from you.
Next, examine your site’s overall usability. Your color, font and background choices can affect readability — ditch any low-contrast color schemes, distracting patterns or tiny typefaces. Interestingly, using a larger font size has been shown to improve conversion rates in many cases.
There should be a smooth path from your landing page to the point where a customer can place an order. If you make the process of buying your products too complicated, many people will be discouraged before they ever get as far as your checkout. Include clear pricing for every item and make sure there are easy-to-follow links to different products or sections. You should always include a site map — this is helpful to humans and also to the web crawlers that index your site for search engines like Google.
If you have a lot of different items for sale, don’t try to cram them all onto the first page. Catalog them and make sure that you have a fast, effective search system. Don’t limit the results per page too stringently — consider making the default 75 or 100 items rather than 10 or 20. You could even use an endless scroll, since most people are happier to scroll down the page than they are to click link after link to find the item they want. Just make sure that your automated scrolling element isn’t knocking navigation links off the bottom of the screen.
This final point can never be stressed too much: Registration should always be optional. Trying to force your customers to set up an account for no real reason can seriously damage your sales. Studies have shown that even if a prospective customer has selected their items and is ready to pay, telling them they have to register an account to complete their transaction will cause almost one-third of them to abandon their purchases. Only ask for the minimum amount of information you need to provide your customers with the items they want and reassure them that their privacy will be respected. Offer the opportunity to set up an account if they wish but always give them the option to check out without registering.
Instead, provide social media integration for your visitors. Giving people an easy way to link their Google Plus or Facebook accounts with your site is a more productive way of creating connections than adding an unnecessary registration step.
By keeping websites simple and avoiding common pitfalls such as unnecessary registration, Web-based businesses can avoid losing valuable sales. This article aims to address that problem by offering some helpful advice for those new to Internet marketing and e-commerce. It outlines some general ways in which conversion rates can be improved by making the sales process easier for customers to navigate.