If you're reading this post then chances are you’re involved in running some sort of website, an e-commerce website, a consulting website or even a blog. There's also a good chance that your website is meant for visitors to take an action, such as buying a product, picking up the phone and calling you or even clicking on a banner.
This action is also known as conversion and the percentage of visitors taking this action is called conversion rate. If one of your goals for 2010 is to increase your conversion rate, here are 21 tips to point you in the right direction...
1. Show 3rd party accreditation - Accreditation which is listed clearly on the homepage and landing pages, especially one which is known, is helpful to create trust. It can vary from a professional industry body to a yellow pages icon (which is linked to your page on yellow pages) and even a PayPal symbol can be considered as a type of accreditation.
3. Add a physical address - If you haven't already, you should add your physical address as soon as you can and register it with Google Local for added value from organic search. Websites with a physical address are considered more trustworthy.
4. Add a contact phone number - Similar to adding a physical address, adding a contact phone number will increase your trustworthiness as visitors are able to query details before and after a sale. If you're concerned about the cost of buying a phone number, look at VOIP vendors such as Skype who offer a land-line number which you can take with you.
5. List your terms and conditions - In addition to visibly showing your terms and conditions, also allow visitors to download and print this document. If the functionality to download a document does not exist in your CMS, simply upload the document to a service such as Box.net and embed the folder on the page.
6. Pay attention to language, spelling and typos - Grammar will have a profound effect on your conversion rate. Spelling mistakes and typos will instantly discourage visitors from reading on.
7. Ensure product relevancy - Go with the flow and offer products or services which are in demand. Don't be too surprised if sales for a particular products are down, because the market has moved forward. Look at online tools such as Google Trends or even Twitter Trends to establish what's hot and what's not.
8. Ensure price competitiveness - If your competitors are offering better prices, visitors will find them. Price match your products vs. your top competitors. It’s very easy to loose track and miss their price reductions.
9. Check stock availability - Poor planning which results in out of stock products means you will loose revenue. When products are out of stock, consider listing when they due back in stock and offer to email back visitors when stock is available again.
10. Delivery and shipping costs - Delivery costs are one of the biggest reasons for consumers not completing sales because they know when you're trying to make a buck at their expense. Make sure delivery cost is as low as possible. To see a real effect on your conversion rate consider free delivery.
11. Introduce product offers - Similar to your local store, product offers work everywhere. To really get the most out of your website, consider doing the same and improve your offerings. Offers such as buy 1 get 1 free, sale, reduced to clear and many more will help you convert more visitors into active buyers.
12. Clarity of product descriptions - Clear descriptions can aid in the sale process by alimenting questions marks associated with the products. From time to time look at your support emails and enhance the product description.
13. Don't forget imaginary - Images are a fantastic visual aid which can really make a difference, after all 'a picture is worth a thousand words'.
User experience factors:
14. Place a clear call to action - On the product or service level, ensure that you are always directing visitors to take action. For example, 'add to cart' if you are selling online or 'call us now' if you are selling a service.
15. Optimize website speed - If the website is loading too slowly some visitors will go elsewhere. To test how quickly (or not) your pages are loading and to view helpful suggestions use a page analyzer or for those using Firefox, try Google Page Speed extension.
16. Ensure full browser support – A couple of years back most visitors used IE, but today Firefox and Google Chrome are becoming more and more mainstream. Test the appearance and functionality of the site in multiple browsers using browsershots.org to ensure every visitor is a potential buyer.
17. Fix poor navigation - Try and place your top sellers one click away from your landing pages (i.e. home page or category page). If you’re struggling to visualise how it should look, try the free wire frame tool from mockingbird to play around with your website navigation before coding.
18. Fix error pages - Track your error page in your favorite web analytics software and fix these pages as soon as possible. If you’re using Google Analytics it’s a breeze to track them otherwise use Xenu’s Link Sleuth utility.
19. Make the checkout process short – Size matters when it comes to converting visitors to customers. If your site has a lengthy checkout process you’re asking for trouble. Only capture the most relevant fields needed to complete the purchase because you can always follow up later and ask for more details.
20. Try a guest checkout process – Many customers will tell you, they’re tired of opening another account and having to remember another username / password. Offer a one page checkout process which captures customer details, but does not open an account. You’ll make yourself more attractive to a lot of people I know.
21. Offer alternative checkout gateways – There’s a lot to be said for using the likes of PayPal and Google Checkout. Putting their fees aside for a moment, there are a lot of customers who are more likely to pay like this vs. giving their credit card details to a site they have never heard of.
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Guest article by Michelle Strassburg Co-Founder at Wood and Beyond. Michelle has over 10 years experience managing online marketing and is an active blogger.