In ecommerce, traffic doesn’t mean anything until visitors actually make a purchase. Ecommerce owners and marketing managers sometimes confuse the concept of visitors vs customers. You don’t make money by merely driving visitors to your site. You ONLY make money when they click the “buy” button, and that is when your visitor becomes a customer, your customer.
- Your advertising budget has exploded, but it hasn’t translated into money in the bank.
- Your have good to decent SEO rankings, but your conversion rate is still low and/or visitors are just not converting.
- You have decent traffic, but sales are dismal. Visitors don’t seem to be engaging on your site.
It is not only frustrating, but it can wipe your business out thus forcing you to shut it down. You need to get to the root problem on why traffic is not translating into dollars, and you better figure it pronto.
Questions to ask:
- Is the checkout process too cumbersome and not straightforward? Are you asking unnecessary questions?
- Is your website taking too long to load, especially on the product page level? This is the highest cause of frustration for consumers who are super busy and highly distracted from not just the noise on the web but their physical environment.
- Are visitors properly informed whether an item is in stock or not? Uncertainty is never a good thing. Customers like to know that they will be rewarded with merchandise that will actually show up on their doorsteps. Having answered this question upfront can make the difference on which website actually gets the customer’s business.
- Are shipping costs calculated before the checkout page? Many customers add items to a cart just to calculate the shipping cost. Whether you are offering Free Shipping or have a shipping chart rate, ensure that you give this information to your visitor upfront and early to minimize high shopping cart abandonment rate.
- Are visitors forced to re-input information on the checkout form? I cannot tell you how often and frequently this happens, especially if credit card information gets removed when the customer has to refresh the page. This is a high source of frustration for customers which causes them to leave all together.
- Are customers required to have a log in/set up an account before making a purchase? To the point of which many visitors add to cart to calculate shipping cost for their order, and if they have to register first to get this info, you can bet they won’t want to be bothered.
- Are your offerings, specials, calls to action like buy button obvious enough? This is old stuff. Every conversion expert tells you to pay attention to your “call to action” and still, this message gets lost on the website and causes confusion or becomes a mixed message that truly isn’t helping your conversion rate.
- Are you capturing email addresses before visitors abandon the checkout pages? You spend so much time and so many dollars attracting your visitor only to drop the ball after they have left. I strongly urge you to have a visitor retention plan with services like www.fuel451.com
- Are free offers and new product releases emailed to customers? You won’t believe how many ecom sites have very poor communication plan with their customers. Customers have opted into your email list. Now it’s time to ensure they get to know your company better.
These are some basic questions that you have to ask yourself and your team. These are not the only questions, but it’s a good starting point. Gather valid and realistic answers, and from there, analyze the situation. Remember, there is no universal solution to this issue. You have to be willing to be ultra critical of your website in order to resolve your conversion issues. You must be able to identify the root of the problem so you can properly address it. I said this back in 2007, and I’ll mention it again, if your baby is ugly, you need to fix it.
I have here some general tips to help boost your sales.
What to do:
- Keep it simple – A complex checkout process is a surefire way to annoy customers and encourage them to abandon their shopping cart. Don’t ask for unnecessary information, and allow your visitors to save their entries in the event they need to return to you site. Make it simple and functional to get online shoppers to convert. Look into a persistent cart feature.
- Make your product descriptions useful– Invest in your product descriptions. Hire a copy writer if you have to. Customers like to feel they did their homework. Your motivated customers like reading about the product’s benefits and how it will solve their problems. It makes them feel they did due diligence and made informed decisions to buy. Besides it also makes for good content.
- Test your site loading speed – People are short on time, and there are just way too many distractions. The enemy of all ecommerce sites and really any website is people multi-tasking. Most likely your visitors are no different. Having a fast loading site reduces the possibility that your visitors can click something else or do another task while surfing your site.
- Build Trust – If your brand is not yet well-known, include trust signals such as McCafee, Trust-Guard, UPS, Visa, Verisign and the like. Even having Paypal or Amazon checkout features will warm your visitors into checking out quicker.
- Include testimonials and reviews – Don’t fake it. Include reviews and testimonials, both positive and negative from real people who have actually used and bought from you. Allowing shoppers to rate items they purchased is also an effective way to gain trust. I usually read the negative reviews first to see if there are any deal breaker issues for me before I read the positive ones.
- Authentic About Us Page – This is one of the most under-utilized pages on an ecommerce website. When I go to read a potential client’s website, most of the time, I see how they believe in good customer service, how good their products are… yawn. It’s mostly boring stuff. If I am clicking an about page on an ecommerce site, it’s because I want to know what is so special about that company, the people behind it, the storefront or the warehouse, anything that tells me there are real people behind this business, a face to a name. You need to connect to your visitors before they can become a customer, period! In this day in age, it’s harder to make connections with people. You will need to explore and exploit all avenues to make it happen.
- Offer coupons and special offers – Do you run monthly giveaways? Do you alert customers about latest sales and discounts? Do you send polite email follow-ups about your offerings? At the end of the day, it really comes down to the offer. If your offer is boring or not enticing enough, there are just not enough reasons for people to part with their hard earned money. If you can’t discount or margins are slim, you’ll have to find ways to communicate the value of the product as well as why someone should do business with you.
- Make shipping less complex and faster – People are not only short on time, but they are likely to be impatient as well. We are now living in an instant gratification society, and the big players like Amazon has really set the bar pretty high with their Prime program. If you want to compete, you’ll have to address this issue as well. It’s not just about the cost of shipping, it’s about how fast can you get it in my hands. Shipping is one of the biggest obstacles in a visitor’s mind. They never want to pay more for shipping than what the product cost, and they want it fast. This is challenging. So your task is to figure this out and articulate your value proposition.
- Use social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Do you have any social presence? It’s crucial to keep connected with your customers. This is especially important if you don’t have a blog or keep up with your blog. Social media is very good way to stay in touch. It’s all about translating the conversation into conversion to your store.
- Make your website responsive – If your website is not ready for mobile customers, you are going to lose significant sales. There is no argument these days that mobile usage has increased and that more and more users are using their device to shop and do research. Know what mobile devices your customers are using to access your online store and make your site compatible with it.
- Taking action on your data – There are so much data the can be gleamed from your website. Make sure that you not only have your analytics tools like Google Analytics installed properly but also that you are reviewing this data daily and weekly. By understanding how your visitors are becoming customers on your website, you can improve your website and really cater to what your customers are looking for.
Generating traffic is one thing, enticing people to make a purchase is another, and that is where the real challenge lies. You must understand why visitors come to your site in the first place and why they are leaving your site without buying anything, and getting them to buy more from you is the challenge you need to address. When I used to have a retail store, the goal was never to let the customer walk out the door with a shopping bag in their hands. Your goal should be the same for your website.
Written by: Shirley Tan