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Ecommerce Forum

You've got the site visits - now get the sales
tips for improving the conversion rate
Mr Bo Jangles

 6:31 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ten years in e-commerce, and looking, reading and trying to learn, have taught us a few things I'd like to share - maybe a lot of you can add to this list from your own experiences. I prepared this list for a night class I teach(about web design stuff) and would be interested in adding other key items to it:

1. If at all possible, get your telephone number (and fax number) up on your web site - and probably on every page of your site. If it's a free-dial 1-800 number, so much the better.
For some web traders, particularly if you're small (trying to look big) and non-US based, having a number up on your site may be difficult. Try and get around the obstacles, because no contact number on a site definitely raises suspicion with some prospective clients (and often annoyance).
For non-US traders, maybe getting a US agent will be the answer to the telephone problem.
There are a group of wary consumers out there that just will not purchase from a web site that doesn't have all their contact details up there - and there is also a group of consumers that always want to talk with a human before purchase - no matter how clear and understandable your web site may be.

2. Get as many testimonials and references for your products/services as you can and somehow get them (aesthetically) up on your web site. If you can't do it yourself, pay someone a few bucks to turn the key new client list, or testimonials into a small attractive slideshow or flash movie. There are few things better than testimonials or a great client list to convince a prospective purchaser that they're actually missing out by not having your product!

3. Consider getting a 'Trust Seal' for your web site - 'Trust-e.org', 'iacertified.com', 'BBBon-line' are a few - one may be suitable for you. There is a sizeable percentage of prospective customers that need just something to give them that extra bit of confidence in your operation, and things like a Trust Seal will help engender that confidence.

4. If your product, or company, has won any awards then you need to tell the World - these are very much like testimonials - you need to maximize the benefits of them.

5. Get the book: "Don't Make me Think" by Steve Krug - read it cover-to-cover (only takes a day) and do so with every page of your web site in mind. If you finish the book and don't feel the need to make some changes on your web site, then you need to re-read it! Every web site can be improved - I'll say that again - every web site can be improved!

6. Are you just too close and connected to your web site to really objectively judge how good it is? Maybe it's actually not so good. Does it need a facelift? or maybe a complete makeover? Carefully review the opposition's web sites - look at all those that rate above you and around you in the search engine listings - is your web site the most attractive in the group? The most conducive to someone making a purchase? Would Steve Krug rate it the highest?

7. Do you list your prices - and list them clearly and all options in an unambiguous way? It never fails to amaze us that there are a lot of companies that want to sell their products on-line, but don't list the prices! We ALWAYS assume that's because the prices are waaay high, and they want you to call a sales rep - what other reason could there be? If you're such a company, then you need to re-think your strategy - you need to re-think your pricing, and make at least one pricing option attractive enough that you're eager to list it! If the pricing ain't there, and hitting me in the face, then I'm immediately suspicious, and I am always thinking "Expensive!". And if the reason you're trying to get me to speak with a sales rep is because your prices and options are just too complicated and exhaustive to list and display - then isn't that sufficient reason for you to sit back and re-think everything? One thing is certain though - I ain't going to call your sales rep!

8. Do you give customers the option (if appropriate for your product/market) of purchasing with a Purchase Order (PO) - for some clients, educational institutions for example, this is unfortunately the only purchase option.

9. Sign up with a site statistics analysis program, and learn what it is telling you about the visits to your site. One of the most recent (and free) applications comes from Google - Google Analytics. As with anything Google, it will be constantly improved. Look at such statistics as the 'bounce %' i.e. visitors that hit the home page and immediately leave, look at how many pages on average visitors view, and which page they leave the site mostly from.



 10:39 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)



 10:54 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

No idea about the US system but over here you pay a premium charge for calling a "toll free" number from a mobile and possibly from some fixed link operators too. The number may not be available to overseas callers

Make your standard phone number visible too, and show it in international format.


 12:28 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm curious as to what level of visitation you'd consider good?

Mr Bo Jangles

 1:00 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, probably by following conservative SEO procedures outlined here by BT in his now famous post, we are on the first page of Google results for a $multi-billion industry, and so we get quite a few site visits, and so we feel that it is really now up to us to convert those.

My interest lies in increasing conversions, not 'bulking up' on visits.

(The one thing that I'm petrified of doing is 'fiddling' with our site, and so causing some calamatous drop with Google or Yahoo.)


 1:08 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm familiar with BT's thoughts. I was just curious as to what yours were.

Mr Bo Jangles

 6:11 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, that's my thoughts.
We rank really well in a packed market, and so I reckon it would cost serious money to get more visits, and that's why I want to now turn to making more of those visits sales.

Unless prospective purchasers actually e-mail you to tell you their doubts and concerns, you can only guess. Some do write - and some of those were ones that wanted a telephone number, some want more product info, some want clarification on pricing - so those are areas that you can attend to - remove doubts etc.


 3:52 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tracking key metrics is very important. Without being able to determine exactly where you are losing customers, you're just taking a shot in the dark when making enhancements or improvements to your site in an effort to increase conversions. There's not really a formula that can be generally applied to all web sites and markets. By analyzing your site's metrics, you'll be able to intelligently make changes to improve conversion rates.

Mr Bo Jangles

 7:47 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mmm, I'm not so sure tracking metrics is a huge help in trying to fathom why people don't buy. I can only talk from the perspective of our site though.
I can see where they enter the site, I can see where they leave etc. but what goes through their tiny minds in the process is almost impossible to work out - unless they e-mail or call you of course.
Product too dear? Not enough choice? Confused by the pricing? Didn't like the color of the page/site - who the hell knows?


 9:41 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> but what goes through their tiny minds in the process is almost impossible to work out

:) tiny minds?


 12:54 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

but what goes through their tiny minds in the process is almost impossible to work out

When in doubt, blame it on the customer. With that attitude towards your visitors, no wonder you're not converting your traffic.


 12:58 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> Product too dear? Not enough choice? Confused by the pricing? Didn't like the color of the page/sit

Do you think a survey helps here? But again, if a customer can't buy from the site, will they ever bother to fill a survey form. I never fill survey forms, anybody?



 1:04 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes, the feeling that I'm being talked down to ALWAYS makes me want to go back to a site/company.

Actually, if I can be bothered, I try to bypass the customer-hating-idiots getting between me and a sale, contact the CEO, and let them know what's going on. The CEO usually does care.

I've done it quite a few times over the years, and the change of attitude by the 'customer dis-service' team can be electrifying, though usually they've lost me as a customer for good by then of course.




 1:05 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oh, and I second the book: "Don't Make me Think" by Steve Krug.

I must re-read it.

I'm about the world's worst Web designer, but I do care about my visitors and clients.




 3:47 am on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

thanks for the info. I am brand new to this ecommerce thing and am really trying to make it work. I am SO NOT a Techie so I find myself at a disadvantage. I 1st need to drive traffic to my site. Any tips on programs or tricks to do that?



 8:37 am on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

1) A good site will naturally (but slowly) gain good links.

2) You can carefully buy appropriate traffic with ad networks such as AdWords (Google) and AdBrite. Keep your daily budgets VERY small until you get the feel of how it works.

3) The odd publicity stunt can help. For example, I recently did a bit of ground-breaking (but dull!) work so that I could get a write up in an on-line news source that I value (I did the write-up too, and it was published as-is, with a link to my material).




 8:46 am on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mscisse, the thread How many ways to drive traffic to a swebsite? [webmasterworld.com] might give you a little of an idea.


[edited by: Habtom at 9:17 am (utc) on June 10, 2007]


 7:17 pm on Jun 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

For non-US traders, maybe getting a US agent will be the answer to the telephone problem.

Or how about getting a telephone number from your own counntry (as there is more than one country ;-) ), which is 1000 times better (unless you are targetting the US of course)

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