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Increasing conversion rate: your tips
markbaa




msg:626601
 3:20 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

So, as per my recent post (http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum22/4493.htm) I've recently made a venture into ecommerce (after managing non-ecommerce sites for many years). It seems to have settled down a bit and am averaging about 1% conversion, which seems to be roughly standard (which I'm happy about for a brand new shop!). Getting more traffic is one issue, but I was wondering what people can suggest about increasing conversion? Share any tips you've learnt over the years.

My tip from my early days: we seem to be getting good results from a "most popular products" list (based on how many times that product has been viewed), they are getting good clickthroughs, and while I haven't formally tracked it, anecdotally I've noticed when I tweaked the database to force particular products onto that list there was a definite increase in sales on those items. So, our customers like to both look at & buy popular products.

What's worked for you?

 

minnapple




msg:626602
 3:56 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you don't have one an 800 number, add one, it will increase your sales 30% plus.

The higher the cost of your product, the greater the increase.

Incease the size of your "buy" button to a size you are uncomfortable with in your layout and make it a color that sticks out "red". Believe it or not this can add 1% - 5% in your sales.

Make the price of the product stick out, make it Big and Bold. Good for up to another 2% in sales

Offer an enlargement photo/s of the product, and make it/them BIG.

Place different type of specifications in their own boxes. Make it easy for people to read, because you need to make them read, and it is really hard to make them do it.

Do not cross sell much lesser items, it just distracts them. Get them to check out and sell other items in the confirmation email and within a mailer sent with the product. Some will question this one, I will stand by this to the end.

Make the check out quick and easy, the least amount of pages the better. Really a no brainer.

I have worked in ecom for the last 7 years, so all this is first hand info.

jsinger




msg:626603
 4:45 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Do not cross sell much lesser items, it just distracts them. Get them to check out and sell other items in the confirmation email and within a mailer sent with the product. Some will question this one, I will stand by this to the end.

Great bunch of tips. I've never thought about trying to sell with the confirmation email. Ours is a bit cluttered already. Definitely include a coupon WITH the package. Your best prospect is someone who just bought from you.

I'll add: once you've got the site running for awhile go back over it and delete non-essential clutter. Simplify. Focus on what's vital. Do you really need 10 payment options and 15 shipping ones? Is that wish list just cluttering things up?

Polish the presentation of your very best selling products and add more product detail. Special features. Hints. Coordinating products. Polish the text. With most sites your few best selling items will constitute a huge portion of your sales.

Develop a good succinct list of FAQs from the inquiries you get from your new #800 and otherwise. No matter how hard you try, customers will be puzzled about certain things. Cover those things in your FAQs. Keep the FAQs short or no one will read them.

Be certain to check out your site in Firefox which has become very popular lately.

Find a net newbie and watch him/her navigate and make a purchase. (a real eye-opener sometimes)

prtrotter




msg:626604
 5:57 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

800 number is a HUGE boost, or at least it was for me.

Don't innundate your viewer with too much content on the product pages. Busy pages with lots of flash, bells and whistles, distract them, and make sales difficult.

Try to list your shipping prices up front, potential buyers are lost quickly by being made to register/begin a purchase, just to find out their total.

That should help add to the otherwise excellent ideas listed above.

markbaa




msg:626605
 6:47 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

The products I'm selling are low cost - average product is maybe $15, most people buy around 3 products, margins are pretty good tho, around 50% gross. Also the site is at this point Australia only (wouldn't work in the US market), so probably talking lower volume of sales than you guys. Do you think an 800 number would be worth it? The logistics & cost would probably rule it out for this site.

How have people found those "live chat" functions? Do they work? Seems to be the next best thing to an 800.

idolw




msg:626606
 8:46 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

i believe the "live-chat" requires really live action.

Propools




msg:626607
 1:30 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

markbaa - I've gotta agree 800 (or any toll free #) is always a big plus for sales. The other thing for the consumer is remembering that what ever it is they purchase, with all things being equal, they will buy it from a reputable company with the LOWEST LANDED (Delivered) COST!

lorax




msg:626608
 2:51 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

The web is a cold, anonymous place. Give the customer a sense that you're a real company with real people. Photos of people using your products and or photos of customer service, staff, packers, etc. will put a human face on your company and help build confidence in you.

Kevin French




msg:626609
 1:44 am on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Some great converion tips so far. For my first WebmasterWorld post, here are 50 more for you off the top of my head:

1. Make sure you attract qualified traffic. Ex. – if you sell Mac software, don’t advertise that you sell Windows software just to get more traffic. This will drive more visitors with no intent to purchase and decrease your conversion rate.

2. Don’t just get a toll-free number, but make sure the placement of that number on your site is prominent and consistent.

3. Include “points of reassurance” by every “point of action”. Ex. – if you are requesting that someone provide you with their e-mail address, clearly state that their privacy is important to you and you will not share that information with any other companies.

4. Use SSL and make sure the user knows you’re using it.

5. Subscribe to a service like VeriSign, Thawte or ScanAlert. Prominently place these logos to reassure your customer that you care about the security of their information.

6. Have a clearly defined privacy policy

7. Include your physical address on your site.

8. Don’t always concentrate on just making the “buy now” buttons the most prominent on every page, but rather concentrate on styling the “primary action” buttons the most prominently on every page. Ex. – you sell MP3 players, and you provide the ability for customers to select a few players and compare them before they can buy now. Make that “compare” the same style as you would the “buy now” button on a page in which the “buy now” button exists. This will help herd customers through your sales funnel.

9. Define your return policy.

10. Use real customer testimonials with authentic customer photos…no stock photography.

11. Make sure to include an “About Us” section on your site. The majority of my customers visit this section before making a purchase.

12. Make your site usable. No need for horizontal scrolling, excessive vertical scrolling or intrusive pop-up windows.

13. Keep your “buy now” button consistently and prominently placed on all product pages. The closer to the top of the page…the better. I have 2 cheesy sayings for this. 1. ”Above the fold if you want it sold” & 2. “Eye level is buy level”

14. Provide clear images of your products.

15. Make your checkout process as usable, intuitive, reassuring and simple as possible. Losing someone during your checkout process is a CRITICAL loss.

16. Don’t make people type their e-mail address twice.

17. Don’t use a drop-down for the “state” list in your order form. With all of the scrolling mice people use these days, many people are sure to accidentally scroll off of their correct state.

18. Give customers the opportunity to copy their shipping info to their billing info if they are identical.

19. Remove distractions from the checkout process such as the main nav that existed during the shopping portion of your site.

20. Provide a checkout process indicator. If your checkout process has 3 steps, indicate what step they are on and how many steps there are.

21. Clearly identify what info in yoru checkout process is required.

22. If you aare going to use error messages, make them friendly and easy to understand. No “INCORRECT USER INPUT IN PHONE FIELD!” messages.

23. If your checkout error messages occur on a page other than the page with the errors, preserve the information that the user has already input.

24. Do a spelling check on your site. There aren’t many things more unprofessional than spelling errErs :)

25. get good reviews from shopping authority sites (shopping.com, epinions.com, bizrate.com, etc)

26. Don’t force people to install any crazy plug-ins just to make a purchase from your site. Stick with Flash, javascript, and the other breads & butters.

27. Read your copy, make sure its compelling, yet not exaggerated.

28. Identify your USP (unique selling proposition) and exploit it. If you are the only seller of medium-sized green widgets in the US…state it and be proud of it.

29. Implement a “site search” functionality and make sure its accurate. Not only will this allow users to find what they want, it will give you insight as to what they are shopping for and what terminology they are using so you can tailor your copy as necessary.

30. Don’t just focus on the features of your product, but rather on the benefits those features provide to your customers. Don’t just say “folding green widgets”, say “Our folding green widgets will save you valuable space in your garage”.

31. Clearly display your prices and shipping charges and tax BEFORE the checkout process is completed.

32. Don’t use complex formulas for shipping prices like if you buy 12.2 pounds worth of these, and then multiply that weight by this shipping rate. Show them the price.

33. Consider making shipping free

34. Display the stock status of your items and do so BEFORE the user puts the item in their cart.

35. If you don’t sell an item, remove it from your site.

36. Estimate the delivery time

37. Accept a variety of payment methods and clearly display what those methods are.

38. Don’t make important information look like ads. There really is such a thing as “ad blindness” and people will automatically skip over this compelling information.

39. Make a “first-time visitor” page. This is your opportunity to explain why you’re different from your competitors.

40. Update your copyright statements. Its 2005….fix that 2003 copyright at the bottom of your pages.

41. Allow customer to make a purchase without having to register with your site.

42. Consider making every link the last part of the statement “I want to”. In other words, don’t just have a link that says “privacy policy”, but rather “read the privacy policy”. Do you get it….I want to “Read the Privacy Policy”.

43. If you offer a lot of products, allows users to sort them by important criteria…price, size, color, etc.

44. provide a way for customers to compare details of similar items

45. use a custom 404 page to link people to the important areas of your site

46. Don’t use “clever” names for your shopping cart like “wicker basket” or “widget box”.

47. Don’t make the user specify a choice when there is only 1 “choice”. If it only comes on blue, don’t make them select the “blue” radio button or choose “blue” from the drop down.

48. Provide shopping instructions in an empty cart. Don’t just say “your cart is empty”

49. Provide a “sale” or “clearance” section to attract the budget-conscious shoppers.

50. My golden rule…portray trust and credibility to instill confidence within the shopper to make a purchase.

jsinger




msg:626610
 3:09 am on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wow, great bunch. I'd disagree with one or two but that's about it.

You touched on my NUMBER ONE Gripe. Why do so many sites have ancient copyright dates? We change ours each year on January 1. Even the biggies, Amazon, Google, Ebay etc. sometimes don't get around to it for a month or two. Doesn't affect them, of course. But if you're SusiesWidgets.com it won't help to say, "copyright 2001."

40. Update your copyright statements. Its 2005….fix that 2003 copyright at the bottom of your pages.

minnapple




msg:626611
 5:03 am on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you haven't already, install a search box on your site that records the visitors searches.

This search data is good for a number of things.
The two most important things it shows you is . .

1. What they want to find that you have.
2. What they want to find that you don't have.

You react to (1.) by increasing visability and or usability.
You react to (2.) by adding new profitable product lines.

(2.) Opened a new market for one of my client's that now accounts for 90% of his sales. All because of search box research.

lorax




msg:626612
 2:18 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> Update your copyright statements

I don't believe this is necessary for legal purposes. It may be for the perception of your visitors but the US Copyright office states:

The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:

1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; and

2. The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and

3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

Example: © 2002 John Doe

From: Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies
[copyright.gov...]

Obviously if the work has changed then you should update the copyright but if it hasn't then it is still protected.

jsinger




msg:626613
 5:11 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Nothing is required to copyright a work. No specific formalities have been required for YEARS.

Just saying "keepa you hands off" is more than sufficient. LOL

It's ALL about perceptions. If a site says "copyright 2001" then it looks not only outdated but perhaps abandoned. Commerce poison.

Our copyright indicia is in an include file that we change on January 1. It appears on every page of our site.

jsinger




msg:626614
 5:26 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Better yet use:

"© 1998-2005 International Widgets, inc."

to show longevity and to engender confidence

JewelKeys




msg:626615
 10:44 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

There are a lot of great points already made on this thread but I will elaborate on a few.

For the upcoming holidays, I would run a free shipping offer if possible. On my site I offer free shipping on orders over $50. Not everyone may be able to do this, but it is definitely a conversion booster. (With this you have to be specific on what free shipping applies to i.e. no express)

Your customers should not have to search for something for more that 3-5 seconds. Ensure that all of your action buttons are easy to see and jump out to the customer. Also, make site navigation intuitive so it is not difficult to find things.

No purchase should be more that 2 clicks away. The more a customer has to click to get to a product and add it to their cart, the less likely they will buy.

Your own dedicated SSL is a definite conversion boost. And lastly, changing the wording of your 'Buy' buttons to 'Add to Cart' made a significant difference for me and others I work with. I assume it is just a difference in the wording that makes the latter better.

That is about all I have that hasn't been mentioned already.

RailMan




msg:626616
 10:54 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Our copyright indicia is in an include file that we change on January 1. It appears on every page of our site.

Better yet use:

"© 1998-2005 International Widgets, inc."
to show longevity and to engender confidence

yup - and even better if you automate the year update:
&copy; Copyright 2002 - <? echo date("Y", time());?>

arran




msg:626617
 11:33 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Great first post Kevin.

minnapple




msg:626618
 12:41 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yep, I back that up - Great post Kevin.
Don't see this very often
Everything is this tread, is why I first joined webmasterworld.
Let's keep this little piece of webmasterworld to the high level it is.

iblaine




msg:626619
 1:50 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

For those who offer free shipping for large orders, look at your average order size. It may not cost anything to lower your price point for free shipping and customers will see this as an added incentive to buy.

dfud




msg:626620
 4:05 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have an opposing view about that 800 number? I have a client that made me remove his 800 number because he said it caused him five times as many customer service calls for stupid things that people otherwise wouldn't call about. I thought he could turn those calls into sales but I did as he asked.

bandman05




msg:626621
 5:49 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Our 800 number has been very positive. I believe many people want to know that you are legit and that the company has other methods of being contacted other than the internet. A few other thoughts on conversion

- Nobody has mentioned urchin web analytics and I find this to be an invaluable tool for designing and understanding the traffic on our site. (especially now that google provides it for free with an adwords account). With Urchin I am able to view where people go on my site, in what order they navigate, where they leave my site, and what content is least and most favorite. For example, I found that the traffic pattern on our site was home page - pricing page - order page. 40% of all traffic bounced on our home page (they came and went without going anywhere else) During a site redesign we created navigation that reflected the browsing patterns of our clients. conversions increaased. We used funnels in urchin to determine where we were losing people in the order process. Made a variety of changes, most of which were mentioned in this post and saw increased conversions. In order to increase conversion it is first important to know what your clients are doing before you try to influence them into purchases.

Our current conversion rate last month was 2.5% of all traffic. I've heard that Amazon converts roughly 12% of all traffic. Anybody else have ideas of what they are converting to determine what is a good conversion rate? Granted for different industries it will be different.

One of the biggest changes that we were able to make was to reduce the amount of funnel outlets in the order process. What I mean is as a customer enters the order process you don't want to distract them with ways that lead away from a purchase. Once they enter guide them easily through the process. Don't trap them with out a way out. For example, as was mentioned before, we reduced the main navigation to only reflect order navigation within the order process. We reduced the number of links that lead to other sections of our web site within the order pages. All these together helped to edge our conversion rate in an upward trend!

jsinger




msg:626622
 7:18 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've heard that Amazon converts roughly 12% of all traffic.

I doubt that.

One study a few years ago among many high volume sites showed they averaged 1.8%, which sounds about right to me. An extremely high rate can indicate major problems such as prices that are too low.

bandman05




msg:626623
 7:35 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

That makes sense to me as well. Thanks for verifying the fact. I had a hard time believing that Amazon was converting that high and was wondering what I was doing wrong.

wayzel




msg:626624
 7:55 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Try to keep font text at 12pt or larger whenever possible.

<b>Remove all unneeded data collection.</b>

Customer phone numbers and fax numbers - do you really need them?

Don't just say "CVV code" when you want the "3-digit code on the white strip on the back of your credit card."

Offer a money-back policy if you can back it up. Few people will actually take you up on the offer. ( <1% in our case.)

Review text and copy, shorten where possible. Bold the most important actionable item on each page.

markus007




msg:626625
 8:08 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Amazon is around 8% overall last i heard, with the webservices stuff converting at 25%

Sepang




msg:626626
 10:36 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Nice one Kevin ;)

I would just add that in the case of bought traffic, conversion rate highly depends of the page you redirect your visitor to. Making your visitor land on a page that matches exactly what he was looking for with a picture, a technical-and-price comparison with similar products (don't lose the prospect if he hesitates with other products), and a push to action (never redirect your visitor on pages that does not contain an buy button), coupled with the elements listed by Kevin gives you more chance to have a good conversion rate.

As far as the copyright thing is concerned, I simply decided to set it automatic. Basically, in PHP "Copyright 1998 - <?=date('Y')?>", and I can now fully enjoy my new year's eves ;)

asher02




msg:626627
 10:38 am on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Great posts,

We had a group of 25 people of all ages with different web experience that were told to look for a products and to make a purchase. We were amazed by the information we were getting from this test.

We often look at things as obvious while the average surfer might find it not logic.

Among many things that we corrected after this test we ended up with a link" Click here if you need help placing your order" on each page in a prominent place. When clicked a pop up opens with detailed instruction on every step of the purchase.

Another thing regarding 800 numbers Specify the exact working ours for your 800 service near the number.

Also look at your statistics and locate the top landing pages...and work on them hard. your index page might be great but if your other top landing pages do not appeal to customers they will leave. also check the top exit pages and see why people are leaving your site.

One more tip.

Don't use music! Many customer do their shopping while at work...it will be a bad experience if they enter your website and the speakers start to play music ...while the boss is 10 feet away...you will not get a sale believe me:)

Kevin French




msg:626628
 1:08 pm on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the props arran, minnapple & sepang. This is one heck of a thread we have going here. I have been a looooooong-time (about 5 years) lurker of webmasterworld and have attended a few of the conferences,...once I saw this thread start, I knew I had to jump in.

Let's keep this thing going.

mikey158




msg:626629
 1:48 pm on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ok, I am sold on the 800 number. I have a subscription site for dieters and I think this will help.

I hope this is allowed, but can anyone recommend a good cheap 800 # service? I googled it and wow, there is an array of cheap offerings. I like the idea of being able to forward the number instantly to any number.

lorax




msg:626630
 1:53 pm on Nov 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here're a couple from Neilson Norman:

Winnow/Categorize products under labels the customer will quickly and easily identify. You can (and should) use more than one way to arrive at the same page.

If you offer products that are similar but have slight differences between the different grades/models or are from multiple suppliers (ex. digicams or cordless drills) develop a comparison tool that will allow customers to choose and compare products.

This 90 message thread spans 3 pages: 90 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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