October 7, 2013, 4:24 PM

Make visitors comfortable on your site and they’re more likely to buy

Minimize clutter and maximize clarity, advices Jeffrey Vocell of testing and optimization firm SiteSpect.

There are a lot of great ways to improve conversion rates on e-commerce web sites, but the best one for you will ultimately depend largely on your customers and information you find from testing your own site.

Before getting to conversion rate optimization advice, the first step you should take is to look at your web analytics to find the common trouble points on your site, whether visitors are staying long enough to even convert to customers, and if you’re providing enough relevant information to convince visitors, within that session, to convert.   Most importantly, are your customers coming back and looking at the same item again?

The practice of looking at your web analytics will help answer these questions and provide the foundation to testing ideas that make for a successful optimization program.

Here are a few general tips on conversion rate optimization:

  • Minimize clutter and maximize clarity by ensuring there are not too many calls to action per page.
  • Think about the path you want a visitor to take from the minute they land on your web site to the confirmation page. Test and optimize around that path to gain real data about what works, and what does not work, with your visitors.
  • Ensure that the potential buyer feels comfortable shopping within your online store. This encompasses virtually everything on your web site, and every step of your checkout process. For example, ensuring that you have a phone number listed on pages like Contact Us can go a long way to giving the visitor confidence in your business credibility.  Some additional ways you can provide confidence are:
    • customer quotes, which act as social proof
    • security badges and ratings
    • return policy information clearly listed on the web site

Use the AIDA method with your product copy: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. There is a lot of great material available on AIDA that a quick search will uncover. To increase conversions on your own site you should focus on areas that are important to customers. For example, reducing friction in key areas like form fields and the checkout process will likely mean that more visitors make it one step further.

Here are a few general e-commerce test ideas to consider:

  • Reduce the number of form fields required throughout the checkout process. If your checkout form requires extraneous form fields, or just has an excessive amount of information that is required, visitors will be hesitant to go any further. Reducing fields and finding the optimal balance between number of fields and the information you need will help reduce friction for the potential customer.
  • Offer a guest checkout option. Asos, a popular U.K. fashion retailer, halved its abandonment rate by removing the mention of creating an account. A recent study by Econsultancy and Toluna found that 25.6% of consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first. The complete statistics are available in the graphic below:

  • Show targeted pages using criteria such as mobile device, browser type, location, and more. Targeted experiences will generally convert much better than generic pages. For example, a mobile page that is specifically built for use by smartphones and has buttons that are easily clicked, images that are a correct size, and easy menu interface will make the user more likely to convert using that device.
  • Utilize personalization to show a tailored experience for potential buyers. Visitors who see content that is personalized for them are far more likely to make an effort to read it.
  • Add, move, and resize security seals. Security seals give customers a level of confidence that their information will be safe. This feeling of security is important to conversions, especially in sensitive areas of checkout when a customer is entering his/her credit card number.
  • Replace or resize product and hero images. If the shopper is using a mobile device, size images (and other site elements) accordingly so they are optimized for a specific screen size or device. This will ensure you have a consistent experience across different device types.
  • Prominently display customer reviews on product pages, and search results. This acts as social proof for your brand when site visitors see real reviews from customers. Just think about the last time you purchased a book on Amazon; it’s likely that you heard from a friend you trust that the book was good or you discovered it and did some research which included looking at the reviews.
  • Show product images based on the use case of how buyers are going to use your product. This helps connect the shopper’s mind with what they will be using the item for, and how they see it on your store.
  • Ensure that visitors who use your on-site search are finding what they need by creating solid foundation of on-site search best practices. Make sure you’re testing site default options, metadata, filter options, social sharing options and basic site functionality.

These are just a few ideas of tests to run to increase conversions on your e-commerce site. Your mileage may vary with some ideas as they are general and not site-specific, but the optimum starting point is to approach testing backed by all of your analytics data and then measure progress before and after. This will help you come up with a hypothesis for changes to make, and then immediately test areas of your site that may not be performing well.

SiteSpect specializes in testing and optimizing web and mobile sites.

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