Optimize Your Site for Higher Conversion Rates

- December 26, 2006

At the recent WebmasterWorld Conference in Las Vegas, I attended a few sessions about optimizing e-commerce sites. I will summarize the takeaways in this blog.

Acquiring traffic and driving sales are two different processes that need to be considered. The most common reasons for people leaving a site are: the user intent is not met, poor page design, and dead links. You should look at the search terms that are driving traffic and try to discern what the visitor is expecting of that query, and make sure the content matches that intent.

It is also about the formatting of the content. Be consistent in navigation and use recognized naming conventions, don’t get cute.

There should be multiple navigation options: primary navigation, a site map and an internal site search utility. The internal site search can dramatically increase conversions. This function is also great for reporting the most popular searches & allows customization of search results. Create a custom search. For instance, if there is something you don’t have, instead of yielding 0 results, show similar items that might be of interest.

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Good, Better, and Best is great for category pages, for people who are looking to be educated.
  • Put reassurance statements where they matter. For example, a security symbol and privacy statements should be pronounced near checkout.

“Ad to Cart” has been found to work better as a call to action than “Buy Now”. People worry when they see a “Buy Now” button because it is too committing. The “Ad to Cart” button should be large. Keep increasing the size until you find what works the best.

Save your customers!

Targeted communications are being used to extract information, in order to make practical changes to a site. For single access pages, look at the visitors that were coming in for those keywords and engage them into chat. Customers provide very valuable information when you talk to them or via email. Some information can only be discovered from client feedback, not even from analytics. You should combine your analytics with this feedback to avoid shopping cart abandonment. One example used at the conference was a site that sells expensive wine. By engaging with clients the company found out those visitors were very concerned with the shipping conditions and at the last moment would back out of the purchase process. To keep this from happening, they began offering more shipping options and explaining the manners of shipping.

Invest the time to analyze these issues and enhance you site. The results should be very impressive!

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