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Turn your website into a deadly selling tool with these 5 steps

April 21, 2016

It’s a jungle out there in the big, bad world of ecommerce. You’re having a hard enough time bringing potential customers to your website in the first place, what with your competitors striving to undercut your prices and outrank you in Google searches. That means when people do visit your site, you want to do everything you can to encourage them to stay there – and ultimately, to convert.

Fortunately, there are a few techniques – some tried and trusted, others a little more advanced – that you can adopt to boost your conversion rate. Read on for our top five tips to transform your website into a deadly selling tool;

1. Identify the persona of your target market

How can you expect to persuade your website visitors to buy if you don’t know who they are?

Creating a profile for your typical customer is a highly effective way to attract the right sort of people to your site through improved targeting. Understanding who your customers are will help to inform everything from your on-site content to your marketing material and promotions, which will help to increase conversions.

The process of profiling your ideal customer (or customers) can take many forms. Some businesses will already have vast swathes of customer information, which means creating a buyer persona is simply a case of amalgamating all that data into something approaching an average shopper. If you don’t have that luxury, you can gather valuable insights on your customer base through surveys and interviews.

If you sell a wide variety of products or services (or a small range that may appeal to a highly diverse audience), don’t feel you have to limit yourself to a single buyer persona – some companies have 10 or even 20. But for newcomers to the world of persona profiling, we’d recommend crawling before you can walk: start off with just one or two, then add more down the line if needs be.

2. User intent: What is your customer looking for?

Once you’ve identified your ideal customer(s), you should consider how they think. What drove them to visit your website in the first place? What information are they looking for, and what could stand in their way when it comes to making a purchase?

If your on-site content is written with user intent in mind, you’ll reap the rewards. Google’s regular algorithmic updates are designed to improve the experience for searchers. Get this right and you’ll benefit in the form of higher click-through rates, lower bounce rate and longer time onsite – and ultimately, an improved conversion rate.

3. Simplicity of navigation

As well as considering what brought visitors to your site in the first place, you need to ask yourself what they expect to find once they’ve arrived. After all, a congested homepage, confusing menu structure or slow page-loading speed will have potential customers leaving a site just as quickly as they arrived.

One of the keys to creating a user-friendly website is to ensure that navigation around it is as simple as possible. Ultimately, you want your customers to get from the page they landed on to your checkout in as few steps as possible – the more pages they have to navigate through, the higher the chance of them leaving your site without making a purchase.

That means making your menus as logical and user-friendly as possible, and categorising your products in a simple and intuitive manner – don’t make it difficult for visitors to reach your site’s money pages!

4. Offer quality search functionality

On-site search is a fantastic way to help shoppers quickly and easily find the products they’re looking for without trawling through menus, categories and subcategories.

The quality of your search functionality can have a major bearing on the performance of your website: according to Econsultancy, as many as 30% of visitors to ecommerce sites will use the search box.

Research has also highlighted the value of semantic-based search (a data-searching technique that provides more accurate results by seeking to understand the intent and contextual meaning of a search term, taking into account factors such as location and current trends).

Ofer Alt, Chief Executive of Celebros, revealed in a column for Total Retail that sites with a semantic-based search bar benefit from an abandonment rate of just 2%, compared to the 40% rate reported by sites with a less advanced text-based search bar.

At iWeb, we’ve written a Magento extension to capitalise on the features offered by ElasticSearch, a highly scalable open source search engine. We have developed an improved autocomplete function, a new custom index, and fuzzy spell checking, all of which make for a vastly improved user experience through better search results.

5. Dealing with abandoned baskets

Abandoned baskets are a frustration for any ecommerce site, but unfortunately they’re also a part of life. Baymard Institute, the independent web usability research institute, has calculated the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate as 68.6%, meaning two in every three shoppers who reach your basket pages will ultimately end up not making a purchase.

Once you’ve recognised that abandoned baskets are an inevitability, you can take steps to encourage those shoppers to return and make a purchase.

One of the most effective tactics here is launching an email recovery campaign, in which targeted messages are sent to shoppers who have added items to their basket but failed to purchase them.

Research from SaleCycle – which is neatly summarised in this infographic – claims that almost half of all abandoned cart emails are opened by the recipient, with more than a third of these clicks resulting in a sale back on the site. .

Simply reminding customers what they’ve abandoned can often be all that it takes to encourage them to complete a purchase. After all, they may not have left the checkout by choice – instead, the website may have crashed or timed out.

As well as simply contacting shoppers who’ve abandoned baskets to remind them of their planned purchase, you could offer them a targeted promotion – such as a 10% discount – if they come back and buy from you. For more ideas on improving your conversion rates, read; How email can deepen customer relationships and transform online conversions.

A final word

Ultimately, even if the quality of your product is market-leading and your pricing extremely competitive, you may still struggle with a poor conversion rate.

By putting the experience of the user at the heart of your web design and taking steps to drive purchases from shoppers who abandon their baskets, you’ll see the benefits on your bottom line.

About the author

This article was written by Ian Gordon, Business Development Director at iWeb, a Magento accredited web design agency based in Staffordshire and London. iWeb are one of ByteStart’s regular contributors on websites and technology matters. For more help and tips, try some of their other practical guides;

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