Practical Tips for Converting Visitors into Customers

Persuasive Online Copy Writing

Many websites today write their web site copy as if they are trying to address a stadium full of customers. The problem with this approach is that the message becomes diluted and confusing. Instead, pick one customer, perhaps someone you know and write the copy as if you are targeting just him or her. American Novelist, John Steinbeck, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 states “your audience is one single reader; and I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person – a real person you know, or an imagined person – and write to that one”. Literature is no different than writing website copy. In fact, with practice, this becomes really easy to do.

Know Your Metrics

It is highly recommended that you set measurable benchmarks and identify conversion goals based on current web site traffic. A conversion can be a sale, or a form submission; basically, whatever action you want the customer to take when they arrive at your website. This can be easily done with web analytics software (like Omniture, Website Story or Google Analytics) with features that track the following:

1. User behavior – where visitors click, how long do they stay on any given page etc.
2. What pages are customers abandoning the site
3. ROI/ROAS
4. Revenue tracking per conversion for all our campaigns
5. Real time reporting.

Improve Your Navigation

There is nothing that irritates me more than not being able to find the navigation when I get to a web page. Ease of navigation on a website is a very important part of converting visitors into customers. If visitors to your site don’t know where to click to find what they are looking for, they will abandon your site in the blink of an eye. I do it all the time.

The most common place for your navigation is on the left side and/or the top of the page. There have been several studies that show an increase in conversions when the navigation is one of these two places. Take a moment to look at online retailers like eBay, Dell, QVC, HP and Amazon and see if you can find any similarities.

In addition, navigation should be consistent on each page. Most retailers are already facing huge abandon rates and inconsistent navigation will increase the chances of visitors dropping off. Studying drop-off data indicates that would be customers visiting your site lose the relevant message of what put them there in the first place.

Further evidence was provided on March 8, 2004 – Onestat.com reported that 9.52% of visitors abandon a website after viewing one page; 54.60% of visitors abandon a website after viewing two pages and 15.56% of visitors abandon after viewing three pages or more (based on a sample size of 2 million visitors). This data illustrates the importance of having consistent navigation on every page of your website.

Call to Action

The idea here is to reinforce (or validate) the purchase decision while the visitor is going through the check-out process. You can communicate anything that is unique about your product or service, whether it is a customer testimonial, a new promotional offer; or perhaps the services that you offer that differentiate you from your competitors like 24/7 customer service, 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, etc. This helps build credibility, reassures customers that they are making the right decision; and most importantly, decreases shopping cart abandonment and buyers remorse.

It’s also good practice to strategically place your phone number on every page. Believe it or not, there are still millions of people out there that are not comfortable with submitting their credit card over the phone. Additionally, some people also prefer to talk to a live sales person.

Reduce Download Speed

Lose the flash. Not everyone has a fast Internet connection. There is data our there that shows that the majority of visitors will only wait 3 – 5 seconds for a home page to load up before clicking elsewhere. Again, take a look at the top online retailers and you will notice that they don’t have flash at all. E-marketer.com reported that 84% of website visitors abandon a site if the page load time reaches 10 seconds. I, personally won’t wait longer than 1 or 2 seconds, but that’s just me.

Substance over Style

Although a nice web site design is attractive to look at, it’s not what drives sales. Take a look 1800 Flowers, Dell, QVC, HP and Amazon and you will notice that their sites aren’t the most attractive, yet they are the online retail leaders. What makes these sites unique is they provide tons of relevant content, easy navigation, and a quick/easy check out process.

Recapture Lost Sales

If possible, track users who abandon the check out process, and target them with a different offer, or at least get their feedback as to why they abandoned the site. You will never know unless you ask.

Content

Content is king; we’ve all heard that before, right?. A web page can do only one of two things: either it contains the content the visitors want or it contains the links to get them to where they want to go. If a page doesn’t follow this basic rule, the visitors stop clicking. And that’s not a good thing.

Perhaps it takes visitors two or three pages before they figure out that they are in the wrong place… but I doubt it. Over half of visitors are interested enough to click one or two steps deeper before bailing. That’s a pretty clear indication sites fail to provide enough content to the majority of their visitors. According to Jakob Nielsen, users look straight at the content and ignore the navigation areas when they scan a new page. They are extremely goal-driven and look only for the one thing they have in mind and if a page does not appear relevant to the user’s current goals, then the user will ruthlessly click the Back button.

Following these basic steps outlined in this article will surely help your online conversion rates. Please drop me a note if you have had any progress or not.

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