Practical Ecommerce

Five Great Conversion Tips

These conversion tips can be implemented by a business owner in just a few days with the possible aid of a competent web programmer. When implemented, the tips can make a profound difference on the conversions rates of an ecommerce business. The tips are:

  1. Simplify your home page.
  2. Add a call-to-action to every page.
  3. Get your copy edited by an outsider.
  4. Give something away.
  5. Implement an autoresponder follow-up process.

I understand that they look simple, but don’t be deceived. There is an inherent power in these five tips despite their simplicity.

Let’s look at the five tips in detail:

Tip 1 – Simplify Your Home Page

For a moment, I’d like you to reflect on your experience of driving along the freeway. Have you ever seen a new billboard, but before you could understand what it was, you were past it?

Your website home page is actually not so different. The visitor’s mouse hovers over the “back button,” just waiting for a reason to click. So, your goal is to provide a reason for the visitor to stick around and delve deeper into your site.

One of the problems with many home pages is the sheer amount of everything. Ideally, viewing your entire home page wouldn’t require any scrolling. In addition, in a split second it should be pretty clear what you offer, and to whom you offer it (remember the billboard drive-by). There should also be a few very specific places to click next. Any extraneous information is likely to be a distraction.

To-do list:

  • Identify any information that really doesn’t need to be there (your goal is to reduce the overall page length to eliminate scrolling).
  • Reduce the overall number of possible links, and make sure that the main items visitors are looking for are more visually prominent than other navigation options.
  • Replace any detailed text with a “positioning statement” that describes your main value in fewer than 25 words. Use graphic design to make this positioning statement stand out.

Tip 2 – Add A Call-To-Action To Every Page

Have you ever visited a website, read a page that you found very interesting and compelling, but then had to scroll back up to the main navigation bar to figure out where to go next? Wouldn’t it have been more helpful if there had been an obvious next click for you to continue learning about that product or service? Wouldn’t you have been more likely to buy if the site had made it easy for you to get all your questions answered by reading about a product in a logical flow?

You should use a call-to-action (CTA) on your website to instruct and direct visitors what to do next. Consider the CTA a “signpost.” In other words, it’s a navigation tool, telling the visitor where to click next. Essentially it implies, “If you like what you read here, then go here next.”

A signpost CTA is often as simple as a “click here for more” or “next” link at the bottom of a page. Our testing has shown that more descriptive CTAs are often more compelling than simple text like “more” or “next,” so consider using a little “tease” in your signpost. “Learn how we do it…” was a CTA that we used quite successfully on a recent client site.

Graphically, the CTA should obviously be the most appealing click for a visitor to take. Using a “rollover” effect on your text is often helpful to guide the visitor’s eye.

To-do list:

  • Individually consider each page of your site. Where would it make sense for you to direct the visitor to go next?
  • Based on that, create a graphically appealing CTA for each page and place it below the last sentence of text.
  • Remember not to get visitors lost in a perpetual loop of interlinked pages. Ideally, wherever they enter your site, each visitor will end up at your main offer (see Tip No. 4) within a few clicks.

Tip 3 – Get Your Copy Edited By An Outsider

In many ways, your site text is the single most important element of your website. The key is to speak to your target audience in a way that they really understand. Just like any other marketing copy, your web text must be concise, clear and compelling.

Remember your message is what highlights your unique value in the marketplace. It’s what sets you apart from your competitors. Give people a reason to do business with you. Get them excited about the benefits of your products and services.

Most web marketers understand the need for clear, compelling text. The problem is that many have difficulty actually writing text that meets that description. One of the reasons is that people get so close to their products and services that they lose the ability to explain what they do in simple terms.

So here’s the solution:

I’ve heard it called “the history-professor test.”

Find someone outside your company and industry that is intelligent, but has no training or education in your particular field (like a history professor). Ask them to review your website text and give you feedback on three key concepts:

  • What products and services do you provide?
  • To whom do you provide them?
  • How does that group benefit from using your products?
  • This is the real key. If your “history professor” can’t explain these three points from having read your site text then it must be rewritten.

You mustn’t second-guess your history professor. If they say your text is unclear, believe them. For that reason, choose your history professor carefully and pick someone whose opinion you value, but is outside your industry.

Tip 4 – Give Something Away

One of the keys to website conversion is to offer something for free. Well, not exactly for free, but in exchange for the visitor’s contact information. This is even a good idea on websites that are primarily ecommerce in nature, because the free giveaway offers a lower commitment transaction for the visitor who hasn’t yet decided to purchase. The real advantage of course, is that you now have the opportunity to follow-up and create a sale at a later point (see Tip No. 5 for more on a follow-up strategy).

The key to an effective offer is that it must be of highly perceived value to the site visitor, and low cost of delivery to you. Using that measurement, you’ll realize why “contact us for more information” isn’t terribly compelling.

My favorite types of giveaways are information based. If you sell products, think about offering a buyer’s guide or a “getting-the- most-out-of-your-new-widget” guide. Service companies can usually put together some valuable “insider information,” such as the travel agent who gives tips on how to get upgraded to first class.

To-do list:

  • Create an “offer” that meets the “highly perceived value, low cost to deliver” rule. Build a web form to capture lead information as an entry to your offer.
  • Promote your offer at various points on your site. (Using some of the calls to action from Tip No. 2 is a good starting point.)

Tip 5 – Follow Up On Every Lead And Customer

This may seem obvious, but I’m constantly surprised at the number of companies that don?t have any sort of robust follow-up process. Depending on the nature of your business, a follow-up may be email, phone or snail-mail based.

A lead may receive some sort of “thanks for your interest” response, which should also include specific instructions telling them what they should do next. A customer may receive some sort of special offer, discount coupon or simply a brochure to facilitate their next purchase.

To-do list:

  • Identify the types of contacts that your site captures information for.
  • Determine what the next point of contact should be for each type of contact.
  • Implement a very specific plan to follow- up with each of these contact types in the way that you have determined.

As I mentioned earlier, these tips may appear simple, but they will make a powerful impact on your site, especially when used in combination. Their simplicity also makes them fairly easy to implement and shouldn’t require a full site redesign.

Mat Greenfield

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Legacy User July 17, 2007 Reply

    Unfortunately, if your giveaway is interesting enough, one, or multiple of the "get-stuff-for free.com" sites will post your website and you will be overwhelmed by unqualified site visits by folks not at all interested in your products.

    — *Robby*

  2. DanKni May 24, 2010 Reply

    I strongly disagree with:

    "your goal is to reduce the overall page length to eliminate scrolling"

    Think Amazon (Highest conversion rate of any website on a constant basis) Check out their home page….. long eh…. now check out the page for their own product the kindle… its 31 full screens long on my laptop!

    Thats 31 pages of one product… Long is not the problem scrolling is not a problem…. boring is the problem ;-)