Come Get Some: Four Basic Steps to Converting Lookers into Buyers
I am constantly amazed at the metrics people ask about before the topic of conversion comes up.
- How much traffic do you get?
- How much of that is Google traffic?
- How much do you spend on Adwords?
- How many key terms do you rank #1 for on Google?
And the list goes on and on. Well today I’m not going to ask or talk about any of those metrics. Before you worry about increasing your traffic by some ridiculous metric that is pulled out of the posterior of some even more ridiculous marketing wonk, you should worry about what you’re doing with the traffic you already have. That’s right, I’m talking about conversion.
Now before I get into the how, I’m going to tell you that no one will openly discuss their own actual conversion metrics. To be blunt, asking someone their conversion rate is the marketing equivalent of asking someone how many people they’ve slept with. If someone throws out a number and says “well I don’t know about you, but my site is converting at 12.3%”, you can typically take it with a grain of salt the size of Pike’s Peak. According to the Fireclick Index (one of the few places you can actually get conversion benchmarks), global conversion rates are hovering right around 2%. This of course varies from industry to industry (catalog companies convert at a much higher rate, sites focused on electronics convert at a much lower rate), but if you’re in the 2% range, you should give yourself a pat on the back, as you are officially keeping up with the Joneses.
Now for the bad news. If you’re converting at 2%, that means for every 100 people who visit your site, 98 are leaving without making a purchase. Before worrying about pushing more people through your virtual doors, you should deal with the more pressing issue of why these people who all raised their hands and said “yes, I want to see what your site is all about” then left without placing an order. To really understand this, you have to look at your traffic patterns and ask yourself these questions:
- Where are people entering your website?
- Where are they exiting your website?
- What is your bounce rate?
- What percentage of your visitors are abandoning their shopping cart?
- What percentage of your visitors are abandoning in the checkout process?
The reality of ecommerce is that there is no quick fix. Sure, there are some “industry standards” to follow, but the fixes are going to vary from website to website as a result of having very different sets of core customers. A one page checkout might work wonders for one website, but another might have a core customer base who prefers a multi-step checkout.
There is one constant that carries across all websites though: trust. Building trust with your visitors is crucial to increasing conversion. So how do you go about building trust? Consider these quick and easy fixes:
Show the world your phone number. Unless your company is named Amazon, you can’t get away with not prominently displaying your customer service number. Just having the number visible sets one’s mind at ease that if there are issues you can always pick up the phone.
Use trust and/or security logos. Everyone (I assume) is using a secure checkout on their ecommerce website, so that means you’re likely paying for a trust symbol too. Verisign, Thawte, Comodo, they all will give you a shiny trust logo that will show your customers you are concerned for their online security. You can invest in other security and trust symbols (McAfee, BBB, TRUSTe and the like) as well, but start with the ones you’re already paying for, especially if you’re on a budget.
Clearly display your return policy. One of the biggest concerns customers have once they get over the whole “is my information safe” issue is how many hoops they’ll need to jump through in order to return an item if they don’t like it. If you have a satisfaction guarantee style program, shout it out to the world above the fold. One of the reasons that Zappos became so successful is that they took a product that is notoriously difficult to sell when the customer isn’t present and wrapped it around a 365 day, free shipping, free return shipping policy. They made buying products on their site 100% risk free.
Don’t be anonymous! Tell your customers who you are. Personalize the experience. Create an emotional response. If you’re just some website that sells widgets and you’re not giving your customers a reason to be loyal. If customers feel like they “know” the people they’re buying from, they’re more likely to trust you and they’re more likely to keep coming back.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading and putting up with my soapbox ramblings. Now go make some changes to your site and don’t forget the marketing professional’s mantra – Always Be Testing!
Guest blogger Mike Feiman is the President of PoolDawg.com, a leading online supplier of pool cues and billiards supplies. His thoughts and ramblings can also be found on his personal blog at www.MikeFeiman.com.
Excellent and informative article. Some very sound and practical points. This has enticed me to consider adding a cart abandonment dialogue to ascertain the reason why a customer has discarded the sale from your point: "What percentage of your visitors are abandoning their shopping cart?". Therefore I would surmise that an all important question would be: "Why are my visitors abandoning their shopping cart?". Probably a simple radio button list would be sufficient and easy without complicating the user experience and turning them off from returning. Wording needs to be thought about carefully. Thanks again.