Christmas will soon be upon us, and consumers will soon be scrambling for the January sales. No longer is this a seasonal pilgrimage to the depths of the high street though. Consumers are savvy to multi channel retailing now and recognise that they need not queue outside Next at 4am in the freezing cold to grab a bargain or two. Instead they can log on at home and get their bargains in the comfort of their own chair with a brew in hand. This year the number of consumers looking for online deals is set to break records once again. Therefore it is paramount that your website provides the best possible shopping experience from a search engine query all the way through to the checkout stage if you are to transform causal shoppers in to buyers.
The following are 10 practical tips for enhancing conversion rates during the holidays:
1. Research Your Perfect Consumer: Knowing your primary customer is the most critical element of any eCommerce strategy. Your website should reflect the customer, in terms of keywords, within the website copy and advertising/marketing materials to help push your natural search engine optimisation
2. Product Categorisation Appropriate product categorisation is fundamental to the success of any eCommerce website. Products need to be easy to find, and accessible within a maximum of three clicks. Too many categories or clicks can frustrate shoppers and turn them away. However, having too few categories may have the adverse affect, in that you may not retain the shoppers attention and not keep them on the site as long as you would like. Multi-categorisation of products can help when looking to improve on site search, and also allows you to reach different audiences.
3. Interact With Your Customers: Make your customers visit more personal by understanding their past browsing/buying patterns and providing recommendations each time they visit. Utilising recommendations can help you place the relevant products to the individual customer on each visit and help you to gain further conversions.
4. Ensuring Support is Available: The amount of companies using live chat as a way of support on eCommerce websites is every increasing and can help reduce customers frustration when they are on the site. Social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook are also on the increase as a pathway for customer support.
5. Managing Your Natural Search: Search Engine Optimisation is a key tool to help ensure that your storefront lands at the top of the search engines. As opposed to Pay-Per-Click, SEO is a long term strategy that can take 6-12 months until you start to see the benefits. Although paid searches are an quick win in terms of getting you to the top of the search engines, consumers tend to trust organic search much more because of product reviews and commenting. A couple of easy amends that can help to make a difference are:
- HTML Page Title: One of THE key pieces of information. Page titles should be populated with search-engine-friendly terms relevant to your business.
- URL Structure: The URL should include both the category name and product name within its structure.
- Keywords/ Meta Tags: Whilst this is important, the keyword field actually carries less weighting than many companies are lead to believe. We would suggest focusing on the page title first and the structure of the site before spending hours on the meta/keyword information.
6. Keep Your Web Content Up To Date: Google loves fresh content, which is one of the key reasons to the increase in blogging over the past few years. Regular content updates can help to increase your websites authority with Google which helps to aid a sites natural ranking. Regular updates are a key element to sustaining and improving your position in the search engines. Without regular updates, Google starts ignoring you altogether. In addition to a blog, why not look at adding product reviews, relevant editorial content or videos as this content is crawled by search engines as well.
7. User Generated Content, Aiding Search: As we covered in October, product reviews are playing more of an important role of eCommerce website conversion. Shoppers are growing more aware of customer reviews and trust these more than the ‘official’ product reviews. Google sees user generated content as high authority collateral and can help to improve your search rankings.
8. Speed Kills: If your website is slow and takes time for pages to load, you are highly likely to lose shoppers from your website, thus reducing conversion. Importantly, Google is now looking at processing speeds of websites when determining page rankings. Ensure that your website is not loading up large images on launch and if it is find out why. There are a number of different technologies available to prevent your website loading a large number of images up.
9. Multiple Payment Gateways: The last thing that you want is for a customer to get all the way through the shopping process to fall at the last hurdle. Offering multiple payment gateways is a great way to breed confidence into the customer, thus helping to complete the conversion. Customers are wise to stores holding details, so options like Sagepay, Paypal and Google checkout act as a great tool to allow customers to checkout without needing to provide you with personal information.
10. Keep Your Eye on the Goal: Be sure to maintain records and analysis of the checkout click through rates, and exactly where customers are exiting the process. A simple site analysis can help spot why customers could be dropping off. For example, check that the “Checkout” button is easily visible, that the “Add to Baskets” are obvious and that your checkout process isn’t taking too many phases to complete.
All of these tips can help to improve your eCommerce website site conversion. Some are simple changes that will help you immediately within the upcoming sales period, others are a little more of a lengthy process, but will ultimately lead to greater conversion.