In a recent post, I provided a list of 10 Easy-Peasy Conversion Optimization Tips That Make Visitors Happy. That post barely scratches the surface of conversion optimization tips you can implement to build a more user-friendly site that out-converts your competitors. But they are all fairly easy to implement, and it gives you place to start.
Now you’re ready to move on to the next level. Again, this post barely scratches the service, but it does provide you with some additional, important areas to consider when looking at your site’s usability.
Answer the question, “What do you do?”
I’m amazed at the number of sites that simply do not tell visitors what it is they do clearly on their home page. It’s almost as if they assume that every visitor is already fully in-the-know before ever coming to the site. News flash! Most first-time visitors are ignorant of who you are and what you do!
Every visitor that comes to your site needs to easily be able to figure out what you’re about. Don’t bury that information in an “about us” page or in some vague mission statement. Make it obvious!
If you believe that only industry knowledgeable people visit your site, you’re wrong. Knowledgeable people may be your primary audience, and even where the bulk of your sales come from, but even knowledgeable people still need to know they found a site that will meet their needs. If people cannot figure out what you do, how can you expect to turn them into a customer?
Give yourself a voice
Have you ever been around a group of people and suddenly you hear one voice that stands out above the rest. Not because it’s louder but because of they way the person talks. It might be their accent, their word usage, or even their speech pattern, but something about that voice is unique. Once you become familiar with it, the next time you hear it you automatically know who’s speaking. Your website should be no different.
Giving your content a unique “voice” helps you stand out from your competition. Done right, your voice is exclusive to you and you alone, and gives your audience something to remember you by when compared to other sites they have visited.
All things being equal, having a unique voice gives you an edge and the advantage. It tells customers that you’re different, and when choosing between you and an equal competitor, that may be the advantage that makes them choose you over the bland others.
Follow-up and follow-through
Great communication is they key to having a successful business. If you’re letting leads, calls, emails or inquiries fall through the cracks, you’re throwing money away. Good follow up has many forms: return phone calls, follow-up phone calls, follow-up emails, auto-responders and confirmation emails, just to name a few. Each of these must areas be constantly analyzed to ensure you are being as effective as possible.
When it comes to following up, little things can make a big difference. What you say to potential customers, as well as when or how you say it, tells a lot about how you will do business with them. Customers need to know you care just as much as what happens after the sale as what happens before. But, if you don’t care before the sale, they’ll know you won’t care after.
Great follow-through after the sale tells customers you still care about them because you’re proving it! That’s great repeat business generation right there.
On far too many websites, the site navigation is cluttered, disorganized and doesn’t help drive you to the pages that will give you the information you need. One of the biggest mistakes people make is creating a navigation that links to just about every page of the site. That’s far too many options!
If you have a large site, heck, even if you have a small site, try to pair your navigation down to as few elements as possible. It’s OK to have a dozen links or so in your navigation, but be sure they are organized so visitors can easily choose.
Implementing a structured navigation makes it that much easier for visitors to quickly find the pages that are most interesting to them. The less they have to think (and search) the better.
Build a sitemap
When you have a large site, sometimes important pages can get buried in your navigation. It’s generally not a good idea to have a catch-all navigation that links to every page on your site. The solution is not only to make the navigation as intuitive as possible, but also to build a sitemap.
HTML sitemaps give your visitors an easy way to find any page of your site quickly without searching. One click to the sitemap, a quick glance and they find they page(s) they are looking for!
The better organized your sitemap is, the better it is for the visitor. Not all visitors use a sitemap, but those that do find them valuable in getting where they want quickly and without having to make numerous clicks through a deep navigation structure. The sooner you get your visitors to the right information, the more likely you are to get a conversion.
Have a site search box
Having a “search this site” feature can work both for or against you, depending on how well it is implemented. If your site search doesn’t produce excellent results, then you’re better off not having one at all. If visitors search via your search box and don’t find the results they want, even if you have the product, you just lost a sale because the visitor has left.
If your search cannot produce relevant results 100% of the time, then it’s causing you to lose sales. It’s a simple as that. You’re far better off having your visitors find your products through navigation or the sitemap than risk the possibility that the in-site search misleads them.
However, if you do have a great site search that gives perfect results every time, this can be a great way to help visitors find specific products, features or information quickly without having to scan a bunch of pages. This search data can also be helpful in knowing what people are looking for so you can promote those areas better. Better access and promotion to your products and services means more sales.
As a whole, all your site pages should be similarly formatted. While some home pages do look a bit different from the internal pages, it is important to carry consistency from one page to the next. This means that your primary navigation should not change from one page to the next. Nor should your footer, page layout, color, etc. Consistency from page to page is expected from your visitors.
When your pages are consistent from one to the next, visitors are able to navigate better and know where and how to get the information they need. When you don’t have that kind of consistency, the on-site experience can be quite jarring, giving the visitor a bad experience. Any bad experience is bad for sales.
Add unique product information
If you sell many of the same products as other sites on the internet, chances are you may have the same product description information as them. This is almost universally true if you posted boiler plate product descriptions from the manufacturer. While this may at least provide relevant product information, it doesn’t give any info that makes your products unique among your competition.
Just like you want to give your site a unique voice, give your descriptions a personal touch. Describe the product from your unique perspective. Tell shoppers about things you feel is particularly unique or useful about each product, or anything else you think your visitors might like to know about. Sell them using emotion, not just facts! The more unique information you provide, the more you set yourself apart from all the rest.
Fix your checkout process
I’ve never come across a shopping cart or checkout process that didn’t need to be fixed in some way or another. Amazon is constantly testing their shopping processes, always in search of the better way to present a product or improve the conversion process. You may not realize it, but poor shopping and checkout processes lead to significant abandonment rates. Shoppers start but don’t complete an order.
Make sure that your checkout process includes as few steps as possible. Every click visitors are forced to make creates an opportunity for them to flee. Studies show drop-off rates increase as checkout process clicks increase! Streamline your checkout process by reducing the amount of information needed, adding calls to action, place related products in strategic locations and making ordering easier over all.
Working on each of these conversion optimization areas is bound to improve your customer interaction and conversion rates. If you can improve your conversion rates, the same number of customers you get each month will result in increased sales. With that, any increase in traffic increases sales exponentially!