Contrary to what unscrupulous hucksters claim, succeeding in ecommerce is not as easy as waking up in the morning, clicking your mouse a few times, and then returning to the beach for drinks as you watch the money roll in. In fact, numerous pieces of a very complex puzzle must fit seamlessly into place, not the least of which is your website itself. Learn what you can do to make your webpage your best brand ambassador and your most productive virtual sales executive just by making a few simple design tweaks.
Augment your content with videos.
You doubtless already know the power of the written word. With that knowledge in mind, you may have dedicated a great deal of time to composing compelling content that clearly and thoroughly describes your products and mission, tells compelling stories, and helps to answer customers’ questions. That’s all well and good, but don’t forget that a picture is worth a thousand words – and the right video may be worth a million.
The fact is that consumers are instantly attracted to dynamic images that draw them into a site tour, a how-to, or a testimonial. Since one of your main goals is to attract buyers and keep them on your site for as long as possible, visual imagery is one of the best ways to do so. You can even invite potential customers to share video footage of their own to up the ante even further and enhance your relationship with potentially long-term buyers.
Transform visitors into email subscribers with opt-in boxes.
As a business owner, one of the greatest tragedies you can experience is to see that someone chose your website above all others to visit, browsed through your selection of products for a time, and then left without making a purchase. In the end, you are left wondering: Did they click away because of something you did or did not do? Are there actions you could have taken to resolve their concerns or answer their questions? Were they seeking related products that you might be able to provide?
The only way to arrive at answers to these various queries is to entice your visitors to become part of your mailing list. Once you have their precious contact information in your database, you can attract them with offers, send product interest questionnaires, and announce future promotions and discounts. Just remember to always strike that fine balance between not corresponding enough and turning into a pest.
Decrease load times.
With each passing day, more and more customers are using tablets and smartphones to browse the internet and make purchases. Given the slower processors and small screens of these hand-held devices, you’ll need to take additional steps to streamline the shopping experience offered on your website by optimizing it for mobile users. Most importantly, you must ensure that your site takes no more than three or four seconds to load.
Believe it or not, accomplishing this goal is not as hard as you may think. Start by taking the steps listed below.
- Cache your resources in local memory to avoid excessive server requests.
- Remove all redirects, sending users right to your site.
- Use CSS3 and HTML 5 frameworks.
- Optimize and resize images, keeping them under 100kb.
- Use AJAX to fetch and update data from your server without requiring the page to refresh.
- Use Content Delivery Network, a system of geographically specific servers, to speed the loading of content.
In an era when literally every second counts, implementing these measures can lower guests’ frustration levels and expose them to your valuable content before their attention drifts elsewhere.
Use responsive design.
A guest might first visit your site on their laptop and then come back tomorrow using their phone or wearable device. No matter what vehicle they employ, their shopping and browsing experiences should be consistent and seamless across all channels. Simply by ensuring that contact pages are easy to access above the fold, you can realize a huge increase in your conversion rate.
Taking the following steps can further enhance your customers’ multi-channel experience:
- Adopt a fluid grid design, as opposed to the traditional pixels that automatically adjust according to the end user’s screen size.
- Use buttons and images that can be accessed from all screens, including touchscreens.
- Condense menus or navigational options into expandable buttons.
Increase credibility with social proof.
It can sometimes be difficult for a new customer to put their trust in a business they aren’t familiar with. However, adding customers’ written and video testimonials to your site encourages buyers to recognize themselves in other visitors. Furthermore, it will help them to feel like a part of a valued group of customers, all of whom have made wise decisions to investigate your unique products and services.
If your company is new and does not have a long history of demonstrably happy customers, don’t despair. One way to quickly forge personal relationships with visitors is to encourage them to chat with one of your representatives live. Of course, this requires that you subcontract with a company that is an expert in providing the high level of service you want to go hand-in-hand with your brand.
Streamline your checkout process.
Abandoned shopping carts are an ecommerce merchant’s worst nightmare, and many of them stem from a frustrating and inefficient checkout or payment gateway process. Once your customer is actually on the brink of making a purchase, you need to do all you can to ensure that providing payment information is fast, easy, and secure.
That starts with gaining potential purchasers’ trust by describing the security measures you have put in place to offer them peace of mind. Also be sure that all prices and return policies are clearly stated, and don’t spring any nasty surprises on shoppers at the last minute. Finally, let them know what they can expect after they click on the “buy now” button. The more transparent you are at this stage, the more likely your potential customer will be to turn into an actual one.
Your website provides the first impression of your business as well as a visitor’s final memory as they are clicking away. By making it as compelling and user-friendly as possible, you can quickly offer more accessible content, gain happier customers, and see higher conversion rates. Best of all, the design adjustments you may need to implement are easy, inexpensive, and highly effective.