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Every online business owner lives or dies by the amount of visitors their site gets and the site's online conversion rates. A business pays for visitors, but only earns from customers. The conversion rate between the two is crucial to success...or failure.
In this article, we examine the top 5 best online business practices that the top online companies use to improve online conversion rates. In order, these are: guiding to conversion, lead nurturing, personalization, mobile optimization and instant multichannel contact.
1. Guiding to conversion:
Your site has one ultimate purpose. It is meant to drive sales, to bring you customers. There is some conversion event, whether that is a sale or a lead registration, which is key in this process. And your entire site must be focused on bringing visitors to that conversion event. This seems obvious, but many sites lack this focus, presenting a catalog of options which don't converge on anything. The result is that many visitors (for whom the online business has paid) show up, wander around and leave. Only the most driven visitors make their way to the checkout or signup form.
The key to designing a site that guides visitors to convert is that more is less. The more options you give visitors, the more likely that they will leave without choosing any of them. This is called paralysis by analysis-they have so many choices that they end up spending a lot of mental energy trying to find the optimal one, get decision fatigue and end up postponing the decision and going somewhere else. And so you lose them.
To keep this from happening, reverse the problem and make it a solution: less is more. Less calls-to-action (CTAs.) Less form fields. Less options. Less distractions to keep the visitor from doing what you want him to do-convert.
Of course, your visitor needs adequate information to convert to a paying customer. He needs to see that your product fills his need well enough that it is worth paying for.So your page can't just blare "buy it now!" at him. But every video, testimonial, blogpost and widget on your site needs to be there for a reason. If you can't explain how it directly contributes to conversion, get rid of it.
If you want to read more about driving customers to conversion, Petovera has a great post on this.
2. Realistically, most of your visitors will probably not be ready to convert.
They will be browsing, considering their options and window shopping. That's why you need lead nurturing. Lead nurturing means feeding visitors who are not yet ready to buy to sign up with follow-on information that will enable them to make an informed buying decision when they are ready.
In order to set up lead nurturing, first of all you need to let customers sign up for more information. There are various tools out there which let you put exit popups or signup bars on your page and connect them to a mail list. We've found SumoMe to be great. Their free suite of WordPress tools has served our needs perfectly.
Once you have an email list of visitors who were not ready to buy but were willing to sign up to learn more, you need to set up a flow of educational content which will support their buying decision. The time-honored way to do this is to set up a series of emails offering relevant information. Remember, you're not trying to sell them-you are giving them the information they need to make up their mind. And depending on the level of interest that your visitors have shown, you might want to give them a special, time-limited offer to induce them to buy when the time is right. Hubspot is an excellent tool for automating the whole process, and has some excellent guides on lead nurturing, like this free one.
Another possibility for lead nurturing is custom audiences. Upload the email list to Facebook or Twitter to create a custom audience. Then create an ad campaign to display ads only to that audience. Link the ads to appropriately educational content, with a conversion option at the bottom. The great thing here is that you can use tools like AdEspresso to quickly learn what message works for your audience, what your audience looks like demographically, which demographic segments respond to what messages, etc. This opens up a whole new world of customer acquisition possibilities.
The ultimate in lead nurturing, though, is a free or trial version. If you are selling a digital product (not shoes,) a free/trial version lets you lock in visitors who are not convinced yet that your product is worth paying for. The key here is to enable enough functionality to be useful, but not so much that your most valuable potential users have no incentive to pay.
We've mentioned demographics above, which leads me to the third great conversion increasing practice:
The ultimate ideal for a website is to be custom-made for every visitor. If you sell shoes, you want your site to show brown loafers to men shopping for brown loafers. If a visitor is coming from India, you want to show them your Diwali sale. If your customer comes back a second time, you want to welcome them back. Etc. Think about it this way-are you more likely to buy from a shop where the owner knows your name and asks about your family, or where you are just another number?
Fortunately, ecommerce personalization is now easier than ever, with products like InSite. This is a WordPress plugin which has tons of custom triggers you can use to display different content based on user behavior. Being community-based, InSite's library is growing all the time, and if you don't find the right trigger, you can always make your own or hire a developer for a modest fee to do it for you.
4. Mobile optimization.
Half of all e-commerce visitors are on mobile devices, but only a quarter of buyers. That missing slice of the pie is partly due to lack of mobile optimization. You'd be amazed how many sites either don't make any serious effort to look good on mobile, or make a halfway effort to adapt the site but don't adjust for the completely different browsing experience provided by a small touchscreen. Remember, your visitors are now spending most of their time scrolling vertically through your site.
There are two major parts to mobile optimization. First, seeing what your site looks like on different devices and making sure everything functions as intended. I recommend taking an hour or so and sitting down with Screenfly to look at every page on your site on different screens. Make sure not only that the site displays properly, but that it is still driving visitors to conversion (see above.) Second, record visitor interactions with the site (Hotjar is a good free tool for this,) then watch them, paying special attention to mobile user interactions. Are they dropping off somewhere? Are they not getting down to your signup form? Analyze these interactions, and then test different improvements as necessary with Optimizely.
Ever get that abandoned feeling in a store? When you have a question and there's no one around to answer? If you're like me, you give it a couple of minutes and then go somewhere else. Well, when visitors with a question have to search around for a contact form, that's the feeling they get, and often they leave. And unless they came to your store already knowing what they will buy, or are impulse buyers, odds are that at some point most visitors will have a question.
Even a prominently displayed email contact form is not enough. Email typically takes a day or so to get turned around. By then, most visitors who have questions will have googled them, and gone to whatever site answers them best. That site will get their business. You need an instant contact form to capture those visitors and turn them into customers.
Chat is good. Most visitors prefer live chat to email. And fortunately, there are plenty of acceptable live chat plugins out there for any platform, and most of them have an ok free plan. But what about those mobile visitors? Turns out, half of them prefer mobile-specific contact channels. To fully serve their needs, you need to give them the option to send you texts online for free, and to provide either a click-to-call option or, better yet, to let them request a call back. In effect, to maximize your site's conversion potential, your contact needs to be multichannel. Give visitors the ability to get answers instantly and conveniently, and they will reward you with their business.
This has been a pretty brief overview of some best online business practices to improve conversion. Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips or tools to suggest? Drop us a line and let you know what you think