Whether you want to convert a curious visitor to a devoted customer or a potential client into a subscribing reader, there are a number of steps you can take that will make all the difference to your online sales.

How can I use analytics?

Start by finding out what your current conversion rate is. You might be surprised to know that just 2-3% is common for e-commerce sites. That’s just two or more sales for every 100 visitors.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, you can start to understand who your visitors are and how they interact with your site. For example you might want to know:

  • Which page do most visitors enter your site from?
  • How long do visitors spend on a particular page?
  • Which pages do visitors most often leave from?

This helps you understand how visitors engage with your site and what you might need to change to increase that engagement. You can also use that data to set measurable goals as you start to grow.

What effect do loading speeds have?

Poor-loading speed is a real problem for website visitors and can lead to negative reviews deterring other potential customers. So ensure that when people visit your site they can load it quickly and in a format applicable to their device.

With over 44 million people in the UK using smartphones a mobile friendly website is crucial. For example, nearly half of all visitors will leave a mobile site if the pages don’t load within 3 seconds.

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Optimise for different devices

What the site looks like, how easy it is to use and how quickly pages load will all be determined by whether the site was optimised for that device. Tools like Google's free-to-use Test My Site allow you to run checks on your site and see how it performs across different devices.

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The use of large or multiple images is familiar to most websites but the load time for these images can be frustrating for visitors. So it’s vital to ensure that your website images are optimised for the device they’re being loaded on.

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Consider your use of images

Spending a little more time editing image before you upload them to your site is worth the effort. Ensure they're the correct dimensions and reduce the file size. For example, use the 'Save for web' option on Adobe Photoshop. Shopify have produced this useful blog on how you can optimise images on your site.

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Why are design and content important?

Design and content are two sides of the same coin.

First impressions of your site are informed by colour, images and language. Most of us scan rather than read a site initially. Unsurprisingly, companies like Apple, Innocent and Lush use these tools to great effect.

But even a good impression can turn sour when poor content distracts from good design, or vice versa.

Good content should be persuasive and compelling, engaging the visitor and helping to funnel them towards the action you’d like them to take. Good design elevates good content and reinforces this process.

Think about the standard content you have for each page. Each of these pages contributes to the visitors experience and likelihood of responding in the way you’d like them to.

Are you using the following pages on your site? Use our checklist to make sure they're doing what they should.

What is the customer journey?

A clear customer journey is crucial for increasing online conversion. You want to ensure that the steps you’d like the visitor to take are as clear as possible. So that the visitor finds what they are looking for - with as much or as little additional information as they need - and signs up or buys it.

Analytics will show you what the visitor’s site behaviour is. By improving your visitor’s journey around the site, you can alter that behaviour. For example:

  • Clearly identifiable buttons or links make the next step easier and more intuitive.
  • Ensure you have the right information available at the right time - anticipate the next question.
  • Don’t provide too many options - think about the one thing you’d like them to do net.
  • Always provide a point of contact or call to action.

What is a call to action?

A call to action is an image or text that prompts the visitor to do something in response. For example, download an e-book, sign-up to a newsletter, buy something or visit your store.

Everything we’ve highlighted so far will influence how effective your call to action is. It’s only one part of the process. However without a call to action, your visitors will have nothing to respond to.

You can have multiple opportunities for a call to action but each time it should be:

  • Short - as brief as possible
  • Specific - what will they get in return
  • Simple - use language that’s practical rather than technical

Why are reviews important?

Good reviews have a huge influence on purchasing decisions. By the time a visitor starts looking at the reviews they have probably already decided whether they want what you’re selling. A good review reinforces that decision. A bad review (or no review) introduces doubt or destroys credibility. .

Recent research shows that a positive review influences the buying decision of 90% of customers. So for a small business this can make a big difference to your conversion rate.

  • Always ask for testimonials or reviews from your customers and include them on your website.
  • Always respond to bad reviews on your website or social media. It’s an opportunity to put something right and demonstrate good customer service.

What can I do about cart abandonment?

Unfortunately, after all that hard work, most website visitors leave at the point of sale. The average ‘abandonment rate’ is 68%. This is the ratio of abandoned shopping carts to the number of initiated transactions. The reasons for this are varied:

  • A complicated check-out system.
  • Asking for too much information too soon.
  • Having to sign up before completing the purchase.
  • Hidden or unclear shipping costs.

Streamlining any of these processes significantly increases the chances of converting your sales. However, even when a visitor leaves at this stage, all is not lost!

If you have contact details for an existing customer who abandons their basket before completing their purchase, use this as an opportunity to get feedback on their visit, as well as offering them a friendly reminder to return at another time.

And, you can make use of ‘exit intent popups’. These kick in once a visitor’s cursor starts to leave your website offering them something before they leave. So even if they’re not a convert this time, give them a reason to keep coming back for more.

Next Steps

What is my Unique Selling Proposition?

Your unique selling proposition, your USP, is what makes your business stand out from your competitors. You need to decide what is unique, different or special about your business which will encourage customers to buy from you. Here we give you practical tips to develop your USP.

Read more

How do I promote my business through social media?

Nearly 90% of people in this country use the internet, and of these nearly 50% use social media. Find out the key things you need to know about promoting your business through social media using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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