Last week I posted 10 Quick Ways to Increase Conversions. As I stated in that post, there are literally thousands of signals that can be changed to improve one's conversion. That list was to give you 10 easy changes.
Today I give 10 more, but they are not quite as easy to implement as those on the first list. They are none-the-less still important! These are in no particular order.
1. Give your self a voice
Don't settle for corporate-speak or a boring factual presentation on your website. Give yourself a unique voice, one that resonates with your visitors. Having such a voice helps set you apart from everybody else. This is especially significant if you are in an industry that sells products that can easily be purchased at any number of other outlets. What makes your products better? Well, perhaps nothing, but your unique voice can make the difference between a site like all the rest and one that stands out.
2. Build a Site Map
This one isn't particularly difficult unless you have a large site, in which case a site map can be very time consuming to create and keep up to date. Even more so if you are constantly updating, adding or removing pages from your site. But it's these larger sites that can benefit from the site map the most. You might even consider creating a script that automatically updates your site map page(s) daily, weekly or monthly, keeping your site map current and up to date.
Site maps are a great way to provide your visitors with easy access to all of the pages on your site. Think of it as a table of contents that allows the visitors to turn right to each page with a single click. Providing these clickable contents can help lost visitors quickly and easily find the information they came for without having to go through multiple layers of navigation. The sooner you get your visitors to the right information, the more likely you are to get a conversion.
3. Have an excellent in-site search feature
Having a "search this site" feature can work both for or against you, depending on how well it works. The key here is in the word "excellent". If your in-site search is not excellent in the most spectacular sense of the word, you're better off not having one at all. Time after time I've gone to websites and had their in-site search produce zero results for a product I know they have. This is just bad.
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 navigate to your products through navigation or the site map than risk the possibility that the in-site search misleads them.
Other things that are important in an excellent in-site search feature is for it to be able to produce relevant results when searching for products you don't actually carry. If a search is for a specific product but you carry one comparable, that comparable product needs to be delivered in the search results. Similarly, misspelled searches need to deliver the correct results as if the search we performed properly.
The number of potential sales sites lose because of poor in-site search is astronomical. If visitors get zero results, they’re gone to find a site that does have what they want. Why lose them when you could have otherwise gotten the sale?
4. Fix your checkout process
I've never seen a checkout process that doesn't need to be fixed. How much just depends on how bad yours is, but there are always improvements that can be made.
You want to make sure that your checkout process includes as few steps as possible for the visitor. Every click visitors are forced to make to check out creates an opportunity for the visitor to abandon the cart completely. Streamline your checkout process by reducing forms to fill out, adding calls to action, placing related products in strategic locations for up-selling and whatever else you can do to make ordering easier.
Communication is they key to a successful business. If you're letting leads fall by the wayside then you're throwing money away. Follow up has many forms, return phone calls, follow-up phone calls, follow-up emails, auto-responders and confirmation emails are a few. Each of these must be constantly analyzed for effectiveness to ensure they are being used to their best potential.
Little things such as automated confirmation emails can make the difference to a prospective customer. What you say and how you say it gives them a lot of information on what kind of company you are. Follow-up will help visitors determine whether they want to do business with you or not.
7. At-a-glance understanding of what you do
When a visitor comes to your home page is it easy for them to figure out what you do? If not, something is wrong. Some industries are more difficult to understand than others but that doesn't matter, you need to be able to quickly explain to anyone who visits your site what it is that you do and the benefits your products or services provide.
You may think that only industry knowledgeable people come to your site but you're wrong. Those people may be your primary audience and where your sales come from, but inevitably you'll get traffic from potential prospects that don't know the industry jargon they way you do. Don't speak over their heads. It doesn't take much to use layman's terms without speaking down to your primary audience. And regardless who you're speaking to, if it takes a visitor more than a couple of seconds to discern what you do then you've lost them.
8. Structured navigation
All too often navigation bars are nothing more than a list of links to various pages. Even if your navigation links to all your important pages, an unstructured navigation system will make it much harder for your visitors to find what it is they came looking for. Just about every site can be broken down into various sections. Information about the company goes in one section, information about products and services in another. If you have multiple categories of products then these need to be separated as such.
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.
9. Consistent formatting
Putting aside home pages that are meant to look different from the rest of the site's internal pages, you should have consistent formatting of all your pages throughout your site. Your header, navigation and footer should all be consistent. The worst thing you can do is to have constantly changing site formatting from one page to the next. This creates confusion and ultimately looks hodge-podge. Visitors need consistency that allows them to rely on information being in the same place and looking relatively the same regardless of what page of your site they are on. That consistency ensures they can easily find what they want.
10. Add unique product information
Many who sell products get their product descriptions from the manufacturer. There’s nothing wrong with using this information but you're far better off creating or adding your own unique information to those products. Don't just pull the information as-is. This goes back to #1, create your own voice. Using canned descriptions certainly won't accomplish that. Give your descriptions a personal touch, talk about things you feel are particularly unique or useful that you think your visitors might like to know about. The more unique information you provide the more you set yourself apart from all the rest.
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Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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