Since the "purchase" is the ultimate conversion, it is imperative that you remove as many obstacles from the customer's research-to-buy cycle as possible. Providing your visitors the key ingredients in their shopping experience creates a smooth and worry-free transaction process. The easier it is to shop and buy the more customers will overcome the natural hesitations that many feel before they commit by hitting the final "complete order" button.
If possible, create an extremely robust and accurate search function for the website. A good search function should be able to provide visitors the information they are seeking even if products are misspelled in the search box or search products are not offered at all. Be careful, as anything less than a perfect search function only serves to frustrate rather than help visitors.
Create clear navigation paths from the moment a product is added to the shopping cart. This path should allow them to continue shopping, continue through the purchase process or get additional questions answered as needed.
Calls to action
Informational and product pages must consistently use clear calls to action encouraging shoppers to buy now, save for later or post a review. This not only gives your visitors options but compels them to continue moving forward in the process.
Present your products in a way that allows the visitors to quickly glean the information they need. Use clean images, allowing multiple views and image enlargements to give the visitor a complete view of the product they are purchasing.
Listing product availability his a helpful signal that shoppers can purchase this product now and expect to receive it quickly. At the very least be sure to tell your visitors if the product is out of stock or will be have any shipping delays due to availability.
Product comparison guides
It is extremely helpful to allow shoppers to compare product features and benefits side by side. If you don't sell multiple products then create a comparison between your product and your competitors. Be honest, if your product lacks what a competitor's has, document that appropriately.
Customer product reviews
If possible allow your shoppers to post reviews on your product pages. Don't discriminate by removing unfavorable reviews, these can be helpful and show that your reviews can be trusted and that you stand behind your products despite the occasional negative comment.
Up-sell / cross-sell
Be sure you are using your up- and cross-sell opportunities to the fullest potential. Provide a list of related products that typically go along with any current items in a shopping cart or product being viewed. You can also show similar products that have different features that might be more to the shoppers liking.
If applicable, allow shoppers to purchase additional services such as product engraving, customization, gift wrapping, etc. These features can make a nice up-sell opportunity while giving the visitors that customization offer that they need for special purchases.
Some shoppers want the comfort of knowing that they can call and get assistance with their order. They may even rather place their order over the phone. Meet your visitor's needs by providing an easy to find 1-800 contact number along with other contact information.
Provide your shoppers with multiple options on how to pay for their purchase. Some shoppers are more comfortable with one form of payment over another and allowing their preferred option can be all it takes to get them to hit that "pay now" button.
It's not your products but your shoppers that are most valuable to you as a business. Most likely, the same products you sell can be found elsewhere and at a cheaper cost. This means you need to make sure your shoppers are treated accordingly. Ensuring that your site meets and exceeds shoppers' needs and expectations provides a comfortable and trustworthy environment that will make shopping and buying easier. This, in turn, will improve your conversions selling more products at a smaller expense.
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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