To reduce it to the absolute minimum, there are three basic elements to making sales online: maximize the traffic to your website; have persuasive copy on a user-friendly site waiting for visitors when they arrive; and make it as easy as possible for visitors to purchase your products or services. The use of strategies such as search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising to boost traffic is covered elsewhere in other articles on this site. Below are six tips to encourage visitors to click “buy” once they arrive at your website.
How fast can you load?
Sitting in front of a screen seems to dramatically reduce the attention span of even the most patient person. The fact is, if your site is a ‘slow loader’ it can have a negative effect on sales: even a second or two can make a difference. One study found that 40% of people will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Webpagetest.org is a free online speed test for your site, allowing you to check loading speeds on servers around the world. If you need to speed up your site’s performance, look into reducing HTTP requests, browser caching, compression, and optimizing your image and CSS delivery.
Where is your opt-in offer?
Your opt-in offer is your enticement (free report, regular newsletter, etc.) to visitors to submit their email address and details, thus boosting your mailing list of interested and potential customers. The location of the opt-in offer on the page has an impact on how effective it is. It should certainly be visible to visitors when the page first loads (bear in mind, mobile users will either see less of the page or see it smaller) and ideally, the offer should be in the top left as this is where readers’ eyes are first drawn.
Hover ads. Remember pop-ups?
The small windows containing offers and other marketing attractions that appear when you visit a webpage? These are becoming a much less effective marketing technique with the increased use of pop-up blocking software. However, hover ads do much the same thing but use different technology and are not subject to blockers. So you can still capture your visitors’ attention as soon as the site loads.
Recommend related products.
This is the familiar, “People who bought X were also interested in Y” message that is such a mainstay on Amazon. If it works for Amazon (and it does) then it can work for you. In a way, this kind of message is an online/virtual version of the simple salesmanship that you would be exercising in a physical store. Recommendation ‘engines’ – both free and paid-for versions – are available for download and incorporation into your site.
Make checkout easy.
The more steps you have in your purchase/checkout process, the more likely you are to lose a sale part way as the customer becomes frustrated or distracted. Use the following tips to cut down on checkout time:
Reduce the number of fields to be completed.
Allow purchases without registration or logging in.
Avoid having a field for promotional codes (the implication is that if you don’t have one, you’re paying
too much), instead have code-holders click a discreet ‘button’ or link that then reveals the code field.
For retailers, shipping can be a conundrum. On the one hand, it is not cheap to ship goods around the globe. On the other hand, free or discounted shipping has become the norm in the world of online shopping (even when the goods are travelling internationally). Devise a simple policy that is easy for the customer to understand, doesn’t leave them feeling the total price has been over-inflated, and yet doesn’t eat into your profit margin too heavily. One option might be to offer free ground shipping and charge for other, quicker options. Customers also like to be able to follow the progress of their package – some carriers (e.g. UPS and FedEx) offer tracking tools.