Five Ways to Increase Conversion Rates

Traditional Methods of Raising Online Sales are No Longer Enough

In today's ultra-competitive online environment, many companies are still adopting traditional methods to try and improve user experience and increase conversion rates. Some of the obvious ones are utilizing clear, relevant calls to action and limiting the amount of clicks in a single user journey.

But to really stand out from the crowd, you must look after your online visitors better than your competitors do. Here are five additional tactics with which you can propel your Web property to the highest level.

Most of us seek reassurance in whatever we purchase, whether from independent reviews, detailed specification sheets, friends' opinions or a slick marketing video. We need that purchasing confidence at the point of sale to support our decision-making in choosing that particular product.

Providing users with the tools to do this increases confidence at point of sale. Rich media such as videos can be powerful in turning a browser into a buyer.

Allowing users to share information via social networks or email and providing impartial reviews all help, too, and must be included at the product-page level. If the user has to go elsewhere to get this information, then the commercial intent to buy has been lost and one of the fundamental laws of ecommerce — never let a customer navigate away from the site — has been broken.

Most websites present their product catalog through some type of filter-search technology. This filters results that are relevant to requirements, but it limits the choices of users.

For example, if a shopper selects products that range from $10 to $30, they might miss a highly suitable product that was $31 because it would be omitted from the results. This reduces conversion rates and lowers customer satisfaction.

There exist many alternatives to filter search technology that sort and display all results in order of relevance, rather than eliminating them. This will improve user experience and increase conversion rates and ultimately sales.

Banners often just take users to a generic product page or even to a different site. Using banners that target a specific product, genre or brand will definitely increase conversion rates.

Use lifestyle and choice messaging. An outdoor grill, for instance, could be labeled 'Perfect for Dad this summer' rather than 'Latest model' or 'New'.

Banners should be on key landing pages, providing choice and alternatives. Being creative and using A/B or multivariate testing is paramount to a successful banner campaign.

You can have the best-looking website with huge volumes of traffic, but if product data is inconsistent, limited or incomplete, then many potential customers will leave your site. This is even more important for technical products where features are complex and important, such as mobile phones or washing machines.

There are companies that can take a retailer's product data, then enrich, standardize and augment it to ensure that all data, attributes and values are recorded. This means that the website, and the user experience it offers, both have strong, reliable foundations.

There is no 'expert' out there who can predict consumer behavior accurately and consistently, so don't even try. Follow the best practices used across the Web but, more importantly, refer to the analytics captured for your users and on your site.

The answers are in that data, as long as the correct information is gathered. Look for trends, relevancy, conversions, behavior and events prior to purchase. Build a journey so you know what led a customer to a particular event, be it a purchase or a site exit. Then work to either ensure or prevent that similar journeys are made.

About the Author: Kevin Sparks is a senior account manager at PrismaStar, a company that develops multi-channel consumer guidance technologies to help people make better, faster decisions online.