To increase conversion rates on your ecommerce website, no part of the user journey can be overlooked. From that initial landing page through checkout, every step a user takes on your website needs to be carefully designed with that final purchase in mind.
But building a user path that successfully balances an enjoyable shopping experience with a clear path to conversion is easier said than done.
To help you design a more delightful and intentional conversion path on your ecommerce website, we've put together a list of some best practices.
1. Clear Purchase CTAs
Having a clear call-to-action (CTA) is essential to convert website traffic into sales. It's what turns a visitor into a customer in the shortest amount of time possible. Most CTAs are typically a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add to Basket’ style button which stands out from the rest of the page to grab the visitor’s attention and encourage them to click -- this can be done by using contrasting colors or design elements.
The wording of the CTA should be kept short and sweet. Phrases such as ‘Buy Now’, ‘Add to Cart’, ‘Checkout Now’, etc. work best. Put simply, the CTA should align with the visitor’s interest; someone on the product page is interested in clicking ‘Buy Now’, whereas someone on a content page will be interested in ‘Reading More’.
You might also want to consider creating a sense of urgency on your ecommerce site. It has been proven that when users feel a sense of urgency when shopping online, conversation rates can increase by up to 332%. This can be done simply by changing the way you word your CTAs -- for example, changing ‘Shop Here’ to ‘Shop Now’ could make the difference in pushing the visitor to check out.
Below, you can clearly see how the CTAs stand out from the background.
If the eye is drawn, so is the cursor.
2. Simple, One-Click Checkout (For Guests Too)
Although adding clear CTAs to get visitors to add items to their cart is a good step in conversation rates, there is another step which can increase this even more.
By adopting a similar checkout process to Amazon with a one-click checkout process, you can skip the ‘add to cart’ step and have visitors check out quickly and efficiently on the product page. Amazon recently lost their patent for the one-click checkout process, so you are able to implement this onto your own website.
According to a recent blog by Magento, shortening the checkout process to one-click allowed visitors to place an order in 10% of the time it takes in a conventional method, which is a big factor in the percentage of abandoned carts -- when visitors simply abandon the checkout process because it takes too long.
If we look at the top five reasons for ecommerce cart abandonment we can see that by eliminating the extra steps required in a traditional checkout process, we will significantly increase the chances of checkout conversion. A recent article by eMarketer reported that just under 75% of shopping carts are abandoned, and even more for mobile users.
Even if you do not want to implement a one-click checkout, it is critical you streamline the checkout process as much as possible by requiring the very minimum data input from the user -- Amazon does an excellent job of this with their one-click checkout system, and a well-recognized CTA.
3. Greenbar SSL
It has been shown that shopping cart abandonment dramatically decreases when you display the greenbar SSL on your website. Here is what they look like on different search engines:
The greenbar SSL is essential when conveying a trustworthy and reputable website, as it is something that all major ecommerce sites should have. It is not only a visual cue to the potential customer, but also an important security aspect as well.
Having a greenbar SSL encrypts the visitor’s payment information, which makes it harder for hackers and scam artists to steal their information. Simply put, users do not want to purchase from an unsecure website -- the large red X with an unsecured padlock can be a real barrier to converting visitors into sales.
Even Google has started to include SSL certified websites in their SEO ranking, offering up to a 5% increase (a very cheap and easy way to bump up your SEO score).
In a recent test by Blue Fountain Media, two forms were created on their website. One showing a Verisign seal (the right hand side image) and the other without (left).
Through testing they found a 42% increase in conversions on the form containing the Verisign seal, demonstrating that visitors are more inclined to share personal data and convert when they are confident that it is secure.
4. Payment Methods (Visible with PayPal)
There are currently over 200 different ways to pay online that aren't reliant on a card, including direct debit, bank transfers, digital wallets, e-invoices, digital currencies (such as Bitcoin) and many more.
It is essential to cater to this market when designing your ecommerce website, especially when we consider that these types of transactions are predicted to be over half of all ecommerce payments by 2019, according to a report by Global Payments.
Although it is impossible to have over 200 different payment methods on your website, it is important that you understand your target market and are able to offer payment methods best suited for them. For example, a clothing website where the average spend is £50 may benefit from offering mainly credit and debit card-style payments, whereas a website such as overclockers.co.uk may want to push finance more -- as the value of the products being sold is significantly higher.
By providing the top three payments methods in your sector, you can expect to increase your conversion rates by 30% alone. However, it is not as simple as setting your payment methods and forgetting about it -- you must analyze the data received from your customers' checkouts on each payment method and be ready to adjust and tweak them accordingly.
Overclockers does a great job of this by showing all their available options to buy in the product description, and near the CTA.
5. Product or Company Reviews
Reviews are one of the most powerful tools to convert any interest in your product to a sale. Visitors want to hear from other buyers, not only if the product they are interested in is actually any good, but also about the service they received from your website.
By showing reviews directly next to or below the product, you are demonstrating instantly that you are a trustworthy seller. It has been shown that customer recommendations drive between 20% and 50% of all purchasing decisions and that 87% of people believe the reviews they read online on products and services.
It all comes back to reassuring the customer. Without reviews, the customers might ask themselves questions about your website: Why are there no reviews? Is this a genuine site?
Websites such as AO.com and Amazon give customers opportunities for instant feedback on the quality of a product or service, so much so that when it is not shown it can cause concern and worry for potential customers, thus hurting conversion rates.
Again, Amazon leads the way with reviews -- it’s the first thing you see when searching for a product, and gives you an instant indication of a product’s quality.
6. Well-Selected Imagery
Excellent photography of either the product or service you are selling is pivotal when trying to push more sales on your ecommerce website -- as the old saying goes, 'a picture is worth a 1000 words'. We’ve written on this very subject and its importance in all sectors.
Humans by their very nature are visual beings. We often look at pictures and graphic elements before reading the information about a product -- it is what initially grabs our attention. You need to ensure you have the best possible photos of your product, as well as a good range of images covering all angles and details. This gives the buyer confidence in what the product is, the quality, and what they are to expect when they receive it.
On the other hand, if you have low quality pictures, no zoom function, and a lack of detail shots, you can leave your potential customer anxious, asking themselves if you perhaps have something to hide? Maybe the product is fake? Why are the images bad quality? These are all enough to potentially deter a visitor from converting.
Data shows that visitors don't actually read the information on your websites, just 16% of readers will actually go through the entire page and read it word for word, while over 75% will just skim for snippets of information and photographs.
It is also worth noting that by creating good quality images you have more chance of them being shared on social media. Studies show that 74% of people rely on their social media networks for information about purchasing decisions.
7. Mobile Optimized
Over 50% of all web traffic is now mobile. With this number increasing drastically year over year, it is essential that your ecommerce site is mobile friendly.
In 2015, Google officially declared that mobile searches outnumbered those on desktop. When you consider that mobile shopping carts are abandoned much more than on desktops, users abondon websites if they don't load in under three seconds, and users want to check out quickly while on the move, you'll quickly realize it's critical your website is optimized for mobile. A mobile-optimized website will lead to a massive uptake in conversion rates.
Having a simple checkout process is even more important on mobile than it is on desktop. Users are working with a significantly smaller screen, so the less distractions the better. Keep it simple. Users want to add the item to their cart, pay, and get out. This can be done by stripping back any unnecessary elements for mobile and directing the user down a simple and easy to follow path towards checkout.
It is also important to remember the unreliable nature of phone data. With phone signal dropping in a split second reducing users download speeds to a snail’s pace, it is imperative that your mobile optimized site has the smallest possible page size, meaning fast load times even on a slow internet connection. Simple steps like this can make the difference between converting sales on mobile and not.
8. Concise and Effective Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are a key tool in your ecommerce selling arsenal. Without effective product descriptions that sell the product to your customer base, you are losing out on click-through rates and purchases.
Having a boring or unclear product description isn’t going to cut it -- your customers will switch their attention off and won’t be interested in purchasing. That’s why it's vital to focus on your ideal buyer and target them personally, with words and descriptions that relate to them -- doing this gives your customer a sense that you understand their wants and needs, which ultimately makes them feel more confident in choosing to purchase from you.
While we’re talking about instilling confidence in your customers, it is crucial to avoid using cliché phrases such as ‘excellent quality’, ‘genuine’ etc. These are all things that your customer should already know by your excellent product photos, slick website, and efficient checkout process that we have already covered. Trying to convince your potential customer that your product is ‘excellent quality’ gives the impression that you might have something to hide and are trying too hard to convince them what you’re selling is indeed good quality.
Above all, the most important factor to consider when writing your product descriptions is to keep it concise. As we mentioned earlier, users of your website will skim read and anything longer than a few lines is either going to get ignored or skipped over. If you do have a large amount of information that you need to convey to your customer, you might consider hiding it behind a ‘read more’ button or cutting it down in easy-to-digest bullet points.
Overclockers does really well with their product descriptions -- although they aren’t the most personal. They are concise and to the point, but also offer tons of information (if you want it) by scrolling further down the page.
9. Minimal Layout
Creating an easy to follow and cohesive journey from homepage to checkout is one of the most important factors when looking at bounce and conversion rates, as a study by EyeQuant showed websites that adopt a cleaner look (more white space, bigger images, less text etc.) saw significantly less bounce rate and higher conversion rates than those that had a more complicated website.
While it might seem daunting to think about redesigning your ecommerce site to be more minimalistic, it is actually relatively straightforward if you follow a few simple rules:
- Focus on product imagery with less design elements and distractions on product pages.
- Direct your customers to the add to cart, purchase or checkout with large CTA buttons that stand out.
- Test your website -- this is often forgotten but it’s crucial you make sure your checkout process is as slick on your brand new iMac or iPhone as it is on a five year old desktop PC running Internet Explorer or old smartphone.
- Limit your colors. Again, the less distractions the better. Get your user focused on the product itself, then onto the checkout button.
- Less is more. If the product page still works without it, then lose it. It’s all about focusing the customer towards the end goal -- checkout!
If you follow these five steps to rework your product pages, you will see a significant increase in checkout completion and a drop in bounce rates.
Originally published Sep 5, 2018 7:30:00 AM, updated August 09 2019
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