It’s less common nowadays, but when I first started working in digital marketing – back in the good old days of cramming the keywords meta tag with every word in the dictionary – the vast majority of my clients couldn’t make easy changes to their online shops. Be it the lack of knowledge, a long waiting list to the external web developer, an awkward CMS or inclement weather, they were limited to a handful of tricks to boost their conversion rates. For any significant changes, they were left scratching their heads and pleading for help.
Fast forward ten years and I still encounter these issues. Online retailers are continuing to fall short despite their longing to meet best practices and do everything by the book. Policies, tradition, brand image (or maybe inclement weather again) often stand in the way of those concerns raised by marketing departments, media agencies or PPC individuals.
As a consultant to many online shops of all shapes & sizes, and a manager in Elementary Digital, I encounter this question more than I’d like:
How can I boost my sales without changing anything?
Well, here’s the good news: Add just one more word to this sentence, changing the scope from “anything” to “almost anything” and you’ll be in with a shot.
That said, we have prepared some of the best tips and tricks on what you can do to improve your e-commerce conversion rates. These should be used when you really have to do something, but you don’t have the knowledge to code, or your developer is drinking Sangrias in Ibiza for the next two weeks! These are also handy if the policy makers in your organization aren’t in a rush to support your marketing efforts.
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1. Embrace reviews
Let’s face it, the opinion of other customers is essential. If there’re no reviews on a product page, visitors are going to look to those shops which offer this visibility.
Reviews or testimonials show you’re open, honest and qualified for the job (if they’re good!). There are plenty of plugins nowadays that will help you manage reviews without major developer involvement.
While it’s good to have a tight control over what’s being said, you’re likely to encounter at least one unhappy and very vocal ex-customer. They’re ready to spoil the fun, but as they say, if you can’t beat your enemy, join them!
As such, you’ll want to keep all reviews – good and bad – on your site. If it’s published on your page, it shows your customers that you have nothing to hide. What’s more, you can leverage it to showcase your excellent customer service by resolving the complainer’s issue. This works universally on Facebook, Twitter and so on. By soothing their disappointment in a professional way and solving their problems, you earn kudos in the eyes of your prospect customers.
2. Pick the payment gateway that is right for your business
This could save you a lot of money but before you can benefit there are decisions to be made. Is the potential gateway supported by your e-commerce platform? How expensive is it? Do you want to offer PayPal payments? What about the security? Additional features?
It may seem overwhelming, but it’s a crucial decision to make. In the long run, a little research into payment gateway options can go a long way. It will cut future costs and save countless hours of stress. If you’re in the early stages of setting up an e-commerce business, schedule some time to take special care of this aspect.
3. Don’t invest in SEO before doing keyword research
This can be done by yourself, or you can pay an SEO agency to do it for you. Either way, you may discover in these early stages that an audience just doesn’t exist.
Consulting in the SEO field since the last ice age, I’ve seen this on many occasions. Sometimes your niche is just “too niche”. Whether it’s luxury slippers, collectible Slovakian cars, plastic fruit factories and anything in between. It’s not that your business idea is doomed. The products could sell, but the audience may be totally unaware of their existence at this very moment in history. If that’s the case (and you truly believe in what you have to offer!), invest resources in building the awareness of the product first.
4. Add a price promise
If you know, you’re not the cheapest, guarantee you’ll match the lowest price given by rivals. Adding that simple marketing ploy had a huge 9% impact on conversion rates of one major US-based sports goods retailers. Not bad for a minor change!
5. Build the trust
We’re all familiar with the tell-tale signs of credibility – trust badges, secure checkout, etc. According to an Actual Insights study, over 75% of shoppers declared that trust logos affect their sense of trust for a website. The same percentage of respondents also stated that on at least one occasion they didn’t purchase a product due to a lack of trust badges. Befriend Peter Norton now!
6. Make use of your Google Analytics internal search data
This powerful feature can be harnessed to create categories and landing pages for the most searched products. First of all, this will make you rank in Google for those terms. Secondly, people will be searching for the item they are interested in a lot quicker. This means fewer clicks, more conversions. What else do you need?
Sometimes we think we know exactly what our customer wants, and yet investigating the internal search terms in Google Analytics is often a big surprise for the business owner. Take for example a major UK & Europe based jeweler retailer that I worked with. They couldn’t believe that in the middle of the rubber band craze, their potential customers were strictly after dream catcher necklaces.
Or there was the aspiring clothing brand that was frustrated by their efforts to position themselves as posh and fancy, but the customer just wanted plus size dresses. Take it or leave it, at least you know what they really want! Even if it is, Disney princess costumes!
7. Display your physical location and phone number
New visitors that are unfamiliar with your brand will always shop with apprehension. It’s not surprising given we live in the ocean of digital spam and credit card misuse. Give them the reassurance they need with the possibility to pick up a phone and give you a call. This often overlooked no-brainer can be enough to increase the conversion rate.
8. Free Returns
It’s an obvious one, right?! That said, you’d be surprised how many online shops do not offer free returns. It’s shocking given the new age of shopping giants such as ASOS where free returns are a given.
According to Comscore, at least 51% of users expect this postage option, and 89% stated that they would use the shop again if the experience was seamless.
In the long term, it makes sense. Don’t lie to yourself: how many times have you returned £200 worth of clothes to ASOS because it wasn’t 100% perfect, only to spend this £200 back the following day? Indirectly you paid ASOS anyway in the delivery costs or even the prime membership service.
How many options..?!
9. Get your wording right
For international sellers, this is of particular importance. If you’re based in the UK, use the term ‘delivery’ instead of ‘shipping’ as the latter has connotations of delivery from further afield. Hence it gives the misconception of longer delivery times. It’s creating the image of a truck versus a plane (or even worse, a boat).
(if you are wondering – that’s the only video under “Truck VS Boat” we have found on YouTube. Something is telling me it might be a new niche to try out!)
10. Include estimated delivery time
This is self-explanatory. An option to select a delivery date would be even better but may not be practical.
11. Go where your audience hangs out
Rather than bringing your audience to you, why not start going to them via channels such as eBay or Amazon. You’ll have to pay commission, but it’s a good way to expand your reach and start to build a database.
12. Consider the lifetime value
Never think about your customers as a one-off sale. Instead, look at their lifetime value and the possibilities for repeats orders. In that way, you’ll be more proactive in communicating with your audience. Start building a database from day one and email your customers as often as possible.
13. Attend conferences
Cram your diary with as many e-commerce and digital marketing conferences as you can attend. If you’re serious about your online business, these meetings will provide you with everything you need to get to the next level. You’ll also meet other people within the sector and gain from their experience.
14. Use the best images
Always invest in professional photography. Product images will be seen both on the site and off-site (Google Shopping). Visually striking images could be the difference between someone purchasing and looking elsewhere.
15. Choose a platform wisely
Leaving the most important until last, it’s essential to take plenty of time when choosing your platform. For those at the early stages, be sure to think ahead. Will the e-commerce platform be able to scale/adapt as your business grows or do you want a starter platform? If you believe that long term, you’ll save costs as you won’t move from one to another.
Voila! There you have it. Make a big impact by changing petite. Try some of these tips and you won’t be disappointed.