35 Steps to Increase Your Website Conversion Rate & How to Implement Them
If you have, a website chances are, you are trying to sell something to someone. “Wow, this guy must be a mind reader.” I hear you sarcastically thinking. While for most website owners that’s a pretty obvious statement, there are many factors that go into a customer’s decision to make their purchase from your website. Recent studies suggest that the average ‘bounce rate’ (‘bounce’ is the term given to a visitor who lands on your website and leaves without performing another action). Currently, the average bounce rate according to Mashable is hovering around 50%. While that statistic is an ‘ouch’ moment, it is also represents a great opportunity to increase revenue without the need to increase visitors.
In this blog post, we are going to cover 35 steps to increase your website conversion rate & how to implement them. At the end of this post, you will understand what website optimisation is, what you need to do to your website and how you can get it done. The end result will be increased sales making you more money.
- What is website conversion rate?
- 35 steps to increase your website conversion rate & how to implement them
- Formulas to use that will increase conversions
What is website conversion rate?
Website conversion rate is the % of visitors that land on your site and then make a purchase. You can set any time parameters you choose, but a month will give you a good set of data. It can be simplified by using this formula.
- Sales ÷ Visitors x 100 = Conversion Rate (Expressed as a Percentage)
Once we know our conversion rate (in the above example it’s 12.5%) we can then work towards optimizing our website and use this data to show us if we are succeeding. So in this example, optimization could increase sales from 1 sale per 8 visitors to 3 per 8 visitors, giving you a new conversion rate of 37.5% or 66% increase. Optimization ‘scales’ so we could assume that an increase in traffic to your website would result in the same conversion rate 37.5% meaning you are essentially tripling your revenue! Hands up who want to triple their website revenue! If the answer is yes, then read on. If you have read my book Mommies Making Money Online, you will recall the chapter Trust – Who Do You Trust? In this chapter, we discuss the formula that must be mentally ticked off in the customer’s mind before they handover their hard earned cash.
Like – A customer needs to like you, your website and your products before they can move to the next step in the buying process. Like can be hard to gain instantly and is often built through social media channels, email newsletters offering advice and tips or answering product questions via phone, email, chat or social.
Trust – Gaining someone’s trust instantly through a website is one of the hardest things to do. You may have gained a small amount of trust while your potential customer went through the first stages of the sales equation ‘like.’ But once they are on your website if you don’t gain their trust immediately they will just ‘bounce.’ So how do we gain instant trust? We’ll there is no one magic bullet. Trust is gained through a large list of items, and we will go over these soon.
Buy – Tick the like, nail the trust and you will hear the cash registers ringing.
35 steps to increase your websites conversion rate & how to implement them:
Let’s work through the 25 steps to increase your websites conversion rate & how to implement them. Let’s break them down into simple categories:
- General Optimizations
- Trust Optimizations
- Building Authority
Mobile optimized responsive website – I have this first as it’s probably the most important. Facebook reports that approximately 50% of its users, are on mobile then one can assume that a large portion of your website traffic will come from mobile. Your website may be a work of art on a desktop computer but if it sucks on mobile then, you are losing half your audience possibly more. Make sure your site is built using a responsive theme. New devices will constantly be appearing with different sized screens. A responsive site does just what it says. It responds to the screen it is being viewed on. Create a compelling and clear value proposition-A value proposition is a guarantee of value from you to the customer. It’s the main reason visitors should take action on the page. It’s what defines your company in a split second and can make or break you at the first-entry point. Remember a visitor can enter your website from many doors. A value proposition that is viewable only on the home page can be missed by someone arriving via a blog post. Make sure to have a value proposition somewhere easily visible on all pages like the header or above the fold to the right of the screen. A value proposition should clearly explain what problem it is your website solves and what are the outcomes from buying from your company. Include what makes your product or service better than others. Read more in a great post here. Re-targeting – With over 50% of your visitors bouncing from the first page they visit (note this number can fluctuate wildly depending on your industry) it make sense to drop a cookie into their browser and follow them around the internet until they see the error in their ways and comeback to shop with you. Sure some people find this annoying and intrusive, but it’s the people who come back and complete the sale that make re-targeting a must have addition to any advertising schedule. Set-up a sales funnel-If you just meet someone on the street, and the first thing they say to you is “buy this thing.” What do you do? That’s right you normally walk away quickly. If the door to door salesperson knocks on your door and immediately starts selling you something, you close the door in his face. Why do we do this? Simple, they haven’t followed the simple formula like, trust, buy. If you think you will make sales immediately you are mistaken. Buyers require multiple touch points before committing to a sale. One of the best ways to start a dialogue with your potential customers is to set up a sales funnel. A sales funnel should start with you offering something in return for the prospects email address. Once you have them in your sales funnel you can begin a strategy of offering them advice and information and identify problems that your ‘thing’ can solve. Build a long term lasting relationship through your sales funnel and achieve a customer for life. Far more profitable that a one-time purchase. Email capture – With all the advances in technology it’s surprising to learn that email marketing it still by far the most cost effective form of marketing. Nearly all the ‘gurus’ will teach you to grow your list and reap the long term rewards. It’s like compound interest for the internet. Ensure you have an email capture form on the homepage about the fold and make sure to offer something that will serve as a value exchange. You give me your email address, and I promise not to abuse the privilege. In return, I will give you instant gratification with this ‘digital thing’ that will help solve the problem for you and may make you money. Boom ‘value exchange’ right there. Auto Responder– Once you gain a visitor’s email (note I did not say customer, they are not a customer yet…they are still a prospect) you should have a set strategy to send them a series of automatic autoresponder emails. Auto-responder emails are great, as they will send a predetermined series of emails to your new email subscriber. If you had been clever and made sure to identify problems and then provide solutions with the next email then, you will build the like + trust = buy formula. Abandoned cart automatic email – Many visitors will make it all the way to the shopping cart, fill in their details and not finish the order. Called an ‘abandoned checkout’ and is one of the most infuriating things a website owner will experience. They are so close to the sale yet they don’t handover the money. Abandoned checkouts can occur for many reasons but are usually the result of a customer getting distracted, or the customer using you for a price comparison or just browsing. Either way having the ability to identify these customers, contact them and then entice them to return, can increase your conversion rate significantly. There are many tools available for cart abandons but make sure you install one that allows you to customize the emails sent out and also customize the length of time before they are sent. You should also look for a service that will send an automated link that returns the customer to their pre-filled card with all their details and perhaps even include a small discount coupon. Make it easy for them to return, and you will gain a percentage back increasing your conversions. Live Chat – Live chat is popping up everywhere. ‘Why?’, because it works. Websites that are unattended are a thing of the past. Sure everyone dreams of lying on a beach and having the sales roll in and yes that is still very possible. But if by lying on the beach you are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue then that is one expensive holiday. Live chat widgets are simple to install, and a small amount of customisation can make them an invaluable part of your sales force. Not only can answering a browsers question straight away lead to a sale but up-selling via a chat widget is a breeze. Back in stock notification – Out of stock of a particular item? Showing an item that is out of stock is just annoying. Either remove the item till it’s back in stock or offer a backorder system or a simple email me when this item is back in stock can result in a good percentage of customers who are happy to wait. Closed Checkout – You have done all the hard work, and the customer is in the checkout process. But they see a distracting link and click it. For whatever reason they don’t complete the sale. You don’t make any money. It’s bad news for everybody. Remove any unnecessary distractions during the checkout process, and you will increase conversions, simple. FAQ Section – I always find myself searching through the FAQ section of the website before I make a purchase. Sometimes I’m not looking for an answer to my question but I just know I will find useful information in this section. Compiling a good FAQ section can help in a number of ways. Ultimately it should answer your customer’s reservations and also it can cut down on customer service time. When working out what to put in this section it might be a good idea to survey some friends and write down the questions they have about your products or services. Make sure to add to it each time you answer a question from a customer that was not in the FAQ. Try and order it from the most common questions to the least common and make sure to have links back to your sales page. Directions to your chat widget are also good here. Behind the scenes photos and videos – These are great for use on social media and to convey to your customers that you are more than a faceless brand. Think the ‘outtakes’ at the end of movies or TV shows. They are always popular because humans like to see unscripted reality. Just taken hold of a large shipment of something? Take a snap and post it on your Facebook or Instagram account. Doing a photo shoot? Take shots of the models and make sure to include the cameras in the frame. Videos – Video has exploded on the internet and with bandwidth and internet speed increasing every year the use of video will increase exponentially. So it makes sense to start using it sooner rather than later. Video can be used in many ways to increase conversions. You don’t have to be a movie star to make cheap, professional looking videos for your physical products in the form of features and benefits, product reviews. You could add a video on your website homepage to automatically open to first time visitors and explain your website value proposition. With YouTube being the world’s second largest search engine, you should start and account and get videoing today. More about the use of video here. Recommended Products – Recommended products is a no-brainer. Much like the clever sales assistant in your local clothes store a good website should always provide recommended products and complimentary products automatically. Buying a computer, perhaps you might like a USB storage device or bag for the computer. Make sure you only offer products that are compatible with the initial item e.g. offering a computer bag that doesn’t fit the computer will make your company look amateur. A good system could increase your average cart size by 40%. Reward Points – Reward systems work when administered well. Make sure you have clear terms and conditions when running a rewards programme and make sure your rewards are worthwhile. If your rewards are crap, you can do more harm than good offering this system. Selling Features in the Header – The website header is often the most view space on a website. Try and make the header consistent and showcase your three best reasons someone should buy from you. Consumers like nothing better than a website that offers free shipping and nothing conveys trust more than free returns. Put these two things together, and you clear a path to purchase nicely. Strong Add to Cart Button – Your aim is to sell things, right? The why hide the main mechanism to a customer buying that thing? A strong, clear, highly visible add to cart button is a simple tweak that can make a huge difference to your sales. Consider adding another add to cart button on the page. One at the top and one at the bottom even another in the middle if you have a really long copy sales page. Wish-list – We know most customers don’t buy on the first-visit and some make multiple visits before converting to a sale. Consider a wish-list option on your website. A wish list allows a customer to fill their cart with more items than they will probably buy, but it also lets them come back to the cart after their website session expires. We always find buyers return on pay day so to make them add items again could reduce the amount they buy or worse they will forget you and not return. A well configured wish-list allows the customer to add items and return to them with little barriers to entry. It’s wise to collect an email address here as this allows you the option to send the customer updates about their wish-list and even discounts should they buy everything in their cart. Make sure to test the viability of a wish-list as we found it delayed purchase in some cases. Different Payment Options – Customers like to pay how they like to pay. It’s not up to us to define what methods of payment are acceptable. The more methods of payments, the more payments we will get. Unless you are selling such small quantities or have such small margins that the fees from having multiple payment options outweigh the benefits from the additional revenue then you should add as many payment options as possible. Paypal and credit cards are an obvious must but what about lay-by, hire purchase or even bitcoin? I have even heard of a company that accepted cash from a guy who was scared of credit cards. Also consider taking payment from customers outside of your website. If you are selling physical products, you might want to organise an event and take payments from customers with an actual checkout. Shopify the leader in e-commerce offers a real cash register that links to your website via a tablet. Scarcity – Nothing can hurry a purchase better than the fear of missing out. Communicate the scarcity of your product clearly to your customers and watch the sales roll in. Be careful to be honest here if your customer feels that you are hustling them they will take their business elsewhere for ever. Lots of product photos – Have you ever been looking at an item you wanted to purchase, and they had only one image or perhaps two? Websites limitations are normally that you only see a 2D version of the product. In a physical store, you can view multiple angles and make a fully informed decision. Counterbalance this lack of detail with multiple images. The images should also be of a high quality (not a large file size though as this will slow your site speed) and ideally done by a professional photographer. The better quality the images are and the more you have of them, the more items you will sell. Long product description – Using a short, sweet product description may sound nice to you; it’s highly possible a customer will want as much info as possible. You should always give the customer what they want as they will mentally check off in their head all the features and benefits of the product and why they want to buy it. Long copy doesn’t have to look dreadful or be painfully boring to read. Make a list of all the features and benefits of the product or service you are selling, and then go about writing a section about each. Make sure to place multiple buy buttons after each section and be sure to include a widget that shows the customer that there is more info below the fold of the page, or they will bounce. Here is a good post on short copy vs. long copy. Remember your goals are to sell things so test long copy and test short copy on different products and use what sell more! Make sure to use correct grammar as this often overlooked process is an instant destroyer of trust. Use a service like Grammarly to look like a pro writer.
Product Spinning – Have you heard of product spinning? Possibly not but I’m sure we will see more of it. Product spinning is the term given for the 360-degree view of the product on the internet. You simply use your mobile phone with a downloadable app, set the product down on a spinning turntable with appropriate lighting and film the product until it completes a 360-degree rotation. The clever little app converts it to web code that you simply paste onto your website and voilà, the customer can view the item in a 360-degree view. This is great for items of clothing and has even been used to spin cars. See an example here.
Clearly sectioned product descriptions – The human brain likes order. A huge product description with everything in the one page can create an information overwhelm and this in turn will make the website visitor bounce off the site. Clearly define your product descriptions with the use of tabs. Product details, reviews, FAQ, Shipping & Returns. A/B Testing – A/B testing is the process of identifying the part of your website that could be improved, but rather than using guesswork you implement a rigorous testing cycle called A/B testing. Essentially you take one part of your website let’s say the home page main image and then using software change out that image with another different one. Use the software, and over a week, then compare the two images using a predefined set of goals perhaps the click through rate and then the image with the highest click through rate is deemed the winner, thus optimising that part of your website. A/B testing is never over as you continuously run tests with the winner aiming to use the best converting images, buttons, layout or whatever it is you are testing. You should only ever run one test at a time so you can be sure in your findings. Remember test, test and test again. Site Speed – Did you know slow site speed i.e. the time it takes for your website pages to load is a major contributor to website bounce rate? It is also a factor in Google’s page rank algorithm, meaning your SEO can be affected inversely as well. So it’s a pretty big deal to make sure you have a website that loads quickly. Elto.com offers a special service to optimize your page load time here.
About us page – The about us page is one of the most popular pages on any website. If a visitor can’t get an instant understanding of who or what your website is about from the home page then the ‘about us’ page is probably the next place they will go. Structure you’re about us page depending on your audience. Don’t show an image of you mud wrestling if you are selling financial products but equally show a picture of you mud wrestling if you are a website about creating parties. Try and make it personal with a photo of the owners and staff bios. Spelling and grammar should be absolutely clear. Add a video about your company at the top. Get it made professionally as an amateur job will lose you the trust and respect of the browser instantly. Trust signals on product pages – Earlier in this piece we explained the formula of like + trust = buy. One of the simpler ways to convey trust is with images on the product page. Would you trust a company who offered free 30-day returns? Money back guarantee, and also had a secure site? The answer is yes; well let’s just say your level of trust would be exponentially higher than a site without these trust indicators. Product reviews – Product reviews are social proof. People like to see that others are buying from the same company. They factor that as long as others are buying then the product service must be good. It’s probably the next best thing other than their friend telling them your product service is great. Make sure to ask every person for a review. There are many automated review systems, but the one we love is called Yotpo. Prominent Contact Details – Not only does Google require it, but having your contact details prominently displayed is an instant trust builder. We are surprised by how little people will use our traditional phone number to call. They mostly seem to prefer chat but by having them prominent you send a strong signal that you are a business that will be around and is open to talking. We convert a large number of phone calls to sales, and the up selling opportunities can be limitless. Favicon – A favicon is a small image normally 16x16px that is viewable in the browsers address bar. It’s like a small logo and in the age of multiple pages being open at one time allows the user to easily differentiate between say Facebook and your website. The name comes from a blending of the words favorite and icon. It’s such a small insignificant thing how can it possibly help to increase your conversions I hear you asking. Well, every little optimization helps and if having a favicon allows the user to click back to your site over another one or gives them a slightly higher feeling of trust then the favicon has done its job. Take a look at the big boys favicon’s and try and design one that stands out. Use this free tool and make one yourself.
Media and Awards – Awards and media mentions are badges of credibility. Displaying the brands that you have appeared on or in are further signals to your website visitors that your brand is to be trusted. Make sure the icons you display actually link to a piece of video you appear in or the article that you are mentioned. Going about gaining these badges is another story but can be achieved by utilising an influencer outreach strategy. I used this service within Elto.com here. Write a blog – I can’t think of a single website that couldn’t benefit from a blog. A blog should be a collection of relevant, constantly updated content that your audience can engage with and share. Done well it will be you a steady flow of traffic, will help your SEO, will endear you to your readers, and Google will love you long time! The hardest thing about getting a blog is filling it with content but once you sit down and think about what your audience will like to read about you should be able to think of a hundred topics to write about. There are many services available to write your blog posts for you if you need help, but remember to check through each one if you are publishing under your own name. Guest post – ‘Guest posting’ means writing a blog entry for another website. Seems like a waste of your time? Not at all, guest posting on another website will gain you authority on that site and also gain you exposure to that website’s audience. Make sure to include a link(s) back to your website, and Google will look favourably on you as well. Called ‘back-linking’ this is the way Google intended it, not thousands of links on dodgy sites. Work out a reciprocal deal, and you will have a blog post written for you as well, killing two birds with one stone. Free traffic and free content! That has to be good in anyone’s book! Write a book – Not an easy thing to do agree, but if you take it step by step writing on a subject relevant to your niche you could find yourself with a best seller in no time or at the very least use your new found authority as an author to help conversions. If you have made it to the end of this post then I salute you. Unless you have the perfect website (and no-one does!) you will already have a strong idea what needs to be changed and implemented on your website. Don’t get overwhelmed. Make a list of the things you can do yourself and just pick them off one by one. You will have seen links along the way to services to help you achieve these optimizations and I encourage you to use them. If you would rather it be dealt with all at once you could look to an outside project manager to handle the whole process for you at a fixed cost. I would look at the following:
Personally we use Elto.com for nearly all our website tweaks and strategy. They have fixed price offerings or you can use the custom quote-form here to have a quote prepared for you. I encourage you to try and make a good amount of these changes yourself to save money but with 35 steps to increase your website conversion rate listed here it makes sense to get the professionals in, especially for something that so directly relates to the increase in revenue.
One thing is for sure, if you do nothing then nothing changes. Make today the day you take action to improve your websites conversion rate and start to reap the benefits of a fully optimized site. I would love to hear your comments, let me know things I have missed or additional optimizations. Please use what you can and make sure to share this with friends and colleagues.