After traffic generation, goal conversion is at the forefront of most webmasters agenda. You can receive as much traffic as you like but unless your site converts the visitors into goal conversions, the traffic is relatively useless. Once you have managed to get a visitor to your site, it’s a ‘cardinal sin’ to waste that visit with poor converting landing pages. Most of your websites direct traffic will arrive on the websites homepage, it’s not unusual for the homepage of a site to be a major exit point. Most traffic analysis packages will tell you how long a visitor has been on your site as well as what page they exited from. If your homepage is producing a lot of visitor exits with short visit times your homepage may have a retention problem and if this is the case, it must be addressed.
Making sure the pages of your site load quickly. Probably the biggest single offence is a slow loading home page, which can scare off potential customers before your site has a chance to convert the visit into a sale. More than 10 seconds is far too long and you may lose half your visitors before they are presented with a single page from your site. I’ve seen hundreds of home pages that are crammed tight with every product the company sells. This is a mistake, overfilling your homepage slows it down and also bombards your visitors with an overload of information.
Good navigation – make sure your site is easy to navigate, if you sell multiple products create a good category structure so all your products are as easy to find as possible. Put yourself in your customer’s situation, if they arrive on your site looking for a specific product, does your site provide a logical way to navigate the customer to the product page they are looking for? Try to consider each of the products you sell and from any normal entry-page to your site how easy and intuitive the site makes it for your customers to navigate to the product page for which they are looking.
Good visual experience – fast loading informative pictures, pictures tell a thousand words, remember to take full advantage of this very descriptive medium. I have instances where I have changed a product picture making it more eye-catching and descriptive and the sales per page visit has increased from 1% to 1.5%. Therefore, the change produced 5 extra sales per 1000 product page visits. This is an excellent return for about 30 minutes work and on the basis that this product receives on average 1000 page visits per week; it is still producing a sustained increase in income.
Remember to optimize your images; it’s possible to create high quality images with relatively small file sizes. Failing to optimize your images will result in slow loading pages. Most graphics packages will allow you to reduce the resolution of your images without significantly detracting from the visual quality.
Good information – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no substitute for good content. Where products are concerned this means thorough, meaningful and honest descriptions.
Good product range – It stands to reason that you probably won’t have any visitors to convert if your product range is poor or not suited to internet sales.
Deep linking - if your site is attracting traffic from visitors who subsequently fail to find the information or product they originally clicked for, the links bringing the visitors to your site may not be deep linked. Try to make sure that your incoming links take the visitor directly to the information or product of interest.
Competitive Pricing – Again it stands to reason, if your prices are significantly higher than your competitors and you offer no incentive or benefit for customers to shop with you over the competition, your site will struggle to produce sales.
Furthermore, in my experience if your customers need to phone to find out how much an item costs, they probably won’t bother. I believe a retail site should clearly advertise product prices. Most of the sites I’ve been involved with are ‘What-You-See-Is-What-You-Pay’ sites, so the customer pays the advertised price and not a penny more (unless there are exceptional requests like shipping to the other side of the world!). We obviously make sure the visitors are aware that the price is as stated at every opportunity.
Give your customers a good reason to shop with you, consider what internet sites you purchase from and contemplate the reasons why you use them, then where appropriate, try to incorporate the best aspects of these sites into your own.