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Boosting website conversion

Wednesday April 11 2012

Kevin Sparks, multichannel retail software expert, shares his five ‘top tips’ for increasing conversion rates and sales online   Shopping online has become part of our everyday lives. But as online use increases, Kevin Sparks, senior account manager at multichannel product search technology provider PrismaStar, said consumer expectations increase even faster – as does the amount of competition fighting for that consumer business.  

Kevin Sparks, multichannel retail software expert, shares his five ‘top tips’ for increasing conversion rates and sales online

 

Shopping online has become part of our everyday lives. But as online use increases, Kevin Sparks, senior account manager at multichannel product search technology provider PrismaStar, said consumer expectations increase even faster – as does the amount of competition fighting for that consumer business.

 

This is especially true in the UK, recently named the world’s most advanced e-commerce country, where online business accounts for 8.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) – more than any other country – and in 2010 alone, £121 billion was spent online, with sales increasing at 11% year on year, outstripping both inflation and most major online nations. By contrast, US online growth is predicted to be 5.4%.

 

Sparks said many companies have adopted traditional methods to try and improve user experience and increase conversion: 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,” he explained. “This will naturally increase conversion rates and sales – but how do you do this?”

 

1. Structured product data

Problem: 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 a site. This is even more important for technical products where features are complex and important, such as mobile phones or washing machines.

 

Solution: There are companies who can take a retailer’s product data then enrich, standardise and augment it, ensuring all data, attributes and values are recorded. This means that the website, and the user experience it offers, have strong, reliable foundations.

 

2. Alternatives to filter search

Problem: Most websites present their product catalogue through some type of filter-search technology. This filters results relevant to requirements, but limits choice. For example if you selected products from £10 - £30, you would miss a highly suitable product that was £31, because it was omitted from the results. This reduces conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

 

Solution: Alternatives to filter search technology exist, which sort and display all results in order of relevance, rather than eliminating them. This will improve user experience and increase conversion rates.

 

3. Targeted banner advertising

Problem: 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 increase conversion.

 

Solution: Use lifestyle and choice messaging: a product could be ‘Best for…something’ rather than just the ‘latest’ or ‘new’. Banners should be on key landing pages, providing choice and alternatives. Being creative and using AB or multivariate testing is paramount to a successful banner campaign.

 

4. Purchasing confidence

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

 

Solution: 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, and must be included at 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 e-commerce has been broken – never let a customer navigate away from the site.

 

5. Behavioural analytics

Problem: There is no ‘expert’ out there who can predict consumer behaviour accurately and consistently, so don’t try. Follow the best practice techniques used across the web, but more importantly refer to the analytics captured for your users and on your site.

 

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