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Retail and ecommerce websites have an average conversion rate of about 3 percent; professional and financial service professionals average 10 percent. Your conversion rate is all relative, of course. If you have 1000 visitors a day converting at 3 percent, that is much better than 10 visitors converting at 50 percent. But relative or not, every site wants to encourage more visitors to complete the CTA. Here are five easy ways to boost your conversion rate optimisation efforts.

 

 

Remember, CRO is all about user experience. Improving how users interact with and respond to your website helps convert more visitors to customers.

  • Reduce form lengths. This one change can increase conversion rates by up to 300 percent.  When creating your forms, think barebones: what is the absolute least that I can ask my customers and still get the vital information I need? Name, email, phone, address, are standard. Do you really need anything else? Keep in mind that the more questions you ask, the better visitors feel about bouncing.
  • Make it easy to sign in or check out. Adding social sign-in can push visitors the last few inches to becoming customers. Remove all barriers to signing in, signing up, or buying. In addition to making it easier on your customers, you get a wealth of invaluable data to help concentrate marketing efforts and spend. Another option is to offer Guest checkout so people don’t need to create an account.
  • Offer alternative payment options. With high-profile hacking stories dominating the news, consumers are understandably nervous about providing credit card information.  Today, your options are not limited to Paypal – though that’s a great one! Look into Google Wallet, Square (for iPhones and iPads), Amazon Payments, Bitcoin, and other services.
  • Remove clutter. You wouldn’t want to shop in a store that was packed floor to ceiling with junk. Neither do online customers. Again, ask, what do I really need? Get rid of extraneous images, extra text, and content that does not help you tell your story in a compelling way.
  • Craft engaging, clear CTAs. Ditch ambiguous calls to action (“Click here now!”) and replace them with clearly worded messages: “Download Now,” “Click for Free Sample,” “Buy.” Keep it simple and tell customers exactly what will happen when they click through.

Whether your current conversion rate is 2 percent or 10, improvements can have significant impacts on your business.

Count On Us

Who are the key visitors to your website? Who are you trying to attract, the crucial – and buying – audience that you want to engage with winning content? Most businesses have a general idea: i.e. we sell football shoes, so we ‘re targeting young athletes or older enthusiasts who star in weekend leagues. But they don’t go much beyond that. Creating user personas gives us an in-depth look at potential audiences, their needs, and potential strategies for converting them into customers.

A Quick Look at User Personas

A persona is a fictional representation of your very nonfictional audience. For instance, we might have Sue, the weekend football star. Your research tells you that this is a demographic you want to hit. Sue is a professional with limited free time. She has children, who also participate in sports, and she wants to be more active and healthy. She is value-conscious, but she also wants great quality. This persona:

  • Describes this type of visitor to your shoe site: mother, busy, professional.
  • Targets her motivation: health, wellness, activity.
  • Hits on her need: budget, value, quality.
  • Implies potential objections: cost of top shoes, time. For instance, time is an issue – so are returns easy and convenient? Is shipping fast?

With this information (and much more – you can flesh these personas out so they actually have an accompanying photo and dossier!), you can develop content and design your website in such a way that her needs are met. What’s more, because you have different demographics within your customer base, you can create a variety of realistic personas.

Creating User Persona

It all starts with research. Who are your users? Why are they visiting your site? What expectations and needs do they bring with them? Can you categorize users? With social media and the ease of UGC, you can collect this data from your customers directly with online surveys, through comments and reviews, emails, and feedback forms. Questions you want to answer:

  • Where do they live? What types of jobs do they have, and at what level? Primary gender? Level of education? Average income? Marital and family status?
  • What types of beliefs and values do they hold?
  • What are their interests, passions, and hobbies?  What are their motivations?
  • What are their most pressing worries or concerns? What are their goals?
  • What’s important to them in life? What is meaningful to them?
  • What behaviors do they want to encourage or change in themselves?
  • How do they view themselves?
  • What value can you give them?

Using this information, develop 4-5 personas, and put as much detail into them as possible. Make them real people. You are trying to sell your product or service to a live audience, not a figment of your imagination! Address their needs and concerns, while offering solutions.

By understanding your customer base, you can build content that meets their needs (not every piece will be directed at Sue, for instance, but you’ll cater to each persona in different ways), and you can begin to optimise content to make it easy and convenient for them to take the next steps.

Do you use user personas to help you make content and design decisions?

 

Colorful Tacks

Pinterest has achieved phenomenal growth in the last few years, but many businesses persist in believing it to be just a place for foodies to get new gluten-free recipes, thrifty parents to get ideas for budget-friendly birthday parties, or for crafty folks to get their newest idea. It’s great, they think, for individuals but not for our businesses. But consider this, Pinterest refers more people to websites than Yahoo. Admittedly, Yahoo is no Google, but this is a powerful reminder that there is an opportunity to be had. If you’re not pinning, maybe you should be.

Pinterest is the fourth largest traffic source in the world. It often referrs more people than Google+, Bing, and LinkedIn. Most of its users are women (some put the number as high as 80 percent) and most are between ages 24 and 34. Half have children. If these hit your target demographics, it might be smart to build a Pinterest presence for yours business. Here are some other statistics:

  • Pins with price tags get 36 percent more likes than those without.
  • 69 percent of users have found at least one item they have purchased or wanted to purchase.
  • Average users spend 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site.

That last stat is particularly remarkable. Over one hour – most sites are lucky if users stay for a few minutes. What the duration of the stay tells us is that users are engaged. They are being pulled in by great content, and they don’t have to “bounce” because they are finding information, comparisons, prices, and products that meet their needs.

If you think that Pinterest is of importance and value to your target audience, create an account. Here are some tips to help create a presence:

  • Set up a business account for a more professional, credible appearance. This will help boost consumer confidence in your brand.
  • Use Pinterest Analytics. In keeping with its status as a major traffic source, Pinterest offers Analytics. Track how many people are viewing and pinning from your website. You can also see the most popular “repinned” items to help you optimise your efforts and create better pins.
  • Think about hosting a contest. These are popular and can help highlight your content and your website. Make sure to read Pinterest’s Terms of Service before you start.
  • Be visual. Use images (that you create or that you have secured rights to) and infographics to appeal to Pinterest’s visual nature.
  • Know your audience. Pin only what you think they’ll be interested in. Doing some research is a great way to start. Not only should you get a sense of your “user personas,” you should look at what your competition is doing as well.
  • Take advantage of tools. There are now a variety of helpful tools to build and maintain a positive Pinterest presence. These include: Shopinterest (to set up shop in minutes); Repinly (info on top pins and boards); Pinstamatic (appealing boards); Pinpuff (measure influence); and Piqora (analytics and pin scheduling).
  • Spend an hour or so yourself pinning, repinning, and gathering information on what works, what doesn’t , what your business can do, and how you can reach your audience.

Does Pinterest make sense for your business? Are you already there?

 

Shaking Hands

One of the primary goals of content marketing, and indeed, all internet campaign efforts, is credibility. Your online brand is only as good as the trust that you build with your audience, and it is critical that you establish your integrity and authority, especially if you are asking for sensitive personal or financial information. How can you establish greater trust, and put customers at ease?

Trust seals can increase conversion rate optimisations: 86 percent of online shoppers feel more confident when they utilise sites that display the seals. According to research, the most well-respected trusted trust seals are: Norton Secured, powered by Verisign, McAfee Secure, and TRUSTe.

Let’s take a quick look at a Norton option: Secure Site Pro with EV SSL Certificates, for instance, gives you extended validation, green address bar (another visual for customers), 128-bit minimum to 256-bit encryption, and $1.5 million warranty and vulnerability assessment.  Your site will have that level of protection and security for users. McAfee Secure offers daily scans for hacker vulnerabilities and threats, proactive alerts to threats, remediation assistance, and unlimited technical support.

When you get these seals, you get more than a logo to put on your website. You get protection for your site, and for your customers.

In addition to trust seals, you can take other steps to help boost your credibility, including:

  • Posting authentic testimonials and customer reviews.
  • Display and provide links if you are mentioned in industry publications or by news organizations.
  • Create and prominently display a privacy policy, guaranteeing that customer information will never be sold, traded, or used for purposes other than stated.
  • Ensure the trust seals are displayed prominently.
  • Link to social media profiles to further establish a presence and to allow potential customers to engage with your online community.

Download Onscreen ButtonSEO, and search engine visibility, is just the first step. Conversion rate optimisation is focused on keeping visitors on your site and ensuring they complete the desired call to action, whether that is purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, or answering questions on a survey. Are your CTAs effective?

Calls to action tend to be relegated to afterthoughts on most websites. A small scale study of businesses presented by Small Business Trends found that 70 percent do not optimise CTAs on their home pages. More – 72 percent – do not have CTAs on their interior pages, and still more – 82 percent – do not mention their social media profiles. Most do not include vital information, such as phone numbers or email addresses; and if they do, they are not featured prominently.

A compelling call to action is essential but how do you go beyond “Contact us”?

  • Learn from the mistakes of these small businesses. Place CTAs in prominent locations and in interior pages. Make them noticeable: contrasting colors for your banners and buttons work. There is some conjecture that different colors – such as yellow and orange– are more eye-catching and apt to convert. You can get into A/B testing to determine that, but in the meantime, make sure they are highly visible.
  • Pair your CTA with your content. “Buy now” is often your ultimate goal, but does that make sense on an information or educational page? A more effective call to action would center around learning more, contacting you for further information, or downloading an ebook or whitepaper.
  • “Learn more” can be ambiguous. Make sure that your CTA tells the visitor exactly what action you would encourage them to take (which will be to their benefit, of course!). Make that value proposition clear. JetSetter does this: they may have a tidbit about an Italian vacation with a CTA button that reads, “Plan a trip like this.” The visitor knows what will happen when he clicks through, making it more likely that he will do so.
  • Inject some urgency. You need to do this now! Is the message, but how to word it? Spotify does a great job with this one: “Music is for every moment.” Then, under,  “Get Spotify for free.” It is inspirational – we have moments! We want music for them! Our very own soundtracks! – and it’s free. That never hurts.
  • Be very clear in your wording. “Buy now” is not earth shattering, but if visitors are on a product page, it only makes sense. When the tried and true works, use it.

Businesses tack on CTAs after carefully working through content strategies. This is a mistake. Spend time crafting your CTAs wording, design, and placement – and then track your analytics to see the difference it makes.

Shopping trolley  2

Abandoned shopping carts are a slap in the face; they are a reminder that you have done great work in getting customers to your site and leading them through the sales funnel. What you haven’t done, for whatever reason, is seal the deal with a purchase. There are a host of reasons for this: buyers might simply change their mind. They may navigate to other sites to compare prices and never return. You may spring unexpected charges, shipping fees, or laborious forms on them. These are all fixable elements of your CRO campaign that can help you convert future visitors. But what about those who have left items in their carts? Can you entice them back?

That is the goal of remarketing. You have probably experienced it yourself. Say you are on Amazon looking for swimwear. You wander away, and when you log into Facebook, you see an ad on the right side of the page for swimwear from, you guessed it, Amazon. Retailers are not allowed to use sensitive information in remarketing, but they can use information about customer interests and geography to target their audience effectively.

Google’s Dynamic Remarketing tool can help you customize ads and reach your customers. This will boost your conversion rate and eliminate a few of those abandoned carts. If you are a member of Google Merchant Center, you can use the Dynamic Remarketing tool to see an uptick in conversions. You will have to put the Dynamic Remarketing tag on each page of your site. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Find your remarketing tag. This will collect product information and the pages customers visit (product page, general visit, etc.). To do this, go to your AdWords account and click on Shared Library on the left. Select View in Audience section. You will now see a Remarketing Tag box at the top, and it will tell you if it is active or inactive. Click on the View tag details.
  • Assuming your tags are not active, select View remarketing tag and instructions. This will find your tag and instructions on how to add it to your website.
  • Here is a look at what that could will look like from Google (though not exact – you still have to find your own):

 

<script type=”text/javascript”>
/* <![CDATA[ */
var google_conversion_id = XXXXXXXXXX;
var google_conversion_label = "YYYYYYYYYY";
var google_custom_params = window.google_tag_params;
var google_remarketing_only = true;
/* ]]> */
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion.js”>
</script>
<noscript>
<div style=”display:inline;”>
<img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”" src=”//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/XXXXXXXXXX/?value=0&amp;label=YYYYYYYYYY&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0″/>
</div>
</noscript>

 

  • Now you have to add your custom parameters. These will be inserted on top of the tag. Google has a list of custom parameters you can add to properly identify your products and pages. You can see those here.
  • Add the code to each page of your website.
  • Next, create your remarketing lists in AdWords. Go to Shared Library > Audiences > New Audience > Remarketing List.
  • Create a List Definition. You can create lists for people who visit specific pages, specific products, the site in general, who completed a specific step of the process, or who meet other criteria. You can make as many lists as you like without the need for more coding.

The groundwork is now in place and you can design ads that capture – or recapture – the interest of your customers. This is a great tool from Google, and the search engine has a lot of information and instructions, so get coding!

Shopping trolley  2Cart abandonment is a staggering problem for every e-retailer. Research shows that 57 percent of online shoppers never intended to make a purchase as they were window shopping, and nearly three-quarters (74 percent) abandoned items because of shipping costs. Just one more statistic: 56 percent of consumers have left items in their carts because they intended to come back later and purchase. That is a substantial figure, and it is one that e-businesses can use to their advantage. Persistent shopping carts enable consumers to come back, find their nice full cart, and complete the transaction.

Ecommerce platforms like Maginus or Magento support persistent shopping carts. While the steps will be different depending on your platform, let’s go through Magento’s process to give you an idea of what it will look like:

  1. Log into your Admin panel. System>Configuration.
  2. On the left, find Customers and select Persistent Shopping Cart.
  3. From there, click on General Options.
  4. Select use when prompted to Enable Persistence.
  5. Next, you will set your preferences for Persistence Lifetime. The maximum is one year (31,536,000 seconds), and that is the default setting. You can shorten this to weeks or months, if you prefer.
  6. Under Enable “Remember Me” you can choose Yes, which will create a Login page checkbox that customers can click on if they want their cart information saved. If you choose No, customers won’t have that option, and their items will be saved by default.
  7. You also have a choice to make for Clear Persistence on Log Out. Yes means the cart information is cleared when registered customers log out. No means it is saved after logout.
  8. One more yes/no. Persist Shopping Cart. Yes means that a guest can log in or create a new account, and their information is there. The session cookie expires, but the persistent cookie does not. No means it is not retained after the session cookie expires.
  9. Save Config, and there you have it.

Persistent shopping carts can help reduce cart abandonment and enhance user experience. If a customer fills his/her cart, goes to another site to check prices, and pops back to your site, it is essential that the items be waiting. If not, they are unlikely to take the time to put them back in – especially if the competing sites retain the items!

 

eccommerce concept 3A businessperson’s work is never done. There is always optimising to be done, whether you’re working on your site’s navigation, your keyword strategy, your content offerings, or your ecommerce site. Optimising your product pages is key because it allows potential customers to access the information they want – and be enticed by your products.

To ensure that your product pages are working their hardest for you:

  1. Use clear, focused images of your products. Make sure they are original or that you have secured permission from their owners. It is best to get high-quality shots of real people using the product and to ensure you have multiple angles. The good news is that if you cannot afford a professional photographer, you can take these pictures with a decent camera.
  2. While you’ve got the camera going, add video. If having video for each product is unfeasible then produce them for your top selling products – or those that are up-and-coming. People want the next big thing, so show it to them. Video content could be a box opening, a quick how-to, a testimonial, or other attention-grabbing format. It doesn’t have to be blockbuster  quality; but clear and professional is a must.
  3. Create clear product descriptions. Include most important features, bullet points, a quick summary, a more detailed description, and links to important information, such as shipping, returns, and FAQs. Don’t try to “sell” the product; just tell about it.
  4. Make sure the price is clearly listed. Price should be readily apparent. But don’t forget the shipping. Often, shipping prices come as a surprise when we’ve gone to our carts to check out. Make sure your customers know this information ahead of time to cut down on abandoned carts. Shipping calculators are always a great idea.
  5. Notify of restocking. If a product is out of stock but you are planning on restocking, let visitors opt in to receive an email when it is back. Then, when you have their email address for this purpose, do not abuse it. If they have signed up to receive updates or newsletters, fine. If they have not, don’t consider this license to send them any other emails.
  6. Encourage reviews. Make it easy to leave a rating or review. This is great user-generated content for search engines, and other customers trust these highly.

Your product pages are just one element of your overall site, but they are crucial to your success. Spend some time making your online store as inviting and helpful as you would a physical location.

 

Sale WebbuttonIt is estimated that UK shoppers will spend £87 ($138 billion) online this year, up from £78 ($123.7 billion) from 2012. It’s no surprise that mobile devices have pushed the trend. We love the convenience, ease, and ability to shop anytime, wearing any sort of pyjamas we like. Consumers hop on their favorite ecommerce sites, but they also frequent comparison shopping engines (CSE) so they can quickly compare product offerings, prices, shipping options, and more. Google Shopping, Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and other engines make it easy for consumers – but do they make it easy for merchants? Being noticed is difficult. These comparison shopping engine optimisation tips can help.

  • Watch the competition. Make sure your pricing and benefits are competitive. Consumers will be looking at them as a group, and you need to show that you are the best choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean lowest price; in fact, many consumers will eschew the lower price for the better shipping and return policies.
  • Be clear, concise, and original. Write detailed descriptions that accurately portray your products and benefits. Don’t just use the manufacturer’s description, and use keywords that your audience is actually looking for.
  • Choose the right CSE. Look for ease of use and cost, of course, but also make sure you’re listing on the engines that are most friendly to your product (and on which your competition is listing!). Also look for reviews and choose CSEs with high conversion rates.
  • Make sure your product information is up-to-date, old products are removed, and new ones added to the mix. Managing your feed is essential, and you can do it manually or with the help of a service.
  • Monitor your performance to get a sense of your ROI, and make adjustments as needed. This is an ongoing process.

About one-third of purchases are initiated with CSEs. It is a huge opportunity for merchants to gain visibility and, of course, profitability!

 

Weather you are planning to start your online shop or you already have one, we’ve selected for you four very helpful web tools that have the potential to increase your online business success.

Shopping Cart

Order eCommerce

OpenCart is a great shopping cart tool for those who host and manage their own eShop. It gives you more control and customization, while it is not quite as complex and resource-hungry as other similar providers. OpenCart has multiple features and is easy to use, search engine friendly and with a visually appealing interface. The costs are quite reasonable and it offers thousands of high-end eCommerce themes. Other relevant features are: multi-currency, multi-language, product reviews, product ratings, unlimited categories, unlimited products, unlimited manufacturers, 20+ payment gateways and 8+ shipping methods.

 

Comprehensive Dropshipping Database

Comprehensive worldwide dropshipping

 

Worldwidebrands.com is a database of 100% genuine Dropshippers and Light Bulk Wholesalers that are willing to work with small online sellers. It represents millions of top-level wholesale products from thousands of certified dropshippers and bulk wholesalers that you can use for your online store or auctions. These are the same suppliers used by some big retail stores around the world. A new online seller won’t have to worry about falling for the countless wholesale scams that are everywhere on the web.

 

Web Chat Software for online shops

Say hello to your customers, ZopimZopim embeds a chatbar on your website, so that any visitor can chat with you directly by clicking on the chatbar. Just like in a real shop, Zopim allows you to have live conversations with visitors on your website. You can engage and satisfy visitors, and by doing so, you convert them into loyal customers before they move on to the next site! It’s reasonable priced (also features a free simple version), and can be easily used by placing a customizable chat widget on your website. You can start having genuine conversations with visitors within minutes.

 

Online Accounting Tool

Easy to use web based accounting toolYou need to count your hard-earned online money and one of the best web solutions is Xero. They pride themselves for being the world’s easiest accounting software. It connects to your bank accounts, and imports and categorizes your latest banking, credit card and PayPal transactions. It also connects with your customers, manages cash flow by scheduling bill payments and sending invoices automatically.

Xero manages all aspects of your business by picking from a range of powerful add-ons for CRM, inventory, timesheets and job management, plus other specialized tools. And then there are payrolls, fixed assets, expense claims, budgets, complete financial reporting – all done when and where you need it: at work, home, or on the go.