The heart and soul of any e-commerce small business lays on website optimization. To succeed in selling products or services online you have to delve a little into human psychology and pinpoint those special features that can attract customers right onto the Purchase button.
For your website to be an effective seller, it basically has to meet two conditions: eye-catching branded design and a tight sales funnel.
A recent Forbes article shows that cutting out complex marketing interactions can actually boost sales and customer loyalty; people are grateful if you make the purchase decision simple for them.
The following ten steps make a clear, actionable plan that you can follow in optimizing your site for e-commerce success.
1. Keep your marketing promises
While you advertise, you create expectations. When people come to pick up the products from your website, everything they encounter should match those high hopes. Put harmony between email campaigns, social sharing, SEO, SEM and website design, to make sure everything is speaking the same voice – from design to coherent offer content throughout the channels.
2. Use a strong Unique Selling Proposition
Which is the exact human necessity that your products can fulfill faster and better than any others? Pinpoint this and you’ll have your brand definition that opens the gate to sales. Try to underline your strong points in catchy words, avoiding the worn-out superlatives and the puffery, and use the USP along with every piece of content on your website: landing pages, blog, FAQs. If you sell products that vary a lot in description, you can create a USP for each category.
3. Meaningful calls-to-action
We all know that any landing page has to display a big orange or green button that triggers conversions. In order to catch all the fish, the CTA buttons should guide people by telling them exactly what you want them to do on your page. Use the power of suggestion that words withheld: “Follow us!” for social media interaction, “Have a tour”, “Download gift” or even “Purchase now”. Do more than just ask people to follow you or buy from you: tell them why they should and how they can do it.
4. Less squeeze pages
People have grown to detect and elude any unwanted attempt of persuasion right from its inception, so never ever be pushy. According to a Focus research, it’s only the last third of the buying process that prospects actually want to engage with a sales representative. I am not a fan of squeeze pages that leave no way out beside a “sign up” or “buy” button. Most times, this strategy only delivers poorly qualified leads that don’t have a strong will to purchase but got registered by accident of curiosity and will seek the quickest way out.
5. Catchy on-page offers
“What’s in there for me?” This is the main thought of your potential customers, and you should give it an outstanding answer. Give clear information on what people are getting if they engage with you. Include benefits lists, special product features, and whitepapers on your website to make it clear that it’s a unique opportunity waiting to be seized.
6. Discount coupons
People love bargains; often, brand loyalty fails in comparison to a good price discount. Don’t let your prospects search somewhere else for coupons upon your products or you will lose them for price comparison sites. Give away online coupon codes occasionally on your social media pages and inside newsletters. The simplest way to let customers use the coupons is through an order form on your website where they can enter their personal data along with the code, then make the purchase and pay for it minus the given discount.
7. Effective lead gathering
To extend sales opportunities upon a wider segment of potential buyers, you need to build a network of leads to include in your future marketing campaigns. For this, each landing page should contain a web form where people can ask for further information upon your products or request a quote, while filling in their contact information. Keep the form short and sweet; only ask for lead information you are sure to use (email address of the prospect, his/her website URL etc). For a streamlined sales process, synchronize web forms with CRM systems to import leads automatically into the system once a user fills in the form.
8. Landing pages tailored to buyer personas
Let’s assume you are selling T-shirts with pictures of Madonna, Rihanna and Beyonce. You have two options: to rank your homepage for all three keywords (“Madonna T-shirt”, “Rihanna T-shirt” and “Beyonce T-shirt”) or to build a special landing page around each of them. What would be the best way? Obviously, if you have three separate pages you will have to perform SEO thrice, but in fact it’s the best alternative in which concerns user experience, because it removes clutter and cuts steps from the buying process. It’s always a good idea to carry customer surveys for determining people’s preferences and then create special bundles for each segment of public you are targeting, on dedicated landing pages.
9. Testimonials and reviews
When presenting your products, you have to build trust in the eyes of customers. Peer recommendations make one of the strongest motivations to purchase. You can either create a special section on your website where people may leave reviews, or go for a third party review hoster such as TrustPilot or Review Centre, where your customers can leave comments over your products and rate them with stars. Either way, show off your reviews in a visible spot of your pages, to convince newcomers that your products have a good reputation.
10. Friendly checkpoint (order form/shopping cart)
The main goal of your website is to direct people towards the page where they can complete the purchase, so make it easy for them to reach that spot and complete the transaction. You can use either a lightweight order form that synchronizes with payment gateways, or a shopping cart that requires users to register. Make sure you have a SSL encrypted connection for sensitive data transfer. Don’t forget to thank users for their purchase and be no less than professional in delivering it. Good luck!
About the Author: Laura Moisei writes for 123ContactForm, the web form builder that helps everybody create forms and surveys for each website or blog. From order forms to contact pages, users can build and customize fully-featured forms for any business.