Ways to Increase Web Site Conversion
wonderful to get all those hits to your e-commerce web site, hits
don’t mean much unless you convert them into sales. This is
especially true if you are paying for, and not converting, clicks.
If your website is
suffering from the “Conversion Rate Blues”, consider the following
steps for improving sales and ultimately, profits:
1. Make sure your
website is optimized to attract people with the highest potential to
When I first
designed my log furniture website, Log Cabin Rustics, I unwittingly
targeted an audience that wasn’t the perfect one for my site. As
things turned out, I didn’t even rank for my two top key phrases,
log furniture and log beds, in the search engines. I managed to get
pretty high on the scale, however, for log cabin related searches.
People who build
log cabins are a target market of mine, since many of them
eventually purchase log furniture to go with their home. The most
likely immediate customers, however, are those who actually searched
for the term “log furniture” rather than “log cabin”. When I
re-optimized my site for the search terms I thought would bring the
highest conversion rate, visitors to my site were more likely to buy
because my site was selling what they were searching for. My efforts
paid off, when my conversion rate (and sales) doubled in the month
or two following my changes.
2. Add a personal,
trustworthy touch to your site
I don’t personally
care to have my picture posted on the front of my website, although
many people do. I do have my name prominently on the site, together
with information about why I sell log furniture and my business
background as a CPA. I have found that a personal touch goes a long
way towards selling log furniture. Many of my customers spend
$2,000, $3,000 or even $4,000 on their log furniture order, and some
of them have waited years to get the furniture they want.
They didn’t find
what they wanted in their local area (they must not have many white
cedar trees in Texas), but they found it on my site. There’s just
one problem, however. They wish they could touch the furniture,
slide the drawers in and out, look for drips in the finish, and
generally evaluate the quality before the drop that kind of money. I
have had people drive 4-6 hours to visit my store on more than one
occasion for that very reason, and frankly, I don’t blame them. I’m
pretty picky about my furniture too.
This is where I can
help my customers. I use primarily local suppliers, and finished
furniture that I sell is finished right in our building. I can and
do inspect much of the furniture before it goes out. Our finishing
department does a pretty good job, but if I see something I don’t
like, I have them sand it down and get it right.
Some people I sell
furniture to place their order online or with one phone call, but
many of them talk to me several times before they place their order.
They start to feel like they know me, and I start to feel like they
are my friends. The last thing I want to do is ship a suite of log
furniture from Michigan to Caifornia and have it come back because
the customer isn’t happy. And I don’t want to let down my friends.
When customers understand this, they trust me to deliver what my
site promises, and that translates into sales.
There are many ways
you can build trust in your website. When I realized my conversion
rate was not what it could or should be, I went out and researched
the topic on the web. By reading a number of SEO articles on the
topic, I came up with a checklist of things to do on my site. My
• giving name and
contact information for the owner of the site • telling a personal
history of the business • showing pictures of your factory, office,
semi-truck or anything else that makes your business real. If
possible, give an online office or factory tour. • getting a secure
security certificate and posting it on your site, and • posting a
3. Include a
detailed FAQ on your site
A detailed FAQ that
answers just about every conceivable question can do much to improve
customer confidence in your site. Many people are quite methodical
in their product research. They may be looking at my site at 3 in
the morning, have a question, and want an answer NOW. Otherwise they
will migrate on to a competitor who has both the information and
product they are looking for.
I am continually
tracking the questions people ask and modifying my site to make sure
it answers those questions. That way people can get answers to the
most common questions right away, and I don’t spend time answering
the same questions over and over again.
While a good FAQ is
a great time-saver for the person who has to answer those questions,
it also gives site users the impression that your site is
well-thought-out, that you care about their questions and will take
time to answer them thoroughly. You can build trust in your website
by having relevant product-related content throughout the site as
well, but there’s nothing like a well-planned FAQ to assist in
4. Make Your
Shopping Cart Easy to Use
I’ve had a little
trouble with my shopping cart from time to time. It seems that if I
modify the header for my site, and put in a link that says “http:”
instead of “https:”, the secure part of my shopping cart pops up an
error message with every click of the mouse. Take it from the voice
of experience—this is not conducive to sales.
If your sales are
clicking right along, then suddenly drop into the abyss, it’s a good
idea to go out and place a test order. I’m embarrassed to say that
in my busy-ness, I’ve had to have a customer inform me of how very
difficult it was for them to place an order. Upon investigation, I
have found several times that something had gone wrong on my site.
In addition to
making sure your shopping cart is fully functional and doesn’t
return error messages, it pays to have a shopping cart that is easy
to use. I am not an affiliate for Clickbank, but whenever I buy an
e-book from someone who is using their service, I am always
impressed with how smooth and quick the online transaction is. There
have been other times when I really wanted to purchase something,
but some little glitch in the shopping cart wouldn’t let me proceed
with the order, and nearly drove me to distraction.
As a customer I
always think to myself, “if these people can’t get their website to
work, how do I know they can ship me an order?” As a webmaster or
mistress, you certainly don’t want to be on the receiving end of
such thoughts—and you can prevent it by making sure your website
shopping cart is easy to use, and testing it every now and again to
make sure it’s working properly.
5. Give Free
Shipping or Make a special offer
This might seem
like a no-brainer, but it really does work. I used to give away a
free rocking chair to anyone who bought a suite of log bedroom
furniture, and you’d be surprised how many customers I had say to me
“I just love the idea of getting something free!” At the moment, I
give a 5% discount for the purchase of multiple items. That might
not sound like much, but its $100 on a $2000 order and many people
are glad to have it.
I also include free
shipping in the continental 48 states. This makes it much easier for
people to know the exact cost of the furniture. I used to have
people people contact me to see how much shipping would be, then I
would estimate the cost of the furniture they wanted, contact
several freight companies for a quote, re-contact the customer, etc.
Free shipping makes everything so much easier, and it really seems
to appeal to my customers too.
I’m sure there are
other quality ways to build people’s confidence in your site—thereby
increasing both conversion rate and sales. Some of my friends have
Better Business Bureau seal on their sites, or participate in
BizRate or other rating services. I haven’t tried any of these yet,
so I can’t speak for them. But I have learned from experience that
people want to know you are a real person with a real business. They
want to know that you care enough to answer their questions, they
want a smooth shopping process, and they really do like special
In these days of
security breaches and privacy concerns, many customers will need
extra reassurance about the care you take in such matters. You can
accomplish much in that direction by spelling out company policies
on your site.
If you think the
conversion rate on your site could be better, why not make a to-do
list of items mentioned in this article that might not be all they
could be on your site. And oh yes, if you have a website selling
“widgets” but the only people finding your site are those who are
searching for “bridges”, you really should change your keywords.
About the Author
Cari Haus has been successfully selling rustic log furniture and
beds on the Internet since 1997. Copyright 2003 by Cari Haus, website
http://www.logcabinrustics.com/. Permission is granted to reprint
this article, either online or in written publications, as long
as the copyright information, this paragraph, and a link address
or a link to the Log Cabin Rustics website is attached at the end
of the article.