While “more visitors equal more sales” might seem like sound reasoning, often site traffic isn’t the only obstacle to higher ecommerce sales. If you’re still struggling to pull customers through the funnel to check out and keep them coming back, it might be time to focus on effective conversion strategies, that optimize the customer experience.
Customer Experience – Put Users First
While there is no “right” way to create a customer experience strategy, businesses should always enable customers to interact with stores on their own terms. Creating customer surveys, offering chat support, and asking for feedback following interactions promote customer service excellence, and data gleaned from these interactions can provide valuable insight into how to improve the user experience. Regularly tracking email clicks, opens, CTR, product page, and homepage metrics, as well as traffic sources enable retailers to better understand trends, behavior, and product preferences – a crucial step to optimizing an ecommerce environment.
A solid omnichannel strategy and intuitive user experience can establish strong brand connections: 87% of consumers say that brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless customer experience across all channels.
Regardless of the device, refining the homepage of an ecommerce site is key to attracting new visitors, improving brand perception, and increasing overall conversions. As the homepage is the entry point to product lines and often provides consumers with a first impression, an opportunity exists to demonstrate brand value and differentiation, especially ease of purchase and organization. Clearly, showcase top-selling products, share product videos, localize, offer clear navigation to find categories and embedded product types, and display a clear shopping cart.
Consider providing personalized messaging to return visitors and recognized members (e.g.,“lite” or saved login) upon entry. Relevant recommendations and previously browsed products will also offer the customer a tailored and unique experience while encouraging continued viewing.
An impactful and engaging homepage is only the first step to ensure a positive customer experience. Businesses must ensure that users can browse easily, and effective navigation design is key. Incorporating a “quick view” option allows customers to easily make decisions on category and search results pages while detailed category structures, language, and advanced sorting further help narrow down relevant product fields. Structures must remain consistent across the site to allow for a seamless purchasing experience and prevent any findability issues or confusion. Finally, make it easy for customers to revisit their favorites as they consider different products. Offer saved search and product saving functionality to enable visitors to easily access preferred products and services.
By understanding and facilitating the customer’s journey and enabling fluid navigation, businesses create an optimal user experience and build a unique and positive digital identity.
Product Search Optimization
Optimizing product search capabilities across a site also requires strategy and calculated prediction. Create intelligent search capabilities that account for plurals, misspelling, etc, in addition to auto-suggestions, category search, and visual search results. To avoid inundating users, consider reducing choice and implementing collapsible filters. Consider the customer’s unique journey and enable them to access what interests them quickly and effectively. This article from the Harvard Business Review does a terrific job of illustrating the complexity of omnichannel sales and the power of a streamlined customer experience.
Product Page Optimization
Product detail pages (PDPs) provide another important opportunity to optimize the browsing and purchasing experience. Incorporating videos, interactive media, and customer reviews can further entice potential buyers, while a persistent “add to cart” button facilitates an easy transaction with no surprises. Ease disappointment and demonstrate empathy by providing clear out of stock information and enabling product notification opt-ins. Offer product wishlist functionality to allow users to casually browse with the knowledge that they can easily revisit their favorite products. Finally, consider the power of free shipping and transparent pricing policies. Fifty-five percent of people indicate free shipping is the most important factor when online shopping, and according to Forbes, unexpected costs at checkout account for 56% of abandoned carts.
After creating a persistent cart for easy access, further, tempt buyers and seal the deal by offering a free gift or samples with purchase upon checkout. Ensure that the checkout experience itself is streamlined by eliminating extra visual elements, reducing repetitive/duplicative data entry and pre-populating fields for a faster experience. Location services for an address or zip prefill can also move customers swiftly through checkout, while validation checks and error messages should be clearly displayed and easily understood.
Offering express checkout to previous customers with saved payment information and testing your site to eliminate unnecessary navigation are also great ways to minimize the path to purchase. Finally, it’s imperative to include clear promo code entry fields and/or active promotions to be easily applied at checkout — and ensure discount or application of the promo code reflects cost accuracy to establish trust.
After checkout, enable users to opt-in to receive any brand newsletters or communication, and to set up an account for order tracking and future visits. Social sharing and sign-up options should be offered as well in the right instance (e.g. younger audience). However, the focus is on making the sale, and it is easier to retain customers than to find new ones. While incorporating social, registration and subscription CTAs are important, they should remain less prominent than the checkout button.
During and after the checkout process, providing customers with clear, exact delivery ranges and timing estimates is crucial to maintaining brand trust and customer satisfaction. Customers should also have a choice of delivery windows and multiple provider options (e.g. express, overnight, standard) as well as a free shipping option to drive conversions. Offering discount promo codes (even if it means a longer delivery timeframe) or free shipping for minimum spend are effective ways to coax customers through to the finish line. Beyond offering free shipping with a minimum spend threshold, offer simple ways for customers to hit that number and ensure the threshold is clearly visible on product and checkout pages. Shipping updates and order notification opt-ins keep customers informed and engaged, and providing a consistent and easy return process is crucial as well. According to the New York Times, 91% of consumers interviewed in a recent Harris poll look for a good return policy when considering a purchase.
When customers decide to leave a site, opportunities exist to re-establish a connection. Retargeting customers with native Facebook and Instagram units and implementing search remarketing through Google Adwords can lead curious visitors back to your store to purchase. Email list optimization is another invaluable method for ensuring effective communication with consumers — via cart abandonment follow-ups, product notifications, and seasonal or personalized offers. Utilizing dynamic retargeting banners of viewed products to speak directly to the individual can attract previous customers back to the site and make it harder for them to leave. Finally, site exit and checkout pop-up units on last minute offers can be incredibly enticing, pulling interested users back into the sales funnel before they have the chance to think twice about leaving.
The best omnichannel retailers make effective use of engagement tactics throughout each step of the purchasing experience to keep consumers informed and excited. Enable chat functions throughout the journey to allow for quick troubleshooting. Write descriptive and enticing meta tags to enhance SEO and give search engines a summarized idea of what your site is about, and enhance performance on social media by optimizing open graph tags where relevant. Social content also looks great on product pages – particularly when it’s an embedded UGC module with real-life product use cases. Similar to a customer leaving a positive on-site review, a fan sharing a purchase in their own environment adds a personal touch and can create a strong and authentic brand connection.
Augment registration email content and cadence to ensure campaigns draw users back in, and once customers are in the fold, make their experience as easy as possible: simplified password reset processes are critical for retention. Similarly, create and maintain a user-friendly 404 error page and optimize messaging for “No Results Found” products and pages. Validation error messages should be clear and upbeat, retaining a sense of usability despite the confusion.
Detailed and transactional messaging (confirmation emails, package tracking push notifications, etc.) keep customers enthusiastic and informed about their purchase after checkout. Be sure to take advantage of prominent “thank you” message on the site and post-checkout, while offering social sharing capabilities where relevant.
Finally, putting the customer first means more than creating an intuitive shopping experience. Incorporating brief satisfaction rating modules and quick chat functions at various touch points can ensure users have positive interactions with your store and result in valuable feedback for your business.
Load Speed Optimization
Additional opportunity exists for enhancements behind the scenes to ensure users have the best experience in an ecommerce environment — starting with speed and optimal loading. As Search Engine Watch mentions, “if your website is slow…your prospect begins building the impression that it may not be easy to buy from, or interact with, your company.” In the case of poor loading, users will go elsewhere – and quickly.
Beyond creating a fast and friendly user experience, a company can educate visitors and enable informed decisions by providing high-quality product images, multi-angle viewing options, close-up videos, and other rich media. Consumers also appreciate appealing “about” pages and accessible contact sections to learn more about a brand, get answers to their questions and troubleshoot if needed. To better understand user pain points and needs, regular, in-depth testing will mimic the customer’s journey — revealing accurate site usability and potential issues.
While many consumers have increasingly high expectations for ecommerce platforms by implementing the above suggestions and other tactics, businesses can create exceptional customer experience environments for users and turn traffic into sales.