Ten Tips to Increase Conversion Rates

I’ve been gathering little tidbits of advice for e-commerce store owners. Here’s the 20-minute version on how to up the effectiveness of your e-store …

  1. Design for ROI. That means spend some time working on the design of product pages, shopping cart, and checkout process. Read a book on designing for ROI. Watch your web site metrics. Look for dropoff points and fix them. And test, test, test. Usability testing is invaluable for discovering issues in your design before they’re implemented.
  2. Product Image from Overstock.comShow total costs early in the process. As Linda pointed out yesterday, users don’t like surprises when it comes to cost, and with prices of everything going up, they’re becoming very cost-conscious. Offering free shipping is probably the best bet for reducing FUDDs.
  3. Price products competitively. Oh, and tell users what a good deal they’re getting by clearly showing what this item goes for at other stores. Use the information you gathered in your competitive analysis! Overstock.com does this very effectively (although if you dig a little, you will discover that they disavow any knowledge of whether this item is offered at the “compare at” price anywhere.)
  4. Provide helpful product information. Some users need a little information, some need a lot. The amount you need to offer depends on the product, too. A computer warrants a lot more information than a rug. Use the concept of progressive unfoldment to reveal detail–don’t overwhelm the user with all of it all at once, but make sure you provide enough to answer all the user’s questions.
    • Quality product photos are critical! It’s best to offer multiple photos, at different angles. Make sure you have enlarged versions of each photo, so the user can see the product well enough to determine if they want it or not.
    • Good product descriptions set you apart from the competition and give the user an picture of what it’s like to use this product. Linda Bustos and Holly Buchanon offer some excellent advice on how to write better product descriptions.
    • Product details are important to answer the customer’s questions (before they leave your site seeking answers elsewhere). Try to think of all the questions the most inquisitive customer could ever think of and answer them on your site.
    • Customer reviews are very effective in increasing conversion rates. People care what other everyday folks think of this product. Reviews also generate more every-day language search terms for your site.
    • Show availability. Is the item in stock? Nothing’s more frustrating to a customer than trying to buy something that’s not available.
  5. Make things findable. Users are coming to your site looking for something; help them find it FAST.
    • This goes for your products–use categories that users relate to. There’s a great technique called card-sorting to help you figure out what categories make sense to your users.
    • If your store offers a lot of items, you also need a good search tool. Again, Overstock wins in this category. They can refine a product search like nobody else.
    • Make your Add to Cart buttons stand out. These buttons should be clear beacons, calling to the user to take action. Making them big is good–especially because some users do have trouble with the mouse (or whatever other crazy input device they’re attempting to wield).
    • Put the shopping cart where users expect to see it (in the upper right hand portion of the screen)–and make it clearly recognizable. Many stores now offer a mouseover view of the cart contents that’s really handy.
  6. If you plan to sell outside the US, Internationalize. That’s one word to describe a whole area of usability research, but make sure you:
    • Allow for international addresses. Don’t require the “state” field (which is typically a dropdown list of US states). You’re (possibly unintentionally) banning users from Canada and every other country in the world from purchasing from you online.
    • Put the price in the visitor’s currency. If you don’t, you’re forcing your user to do math. (Remember the first rule of usability: Don’t make me think!)
    • Do translation right. Translation is not to be taken lightly–to be done right, you need someone who speaks the language to at least edit your translation. Don’t try to automate translation; it’s too easy to screw up when you’re dealing with another culture.
    • Skip that annoying “select your country” page by geo-locating your users automatically. Never make the user do work that you can easily do for them. Once you know their country, you can present your prices and addresses in their country’s format–stores that really do it well use an entirely different layout and style to accommodate for differences in cultural preferences.
  7. Offer several payment options. Some users like credit cards–others want to pay by check. Some are impulsive and want to worry about the charges later. Some prefer to pay it off over time. Offering users different ways to pay is a good way to increase conversion.
  8. If you offer product suggestions for upselling, do it while the user is shopping. Offering product suggestions at checkout can decrease conversion rates–but at checkout, it’s okay to let the user jump back to the store to add something to the cart if they forgot something. You want to make the checkout process as streamlined as possible, free of distractions, while still offering navigation back to the store.
  9. Provide service after the sale. E-mail the customer order updates to let them know when their package has shipped, and give them a link to track their package. Most shipping companies have APIs that you can integrate to, so the entire process can be automated. You can also e-mail them and ask how you did–short surveys are okay, especially if are designed well and if they give the customer a chance to rant. (ALWAYS, ALWAYS let the customer rant! Provide a “Comments” box at the end of the survey. This is excellent feedback for you, and a great way for users to unload whatever’s been bothering them.) If they do rant about something, address it! Wells Fargo responded personally to a comment I made in a customer service survey I took, which took them up a big notch in my respect for (and loyalty to) them.
  10. Communicate with your customers.
    1. Opt-in e-mail lists are good if you really are going to send your customers coupons and special offers, but don’t send them e-mail too often. I signed up for an opt-in list with Famous Footwear and I swear I get e-mail from them every day and will be opting OUT of that list very soon. Do they think I’m out buying shoes every day? Dunn Brothers Coffee does it much better–I get e-mail from them about once a month. Enough to remind me to come back (like I needed reminding!), but they’re not cluttering my inbox.
    2. Blogs are also good for business. They drive up your hits on search engines and form an informal but informational link between you and your customers (and potential customers).  Elastic Path Software offers an excellent white paper on why blogs are good for business.

So that’s my list of tips. What are the top tips on your list? Are there tips I should add? Subtract? Got any good evidence to back these up? I have some data (didn’t want to make this TOO long), but I’m always looking for more!

18 Responses to “Ten Tips to Increase Conversion Rates”


  1. 1 Jan June 6, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    very good points. well done.

  2. 2 spiderwebsports April 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Excellent points. I think the thing I gathered most out of this is to put the pricing information on the landing page. I’m going to get on that right now. Thanks so much.

    spiderwebsports.com

  3. 3 krauseann April 28, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. 4 Mary August 5, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Great tips, thanks.

  5. 5 web site directory August 17, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Hope it will help to improve my business.

  6. 6 Windows Seven September 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    It was a great article about website conversion.
    Thanks you

  7. 7 Scooterizer September 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks for taking on this subject. We all have become keenly aware a Click does not a Buyer make…. So how about one more tip?

    There is a new Free tool that increase conversion rates for paid search campaigns. Its called a conversionWidget.

    http://www.Conversion-Widget.com

    This uses Dynamic Keyword Insertion to personalize the landing page so it reflects the keywords used. With good design, and relevant products and content, it is astonishing how powerful this is at increasing online conversions. And, it’s completely free.

  8. 8 rohit kumar November 17, 2009 at 10:36 am

    thanks for this post. It helped me a lot. Btw How you get ideas for such posts. sorry if it’s out of topic.

    • 9 krauseann November 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

      Thanks for your comment! I am so glad it helped. I came up with the idea for it by reading several other blog posts on similar topics–then I decided to share my own thoughts.

  9. 11 Bubble Shooter December 24, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Thanks for your kind information.. I realy enjoy it.. keep it up.

  10. 12 Philip Coggsdale May 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  11. 13 yotru (@yotru) October 4, 2011 at 2:25 am

    That’s interesting. We have a e-book about conversion rate increasing right here http://yotru.com/book. Also we’re finishing our social tool to increase trust to e-commerce, check it out.

  12. 14 bonsaiman2009 December 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    HELLO ALL!

    So, I sell bonsai trees through my website http://www.bonsaiboss.com. I am working on increasing traffic to my site, which right now is about 1500 people per month (not a lot I know). Of those 1500 people that come to my site, apparently 400 of them click through to the checkout page per month, but of those 400 people, only FIFTEEN people actually buy a tree. So I am only converting 15 of the 400 people with my checkout page. Do any of you have any thoughts on what I could do to better optimize my checkout page? I feel like I have taken care of a lot of the details, but is there something glaringly wrong with what I am doing? Please let me know!!

    Thanks,
    Tim

  13. 15 pomoc prawna December 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Das war wie ein hilfreicher Artikel! Ich bin gerade erst mit meinem Blog und ich hoffe, es wird so gut wie Ihre. Grüße!


  1. 1 13 Engines » Ten Tips to Increase Conversion Rates Trackback on June 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm
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