What To Do When Your Online Store Is Not Converting Customers

These solutions will have your e-commerce customers filling up their shopping carts.
woman online shopping
Make sure every page of your website encourages consumers to make a purchase. (Photo: Alliance/Shutterstock)

So you’ve built a flashy online store with beautiful photography, compelling product descriptions and competitive price points, but sales have been lackluster at best. It’s time to focus on conversion optimization, or turning your website’s visitors into customers.

Three customer conversion specialists have agreed to share their expertise to help you convert clicks into customers and improve your online sales:

Julie Graff, a social content liaison who focuses on conversion optimization at Pole Position Marketing; Catherine Campbell, the founder of strategic marketing consultancy Bright Planning; and Mallory Whitfield, a content analyst at online marketing agency FSC Interactive.

Provide more information

According to Interactive Marketing Inc., websites have eight seconds or less to retain the attention of a visitor.

Make sure the landing page for your online store is simple, intuitive and informative. You should also enhance your product descriptions to provide enough information for a customer to make a purchase.

“If an e­-commerce shop sells clothing, for example, but doesn’t offer detailed information about fit and sizing and features, plus no photos of the garments worn by a model, customers may not have enough information to move from browser to buyer,” Whitfield said.

Hire a professional photographer and a copywriter to help showcase your products as they would actually be used by a customer.

Build trust

If your website doesn’t seem trustworthy, customers will never share their credit card information.

“Establish trust and security so that customers feel comfortable doing business with you,” Graff said.

Business owners should employ standard security measures, such as HTTPS and PCI compliance, so that customers know their data is protected.

You can also demonstrate the security of your site by adding trust badges from reputable companies like Norton, McAfee and the Better Business Bureau, says Whitfield.

Finally, feature testimonials from satisfied customers.

“Testimonials and reviews should be strategically placed across all website pages, not huddled together and tucked away on a testimonials page,” Campbell said. “Use powerful testimonials that talk about visible results.”

If visitors trust your site, they’ll be more inclined to purchase your products.

Call customers to action

“This is where almost every small business owner fails,” Campbell said. “Even forgetting to put a button or call to action on their ‘About Us’ page can make a difference [in sales].”

Every page of your website should encourage the customer to take the specific action you want them to, whether it’s to make a purchase, share their email address or sign up for a newsletter. Whitfield says that adjusting the color and size of the “add to cart” button, for example, is one simple call to action that will boost sales.

Ditch mandatory registration

All forms on your site should be easy to fill out and require minimal data inputs. Never force a customer to sign up for an account to make a purchase, Whitfield says. “If your e­commerce website does not offer a guest checkout, that could be stopping browsers from converting into buyers.”

Furthermore, make sure that customers aren’t held up by glitches or errors in a rigid form.

“Make sure form fields are flexible and allow leads to enter information in the way they want to,” Graff said. “They shouldn’t get an error because they used dashes instead of parenthesis for the area code of a phone number.”

Every time a customer has to re­-enter information, they are less likely to complete the purchase. Also, business owners should be prepared to accept as many forms of payment as possible. If you don’t accept Amex, for example, customers with that card will shop elsewhere.

Experiment, then test

The best way to improve conversion rates is to regularly tweak your site and analyze data. Did sales increase or decrease when you enlarged the “add to cart” button? Did you gain customers by creating more calls to action?

“Every time you make a change, test whether it actually improved conversions,” Graff says.

Try experiments like simplifying recommended products that appear in the online store, creating an exit pop-­up that offers a free guide or tip sheet, and sharing a discount code in a promotional banner.

There’s no one­-size­-fits­-all approach to converting browsers into customers, so play around with different strategies until you find the perfect combination to drive sales to your online business.

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