Optimize your digital strategy and make more money.
6 min read
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It’s one thing to get people to visit your website. It’s quite another to attract qualified leads who will ultimately turn into paying customers. When you run an e-commerce business, learning to master this distinction and optimize your conversion rate is essential if you ever wish to generate a profit.
The thing is, running an e-commerce store isn’t the same as other entrepreneurial endeavors. Networking and other popular B2B sales tools aren’t as applicable when trying to reach the everyday consumer.
So how do you improve your conversion rate and build a strong base of loyal customers? Here’s a closer look at some of the things you can do that will help you learn how to best optimize your efforts.
1. Narrow your target audience.
Far too many e-commerce entrepreneurs fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. This makes it hard to bring qualified leads to your site, because many of the people you end up targeting aren’t actually a good fit for your products. Instead, you need to narrow down your niche so that lead generation dollars are only spent on individuals likely to buy.
2. Examine the sales funnel.
Understanding how the sales funnel works for your product niche is essential for conversion rate optimization. Ultimately, your store needs to develop a scalable (and ideally, repeatable) sales cycle that will help you grow your customer base.
Some products and customer groups have a surprisingly short sales cycle — after all, most people don’t need to do a lot of research when deciding which 10-dollar T-shirt to buy. More expensive purchases (such as tech items) will typically involve more research.
When selling consumer products, your goal should be to speed up the sales cycle. Understanding what it takes to get your specific target audience to move from the awareness phase to making a purchase should guide all conversion optimization efforts.
3. Master web design basics.
You may not need a B2B-style landing page when you run an e-commerce store, but many landing page best practices can equally apply to your own conversion optimization efforts.
Just consider this advice from Clearleft founder Andy Budd: “A good landing page needs to effectively answer the core sales objections the user will have. That could [include] how much the thing will cost, what features it has, what it will look like, how it’s different from the competition, etc. Lastly, you need to offer a clear, simple and pain-free way of moving to the next step in the process.”
These principles are just as applicable for your product pages. A high-quality image tells customers what your product looks like. Listing the cost and features helps them know what to expect when they buy. An easy-to-find “Add to cart” button helps move customers to the next step. Improving the quality of each product page will go a long way in increasing conversions.
4. Invest in site security.
An August 2017 survey found that 32 percent of responders have personally had one of their accounts hacked. With high-profile incidents affecting big names like Equifax and Yahoo, customers are increasingly wary of how their data is shared online — especially credit cards and other payment processing information.
Your conversion rate optimization efforts could easily go to naught if you don’t make an effort to prioritize data security. Using HTTPS for your website, displaying security badges for your SSL certificates and using a trusted payment processing system like PayPal or Stripe has been found to significantly reduce the likelihood of customers abandoning your site due to security concerns.
5. Make small changes.
As you try to improve your conversion rates, it can be tempting to give your site a major overhaul all at once. While this may be beneficial for a site that is seriously outdated, it’s actually not recommended in most situations.
A drastic change could alienate your current customers while still failing to address your current conversion challenges. With incremental changes, you can better identify what is helping (or hurting) your conversion rates.
As the Nielsen Norman Group’s Hoa Loranger explains, “Too many websites undergo a major overhaul unnecessarily. While legitimate reasons exist for engaging in a redesign, the reality is that many problems you need to solve are isolated and can be fixed with smaller, incremental approaches. Look at the metrics rather than guess what needs to be changed. Allow data to help you determine the extent of the problem and apply the least amount of change necessary to solve it.”
6. Make the right measurements.
The only way you’ll truly learn which changes are improving or hurting your store’s conversion rates is by measuring outcomes. If you don’t use analytics, you’ll never have the full picture regarding your store’s strengths and weaknesses.
But conversion rate isn’t the only data point you should pay attention to…
You may have a high conversion rate, but if your customers have a low lifetime value and average order value, you’ll likely still struggle to turn a profit. Customer retention should also be a major point of emphasis — according to an article for the Harvard Business Review, “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
As you come to understand how your site changes affect these and other metrics, you’ll be able to make informed decisions that will improve your profit margins and sustainability.
Convert to success.
As you use the above techniques to learn what you need to do to optimize your store’s lead generation strategy, you’ll be better positioned to convert potential customers who arrive at your site.
Though maintaining a strong conversion rate will require continual research and fine-tuning, these tools and tips will undoubtedly help you get on the right track. As you follow through with great products and stellar customer service, you’ll lay the foundation for long-term success.