Some of the biggest challenges faced by online sellers is the ability to attract a regular flow of traffic that converts into paying customers.
It's a real challenge because to be a success online, you need to get many things right. And, if you nail everything, remember your competitors are getting better everyday.
There's no time for complacency. This year's growth in E-commerce has been exceptional due to the Covid-19 epidemic, with many businesses pivoting to supply direct to consumer. Whilst some businesses will fall by the wayside, others will flourish. The question is, which one are you?
If we want to survive and thrive, we must up our game.
If you don't get your online store fit for business, you could be leaving money on the table or wasting any efforts you've already placed on building a social following. This is especially true, after you flip the switch to send fans to your store, only to discover their bouncing off sooner than you'd hoped for!
Site Traffic Nor Converting?
If you attract site traffic but it's not converting, there could be a number of reasons for this.
- you are attracting the wrong traffic
- the design or layout of your store / site needs improving
- your product or service proposition needs addressing / tweaking
Visitors rarely bounce because of price. As Seth Godin says, the secret to sales and marketing success is the creation of consumer desire. If you can create a desire so powerful that people can't resist, then price rarely features in the decision making process.
This is the notion - desire trumps price. It's one that's played out across industries. Why, for example is someone happy to pay £10 for a glass of wine in London? Consider why some people don't mind paying $80k for a new SUV? Why would someone be content on paying £10k for a business coach?
It boils down to fulfilling an emotional need. A desire for ownership, status, wellbeing, security or love. Even the fear of missing out (FOMO)!
All the above leads to a great discussion, one that I have most days with clients and members of The SMC. I just wanted to underline the point, that it is rarely about price. For sure price does have a role, especially in the form of promotion, which can help tip people over the edge. but your initial job is to create desire.
Get The Fundamentals In Place First
The purpose of this post is to help you get retail ready from an e-commerce perspective.
I never send traffic to a client's site until we've made sure it is fit for business.
Just like when you walk into a shop for the first time, you want your visitors to enjoy a positive experience. If the shop is untidy, dirty or disorganised, your visitor will leave with a poor perception of your brand. It's the same online.
In this post, I'm lifting the lid, to tell you why visitors might be leaving your site, before making a purchase and what you can do to fix it easily and cheaply.
Before we dive in let's pause for a second and talk "bounce rates". It's important that you are aware of these and understand them.
Apart from being bad for business, having your visitors leave your website within a few seconds is bad for SEO and search engine rankings. The search engine's (e.g. Google, Bing etc) algorithms are designed to reward website owners who keep visitors on site for as long as possible. This is measured by the "bounce rate". A poor bounce rate is anything over 55%.
A low bounce rate, on the other hand (anything below 30%) is better for SEO and search rankings.
This leads us to the question of how do you keep visitors on your site for as long as possible?
10 Reasons Your Website Isn't Converting
1. Immediately Announce What You Offer
When a visitor arrives at your website, they are immediately looking for a sign post telling them what you offer Whether that's articulated through your branding or a statement, you have just a few seconds to convey the message and make a first and lasting impression. You'll be surprised how many e-commerce retailers forget to tell visitors explicitly what they offer.
Those few seconds are valuable. They may scroll down to gain clarity. But, if they can't unravel what it is, they'll leave and probably never return.
All your hard work in getting them to your site is wasted.
A clear proposition is required for both product and service based websites.
In the example below, it took a while for me to establish what this site was offering. It wasn't until I arrived at the product pages, did they reveal to me that it was dried fruit snacks. Even the product description failed to tell me.
FIX IT : Make sure you clearly signpost what you're offering and that its clearly displayed above the fold. Above the fold means it appears in the top part of the screen so the visitor doesn't have to scroll down to find out.
Use the space to clearly communicate what you're selling and how it benefits your customers.
Ensure your product descriptions are clear.
E.g. we sell personalised wedding favours, so your guest feel extra love.
2. Poor Design Or Layout
The design of your website, must look professional to stand out from the crowd. That does mean investing in professional product or brand photography. Professional photography is an investment. I work closely with a great photographer in London, so if you need any help, please feel free to reach out.
It also means, avoiding any strange attention tactics like this flashing image on this music site.
On the face of it, this eye catching colour design might appeal to you but on arrival to the page, the rapidly flashing image took me by surprise, not to mention hurt my eyes. For some people this could be dangerous.
When designing your site, consider your audience. What images and colours will connect with them?
FIX IT : No flashing images. Avoid too many clashing colours. Use a colour wheel or Pinterest to look for colour palettes where colours compliment each other.
Whilst over at Heatherhills there's a lot of information crammed into a tight space. This makes the landing page copy, look and feel cluttered. Consequently reading the page copy isn't easy.
The copy is busy and it left me feeling disorientated and lost. Most of your visitors will wish to have a browse, so make it easy for them.
If you look at where the shop button is, its tucked away in the top of the menu in small print. This isn't easy navigation.
As online sellers we must make the shopping experience easy for visitors. That includes logical menus and navigation so people can reach the shop quickly.
Make their purchase decisions easy. If they get lost in the copy and become distracted the chances are you've lost the sale.
BAO Skincare, whilst a different product, has created a beautiful site, displaying products amongst its natural ingredients with high quality images that fill the space.
There's a clear statement of business with a clear call to action.
The brand colours are congruent with the natural products they sell. The photography is professional and site navigation clear. It is a pleasant shopping experience, don't you agree?
FIX IT : A hero image works (as shown above). If you take this approach ensure it's around 1000 pixels. Anything smaller can lead to pixelation (blurry images). Stick to your brand colours and aim to keep images in the same colour palette.
Ensure product categories are laid out clearly and consider using images and less copy to guide visitors around your site.
3. Mobile Unresponsive
Around 80% of your traffic will be viewed on a mobile device. Are you shocked by this statistic?
As hand held devices become one of the most convenient methods of consuming information, it's no surprise.
Therefore, when you are building and updating your site it's important to check it loads properly on all mobiles including Ipads and other hand held devices.
When was the last time you checked the responsiveness of your site on mobile?
Check to see if the pages load correctly, navigation is easy to follow, the font isn't too small and the checkout process works. Even check that the discount field is visible, if you're offering one.
You will be surprised how often this issue, causes visitors to bounce off.
FIX IT : Check with your web developer or theme, that your site is mobile responsive. Whenever you edit or add a new page, check the updates on your mobile.
4. Insecure Protocol
If you have not made your website secure for taking payments with an SSL Certificate you will lose visitors. If you see "Not Secure" in the web browser, it means that the website is not set up securely for taking payments securely over the internet.
Contact your web developer or host provider and ask about installing an SSL certificate. This will add the HTTPS protocol to your website, which is necessary if for taking payments. If you're not taking payments, ensure your web address is prefixed with HTTP. Again contact your web developer.
Not installing these protocols can cause damage to your brand's reputation.
FIX IT : Make the payment process secure. Invest in a SSL certificate. If you run a self hosted website, start by asking your host provider for help.
SiteGround (my host provider) offer them for free.
5. Too Many Ads
If you want to generate an income from Google Ads, be careful how they appear on your website.
Personally, I'm not a fan of sites that are home to google ads that persistently jump out at me. They're annoying and a distraction and can reduce the speed of your site.
If you wish to generate income from this strategy, you'll need thousands of visitors per day.
As a dog owner I was genuinely interested in discovering more about Home-made Dog Treats. However, the ads became too much of a distraction, so I quickly left.
FIX IT : Do you really need display ads? Are they generating a decent level of income? If not, look for other ways to monetise your site.
If you're selling products or service, I recommend cleaning up your site and focussing on making your products look amazing and marketing activities to sell them.
6. 404 Page / Page Not Found!
How many times have you experienced this? Not a great experience right? Chances are you quickly left the site.
A 404 Not Found can occur if the visitor hasn't typed the correct address into the browser, or the website owner has removed the page and not redirected it. If you're accessing the site from a search engine link, it might be that the link is broken. This means that the page cannot be found on the server.
As a website owner, check all your page links are working. You can do this using a free tool such as Drink Check or Dead Link Checker. Type in your website address and all your links will be checked. It takes about 3-4 minutes to run the check and it's FREE, so do it today. You will be surprised!
I run this check every 4 - 6 weeks depending on how much I've published and referenced other websites. There is also the situation where the website owner of the referred site, moves or updates the page.
FIX IT : Run a check every 4 - 6 weeks. Put a reminder in your diary. Use one of the sites I recommend above. You will be surprised how many you encounter. On my first check I had 38 broken links on my website!
7. Lack of Inspiration
Enlightenment Wines sells small batches of mead. Its product are sold on taste.
Selling a product based on taste needs imagery that tells a convincing story. Sadly, in my opinion, this website falls short considerably.
The site is flat, one dimensional and lacks inspiration. The design lacks consistency and branding.
If you're selling food or beverages, your objective is to excite your visitors to such a level they want to reach into their phone or laptop and grab what your offering! Remember the M&S adverts?
Quay Wines on the other hand is beautifully presented and elegant. For me its informative and tells me what I want to know to make an informed and inspired choice. The branding is clear with high quality images.
FIX IT : Your product (or client persona) needs to be the hero, so invest in some professional photography or if your budget doesn't allow enrol in a photography course.
If you don't have the skills to build your website, contact us and we'll put you in touch with a professional and trusted photographer.
8. No Financial Incentive
Like it or not, as shoppers we love a bargain.
The tricky thing is, trying to convince your visitor to part with their hard earned cash first time around as well as convince then you have a trustworthy brand that will deliver value and quality.
It's for that reason I recommend some kind of introductory promotion. This is different from price remember! A promotion is a short term discount. It is aimed to encourage trial.
Short term discounts and scarcity can help nudge certain buyers over the line. I have a friend who says that sellers must earn their custom by giving them a first time discount!
As a supermarket buyer, I recommended new brands promote their product at a small discount to encourage trial. Those that didn't rarely survived. Promotion can be an important element of your customer acquisition strategy.
In the early stages of launching and growing your online business, you will need to work extra hard to convince your visitor to try your product.
Money off coupons and free delivery also help convert the initial sale.
At Ethical Pets, there are no offers. As a new visitor I was looking for a small incentive to shop with them. It didn't really bother me that they didn't offer one. I love their values.
However, if they did I may have made my first purchase. All it needed was a small "welcome" incentive e.g. 5% off your first purchase.
This is illustrated well over at Zooplus . There, I am offered 5% off my first purchase, plus free delivery on orders over £29!
Here's the thing. Their product prices might be more expensive, but I feel as though I'm being rewarded by the number of promotional offers.
Value perception is key to their acquisition strategy.
FIX IT : Your product needs to be the hero, so invest in some professional photography or take a course. If you don't have the skills to build your website, contact us and we'll create a beautiful layout or teach you how to do it yourself.
9. Low Volume Of Traffic
If you're confident that all the issues mentioned above are not the root cause of low conversions, then it's probably boils down to sheer volume.
To some degree, running an e-commerce business is a numbers game. Allow me to explain.
The average conversion rate for e-commerce stores is 2%. If you're only attracting 30 visits a day it's extremely unlikely those visitors will convert.
More traffic will more than likely increase the likelihood of sales.
100 visitors a day with a good wind behind you, should generate you a few sales based on a 2% conversion rate.
If you're not running traffic ads to your site or implementing another kind of traffic tactic, then consider starting today.
FIX IT : Consider ways you can increase traffic to your site. Join the Social Media Circle to learn the smart strategies we teach and recommend.
10. Social Proof / Trust
As a marketer and social media manager, I work on the notion that not everyone buys first time. Research shows that a person needs to be in contact with your brand at least 7 times before they make a purchase decision. The reason being, it takes time to build trust.
This doesn't mean visitors need to visit your website 7 times. It means they need to be "touched" by your brand multiple times. That's why social media, re-targeting ads and email are integral to your marketing strategy.
"Social proof" in the form of customer testimonials or feedback can help accelerate the "trust" timeline.
Displaying genuine customer feedback will help convert some people, especially if they post a video on your social media or you screen grab testimonials from social.
If you operate a Shopify store, check out apps such as Judge Me Customer Reviews (free) or, as above, ask customers to record a 30 second Instagram / Facebook review story that you can the share.
Whatever you choose encourage and incentivise your clients to leave a review somewhere. This could be the difference between not closing and closing the sale.
FIX IT : Consider the ways you can get your brand in front of your audience multiple times, in order to build trust.
Consider which customer review tactic works for your business.
BONUS - Slow Loading Images
Do you know what the optimum image size for your website is?
Anything too large can cause your page to load slowly or not at all.
If you've invested in professional photography the chances are your images are over 2000 pixels. If this is the case then reduce them to around 1000.
You can do this in software such as Canva.com or even on your PC / MAC by opening the image and heading to tools or settings to reduce the file size.
FIX IT : Test every page of your website on a mobile and check to see how quickly a page loads. If it takes more than a view seconds, check your image sizes.
Over to you. Review your website against the checklist below. What do you need to tweak / change / update?
ARE YOU READY TO JOIN THE SOCIAL MEDIA CIRCLE?
Inside the Social Media Circle, you will once again feel the joy of building your business online.
You may have forgotten that awesome, flighty feeling you first had when you decided to build your business, because you've been dragged down by endless You Tube videos or podcasts teaching you tactics that are just not tailored to your needs.
We keep it real. What you learn is what I've learnt working with hundreds of clients using both paid and organic strategies.
Inside the Circle, your dreams come true.