It can often be surprising what gets in the way of making online sales and those who develop and use a specific ecommerce website regularly are often blinded by familiarity, so find it difficult to see why more people aren’t following the ‘right’ path all the way to the end. CRO & SEO Manager at Hit Search, Hannah Corbett, gives her take on some of the most common mistakes she comes across and how brands can go about fixing them and improving the user journey through the website, and, ultimately, the conversion rate.
Including too many journey options and calls to action (CTA) in the buying process
If a website asks users to do several different things before they make a purchase, such as creating an account, signing up for email marketing, sharing products they like on social media, or leaving the site to watch a product video on YouTube, it’s no surprise that lots of people drop off before completing a sale.
Our general rule of thumb is for each page on a website to ask users to do one thing, and one thing only. When every page has one objective and a tailored CTA, you’re presenting a straightforward user journey which helps conversion. Cutting out unnecessary steps between a product page and a final purchase page is key to maximising the number of purchases made.
Ignoring mobile users
Mobile users now make up more than half of all web traffic, although more tailored averages differ depending on sector. Therefore, mobile is the very first and most important consideration when it comes to optimising an ecommerce site.
By approaching your online presence ‘mobile first’, it can actually improve desktop user experience too, because what works on mobile often works naturally on larger devices too, as a general rule; the same cannot be said about the reverse path.
So what do you need to consider for a ‘mobile first’ approach? As well as overall site design, you also need to think about how mobile visitors will use the navigation menu and search function, as well as the entire checkout process, from start to finish. You’ll need to consider the size and scale of buttons, forms as well as image and text boxes, in order to make the most out of your mobile traffic and make it as easy as possible for them to convert.
Opting for minimal, or manufacturer-provided, product content
Unique product content can benefit your website not only from an SEO point of view to attract traffic, but it can also play a major role in conversion. Crafting in-depth product descriptions which don’t just rehash what everyone else who sells it is saying, can really help you to stand out. It adds a legitimacy and, especially when coupled with high-quality lifestyle images of the product in context of how/where it could be used, can make all the difference if someone has a choice of buying from you, or from a competitor.
Lacking trust signals
Many people are still wary of buying online, especially from names they might not have heard of before. Research shows that 70% of people use online reviews before making a purchase, and it isn’t just independent reviews that factor into the decision making process; recommendations from people they know and their social media networks can also influence their overall decision of whether to complete a transaction or not.
Getting organic star ratings to appear in your site’s search results snippets can be invaluable when it comes to building trust with potential customers. Other trust signals can include using logos of the secure payment options available in a visible place on your homepage and product pages, as well as during the checkout e.g. PayPal. Making sure you reiterate in the copy on the website that you offer ‘secure payments’ rather than just ‘payments’ can also help to put people’s minds at ease before completing a transaction.
Drawing out the checkout journey
Whilst using the checkout process to gain extra information about your customers can be useful, if it means that a high percentage of people abandon their basket instead of making a purchase, it’s simply not worth it. Distractions during check out can also play a big role in drop offs; directing customers to read a blog or sign up for your newsletter on the same page you’re asking them to click ‘pay now’ can be a big mistake.
You can remove most of the site navigation options on checkout pages, including sidebars and footers to help direct people’s attention to the purchase journey only. You will want to leave a way for customers to navigate back to the homepage, but the fewer options they have to take, the better the chances of a sale being made.
Removing other distractions during the checkout process or moving them to later in the journey can also be beneficial, whether this is social media icons or voucher code fields. If you give people the option to apply a discount code to their purchase early in the process, the chances are that a number will leave the site entirely to find a code elsewhere, then will click through on this third party site to buy, because it’s easier. On the other hand, if you leave the voucher field until the last possible moment before purchase, when you’ve already gathered delivery info etc, the shopper has invested more of their time into buying from you, so are more likely to complete the transaction rather than start again via a voucher site.
Offering the quickest and easiest payment options possible can make a big difference. If customers are given the option of paying via their PayPal account in seconds, they are much more likely to choose this than filling in a form from scratch with card details. The less clicks that a customer has to make between deciding to buy and actually completing the transaction, the better for everyone when it comes to ecommerce.