Digital marketing – including SEO, PPC, and content marketing – is essential for driving traffic to your website. But what happens next?
Well, at Loom HQ we spend a lot of time assessing websites (when we’re not googling photos of Ryan Gosling). B2B, B2C, ecommerce to name a few, we visit multiple sites each day. And, when you spend as much time online as we do, you begin to understand what makes a website truly engaging for its end user.
The main principle is really no big secret. If you’re driving traffic to your site, it is important users are able to find what they need when they get there. People usually ask themselves four questions when they visit a website for the first time:
Am I in the right place? Do they have what I’m looking for? Do they have anything else (if this is not what I want)? What do I want now?
Give them the answers they need on every page, and you’ve got yourself the shell of a pretty fine website. So now that cat’s out of the bag, let’s talk about how you can make this happen on your site. Our 11-step guide addresses the key areas you can easily change to help improve website conversions and the way users interact with your site – maximising opportunities to generate sales or leads.
Step one: Content
Content should always precede design. Design with the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.
Having a site filled with killer content not only increases brand awareness through search, it also helps to build user trust by establishing your company as an industry authority. The language you use on your website dictates the tone in which you will be perceived by your customers. So be engaging, informative, and don’t be afraid to show your personality.
Each page of your site should include unique, high quality and useful information relating to that product or service. Make sure your content is genuinely useful to the reader before thinking about making it search-engine friendly as well. This information is what is going to make the difference for the user, convincing them to take the next step and buy / get in touch.
Even a simple spelling mistake can be enough to stop a user continuing through your website and converting. All website content should be checked for spelling and grammatical mistakes before it is set live.
Step Two: Design
It takes less than 0.05 seconds for a user to decide if they like a website or not, whether they’ll stay or leave. So make the first impression count. Think of your homepage as your shop window. It should be smart, well designed, and entice customers into your website.
Your homepage should clearly describe who you are, what you do, what makes you unique, and offer clear routes to the different sections of your website. In the case of ecommerce sites, your homepage should inform potential customers about your brand, the products you sell, and what your best offers are, whilst also providing an easy route to view them.
It’s important to keep as much consistency between web pages as possible. The main components of your site should appear in the same places across pages to stop users from feeling disorientated when they land on a new page.
Step Three: Website Navigation
Ensure that your site is easy to navigate and that there is a clear and logical structure to any menus. If your website navigation systems are unclear, slow loading, or confusingly labelled, your visitors are likely to leave feeling unfulfilled and frustrated.
Using a horizontal navigation bar to display the primary means of navigating your website provides a cleaner, far more effective user experience. This is because it allows more scope for websites with lots of pages. Horizontal navigation bars are well positioned, but take up minimal space on your site. And, most importantly, people are used to this layout.
As well as making your site easy to navigate, it’s important to show users where they are using a clear menu hierarchy and breadcrumbs. When it comes to creating your menu, the key to success is keeping it simple! Ensure your menu font size, colour and style is readable and not over-designed. Users may be attracted by bright colours and an interesting design, but if it prevents them finding what they are looking for they aren’t going to have a good experience! The clearer your site and the easier it is to navigate, the more likely it is users will convert.
Step Four: Visuals
High quality and compelling imagery adds to the perceived value of your products and helps to build your brand’s credibility. Selecting the right images helps to balance your content, making it more engaging and readable.
For Ecommerce websites, the quality of the imagery used is paramount to the success of the website. The fact that in a majority of cases the user will not see a physical version of the product before making the purchase means that they have to be 100% sure that what they are buying is what they want. If a site has pixelated images, or images which show a product from odd angles, then it is unlikely a customer will opt to make a purchase. Think of the composition of your photographs, the quality, and the perspectives from each angle. The more images you can provide of the product, the better. It is also a good idea to provide thumbnail versions of products with the option to click on them to see larger versions.
Offer enhanced images from multiple views to allow the user to see the product in a more interactive and useful format.
Video content is becoming more and more common on ecommerce sites, and it is proven to assist in increasing conversion rates. Allowing users to view a video of a product helps them to see it from more angles, gain some perspective on the size and shape of the item and provides a closer experience to buying in a shop.
Step Five: De-Clutter
Remove Unnecessary Page Elements:
Try removing any elements from a page that could decrease the chance of a conversion (you should always focus on your primary conversion event first). Here are several examples of items you can remove:
• Secondary and tertiary conversion events like newsletter sign-ups • Extra links on a page
In general, cleaner pages with less clutter tend to convert better than overly designed ones with too much text or imagery.
Step Six: Pricing
All product pricing should be displayed in a prominent place on the product pages. Any offers or discounts should be featured clearly alongside the price.
Step Seven: Contact Information
One of the most important pieces of information on a website page is your contact details. Not only does having an address and phone number add weight and credibility to your site, it also allows users to easily contact you should they require assistance. For websites where phone calls are a valuable source of leads, the phone number should be very prominent across all pages of the website.
Although 0800 numbers are great for landlines, they can be off putting to users phoning from mobiles. It is worth testing a local number to see the impact this has on phone call volumes. Email addresses or email forms are also extremely valuable and should be easily accessible on your site.
Step Eight: Call-to -Action
Once you have got users to the point where they are ready to convert, the last thing you want to do is put them off during the conversion process!
• When requesting contact information (a lead) only ask for as much information as you actually need at that stage – avoid any unnecessary fields. • Where possible, try to keep the conversion process on a single page. If more than one page is required, PAGE 1 of 2 should be at the top of the page to show users how far through the process they are. Forms that go on and on with no apparent end will definitely put users off!
Step Nine: Delivery
When can users expect to receive their products, and how much will it cost them? Include prominent delivery information alongside the product and price. If you offer free or next day delivery, it’s a good idea to include this on your homepage.
Step 10: Credibility Indicators
On landing pages, try including credibility indicators such as testimonials, reviews, awards and social media details (i.e. Facebook likes, number of tweets, etc.) If you are part of an association or represented by an industry body, make sure these names or logos feature prominently on your site to give your offering more weight.
Showing potential buyers reviews from previous customers can greatly improve the conversion rate of your site. Integrating reviews on product pages, and adding a star rating alongside the “add to basket” button is a great way to do this.
By the time users have made it to the checkout, you would hope they are committed to buy! However, this is actually where many ecommerce sites lose visitors. Instead of assuming users will buy whatever’s in their basket, you must guide customers through a simple checkout process. (We will use John Lewis for examples here – they can do no wrong…) • Make the form easy to fill in and intuitive through good design and best practise. Consider drop down options where possible, radio buttons where a few options can be chosen, asterisks for mandatory fields etc • Use information hover buttons to show users additional information about each of the fields. • Reassure customers that their card details are safe! Use https, padlocks and security icons throughout the site, and most importantly – in the checkout process. • Decide what information you actually need from the customer, and only include these fields in the form to keep your checkout process as short as possible. If there is more than one page in your checkout make it clear to customers what stage they are at, and how many are left, to help lower abandonment. • Show important delivery and returns information upfront so that users are not put off further into the process. • Give users the option to pay for their items as a guest without having to register. This will speed up the process for those users who are in a hurry, or particularly intolerant! • It is sometimes a good idea to isolate the checkout process so users are not distracted by other areas of the site when completing their purchase. However, if you do so, ensure that customers are able to edit their order should they change their mind during the checkout – removing items from the basket, adding extra items, changing the size etc…
Setting up a Goal Funnel in your Google Analytics account will highlight if a particular page of your checkout is causing users to drop off. This information is invaluable, and should be used to amend the checkout process.