Author: J Toral

4 tips to help convert your website visitors into customers this holiday shopping season

This year’s rollercoaster of global events has made it more difficult for traditional retailers to operate. Ongoing events and their correlating unpredictable and ever-shifting social circumstances make attracting new customers a drastically different and substantially more complicated process. With the Holiday Season upon us, the inability to know if, how, or when retailers can let customers back in only exasperates how unprepared and vulnerable many retailers continue to feel.

But here is the thing – consumers faced with the same problems have solved it by turning to online, mobile, and digital shopping without so much as a second thought!

… and this means online marketing strategies for retail businesses need a renovation. The more traditional and well-known marketing tactics (i.e., working around social media and online advertising) are sometimes good enough to get people to click a product or visit an eCommerce website. Still, they are not enough to substantively help convert online strangers into repeat customers.

During this year’s holiday shopping season, conversion rate optimization could mean the difference between ending a crazy year on a high note or locking the doors for good.

Here are 4 tips that will help you convert website visitors into customers:

I. Have your mobile website ready

A significant portion of customers now shop via mobile devices. According to the Salsify 2020 Consumer Report, 77% of eCommerce shoppers begin their online shopping search from a mobile device. Additionally, a recent 2020 Covid-19 U.S. Consumer Behavior Report from Worldpay by FIS revealed that 58% of consumers felt that they are spending more on eCommerce during the ongoing pandemic. With more shopping being via eCommerce, and much of that shopping originating on mobile devices, retailers should be optimizing for that type of user experience. Ignoring the impact of mobile shopping on your eCommerce website can lead to customer alienation and spell disaster in the long run. If your visitors are inconvenienced in their customer journey, they are likely to go to a more accommodating competitor. It then becomes more expensive and burdensome to rebuild that customer relationship – so avoid losing your customers altogether, especially on something so simple.

During the holiday shopping season – a time when customers are increasingly more engaged with retailers, including eCommerce – it is imperative to capitalize on the surging web traffic. To start, it’s best to pay attention to your analytics, which give insight into how your existing customers are browsing and what devices they ultimately use at checkout. A high bounce rate or a low conversion rate on your mobile devices will be the first signs that something isn’t right with the mobile version of your online store. You can then go from there to experiment and building a more agile and user-friendly mobile version of your website.

II. Optimize your landing pages for customer experience

The holiday shopping season can be overwhelming for both the retailers and the customers alike. It’s the end of the year, things are moving fast, budgets are tight, and nerves are high. But, that is no excuse to drop the ball on fine-tuning the landing page details. It makes your eCommerce website look neater, the user experiences better, and the shopping process more sensical. Customers do not want clutter, a complicated checkout process, unclear information, or a website that doesn’t “feel” right – and that’s where optimization comes in. Without it, you may have lots of website visitors, but a low conversion rate lowers your overall revenue and makes it difficult to build customer loyalty. Optimization, the tool to rapidly build trust, establish value, and allow customers to checkout without undue frustration, helps combat the problems mentioned above.

This process doesn’t need to be complicated!
Here are the basics to get you started:

  • Increase your white space. It reduces the appearance of clutter and helps customers quickly find essential information without getting overwhelmed.
  • Improve your calls-to-action (“CTAs”). Using single or low-count verbs like “subscribe,” “submit,” and “start shopping” comes off as emotionless and fail to resonate with website visitors. Instead, elaborate on the core value propositions and get creative.  For example, if selling protein powder, instead of describing it as “a great source of protein” and adding a “buy now” button, try “Get the body of your dreams!” with a “Stop Procrastinating!” button. These little tweaks will make you stand out from the hoards.
  • Organize your navigation. Don’t let users get lost or confused trying to navigate your site. Ensure the navigation makes sense – in fact, ask a friend who has never seen your website before trying it. Was it easy for them to find information and products? If it takes more than 3 clicks to find a product or a solution, reorganize.
  • Make sure your links are not too close together on mobile. Like I said earlier, most shoppers are mobile now. Nothing will frustrate a visitor more than trying to click on one thing, only to end up clicking its neighbor.
  • Give your search bar the spotlight. It should be visible at the top of every page. Unlike physical retail stores, there isn’t much value in browsing. The first thing online shoppers like to do is find a search bar and fill it out. If your search is hard to find or hard to use, shoppers won’t stick around.

III. Make getting in touch and customer service fit your customers

Brick-and-mortar shoppers and eCommerce shoppers don’t have the same habits, but they do share the desire for easy and responsive customer service when they need help. There is a pivotal moment in the customer journey we all experience when shopping. Once a customer is almost ready to make a purchase, there is a need for validation. In brick and mortar stores, customers typically look for store clerks to help answer any final questions. Online, customers instead prefer to look for the most convenient way to answer those questions. If your website does not offer a convenient way to get in touch, it may send your customers to other forums and review websites where your competition makes their bid for conversion. Look at your customer demographics and how those demographics prefer to get in touch – and offer that.

IV. Diversify your payment options

Only offering credit card and PayPal options at checkout won’t cut it anymore. Retail shoppers have already gotten accustomed to more than that at the checkout counter, and they expect more from eCommerce websites too. While security – which required tedious inputs – is a priority, consider payment processors who offer more flexibility without security compromises. Payment options like Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay allow customers to checkout with a single click, without additional steps like filling out information. Allowing this type of flexibility will result in fewer abandoned carts and happier customers. New trusted payment options, like Klarna and PayPal Credit, are always emerging, so keep this in mind when doing your annual updates.

Action Items

At the end of every coaching session, I like to send everyone away with at least a few action items to improve their conversion rate right away. Here are four things you can do to make sure your site is secure and ready to convert visitors into customers
Here are your final action items:
  • Test your shop thoroughly on more than one mobile device. Make sure to test it with different platforms (Andriod, Google, Apple) and different screen sizes.

  • Make sure elements of the site are well spaced out, especially clickable/touchable links on mobile.

  • Update the language of your calls-to-action. Stick to more emotional, less literal CTAs
  • Add several methods to contact someone at your shop without delay. Leaving a visitor waiting has the same effect online as it does in your store.
  • Add a few instant payment options to your store. Don’t make your unfortunate mobile users fill out a twenty field form to buy your products.
Want to learn more about how you can grow and convert your customers? Subscribe to my blog and follow me on social for regular updates. Shoot me a message with your question, and it may be featured in a future post.

Why improving your website’s cyber security is crucial for effective conversion rate optimization

Why improving your website’s cyber security is crucial for effective conversion rate optimization

For most online businesses, getting and growing website traffic is only the beginning of their customer acquisition journey. Many things need to be taken into consideration to optimize that process further – but following online cybersecurity best practices when building your website is one of the most important steps in customer acquisition and conversion rate optimization. Ignoring these practices can quickly ruin your efforts and send your clients running to your competitors, never to be seen again. 

Here are 3 ways your website’s cybersecurity protocols enhance your customer acquisition and optimize your conversion rates: 

I. Cybersecurity practices build customer confidence

Customers are now spending more time online than ever before. Unlike just a decade ago, they are more knowledgeable and have higher expectations of the websites they interact with today. They expect great design, a flawless user experience, easy navigation, transparency, and an assurance that their personal data (like credit card information, names, and addresses) will remain protected and secured. Through their shared online experiences, customers have learned to recognize the common signs that point to a website being secure, and when a website fails to deliver these signals, they bounce. Users who bounce from websites often describe a “feeling” that a website was a potential scam without knowing why. Additionally, testing shows that adding proper security has demonstrated a significant reduction in those bounces. By ensuring that your website is secure and is using the latest cybersecurity protocols, you meet your website visitor’s expectations of what a professional website should be like, and subtly build your customer’s trust and confidence. Building customer trust and confidence is a crucial element of customer acquisition and conversion rate optimization.

II. Cybersecurity practices improve your website’s performance …
and ranks you higher in search engines

Businesses also need to consider how much their cybersecurity protocols affect their website’s performance in search engines. Most search engines today pay close attention to a website’s security practices when ranking a page. When crawling your site – a technical term of what happens when search engines rank your website – they look for signs that a website is secure. If a website lacks at the very least, basic security practices, or worse, is hacked, a search engine will block visitors from opening the webpage and delist that page (and sometimes the whole website) from their search results. For example, Google lowers the ranking of sites that don’t have an SSL certificate installed for the entire website, and the lower in the ranking that your website is in, the harder it is for your potential customers to find you. This damage to your search engine results can be incredibly hard to reverse once it happens, so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure. It is no longer “good enough” to only secure your checkout pages and forms. That’s why diligent attention to your cybersecurity protocols throughout your entire website is paramount to customer acquisition and conversion rate optimization.

III. Cybersecurity practices prevent downtime

Unlike of brick-and-mortar businesses, website visitors expect websites to be accessible and operational at all times. This expectation is so prevalent that even a 15-minute downtime episode can lead to a long term loss of business. Customers experiencing downtime are more likely to lose trust and funnel to your competition. It is therefore important to secure your website against any potential hijackers, Distributed Denial of Service (“DDOS”) attacks, malware, and other malicious activities. Moreover, many popular search engines will block website visitors if they detect any nefarious code or cybersecurity compromises, further hurting your customer acquisition and conversation rate optimization.

Action Items

Making sure that your website follows the latest cybersecurity practices is an important start in your customer acquisition and conversion rate optimization journey. It doesn’t have to be daunting or a complicated process, but it is one that has to be managed. To help you along, at the end of every lesson, I like to send everyone away with at least a few action items to help you on your journey. Here are seven things you can do to make sure your website is secure and enhances your customer acquisition.
  • Make sure you have an SSL certificate. You can easily check if you have one by looking at your URL: does it start with “https” – yes? Good! You have one. If not, LetsEncrypt gives them out for free. Then make sure to add a security seal image somewhere on your site.

  • Force all website traffic to the secure version of your site – this may be a job for your developer or web host, but it should be a 2-minute task by adding this code to your .htaccess file:

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301,NE]
  • Ask your host about their DDOS and uptime policy. If it’s not 99.9% uptime or better, it’s time to move hosting companies.
  • Talk to your host about what other sites are hosted on your server. Or even check yourself here
  • Back up your website every day. Most hosts allow you to automate this process. You should have at least: 14 daily backups, 1 month of weekly backups, and 3 months of monthly backups.
  • Keep your website’s features and widgets up to date. Updates are often security-related, so do them often. Every morning if you can, and since you are backing up every night, if anything goes wrong, you are covered.
  • Install malware scanning software on your website. If you are on WordPress or Joomla, I recommend Akeeba Admin Tools and I’m not sponsored by either, but since I’ve used them across hundreds of websites, I trust them.

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