Top Tips For Website Optimisation To Drive Conversion

By Martin Newman | 12 Jun 2010

No matter how effective your search, email, or social media strategies may be, if your site is not optimised to drive conversion, your marketing dollars are being wasted. To compound matters, almost all retailers are also throwing dollars at developing iPhone apps and other expensive projects that deliver very little by way of ROI, when […]

No matter how effective your search, email, or social media strategies may be, if your site is not optimised to drive conversion, your marketing dollars are being wasted. To compound matters, almost all retailers are also throwing dollars at developing iPhone apps and other expensive projects that deliver very little by way of ROI, when investing a relatively small amount to optimise their existing site to ensure all hygiene factors are in place would have a far more significant impact upon the sales performance of their business.

When I do a website optimisation project, I guarantee my clients that if they implement even a small percentage of my recommendations for optimising their site, they will see an instantaneous and significant impact on their sales performance. The optimisation projects I work on average improvements in site conversion from 40% to well over 200%.

Here are a few examples of the types of areas I focus on when optimising e-commerce sites:

USER-CENTRED DESIGN
• Too many sites are designed from features and functionality perspectives rather than thinking through what the balance should be between features, functionality and the needs of different user personas.
• Who are the different user groups and what needs do they have that the site design needs to address and what impact will this have on sales?

In my experience, the needs of a number of key user groups are not catered for effectively online, and this includes gift buyers, multichannel customers, first time buyers, existing customers, and self-service customers.

CONTENT RELEVANCE AND CALLS TO ACTION
Very few brands use the real estate of the site to drive sales as well as they could. Too much space is given over to content that ultimately makes no difference to the user.

“Different personas will have different needs, but things like discounts, offers, incentives such as free delivery, bundled products, bestselling products, new in, gift wrap and gift message availability, and effective messaging such as ‘buy today, use tomorrow’ etc. are the types of calls to action that will stimulate a user to make a purchase.

SEARCHANDISING AND FINDABILITY
Around 40% of sales should start in the search box. But the reality is it’s nowhere near that level for most retailers, in most cases it’s less than 1%. But also conversion from users who started their purchase in the search box will usually be four or five times that of the normal conversion rate. The reason why it’s so low for most businesses is because the on site search function isn’t fit for purpose. In most cases, mispelling isn’t handled well, it doesn’t redirect for relevant synonyms and it doesn’t return relevant products. In many cases there is no filtering available to aid the user to narrow down the product selection available by price, colour, fit, gender, size, etc.
From a merchandising perspective, too often cross-selling is an after thought and the options are random and unrelated. A good buying and merchandising team should be building in cross-selling to their thinking when determining the product range. And the site should enable the e-commerce team to drive dynamic cross-selling.

THE SHOPPING BAG AND THE CHECKOUT
This is where most customers abandon a site. In many cases you can almost double sales by having a more streamlined and usable checkout. The key issues centre around the length of the checkout, the registration process, the forms and the information provided at each stage. i.e. on the bag, the delivery information is key to determining whether or not a customer starts the checkout process or abandons there and then.

RECOVERY FROM ERRORS
Every action drives a reaction and an action…it’s amazing how many retailers have clearly not thought through what action they need the customer to take at each stage of the customer journey. This is another fundamental reason for users abandoning. If I put in the incorrect credit card number but you don’t tell me, what am I meant to do next?

PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT AND IMPROVEMENT: ANALYTICS AND TESTING
Analytics should be the lifeblood of e-commerce channels. But that’s not the case for most retailers. Few retailers have a dedicated resource in the team to manage analytics and performance measurement. Too few sites have been effectively tagged to track all the necessary interactions, and too few people know what they should be tracking and measuring and what goals they should set up in the first place. There is even much ambiguity with regards to the definition of KPIs.

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