Often times we get so bogged down in the minutiae of keywords and content that we sometimes forget to look at the overall goals of our website. Making the sale, collecting the lead, enticing the click; these are all ultimate outcomes we want for our websites. Sometimes our choices are counter-intuitive to those outcomes. Whenever we perform a website evaluation, the “ultimate goal” is in our minds. A product sold, or a lead collected has to be the summit we work towards. Forgetting where you want to end up can sometimes mean a winding road along the way. Keep these conversion optimization tips in mind as you tweak content on your site.
- Easy to Find. I know that Amazon sells MP3 Players. I know I can find an MP3 Player on their site. They have easy to use categories and site-search. If the user can FIND the item, easily add it to the cart, checkout painlessly, and have faith in the shipping process, they’ll buy from you.
- Recommended. Social shopping is how things get sold these days. I’m going to buy a particular product because my mom bought that product, recommended it, I know how to use it, and it’s what I like. If I’m a brand advocate, I’ll bring others to your site. Having recommended products and services help new or novice shoppers feel more comfortable with your business. If you promise to ship or deliver fast, and have testimonials to back that up, you’re more credible in their eyes.
- Too many choices equal no choice at all. Decision Paralysis was a concept introduced to me in the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. In fact, this is among the first business books I ever read and liked. The premise is, if you throw more than just a couple options at the viewer, they’re likely to not “pick” any option. Think about it this way. When you’re watching TV, the more channels you have, the more you surf around and don’t settle on any one thing. This concept is the antithesis to what we want to accomplish with your website. Keep your calls to action simple and few in number. They should be in a color/style that is contrasting to the rest of the site. Even if your designer thinks a button looks garish, tell them to test different colors, ultimately the one that gets clicked the most, wins.
- How Many Steps to Done? Breadcrumbs are really important in a sign-up or checkout process. I like to test a few different kinds, but have seen the most popular and easiest to use in the form of “Step 1 of 4.” This type of breadcrumb not only tells the user where they are in the process, it tells them how far they are from the end. I have seen 20-step processes perform better than 1 giant form because the process was very clear about where the user was and how long until they’re done.
- Test Test Test. Without testing, you’re not done. Sorry, but to be honest a good optimizer is never done. Working to figure out what your users crave, and delivering it in a way that entices them to buy, can help increase your online sales & profits. That process of figuring it out involves lots of testing. Like anything, minimal efforts deliver minimal results. Its time intensive, you’ll make changes that didn’t turn out the way you planned, and you’ll fail just as much as you succeed when testing websites. Don’t get discouraged. This is all part of the process. What you do learn is that you’ve tried every combination impossible and found the ones that do and do not work. If you don’t test, you’ll spend the days and weeks asking yourself “What if?”
Today’s websites are works in progress. No piece of content, graphic, form, process or concept is ever “done.” You should never go into a website thinking you’ll spend a little to get it built and then be done with it. You’re not even PLANNING on doing it right if this is your strategy. If you’re going to do it, do it right, and make it something that generates new business and revenue.