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Clever Tactics for E-Commerce Website Conversions: Part I

As more and more brick-and-mortar stores are pulling out of the dock and setting sail into the abyss of faraway lands, it is becoming evident that these stores have no intention of ever returning back to shore. These retailers are closing their doors for good, and the others that are left behind are scaling down to minimal revenue-generating versions of their former selves. Consumers have made their choice loud and clear—they prefer to shop online. With Statista reporting phenomenal growth already for 2019 (13.7% attributed to eCommerce sales worldwide), that number is expected to grow in 2020. The company reports that at least “2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online, up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016.”

How are e-tailers preparing for this massive opportunity to scale their businesses to unprecedented heights? Our series explores 25 proven tactics that keep website traffic engaged and coming back to make purchase after purchase. We’ll show you methods that convert customers on the most popular e-commerce platforms as well as some other tips and tricks we’ve implemented on sites that we’ve developed.

By applying these methods, your site is undoubtedly ready to cater to the masses. There’s a new ship pulling in and ready to dock—the I.M. Shopping Online!

1. Recently viewed

  • What it is
    The Recently Viewed featured on a website is a display of items that the customer browsed through by clicking a link. Generally driven by requirements upon initial installation, there could be some limitations that could be displayed. For example, the user may see only the image, description, ratings, and price; however, it is not common for the user to see a full description of the product or other detailed information like sizes, and stock availability. To enable this feature, a cookie is generally stored on the user’s computer. This cookie saves the information in the browser and is displayed for a preset time when the user returns to the site.  More sophisticated systems attached browser information to the username and password and save it within backend databases, so when the user logs into the site, the information that was saved from a previous visit is displayed to keep the user from having to start all over.

  • What We Recommend
    After a time delay, alerts can display on the page that would possibly motivate the customer to purchase; for example, offer the customer a discount on the item if they decide to exit before the purchase is made. Another option would be to help the customer visualize the purchased item with another item that matches and offer a discount on each. By showing the customer items that the product would pair well with, you’ve become a personal shopper—helping them make convenient buying choices and eliminating some of the stress of shopping.
  • The Benefit
    This function is ideal for customers that visit the site often. In these cases, the customer might bypass the wish list altogether and use this as their shopping point of reference. When the customer sees the Recently Viewed section, and it is positioned in a prominent spot on the website upon his/her return, it sparks a memory.  This makes it easy for the customer to realize that they viewed the item(s) when they were on the site at a previous moment in time.

2. New Arrivals

  • What it is
    The sound of newness can bring joy to any consumer’s face! Your homepage should prominently display new items that are available to purchase. If you’re using a content management system like Shopify or WooCommerce, the items displayed within a New Arrivals section are usually the latest items that were entered into the tool’s database. Adding attention-grabbing callouts such a red button that says “New!” or “Sale!” make these items stand out to the customer and motivates them to take a closer look by clicking on the link and visiting the item’s page.
  • What We Recommend
    With any New Arrivals section, it is also important to allow the customer the ability to sort it. This is because normally there is no organized way that items are added to the database, they are simply added, and then they are displayed based on the tagging structure the user has assigned. Therefore, on the homepage, having this sorting ability in place allows customers to narrow down their selections based on their own preferences.
  • The Benefit
    Having your latest products available for customers to view initially makes the purchase process easier. Your frequent visitors will appreciate your effort to display the latest and greatest products that you have available rather than them having to look for them. They also will appreciate knowing if these new items are on sale, as those are the items they tend to purchase immediately rather than abandoning it in their cart.

New Arrivals section 3. Recommendations

  • What it is
    With the Recommendations feature, the user’s purchase history is analyzed for patterns and based on those findings, an algorithm is generated that has been configured to match similar items that make sense to purchase together. This algorithm then analyzes other users that have purchased not only that same item but those similar items. The result is a display of items that are ideal to couple with the item being purchased. In WooCommerce, for example, this ability to recommend products is configured at the time of product entry, as the user can enter an item in the “upsell” field. With the right strategy in place beforehand, the user can easily add a product that would pair with the item they are adding to the database.
  • What We Recommend
    When building a Recommendations strategy, it is important to research your customer using your analytics. Based on the consumer’s funnel, you can easily find out where they’re going to go next. Use this information to highlight items along that funnel by saying “users who purchased this item also purchased this…” This personalizes the site for the user, allowing them to feel that their shopping experience will be a memorable one, and that motivates them to come back.
  • The Benefit
    Adding a recommendation section to your site shows the site visitor that you are tuned in to they might be looking for, and that you want to lend a helping hand in finding that item. Sometimes the customer is unsure of what they’re seeking, and the recommendation might jog their memory to what they were seeking. This also alerts the customer to other items that they might have been seeking elsewhere, and based on your recommendations and notifying that you have the product available, they may buy it from you instead!

4. Promotions

  • What it is
    For the Internet crowd to bask in the pure essence of your e-commerce ecstasy, you must let them know about it—through the power of digital marketing. Depending on your target market, it is ideal to use what we call the “promotion powerhouse package” — social media, email marketing, digital advertising and video marketing. When combined, you can capture many different audiences at many different times. For example, your Instagram followers may see your promoted items at a totally different time than your YouTube followers. The key is to do some research and find out what are the best times to deploy your post, launch your videos and set your ads. This should also include a robust testing strategy—finding out what works and what doesn’t. This way, you won’t waste money on specific tactics that are not working. In addition, using some direct marketing for your website wouldn’t hurt either. Having some flyers printed and distributed in local neighborhoods are a gold mine, as you never know who’s going to see them. Also, sending out mailers with the discounts included are a viable asset as well. For promotions to work effectively, there must be a strategy developed that will ultimately accomplish 3 tasks which include:
    1. Brand awareness: Make sure that who you are and the values you represent resonate well with your audience. Colors, typography, and voice are at the beginning of the branding process, helping you to establish your own personal stamp in the online world. Once you begin building your brand and sticking to the guidelines you’ve set forth, the mere mention of it should be easily recognizable anywhere–on your website, your email campaigns, and your social media, trade shows–this list can go on and on.
    2. Audience development: Make the content you provide irresistible. Make them want to engage with your content every time you create something new, whether it’s an email, social media post, YouTube video, new section on your website, etc. Moreover, don’t create a dead-end–your content should have an ultimate goal in mind, such as a link to more related content on your website or completing an action, such as clicking through to the full story from a post. These are important steps to take to keep those customers you already have. McDermott says that an Agile approach here is best “to succeed with an audience-first approach, editors must understand how their content is moving audiences from one stage to the next, and content distribution managers must see how content is being developed and optimized to drive strategic actions.”²
    3. Digital transition: Take advantage of the huge opportunity that is available in digital marketing. From email marketing, social media, mobile, web content management, and SEO (just to name a few), using these touchpoints means that you are capable of reaching the right audience at the right time. In addition, depending on your target market, using more advanced digital touchpoints like Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence will allow you to reach more customers that are way more comfortable using tools like chatbots or using everyday elements with which they already interact.
  • What We Recommend
    An effective marketing plan will work wonders to get your message out about your products. Traditional marketing is effective, but digital marketing will generate a quicker Return on Investment. You should really gather your team and ask “How do I get first-time readers back to my site? What else do they want to read? What intelligence can I gather from their behavior and data that we possess?’ All of these ideas and actions are what Netflix and Amazon do extremely well – and as marketers, we need to learn from them. They get exponentially smarter about what their users want as they consume more content. That’s the holy grail for content marketers who want to build ongoing relationships through valuable content” (McDermott, 2018).
    Need ideas for your marketing plan? Try some tips from our last article, Need a Marketing Plan for Big Data? Say no more!
  • The BenefitPromoting a product is at the heart and soul of marketing. If you don’t let people know about the product, how will they ever buy it from you? By using multiple methods to get your message out, you reach a wider audience, which can ultimately lead to more sales. The old adage, “build it and they will come,” doesn’t work unless they already know about it–and they can’t already know unless they’ve already been told. So, promote your product and do it well!

5. Social Proof

  • What it is
    Today’s society wants what it wants-and they want it fast!. Whether it’s the latest phone or being able to attend the opening of the hottest new club’s grand opening, everyone wants to be a part of the “in” crowd. Your website should be no different. Social proof lends itself to the idea that traffic will gravitate to your site and make purchases if they feel that others are there making purchases as well. It’s the fear of missing out, or “FOMO.” Remember high school? Everyone wanted to be one of the cool kids, so to not be able to get what the cool kids had was heart-breaking. Your site should provide an environment where your traffic will fear they won’t get that coveted item.

    • Types of Social Proof
      There are at least 5 types of social proof, and those include¹:
      1. Expert social proof – Approval from a credible expert, like a magazine or blogger, can have incredible digital influence.
      2. Celebrity social proof – Up to 25% of U.S. TV commercials have used celebrities to great effect, but only a handful of web startups have to date.
      3. User social proof  – Websites that show you real-time transactions. (see example to the right).
      4. Wisdom of the crowds social proof – Ray Kroc started using social proof in 1955 by hanging an “Over 1 Million Served” sign at the first McDonald’s.  Highlighting popularity or large numbers of users implies “a million people can’t be wrong.”
      5. Wisdom of your friends’ social proof – Learning from friends through the social web is likely the killer app of social proof in terms of 1:1 impact, and the potential to grow virally.
  • What We Recommend
    The easiest way to implement social proof is testimonials! Invite customers to leave a review on a product they’ve purchased. It’s the easiest way for lurkers to see that people are buying your products and loving them! In addition, many e-commerce sites like Shopify and WooCommerce have plug-ins available that can be implemented easily. Generally, these plugins show what item was purchased, where the purchaser lives (city and state), and how long ago it was purchased. It’s basically social media for your website!
  • The Benefit
    With social proof, you gain the assurance of your customers, especially if you’re a startup. With so many consumers being duped online, they are very cautious about making purchases on random sites. With others vouching for you, it puts the customer’s mind at ease, and they’re more open to closing the deal with you!

It’s a Start, But….

While these are essential tactics that are important to help with website conversions, rest assured that they definitely are not the only ones that you should consider. Tune in next week as we reveal more tactics that can help you increase sales on your e-commerce website!

Works Cited

¹Lee, Aileen. (2011, November 27). Social Proof Is the New Marketing. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2011/11/27/social-proof-why-people-like-to-follow-the-crowd/.

² McDermott, Claire (2018). A step-by-step guide to audience development. Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/03/guide-audience-development/