Enter to win a free website review! learn more

Improving Website Conversion to Increase Sales

by Arianne Foulks

September 24, 2014

So you put your own website together – congratulations! That’s a lot of hard work. How is it looking? How is it working? Does it all make sense, or does it only make sense to you? How many visitors turn into customers? Do you feel like you’re losing people along the way to checkout?

It can be difficult to get outside of your own head (where everything makes perfect sense about your business and website) and into the head of a customer, to see where you’re losing them.

Improving website design, improving website content, and improving website functionality

Here are some things you can scan your website for right now and correct, to help a few more people make it all the way through checkout:

Offer free shipping

This is the easiest change to make and should be quite effective. I personally have abandoned many a cart when seeing the shipping rates, because I’ve juuuuust decided it’s worth paying the price I see on the page, and when shipping is added to that, it’s no longer worth it. Your shopper will assign a value to an item while shopping (suggested by you!) and then changing that value at the cart can be a deal-breaker.

You don’t necessarily have to take a loss on shipping, if you can roll an extra fee into your product price to offset the change. Note that this strategy won’t work if you sell something that people are price-checking on multiple sites, but should be fairly simple for handcrafters or artisans to do.

User testing

You can do this the old-school way  – grab a friend or neighbor or your grandma and sit her down at a computer with your website. Assign her a task, such as “find and purchase some earrings” and have your tester talk out loud about her thought process as she shops. You can uncover some interesting things doing this. Maybe something that makes perfect sense to you can be confusing to people new to your site.

Is the “add to cart” button nice and big? Can customers find their cart after they add something to it? Are choices during checkout clear?

Pay attention during the cart and checkout steps, as here is where you can see what may be making customers abandon their cart. Go through the full shopping and checkout process on your site yourself. This way, you’ll be able to catch anything that is confusing, surprising, or (gasp!) broken. Don’t rely on your cart software blindly.

You can also do this on a larger scale with sites like UserTesting.

If your audience is pretty engaged with you, you may want to add a survey to your site or send a survey to your newsletter subscribers (perhaps with a reward for answering). Be sure each question on your survey is written so that the answers will reveal to you what action step you could take to improve your user experience. Avoid filler questions that will waste peoples’ time (and yours!).

Make adjustments to your categories and product info

Make your shop categories boringly obvious. No “cute” category names, please! Do you have a jewelry category? Call it “jewelry,” not “baubles.” Have a section for children? Call it “children” or “kids,” not “minis.” Adding personality to your site is good, but having the personality hide simple information is bad.

Make your product descriptions interesting and informative. People want to know what size things are, what they’re made of, and what colors you offer, sure, but you also need to be sure you’re telling the customer a story that will help her picture owning your product, and make her feel like she needs to have it. If you’re stuck on this, you’ll be amazed by what our copywriter can do with your information – turning dry descriptions into sweet little blurbs that will sell.

Work on your photos. You need clear, detailed, and beautiful pictures of your products from all angles, and in use. Don’t skimp on this! Make sure photos make your customer picture the item in her life, make the size of the item understandable, and are the true colors. Unless you’re able to take well-lit, in-focus, and interesting pictures of your own products, hire some help. Dark, small, blurry pictures will be the death of your online business. That’s why we offer product photography to our clients – and would be happy to do this for you as a standalone project.

Make it easy for customers to shop, find info, and ask questions

Make the shopping cart/checkout link easy to find: People are expecting this in the top right corner, possibly with an icon of a cart. Don’t hide it, move it, name it something else, or give it a confusing icon.

Make your shipping and returns policies easy to find: Particularly for small businesses, your customer may feel anxious ordering from you. Will you really ship the product? On-time? What if they don’t like it when they get it? Make sure that your policies are easy to find (usually a link in the footer) and easy to read (cut out the jargon and be straightforward about how things work). Answer questions before they’re asked, with sizing charts, secure checkout padlocks, and a space to answer common questions.

Make sure your checkout process isn’t difficult. Is there anything you can do to make checkout easy and understandable? Do you ship internationally? Do you offer a reasonable assortment of payment methods? Is it simple to change quantities or remove things from the cart? Your keyword here should be, “foolproof.”

Social proof: add some customer reviews or testimonials to your site. This is a fantastic way to build trust, and customers have come to expect reviews on ecommerce websites. You can also find ways to show how many fans you have or how devoted they are to your site.

Make sure all your news or dated content is up to date: I have left shops before because I see the blog stopped updating five months ago, and I wonder if the shop is still in business. Make sure any blog posts, news, social media feeds that are integrated into your site, lists of events and sales, etc. are current, so people don’t see virtual cobwebs and leave.

Add functionality to your site

One of the things that we like about Shopify is that you can add functionality to your site through their app store. Shopping cart abandonment apps may be a good way to get someone who dropped off of your site with products in their cart to come back and finish checkout. Adding cross-sells, up-sells, promotions, or bribes may be a way to get more value out of a single customer.

Make sure everything is up to speed

Don’t let slow web hosting drive your customers away. Is your site loading quickly? If not, time for a new web host (or to have a developer check your site to be sure the problem isn’t in the code or the content).

Get some professional help

Our specialty at Aeolidia is making high-converting, strategic ecommerce sites. View our portfolio, then contact us today to turn everything around for your business.

Browse Posts
Newsletter Sign Up

We write a new email each week to help you grow your business.

2 thoughts on “Improving Website Conversion to Increase Sales”

  1. Hi Arianne!
    I really love these tips and have been hemming and hawing on the free shipping question suggestion for a while (we totally take your tips to heart!). Have you worked with a customer who has baked the cost of shipping into their products? In that scenario, the customer doesn’t benefit from buying multiple items. How have other creative businesses grappled with the free shipping suggestion?

    I’ll report back on our free shipping experiments. 🙂


Leave a Comment

Let's take your online shop to the next level

The Shopify websites we design have a reputation for substantial improvements to ecommerce conversion rates and online sales. Let's talk!

Want to learn more? See our services.