If you get 1000 visitors a day to your site and 2% convert into customers, you will have 20 customers a day. At Chicago Style SEO, we are obviously proponents of always looking to increase your relevant traffic, but at a certain point, it becomes much more efficient to work on increasing your conversion rate. In the above example, an increase in the conversion rate of 1% would net as many customers as 500 more visitors a day. In some of the cases I will be highlighting, the conversion rate has been increased by 5% or more. In this example, that would be the equivalent of 2,500 more visitors per day!
Rather than trying to convince a customer to buy something, I find it helps to think of cart optimization as removing barriers to that goal. These barriers are mostly mental blocks: lack of trust, uncertainty of getting a good deal, and confusion.
Simplify the Checkout Process
1. Simplify Forms and Design
Start by removing any unnecessary form fields, keep only the ones that are absolutely required. (Honestly, who even has a fax number anymore.) Ideally, you can use smart AJAX to hide rarely used fields that you have to have, like special required info for certain credit cards. Use white space and good design to create a calm and visually appealing form, use descriptive field names and section headers, and add helpful tips where they may be needed.
2. De-clutter and Reduce Exit Options
De-clutter checkout pages by removing page elements. Often, sidebars can be removed entirely as there is no need for featured items and the like?they end up being distractions. The same goes for most of the site navigation, sending a customer back into the catalog makes them think about the products, increasing the likelihood that they will reconsider the purchase.
3. Reduce Steps and Add a Guide to the Process
Add a progress bar showing all of the steps in the checkout process and highlighting the current step. This Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog post has some great examples from well known sites. The Get Elastic post also recommends reducing the number of steps to as few as possible. Most studies suggest that three is the optimal number of steps, any more and the process is too long, any less and each step will be asking for an intimidating amount of information.
Show Signs of Trust and Security
4. Show Off Your Verifiable SSL Logo
Place your SSL logo in a highly visible place site-wide, and again in close proximity to secure form submission buttons. The “highly visible” part is really important. From the Invesp Blog:
After some A/B split testing involving security logo appearances and different placements on the homepage, Lazarchic and his analytics team found that conversions on Petco.com increased by 8.83% when the security logo was above the fold, very high on the page and to the left- in other words, when the logo was in a natural, ?readable? position for customers. When the security logo was below the footer and on the bottom right, conversions were a mere 1.76%.
5. Independent Security Verification
Independent verification badges from services like McAfee Secure provide an extra level of security and trust. Some sites report an increase conversion rate of 10% from adding one badge alone. (Eric Enge from Search Engine Watch has a much more detailed breakdown of an actual test.)
6. Show Off Professional Organizations
Displaying badges to professional associations signals to your customers that you care about your profession and are invested in the industry. This is a subtle trust cue that often will net you a very high quality inbound link as a bonus. The Better Business Bureau is another good program that lets customers know you are serious about customer service (and you get a link to boot!).
7. Standard Site Pages
Analyze and Test Everything
Every website and situation is going to be different and the execution method will change everything. Before making any changes, make sure you have a detailed path analysis for your shopping cart process. Don’t start testing until you have at least a few weeks worth of data to provide a good benchmark for improvement, and map out your changes in advance.
It is easy to be overwhelemed with these changes. My advice is to break them up into manageable smaller changes. This will also allow for testing and evaluating which changes are making an impact.