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Optimize your online store for conversions in 10 steps

Connor McMenamin

If you want your online store to really work for you and convert visits into sales, you need to optimize it for this purpose.

There are different aspects of your site that will affect the customer’s decision-making and influence their journey.

Optimization is about looking carefully at these aspects. Some are about best practice, but others will come down to your site’s  fundamental functionality.

Optimising your site for conversions isn’t just about its design. The platform you’re using will have a significant impact on your customers’ experience. Make sure you look at it from their perspective.

Duncan Woodward, MD of Digital Consultancy,  Square Owl explains, “Aero offers retailers an enterprise level of control when it comes to conversion rate improvements. Access to the core codebase, coupled with the platform's inherent scalability and extensibility has enabled us to efficiently implement CRO strategies and exceed our clients commercial expectations.”

Here we look at 10 easy steps you can take to boost conversions for your store.

1. Site speed

Slow site speed is a notorious conversion killer. Page loading times are critical to conversions. If your pages are taking longer than two seconds to load, you could end up losing over 50% of your potential customers, according to Google’s own research.

Optimizing your site for speed can involve certain basic measures, such as not overloading it with too many elements, and ensuring you’re using a reliable web host.

But speed can also be about your site’s core functionality. If the platform you’re using is built for speed from the start, then you’ve got a built-in advantage.

As Sarkis Salleh, MD of ITQ Digital, explains “ITQ favours Aero because it has the best balance of performance to functionality on the market. We’ve even built our own Aero themes to combine speed with the uniqueness our customers want to stand out in the ever more competitive e-commerce market”.

2. Responsive design

You don’t have any control over your customer’s choice of device, therefore you need to optimize your site to work across a range of devices.

The most important of these is mobile. Google now has mobile-first indexing as the default for all new websites, which reflects the growing use of mobile devices as users’ first choice for online access.

This is now influencing how people shop, with one third of all online shopping taking place this way in 2019.

If you want to make it easy for customers to buy from you, make sure your site works for mobile devices.

3. SEO

If you’ve got what people are looking to buy, how do you help them find it? By answering the questions your potential customers are asking, you can drive them towards your site.

However, search engine optimisation (SEO) isn’t a blunt instrument. It’s not about simply stuffing your online copy with keywords to get your rankings higher.

SEO needs to work as part of an overall conversion strategy, where your content delivers what your site promises. When optimising your ecommerce site for conversions, make sure your SEO is part of your overall content strategy.

4. Quality content

You can only get customers to buy if you’ve given them the information they need first. And the way you deliver this information should help you build relationships with them.

Good, customer-focused copy will do this for you. Remember, even though your site may be primarily a visual experience, people will read what you say, and this can set the whole tone for the customer experience.

It’s also important to consider how they will absorb your online copy. Most site visitors scan rather than read, so you need to create your copy with this in mind.

5. Images

Content is important, but so is how you present what you’re selling. High-quality images of your products, especially in use, help give perspective to your visitors.

You should also consider including demonstration videos, which can provide useful information alongside making your products appear attractive.

You must also optimize these images, to ensure that they won’t slow down your page loading times, and will help with your SEO, by naming them and giving them  alt attributes for web browsers to render them.

6. Navigation and Site Search

Driving traffic to your site is one challenge, but if you overcome this, what happens when they get there? Remember we said your customers will be looking for certain pieces of information.

Well now you have to make sure they can find them on your site.

If you’ve ever been frustrated in a supermarket because you can’t find the right section for the item you want, then you’ll understand the importance of good ecommerce site navigation.

Having an effective site search function should help enormously, and remember to keep it straightforward. Too much choice, and too many filters, may act as a distraction and throw your customer off-course.

7. Reviews

Providing your visitors with proof of customer satisfaction is a very powerful way of driving conversions.

People trust online reviews; in fact 84% trust them as much as a personal recommendation from friends. And 91% of site visitors read these reviews.

If you want to build the credibility of your online store, then you should post customer reviews and testimonials on it.

Also consider adding social share buttons to encourage likes and shares. By publicising that people are buying from you, you can tap into a potential customer’s fear of missing out.

8. Checkout and Payments

You don’t want to fall at the final hurdle, so you must ensure that your checkout process is streamlined and straightforward.

This is the part where your customer will actually be parting with money, so it’s important there aren’t any technical hiccups, or distractions.

Most importantly, add a guest checkout option, so customers don’t have to register to buy from you.

A major reason why customers abandon their shopping carts is not wanting to register to buy from a site.

If your site can offer multiple payment options, this is also helpful in ensuring customers take that final step.

It should go without saying that your customers must understand your checkout process is properly secure.

Matt Ball, Head of Strategy & Partnerships at ITQ Digital confirms “anything extraneous in the checkout process will reduce conversion. Aero offers a no-nonsense checkout that elegantly delivers the essentials, and which has proved very popular with our customers.”

9. Free shipping

39% of UK consumers abandon their shopping carts because of delivery charges.

Free shipping is a powerful incentive for people to buy from you. If you’ve done the calculations and you can’t afford it, then do consider the price point you’d need to reach to make your shipping free.

You can then use this as a marketing benefit.

10. Returns

It might seem counter-intuitive to be encouraging conversions based on the ease of shoppers sending purchases back to you, but this is an important factor for customers.

Returning online purchases is now an established part of consumer culture. The media has even given this practice its own day, Takeback Monday.

Having a clear and practical returns policy is something you should include if you want to reassure your online customers.

A Platform for Ecommerce Success

To give your ecommerce site every possible advantage in competing for customers and making successful conversions, look at your platform first.

Replatforming to Aero’s lean, functional and highly effective ecommerce platform is proving successful for a  diverse range of independent retailers.

For our latest information and insights about the world of e-commerce, follow us on LinkedIn.

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