The visitor is definitely in charge. It's all about them, not your ego. Today's online shoppers view the internet as the next best thing to reality and in many cases it's more efficient, more user-friendly and faster.
So why do so many online shoppers still complain about hard-to-use ecommerce websites?
Mainly because many online retailers simply do not understand their customers, respect their needs or preferences. Either they don't care or aren't educated on how to create positive user experiences. In order to create a user-friendly ecommerce website that generates revenue you must keep site goals, shopper needs and your brand's personality central to every web design decision that you make.
It may seem enticing to start an online store. After all, you just need a programmer to customize that web design template you've had your eye on, add some products and the website will handle itself. Right? Wrong. eCommerce has grown into a much more sophisticated industry that moves at lightning pace. Now, if you truly want to be successful you must have unique product offerings, a strong marketing plan, a healthy budget and the right talent to pull it off.
A major part of being successful in ecommerce today is ongoing conversion optimization. If you do not know what conversion optimization is and you run an online store, this is for you.
Why aren't people buying anything from my online store?
Say you open your online store and you get some traffic, but nobody buys. You think, this wasn't how this was supposed to happen. Why is nobody buying from my website? Why do they leave my site after viewing a few pages? This demonstrates a problem with your website's ability to convert traffic. If your website is not converting well you can have all the traffic in the world but the percentage of people who buy (your conversion rate) will not increase.
During the dawn of ecommerce in the 1990s there wasn't much competition between online retailers. If you were one of the first few to market you generally succeeded. That may have been true then, but now there is much more competition and consumers have grown savvy about finding the best online deals.
The dream of the 1990s is not alive in ecommerce.
Unfortunately, too many startups feel that all they need is a line of products and an online store and they have a recipe for a thriving online business. But you can't just put up an ecommerce website and hope it converts. You have to work at it on a regular basis.
What are successful online retailers doing that their lesser performing counterparts are not?
If you're like many entrepreneurs, you're always asking yourself if you could be doing more to grow your business and increase revenue. Sometimes you don't ever get around to it because you don't have the proper resources such as time, staff or technical knowledge. This is doubly so with your company's website. So you are left wondering...
Since late last year Think Tank has been performing Website Audits for clients that want to make sure their websites are in tip top shape. Sometimes they have specific concerns and other times they simply want an outside opinion on their website's effectiveness. During the course of performing these Website Audits we look for reasons why visitors become lost, abandon their shopping carts, don't complete forms, etc. Looking back, we noticed that we kept seeing the same problems over and over. Here is a list of the top 7 most frequent website mistakes.
1) Requiring Visitors To Create An Account
Let's face it, in today's culture we are inundated with hundreds of things that require logins and passwords. Adding another set to that list is a major turn-off. This is very often cited by online shoppers as a key motivation for shopping cart abandonment. Instead, offer a guest checkout. It's faster, more convenient and will reduce cart abandonment.
2) Requiring Too Much Personal Information On Forms
Not seeing the amount of people filling out your forms that you'd like? Maybe you're asking for too much. Often times in this scenario we see that the client isn't being realistic about the amount of info they require in their forms. For instance, if I sign up for an email newsletter I completely expect you to require my email address and perhaps my first and last name. I do not, however, expect you to require info like my phone number or mailing address to send me your email newsletter. Instead ask for the bare essentials to complete the task. Sure, you may not get all the customer's other info but you don't want to lose the visitor in the attempt.
Remarketing provides a way for marketers to reach out to consumers who have recently visited their website without taking a desired action. That action is most often making a purchase, filling out an online form, or other similar behavior considered to be a "conversion". Although it can be used in many scenarios, remarketing is most often employed by online retailers in an attempt to re-capture lost visitors who abandoned their shopping carts.
Let's examine this scenario.
An online shopper arrives at your online store. They browse your website and find a product (or products) that they like and then add them to their cart. But for some reason, the shopper doesn't actually complete their purchase and leaves your website thereby abandoning their cart.
Cart abandonment can happen for any number of reasons. Sometimes, a shopper just get distracted before checking out and never completes their purchase. Perhaps they are comparison shopping, or maybe they saw that shipping charges were more than anticipated. Regardless, they leave your website without completing their transaction.
We've been helping more and more clients recently update their marketing plans. In the process, we've also been helping to clarify their overall business objectives. A vital step in creating a road map to achieve those objectives.
In order to help a company clarify their marketing objectives we need to understand where they want to go. Where they want to be in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? Do they have an exit strategy? Let's face it. If a company can't answer those questions, our job becomes exponentially more difficult.
Too often we get so wrapped up in the "right now" that we forget about the "what's to come". With staff shortfalls and increasingly tighter deadlines, too many marketing directors get wrapped up in their day to day operations to sit down and periodically re-evaluate their marketing plans (or sometimes even create one).
The Internet Sales Tax bill passed the Senate with a 69-27 vote yesterday and now moves on to the House for consideration. Nobody knows what will happen there since many Republicans see it as nothing more than a tax increase on the American people.
I would have liked to have written more but this link just did an absolutely beautiful job illustrating the impact it will have on our country. Take a moment and check out this link to see how the Internet Sales Tax will impact the United States.