How To Turn Your Visitors Into Customers

Its pretty well documented that the most cost effective way to generate more sales on your website is to convert more of your visitors into buyers. After all, you’ve done most of the hard work (and probably spent a great deal of money) getting them there in the first place.

Here are our Top Tips that we’ve learned over the years at to increase conversion rates (in no particular order):

1. Homepage – Make an impression; its your shop window

You’ve only got one chance and a matter of seconds to draw your visitor in; so get it right!

Let’s assume that if someone has landed at your store, as a result of your highly targeted marketing campaign they are actually looking for something that you sell.

Half of the work is therefore done – all you now have to do is ensure that they can see that they are in the right place, as soon as they hit your homepage. Here’s how:

– Stick to standard navigation practices. Make sure all departments/categories have meaningful names and are clearly visible either in the left hand nav bar or across the top of the site.

– Have a search box prominently displayed – but consider not having one if your range is not that big as you dont want many searches producing n0 results)

– In your main middle section (above the fold) make sure you display clear, descriptive and eye-catching images alongside explanatory text links – arty pictures not related to what you’re selling and too many ‘more info’ or ‘view all’ links are not interesting to a fleeting eye.

– Display a best sellers list (as by their very nature they will probably be recognized by your visitors).

– Have some sort of link to your Clearance or Bargains page. You can bet that a % of your shoppers will be specifically looking for a deal.

– If there is a seasonal event related to your offer, create a category containing relevant products and link to it from here. Chances are your shoppers are looking for something for this event (e.g. a ”Valentines Gifts” page if you are a lingerie store)

– Don’t make the page too busy – i know it sound like a contradiction but this is very important – if you have everything you think you need on the page but the layout is too busy, the visitor will feel under pressure to take it all in and will likely lose interest. Here’s a great resource for modern homepage layout design

2. Landing Pages – are also your shop window (but often forgotten)

Although the majority of people will arrive at your homepage, many will arrive at a product or category page – especially as a) you will no doubt be running an effective PPC campaign that links to targeted destination pages, and b) your site is built in such a way that Google has indexed all of your pages and you are top of the search results for the entire long tail of keywords and phrases that relate to your products…

So, now that is established you’ll understand the importance of making sure the landing pages follow the same principles as the homepage in gaining the customers attention and their confidence that they have landed at the right place.

– Keywords – as the visitor is likely to have come to this page from some type of search, make sure this page clearly display images of what the search was for and that the keywords or phrase that they used to search for is nice and prominent . It also doesn’t hurt to repeat the word/s a 2 or 3 times on the page (but don’t over do it)

– Call to Action – again, as the visitor has landed on a product or category page, they are arguably even more likely to make a purchase as their search was probably quite specific. So make sure you have some sort of ‘buy’ or ‘add to basket’ button available.

– Route back to the homepage or related items – Bear in mind that a visitor may hit the landing page mistakenly, or may not actually like what they see but are interested in seeing what else is on offer. Always provide clear links back to the homepage and to similar items or related categories.

3. ‘Findability’ – help customers find what they’re looking for

A simple and easy to use navigational structure is important to cater for those visitors who like to browse , not search – but , unless you display a vast list of categories (which I strongly advise against – see Point 1), not every category will contain items for everyone. People naturally have different tastes and criteria. So how do you put the right products in front of them? The answer is in refining and sorting the results to suit the users needs.

This feature is probably best described in pictures and one of my favourite sites to utilize these tools in Bluefly – a US fashion site.

In this example I’ve visited Bluefly because I’m looking for a black t-shirt. I could search for a black t-shirt but i don’t really want to see womens black t-shirts and there is a t-shirts category in the men’s section, so i think i’ll browse.

In the first screen shot you can see I have selected T-Shirts as the category I’m interested in. There are 6 pages of results; so quite a lot to browse through to get to what i want, and then it may not be available in my size anyway.

This is where the refining tool comes into its own – you can see that i’m able to narrow the displayed results down to my desired size, colour, price and even brand if i’d like. When my results are displayed i can then sort by price, bestsellers or the newest items.

So, back to the point – I’ve found exactly what I’m looking for in seconds and am now extremely likely to now buy something from here!

4. Product, Product, Product

Scrap everything I’ve just said!

Well, don’t, but hear this. Product, Product, Product – if you don’t have the right product to cater for the demand of your target market, you may as well forget it.

I cannot stress enough that is it is the product that makes the sale – not pretty graphics, an easy to use site, or anything else for that matter – if the product stinks, people wont buy it – there, I’ve said it.

For the sake of carrying on and not pressing ‘delete post’, I’ll assume you have the hottest products in your sector!

5. Something for Everyone – the long tail….

So you’ve got the hot products (!) and you’ve got a hot refining tool to quickly get people to what they want – now its time to expand the range. Fill up your store with everything your target market could possibly want. The wider the range, the more likely a visitor will buy something. Its simple really. And this is where the Internet comes into its own. You may have a warehouse with space limitations and overhead costs; I do appreciate that; but its nowhere near the cost and space limitations of a high street store – use this to your advantage and become a one-stop shop for your target market – why should they go anywhere else?

6. Price Competitively

Basic retailing rules still apply – if your not competitive people will go elsewhere – on the Internet your competitor is just a click away. Do your research, and keep it up.

7. Simple checkout – make it easy to buy

So you’ve given the customers what they want – well done. But it is well documented that this is in fact a waste of time when it comes to at least 1/3 of them (some sources say 70% or more), who abandon their shopping baskets without making a purchase.

Granted, some people just change their mind, but there is undoubtedly a large % who just cant make it through the Checkout process. When reviewing your shopping basket , make sure you:

– Don’t hide any extra charges such as Delivery costs or VAT
Provide the customer with a clear indication of where they are in the checkout process

– Give customers the option of not creating an account

– Make it clear that your checkout pages are secure

8. Easy customer & contact information – be available

There are thousands of sites out there. You probably don’t have the luxury of being a household brand, so you need to stand out from the crowd as a retailer of quality and integrity.

Be open and honest with your customers. Let them know how to contact you and what all of your policies are, every step of the way. They are far more likely to trust you if you trust them with this information.

9. Accreditation to consumer watchdogs – for peace of mind

On a similar note, a good way to provide peace of mind for your customers – and therefore a greater propensity to buy from you – is to join an industry body and advertise this on your site.

They generally act as a middle man for any dispute that may occur between you and a customer, and provide a code of practice that you must adhere to. The fees to join these (around £100) are well worth the peace of mind that their logo on your site provides customers.

In the UK I would recommend the IMRG and Safebuy schemes. We at are members of these schemes as they provide peace of mind to our customers.