converting browsers to buyers

Does your e-commerce site encourage browsing?

More importantly does it convert browsers to buyers?

We all like to see the statistics demonstrating X number of new visitors to your site. However, if those potential new leads aren’t (virtually) hanging around to browse and ultimately buying something, they remain just stats!

Make it easy for your web visitors to browse. Make it hard for them to resist a purchase.

After 13 years working in the e-commerce sector, here are my three top tips for improved browsing and better conversion rates:

1. The navigation

This is the principal way in which customers browse the website. It is therefore essential that it is logical, clear and fast. Is it in a logical location? Most people expect to find it at the top of the screen on a desktop and as a ‘hamburger menu’ on a mobile or tablet. Creative designs are all well and good but if the customer can’t orientate themselves on the site, they’re not going to get very far.

Is the filtering system clear? If you’ve spent a lot of time working on the design and content of the site, it becomes easy to get bogged down in the details and fail to see things from the customer’s point of view. How easy is it to drill down to the product you want? It can be helpful to include a ‘mega menu’, allowing customers to quickly search for the relevant item. Jewellery resellers, Jewel Hut do this well. Hover over a top level navigation item, such as Pandora, to see this in action. Simple additions, such as colour and font, can help a visitor identify where they are on the site and on the filtering menu. If some of the text is a link, then make sure there is colour on the roll over. This will indicate to the visitor that there is a link to another page.

We live in a very fast paced world and if a site fails to load quickly, visitors are more and more likely to abandon the page.

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less

40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load

You only have a few seconds to capture someones attention, so don’t lose out because of slow loading speeds.

2. How scannable is the site?

Reading online is 25% slower than reading from print. Why is this? Mostly because it is harder to do. Your eye is distracted by colours, fonts, pop-ups, advertising and images. When you read printed text, your eye moves naturally from left to right. This isn’t the case for online text. Therefore, you need to make website copy much more scannable. Text should be visually broken up with white space. Sentences need to be short and, if possible, only include one concept, idea or product per paragraph. Filtering menus need to be very easy to scan over, enabling potential customers to easily see what they are looking for.

3. Images

Physical shops – bricks and mortar stores – understand the power of their display window. They are always trying to catch the eye of a potential shopper. They keep their displays fresh. Mega stores such as Selfridges have been spending serious money for nearly a century to attract people into their stores. This concept can be translated into your virtual shop front, your home page and subsequent landing pages. If you sell women’s clothes, make sure the category pages show clear, large images of the products. Visitors should be able to rotate the image. Size information should be very easily available and clear. You want your potential customer to be able to visualise themselves wearing the dress. The more they emotionally connect with the item and start to imagine owning it, the more likely they are to make the purchase. If your images are not up to scratch, visitors are very likely to abandon the page before purchasing anything.

There you have it, three ways to encourage browsers to buy. If you have other ideas on how to improve conversion rates, we’d love to hear from you.


Blog Header the scroll

This is the last in our 7 part series on how to create a really customer focused website. If you would like to read the first six blog posts they are available here. Today we are looking at the final part of the final piece of the puzzle:

The scroll

What exactly do we mean by the scroll?

The scroll is everything underneath the fold. It is what you see when you scroll down.

It is essential that everything beneath the fold ties in with the rest of the page. As with the part above the fold, it also needs to be completely customer centric. The previous 6 blogs in this series looked at aspects of a website above the fold. However, due to the increased use of smart phones, most people instinctively scroll down.

The elements included on the scroll depend greatly on the website page in question. When you are thinking about what should be included, it is helpful to ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this page?
  2. What is the best way for visitors and existing customers to interact with this page?
  3. Is everything included relevant?

When I am developing a new webpage, I always refer back to these three questions. We recently redeveloped the Jersey Beauty Company website and this process was really helpful.

1. What is the purpose of this page?

Is it to educate visitors? Is it designed to interact with them or perhaps to sell them something? If this is unclear you are liable to include content for the sake of it, without any real direction. Once you’ve got the purpose clear in your mind, it becomes easier to prepare relevant and useful customer focused content.

For example, if we look at the Jersey Beauty Company  (JBC) home page, there are many different things included on the scroll, each with a different purpose. The first thing I wanted to do was to build credibility and trust. Existing customers or new visitors tend to trust companies that are already working with organisations they recognise. Including brand logos, either of products you sell or your client companies, is a quick and easy way to build trust. It demonstrates to visitors that you are an established company, that you sell a range of high-quality products or that you work with a range of well-known companies.

You can also build trust with a money back guarantee. If you scroll further down the JBC home page, there are three tiles. The second tile says ’30 day money back guarantee’. The visitor should feel reassured that if they purchase an item and its not right or isn’t as they expected they have time to return it.

Information included on the scroll should also help direct visitors to the right products for them. This brings us neatly onto point 2.

2. What is the best way for visitors or existing customer to interact with this page?

You know the purpose of the page, in the case of the JBC home page scroll, to build credibility and direct the customer to the correct landing page for their needs. Next you need to think about the best way to communicate this purpose to your visitor or customer in a way that makes sense for them? Once again, it is important to keep it all about the customer. It is helpful to put yourself in your visitor’s shoes, imagine that you are visiting this site for the first time. What information is required and how can we present it in such a way that it will engage and entice.

If you are a business, like JBC, with a wide range of products, breaking them down into easy to understand categories, is often very helpful. When you scroll down the JBC home page, you see our three main product categories: ‘nourish dry skin’, ‘sooth sensitive skin’, ‘balance oily skin’ and ‘soften wrinkles’. There are also two large tile options: ‘shop by brand’ and ‘shop by category’. If you are new visitor to the site and you are unsure which product is best for you, the site can feel very overwhelming and visitors may abandon their search before it has even begun. This easy filtering system acts as a navigation guide, helping visitors to easily reach the best landing page for them.

3. Is everything included relevant?

Make sure that everything on the scroll should be there. It is really tempting to add things just for the sake of it. Don’t do that. Remember the original purpose for the page. If it is about increasing customer trust, how is that demonstrated on the scroll. Often you are simply trying to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to get to the next relevant landing page for them. How is this page doing that? If it is about getting the customer to press the buy now button, is it easy and enticing? There are always things that should be included but I still stand by the mantra of less is more.

There are so many more things which could and, depending on the page, should be included on the scroll. They might include: downloads, videos, testimonials, images, product features and sales tables. However, I always find it helps me get the focus right, if I start with the three questions above.


Blog Image Wheelchair Ramp-01

This is part 6 in a 7 part series on how to have a truly customer focused website. One that engages customers, existing or potential! If you would like to read the first 5 blogs in this series, click here.

So what is ‘on ramp’? Good question. On ramping is a term that many of us, who work in the e-commerce sector, have adopted from our colleagues in the States. Some people also call it the ‘Transitional Call To Action’ .

In short, on ramping, is engaging with customers, keeping them interested in your business and your website, before they are ready to press the call to action button.

Examples of customer engagement could include: getting their e-mail address, watching a video tutorial or have a free trial of one of your products or services.

There are companies that are already doing this really well. It is always worth having a look around to see what can be gleaned from organisations with a successful on ramp strategy. A couple of examples that I like include:

  1. Abel and Cole
  2. Spotify

Both of these companies seem to really understand customer engagement and have several clever on ramp strategies.

1. Abel and Cole

Abel and Cole is an organic food delivery service. The headline on their home page is ‘A healthy and happy way to eat’ and the subheadline is ‘We bring boxes of organic brilliance to your door’. There are clearly people that just like organic food and want to shop with A&C for a variety of reasons. They are already convinced. The group A&C are targeting, via the on ramp, are those that like the sound of what they do, but perhaps have reservations on price, (they are more expensive than a supermarket) value for money, or just need to know a bit more before they place an order. A&C’s on ramp strategies include:

Give away free stuff

There is a tab on their navigation called ‘Inspire me‘. This link takes you a range of free video tutorials on different cooking methods, such as pickling, mashing and smoking (food not cigarettes!). Each video only lasts around 1.5 minutes, so the visitor is unlikely to abandon the tutorial before the end.
- ### Get email addresses

They regularly offer 50% off your first box. To get the discounted box you have to submit your email address. Having done this myself, I know that the follow-up process is second to none. Initially, you receive an email asking if you enjoyed the service. This is then followed by a phone call from a friendly member of their team. They ask what you liked about the box and service and whether you would consider ordering again. It isn’t pushy and, to me, it felt quite personal.

Go further

Once you have some initial data from your new customer, e.g. they have used a free trial or sample. You can use this information to maximise your on ramp strategy. Any communication with the customer can be personalised, depending on the product or service they have used. For example, if you have received a mixed fruit and vegetables box, A&C might email you with recipe ideas for the products included or offers of other products that customer who also purchased this box have enjoyed. Once a customer has bought more than one product, customer personas begin to emerge. You start to build up a picture of the customer’s preferences, and offers, emails and the content they see on your site can then be targeted accordingly.

2. Spotify

Spotify I am generally an Apple man. However, a do make a bit of an exception for Spotify. They have a great website and they do on ramp really well. There are two call to action buttons on the home page: ‘Get Spotify Free’ or ‘Go Premium’. If you click ‘Get Spotify Free’, you receive their music streaming service free. In order to sign up to this service you have to submit your email address. This then allows Spotify to use on ramp strategies to target you for their premium service. Once again, they follow the three step process, i) give something away for free ii) get your email address in the process iii) use the email address provided to capitalise on customer engagement and sell the premium service.

On ramping is a simple way to increase customer engagement and draw in those website visitors that aren’t quite ready to hit the main CTA button. As we have discussed, the three main strategies that seem to work well are:

  1. give something away for free
  2. get their email address, so you can continue the conversation and engagement
  3. go further, make your on ramp specific to each customer persona

Don’t delay, see what happens when you put some of these techniques into practise on your website. My next blog is the final part in this series and I will be looking at ‘the scroll’.


Blog Image Dartboard-01

What one change could all website owners make today, which would dramatically increase sales and conversion rates?

Improve the call to action!

You may have a really customer focused website, with high levels of traffic, but if that traffic doesn’t convert into sales, something needs to change.

When I work with e-commerce companies, I am constantly surprised that so many websites still have a really really poor call to action. Even the really customer focused websites regularly do this badly. My plan is always to add a clear and compelling call to action and to repeat that call to action often on each page. The call to action is usually created around the dominant stream of income on the homepage. My three take-away points, to improve the call to action, are:

1. Be clear

2. Be compelling

3. Ask often

This one change can create a great sense of momentum. It is the one thing website owners can do today, that could make a big difference. It is an inexpensive change that can be tested. Let’s look at some examples which expertly put these three points into practise:

1. Be clear

NEST is a brilliant set of products. Their range is small and beautiful. Speaking from experience, it is remarkably simple to use. When you look at their website there is a headline, a great image and a clear call to action: ‘Buy Now’.

Virgin Trains is another good example of a website with a clear call to action:
‘book your journey’. It is clear and simple to complete. The result is an increase in ticket sales through their website.

To create a clear call to action you have to:

It needs to include a verb because the customer has to do something - Have a really clear design. Use a unique colour. Make it stand out. Put it in the right place, either directly under the headline and sub-headline, or on the top right hand side of the screen. Even better, put it in both places!.

2. Be compelling

Does your website have a ‘Sign up to our Newsletter’ section? Many websites still have this feature, and it won’t surprise you to hear that it doesn’t work. I know we have had it on many of our websites. We have tried different designs. But the principles have generally remained the same: we have a box where people put their email, a sign up button and text saying ‘Subscribe to our newsletter, enter your email below’.

It is really clear what the customer should do. But it is not compelling. It is the exact opposite of compelling. Most e-commerce companies have now wised-up to this problem and added a little pop-up window saying, ‘Subscribe to our newsletter and get 10% off your first order’. That is much more compelling.

3. Ask and ask often

Many people don’t like to ask their customers to do something, particularly to buy something. If it is hard to ask for the sale, then it is almost impossible to repeatedly ask. However, on your website, this is imperative. This is important because of the scroll.

People have got used to scrolling websites thanks to the rise of browsing on smart phones. No longer do you have to have everything on the ‘first fold’. Customers are now happy to scroll down. In fact, it’s their preferred way to browse.

If they scroll, they are looking for more information before hitting your call to action button. Therefore, that button needs to appear at very regular intervals, to save people scrolling back up when they are ready to click and take the next step.

Some companies, such as Amazon, among others, have achieved the same result in a slightly different way. They have kept the ‘buy now’ button static in the top right hand corner of the screen. When you scroll down that ‘buy now’ button remains in the same place. This is another effective way to do the same thing.

The charity sector is notoriously bad at asking. They want people to donate money but their websites often lack a simple ‘donate here’ button. Those charities that have included a ‘donate here’ button, could make it much more prominent and increase the frequency with which it appears.

Although you do definitely need to ask often, it is much more effective to keep your call to action to one per page. Any more than that and it starts to become confusing and unclear.

There you have it, a few simple tweaks to your call to action button could make the world of difference. Colour, location on the page, design and the words used, all have a part to play. Have a look at your call to action.

Is it irresistible?

Do you just have to click it?


Blog Image Typewriter once upon a time

If you want people to visit your site and stay on it, you need to have compelling and engaging images.

'Our brains are hardwired to hone in on visuals: photos and images. The images on your website’s homepage need to tell a story' Matt Edmundson

Visitors to your site should be drawn in by your images. The words alone will not cut it.

How do you explain who your customers are and how they can benefit from your product or service using images. How can you tell the customer’s story visually?

This blog is the fourth in a series about creating a compelling customer focused website. If you would like to read the first three in the series, they are available here. In this post I am going to look at ways to use image and video to improve customer engagement.

  1. The big hero image
  2. Video
  3. Customer personas

Once you start looking at successful websites you will notice that the majority of them use one of more or the above methods.

1. The big hero image

I am a little bit in love with Airbnb. Last year we took a family holiday to Italy and stayed in a variety of Airbnb properties. Granted some were better than others, but the concept is fantastic, as is their website. They have understood the importance of images in telling their story and getting their message across. Take a look at their homepage. When you first go onto the site, they have what I would call ‘a big hero image’: a girl, sitting in a relaxed pose eating something out of a bowl, looking out over a view of a city. She is fairly young and she looks totally at home. Immediately we see their headline and sub-headline in action. The headline is ‘LIVE THERE’ and the sub-headline is ‘Book homes from local hosts in 191+ countries and experience a place like you live there.’

The big hero image is all about the customer. The customer is the hero. They are central to the story, not the company or the product. The images should show your headline in action. Where possible this should include your customer or your different customer personas.

2. Video

After a few seconds, Airbnb’s big hero image fades away and a video begins to play subtly in the background. The video answers a number of subconscious questions the customer may have and visually explains Airbnb’s different customer groups or personas. You see a series of ‘experiences’ with different customer personas. Initially you see one person knocking on someone’s door and being shown in. Then you see a little boy with his dad. The dad is pointing out something of interest to the little boy. Then you see two men going into a property together, they have bags of groceries, as they would at home. Then you see a happy couple walking together through a town, the man is giving the girl a piggyback. You see a range of different ages, ethnicities, family groups and singles. Through their fantastic use of imagery, Airbnb is saying is ‘we have something for everyone’. The images tell the Airbnb story from the customer’s point of view. They are saying ‘you can experience another country and another house, as if it is your own home’.

This post is not sponsored by Airbnb (!). However, their site demonstrates how powerful images can be in making your point. The right images create a powerful message which is both subtle, compelling and engaging.

3. Customer personas

Netflix use images to tell the majority of their marketing story. Their website is remarkably simple, yet incredibly powerful:

  1. They have understood their different customer personas.
  2. They created an image for each of those customers.
  3. They subtly rotate those images.

There are four images in total. They rotate, transitioning from one image to another. Each image tells the visitor a different story. As with the headline, the images make the customer the focus. The first image shows children watching TV alone, without their parents. This demonstrates that Netflix is safe for children to view. The next image shows a family snuggled up on the sofa together watching something. The last two shots are of individuals watching Netflix on different devices: tablets and smartphones. The story these images are telling is that Netflix has something for everyone and it can be viewed anywhere on any device. Netflix isn’t actually shown in any of the images. Their brand is strong enough that it doesn’t need to be included. Visitors to the site will make the assumption that each different customer is watching Netflix, without even registering that they can’t see a Netflix logo or programme on a screen. In this way, Netflix has really made their different customer personas, not themselves and their brand, central to the story.

In my next blog in this series, I will be looking at the all important call to action. A post not to be be missed!