Part 2: The best ways to increase sales on your website

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Welcome back for part 2 of our “Increasing sales on your website” series. Part 1 seemed to go down well, so please do let us know your thoughts on this 1 as well.

9. Parkinson’s law

For people who know what Parkinson’s law is you might be wondering why we’re starting a blog post about “The best ways to increase sales on your website” but have faith, as Parkinson’s law is one of our favourite “methods” to use in the studio. This law/method can apply to so many things across your life; that in theory this on its own is worth making a note of, but first let’s use good old Wikipedia to inform us of the definition.

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

What this means is, if you gave yourself 2 weeks to write a report, you would take 2 weeks on it, but; if you gave yourself 2 days to write the same report you would still get it done in that period of time. Yes it might not be quite to the same level, but you would find a way to ensure the quality was still good in the shorter time allocated.

To provide a working example of this , I thought I’d explain how we use this internally. Before the homepage designs even begin, the meeting to present these to the client is booked in, this gives the designers a “do or die” option which means they don’t have the ability to miss a deadline and therefore they ensure the designs are completed on time. For Parkinson’s law to really work, these need to be immovable deadlines. If a person can just easily move the deadline, then Parkinson’s Law becomes redundant, so ensuring a deadline or time sensitive reason is in place and can’t be moved is essential to this working.

Time to apply this to your website from the perspective of increasing sales. The easiest option to explain this is “Black Friday”, a user has 1 day of the year to take advantage of these offers, they have until midnight and normally only know of the offer available on the day. We’re giving the user a maximum of 24 hours to make a decision on the purchase. As we all know Black Friday is now the highest day of sales for most eCommerce companies and this is a prime example of Parkinson’s Law.

But this doesn’t just have to be associated with offers, these can be done purely by creating a time sensitive offer. Another excellent example of this is how Amazon uses Amazon Primes “countdown” to push users to make decisions quickly. Normally with something along the line of “If you order this within 50 mins, you can have this tomorrow”

This drives buyer decisions and increases conversions and therefore increases sales on your website, we all know that the worst case we can wait one extra day to receive the product, but having a deadline created for us causes us to take action quicker than we might have before.

 

10. Minimum of 2 payment options

Ensuring your eCommerce website is as easy to buy from as possible is critical to ensuring a high converting website. So lets set the scene, we’ve done the hard steps of showcasing your products, getting them to hit “buy” and they get to the cart. We now need to do everything in our power to ensure we don’t lose them at this point. At Strafe Creative one of our “go to” solution is ensuring we have 2 different payment gateways, and the combination of this is normally something along the lines of:

Card based: The user enters their card information etc and payment is taken, this means a user has to have their card on them to purchase from you.

Account based: With payment gateway options such as Paypal or Amazon Pay, this then means a user doesn’t need to have their card on them to buy. (Or for mobile users something like Apple pay is also great) and the user just needs to know they’re username and password.

Like many of the options we’ve explained during this blog post, having these 2 options comes down to user behaviour, and each demographic has their preference, which normally goes something like this:

  1. People prefer to enter their card details, so they know all the information is correct and they know there should be no issues with paying.
  2. Some people like to enter their card each time as they feel this is more secure rather than allowing a system or website hold their card details
  3. People want to use certain credit cards which provides them bonus or air miles which certain account based payment gateways don’t allow.
  4. Some people don’t carry wallets any more, so having an account based system is a must.
  5. Companies like Paypal add addition coverage/security on the payments so people prefer to buy through them for this reason.
  6. Ease of purchase, don’t have to write anything in with an account based system most of the time.

As you can see there’s a wealth of reasons people choose one or the other option, so the best option is to cater for both of these behaviour types by allowing the user to select the option that suits them best.

Finally its not possible on most systems to have 2 of the same type of system, eg: You won’t be able to have 2 systems which both are card based.

 

11. SSL certificate

Security is critical to any eCommerce store, but it still surprises us when we find clients who don’t invest in an SSL, so what is an SSL?

A quick google informs us that:

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically a web server (website).

So for anyone entering their personal information or credit card info, they know that the data is going to be securely moved between website and server if an SSL is in place.

This all can seem too technical though, so Google Chrome for example instead shows if a website has an SSL or not by the use of a padlock icon, with the padlock being locked to showcase this website is safe.

Now certain users won’t know what a broken padlock means, all they know is they shouldn’t use the website, so this can stop conversions and sales very quickly. As you can see from the above example, the red bar looks off putting.

You’ll probably need a developer to give you a hand, but it’s well worth getting this sorted if you haven’t already. For people who are unsure, if you don’t have an SSL in place, use the example above and compare to your own website in Google Chromes browser.

12. Showcase cards accepted

A simple one next, but an important one, this works on 2 fronts:

  1. People build trust with a company when they see things associated with them that they know and already trust.
  2. Certain types of users want to shop with credit cards that provide them bonuses such as air miles or cash back.

So taking each point; having the card logos of the companies you’ll take payment from is a simple way to build credibility and if you put these logos near the CTA (Call to action = buy button) it’s always a great way to visually draw more attention to the button as well.

The second option is so a user can quickly check if their card is acceptable, so they don’t have to waste time going through checkout to know, or worst, because they can’t see the card option they could just leave.

 

13. Live chat! Answering questions to increase website sales

When we first start working with a new client they always want quick wins and one of the best ways to do this is by installing a ‘Live Chat’ software. It’s super simple to do and can make a huge difference to a business.

So what is Live Chat?

Essentially, it’s a bit of software which sits in the corner of your website and if someone wants to ask a question, they can click and speak to someone in your business straight away. It’s perfect for people who are sitting on the fence and unsure if they want to move forwards with you. People don’t really like picking up the phone, mainly because they feel that they will be sold to. Whereas live chat is seen as less personal and there is less danger for the user to get trapped into a sales funnel, so it’s great for them.

It is possible to request an email from a user before you can chat to them. Though personally we prefer not to do that so we don’t put any form of barriers in our way. Our theory is that letting someone ask you a question shows that you care and that you can provide lots of value to them. In turn, this is likely to make them want to work with us. If you force them to give you an email first, yes you may build your marketing database, but if they didn’t buy from you after speaking to you on Live Chat, they probably weren’t the right person for your company anyway. Or even worse, they see that you’re building your email database and decide not to ask you the question. They instead just close your website and don’t speak to you!

Using Live Chat is all about providing value and being as helpful as possible. You may find that after a few questions you can then ask if they would like to book a meeting. All of a sudden you can see how easily this can drive conversions on your website.

We first started using this with e-commerce companies as before people purchased a product they may have had a quick question. We saw a huge spike in conversions and we’ve found that it’s very much the same for service companies. From our experience, we’ve found that Live Chat can work even more effectively for service companies, because as a general rule of thumb, your offering is far more complex. This means that you’re more likely to have questions that need answering.

Most Live Chat software has a 14 day free trial, so you can give them a go and see if you like using them. Most of them will plug directly into your website, so you may not even need a developer if you’re using one of the common CMS option, such as WordPress.

A couple of live chat softwares to try out are:

• Olark
• Live Chat
• Intercom

Try it for 14 days and see how you get on.

 

14. Simplify the UX on the checkout pages to drive sales

If you look at the biggest and best eCommerce websites in the world you’ll start to notice some standard approaches they take. These might have never stood out to you before, but once you’re aware of them you’ll start to notice how all of these changes are making it as easy as possible for a user to purchase from them.

Surprisingly standard eCommerce websites still haven’t picked up on all of these yet, but I’ll let you look over the screenshot below and then break down the important lessons of each one.

How currys removes the main menu on its checkouts

Removal of main menu

On the best eCommerce websites, once a user gets to the checkout stage, they strip out the main menu completely and normally just have a logo there instead. This stops the user from becoming distracted and going back into the main website and not progressing with the purchase. It’s something that people don’t seem to notice but is proven to dramatically increase conversion rates at this point in the buying journey.

Progress meters

A number of websites will replace their menus with a progress meter instead, this helps to fill out the space left by the removal of the main menu, but also gives the user a visual representation of how many steps are needed to complete the purchase. This is especially useful on short sale cycles as the short number of steps needed is a huge advantage to the user and makes them more likely to continue.

amazon example of hiding the main menu on checkout pages to increase conversions

Simplify colour palette

Have you noticed that most eCommerce websites seem to go very white and grey on the checkout pages? With only the main buttons to progress being bright? This is to make it as obvious as possible for what the user should do next. Similar to the reason the menu is stripped out, this ensures there’s no distractions and allows the user to focus on progressing through all steps to make the purchase.

Removal of complex footer

Similar to the other items mentioned, when a user is on a checkout page they will normally have a number of forms to fill in, with the progression button to the next step being below this content entry section. As these checkout pages are normally shorter in length than most that means a user is more likely to scroll down the page and potentially see more of the footer. Like with stripping the top menu out, we don’t want the user to become distracted and click on links in the footer, so recommend stripping these out and replacing with a simpler footer.

You’ll see all of these steps are about focusing the user on completing their buying journey.  Now compare these to your current eCommerce checkout flow and start simplifying yours down to increase website conversions and sales.

 

15. Hello bar

A “Hello bar” is a plugin which once added into your website creates a thin bar at the top of your website where you can put text and link buttons out to set areas of your website, or even have offer codes on show like the example below.

Hello bar example for a way to increase sales on your website

We’re not normally huge fans of plugins and to be honest if clients ask for this functionality, we prefer to build this out, but for a quick trial the “Hello Bar” is a great option.

This can be used in lots of ways too, with a few examples being:

  • Offer a discount code
  • Link to a new product
  • Link to a new blog
  • Your business has closed or has an update which means service might be interrupted

Give it a try and you’ll be surprised at how helpful this can be. Another useful tip is to consider the colour of the bar you’re creating for your website. The idea is to ensure this stands out compared to the rest of your website as this will draw the eye, but we don’t want this to clash and look jarring compared to the colours. Using a website such as Colour by Adobe will allow you to enter your website colours and then it will provide some options for colours that will stand out without looking harsh.

Final notes

There’s a lot to take in here and the main thing is to not try to do all of these at once, ensure your monitoring your conversions closely already and then introduce 1 new idea, monitor conversions to ensuring its actually increase sales on your website and then add another one, taking this approach will ensure we’re able to better monitor what’s being successful and what isn’t. Good luck!

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