Many businesses today have a website - generally as a representation of their company online as a platform on which users can purchase their goods and services. With social media campaigns, search engine optimisation campaigns, and advertisement campaigns, website owners are spoiled for choice when it comes to ways to effectively drive traffic to their site. However, the main purpose of these tactics is to generate profit in the form of revenue and sales. This is, after all, what a business is created for.
Your business may have run a good SEO campaign in the past and now you have a respectable number of daily site visitors. So, the new question is - how exactly do you keep those visitors coming back? How can you make them take the desired actions like subscribing to your service or, if you run an e-commerce site, buy your products?
The percentage of site visitors who take any of these desired actions is known as ‘conversion rate’. There are a number of key features you can build into and around your website to boost your conversion rates, here are some of them:
1. A Great Website User Interface
Let’s start off with an obvious one, your site’s design and interface. The ideal website is user friendly, intuitive, and aesthetically pleasing. You need to strike a balance between using a minimalist approach for presenting information and links with simple colours and little to no clutter, while not being so minimalist that you lose affordances. Affordances are subtle design elements that indicate where and how an object can be interacted with. Long-time internet users will have been exposed to affordances in the websites they visit and will often have trouble navigating sites that don’t employ these handy tools effectively.
2. A Smooth Site Layout
As an extension of optimising your site’s design, make sure that your site has a clear, logical progression through its pages. It should be easy for a user to get from one page to any other page they want. Include a search bar for easy access. A well-planned site is a site that users are more comfortable staying on and exploring.
3. Search Engine Optimisation
SEO has moved from an emerging phenomenon to a commonplace practice. Most sites on the web now employ SEO techniques or SEO service companies in some form or another, in an attempt to boost their page ranking in search engine results. With the right SEO tactics, you can gain the top spot (or at least the first page) in search results. This will automatically gain you a measure of trust from search engine users, who are, in turn, more likely to commit to doing business with your site.
Beyond that, implementing proper SEO techniques will help your site conform to quality design standards. Managing your business and your website might leave you with little time to spare for search engine optimisation. However, it is easy enough to hire professional writing services to provide SEO content for your site.
4. Assurance of Internet Security
It is important to implement security features that assure visitors that their web activities and personal information are safe with you. This is especially important if you are running an e-commerce site, for obvious reasons. A certain amount of trust is needed for a customer to enter their credit card information on your site, as users want to know that they are dealing with a legitimate site with industry standard security regulations that protect them, their identity, and their money. Just remember to keep it subtle. Studies indicate that trust signals can have a significant positive effect on conversion rates. A few security measures and signals you can implement are;
- Keep a lock on error messages. Monitor just how much information concerning the backend of your site is revealed to visitors to make sure that you do not accidentally leak weak points that can open your site up to malicious attacks.
- Subscribe to a trusted security badge service like Symantec (formerly Verisign), Trustwave or Authorize.net and display their emblems on your transactional pages.
- Display small images of payment options like PayPal, Mastercard or Visa to let users know that those methods of payment are accepted on your site.
- Install all security updates for any software that your website uses.
- Use the HTTPS security protocol.
5. Quality Content
Sites with engaging, well-crafted content can drive up conversion rates drastically. You need to understand your visitors and potential customers in order to provide useful and relevant information to them. If your site is linked to a constant stream of useful information in certain fields, it will build a reputation as a place where people can find genuine solutions to their issues. That reputation can be leveraged into convincing them to do business with you. You can see this tactic at work with big tech websites like CNET and Tom’s Hardware. If you are unwilling or unable to spend the time creating high-quality content to put on your site you can instead engage a freelancer, copywriting agency or employ a copywriter to handle it.
6. Page Loading Speed
Keep in mind that your website visitors are looking to get what they want from your site as quickly as possible. They don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting around for a page to open. A few extra seconds of delay in opening a page can cause serious damage to your site’s ability to engage visitors and subsequently hurt sales and conversion rates. Consider implementing these changes in order to boost your site’s loading speed;
- Use a free resource like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, Yahoo’s YSlow, or Pingdom to evaluate your site’s content and current load speed. This should give you an idea of what needs to be improved. Remember that 47% of web users expect websites to load in 2 seconds or less - and 40% will abandon a page that takes 3 or more seconds.
- Turn off any unnecessary plugins. Having too many active plugins can be a drag on your site’s loading time, so take the time to carefully cull any plugins that your site is not actually using.
- A content delivery network can scatter your site across multiple servers separated geographically and make it available to users from the server closest to their geographical location, thereby cutting down on access time.
- Image compressors are your friend. Your images take up a significant chunk of bandwidth, causing your pages to load slower as a result. Use free image optimiser tools like Trimage, Optimizilla, or JPEG Optimizer to reduce your images’ sizes without compromising their quality.
- Video files can be rather large and drag down the loading speed of your pages. Avoid hosting videos yourself where possible. Instead, take advantage of the many free third-party video hosting services like Metacafe, Vimeo, or YouTube.
7. Contact Us Page
An overly complicated contact page might just make your users click off and subsequently refuse to visit the site again. Your contact page should be simple and provide options and alternatives for viewers to reach you. If you use a contact form, keep it very simple, with boxes only for a name, email address, phone number, and enquiries. At the same time, you can provide your own business’ contact details and social media handle to give them the option of contacting you directly.
8. Active and Proactive Live Chat Feature
The live chat feature may seem like a trivial addition, but it has been shown to have a significant effect on users’ experience when browsing a site. Users consider it to be a faster means of contacting site admins, and the personal touch increases customer satisfaction and, by proxy, sales and conversion rate.
9. Include a Clients and Testimonials Page
Unless this information is confidential, it can be extremely beneficial to your website’s conversion rate to reveal some of your more high-profile clients. If those people trust you with their custom, then new users will be more willing to trust you too. A few testimonials from satisfied customers would also not go amiss. You can create a separate clients page and a separate testimonials page, or you can lump them both into one page, either way is effective.
10. Put up a Team Page
A team profile provides the viewer with the chance to get to know just who is offering the services they are considering purchasing. A personal touch can go a long way towards converting a one-time visitor into a lifelong subscriber.
Follow these outlined steps and you’re sure to see an improvement in your website’s conversion rates, but keep in mind that the most effective way to keep your customers happy is to understand them and give them what they want.
About the Author
I'm an IT Professional with over 20 years experience. Before CheDesigns I have helped both large resource companies and government departments, here in WA and also in Canberra. Amongst a whole bunch of other stuff I've built custom apps from scratch, project managed IT projects, migrated millions of documents from old systems to new systems, and developed the information architecture complex systems that are used daily by thousands of people at large oil and gas companies.