opinion

REAL Tips for Increasing Conversion Ratios

Joe D

It seems as if all anyone can talk about these days is finding new ways to improve and increase their online retail sales and conversion ratios, but what are they really doing to make a change? Knowing what your customers want, understanding what they need and being able to make all of that available to them to improve the shopping experience as a whole is a huge step toward improving your numbers. A recent study was conducted with PayPal customers in both the U.S. and Canada that revealed the top five reasons consumers have said they walked away from a sale – a shopping cart full of products, or an online subscription application just partially completed…

Reason #1 – Shipping Charges and Fees

Have you ever taken a tour of your website through the eyes of the customer? People are trying to get the best deal these days on everything from normal, everyday purchases to subscriptions, online memberships and even download-able content. Money is tight, so today’s consumer is very price-savvy. It doesn’t matter if your website offers the best products at the best-available prices, if the customer gets to the check-out and finds out that you have the highest shipping charges and processing fees, chances are the sale is lost. Over 35% of those surveyed said that the fees and charges were higher than they wanted to pay. They could have their credit card out and be ready to hit the “SUBMIT” button, but get scared away at the last moment due to the perception of ridiculous fees or unreasonable terms and conditions that you have tacked on at the end.

Tip: Check out your competitors’ websites to see what they are charging for shipping, processing, renewals and/or other fees – it is important to offer competitive rates at all levels of the process.

Reason #2 – Comparison Shopping

Nearly 28% of those surveyed cited that the reason they abandoned their shopping carts was to check out the competition to see if they could get a better price or rate. You can help to get these customers back in a couple of ways – one, by allowing your customers to create an account where they can log-in, log-out, fill their shopping cart, save items or even create a “wish” list of items they want to purchase in the future. Other ways to allow customers to feel better about making the purchase at your website is to offer a price guarantee – offer to match a posted competitor’s price or beat it by 5%, or go the extra mile and create an app that will post your competitors’ prices next to your item so they can see how much it would cost at Company A, Company B, and how much they would save or get more by purchasing it through your website instead. Make sure to compare shipping, processing fees and any other costs as well – you might not beat your competitors in one area, but you could trump them in another!

Tip: Look for creative ways to reassure your customers that making a purchase through your website will not only be a smart buy, but that they will also be much more pleased with the services that you provide in the process – sell it!

Reason #3 – Short on Funds

Well, it’s no secret that the economy is still in a funk, to say the least. A lot of people will sign onto a website, find the items they want to purchase and will go through the entire process only to realize that they are short a few bucks necessary to cover the total cost once the shipping and processing have been added in – in fact, 22% of those surveyed said they left a purchase for this very reason. By allowing your customers to create an account that retains their shopping cart information and behavior, you can contact your customers with incentives that just might make the difference between making the sale or losing them to a competitor. Send out follow-up e-mails to customers who didn’t make purchases, giving them a 2-day only discount such as free shipping, 10% off the product(s) or another financial discount that just might free them up to make the purchase. Once you sell your first item to a customer you are building a relationship with them. Give them a good deal and an all-around good experience and you could win them as a loyal customer for life.

Tip: Make your website as interactive as possible, contact your customers with personal e-mails or messages that are catered just to them – enhancing the experience can go a long way toward improving your sales.

Reason #4 – Offline Options

Another 17% of those surveyed stated that they did their initial comparison shopping online, but that they liked to look at offline stores to see the product in-person or purchase it instantly without having to wait for shipping. Overcoming this objection can be tough because you are an online store and without an in-person, offline option - it can be hard to meet this demand. You can, however, get creative and offer a 100% money back guarantee on your purchases, post an area for customers to write their own personal reviews of your products or services and add other elements that will help boost customer confidence in what you are selling. As far as the “instant gratification” issue, make sure to offer next-day shipping as an option in addition to other, lower-cost options for those who “just can’t wait” to get the item in their hands.

Tip: Look for other objections that customers might have about your products, services or delivery options by opening the lines of communication on your website – post e-mail, telephone, instant Web-contact and an open forum to ensure that you make it available to everyone. Customers increasingly prefer live-chat options for questions and service.

Reason #5 – Payment Options

This is a big reason for many shoppers, so it was a little surprising to see it in the number five spot with just 17% of respondents saying payment options were important. You need to remember that when you build a website you aren’t just marketing to the people in your neighborhood – you are selling to the whole planet! Check out alternative payment options, find out what is popular in other countries and make sure that you offer enough local options to cover all your customers’ needs. Direct debit, pay-by-check and credit card payments are used most often, but be sure to stay in-touch with changes in technology, advances made in processing services and know what your customers want.

Tip: Whenever possible attend online or offline industry webinars about payment processing to stay on top of this ever-changing part of Internet-based business!

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