I thought about doing a "Top 5" article, but stopped when I thought about how silly that is. I might not be able to come up with five really good ways to increase your conversion. Then again, I might come up with 12, maybe even 14. Now you're in suspense until the end of this article - the final episode where all of your questions are answered!
Now, on with the article. Do you ever look at your conversion rate and think, "Geez, X% is good, but what about all of those other users that we're losing?" If so, you need to replace the "X" with a number. After that, you're on the right track.
1. If you're not using an analytics program, do so now: I'm going to sound like a Google fan-boy for half of this article, and with good reason: They have top-notch products that they *give away*. One of them is Google Analytics. I've worked with clients who have had every single solution under the sun for analytics, from parsing web logs to paying tens of thousands of dollars per year for a hosted ASP, and you know what? Most times they're either wasting time, or wasting money.
Google Analytics has been out for a few years now after gobbling up Urchin in its massive maw. Since then it has opened the utility to widespread public use, and has recently updated the look of the utility to conform with the "2.0ness" that the Internet now requires.
If you don't have analytics setup, go get it: www.google.com/analytics. If you do have analytics, but you're sick of paying for it, do the same.
Once you're that far, use the data! Show of hands: how many readers out there have analytics setup on their site and don't take the time to go over the results? How many of you have not setup conversion funnels, or tagged different marketing campaigns to track where your visitors are really coming from?
A great way of figuring out what your consumers want is to ask, a better way is to skip that and spy on them. Get crackin'!
2. Test, test, test, test, test Say it with me, "I am not Leonardo Da Vinci". I know you're oh so proud of your website. The concept hit you in a flash when you were brushing you're teeth and you're in love. Hey, maybe that will work. Maybe you're an artist and your website is your portfolio. Maybe it's a blog design and all you do is talk about your pet cat and how you wish you had more friends. But - and this is a big but, (hehe...) if you are working towards a conversion of any kind, your site will never be done.
There's no challenge of ego here. The trick is to take a step back and take stock of your goals. If your site is meant to convert, keep testing it.
Here comes the fan-boy in me again: Google recently opened up A/n and multi-variate testing within the Adwords CPC utility. Check it out here. You do need an Adwords account for now, but if you don't have one you're going to hear about it next.
Your consumer is a mystery. They may not share your taste and they may not be apt to buy your products for the same reason as you are. So go out there and test things. If you're not technically savvy enough to run an A/B or M/V test then try out offers. Do an offer for 10% off and one for $5.00 off the same set of products and measure what works more effectively. Change the subject lines of your e-mails. Don't make the folly of assuming that you know it all.
3. Market your site! I'll keep this one short: Go out and market your site and your products. Some ways are better than others, yes, but if you're at least trying it's a good start. Don't expect your friends to keep you in business, and don't believe for a moment that your neat-o idea is as exciting to everyone else as it is to you.
Set aside $100 and try out a Google Adwords campaign and a Yahoo Search Marketing campaign. Start a blog and write about your product. Add relevant content to your pages on a weekly basis so the engines eventually pick you up for keywords. Put a "tell a friend" button on your site and give the user incentive to use the button.
After you have more of a budget to work from, look at starting an affiliate program. Look at partnering with other sites to leverage complimentary products. Then once you have all of that, keep going!
If you fail to market, your business will also fail - no exceptions.
4. Don't make the conversion process hard for your consumer The long version of how to do eCommerce can be found here - this one will sum it up.
If you're checkout process is five steps, go for four. If your lead form has every field marked as required, stop it. Do not force a user to register and do not ask them to set 22 secret questions. If they need to check their e-mail to verify their account, you better have a good reason. I have strong feelings on this because I buy a lot of stuff online, and it drives me absolutely insane when I have to jump through hoops just to give a company my money.
"But," you say, "maybe that's just you, you deluded fool!" Nope, sorry, it's not just me. I've tested it time and again, but it all boils down to common sense. Who wants 10 minute buns o' steel when they can get them in 5 minutes? No one! In the same vein, no one wants to login with a password they can never remember just to be asked four times before submitting an order if they're sure they want a product.
Conclusion: There you have it... I couldn't come up with five ways to increase revenue. Give me a break though! Four out of five is 80%, and that's a B- or so. Do stay tuned for other tidbits of gold from yours truly.
Comments are welcome, as well as requests on different subjects.