Every step of marketing’s “funnel” process is essential to success. It extends far beyond brand development, SEO, link building, and inbound marketing. The components may be flawless, but are useless if the final steps of the conversion process are poorly executed. Insufficient product information, weak images, and limited payment options are a few of the mistakes many companies commonly make. Continue reading to learn more about these errors, and how to avoid them:
- Insufficient text. Although there is a growing trend regarding the limited use of text on websites, this is not the case with e-commerce. Because consumers are online, they cannot physically handle and inspect the products in which they are interested. Therefore, extensive detail is required. Product descriptions should address specs thoroughly but concisely. They should not be generic, either. Otherwise, overly generalized product descriptions mean that an overabundance of companies selling the same product will be generated by search results.
- Out-of-date website. Sites should be updated as often as possible, but at least every 3 years. Age is evident based on site appearance, which is a strong deterrent of potential customers. Websites need not be excessively hip or impeccable, but they should appear relatively modern and well-maintained.
- Poor photo quality. Also because consumers cannot physically handle and inspect products, high-quality photos are crucial. These should include shots of products taken from multiple angles, and images should enlarge when the user hovers over them. Photos should highlight versatility and cause shoppers to feel they are not merely investing in a product – they should feel as though they are adopting a lifestyle. Instead of basic images, for instance, models may be captured glamorously wearing them or using said products.
- Slow load times. Google and other search engines are not fond of slow load times, which can result in penalties and poor result rankings. Site visitors do not appreciate slow load times, either. If pages do not load within 2 seconds, they will likely move on to a competitor. Web hosts should be quality service providers that prioritize speed, redundancy, and uptime.
- No calls to action. This is a basic rule for any aspect of marketing, from blogs to social media posts to websites. E-commerce websites are no exceptions to this rule. Even a basic “Shop Now” or “Download Here” button will help drive traffic. They encourage conversion and streamline the process.
- Lack of social media integration. Social media has earned its valuable place in the world of business. E-commerce sites, like all other company sites, should contain share buttons. These allow users to easily connect to and follow business profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and more. Users then have the ability to share content with their own friends and followers, exponentially extending the reach of the business.
- Broken links. When visitors receive 404 errors after clicking on links, they are not only prohibited from making a purchase, but the brand’s credibility is significantly threatened. To minimize the risk of visitors encountering broken links, they should be inspected regularly to ensure they are in working order.
- Too much clutter. An excess of empty or irrelevant information can be overwhelming, frustrating, and distracting. Instead, make valuable products the most prominent ones. This can be accomplished by increasing their size on the page, placing them above all others in a given category, or highlighting them on a main page. Non-essential information and aggressive sales-type language should be eliminated.
- Inconsistency. Since the early days of the internet, users have developed certain expectations regarding the websites they visit. For example, they look for contact numbers in certain corners and particular procedures for adding items to their carts. It may be tempting to disrupt these expectations for the sake of standing out and being unique, but it will likely only hinder usability. Potential customers should not have to work hard to find what they’re looking for.
- Lack of a search function. No matter how user-friendly an e-commerce site may be, a search function is integral to a positive experience. Visitors may be in need of a particular item, and may not have the time to browse. Search bars should be prominent. Helpful features of search functions include auto completing words while users type, categorizing searches – with the option to search all categories, and clustered results. Filtering should also be a manageable task. For example, products can be grouped by color, cost, size, or brand.
- Lack of payment options. Visitors who have invested their time in the perusal of a website, assessing products, and deciding on a purchase are likely to experience nothing short of mild rage when they find that their preferred – or only – means of payment are unacceptable. They should be invited to pay via electronic check, debit, all major credit cards, PayPal, and any relevant gift certificates. Acceptable methods of payment should be clearly stated in an identifiable place within the site.
- Poor customer service. Toll-free customer service numbers may still be in, but long wait times are not. Email is an option, but excessive response times are not favored by customers. Enough technology is available to eliminate any excuse for poor customer service. Online chat features are effective, as well as social media forums.
When designing – or redesigning – an e-commerce site, there are a few key factors that can assist throughout the process. They must successfully connect users to products via means that are efficient and easy to navigate. The user should be able to find the product or service he or she desires, the given product or services should be showcased beautifully, and the conversion process should be finalized with a seamless checkout system. Anything less will likely result in lower conversion and higher cart abandonment rates.
E-commerce websites are the primary interface between the brand and its customers. These virtual storefronts are as much a representation of the business as the brand itself. Websites should therefore be designed for easy handling and minimal hassle to encourage customers to stay and make purchases. Good design equals good communication, and businesses that consider this factor are far more successful in the e-commerce world.