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5 Simple Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

You might be driving a respectable amount of traffic to your online store, but your visitor count means nothing if a large percentage of your visitors are abandoning their shopping carts. If people have gone to the trouble of visiting your website, browsing through your products and adding one or more items to a shopping cart, and then leaving at the last minute before they check out, there may be a serious problem with your website. While oftentimes shopping cart abandonment comes down to indecisive buyers, there are many factors that are fully within your control.

The rate of shopping cart abandonment in eCommerce is staggering. Some estimates for particular industries put the figure at 85 percent. It should, therefore, be a key priority in your online strategy. After all, you are probably doing everything else to maximize sales so it is also important to work on reducing shopping cart abandonment to maximize your conversions.

You can do this in two steps. The first is preventing as many people as possible from abandoning their carts before they complete a purchase. The second is to bring the people you couldn't convert back to your website at a later date.

  

  1. Ask for less information

Web users are often short on patience, particularly when using the small and fiddly touchscreens of mobile devices. However, it is now absolutely imperative that your online store accommodates mobile users as best as possible, and this means not asking for any information that isn't absolutely necessary.

While customer accounts containing plenty of useful information might sound like a marketing goldmine, asking for too much is a sure way to put people off. In fact, you should also offer an option allowing people to complete a purchase without having to create a customer account at all.

  

2. Offer multiple delivery options

Some people want their products delivered to them as soon as possible, and will be willing to pay the extra for it. Others, however, would rather wait longer and save some money.

Multiple studies have shown that just over one-third of all cases of shopping cart abandonment were due to shipping costs being too high. Another 10 percent of cases were down to shipping times being too long. To accommodate the needs of all of your customers, you'll need to provide a range of shipping options, including a premium delivery service for those who want their goods quickly and a free service for the more budget-conscious.

  

3. Keep the checkout process clear 

 A slow or cumbersome website that is difficult to use will turn people away in droves. Checkout processes in particular are often more time-consuming and complicated than they need to be, particularly on mobile devices. About one-fourth of shopping cart abandonment cases are due to unintuitive checkout processes that lack clear calls to action or have confusing payment processes.

Online shoppers also like to know what to expect, so show the number of steps left to complete the checkout process. Not only does your online store need to offer a quick and painless checkout procedure, it also needs to demonstrate how easy it is. 

  

4. Don't forget the trust signals

With the plethora of online scams out there, it shouldn't come as any surprise that many buyers are wary when shopping online, particularly when buying from a new company for the first time. Including widely recognized trust signals as well as having an up-to-date TSL (transport layer security) certificate is absolutely essential for instilling a sense of trust and protecting your reputation. In fact, according to Shopify, over three-fourths of consumers have abandoned a shopping cart because they didn't see any trust badges that they recognized. Among the best known badges are VeriSign, McAfee Secure and PayPal Verified.

  

5. Provide Multiple Payment Options

This one shouldn't come as any surprise, but one of the most common reasons that people abandon a purchase is because the online store doesn't offer their preferred payment option. If you're only providing one option, you'll end up alienating a huge number of potential customers. Allowing people to pay with credit or debit cards is obviously a must, but there are far more options available these days, including PayPal and Google Wallet. In some countries, pay on delivery and direct bank transfers also remain popular. Make it effortless for people to save their payment details so they can check out with a single click when they return.

 

Even if you implement each of the tips above, you will still lose customers at the shopping cart stage. Can you get them back, and if so, how? You can get them back, and the best way to do it is remarketing.

You can run remarketing campaigns on Google's AdWords, Facebook, and other platforms. In simple terms, past visitors to your website are shown ads about your business as they browse the internet. This ensures your business is front of mind when they are ready to complete the purchase.

Dealing with shopping cart abandonment can both increase revenue and help you forge stronger relationships with your customers.


Love at First Sight: First Impressions and Why Good Design Matters

First impressions count. From the moment you walk into a store or load a website, you get a sense of what a brand is about. And you’ll instantly make judgments about its trustworthiness and authority — whether you’re conscious of doing this or not.
It only takes 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for a user to form an opinion about a website. And first impressions are 94% design related. The opinion of the user —  good or bad — depends on several key factors.

How does this impact your ecommerce business?

From the time it takes your site to load, to the choice of colors and photographs, to the usability and functionality of your site — it all leaves an impression. Whether you’re strictly an online business or have an online presence to support your brick and mortar location, it’s important to consider what impression you’re making on your visitors.

Here are a few things to consider:


How Users Assess Trustworthiness

1. Users Determine a Website’s Credibility by Design

• 75% of customers make judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s overall design

• 46.2% of participants assessed the credibility of ecommerce sites based specifically on the visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

 

“I would like to think that when people go on the Web they're very tough integrators of information, they compare sources, they think really hard,” says experimental psychologist B.J. Fogg, “but the truth of the matter—and I didn't want to find this in the research but it's very clear—is that people do judge a Web site by how it looks. That’s the first test of the Web site. And if it doesn't look credible or it doesn’t look like what they expect it to be, they go elsewhere. It doesn't get a second test.”

 

Despite users claiming to value breadth and depth of information on a site, only 6% commented on the actual content of the website. This shows most users won’t stay on a poorly designed website long enough to actually evaluate the deeper levels of content.

No matter how good your products are, to get a user to stay on your website long enough to make a sale, you need a website that looks professional and inspires confidence.


2. Keep Designs Simple and Familiar

Google researchers have explored the interconnection of two design factors and found that they work together to create a good impression.

  • Visual complexity — how complex the visual design of a website looks

  • Prototypicality — how representative a design looks for a certain category of websites

They found that users strongly preferred websites that appeared to have low complexity and high prototypicality — in other words, websites that looked easy to use and looked similar to other websites they are familiar with. Furthermore, users need both together to create a consistently good impression.

Most consumers come to ecommerce websites with an existing idea of how they function and look. For beauty and lifestyle brands, with web savvy and visually fickle consumers, a poorly or even an unexpectedly designed website can turn away potential customers.


Eye tracking results of users in seconds

3. Know What Forms the First Impression by Following the Eyes

An eye tracking study at Missouri University explored where users spent their viewing time in assessing a new website:

  • Site’s main image: 5.94 seconds

  • Written content: 5.59 seconds

  • Footer: 5.25 seconds

  • Logo:  6.48 seconds

  • Navigation Menu: 6.44 seconds

  • Search box: Just over 6 seconds

 

“Thus, our study provides an evidence that users care for how and where the website can be navigated followed by body of the homepage. The quantitative results from interview also indicate that users’ first impressions are highly affected by several design factors like use of colors, font types and size, use of images, easier navigation and so on.”

 

Knowing this pattern makes it essential that these elements be well designed and clear on your website. Good design must clearly demonstrate to the user where they are, what’s there, and where they can go. For most ecommerce sites, this means making products and their benefits front and center.



4. First Impressions Are Stubbornly Difficult to Change

The cliche, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is now supported by recent psychological research. After people have created a bad first impression, they will remember positive impressions as “exceptions to the rule” rather than re-write their initial impression.

 

“The first impression will dominate regardless of how often it is contradicted by new experiences.” 

— Bertram Gawronski

 

While it’s tempting to focus on developing the product and skimp on “extras” such as design, a poorly designed website can actually hurt your brand — even long after it has been replaced. If the design is giving a negative impression or seems suspicious, cheap, or unprofessional, you not only lose a sale but will have a lot of work later to change the customer’s mind.


To make a long story short, great products are not enough. Consumers implicitly trust brands that have invested in design — whether they are conscious of it or not.

Good design tells your users that you care about them. That you are willing to invest in your brand. That your products don’t represent a race to the lowest price but stands for quality. 

Good design differentiates extraordinary brands. It makes your website feel trustworthy and encourages visitors to stay and become buyers, buyers to return and become fans.

How does your website stack up?


9 Product Description Techniques to Increase Sales

If you're selling products online, you probably already know there are various techniques you can use to boost sales. Optimizing your website design (our favorite!), distributing ads, and testimonial placements are a good start, but to truly accelerate sales, you will also need persuasive copy.

Quality writing is extremely undervalued — start-ups will inevitably decide they'll “throw something together for the copy” in a misguided attempt to save money. Larger companies will have their marketing associate type the copy up on her phone between meetings. Copy is voice of your company and your product description is your best salesperson, don't brush it off! 

Here are nine powerful techniques for writing persuasive product descriptions to influence readers and increase your sales:

Repetition

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in 2015, the average human attention span was 8.25 seconds. This is why you need to repeat the product benefits throughout your product page. Select the most obvious benefit of a product and include it in your headline, intro, subheadings, bullet points, and conclusion. The more people hear it, the more believable it becomes.

Emotional Language

Anyone searching for a product online has a primary psychological need. You can tap into these feelings by using emotional language that addresses people's concerns and desires.

For example, people looking for make-up want to improve their self-esteem, so you can use words like "beautiful," "happier," and "youthful." People looking for security cameras want to feel safe, so use words like "vulnerable," "secure," and "protected." Consider the benefits of your product and how it will make customers feel.

Rhymes

According to research, rhymes have the power to make statements sound more believable. People react to the sound of the copy as well as its meaning. The smoothness of rhyming sounds also aids memory and makes copy easier to read.

Find rhyming phrases for the product or its benefits, and add them to the beginning or end of your product description. For example: "An invigorating shampoo that smells great too!"

Details

When it comes to product descriptions, the details are what make you sound more trustworthy. What exactly is your product made of? Where is it made? How is it made? What extra features does it include? Answering these questions will add credibility to your copy and minimize buyer anxiety.

Mini-Stories

If you can include a mini-story about your product, customers will temporarily forget they're being sold to. Stories have the power to connect with people on a more emotional level. Ask yourself the following: 

  • What inspired you to create the product? 
  • Who are the people behind your products? 
  • What obstacles did you have to overcome in product development? 

Customer Language

Forums related to your industry and products can help you discover what customers are saying about your products, the concerns they have, and the language they use. Search Google with the following phrase: "your product (or niche)" and "just bought (or should I buy)," inurl:forum

The results should point you toward real customer comments. Discover why people bought your product, what concerns they have, and what they use the product for. Use the language from these real-world examples in your product descriptions.

Sensory Words

Adjectives that refer to the senses of sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste make your copy more vivid because they activate different areas of the brain. Just look at any restaurant menu and you'll see how sensory words are used to entice customers to buy.

One description from chocolate maker Green & Black's refers to taste, sound, and touch: "... [C]runchy toffee, smooth dark chocolate. Treacly and savory flavors ..." What sensory words can you use to describe your products?

Power Words

There are many power words you can use in product descriptions to make copy more persuasive. Here are four powerful words to use throughout your product page: 

  • "You." Talking directly to your reader builds trust and helps customers focus on how your product will benefit them. 

  • "New." This word instantly makes your product seem more attractive and desirable. 

  • "Because." Research has shown that giving people a reason to do something is more likely to trigger a positive action. 

  • "Imagine." When you encourage readers to imagine themselves using a product and enjoying its benefits, they're more likely to want to own it. 

Readability

Simple changes to the layout and format of product description pages can make a big difference to their readability. Ultimately, this means that your messages are more likely to hit home. To make product pages more readable, use compelling headlines, bullet points, plenty of white space, and increase the font size where necessary.

The best product descriptions use a combination of these strategies to increase the persuasiveness of copy and turn potential customers into actual buyers. You don't have to use every technique, but if you start with these suggestions, you'll be well on your way to increasing product sales.

 

Sources: 

http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/ 
https://selfstartr.com/persuasive-marketing-techniques/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199809/sounds-true-me


4 Reasons Why You Should Update Your Website Pages

High-quality, meaningful content drives traffic to a website, creates leads, and ultimately results in better profits. While regularly adding new content such as blog posts or landing pages to your website is an important strategy to improve your SEO, updating your main website pages is also crucial to drive new traffic to your site and keep existing users returning. 

1. Fresh, up-to-date content offers useful, accurate, and reliable information.  

Online users want content that solves their problems. Whether they're looking for trusted services or product comparisons, they want to obtain information that's helpful and current. In order to attract more site visitors, it's important to provide well-thought-out and engaging content that online surfers will be compelled to share through links and social media.

Your website should offer fresh content without any grammatical errors, incorrect statistics, or obsolete details that could lead to misinformation. When you regularly edit and update your website content with new, well-researched copy, you'll likely increase your customer base and actually make site visitors stay and take interest in your business, as you'll be able to meet their content needs and keep them coming back for more.

 

2. Fresh content boosts your authority.  

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E-A-T) are key factors that Google looks for when assessing and ranking a website, and these are easier to establish when you deliver fresh, valuable content. The one undeniable element that online industry leaders have in common is that they offer useful, informative content that's targeted to their particular industries.

Many authoritative online marketers also ensure that old pages, especially popular, high-ranking posts rich in statistics, are periodically revised to reflect any recent changes in data. To position yourself as an industry leader, you need to offer exceptional content and make sure that your pages stay relevant and helpful. More people will start to trust you and what your business has to offer once you've successfully built your readership. 

 

3. Fresh content leads to frequent indexing.  

When you regularly update your site, Google takes notice and reevaluates your ranking. The more frequent you refresh your content, the more frequent your site gets indexed. Frequent indexing gives you the opportunity to climb to higher rankings as long as you update old pages with relevant and engaging new copy.

Web crawlers, which are advanced programs that search the Internet to discover new and updated pages, index websites according to methodical processes and various algorithmic factors. They tend to index websites more quickly if the sites have new links to more current sources. This means you should edit out links to old, outdated sources and replace them with new links to help get your site indexed faster. 

 

4. Maintenance is an important factor Google considers when evaluating a website's ranking. 

In addition to expertise, authoritativeness, and trust, maintenance is crucial for your site to rank highly. To show Google that your site is properly maintained, you have to make sure that your pages are current, relevant, and accurate. Web crawlers are always looking for fresh content and updated pages, and Google is more likely to push your site ranking higher when you consistently publish valuable information on a regular basis. Repurposing old content is an excellent way to produce something new and keep your website fresh.

 

Now that you understand the importance of tuning up your website, the next steps are to determine which pages to edit, decide what kinds of changes to make, and monitor implemented changes.  

We frequently work with clients who want to create ongoing updates or refreshes to their website — this can range from updating the homepage with new promotional banners, creating infographics, incorporating user generated content, adding more detailed product information and more. 


3 Key Principles to Maximize Conversion Rates

Driving traffic to your website and capturing the attention of potential customers is only the first part of the sales process. Once your intended audience has arrived at your website, you need to convince them to buy your products and services. Many businesses focus on drawing visitors to their website but pay much less attention to turning those visitors into paying customers. If you're experiencing a low sales rate, despite driving significant traffic to your website, these three key principles will help you to maximize conversion rates.

 

Identify and Research Your Target Market

Understanding your audience is the single most important factor throughout all parts of the marketing and sales process. The more clearly and narrowly you can define your target market, the more effectively you will be able to identify and fulfill their needs. Specific information about your ideal customers, such as their age range, marital status, job title, annual income bracket, beliefs and interests can be extremely valuable when planning your marketing and sales copy, as it will enable you to find angles that appeal to them. Understanding their fears and desires can be even more valuable, as the ability to stir emotions in your target market can often produce the best results.

 

Tailor Your Landing Page

Many businesses make the mistake of using a generic landing page or sending website visitors directly to their product sales page, which often leads to high bounce rates. Usually, new website visitors arrive at your site looking for a specific product, service or information, especially if they have clicked through from a link on another website, social media platform or marketing email. Using a generic landing page will not captivate their attention, while a product sales page will make them feel pressured into making a decision. Creating dedicated landing pages that are tailored to each marketing campaign or specific promotion is essential for reducing bounce rates.

 

Trim the Fat

Your landing page, sales page and product description should all be laser-focused on the product or service you are promoting and all information provided should contribute towards achieving your goal. If your goal is to sell a specific product, then all elements of your landing page should contribute towards this goal. Remove any extra information or potential distractions, such as unnecessary graphics, links and non-essential information. Focus the visitor's complete attention on the product you are trying to sell, the benefits they will receive by purchasing it and how it will help to improve their life. Avoid using pop-up windows and flashing or animated graphics, as these can distract and annoy potential customers.

 

Poor conversion rates are often the result of a badly-designed, generic or distracting landing page, all of which can lead to high bounce rates. Identifying and researching your target audience is the first step in creating an effective landing page, as it helps you to understand your customers' needs. Designing tailored landing pages that focus completely on your sales goal is the key to maximizing your conversion rates.


5 Areas of Customer Concern Your Website Needs to Address

Ecommerce is now firmly woven into the fabric of modern business, and it's a rare company nowadays that doesn't have a web presence. However, there is still a residual mistrust of online shopping among many customers - regular stories of hacks, fraud, and other types of cybercrime mean that many are still wary of trusting their personal details to a new website.

To overcome this hurdle, it's vital to fully address five major concerns to reassure potential customers that your site is the right one for them to shop at - after all, giants like Amazon are only ever one click away.

 

Clear Delivery Information 

If your site sells a physical product, then it's essential that delivery information is given up front. Nothing is more likely to provoke an abandoned shopping cart than the sudden, unexpected addition of punitive shipping costs during the checkout process. If you offer free delivery, make this clear as a selling point, but equally make sure that if you do charge for shipping then the customer is aware of this from the start, to avoid conversion-killing surprises later on.

 

Clear Returns Policy

Many online retailers see customers returning sold items as a huge problem. While it's clearly preferable that an order remains completed and not sent back, trying to actively discourage returns can be counterproductive. In some niches, notably clothing, up to one in three items dispatched are returned by the customer, and this simply needs to be accounted for as part of the cost of business. Indeed, if a customer cannot reassure themselves that returning a product for refund or replacement is acceptable and easy, they're much less likely to place the order in the first place. Counter to many retailers' instincts, making shopping appear risk-free with a clear returns policy can be the final factor that turns an undecided visitor into a customer.

 

Easy Contact Methods

Providing a faceless contact form as the sole means of a customer getting in touch with you isn't going to cut it when it comes to engendering trust. Even if you don't expect it to receive much use, providing a toll-free contact number, and making it clearly visible to all site visitors, goes a long way towards building confidence. The same goes for live chat as a contact method - research shows that invitations to use the facility are generally ignored, but it acts as a subliminal verification of a site's trustworthiness.

 

Has the Customer Found What They're Looking For? 

In a crowded internet, you need to grab your visitor's attention immediately by making it clear that you can provide them with what they're searching for. A site that gets straight to the point with a clear indication of what it's selling will be more successful than one which tries to dazzle with overly complex multimedia displays. Offer your visitor a fast, efficient solution to their problem and you're halfway towards turning them into a customer — and leave any distractions such as cross-selling or upselling until after the deal has been sealed.

 

Is the Website Trustworthy? 

Finally, it goes without saying that if a visitor doesn't trust your site, they won't be handing over their credit card details anytime soon. Does your site project the image of a legitimate business? While it's not necessary to have the most cutting-edge website on the web, design matters. Few people will have confidence in a site that looks like it was thrown together one afternoon back in 2003. It's also essential to have properly implemented secure shopping in place, along with a clear privacy policy, to reassure potential customers that there is a real business behind the site, and not a fly-by-night scam operation.

 

If you always put yourself in the shoes of a customer and build your site to overcome any concerns they may have, your conversion rates will thank you for it.

 
 

7 Common Usability Mistakes in Web Design

Web design has come a long way in the last few years. The user experience is now one of the most important aspects of effective design, and for good reason. Consumers today expect a great-looking website, but if it's difficult to use, they'll look elsewhere. To keep your visitors engaged, here are some of the most common usability mistakes you should avoid.

 

Too Much Focus on the Homepage

Your homepage may be easy to navigate and look professional, but what about the other pages of your site? In many cases, users may not even see your homepage, instead landing on inner pages from search engines or social media links. This is why it's crucial to spend an equal amount of time on the usability of every page on your website.

 

Lack of Hierarchy 

When looking at a web page, it should be obvious where you want users to look first, second, third, etc. Otherwise, people will struggle to make sense of the page. To ensure users focus on your key messages in the right order, you need to effectively use font sizes, colors, and layouts that help people figure out what the most important information is.

 

Hidden Navigation

The design trend for parallax scrolling and other techniques doesn't always impress users who are simply looking for information. It may look good, but when it comes to site usability, navigational links should still be easy to find.

Creating a site structure that makes sense to users is key. Links should be labelled correctly, describing exactly what type of content users will find after clicking on a link. Too many websites use poorly labeled links, which means users struggle to find the right path to the content they're seeking. If links lead to different pages with related content, the solution could be to consolidate content so that it all falls under just one link.

Links that resemble advertising are also a common usability mistake, with users skipping content that has an added design element, such as a border or background color. To avoid confusion, avoid adding unnecessary design elements around a link. Alternatively, use simple graphic symbols alongside text to highlight its meaning, such as a telephone icon to show where to go to for contact information.

 

Information Overload

Filling pages with walls of text makes it incredibly difficult for users to locate the information they need. Remember that users scan content, so you need to use enough white space to break up blocks of text, write shorter paragraphs, and use bulleted lists, headings, and bolded keywords to make it easier for users to find what they're looking for. This is even more important for e-commerce product pages, where users are looking for specific information about a certain product.

 

"Secret" Contact Information

Many websites fail to show their contact information prominently on the web page. You at least need a dedicated "Contact Us" page link in the main navigation bar. Many visitors will be looking for a way to contact you. Make it easy for them to do so!

 

Inconsistency

Consistency in design means ensuring similar elements look and act the same. If your first subheading is Arial in dark grey with a 16-point font size, the rest of the subheadings should be the same. Are your hover effects all the same? Do links have the same color? With proper planning, you can make sure your design remains consistent and users have a better experience.

 

Non-Responsive Design

A recent study by ComScore and Millennial Media reported that around 56 percent of online content is viewed on smartphones. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the rise of mobile, which means responsive design should be a priority for every business. It's not only crucial in terms of the user experience, it's also essential for SEO.

While design trends come and go, the fundamental needs of website visitors remain the same: users need to find information easily, without distractions. Don't worry if you've made any of these errors; they're common in web design. If you remember that usability is ultimately more important than looks, and you focus on your users' needs, you can avoid many of these design mistakes.

Design Evolution vs. Redesign: What’s Best for Your Website?

Have you had a business pivot that makes your existing website irrelevant? 
Sick of your website and want a do-over?
Feel like it’s not connecting with your target market?

Traditionally a web redesign meant a complete overhaul of your website completed in one major launch. However, more recently the trend has gone towards gradually evolving and improving the design over time. 

With the traditional approach, a redesign was very dramatic and climactic with all the positives and negatives that go with it. While it was great for promotion and building excitement, it could also turn stressful, time consuming and expensive. 

Obviously, there are some cases where a large sweeping overhaul is the best fit. For instance, we recently worked with Kevyn Aucoin, who was transitioning to an e-commerce site from a purely informational website. In a situation like that, there are so many new pages and elements that are being added that a completely fresh launch of their website made sense. 

However, in many cases a more gradual approach makes more sense. An example is Trophy Skin, who already had an e-commerce website when they approached us. But their design wasn't very polished and it was off-putting for their target market. We broke their redesign down into monthly milestones so that over the course of six months we completely updated their website. That way they could test and optimize the website as we went along and gradually evolve it into a much more polished and elegant presence. 

 

Advantages to Evolving Website Design

There are a few reasons that account for this trend's increasingly popularity:

1. More Complexity

First off, as the web has evolved, websites have become increasingly complex, so doing a traditional overhaul is more complicated, expensive and involved than it was previously. There's more to be designed, written, tested and . . .

2. Better Testing

As businesses rely more on their websites for marketing and driving revenue, there's more on the line if a website redesign goes wrong. A gradual evolution of the website allows for real-time testing and quickly identifying elements that are hurting your conversions. If you've redone the entire website, it's much more difficult to track and analyze what the specific issue is. 

3. Easier Budgeting

Another advantage is that it's much easier to budget, as each iteration will use fewer funds stretched over several months rather than a large lump sum, which is often prohibitive. 

4. Less Time-Consuming

Doing any redesign is fairly resource intensive for the client too. There are extra meetings, gathering of materials, giving feedback, reaching consensus . . . it's a major undertaking. However, if you opt of the more gradual approach, this can be a more manageable side-project for your team.

5. Less Potential for Customer Backlash

Sometimes customers can be quite attached to your old design and may react negatively if they perceive a sudden, large pivot. However, most small incremental changes pass under the radar and do not create a backlash.

6. Builds Momentum

For start-ups in particular, it can be good to view the website from the point of view that it's a work in progress. I've talked with so many companies who can't even get their initial website up because they get so bogged down in complexities and wanting it to be perfect. I'm a big advocate for just getting a site up and evolving it as you go.

 

DISADVANTAGES TO EVOLVING YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN

All that said, obviously there are some downsides to evolutionary design, rather than doing an overhaul.

1. Slow

Probably the most frustrating part of evolving a website is the lack of instant gratification. If you've fallen out of love with your website, it can make you yearn to see the sweeping changes of a traditional redesign.

2. Bad for Business Pivoting

If there's a radical shift in your business strategy, it's probably worth looking at a complete overhaul, rather than trying to do it gradually. A bad situation is to end up with a Frankenstein website that's neither your old design nor your new design. If the change is relatively minor, it's not as noticeable, but with a major redesign it could become an issue.

3. Not as Promotable

The big, exciting launch just isn't as dramatic if customers have already seen the website gradually changing over several months. If you want to make your redesign an event and use it for promotions, it's probably better to go with a more traditional approach.

 

Overall, I think that doing evolutionary redesign is a very positive trend, especially for small businesses that might not have the budget or internal resources to handle a huge design overhaul. 

 


The Sales Funnel and How it Applies to Your Website

Let’s dive into the concept of the sales funnel and how it relates to your website. I’ll explain the concept of the sales funnel, how to create a high converting sales funnel page, and also give examples of how to tell when part of your funnel is not working. 

What are the Sales Funnel Stages?

In a very simplified version of the sales funnel, there are four stages: 

 

1. Top of the Funnel: Awareness

Awareness can be almost anything that gets your business in front of the public. Common ways in the digital realm are social media, PPC advertising, and content marketing. More traditional methods include advertising, direct mail or press mentions. In-person methods such as word of mouth, networking or professional organizations can also be a key.

Generally the most cited cited metric to test if the top of your funnel is working is the number of visitors to your website. Which of course begs the question: what’s considered good traffic? This is always a tricky question.

I’ve heard a range of numbers with most online discussions turning into bragging matches. A better metric is whether the traffic to your site is growing over time. If there’s been no increase in visitors to your website, there is probably an issue with the top of your funnel. 
 

Example of an Awareness Problem

A good example of a top of an awareness problem is when we got contacted by a start-up beauty company. They had a limited marketing budget but wanted to redesign their website in order to grow their business. However when we looked at their site’s analytics we found that actually a high number of visitors (around 30%) were signing up for their free consultation — they just didn’t have much traffic. 

This was a clear case of an issue in the awareness stage of the funnel. Instead of a redesign, they started a local area, pay-per-click campaign to drive additional traffic to their site immediately and started working on content marketing to drive search engine traffic in the longer term.  


Middle of the Funnel: Interest

The middle of the funnel contains much of the quantitative information about what your product is, who it’s for and what makes it special. It includes guides, lists, detailed product information and and other factual information about your product or services services. 

A way to measure the success of this stage of the funnel is to, once again, review the website’s analytics. When people come to your website but bounce or don’t engage with the content, that’s usually a problems with the middle of the funnel. Common ways to fix the middle of the tunnel are through improving the design and creating a content marketing strategy. There could also be a mismatch between the messaging that attracts visitors to your website, and the product or service you are selling. Making sure that everything is in alignment is the best way to solidify the middle of the funnel. With the exponential increase in mobile traffic, it's also critical that your website is responsive and mobile-optimized.


Example of an Interest Problem

A skincare device company was running a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign that was driving a lot of traffic to their website, but they found that visitors were bouncing (leaving the site) almost immediately and not sticking around to check out their products. They reached out to us to redesign their website so that it felt like a prestige beauty company that their ideal customer would connect with rather than a do-it-yourself website. The redesigned website reduced their bounce rate and retained their ideal customers rather than scaring them away.


Middle of the Funnel: Decision

After the factual information, next comes the more qualitative stage. Here visitors seek to discover what sets you apart from your competitors and look for reassurance in their decision making. Trust and authority are key and can be built in a number of ways including blogging, press mentions, case studies, testimonials, product reviews, money back guarantees or social proof on social media. 

During this phase you want the potential customer to go from being interested in your product to deciding to take action. If you have problems at this part of your funnel, you likely will see low conversion rates.

There is considerable variance in what a healthy conversion rate might be, I’ve seen numbers from 1% to 5% tossed around for e-commerce. Obviously the more expensive your product or service is, generally the longer and more involved your selling cycle will be. While there’s is no exact percentage for successful conversion rates, if you’re seeing visitors engaging with your content but not taking the next step, it's likely you need to work on building trust and authority. 


Example of an Decision Problem

We recently worked with a dentist and in an early version of the website we had all the basic information of where she is located, what services they offer, and what kind of insurance they take.

However as we did more research, the questions transitioned from these basics to questions such as if the dentist is nice and friendly? Do they take the time to listen to their patients? Are they trustworthy? Do they try to upsell their clients on expensive services?

So we added testimonials from other patients to build trust and answer these qualitative questions, showing her to be both technically qualified AND a nice, friendly person to have poking around in your mouth.


Bottom of the Funnel: Action

The final part of the funnel, and what we’ve all been waiting for, is action. This is the point from which the visitor decides to take action and commit. Generally everything up to this point involves increasing motivation — after this it's all about reducing friction and getting the visitor from deciding to buy to actually making the purchase.

I'm sure we've all been in the situation where we decide to buy something but don’t quite get around to it. Whether you can’t find your credit card, get distracted by a hard-to-get Pokemon or have a technical issue with the website during the process, the order gets lost. While we can't control the customer's real world experiences, we can streamline their online experiences to create the best circumstances for them to follow through. Examining the user flow, the layout of your check-out pages and implementing an abandoned cart program are good methods to combat problems in this area of the funnel.


Example of an Action Problem

Recently we started working with a new skincare client and saw that while visitors were clicking the buy button, a large number were leaving during checkout and not completing their orders. Upon closer inspection, we saw that there was a large green button for financing options which took them off to another site whereas the button to continue with their purchase was buried down below a lot of legal jargon and required some scrolling to get to.

As you might expect, visitors were absent-mindedly clicking on the financing button because it was large and obvious, then getting confused and abandoning the site altogether. While it's not always that obvious, periodically go through your check-out to make sure you're creating a seamless and easy user experience.


And to wrap it all up, here’s a handy sales funnel and your website cheat sheet to remember everything: