One of the best ways to increase your month on month earnings with your e-commerce store, that many site admins overlook, is to tweak the design and presentation of your website.
When I ran my web development company, we made a name for ourselves doing a lot of e-commerce web development, mostly building and redesigning e-commerce websites for small to medium sized companies.
After hundreds of these kinds of jobs my team and I started noticing certain patterns appearing. These were small things that, when tweaked, could result in huge increases in the site’s sales.
If It’s So Easy, Why Don’t More People Optimize Their E-Commerce Sites All The Time?
The main reason that people don’t just sit there tweaking their site and getting these huge gains in revenue is because most times an e-commerce site is developed and then the owners move on to more important things like the setup and running of the day to day business.
Increasing revenue is often left to increasing the advertising spend or waiting for word of mouth to kick in. Or worse, lumping into the lap of developers that aren’t marketing people.
Knowing how to tweak and optimize an e-commerce store is one of those marketing tasks that tends to take a back seat or isn’t even budgeted for.
But tweaking your website’s performance in very specific and measurable ways is something that:
- Doesn’t have to cost a lot; and
- Is a one time investment that will reap benefits forever
It’s a really huge opportunity and I wanted to take some time today to illustrate 5 high impact areas that I’ve come across in the path of helping hundreds of business owners like you.
High Impact Area #1: Individual Product Page
Your product pages are where the magic begins.
It’s often the place where your customers hang around doing a lot of research and deliberation about whether they should buy your product.
So it’s not surprising when you look at your Google Analytics to see these pages ranking as some of the highest “time on page” pages on your site.
Often its the simple things that are overlooked.
Is Your Add To Cart Button Prominent Enough?
The Add To Cart button is the most sensitive element on your product page.
If you haven’t tested optimizing it yet, then a simple test you can run would be to try changing the colour of the button.
You can even try boosting the size or giving it a bit more breathing space around the button to make it appear to stand out more.
Ideally, when you stand 5 metres back from your computer screen, it should be the main thing you can see on the page. This is often known as the “Stand Back Test”.
Additionally – and it might sound like simple advice but you’d be surprised how often I’ve seen web designers make this critical mistake – you should make your Add To Cart buttons look like real buttons.
I’ve personally seen designs where the add to cart button was just a flat, drab looking rectangle.
When we made it look like a real clickable button, the amount of people clicking on it increased dramatically (over ~200%) which has huge downstream effects on the business.
Jazz Up Your Product Descriptions
Could you enhance the product description by providing more relevant information or better yet, a video to help digest what the product is for?
Extra information like how to use it, how it comes packaged and anything else that they might have questions about can really help put customer concerns to bed.
You can also address commonly asked product questions in your description text by way of short FAQ section.
Start the list of questions by brainstorming what you think might be common objections to buying your product, then add to this list overtime with your responses to actual customer queries.
Add A Product Questions Form
Adding a product questions form can help you identify people’s objects without having to resort to a live chat system which costs time and money to implement.
A simple form tool to use is WPForms which will let you create simple forms easily and add them to any page.
Formidable Forms is another great form solution that can do the job as well and has more advanced features if you wanted to get fancy with any of your forms.
After a while, it might be worth testing removing this form to see what happens to your conversion rate.
Lastly, in WooCommerce you can also enable reviews to show positive social proof which is a great method of increasing buyer confidence.
Showing reviews is one of those things that many e-commerce store owners find hard to swallow.
What happens if someone writes something negative?!
It hardly ever happens and when it does, it shows that you are willing to accept the good with the bad.
More on reviews in a minute…
High Impact Area #2: Your Shopping Cart Page
When users get to your cart page, it’s time to start pushing them toward taking some action.
By default though, the cart pages in WooCommerce are made to fit in with the rest of the site. It’s good for compatibility, but bad news for conversions.
They often end up with things like irrelevant sidebars or big headers that don’t make a lot of sense for a page like this.
This said, in my experience looking at hundreds of e-commerce sites, the cart page (whether it’s well designed or not) will still usually convert at around 10-20% which isn’t bad.
It means that 2 out of 10 people will go from here onwards to the checkout page.
But you can definitely do a lot better.
After the following changes, I’ve seen some cart pages start to convert at well over 60% and sometimes higher! So give them a go and see what effect it has on your site getting your customers to proceed through to the checkout.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the prominence and clarity of the “Proceed to Payment” button should be of utmost importance on this page.
Again, use the “Stand Back Test” to ensure that the Proceed To Checkout button is the element on the page that draws your eye and try tweaking the colour, size, wording and visual click-ability of the button design to attract attention.
Display Shipping And Taxes
People tend to view the cart page to check up on what the actual totals are going to be.
If you can, leave the shipping calculator enabled so people can get an idea of shipping cost.
Did you know that WooCommerce has a Geolocation feature?
“Built-in geolocation support allows your store to auto-detect your customer’s address – making shipping and tax calculations simpler.”
Turn it on and make use of it so that you can display the correct geo-appropriate tax and shipping information on the Cart page.
Remove Distracting Elements
Remove all distracting elements from the page.
Ensure that this page doesn’t have any sidebars (unless absolutely necessary) and think about trimming the height of your header to move as much of the actual shopping cart information above the fold.
I also advocate removing any menus or social buttons from the header and footer.
One Exception: Even though you are removing distractions on this page, don’t remove the option of continuing shopping.
Implement a single visible “continue shopping” link at the top of the cart items table which will take them back to the shop.
This will ensure they don’t feel trapped by the design but will still give prominence to the Proceed To Checkout button.
High Impact Area #3: The Checkout Experience
The checkout page is the one page on your site where you don’t want them to linger very long.
Go completely distraction free if possible.
There is only one goal on this page and that is to get them to complete the order.
Keep The Form Short
Make the form as simple as possible and remove any excessive data entry which bogs down the process.
Many store owners collect loads of information on their checkout pages because they think it will be important for “marketing”.
In reality, this information is rarely used and will only drive people away because there’s too much to fill in.
I’d reconsider my purchase too if there was 30 fields to fill in!
Show Minimal Shipping Options
Try to present minimal shipping options and help the customer by pre-selecting the best price, they’re going to select it anyway and it saves them an extra click.
With the cost of shipping, if you can’t offer free shipping, then follow the rule that the simpler the shipping options are, the better they will convert.
Showing a normal shipping speed and express shipping speed is expected and if you have more than this it only confuses the choice.
Give Multiple Payment Options
In my experience the only place where you want to give them a choice is in the payment option.
Most people just use the default PayPal gateway as it’s already turned on in WooCommerce, but why not try to include one other option for Credit Cards exclusively?
I had this very same question myself after always selling our plugins via PayPal exclusively.
After we switched on the Stripe Payment Gateway we saw a 10-20% jump in successful orders and roughly 30% of people paying via the new payment method.
Who knows if they would have abandoned the cart if the option to pay via credit card directly wasn’t there?
“But PayPal lets you pay via credit card without an account!”
I know, and we actually used to add a note to our checkout saying this. But even though most customers know that you can pay via credit card with PayPal without an account, not all will.
Also, this varies by country and I’ve seen PayPal change the payment pages depending on what country the buyer comes from so you can never guarantee that this is possible.
In all cases I’ve read about, having the extra payment gateway that lets them pay via credit card on your site without going to PayPal will increase your conversions.
I guess some people just really hate using PayPal!
Add An SSL Certificate
Even if you aren’t taking payments directly on your site, I recommend adding a WooCommerce SSL certificate.
It’s a tiny investment (here’s one for $12 USD a year at Namecheap) that will pay big bucks in your customer’s perception of security.
People have been trained to “look for the little lock” in their address bar to ensure that the transaction is secure before proceeding so having this extra protection helps put those doubts to rest straight away.
Once you have your SSL installed (site-wide preferably, not just on the payment pages), you can install SSL and security badges near your “Pay Now” button to give even more feeling of security.
Add Nice Accepted Payment Icons
The standard payment icons for most payment gateways with WooCommerce are pretty dull.
I highly recommended you implement some nice icons to indicate what payment card option they can use.
You can get free/cheap icon sets for a just about any payment card imaginable on sites like IconFinder.
High Impact Area #4: Email Collection
There’s a lot of articles around detailing how to optimize your email address collection so I’ll just make one suggestion that will give you the biggest impact possible: no matter what you read, popup opt-ins work.
But like anything, there’s a good way and a bad way to implement them.
Gone are the days of annoying popups that are irrelevant and show up right when you visit a site before you even look at anything.
These days you can tune your opt-in popups to show in a tasteful lightbox, be relevant to the page they’re viewing, and show up on the second-page load after X amount of seconds or via an exit intent detection algorithm.
They are the highest impact per page view email opt-in method available and regardless of whether you personally like them or not it is the best method of turning visitors into email addresses on your list that you can re-market to over and over.
Without an email collecting popup, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table.
My 2 points of specific advice for making a really good opt-in popup would be to:
- Make a “killer” offer. Something much better than just “Join Our Newsletter”. I’m talking about giving away short e-books, email course, pdf guides, 10% off coupons for their first order (these work really well!).
- Provide useful content. It’s one thing to get someone onto your list, but if you don’t talk to them it was a fruitless exercise. Keep the conversation going by providing regular useful content. Regular can mean monthly, weekly or more depending on your audience and useful can be anything you or others create that leads back to possibly making an order on your site.
High Impact Area #5: Product Reviews
As mentioned earlier, showing reviews on your product pages can increase buyer confidence.
Unfortunately, many store owners have trouble collecting reviews on their product pages and usually choose to just disable this feature in WooCommerce.
Resolve To Test Reviews On Your Site
As a test, enable it for the next couple of months and use a review reminder email sent to your customer approximately 2 weeks after their purchase. You can use a plugin like Advanced Review Reminder to do this.
This will send them an email to remind them about their order from your store and ask them to write a quick product review.
I find for physical products that 2 weeks is usually a good amount of time after they have received their order so they have a good chance to experience your product and form a valid opinion. For digital products, try a shorter period like 3-7 days.
What about negative reviews?
It’s hard for most store owners to hit publish on negative reviews and this was the most common objection that I faced when suggesting this to e-commerce store owners.
But the good news is there’s no better social proof than honest reviews. So publish the good with the bad if you can stomach it!
The bad reviews will give you feedback on how to improve (better pre-sales FAQ, product tweaks, etc) and will show your audience that you’re listening to everyone, not just the people who give you 5-stars and praise you.
Now that you’ve read about my 5 high impact area to tweak on your e-commerce site, the challenge is thrown down. How far can you take this?
Can you pick 1 or 2 of these items and implement them today?
Be honest – what could do you now to improve your customer experience on your site that could lead to more sales?
Tell us about your plans in the comments!