It’s always the same story: You spent a ton of money on a cool website design. It looks great. It grabs your attention. And it looks exactly the way you wanted because you and your designer spent countless (billed) hours working on making it picture perfect. Yet nobody is buying your stuff, and now you’re over your budget with little to no ROI.
Design and web copy (content) is constantly evolving to keep up with Google standards. There are currently more websites in the world than there are people, so in order to get the attention of potential customers, you have to stay on top of things. Here’s how:
Your design must adapt from desktop to mobile.
More shoppers are using their mobile devices than ever. Simply put, if they can’t easily purchase something via your mobile site, you’re more likely to lose them before making a conversion. Your design needs to be versatile, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly.
A couple statistics:
37% of consumers are more likely to purchase on a mobile-optimized site. (ExactTarget 2014 Mobile Behavior Report)
Mobile commerce will account for 24.4% of overall e-commerce revenues by the end of 2017. (ABI Research)
Stripped to the basic elements of importance, e-commerce mobile app development is all about creating a simple and enjoyable user experience, without too many clicks or forms. Why? Because if you’ve ever struggled to fill out a registration form on a mobile app, then gave up and left your cart abandoned because you failed your 3rd Captcha attempt, you’ve already illustrated the point.
Immersive and unique experiences that are no fuss no muss, are key. The following are some examples of how to create a great mobile experience:
Simplicity and Speed
Be ferocious with click elimination throughout your navigation. Declutter your app shopping experience to the least possible number of swipes and clicks. Make sure that when somebody clicks a product, they can seamlessly add it to their cart and continue shopping without losing their space. Keep load times to the absolute minimum. These are the things that create a positive mobile shopping experience, and encourage mobile sales. Long gone are the days of baiting customers with pushy sales tactics and begging for their loyalty. Mobile users just want a good deal.
Social Media Login
Easy in, easy out. This should be your mantra to registration. Users don’t want to spend much time telling you about themselves. They want to look around a little, pick a product or two, and click one button to buy, and a second to confirm purchase. That’s it. If you make them jump through hoops, you’ll lose them. Social integration plugins are great for quick on-boarding or checkout systems. Bonus points if you give them the option to save their info for future use, so they never have to do it again.
This is what gets users to download your app in the first place. These days most people read app reviews to gauge whether or not they want to squeeze yet another app on their phone. With enough great reviews, people can be convinced that your app is worth their time, and your products are worth their hard-earned Benjamins.
In whatever way makes sense to your business, add some customization features. The more you allow people to make your app suitable to their tastes, the less you have to spend down the road on redesign.
Losing service when you’re on the go is annoying, which is why companies are starting to allow people to use their mobile app offline. Local storage and caching capabilities make this possible. This minimizes the odds of losing your customer in the middle of a transaction or search. If they can’t make a purchase because of bad service, they can at least add items to their cart and manage it later.
Your site must load quickly.
If you have too many unnecessary bells and whistles, it’s going to slow down your site, which is the opposite of a good user experience. First, we challenge you to find out how fast your site loads. It’s ok, we’ll wait…1…2…stop! If it takes more than three seconds, it’s too long. It also lowers your Google scoring, which is what helps you get seen. Using platforms that prioritize load times is key.
Studies have shown that about half of your customers expect your site to load within two seconds. Beyond that, you start to lose them. And unfortunately, in the fickle world of the web, one poor user experience can lead to a bad review, which means a loss of potential sales over what seems like no big deal.
There are plenty of resources available to help you test your load time and view what might be causing delays. One of which includes Google’s new (April 2016) Page Speed Online. Just type in your URL, then hit ENTER, and find ways your developer can improve your page load speed.
Additional steps you can take to decrease page load time:
Use small images for the sake of the big picture.
Many people make the mistake of relying on HTML to resize images for them, but the problem is that the browser still has to load the original file before decreasing the image size for display, further causing delays. There is usually very little visual trade-off to decreasing the image size to make it appropriate for web. Keep in mind we are talking about size in the context of kilobytes or megabytes, not the pixels and dimensions of the photo. Photoshop has a “Save for Web” option that makes this easy. The smaller the image you can get away with, without disrupting the page aesthetic, the faster your load time.
Compress your files for faster delivery.
GZIP compression can be used on sites to decrease the size of a file significantly, without a loss in quality. It saves bandwidth, increases speed, and works with most modern browsers. The server will pull a compressed version from a zip file, and essentially deliver it to your very impatient potential customer, much faster than if it had to search for a larger, individual html file.
SMALL FILE = FASTER LOAD TIMES = HAPPY POTENTIAL CUSTOMER = BETTER CHANCE OF MAKING A SALE.
Store code in external files for better efficiency.
“Cache in” (haha) on your time savings.
Cache plugins can work wonders to save time by eliminating the browser’s need to generate a page every time the user goes to it. Whenever a potential customer visits your website, they download all of the elements that make up the page, including the HTML document, stylesheets, images, etc. A cache automatically stores these files on their machine so when they return to your site, the additional downloads aren’t necessary, thus saving time.
There are other ways to decrease load time, but it all really depends on your user experience. Pay attention to the way your customers are navigating and exiting the site, and learn from it!
Your content must be rich and relevant.
Alt text is often underutilized. Search engines can’t see pictures. Also, when writing content for a page, make sure that you are answering a question that customers would naturally ask. Many make the mistake of cramming keywords, which seems contrived and creates a poor user experience.
Branding and Targeting
Who are you? What are you selling? Why is your brand more awesome than others?
Customers should be able to find the answers to these three questions within a minute or two on your website. A startup business has unique advantages and disadvantages, so beginning with strong visual branding and a clear message is non-negotiable if you want to help customers identify your company, and connect with your product(s).
Your audience should define your voice, not the other way around. Know some things about the market you’re getting into before you start to build content. How old are your customers? How do they communicate with each other? What can they afford? What motivates them to buy from certain brands? A good marketing team knows it all begins with the right strategy, and will combine great design and a compelling voice to reach your customers effectively.
Purpose and Structure
What information is most important? Where should it go?
Placement of content on your website is nearly as important as the content itself. Users are accessing the internet via their mobile devices at an exponentially increasing rate, which means your website needs to be responsive. Additionally, the most important information should be easy to access, and the checkout should be streamlined.
Broken down to the most basic practical use of this knowledge, it’s important to be cutthroat with the amount of effort it takes to get to the main point…the checkout. In-depth and accessory information should be available to customers, but not the focal point of your homepage. Think of your website as real estate. Location, location, location! The most basic and important content should get the best real estate on your page. If a customer wants to know more about you or your products, the rest should be easy to find through clear and well-placed links, prompts, or buttons.
Information and Personality
What information do they need? What else might they find useful? How do you deliver it?
Different industries require different kinds of a content. A clothing company may want to consider a style blog. A tech company may want to provide how-to articles and webinars. Not every platform is appropriate for every business. If you want to start a Twitter account, for example, there should be a strategy and purpose separate from the strategy and purpose of your blog or website.
The video gaming market will access and consume information differently than the home decor market, for example. The platform and the voice of the content should reflect these differences. It’s also important to remember that your customers are human, and they’re probably in a hurry. Save the corny ad-speak and pushy sales tactics for infomercials. Content should be human. It should connect with your customers on a personal level, while still providing the information they want. If you aren’t providing enough intel about your product, you can be sure your competitor will.
SEO, Placement, and Relevancy
Where are people searching for information? What are they using? How are they asking?
These are questions often overlooked when creating web content. Getting seen on the internet is not as easy as it once was, and the algorithms evolve with the market. If a customer is looking for red earphones, for example, the wording they use, the search engine, their demographic, and your targeting efforts will all impact whether or not they ever find your website.
Do customers look up “red earphones,” “red headphones,” “headphones that are red,” “discount red headphones,” or any combination of these words and more? Are they using Bing or Google? Chrome or Internet Explorer? Have you used the right keywords in your blog? Believe it or not, this stuff determines whether or not your business will show up on those first couple pages on Google when your customer does a search. Trust us, you want to be on that first page.
There are tools for learning how to use keywords, meta descriptions, tags, and PPC to your advantage, so you can get your products seen, and your customers making conversions. The right marketing team will combine good strategy, content, design, development, advertising, and SEO to create a well-rounded digital product. Whether you build an internal team or choose to partner with a marketing firm, these elements are crucial to the success of your startup company.
You should always nurture abandoned cart customers.
Whether it was shipping costs, a lack of time, or an ugly checkout page on your website, you lost somebody who was about to buy your product. A small offering can make a huge difference in a person’s decision to buy from you. Nurture your abandoned cart customers! Odds are, you can probably bait them into coming back and finishing what they started.
Don’t overlook product descriptions and reviews.
In an increasingly visual world, copy is often overlooked. But when users are making a purchase online, product descriptions and reviews have to make up for the fact that your customers have no physical contact with the product prior to purchase. Copy is not just meant to describe a product. It’s meant to compel a shopper to take action. Great copy can be the difference between an abandoned cart or a conversion. It can encourage the shopper to take a leap and give it a try, or warn them that time is running out, so they better decide now. It’s the last grain of sand that can tip the scales of indecision. Don’t ignore the power of words. Create more conversions
Create Calls-To-Action with Incentives.
Immediacy is one of the most commonly ignored essentials of a good website. Simply listing your products, page after page, creates a boring shopping experience for your customers. If you have a great deal that they need to see, feature it, boldly. Many shoppers give up on the online experience because there are too many options. It creates frustration and never-ending fear that there is something better they just haven’t found yet. Show them what they should buy, and tell them that they should buy it. Make it hard to resist.
Enable a fixed cart at checkout.
The modern day online shopper is mixed bag of mobile, tablet, and desktop users. They may scroll your site on a train on the way to work, add an item to the cart in the middle of the day, and wait till the evening to make a purchase from their desktop. Or sometimes they may even wait a day or two later when their paycheck is supposed to deposit. The last thing you want to do is create a scenario where they have placed items in their cart, only to find that it has disappeared by the time they get around to making the purchase. People are busy! Do them and yourself a favor, and let their carts sit idle for a while.
Build automated email marketing campaigns for great conversion rates.
59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue. (BtoB Magazine)
Email campaigns have an amazing track record for turning “window shoppers” into real conversions. With certain types of software, such as Klaviyo, you can create campaigns which are triggered by actions the customer takes on your website, creating more personalized messaging that speaks to kind of shopping experience your customer needs to feel good about buying from you. A better shopping experience means happy customers, which means more conversions. If you’re not using email campaigns as part of your strategy, you’re missing out on revenue. It’s that simple.