How to Convert More Visitors to (Repeat) Buyers - dummies

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

Maybe the number of visitors to the website for your online business is on target. Instead, you need a boost in converting window shoppers into full-fledged buyers — and converting full-fledged buyers into repeat buyers. Focus on offering these features to start sales flowing in a positive direction again:

  • Functionality and usability: You might be surprised to discover how cumbersome shopping on your website can be. Viewers leave sites if they tire of trying to figure out how to check out. At other times, the problem is all about site design.

  • Content and CTA: One issue that derails a sale quickly is a lack of useful content properly placed with the appropriate call to action (CTA). Ensure that your content, or web copy, provides customers with enough detail to get and keep their interest. To help encourage a buying decision, use a CTA that makes it clear what action the visitor should take next.

  • Credibility: Skepticism and uncertainty plague online shoppers, especially when buying from unfamiliar sites. Create trust and credibility by making customers aware of who you are and why your site is a safe place to shop.

    Boost consumer confidence by displaying your contact information prominently throughout your site. Providing your phone number and physical address in addition to your e-mail address shows customers that you can be reached for questions. For an added vote of confidence, clearly post privacy policies, FAQs, and return and exchange policies. Be upfront with customers about what they can expect when they do business with you!

  • Customer reviews: In addition to your own credibility, that same level of trust can be extended through the words of other customers. Data shows that the buying decisions of online customers are heavily influenced by the opinions of other buyers.

    When you allow buyers to rank the quality or value of a product (even if they didn’t purchase it from you), write a review of the product on your site, or even link to a review offsite, other prospective customers will take notice.

    Particularly if you have a service-oriented business, turn to the social-networking site LinkedIn to help boost credibility with recommendations. You can use LinkedIn to ask people in your network that have used your products or services to provide a written recommendation that remains on your LinkedIn profile — visible to the public.

    You can link to the recommendation from your website or place a duplicate of the recommendation directly on your website as an added testimonial. And don’t overlook Facebook and other social-networking sites that allow your customers to leave comments and reviews.

  • Product selection: Sometimes, declining sales are a result of an outdated or limited choice of products.

  • Payment options: Customers want not only a wider product selection but also payment options. Maybe your site is set up to accept payments only by PayPal. To attract and keep customers, you have to make buying easy and that often means you have to accept other methods of payment, such as credit cards, debit cards, and online check processing.

  • Affiliate programs: You might be used to signing up for other sites’ affiliate programs to add a little revenue. Why not create an affiliate program of your own? Products and services with more forgiving profit margins are ideal ways to boost revenue for both you and your online allies.

    Or, if you don’t want to worry about tracking specific products, offer a flat percentage (or referral fee) on any sales that come through one of your affiliates.

  • Pricing: Drop by competitors’ sites to find out what they’re charging. A drop in sales can indicate that you’re not keeping up with current pricing strategies.

    To check out the competition, use online price-comparison guides such as PriceGrabber and ShopZilla. To more closely track sales from competing sites, check out competitor-price-monitoring software from PriceManager, Price2Spy, and Profitero.

  • Buying incentives: Whatever you call them — coupons, discounts, free shipping, limited-time offers, loyalty rewards, subscriptions, or special sales — incentives to purchase often nudge browsers to act and entice existing customers to buy again. Free limited-time trials are another type of incentive that makes it easy for visitors to decide to try your product or service and get one step closer to buying!

  • Upselling: People in the restaurant business use this strategy to extract another dollar or two from customers at the time of purchase (for example, asking about dessert after a meal). You can do the same for online sales. Before a customer completes the checkout procedure, display another item and offer it at a one-time discounted price.

    You can use this same sales trigger to suggest products (based on prior buying preferences) to your returning customers as a way to increase the typical amount spent with your website. Impulse buys based on the power of suggestion are powerful.