This next guest blog has been sent in by Crafted Media’s search director, Ian Miller. Crafted Media (a Sage Pay Partner) is an independent creative and marketing agency offering e-commerce solutions tailored to client needs. Ian provides a run down of his top tips for maximising those all-important conversion rates…
Good news! Your website has 10,000 visitors per week and you are number 1 in Google for your key search phrase. Your marketing team has done a fantastic job increasing your digital footfall and the traffic graph is going up.
However, have you checked just how many of those visitors requested a quote / bought your product / booked an appointment? If you have Google Analytics installed on your website with goal conversion tracking setup, it is pretty easy to see how many visitors are actually turning into customers by engaging with your website.
If the conversion rate is looking a little on the lean side (a 2% conversion rate essentially means a huge 98% of people left without taking action), it is probably time to look at how well your website is working for you.
Google, as you might expect, has a product to enable website owners to test the effectiveness of forms and content with their “Website Optimizer”; a free and very powerful system capable of A/B and multivariate testing to gauge which version of your enquiry form / checkout / quote tool works best. But before you get started setting up experiments, check out our suggestions to drive up your conversion rates:
As Steve Krug, author of the hugely popular web usability book says, “Don’t make me think!”. Look carefully at your page – does it need two paragraphs of introduction or would one get the point across? Do you need to ask the user for their date of birth or can you quote them without? Perhaps just “Contact number” would be best rather than ask them to fill out Phone, Mobile and Fax.
Once a user is on the page where you want them to engage, it is essential to remove as many potential stumbling blocks as possible. If you can process their enquiry or order without asking for this information, do so (you can always ask them for this information later, once they have submitted their core details).
Quick tip: Keep forms concise. If you need to ask 40 questions to complete a quote, split your form into two stages: the first to capture the all-important contact details, and the second to ask everything else you need. If the second form isn’t completed, you can still call the customer to get the missing information.
2) You are making the smart choice, Mr Customer
Your website user is about to become your customer, they are already on your contact page after all, but sometimes they just need a little more encouragement to take the last step and press the button.
Providing your customer with reassurance that they are doing the right thing can be the difference between form abandonment and a new sale. This can be achieved with a message about what you will do with their email address (“We will never pass your details on to 3rd parties. Ever. Promise.”), that your website is secure and is independently tested, that X thousand people complete this form every month, or that you have won the award for Best Customer Service 2011 from the local paper.
Remove doubt from their minds by trying to second guess their concerns and addressing them with carefully placed messages. Make the process seamless, and comfortable.
Quick Tip: Always inform customers what you will, and will not, do with their email address details. Even if you do not need them to opt-in to your newsletter, still make sure you explicitly state your intentions with their details. (could it do with rewording so its stronger / more explicit?)
3) Form labelling: above, to the left or to the right?
What might seem a fairly inconsequential aspect of your form design can have quite a serious impact on completion rates and speed. Luke Wroblewsk, author of “Web Form Design” suggests that each can be used in an appropriate scenario.
Left-aligned labels are perhaps easier to scan read, but the gap between field and label can increase completion time – these should be reserved for advanced or unfamiliar field entry. Top-aligned labels allow users to capture both field and label in one eye movement and therefore improve speed of completion. Right-aligned labels are most commonly used when vertical space is restricted.
Quick tip: Unless your form is reasonably complex, use either top-aligned or right-aligned labels for fastest completion time.
4) Little messages of support
A well-designed form should be pretty self-explanatory to complete. Certainly, most savvy users will know what is expected of them – to fill out their name, phone number and email address – but are there any fields that could use a little explanation?
Firstly, review your form’s questions and ensure that they are all as intuitive as possible. Strive for clear labels and certainly don’t leave any ambiguity about what you require as a response.
Secondly, for any questions that could use some clarification, make sure you provide a note against the field to fully explain (concisely) what is needed.
Quick Tip: To keep a tidy form without lots of additional text, use code to automatically display the relevant message as a user clicks into each field.
5) The big red button
The most important aspect of your form is arguably the action button and therefore needs to be considered very carefully. There are several factors to think about: message, colour, location, size. Simply changing the colour of your button and nothing else could have a positive effect on your overall conversion rate. In terms of size and location, your button should be visible and follow the user’s path through the form – don’t overly separate the button from the final field.
The message on the button should be a positive action. “Submit details”, whilst factual, is very dry where as “Send my details” or “Checkout now” suggests a more active engagement.
Quick tip: Avoid a grey button with a dry message. Ensure your button is visible and engaging.
6) Test & re-test, learn and refine
Whether your first test is a success or an abject failure, don’t stop testing. Conversion optimisation is an activity that ought to be on-going even if the later tests are focussing on subtleties such as the title of the page or the shade of your action button. Each and every element of your website can affect sales conversion.
Make sure your website is working hard to sell your products and services. By following these guidelines, you will convert more visitors to customers, more enquiries to clients.
Quick Tip: Change only one factor at a time to ensure a proper controlled test. There is no limit to the number of tests you can do – strive for the ultimate completion rate! Increase your ultimate conversion rate.
Amy adds: Great tips from Crafted Media! Interestingly we found in our 2011 E-Business Benchmark report that although the majority of e-businesses conduct usability testing on their website, around 1/3 of them forget to test their payment pages! It’s good practice to check every page of the customer journey regularly alongside tracking checkout abandonment rates. In most cases drop-outs can be down to a technical fault that you’ve never noticed and not only because a competitor is offering something similar at a better rate.
If you have any tips to share, please do so! We’d love to hear from you.