Increase conversion: how to capture the other 98%

The reality is that you will never convert 100% of the visitors to your site. Not even close. The majority of your website visitors are either just browsing with no intention to buy, not attracted by what you have to offer, or researching their purchase options. Or even more likely, arrived at your site by mistake.

But this hasn’t stopped the search for the Holy Grail of ecommerce: how to increase conversion.

There are those who argue it is about the look and feel, whilst just as many disagree vehemently and argue that if people want to buy a bad design wont stop them. There are those who claim successful ecommerce is about personalisation and surfacing products that fit the buyer’s profile, whilst others argue that personalisation (based on past purchases) is flawed as it assumes buyers never want to buy something totally ‘different’. Some say it is about the purchase journey and user experience, and so on…

Clearly they are all right to some extent and a balance of all these aspects is ideal. A nice design makes your (e-)shop a more attractive place to visit; personalisation helps people make easier choices but it is also essential to show them something new and different; simplifying and streamlining the purchase process is essential for shoppers to complete the purchase journey; and making your shop seamlessly available across all devices big and small  is a necessity if you want to compete.

BUT…the frustrating reality is that, having done all that, you will still struggle to increase conversion beyond the 2-3%.

To capture the other 98% you will have to focus on the customer! 

Isn’t that what we have just been doing?“, I hear you ask. No, you have been focusing on the ecommerce platform look, feel and functionality.

Here are a few suggestions on how to focus on the customer and really increase conversion:

Omni-channel approach with customer at the centre 
To increase conversion, first you have to stop forcing customers online, expecting and in some cases even obligating them to self-serve into a purchase. Many of us are happy to buy online without help, but many more of us need help (according to recent research over 70% of website visitors need some sort of help during their purchase process) and some of us will never convert online at all. So if you want to increase conversion and differentiate yourself, you will need to align and synchronise all your sales channels to create one shopping experience (across ecommerce platform, shops, call centre, etc.), allowing the customer to decide which channel suits them best and service them seamlessly from one channel to the other.

Understand the customer
Or as Malcolm Duckett put it in his article about conversion optimisation: relationship first, purchase second. He suggests “we need to react to the visitor each time they arrive while bearing in mind the history we have with them, rather than doggedly sticking to some pre-defined purchase process”. I couldn’t agree more. Real conversion increase will come once we understand the customer, and react to them, their behaviour and preference in real-time. Every day is different. Today I am happy to self-serve online, tomorrow I might need to speak to someone about my purchase options. Using real time intelligence to gain a deeper understanding of your customer ‘state of mind’, and tailor the purchase journey accordingly (both in terms of channel and product) will make a world of difference in conversion, customer experience and loyalty.

Provide assistance 
I am of the firm opinion that people will always prefer human interaction over robotic support. I also believe that this is why the high street will remain (even though it will look rather different), as physical shops provide human interaction as part of the shopping experience. Therefore, providing human interaction and support online is a great way to increase conversion and up-/cross-sell. Research shows that people are 25% more likely to convert after live chat, and 40% more likely to convert over the phone. Average order values on the phone are around 20% higher than online purchases. This is only natural. If you are in a store and the sales assistant provides you with the right assistance, suggesting complementary products (without being pushy!) you are more likely to buy.

…But get your timing right
In a previous post on this blog (Hi, can I help you?) I explain how important it is to provide support for your customers, but also how easy it is to get your timing wrong. No one enjoys being badgered by a sales assistant, and this is true online as well as offline. There is nothing more annoying to get a chat offer when you want to self-help, or to be asked to fill in a survey before you have even started considering to shop. However, when you do need help it is equally annoying if you have to search for it. Knowing who, when and how to offer help is the difference between increasing conversion and customer satisfaction and loosing the customer altogether.

If you would like more information on increasing conversion, how to include real time intelligence on your site and how to decide when you should (or should not) interact with your potential customers, feel free to get in touch and I can provide you with more information and try to steer you in the right direction.

Now…go and capture the other 98%!

To read Malcolm Duckett’s article on Conversion optimisation: is it really about the colour of the buy button? click here.

2012 – What a year…!!!

As the last day of 2012 is only hours away, it seems appropriate to briefly reflect on the past year, which has been anything but boring.

It has been a year of exciting and diverse projects for me, ranging from Thames Water‘s online drought campaign to one of the most impactful social networking and collaboration proof of concepts for one of the world’s favourite airlines.

I have had the pleasure of working on external digital marketing projects and internal comms strategies for the likes of Experian, Deutsche Bank, Old Mutual Group, Camelot and Betfair amongst many others and would like to thank all the clients for entrusting their digital strategies in our hands.

Together with my team I hosted two hugely successful events and would like to thank the guest speakers, in particular Paul Hewitt from Deutsche Bank and Nick Crawford then from Bupa, as well as the guys from Yammer and Jive for their time and involvement. A special mention also needs to go to my colleagues Neil Clayton and Mark Smith for their support and effort in helping me make it happen.

In terms of trends, 2012 was certainly an exciting year for digital internal comms. Social networking and collaboration continued to be the main talking point, heightened by the purchase by Microsoft of Yammer. Whether this did the industry any favours will remain to be seen but it had a reflective effect on a sector that was probably getting a little bit carried away with itself, which was a good thing.

Another important talking point was mobile & mobility and whether native apps or web apps were the future (see overview here). This conversation will no doubt dominate in 2013 and in my opinion web apps will steal some market share from native apps, particularly in marketing and communications. Whichever is the ultimate winner or whether they share top spot, mobility will be key. Doing everything everywhere, on fully integrated devices, working in the clouds is in my opinion the trend for 2013 and it offers many exciting opportunities.

On a personal level, I will start 2013 with a completely new challenge which will see me back in the B2C arena, working with big data and intelligence, enabling organisations to engage and interact more effectively with their customers. It is a very exciting opportunity and I truthfully can’t wait for the start to the new year!

I wish everyone the very best for 2013 and thank you for reading my digital ramblings. I look forward to continuing in the New Year.