People are impatient. If they don’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave your website.
Successful businesses understand this. They respond by doing everything in their power to
- capture people’s attention
- lead them down the simplest path possible
- guide them each step of the way
- answer all their concerns and questions
And they keep doing those things until visitors become customers.
This is an art form that has been around for thousands of years, and it continues to work on ecommerce websites today. To convert website visitors into website customers, you need an action plan designed around the impatient customer.
Impatient customers appreciate two fundamental principles:
- A logical solution that makes sense
- A direction to follow
In other words, guide your website visitors to a product that enhances their life, and you will be rewarded with more customers.
Let’s see how this works in a brick-and-mortar store
Let’s say you and your 6-year-old son visit a bicycle shop looking for a new bike for him.
Upon entering the store, you see many racks filled with bicycles. Your first impulse is to look for some sort of order, how the racks are organized so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.
You notice that all the adult bikes are in one section, grouped by the types of riders. There are groups for mountain bikes, racing bikes and touring bikes. You look at the children’s bikes and see girls’ bikes and boys’ bikes.
Having spotted your target area, you walk over to the boys’ bikes, but you’re not sure which bike would be the best for your son.
Suddenly, a store clerk approaches and asks if you need assistance. You ask him a number of questions, which are quickly answered. The clerk then interviews your son to determine the style of bike he prefers and recommends a bike.
After you agree to buy the bike, the clerk adjusts the seat and handlebars to fit your son’s frame, and then you’re on your way to the cash register.
Just before you reach the register, however, you stop at the bike accessories area, which is located conveniently near the register, and add a light, a horn and some additional reflectors to your shopping cart.
What just happened?
The bicycle shop knew how to arrange their products so they could be easily located, they provided assistance exactly when it was needed, and they upsold you on various accessories.
In other words, by grouping their products in a logical way and making it easy for you to navigate to the areas you needed, they converted you from visitor to customer.
Successful ecommerce websites do exactly the same thing, but in a virtual sense. The key is logic and direction. Let’s talk about how you can implement these same concepts on your website.
The impatient visitor demands simplicity.
Consider that there are countless different websites, each with its own way of doing things. Yet because each website conforms to simple rules of logic, the visitor will have no problem quickly finding her way around.
For example, an online bicycle store will look entirely different than an online skin lotion store, but if both are organized in a way that makes sense, the visitor will have no problem quickly finding products on either site.
When creating a website that makes logical sense to the impatient visitor, consider the following guidelines:
Group Your Products
Are all your products grouped in a way that makes sense? Understand how visitors form groups in their minds. For example, a candle shop may create different groups for scented candles, decorative candles and birthday cake candles, because this makes most sense to customers.
Action – Create a logical tree of all product groups. (Hang on to it. You’ll need that tree later in this article when creating your website navigation.)
Tip – Analyze your visitors’ shopping carts to gain further understanding of how they group products. Amazon does an excellent job of this with their “Frequently Bought Together” suggestions.
After a purchase, for examples, they additional suggestions based on the buyer’s purchase and browsing history.
Upsell and Cross-Sell
Many visitors approach your site because they’re looking for a solution to a problem. It’s likely they do not know the exact solution, and they may not even know their exact budget.
This provides you a good opportunity to solve their problem in a way that not only increases their satisfaction but also optimizes your revenue.
Your goal is to make sure they get the complete solution to their problem, not just a partial solution.
Dan Kennedy does a good job of this. Once an order is complete, the confirmation page includes a second, related offer. Like this:
Upsells are related offers that add value to the original purchase.
Here’s another example: A hungry customer goes to McDonalds because he wants a solution to hunger.
Maybe he’s thinking about a simple hamburger and a root beer. But when he gets into the restaurant, he sees a delicious picture of a Big Mac, so he gets upsold to a bigger sandwich. When he places his order, the kid behind the counter suggests purchasing an order of french fries. The customer agrees to the cross-sell, and a purchase is made.
An upsell is a selling technique that attempts to get the customer to upgrade their existing purchase.
A cross-sell is a selling technique that attempts to get the customer to purchase a complimentary product in addition to the original product.
You goal is to do one or both. Think creatively about your product line. Do you have products that could be grouped together—one offered as an upsell after the other is purchased?
Action – Make a list of your major products and their potential upgrades. Also, for each product, look for opportunities to completely satisfy the customers’ problem. For example, suggest an extra rechargeable battery with digital camera purchases.
Tip – Not every product has an upgrade, but you probably have other opportunities to create quantity upgrades. A 3-for-2 pricing structure, for instance.
Analyze Items Above the Fold
Pages that feature multiple products should show at least one of the products above the fold. Impatient visitors may not know to scroll down the page and, not seeing what they need immediately, may leave.
This can happen quite easily, even with tech-savvy visitors. Though they know they can scroll, if they’re too busy, they may not make the time.
Be aware, as you design your pages, a users’ screen resolution can affect how much of the page shows above the fold.
According to W3Schools, as of January 2014, approximately 15% of desktop screens show a resolution of 1280×800 or below. This yields a maximum of 800 pixels on the vertical axis. If your product web pages take up 75% of that available vertical space, you’re looking at a page fold that’s just 600 pixels into the page.
How much space does that leave for at least one product above the fold?
A lot depends on the configuration of the browser (tool ribbons and menus) as well as the logo and header on your website. Precious little remains, so your customers could easily lose sight of items unless he knows to scroll down.
Action – Analyze your major product pages in light of a page fold that’s just 600 pixels down from the top of the browser. Does a product picture and description appear above this line?
Tip – Reduce the size of your company logo and header on pages that list products.
Impatient visitors have impatient eyes, and impatient eyes get lost if the page is too busy.
It’s tempting to cram as much information into your web pages as possible, but be careful to not overwhelm your visitors with messaging. Often, they just want a simple solution to their problem.
There’s an old sales lesson that goes something like this: If someone comes to your hardware store looking for a hammer, put a hammer in his hand, take his money and send him on his way. If you try to sell him on the benefits of the hammer and what a great deal he is getting, he may change his mind.
In other words, once a visitor has expressed interest in a specific product, the deal is yours to lose.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to upsell and cross-sell your customers, because you should. Just make sure that your attempts to increase revenue don’t trip him as he tries to make his way to the cash register.
Here’s a great example of what NOT to do:
An ecommerce site that is too busy for impatient eyes!
Assuming you were interested in purchasing an Exuviance product, you have to figure out that the list of products is below the fold, which isn’t immediately obvious.
In the meantime, you’re bombarded by messages, many of which practically beg you to click elsewhere, including:
- 25% off on orders over $60 (mentioned 5 times)
- Free shipping on orders over $49 (mentioned 2 times)
- “Valentine’s deals” button
- “Something new that just arrived” button
- “Special offer while supplies last” button
- “Top 10 Shopper’s Choice” button
Don’t distract your customer with competing messages, especially on a product page. You’re more likely to lose the sale than increase it.
Action – Use Google Analytics (or similar) to see how often visitors land on a product page but don’t actually put the product in their cart. Visitors may be getting distracted at this critical stage of conversion.
Tip – Ensure every page has a shopping cart button that allows customers to complete the sale as soon as they’re ready. Don’t get in their way!
Provide help to your visitors if they appear to be stuck. Visitors who stay on the same page for a time might be searching for an answer.
Consider incorporating a live chat or similar service on your site to help visitors get un-stuck. It can be unobtrusive in the bottom corner of your Web page:
Then when clicked, it opens to provide a dialog box.
Action – Track the top exit pages using Google Analytics (or similar). Visitors that exit your site from a product page may not have found the information they were looking for.
Target these pages when incorporating a live chat service and see if some strategic intervention from a proactive chat agent helps convert these visitors into customers.
Tip – Take advantage of free trials that many live chat services provide for a limited time.
While people spend countless hours working on puzzles and playing strategy games, they have no patience with websites that demand that much effort. Visitors want to be led through an ecommerce site in much the same way that they work their way through a brick-and-mortar store.
Take a moment and think about your most recent trip to the grocery store. You arrive with a list in-hand, and you walk through the aisles picking up items on the list.
The aisles are clearly marked according to groups of items within. There’s the bakery aisle, for example, where you find bread, bagels and croissants. The pasta aisle contains spaghetti, macaroni and all other forms of Italian noodles.
You get the picture. The products are grouped in a way that allows you to quickly navigate through the store and select the items you want.
When charting a direction for your website visitors, you need to provide this same level of direction. Consider the following:
The upper left corner of your website is known as the “Golden Triangle.” This is where most visitors initially set their attention. Visitors expect to see the most relevant information here.
Place your website navigation in this area.
Typical heat map, showing the most active areas in red. Notice the triangular shape of the most active areas, creating the “Golden Triangle.”
Action – Use a service like Crazy Egg to generate a heat map based on visitor mouse movements and clicks on your site. This can give you insight into where they might be getting lost.
Tip – The location of the golden triangle will be in the upper right side of the browser window for RTL (Right-to-Left) languages.
Visitors with a clear idea of the product they’re looking for should be able to navigate your site, clicking on a maximum of three navigational buttons before arriving at a page featuring the product they seek.
Furthermore, each page should provide some indication of the navigational structure above it.
Breadcrumbs are typically used for this purpose—they leave a backwards trail all the way back to the home page and gives a “You Are Here” sense of location, just like a directory sign in a large shopping mall.
But logically organized, intuitive navigation can also do the trick.
Action – Earlier in this article you were asked to create a logical tree of all your product groups. Take a look at the tree and ensure that visitors can get to any page without taking more than three steps. Use the tree to create the navigation structure.
Tip – Nested dropdown menus are losing popularity, probably because it’s difficult to use them on a mobile device.
Visitors may not be able to verbalize what they’re looking for. They may instead look for pages that focus on solutions rather than products.
Though this mostly applies to B2B businesses, B2C websites can make use of solution pages as well.
For example, Lowes features a section on their main menu entitled “Ideas & How-Tos” that are split into two main groups: “Home Areas” and “Activity Types.”
These are wonderful pages to read when you’re just looking for ideas. Eventually you’ll focus on a product, but you need to understand the solution first.
You can quickly navigate to the solution pages on the Lowes website and get great ideas, all of which use products from Lowes
Action – Do some self-analysis on your business. Why do visitors come to your site? What types of problems are they facing? Then look for solutions among all your products.
Though this may sound trite and obvious, it’s sad that many websites don’t do this. They focus instead on their products.
Of course, a lot depends on the product. If you’re selling tires, for example, visitors are already very familiar with the solution to their problem. But if you’re selling lawn-care products, you might consider the types of lawn-care problems your visitors are experiencing before leading them to your products.
Tip – Use customer feedback forms to get insight into their problems and subsequent solutions.
If your website structure makes sense and your visitors have a clear path to the items they seek, you can experience a high conversion rate. But if it’s confusing or makes people think too hard, you’re leaving money on the table.
As you saw in this article, a logical, easy-to-navigate website is critical to conversion. In the next article in this series, we will focus on the user interface. We’ll study how color, flow and website behavior can also affect visitor behavior.
In the meantime, what solutions have you found for providing logic and direction on your website?