Increase ecommerce conversions 2-4x and improve search marketing results by helping shoppers decide what to buy
February 2nd, 2010 by George Aspland
You’ve worked hard to improve your web site, but so have the top competitors in your field. Many carry essentially the same products, often with the same or very similar product information, and most offer similar features like free shipping, easy returns, satisfaction guarantees, fast shipping, great customer service, customer reviews etc.
Your site and your competitors’ sites all give a great first impression, are easy to navigate, employ effective site searches, and strive to make visitors comfortable about using the site and doing business with you. And so you and most of your competitors obtain average conversion rates.
You Can Double+ Conversion Rates
You can significantly increase the business from your ecommerce site, possibly reaching double digit conversion rates by ensuring your company’s personality shines through on your web site, showing your visitors what makes you different and why they should buy from you, while helping them decide what to buy.
At the PubCon internet marketing conference in November Rob Snell of Gun Dog Supply (www.gundogsupply.com) sells products for training hunting dogs) talked about how they’ve evolved their web site over the past four or five years so that it conveys that they are experts in their field. They educate their site visitors and show shoppers what to buy for different applications. They have more doubled their conversion rates according to Rob.
SEO Benefits Too
At the same time Gun Dog Supply increased their conversion rate they have seen improvements in their organic search marketing results because of the unique content they’ve added to their site which has made their product and category pages very unique compared to the competitors in the field.
Much of the content they‘ve added is being discovered by people searching for product information in the early stages of the buying cycle. This allows Gun Dog Supply to influence buying decisions unlike most ecommerce sites whose content typically appears in search results only when people are ready to buy specific products.
You can learn from what they’ve done.
They convey their expertise throughout the site –
The president, Steve Snell’s, picture is on every page along with a tag line. Their “tag line” is everywhere and it’s written to help reinforce their expertise “We train OUR DOGS with the products we sell”.
There’s a story about Steve up high on the home page that helps convey his expertise.
A story on the home page to
help convey Steve’s expertise
Buyers Guides. They’ve developed Buyer’s Guides for many of the product lines they carry to help their site visitors narrow down the product selection depending on the application. These informative buyers guides help visitors learn about the products and help them choose what to buy.
Buyer’s Guides help shoppers choose which product to purchase
Quick Picks. For visitors who might be overwhelmed by the many choices in a buyers guide, they often include Steve’s Quick Picks where he highlights one or more products that fit most users’ needs. Here’s an example:
Steve’s Quick Picks help users
quickly narrow selections down by application
Yes some of your vendors may not be happy that you’re telling customers what products to buy. If it increases your business – Too Bad! Tell them to read your buyer’s guides, reviews etc and see what they need to do to improve their product for that application.
Steve Says. For some specific products there’s a “Steve Says” section where Steve endorses the product and explains why he likes it, with, for example, favorite features, etc. Here’s an example for “Tritronics No-Bark Collars
“Steve Says” why he likes a product, including favorite features, etc
Steve’s Reviews Steve develops his own reviews for some products. You might ask, “who’s going to trust a review by the guy who is selling the product?”, but Gun Dog Supply does such a good job of conveying Steve’s expertise and conveying trust that I’ll bet most potential customers trust these reviews. It helps that they offer a decent Satisfaction Guarantee.
Steve develops his own reviews for some products
Useful “How To” and other Knowledge Base Articles. They’ve developed many useful articles to help their customers learn about a topic such as “Introducing Your Dog to the Remote Beeper”or “How to stop Dogs from Barking”
Useful “How To” and Knowledge Base Articles
help shoppers learn about a product oriented topic
Extensive Product Information and Images. For many products, Gun Dog Supply includes much more product information and images than their competitors who carry the same products.
At the top of a product page there’s the typical ecommerce layout of product image, headline, prices, customer ratings, and “Add to Cart” features, etc but there’s much more below this.
Look at all the product information they include plus the many pictures of product features, images of how the product is used, as well as pictures of the product being used.
I looked at some competitors’ sites for this same product and those sites only included the typical product information and one or two images.
People who are interested in a product will likely scan this extended product information and read parts of it. This can help someone decide on buying a product, especially if you offer a great satisfaction guarantee.
It looks like Gun Dog Supply is taking the time to take many of their own images, a great idea which helps set them apart from the competition while providing additional product information that may help someone decide to buy.
Gun Dog Supply includes much more product information than most ecommerce sites which helps people learn about a product they are interested in.
Let’s look at the Crutchfield, the “electronics specialist”, web site
Here’s the web site, www.crutchfield.com
They use some of the same techniques as Gun Dog Supply.
They have a Leaning Center with knowledge base articles, many employing video, for most of the product categories they handle.
Crutchfield Leaning Centers help shoppers narrow down their product selection
Learning Center articles are suggested, along with a picture of each expert staff member/author, as visitors examine product pages or browse product categories, for example on the Wireless Home Video categories page.
On many category and product pages helpful articles are suggested along with a picture of an expert staff member/author
There’s a “Consult with an expert” feature on most pages that includes an image of an “expert”, a toll free number, an email link, and a “click to call” link.
On most pages a visitor can “Consult with an expert”
Statements by Founder, Bill Crutchfield,
build credibility and convey expertise
Just as with the Gun Dog Supply web site, Crutchfield’s site conveys their expertise and helps educate their shoppers so they can better decide what to buy.
Some tips for unique content such as Buyers Guides, “How To” and Knowledge Base Articles, Reviews etc
Promote Your Unique Content. Much of the “How to” and other knowledge base articles and possibly even some of the reviews and buyers guides can be promoted too, for example in a blog, via social media, press releases, even promoting to and allowing complementary industry web sites to use the content (with mentions/links etc to your site)
Include Phrases Searched On in the Early Stages of the Buying Cycle. This unique content will likely be indexed by search engines helping make your web pages more unique than the competition, which could lead to higher rankings. This content will also likely be returned in searches performed by people who are in the “discovery” phase, learning about product options. You might be able to grab their attention early in the buying cycle, much earlier than most ecommerce sites typically do.
Do some keyword reach to understand the buying cycle keywords and use them in your buyer’s guides, knowledge base articles etc. For example, the keywords that pay off the best and are therefore focused on within ecommerce sites are the keywords that signal someone is ready to buy NOW such as “Garmin Astro 220”. However the keywords used earlier in the buying cycle will tend to be much broader such as “Best gps for hunting”.
Retain These Early Shoppers. Employ methods to retain these visitors that come to your site early in the buying cycle so that they come back and buy from you not the competition, such as ways to obtain their contact info so you can keep in touch, coupons, etc.,
Summary: Convey your company’s personality on your web site and help shoppers decide what to by
When we start a new customer project we ask our clients to tell us what sets them apart from the competition and why they think their customers buy from them. Many have very compelling stories to tell. But their web sites often don’t even begin to convey that story.
Learn why your customers buy from you. Then evolve your web site to convey this and help shoppers decide what to buy with some of techniques above such as learning centers, how to articles, buyers guides, extensive product information, unique product images and video
You could improve conversion rates and improve your search marketing results by adding unique content to your site, allowing you to reach more searchers. You’ll also likely reach more searchers who are in the early stages of information gathering about a new purchase giving you the opportunity to influence what they buy and retain them until they are ready to make a purchase.
For More Info
Site Search: 6 steps to successful site search implementation (absolutely critical to ecoomerce sites.)