Every company website needs to convert visitors into paying consumers. This is obviously easier said than done, and building the perfect website to drive sales isn’t always easy. As more consumers become more plugged in and digitally savvy, best practice tips and tricks are changing as constantly as the overall digital environment.
I sat down with Zach Ferres, CEO of creative marketing and web design company Ciplex, to ask what companies need to do to adapt to the evolving online space and still make the sale. Here are the six suggestions he provided to develop a winning web strategy:
1. Mobile-first, responsive design. The mobile revolution isn’t coming, it’s already here. Not only are more people making the jump to smartphones, but they’re spending more time with their devices than ever before. In fact, 91 percent of Americans now own a cell phone, according to the Pew Center, and about 56 percent of adults own a smartphone device.
According to a report from Walker Sands, mobile web traffic is up 133 percent since the first quarter of 2012. People visiting sites are also buying, if not quite as voraciously as their counterparts on computers. Numbers from eMarketer found mobile consumers make up for about 15 percent of online sales, and this number is expected to jump to 25 by 2017.
Obviously, building a responsive mobile experience for consumers is the easiest way to encourage and cultivate mobile-buying behavior.
2. Cater to very low attention spans. According to a research paper from the University of Hamburg called “Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use,” consumers are not stopping by company pages for very long. The researchers found 17 percent of all page views were under a mere four seconds. This is not much time to capture attention and turn visitors into customers.
"For the first time, a person's attention span is less than that of a goldfish,” Ferres says. “Make content very digestible -- less is more.”
The trend in design is to scale down content so only the most important information remains. If companies know they’re only getting eyeballs for an average of four seconds, or about 593 words, it’s important to put the best foot forward. Look at it as the Twitter approach, and keep copy short and sweet.
3. Use baseline onsite SEO. While Google is constantly changing parameters, SEO (or search engine optimization) will always be important to find the largest possible audience. Ferres suggests companies use site meta descriptions and a sitemap that syncs up with Google. He also recommends connecting the site with Google webmaster tools to more closely watch SEO and tweak based on audience behavior.
4. Install Google Analytics. “You don’t know what you can’t measure,” Ferres says.
He recommends using Google Analytics to keep an eye on overall site traffic, the biggest traffic sources and how the site is performing socially. If your company knows which sources send the most traffic, and which traffic converts into paying customers, it can more easily tweak web strategies.
Instead of wasting time pinning on Pinterest when a majority of traffic comes from Facebook, the company can focus more narrowly on the top traffic sources. It’s also possible to test out different methods of sharing and engagement, to see what plan leads to traffic spikes and added sales.
5. Keep conversion elements simple. Potential customers don’t want to go through a song and dance to make purchases. As noted, more and more consumers are now coming from mobile devices, with tiny screens and trickier navigation. It’s important to clear the rubble and make it as simplistic and intuitive as possible to put something in the shopping cart and click pay.
“In other words,” Ferres says, “don’t have a nine-step checkout process.”
6. Balance qualifying versus irrelevant leads. “You need to cut through the noise,” Ferres says.
It’s important for companies to spend less time on irrelevant leads and instead focus on those conversions most likely to bear fruit.
Many companies aren’t actually doing the legwork required to turn visitors into loyal customers. According to a survey conducted by Omniture and InsideSales.com, the average time to respond to an email was more than 19 hours, when the ideal response time should be within the first hour. To improve lead quality, it’s important to improve overall response time, so the company doesn’t lose a potential big fish over a lost email.