Istarted this year off reading through some of my old posts and articles going back to 2010 with the goal of determining which were still relevant practices, and which should be phased out. Interestingly, while most of what I wrote back then is still relevant today, the eCommerce and consumer engagement space has grown so much that there are even more things that need to be considered. Here are a few things that I’ve used to increase conversions on the sites I manage, and will help you increase yours for 2013.

  1. Ditch the Registration Requirement
    Yesterday I was buying a replacement battery on Lenovo’s website and when I got to the checkout page I was presented with two options: log in or create an account. Begrudgingly, I began the process of creating an account, but their strong password requirement slowed me down, requiring a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. Naturally they didn’t mention it until after I had done it wrong… After registering, the next screen informed me I already had an account under that e-mail address and told me to hit the back button to log in instead. Of course I had no idea what the password was, especially given their weird requirements, so I had to do a lost password request, wait for an email, follow a link, pick a new password that can’t be the same as the last 10 passwords used, and finally I could check out. Not a good user experience! Even if things had gone a little smoother, about 29% of online shoppers immediately feel inconvenienced having to create yet another account just to buy something.

    Best practice: If your customer is ready to spend money, take it. Give them the option of entering a password after they complete their order if they want to save their information. If your shopping cart doesn’t support this, it’s time to upgrade.

  2. Move Your Upsells to the End of the Checkout Process
    Upsells are a great way of increasing order value, but if you’re showing them to customers before they checkout you aren’t maximizing the value as well as you could be. There’s a psychology behind this; if the primary product is $89 and has a handful of $10-$20 accessories that can work with it, if you show the customer these before they check out suddenly what they expected to be an under $100 purchase can now total over $200. If that’s more than they planned on spending, they back off of the accessories and check out, or abandon their order entirely.Best practice: Let them buy the $89 product they came for, get their credit card, and let them check out. Then show them the accessories, with a one-click option to add the ones they want to their order. At this point in the process, their brain has already reset from the impact of the $89 purchase; instead of seeing a large order total, they’re seeing smaller numbers. It’s a lot easier to take someone’s $89, say thanks, and then add “You know, for another $20 I can throw in this” than it is to say “Your total is $109″. It may seem trivial to read it on screen, but the results don’t lie; I’ve doubled the average order value on some of the sites I manage using this one trick.
  3. Send an E-Mail to Customers Who Don’t Finish Checking Out
    You’ve seen it happen before… a customer gets as far as the checkout page, but for whatever reason doesn’t complete their order. I wrote an article about cart abandonment back in 2011, and it still remains a great way of re-capturing lost sales. There are any number of reasons why they left; maybe the shipping was too high, or maybe your pre-checkout upsells drove the order up higher than they planned on spending, but regardless of the reason at this point you have their e-mail address and the order is still in your system.Best practice: Send them an friendly e-mail no less than 30 minutes, and no more than two hours, after they abandoned. Throw in a coupon for free shipping or additional incentive, and a link back to the checkout page with the discount automatically applied. Give them a full 24-48 hours after that e-mail before you cancel the order out of your system.
  4. Send an E-Mail TODAY to Everyone Who Bought From You Last Year
    One easy way to make a few extra bucks right now is to send out an e-mail, along with a discount code or e-gift card, to every customer who purchased something in 2012. Thank them for being your customer in 2012, and highlight any new products, promotions, discounts, or other incentive for 2013. Invite them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter if they aren’t already.Best practice: Get technical with your lists! Find your products that have optional accessories, and target separate e-mails to users who bought those products but didn’t buy the accessories. You’ll be surprised by how many come back and buy something. Much like the psychology behind the post-checkout upsell, your customer is well-over the price of the primary product, so the impact of spending more money on accessories is minimized. Every time I send an e-mail out to people who bought a DUALSAW offering replacement blades or accessories, there are always customers come back and buy.
  5. Visit Your Own Site From a Smartphone or Tablet and Buy Something
    If you’ve been putting off optimizing your site for mobile devices, your time is up. Back in July I wrote about how mobile searches were 22% of all Interent traffic. It’s now over 30%. The tablet is quickly replacing the home PC as the preferred method of surfing the net, and if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you are losing sales.Best practice: Ditch the hover/mouseover navigation and make sure you have a true touch-friendly user experience. Get rid of any remaining Flash, checkout password requirements, and minimize how much the user has to type. Remember that when typing on a mobile device, the user loses some or all of their screen visibility so keep it friendly. Would you buy from your site? This will take some time to get it dialed in, so don’t wait around.

Each of these recommendations will have their own separate impact. When combined, chances are you’ll see two or more times your existing conversion rates on the same traffic you’re already getting, so make this a priority for 2013!

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