One of the most persistent conundrums for online business owners is how they can convert more of their site visits into concrete sales - or other actions that contribute to eventual sales, such as newsletter signups or registrations for a free trial.
With acquisition costs spiralling ever-higher, the relentless pressure for online merchants to maximise their conversion rates remains - and it's certainly possible, given that the last two years alone have seen an increase in average ecommerce conversion rates from 2.9% to 3.5%.
Here are just three ways to boost your own site's conversions with relatively little investment or effort.
1. Assist customers to find what they need
The likelihood is that a given customer visits your online store with a specific type of product in mind, so don't leave them floundering amid your navigation menus - make it easy for them, with a prominent and intuitive search feature.
Ensure your search bar appears consistently across your site and enable auto-complete so that your customer can be presented with suggestions related to what they may be looking for.
2. Ensure that your site loads quickly
Everything about the user experience on your site should be quick - indeed, according to a 2010 study, 25% of online shoppers will abandon a page if they are forced to wait between two and six seconds for it to load.
Measure your present page load times with free tools like Yahoo! YSlow and Google Page Speed, before adopting such measures as the cleaning up of your inactive CMS pages, the removal of out-of-date products and promotions and the archiving of old orders to optimise page performance.
3. Simplify the checkout process
Even once your customer makes the decision to buy, you can't depend on them holding fast to that conviction unless you make the checkout process as quick and easy for them as possible.
That's why you are advised to try to limit the checkout section to just one page, minimising the number of required fields. Don't impose unnecessary obstructions in front of your prospective customer, such as the need to register before buying - a previous Forrester Research study has suggested that this measure alone drives down conversion rates by almost a quarter.
While simple steps like those mentioned above can be a great starting point for upping your ecommerce conversions, if you don't continually optimise your site, rates will simply decline again over time. That's why you should always keep a close eye on your site's present conversion statistics, while considering at all times how you can maximise the potential for customer sales at every turn.