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10 Tips for Upping Your Holiday Etail Conversions

By Sandeep Walia
Nov 27, 2010 5:00 AM PT

The holiday season is upon us, and in these tough economic times there will be an increased number of consumers looking for online deals. Improving the overall shopping experience starting from a search engine query all the way through checkout is the quickest way to transform a casual shopper into a buyer.

10 Tips for Upping Your Holiday Etail Conversions

The following are 10 practical tips for enhancing conversion rates during the holidays:

  1. Research Your Ideal Consumer. Researching your ideal customer is the most critical element of any e-commerce strategy. Once defined, create keywords that pertain to them and incorporate into the website copy and advertising/marketing materials so that when searching your store online is at the top of the list.
  2. Right Amount of Product Categories. It's important to properly categorize your products so that they are easy to find. Too many can frustrate your shoppers and turn them away. Too few may not keep their attention as long as you would like. Support the ability to have an item in multiple categories. For example, a flashlight could be under "flashlights" but also under "hiking equipment." This multi-categorization is important as it ensures you can reach different audiences.
  3. Make Your Site Personable. By understanding your existing customers' past buying patterns, you can easily make recommendations each time they visit. This is a great way to use customer behavior to your benefit by placing relevant products in front of them.
  4. Make Support and Live Chat Readily Available. A great new way to help your customers and make sure they don't get frustrated with the buying process is to include live chat on your site. Live chat representatives can actually see your customer's screen in order to help them through the process.
  5. Optimize for Search Engines. Enhancing organic search is important for ensuring your storefront lands at the top of the search engines. Although paid searches get preference, consumers tend to trust organic search much more because of product reviews and commenting. To increase organic search ranking pay close attention to the following:

    • HTML Page Title: This is the most important piece of the puzzle, and you want this to be automatically generated with search-engine-friendly terms.
    • Web Address: The Web address needs to include both the category name and product name.
    • Keywords/ Meta Tags: No surprise, but what is important to understand is that the keyword field is the least useful when it comes to organic SEO. Most companies focus on this as opposed to the more important Page Title.

  6. Update Content. Google likes new content, which is why the blogging scene has become so big the past few years. Blogs ensure content is updated regularly. Make sure you have a planned process for updating your e-commerce site before Google starts ignoring you altogether. In addition to product reviews, incorporate relevant editorial content and videos as this content is crawled by search engines as well.
  7. Gather and Encourage Product Reviews. Product reviews play a big role in beating out the competition because information is sourced by a trusted third party, namely other consumers. Ensure your site shows the total number of reviews and the average ranking in the product search pages and category pages. While this will not impact search, it will help increase your conversion -- which is the ultimate goal.
  8. Ensure Fast Processing of Your Website. In this day and age, if a website stalls for more than a few seconds after each click, the user will lose interest. Also, take into account that Google now ranks websites based on processing speeds. To quickly boost performance, ensure you are not using large images. Reserve larger images strictly for zooming in on a product. Use smaller images for listing, search and category pages.
  9. Provide Multiple Ways of Payment. The last thing you want is for your shoppers to choose what they want, get to the checkout process and not be able to complete the order. PayPal and Google Checkout are an important option to have as well as different credit card options. These are not just payment options. Both PayPal and Google Checkout allow your customers to checkout without providing you with personal information and increase their comfort level to complete the transaction. For smaller merchants (i.e. anyone with less than US$50 million in online revenues), this is important.
  10. Remember the Goal: Checkout. Ensure you are monitoring the checkout click-through rate. By understanding where exactly customers are dropping off before checking out, you can quickly modify your tactics. For example a simple 5 percent reduction in shipping fees may increase conversion tenfold. Also ensure the "Checkout" button is easily visible. For example, on the cart page, "Checkout Now" should be a much bigger and more visible button than, say, "Update Cart" or "Browse Store."

Applying these tips can greatly improve your storefront's conversion rate during this holiday season. Once the holidays are behind us, revisit these tips to ensure your online business is converting shoppers into buyers anytime of the year.


Sandeep Walia is CEO of Ignify.


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