What Makes People Buy from Your Website – A Meta-Study
Is your ecommerce website working? Is it successfully selling your products or services? If it was an employee, would you fire it or give it a raise?
If you want to learn proven things you can do to get more people to buy from your website, and see the research for yourself, then read on.
There are over 1 billion websites (Source: Internet Live Stats) and more than 126.8 million registered .com domain names. (Source: Domain Count Statistics for TLDs). That’s a lot of competition. If your customers don’t like your website there’s always another one (or ten) they can visit instead.
The following is all about conversion rate optimization (CRO), how to increase the number of site visitors who buy something.
Below is a list of the most important things you can do to improve your site’s conversion rate. Conversion rate is the number of visitors to your website in total, compared to the number that actually buy your products or services. Or more simply, the percentage of website visitors who buy something on your site.
Each is supported and justified by a list of studies conducted by industry professionals. Many of the studies listed below have been previously referenced in numerous other articles by web design experts and marketing pros alike.
However, here we offer you a more exhaustive list of studies and data that make it crystal clear the specific things you can to do to increase the number of people who buy from your ecommerce website.
They run the gamut of major overhauls (responsive website design, increasing site speed) to small tweaks (headlines, trust badges). Whether big or small, all can be implemented immediately, which we recommend you do.
In 2015, Elizabeth Sillence, Lesley Fishwick, Pamela Briggs, and Peter Harris conducted a study where they asked subjects to research hypertension on the internet. Subjects were instructed to write why the trusted or distrusted a particular website.
What the researchers found is 94% of the distrusted websites were distrusted because of POOR WEB DESIGN. (Source: Health Websites That People Can Trust)
If you want customers to buy from your website, you’ll need to be trusted. And a well-designed website is vital for trust.
A “well-designed” website (which of course is subjective) means a site that is easy to read and navigate, provides a great user experience, is clear and concise, and has a high conversion rate; essentially a site that people love.
>> 77% of agencies believe websites that produce poor user experiences is a weakness for their clients. This makes poor website design the most significant weakness identified by agencies. (Source: The SoDA Report Volume 1, 2014)
>> Users consistently rate simple websites as more beautiful than “visually complex” websites. (Source: The Role Of Visual Complexity And Prototypicality Regarding First Impression Of Websites: Working Towards Understanding Aesthetic Judgments)
>> 46.1% of respondents say the design of a website is the deciding factor when it comes to the credibility of the company. (Source: What Makes A Site Credible)
>> 38% of customers will stop engaging a website if that website’s content/layout is unattractive. (Source: The State of Content: Expectations on the Rise)
>> On Quicksprout, Neil Patel’s awesome marketing site, Neil showed how he increased his conversion rate of his website Crazy Egg by 363%, simply by improving his website.
>> Your website has 0.05 seconds, or 50 milliseconds, to make a good first impression (Source: Taylor & Francis)
Here are some of the things you ought to avoid when designing a website…
- Obtuse navigation – 25% percent of customers leave a website because it’s too hard to navigate. (Source: Statista)
- A busy or confusing layout.
- Pop-up ads – People trust all other types of adds more than they trust online banner ads. (Source: Under The Influence: Consumer Trust In Advertising)
- Too much text without breaks, sub-headlines or images.
- Poor search capabilities.
- Auto-play video or music.
- Taking a long time to load.
- Frustrating your visitors to no end.
Basically, just avoid all elements found in the World’s Worst Website. (Hilarious website you ought to check out)
Conventional wisdom says to focus on quality content, but if that quality content is hard to read, digest, or difficult to get to, your customers may abandon your site and even distrust your business. Remember, nine out of ten people trust a well-designed website over a poorly designed one.
“Responsive” means your website provides an optimal viewing and interaction experience on a wide range of devices, from PCs to mobile devices, like smartphones and iPads. This is accomplished by making the site (using CSS) display or not display certain parts of the site depending on the device the site is being viewed in.
For example, a website that has two main columns, one for the sidebar and one for the main content, with responsive design will display both columns when viewed on a PC, but only show one column (and hide the other column, likely the sidebar) when viewed on a smartphone.
Why is responsive web design important?
>> 30% of mobile shoppers abandon a transaction if your site isn’t optimized for their mobile device. (Source: Understanding Mobile Commerce And Buyers’ Habits)
>> 57% customers say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. (Source: Understanding Mobile Commerce And Buyers’ Habits)
And if you think that people don’t use their phone to buy online, then consider the following…
>> During the 2015 holiday season, mobile devices accounted for 63% of all online retail visits. (Source: Mobile is Eating Bricks and Mortar)
>> 64% of American adults own a smartphone. (Source: Mobile Technology Fact Sheet)
>> 42% of all emails are opened on a mobile device (Source: Email Trends Report: Mobile Vs. Desktop)
>> 60% of customers in the United States and the U.K. are accessing the internet either mostly mobile or only mobile. (Source: Report: 60 Percent Of Internet Access Is Mostly Mobile)
>> By 2020 there will be 1.5 mobile devices per capita or 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices. (Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020 White Paper)
Clearly, you need a site that’s designed for both PCs and mobile devices. Having a responsive web design will likely increase traffic and improve your website’s conversion rate. Not having a responsive web design will likely frustrate your customers and drive them to your competitors’ websites.
>> According to a 2014 study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, websites with responsive design saw a 10.9% increase in conversion rates year-over-year. Non-responsive website experienced just a 2.7% bump. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
>> 46% of customers using mobile devices report having problems viewing a non-responsive website. (Source: Responsive Website Design)
>> 61% of customers have a better opinion of businesses when they offer a positive mobile experience. (Source: Mobile Marketing Statistics Compilation)
>> 67% of customers say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site they’re more likely to buy their products or services. (Source: Mobile-friendly sites turn visitors into customers)
>> Maxa Technologies switched to a responsive website and enjoyed a 44.68% increase to organic traffic and 70% increase to the number of completed enquiry forms. (Sources: Maxatec – CMS Website and Five Brands That Reaped Rewards After Adopting Responsive Design)
There are several ways to make your website responsive. If you’re using WordPress, you can switch to a responsive theme, like Sankar Sharma did here. If you feel comfortable programming, you could do it yourself. If neither one of those options are possible, you can always hire a reputable and qualified web developer.
You’ve heard the phrase “speed kills.” It’s the opposite on the internet. Slow websites kill sales.
Don’t believe me?
Soak this in…
Amazon found that shaving 100 milliseconds off of load times results in a 1% increase in sales. (Source: Make Data Useful) One percent might not seem like a lot, but with Amazon’s volume, that is huge!
So speed is important for Amazon, the nation’s largest internet-based retailer. How important is speed for your website?
Google has announced that a site’s load time plays a role in its search engine rankings. (Source: It’s Official: Google Now Counts Site Speed As A Ranking Factor)
How fast does your website need to be?
Google engineers discovered that customers grow frustrated with a website after waiting just 400 milliseconds for a page to load. (Source: For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink Is Just Too Long to Wait)
Speed is very important when it comes to making people buy from your website. Your customers do not want to sit through long load times. They want to learn about your products and/or services as fast as possible.
>> 40% of customers will abandon a web page if the load time is more than three seconds. (Source: Akamai Reveals 2 Seconds As The New Threshold Of Acceptability For ECommerce Web Page Response Times)
>> 47% of customers expect websites to load in two seconds or less. (Source: Akamai Reveals 2 Seconds As The New Threshold Of Acceptability For ECommerce Web Page Response Times)
>> During peak internet usage, more than 75% of customers left a site for its competitor rather than endure long load times. (Source: Why Web Performance Matters: Is Your Site Driving Customers Away?)
>> 75% of the customers said they would not return to a website if it took longer than *four* seconds to load. (Source: Websites Face Four-Second Cut-Off)
>> A 1-second delay in loading equals 11% fewer views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions. (Source: The Performance of Web Applications: Customers are Won or Lost in One Second)
>> Slow loading time is the top irritation customers have when shopping online. (Source: Adventures in Retail: The Other Line’s Moving Faster)
>> WebPerformanceToday.com showed that for every 1 second of load speed improvement on Walmart.com, they experienced up to a 2% conversion increase.
And they also showed that auto parts retailer AutoAnything.com cut there page load speeds by half and saw a 9% increase in conversions. (Source: How Does Web Page Speed Affect Conversions)
>> Kyle Rush from the 2011 Obama for America campaign site showed that a 3-second page time reduction (from 5 seconds to 2 seconds) improved conversions by 14%. (Source: http://conferences.oreilly.com)
>> SEO expert Brian Dean of Backlinko in his robust study called ‘We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO‘ found a strong correlation between site speed and Google rankings. On average, the websites listed in Google’s first nine results (page 1 of the search results) loaded in under 2200 miliseconds.
So if you want to rank on page one of Google’s results, you better have a fast-loading site.
There are many ways to increase the speed of your site including…
… Clean up your code
… Cut back on widgets
… Diminish cookies
… Enable browser caching
… Improve your hosting plan
… Improve server response time
… Optimize CSS
… Optimize images.
… Reduce HTTP requests
… Use a content delivery network (CDN)
… Use compression
Basically, when designing your site, “less is more.” If you stick to that philosophy your website will load quickly and your customers will be more inclined to buy.
To learn how fast your website loads visit one of the following:
Customers appreciate a fast-loading website. They generally show their appreciation with return visits and higher conversion rates. It behooves you to forgo those long-loading bells and whistles for a streamlined site that’s ready to go within a couple of seconds.
Customers are greatly influenced by online reviews. Reviews not only affect what customers buy, or don’t buy, they also help customers form an opinion about your business.
>> 88% of customers have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision. (Source: The Impact Of Customer Service On Customer Lifetime Value)
>> Nearly 9 in 10 customers have read online reviews to help them determine the quality of a local business and 39% do so on a regular basis. (Source: 88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations)
>> 58% of customers go online to research products and services that they are considering purchasing. (Source: 20 Customer Service Statistics You Can’t and Shouldn’t Ignore)
>> 78% of customers have abandoned a transaction because of poor service. (Source: 20 Customer Service Statistics You Can’t and Shouldn’t Ignore)
>> “…online reviews impact 67.7% of respondents’ purchasing decisions. More than half of the respondents (54.7%) admitted that online reviews are fairly, very, or absolutely an important part of their decision-making process.” (Source: New Study: Data Reveals 67% of Consumers are Influenced by Online Reviews)
>> 72% of customers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more. (Source: Local Consumer Review Survey)
Do you need even more data to convince you of the importance of online reviews? Here you go.
>> 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Wow! (Source: Local Consumer Review Survey)
>> 85% of customers would not patronize a business with a negative online review about its cleanliness. The three businesses most affected by negative online reviews about cleanliness are restaurants, hotels, and doctor’s offices. (Source: Poll Reveals 85 percent of Americans Would Not Patronize a Business with Negative Online Reviews about Its Cleanliness)
>> 88% of customers who search for a local business on a mobile device will call or visit that business within 24 hours. (Source: Online Reviews: Your Reputation Is On The Line)
>> 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience. (Source: Getting to the Heart of the Consumer and Brand Relationship)
>> Only 50% of small business owners believe positive online reviews are important. (Source: Yodle Survey: Small Businesses Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews)
>> According to Reevoo stats, 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. (Source: Econsultancy)
>> According to Reevoo, reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales. (Source: Econsultancy)
Where are your customers reading reviews?
The top five sources for online reviews are…
- Trip Advisor
Google is the internet’s top source for online reviews. They attract twice as many views as the second place finisher, Amazon. Surprisingly, Wikipedia beat out both Yelp (fourth place) and Trip Advisor (fifth place) for third.
Those are single sources. The source that was used the most was actually “none of the above.” It was used by two-thirds (64.2 percent) of the respondents.
Since positive online reviews are so important to your website, you’ll want to monitor them frequently. Conduct Google searches on a regular basis but limit your results to just the first two pages.
Why? Very few users ever go pass the first page.
How Many Pages Do Users Visit When Doing A Google Search?
|Page Number||% of users visitng that page|
(Source: Value of Organic First-Page Results)
If you find a negative review, use it as an opportunity to write positively about your business. On your blog, a social networking site, or another website altogether, address the negative review by explaining how you fixed the problem or how the review was incorrect in the first place.
Or you can see if there is a way for you as the business owner can respond to that negative review within the system the review was created in.
To ensure that your business has a sufficient number of positive online reviews start by asking friends and business partners to write some for you. They don’t need to lie or misrepresent themselves. Their reviews should be honest and they should be upfront about their relationship with you and your business.
Friends and associates can promote your business through word of mouth so why can’t they do the same in an online review? Don’t ask them to write a positive review. Ask them to write an honest review.
For sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, search the internet for tips and suggestions on how to use them to your business’ benefit. Again, you won’t be doing anything dishonest. Joining and participating in sites like Yelp can actually increase the efficacy of positive online reviews.
If possible, you’ll want employees to sign up and be active on review sites too, while representing themselves honestly.
Due to the fact that online reviews can be written by anyone, including people who’ve never actually been your customer, there is no way to completely protect your business from negativity.
There is, however, a surefire way to help ensure that you’ll business will receive more positive reviews than negative and that’s to provide excellent customer service all the time.
Admit it, you just rolled over the buttons above and then realized they were not links, right? Calls to action can be powerful in influencing our behavior.
A “call to action” is something you offer, suggest, tell or ask your customers to do. Examples are ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add to Cart’ buttons, sign up for an e-mail newsletter links or ‘Contact Us’ buttons. You’re calling on your site visitors to take a specific action.
Almost all the page on your website should have a clear and obvious call to action. Without it, your visitors won’t know what to do. Surprisingly, a lot of small business websites lack calls to action and their sites would serve them a lot better if they included one on every page.
Furthermore, it is advisable to conduct A/B testing with your calls to action to let your site visitors tell you which specific call to action converts the best.
>> 70% of small business websites fail to have clear calls to action on their home pages. (Source: Small Business B2B Call to Action Study)
>> A call to action button can increase conversion rates by 62%. (Source: A/B test case study: Call to action button increases conversions by 62%)
>> If you’re using buttons for your “call to action,” remember a 2011 study that said red buttons boosted conversion rates by 21% over green buttons. (Source: The Button Color A/B Test: Red Beats Green)
>> A 2013 study saw a 90% increase in the click through rate simply by changing “you” to “my” in the text of a call to action button. (Source: 10 Call-to-Action Case Studies w/ Takeaways & Examples from Real Button Tests)
>> Making the call to action more prominent increased the conversion rate of one website by 591%. Natural Air increased the profile of their call to action and conversions jumped from 2.78% to about 19%. (Source: Google Website Optimizer Increases Conversion 591%)
>> Redesigning your pricing page can bring 25% more conversions. (Source: Basekit’s Conversions Increased By 25% After Redesigning Pricing Page).
>> Telling people “not to click” can perform almost 40% better than telling people to click. (Source: Neil Patel’s Click Here: 11 Ways to Improve Your Calls to Action)
Your call to action should be simple, written in the first person, and frequently tested. It’s also very important where you place the call to action. It should be placed somewhere highly visible that makes it’s obvious to your customers what you want them to do.
‘Call To Action’ Tips
- Create urgency.
- Tell your customers exactly what you want them to do.
- Use specific numbers.
- Make sure your call to action is clickable.
- Use images in your call to action.
- Use the words ‘you’ or ‘my’.
- Don’t have more than one call to action on a page.
Your ecommerce website’s first job is to attract relevant visitors. Its second job is to turn those visitors into customers. To do that, you’re going to need an effective and well-placed call to action on every page. Such a call to action will inspire your customers to sign up for your newsletter, read your blog, or best of all, buy your products/services.
Researchers say that the average number of advertisements and brand exposures a person experiences on a daily basis is north of 5,000. The same researchers say that the number of ads that actually make an impression are 12. (Source: New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures)
How does website and your individual web pages make an impression? It starts with your headlines. And each page or article on your site ought to have a compelling main headline. Good headlines separate your website from others and great headlines effectively sell your products and/or services.
Headlines also help with social networking and search engine optimization. Furthermore, headlines play a big role in shaping your customers’ first impressions of your website.
After all, customers form impressions extremely fast. Therefore, a great headline, one that properly relates to your products and/or services and tells the site visitor that they are in the right place, will go a long way in creating a strong first impression in your customers’ minds.
>> 8 out of 10 customers will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. (Source: How To Write Magnetic Headlines)
>> ”A really good headline can spike your traffic by 500%!” (Source: Tabloid Chic: How Racy Headlines Unlock Money and Power)
>> Headlines with eight words have the highest click-through rates. They perform 21% better than average. (Source: 5 Tips To Help Improve Your Headline Click-Through Rate).
>> Headlines with a colon or hyphen do 9% better (on average) than headlines without a colon or hyphen. (Source: 5 Tips To Help Improve Your Headline Click-Through Rate).
>> 36% of customers prefer a headline with a number. That’s 15% more than the second place finisher, headlines that address the reader. (Source: 5 Data Insights into Headlines Readers Click)
>> 39% of women preferred number headlines compared to 32% of men. This was by far the largest difference between women and men’s preferences for any type of headline. (Source: 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click)
>> 64% of customers prefer their headlines written in sentence case (sentence case means that the first letter in each word is capitalized.) (Source: 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click)
>> 51% of customers prefer understated headlines or headlines with one or fewer superlatives. 25% prefer headlines with four more superlatives. The take away here is either avoid superlatives or use a bunch. (Source: 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click)
>> The average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives was 63% higher than headlines with positive superlatives. (Source: Headlines: When the Best Brings the Worst and the Worst Brings the Best)
>> Drayton Bird, perhaps the greatest direct marketer in the world, recommends spending 80% of your writing time on your headline. (Source: Can You Write a Better Headline Than This? Not Using Old Headline Formulas You Can’t)
When writing a headline for a blog entry or an article, you’ll definitely want to optimize the headline for search engines. This means writing it in a way that will increase your chances of winding up on page one of Google when a customer conducts a search involving your keywords. And check this out if you want to know how to write powerful blog posts.
Furthermore, a great headline for both people and search engines includes conveying to the reader that this article answers their question.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips For Your Headlines
- Make your headline 65 characters of less.
- Put your keywords at the front of your title.
- Your title should be clear; your customers should know exactly what the page is about.
- Your title should be predictable: when the customer clicks on your title it should take them to a page that meets their expectations.
- Your title should be evoke emotion.
Headlines are extremely important to your website. However there’s no full-proof formula when it comes to writing one. Base your headlines on your business’ goals and satisfying your customers’ needs.
You can also use some of the ideas discussed in the studies above such as starting your title with a number, keeping it to eight words, and adding a colon. Finally, remember to test your titles to learn what works best for your site.
“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Even The Three Amigos would agree that your ecommerce store does indeed need badges.
There are basically two ways to increase the transaction volume of your website. Increase the number of visitors to your website, or increase the number of visitors who actually buy your products or services (increasing your site’s conversion rate).
One of the proven ways to do the latter is to place “trust badges” on your landing pages and checkout page(s). Trust badges are a way to show potential customers that your website is safe and secure.
>> In 2014, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received 269,422 fraud complaints.
>> 123,684 of those complaints reported a loss.
>> In total, over $800,000,000 was lost to internet fraud.
(Source: 2014 IC3 Annual Report)
Trust badges inspire faith in your business. Customers are less likely to abandon their shopping cart if they see a trust badge on your checkout page.
>> 68.63% is the average online shopping cart abandonment rate. (Source: 33 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics)
>> 17% of customers abandon their shopping cart because of “concerns about payment security.” (Source: Why do online shoppers leave without paying?)
>> 61% of customers failed to make a purchase because no trust logos were visible. 76% hadn’t because they didn’t recognize the logo. (Source: Which e-commerce trustmarks are most effective?)
>> 78% of customers say a trust badge indicates that their information is secure. (Source: Trust Seals: E-Commerce Runs on Trust).
Trust badges can increase your website’s conversion rate. By showing customers that your site is secure they repay you by buying your goods and services.
>> Trust badges can result in a 32% increase in conversions. (Source: Do Trust Badges On Websites Work? Oh Yes! 32% Increase In Conversions)
>> After Joann.com added trust badges it reported sales increases of about 5.5%. (Source: The Value of Trust Badges on Landing Pages)
>> CookiesKids.com saw a 14% increase in sales and a 30% increase in its conversion rate after a trust badge was properly optimized. (Source: How to Increase eCommerce Conversion Rates with Identity Theft Protection Seals: Case Study)
Which badge is the most trusted? Which badge does the public have the least faith in?
>> According to a 2013 study, a Norton badge gives 35.6% of customers “the best sense of trust when paying online.” That was good enough for first place. A McAfee badge was second with 22.9%. Tied for third were TRUSTe and BBB Accredited badges at 13.2%. (Source: Which Site Seal do People Trust the Most? (2013 Survey Results)
>> Trustwave, GeoTrust, and Comodo came in last (respectively). None of those trust badges exceeded 3.2%. (Source: Which Site Seal do People Trust the Most? (2013 Survey Results)
>> 94% of shoppers are likely to finish a purchase if they see the Norton Secured seal displayed at checkout. (Source: Put a Little Faith in Website Trust Seals and Watch Your Conversions Grow)
>> 77% of customers were more familiar with the Norton Secured seal than they were with any other seals. (Source: Put a Little Faith in Website Trust Seals and Watch Your Conversions Grow)
>> 65% of customers feel Norton Secured seal protects them from viruses while browsing an e-commerce site. (Source: Put a Little Faith in Website Trust Seals and Watch Your Conversions Grow)
Your business can also get a venerated trust badge that has nothing to do with security. Third parties award trust badges that indicate your business is honest and dependable. These types of badges are from organizations like the Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe.
To purchase one, just conduct a Google search using either “trust badge,” “trust seal,” or the name of the business awarding the trust badge. For a BBB Accredited badge, you’ll need to contact your local BBB chapter.
These badges can be quite expensive but since they can increase sales, they can be worth it. After all, a trust badge tells customers that you’re a respectable business and/or that their purchase will be secure.
All the aforementioned suggestions are dynamic; they take time to implement, take effect and measure. Don’t forget to measure how effective they are. Continually monitor your efforts over time. Conduct as many tests as you can to see what works and what doesn’t. A/B tests are a great place to start.
Finally, keep in mind that our study of studies reveals a couple of truths about your website visitors.
1. Site visitors don’t want to waste their time or money
2. The more they trust you, the more likely they will buy from you. If you keep those two things front and center, you’ll succeed in influencing more of your website visitors to make a purchase.
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