Every e-commerce entrepreneur will ask themselves this question at one point or another: How do I get people to purchase from my website? How do I effectively compete online? How do I increase revenue?
While every entrepreneur’s situation is slightly different, based on their target market, product, and objectives, it turns out that high performance websites and online stores have a number of common features that cut across industries and customer segments.
Over the past five years we have studied highly-successful business websites and online stores, and these are the most important features they share:
1. They offer something unique
That does not mean that the product itself is necessarily unique, although that also can be very helpful. However, those entrepreneurs typically offer something that no one else does, whether it be great service, a type of discount, hours of work, a good return or exchange policy, or anything else that a particular customer segment finds valuable.
2. They attract relevant audiences effectively
Successful online sites understand exactly who their customers are and what they find valuable, and then they create products, services, offers, and content that will drive that traffic to their website. They key here is attracting the relevant audience at a cost-effective rate.
3. They are reliable
The first few seconds of interaction between users and a website are crucial to creating a positive impression of the website and brand. Unfortunately many business websites take far too long to load (anything longer than six seconds is excessive) or are sluggish and slow to react to clicks and scrolling. A slow, unreliable website is an immediate turnoff for visitors and results in a high bounce rate.
4. They maintain expectation consistency
The best performing websites we have studied were very good at maintaining the expectation of their visitors as they transition from outside the website (ad, social media post or other links) to the landing page where conversion was expected to happen. This gave visitors the psychological signal that they were in fact in the right place, that they didn’t get redirected to a malicious website, and what they were looking for was right there front and center of their screen above the fold whether it was a blog post, an ebook or a product they wanted to purchase.
5. They are mobile optimized
Mobile optimized is a very different concept from responsive design. While responsive design is very good at rearranging elements of a page so that they fit nicely within a user’s mobile screen, that may not be the best way to present information to a mobile user with a small screen size.
The best-performing websites are very good at rethinking content for mobile users, and completely eliminating clutter and distractions, ensuring that the relevant content of each page is well-presented to mobile users with small device screens.
6. They are easy to navigate
When people look for products and services online, they typically have three questions that a e-commerce website should be able to answer quickly and efficiently:
- Does this website have the product I am looking for?
- What is the price of product or service I am looking for?
- Can I trust this business?
7. They are secure
Today’s consumers are very tech savvy and understand that threats exist in the digital world. Having strong security features on a e-commerce website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity of doing business online. At minimum every website should have an SSL certificate that encrypts transmission to and from the website so that it is not intercepted by hackers.
8. They have conversion opportunities
To convert a visitor to a lead and paying customer, it is important to ensure that there are opportunities and ways for that conversion to happen. Conversion opportunities are not just email subscription forms inserted at various parts in the website; for conversion to happen two things are needed:
- A compelling offer to convert (a coupon, discount, e-book or some other offer)
- An easy way to claim the offer (email, phone, contact form, subscription form, etc.)
Strategically-placed conversion opportunities are key to growing a business’s leads, customers, and revenue.
9. They have the tools to understand customer behavior
Successful online entrepreneurs understand who their customers are and how they will behave on the website. Customer insight tools can help provide this valuable information, as well as pages have the highest level of engagement, and which pages are turnoffs for users. Knowing this information allows entrepreneurs to identify gaps where traffic is not good at converting.
10. They are good at retargeting
It is very common for users to land on your website, and then exit because they are not psychologically ready to make a decision to purchase or convert. They may want to read more, check other vendors out, or the timing just may not be right. It is therefore important to be able to retarget those individuals and remind them of your brand and offers.
Facebook happens to be one of the best mediums for retargeting. This can be easily done by creating a Facebook pixel that’s installed throughout your website. A Facebook pixel allows Facebook to match your website visitors to people on Facebook, who can then be marketed to through a retargeting campaign.
To summarize, combining a unique product offering with a compelling digital presence creates the winning formula needed to effectively compete and excel in reaching and converting customers through digital means. Small businesses that master this ability can outsmart, outcompete, and win against much bigger and better funded brands.