Designing the buying experience to maximize conversion
Hi folks! Do you want to know how to optimize your online buying experience to prevent valuable potential customers (AKA visitors) from dropping off in the middle of the buying process?
Here at Om Lab, we’ve worked on multiple E-Commerce, and we want to share some of the lessons learned over the years to help you push up that conversion ratio. Keep in mind that the goal is not to convert every visitor (by using some sort of gimmick), but to convert those that will genuinely benefit from your product’s value proposition (or service, all referred to as product from now on). We want the buying process to be the means and not an obstruction for the customer to realize your offering’s value.
It will help think of the buying process as a buying funnel, where potential customers need to go through specific steps to purchase your product. A typical e-commerce platform buying step would be:
Each industry and business has its particular funnel, and indeed, working out the funnel for your specific company is the exercise you should start with. Inevitably, some customers will abandon the funnel at some stage. Since we are in the digital age, it is a simple task to estimate the real drop off numbers and calculate each step performance (you might use Google Analytics for this). A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same principle applies to the funnel’s effectiveness but is based on the effectiveness of each stage.
We aim to increase the stickiness of each stage to improve the final conversion. We are doing this by optimizing the page’s content, design and UX. We want to maximize purchases and that the following model will provide a framework to analyze it:
Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger
This model, called Fogg, states that for a behavior to occur, the person’s ability and motivation should fall above a certain threshold, and only under the presence of a Trigger, the action will occur. It is not rocket science that the desired behavior is completing a sale. The motivation is the actual perception of value the potential buyer gets from your product. The trigger is the customer’s external stimulus to trigger the buying process: a need, a promotion, email marketing, discount coupon, etc.
If we want to maximize conversions, we must increase the motivation, the ability, and favor the occurrence of triggers. Let’s use the Fogg Model factors to better organize our actionable insights and advice into two categories: Motivation and Ability.
Always keep in mind that the potential customer is looking for a product to solve a real “pain” she has. Let’s start with a simple example: Imagine you are running a healthy food delivery startup in your town. You may present it as a company that does food delivery service, emphasizing the “WHAT” you provide. You can take another approach and communicate the “How” you do it: you use only fresh ingredients, deliver in record time, you name it. That’s better, but we can still do it a little better. You might focus on the “Why” another person should buy from you, like make your children eat healthier while you enjoy more time with them.
It’s funny how so many companies focus their content and design on the “What” and “How” but omit the “Why”, which they leave to the potential customers to figure it out. What the potential buyer is looking for is a means to improve their lives in some specific way, not the product itself just for the sake of owning it. A piece of actionable advice for a product page would be to show somebody using and enjoying the product, provide real testimonials, quality guarantees, etc.
The “Why” reason does not always have to be something positive. People experience pains, which they want to minimize or remove. If your product addresses a real problem, you will find an even stronger incentive for the customer to act. The previously mentioned example might be that people are getting obese because of the lack of healthy alternatives, and this in turn leads to fear of getting chronic diseases.
There is no silver bullet here; you need to know your target customers’ values and drives. The bottom line is that you want to increase the value’s perception by always keeping the user in mind and focusing on the “Why” and the real “pain”.Make buying your product a no-brainer by presenting your product’s value proposition as clear and direct as possible.
You should turn the process of acquiring the product into a charm. How do you do it? Not confusing the potential customer, reducing the risk, and reducing barriers. Sounds like a piece of cake but many online stores get it wrong.
Not confusing the customer
In the e-commerce space, it is often said that convention is preferred over innovation. Your customers have already made a bunch of online purchases, and you should definitely take advantage of that education. If you try to reinvent the wheel, users might feel confused at a certain stage and drop off in the middle of the process. Most of them just don’t want to invest the time to understand how it works.
Make the critical principles of design play for you, not against you: contrast, hierarchy, alignment, proximity, repetition, and simplicity. For example, the standard convention is to place the shopping button on the top-right corner, with a badge with the number of products that standouts from the rest. Order the related elements in a hierarchy and give sufficient contrast to the “Call” to action such as “Add to Cart.”
Reduce the risk
When investing in a product or service, there is a risk perception associated with the transaction. This risk is usually related to the value of the product, but not exclusively.
For example, if I pay for a subscription to a local magazine, I would ask myself (often unconsciously): what can go wrong? What would happen if I don’t like the content? Would I be able to unsubscribe immediately? Or worse, will the magazine arrive at all?
Perceived risk acts as a barrier, which is not directly linked to the product real value, that will stop many users from buying. I recommend you to sit down and list all the risk factors that the potential buyer might consider before buying your product. Then you should work on avoiding or mitigating those risks.
Some examples include:
- Doubts about the product: online chat
- Product not matching expectations: return policies
- Content not matching my expectations: cancellation policy
- Payment security: integration with PayPal or other payment methods
This lower risk opens the door to more impulsive buying, avoiding long periods of deliberation that will inevitably lead to a drop in sales.
This is such a simple principle but often overlooked.
Long story short: just ask the potential buyer to provide the minimum information to carry out the transaction. People are usually overwhelmed by online forms. You have the option to make a difference here: don’t ask for their phone number if that is not necessary, offer a PayPal payment method, and so on. Every barrier placed will have a small negative impact in the conversion ratio.
Ask for payment info on Cialdini’s principles (once they start, they should finish). Start with simple fields first like name and email. This makes the checkout process feel more secure and there is a possibility to retarget people who abandon checkout (but provided you with their email).
Don’t require login? Something you should consider. Having to login for making a purchase is a huge barrier for many shoppers who are unwilling to waste their precious time on something that doesn’t provide them direct value. Defer login to a later stage, when the customer has already experienced your value.
Around 70% of the e-commerce traffic comes from mobile, so you must have a mobile-first, fast loading store. Don’t use mini-buttons and minimize cumbersome pop-ups! It is essential to test the buying for possible errors in different platforms (Android, iOS, Mac, PC) before going live, preventing customers to drop off and never come back.
What do I do now?
Learn by listening to your customers’ behavior. There are tremendous tools such as Google Analytics that enable you to get compelling insights on how customers experience your e-commerce.
With this same tool, you can track pages, actions, and many other things. A/B testing, where you test 2 possible page styles or content to see which one is more effective, is something you should consider trying.
One more thing
We are Om Lab. An E-Commerce agency based in Chicago and Uruguay (just one hour ahead of NYC). We have more than 20 e-commerce projects under our belt.
We partner up with e-commerce companies to make them thrive. Our services include Development Sprints, Retainers, SEO, Accessibility, and Staff augmentation. We would be glad to start a meaningful conversation with you about the nuts and bolts of your project!