Expert marketing consultants have written hundreds of articles and blogs on the best strategy for enhancing customer experience for ecommerce websites. Persuading visiting customers to buy your products is also a complicated science called conversion rate optimization, or CRO, involving demographic and psychological profiling with analytics like multivariate analysis, A/B split testing, eye-tracking tools, and heat analysis.
Hiring a marketing or CRO consultant to keep customers on your site long enough to purchase products isn’t necessary if you have a handle on a few commonsense basics for optimizing your product pages for customers:
- How your website functions overall and how easy it is for customers to find what they want
- How you present your products visually
- How you introduce and describe your products and their functionality
- How you get customers to trust your company and its products
- How and where you present options for purchasing your products
Here are some ways to give customers a rewarding experience and to increase conversion purchases to make the reward a two-way street.
Think about the Customer Experience in Terms of What They Need
Driving your product page is whether you can convince customers that the product they’re eyeballing will give them what they want. To deliver on your promise, start with a framework that captures what customers need when they get there.
Many expert marketers are turning to the LIFT Model® for reflecting on what a product page should and should not contain to ensure a rewarding customer experience.
Picture a fighter jet taking off.
The fuel being spent is urgency—persuading customers that now is the time to buy, and not later when they’ve shopped elsewhere for the product.
Providing lift to the takeoff are clarity and relevance. Clarity pertains to both the design of the product page and the images and text that accompany the product. Relevance pertains to how strongly customers believe they need to purchase the product from you.
Drag factors on takeoff would be distraction and anxiety. Distraction pertains to anything that takes customers’ minds off your product. Anxiety pertains to any misgivings that customers may have about your company or your product.
With LIFT in mind, how can optimize your product pages?
Your Website Should Offer a User-Friendly Customer Experience
Customer expectations when shopping at your site are much the same as if they were shopping at brick-and-mortar retail. They want the aisles to be uncluttered so they can get to products, and they want the products to be located logically and conveniently.
Several ingredients can help:
- Keep your homepage focused on you and your products, not on ancillary distractions
- Use plenty of side tabs to direct customers to products and their features
- If you have a lot of products, use broader category or brand tabs as well
- Give customers access to a search box, and make sure it’s on all of your pages
- Consider using “sticky” navigation menus that remain on the page wherever customers scroll to
Your Homepage Is Also a Chance to Build Consumer Trust
Your customers expect to get to know you. So your footer or header tabs should contain an “About the Company”—your history, mission, and people, to allay any anxiety about whether customers should trust you.
Your website should also contain honest, straightforward information about pricing, shipping costs, delivery dates, and whether items are in stock. Make it easy for your customers to access this information right from your homepage, as well as from any product page. Customers also expect you to be there for them—that they can contact you or a representative by phone or email 24/7. You might even consider a live-chat function if resources permit.
Speed Is Essential to Increase Conversions
Customers expect a website to function quickly as they navigate around. They also need a speedy website, else they’ll become distracted. The statistics from Kissmetrics and Gomez bear this out:
At 2 seconds of load time, just about 13 percent of customers abandon the page. The figure rises to 25 percent at 4 seconds. At 10 seconds, about 35 percent of customers will abandon the page.
Customers Expect a Good Look at Products
Marketing experts agree that high-quality product photography is essential for increasing conversions. Excellent visuals trigger relevance—they are almost tactile, as if customers already picture the product in their own hands:
- Set photos against a white or neutral-color background
- Use sharp, high-resolution photography
- Provide product visuals from several different angles
- Give customers zoom functionality
- Consider using “cross-over” photos of other products on each product page
Content Relevance and Clarity Will Increase Conversions
The best product descriptions contain content that convinces customers that your product is relevant—that it will improve their lives in some way, that they just cannot do without it. Descriptive content also helps customers understand the features and benefits of a product clearly, so that when they choose it, they can justify the purchase without buyer’s remorse.
Product content is an artform that requires collaboration between you and your creative writers. Each form of product-description content is unique to specific ecommerce categories, and to specific retailers within each category. Whatever format you choose, the tone has to be warm and engaging. And it has to be knowledgeable and authoritative, key elements of trust.
The best product description pages contain four information tabs:
- Product Overview—a statement that nails down the key feature setting the product apart from all others
- Product Narrative of Features and Benefits—including how the product works, what it’s used for, and why should it be purchased
- Product Specifications—dimensions, materials, relevant statistics, and warranties, all categorized into logical list format
- Product Options—not only color, size, and other physical characteristics, but also alternative uses and applications
Customers Expect to Make Purchases From Trustworthy Partners
Content marketing has replaced ad marketing on the internet because it is much more effective at inviting customers into your world. If you get customers to become partners, they’ll spread your world to others—exponentially on social media platforms like Facebook. So you want your brand to stand for something other than just the quality of the product itself.
You already started to build consumer trust and allay anxiety with your honesty about pricing, shipping, and delivery. What other elements can you use?
- Assurances against online fraud, displaying them with safety logos
- Membership in business and environmental groups, displaying them with trust badges
- External product reviews
- Social media links
- Customer testimonials
- Resource links to manuals, guides, software, and other relevant documentation
- How-to advice and FAQ pages
- Assurances of post-transaction follow-up with emails or phone calls
Create the Fuel for Liftoff
The LIFT model suggests that urgency is what gives your value proposition the impetus for takeoff. Here, the concept of urgency is more subliminal—in the sense that you don’t want to give your customers any excuse or any time to re-think their decision.
Five elements are key:
- Put your “buy” buttons on every page, and display them prominently
- Let customers create purchasing accounts after they place an order
- Offer as many purchasing options as possible, including nontraditional sources like PayPal
- Guarantee a return receipt immediately by email
- Offer product delivery tracking emails