Author Ali Sadr

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Optimize Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate: 3 Audience Characteristics to Drive Your Numbers

As an ecommerce business owner, you know that optimizing your ecommerce conversion rate is vital if you want your online business to thrive.

After all, your website is no different from a brick and mortar store. Your revenue depends on creating a seamless shopping experience and ensuring your customers check out with a cart that’s loaded with items from your virtual aisles.

Before any of this even happens, your first task is transforming casual visitors into potential customers with an attention-grabbing, positive first impression. The reason is simple: what your customers initially perceive can determine how likely they are to pull out their wallets.

This undeniable fact means that optimization often begins with your home page.

But here’s the danger.

It’s all too easy to prematurely plunge into A/B testing or revamping your message.

Improving your ecommerce conversion rate doesn’t begin with implementing optimization tactics, however valuable they may be. It begins with thoroughly understanding your target audience.

Unless you gather insights on the customers buying your products, you can’t effectively better their experience.

Here are 3 key facts you must know about your ecommerce audience before you ever begin optimizing your home page.

1. Know the Customer Needs That Drive Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

Any successful business begins with identifying customer needs and clearly communicating how you provide unique solutions, and the same is true for your online store.

connecting products to your audience’s needs

Take a look at Williams Sonoma’s home page to see an example that quickly demonstrates how a website can connect products to its audience’s needs.

 

Whether it’s a mom looking to furnish her kid’s dorm with quality cookware or a busy corporate manager searching for a wedding gift, the customers, their needs, and the solution are defined in a few, short seconds.

Having a clear home page message can drastically improve your ecommerce conversion rate.

But that message is only effective if you have clarity on your audience, and here’s why…

Let’s say your ecommerce store features hand-crafted watches that are waterproof up to 100 meters. Your home page targets an audience you think is interested in the handcrafted value of your watches.

But the reality is, your actual customers are more interested in the waterproof qualities of your product line.

Misunderstand your audience’s needs, and your efforts to improve your ecommerce conversion rate will be severely misguided.

Before optimizing, you’ll want to understand the unique characteristics of your customers, such as…

  • What needs have driven them to your website.
  • What solutions they think will solve their problems.
  • What fears and concerns they have.
  • What questions they’re asking.
  • What triggers them to take immediate action.

To gather this information, you’ll need to collect valuable data on your audience, and here’s how…

Tips for Defining Your Audience

More than likely, you founded your ecommerce store on insights you personally gathered on customer needs. However, when it comes to optimizing your conversion rate, this is simply not enough.

Increasing your revenue begins with gathering specific information on as many customers as possible—not simply the ones you’ve communicated with as this can create a less-than-accurate picture of your audience.

Here are a few ways you can gather data on your customers…

Analyze contact forms and information from phone calls. Comb through the contact forms your customers have sent, and analyze these forms for information that reveals common customer needs.

If you have software that records incoming calls, evaluate these files to gather critical data on what questions your customers have.

Analyze direct chat records. If your ecommerce company provides direct chat, then you’ll want to access your transcripts to uncover what information these reveal about your customers.

Chat transcripts can shed light on everything from your customers’ pain points to needs they haven’t found a solution for.

Important: If you don’t have direct chat available, Moz recommends that you provide this option for your customers as a simple way to improve your ecommerce conversion rate.

If you’re at a loss for what software to use for your store, here are a few highly rated options listed by Capterra:

  • Chatra
  • Pure Chat
  • Olark
  • LiveChat
  • Userlike Live Chat
  • Freshdesk

Survey your customers. Another common practice you can use to better understand your customers is surveying your audience.

Software, such as Qualtrics or SurveyGizmo, allows you to send surveys to customers directly on your mailing list. You can also use software such as Qualaroo to integrate survey questions into your site.

This software can even offer surveys based on the length of time a customer has been on your home page or when a customer appears to be leaving your home page.

Important: As Qualaroo points out, be sure to ask only the information you need when creating surveys.

2. Know Which Keywords Your Customers Use

 

Know Which Keywords Your Customers Use

Once you’ve identified some common customer needs, your next step is to pinpoint the keywords your customers use to articulate these needs.

At first, you may not see an apparent connection between increasing your ecommerce conversion rate and conducting keyword research. You may think that keywords are simply used to drive traffic—not to optimize your home page.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s what Google has to say…

Understanding the correlation between how users search and the relevancy of your pages to those queries provides insight into how to optimize your content.

While your home page may have a number of good keywords, some phrases will drive clicks more than others.

Understanding which keywords cause your customers to take action empowers you to more deeply understand your customers and craft a home page that taps into their needs to increase conversions.

Tips for Pinpointing Your Customers’ Search Terms

When it comes to understanding what search terms your customers’ are using (and which keywords will produce clicks), you’ll need to turn to Google Analytics.

In the Google Analytics Search Console, you’ll want to generate a Queries report. As Google explains, this report allows you to understand…

  • What search terms garnered impressions of your website pages in Google’s results.
  • The click-through rate for these web pages.

If you notice that one search term led to a higher click-through rate, this can indicate a need that drives your audience members to take action—a valuable piece of information for optimizing your ecommerce conversion rate.

To get an idea of how to interpret this information for your website, here’s a Search Query Report we generated for one of our clients where we’ve sorted the results by impressions.

Notice that the term “white gold” generated the most impressions—over 25,000.

 

However, this term has only garnered five clicks for those thousands of impressions, which means this phrase doesn’t seem to spur potential audience members into action.

In contrast, the term “unique wedding rings” has generated almost 9,000 impressions and over 280 clicks for a click-through rate that’s around 3%. For optimization, it’s obvious that this keyword has a higher profit potential.

Please note that this keyword data is only available inside your Search Console. And, if you want to retrieve this information in Google Analytics, you’ll need to connect your Search Console and your Google Analytics account together.

Here’s a screenshot of where you can find your Search Console data in your Google Analytics account. Under your “Acquisition” tab, you’ll need to navigate to “Search Console.” Then, click “Queries.”

Another method you can use to gain keyword insights from Google Analytics is to analyze your landing page performance.

In Google Analytics, click the “Behavior” tab. Afterwards, select “All Content,” and then navigate to “Landing Pages.”

Once you’re on this page, you can view which pages have garnered the most traffic. But, to understand the keywords you should leverage, you’ll need to determine if these pages are contributing to your revenue.

If they’re not, then you’ve placed a finger on a problem.

Maybe you’ve chosen keywords that produce traffic—but not conversions. Or perhaps your copy doesn’t align to the phrase that drove the user to click through to your website.

Between analyzing your queries and evaluating your landing pages, you’ll tap into the terms and keyword phrases that can create better conversions.

3. Discover How Customers Interact with Your Home Page

 

Discover How Customers Interact with Your Home Page

Identifying how your customers interact with your home page is another key piece of information you’ll need to improve your ecommerce conversion rate.

You’ll want to know things, such as…

  • How much of your home page content your customers consume. You’ll want to see how far they’re scrolling down your home page.
  • What captures your audience’s interest. Knowing which parts of your home page are most relevant to your customers is a critical piece of information for redesigning your home page.
  • If your customers are clicking your desired CTAs. It’s important to know if your customers click the links that lead to conversions.

However, to gather these pieces of information, you’ll need access to some important tools.

Tips for Defining Customer Interaction

When it comes to your ecommerce website, there’s no need to guess how customers are experiencing your home page. The good news is there are several software solutions that reveal how your audience interacts with your site.

If you want to see how much of your home page content users consume, check out Crazy Egg’s software.

Crazy Egg provides a heat map revealing how far your customers scroll down your home page…and even the point where they decide to leave.

If you want to understand what home page content customers find interesting or relevant to their needs, check out Clicktale’s software.

Clicktale’s heat map can show how long your users interacted with the different elements of a page, and Clicktale suggests combining this data with a scroll map to see which sections attract greater attention from your customers.

While you certainly can use Crazy Egg, Clicktale, and other software to analyze your customers’ clicks, you can also access this information for free with Google Analytics.

Using the In-Page Analytics feature, gain data on which home page links your customers are clicking most often. A frequently clicked link can uncover a hidden need…or it may reveal that your home page design is stunting conversions.

For a more visual way of analyzing your clicks, you can leverage Page Analytics, a Google Chrome plug-in.

page analytics chrome plugin

 

This allows you to analyze the same information in an easy to understand format.

Here’s a look at a Page Analytics report for AgileGrow’s home page. Here you can see how the report has assigned percentages to the different elements of our page, revealing where our users click most often.

Chrome in-page analytics in action

What This Means for Your Ecommerce Home Page

From understanding what links customers are clicking to knowing what questions they are asking in contact forms, gathering data on your audience is your first—and most crucial—step for improving your ecommerce conversion rate.

Here’s a quick summary of the 3 things you should know about your ecommerce customers as well as our tips for gathering the data you need to make the best decisions:

  • Identify customer needs by mining data in emails, phone calls, chat records, and surveys. You’ll gather critical information to optimize your navigation structure and place words most relevant to your customers in the top, right area of your page—a key method for driving conversions.You’ll also gain valuable information to revise your copy, calls to action, headline, and more.
  • Use Google Analytics tools to understand which keywords your customers are using, which pages they land on, and which terms are most likely to drive conversions.With tools such as the Google Analytics Query report, you’ll have insights to know what verbiage to use. You’ll also gain information on valuable keywords so you place your most relevant content or ecommerce items above the fold.
  • Identify how customers interact with your current home page through heat map software, such as Crazy Egg, Inspectlet, and Clicktale, as well as Google Analytics.This valuable data can help you lower your bounce rate, eliminate friction from the buyer journey, drive customers to check out, and reduce the clicks from landing page to purchase.

Once you gather this data, you can start optimizing your home page based upon what your customers need—not what your graphic designer thinks is cool.

If you’re ready to craft customer insights into an online store that converts, partner with AgileGrow.

We’ll help you weave customer data and conversion rate optimization best practices together to effectively increase your lift. Let’s discuss how to transform your ecommerce store today.

The Essential Guide To Online Review Management – Using Online Reviews As A Marketing Tool

The Powerful Impact of Online Reviews

Online reviews are replacing testimonials as the go-to resource for consumers to research local businesses. Reviews provide great insight into what you can expect if you decide to do business with a local company. Whether you are looking for a place to eat, a new doctor, or a renovation company to help you with home repairs, online reviews provide your customers with valuable information.

Your customers are reading your reviews online, and if you run a business, there is a great chance that consumers are writing reviews about your company, as well. In fact, according to a recent Local Consumer Review Survey, 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses.

What does this mean for your business? Reviews have a significant impact, not only on your business reputation, but they also play a large role in your ability to generate leads, attract new customers, and have a significant effect on your local SEO presence. As outlined in The Moz Blog article, Top 20 Local Search Ranking Factors: An Illustrated Guide, quantity of native Google Places reviews, and quantity of third-party traditional reviews are two of the top local search ranking factors.

The following will examine:

 

  • The increasingly important role online reviews play for your local business
  • How to manage reviews
  • How to effectively deal with negative reviews
  • How reviews impact other facets of your strategy to acquire new customers online.

 

 Why Review Management Matters

90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews – Dimensional Research

Online reviews play a prominent role in the buying process. One of the first things a consumer does in the purchase process, whether they plan to buy online or in person, is to head to Google and explore their options. Reading reviews plays an important role in this process and can impact a consumer’s decision to visit your company website, explore your product/service options, and contact you.

The results of the Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal shows that more consumers are not only reading reviews online, they are using them as a trust factor in their pre-purchase research before choosing a local business.

 

The survey revealed that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It also revealed that 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more, and only 12% of consumers said they do not use online reviews. Therefore, managing reviews has become an important brand management and marketing tool that your business can no longer afford to ignore, or it could negatively impact your ability to generate new leads and customers online.

 

Do You Know Where Your Customers Are Writing Reviews About You Online?

There is no shortage of online customer review sites where your customers can leave reviews about your business. Therefore, your first step should be to identify the platforms your customers are using. You are likely aware of the major review websites:

However, most review sites are industry specific, meaning that you will also need to identify the niche review sites that exist in your industry.

As a general rule for eCommerce and local businesses, Google+ and Yelp should be your main focus; restaurants can benefit from Urbanspoon and Yelp; RateMDs is ideal for doctors and health care related websites; and home improvement companies & contractors can benefit from review sites such as HomeStars and Angies List. The important take away here is to identify the sites most used by your customers and become an active participant in those spaces.
You can identify review sites frequently used by your customers by:

 

  • Conducting Google searches to see where your competitors are receiving reviews
  • Using Google Alerts
  • Using online review management, customer satisfction, and CRM software

 

5 Must Use Review Management Strategies to Generate Positive Reviews

Having no reviews about your company is almost as bad as having a bad review. If you don’t have reviews posted online, it makes it more difficult for potential customers to decide to choose you over your competitors. In this sense, having no reviews can hurt your ability to convert a lead into a paying customer.

Simply put, more reviews make your company more relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative in the eyes of your customers, and also in the eyes of Google – meaning that a wealth of positive reviews can also have a positive impact on your search ranking and visibility in search engine organic and local results pages. Based on the data from the 2013 Local Search Ranking Factor Results by Moz, “reviews from authority reviewers were rated the #3 competitive difference-maker.”

Here is the list of overall rankings factors from the Moz survey

 

The issue that most companies face is they don’t have a strategy for how to generate reviews online. If you don’t have them already, your first step is to set up your business listing on Google, other search engines, and applicable review sites. The best part is that it’s free to set up a profile on most review websites, and it’s a straightforward process.

Speaking of reputation, let’s examine one of the most important review management topics – how to properly deal with negative reviews.

Here are effective review management strategies that will help you take command of your online reviews and be in a position to use them to your advantage for your marketing, SEO, and customer acquisition strategies going forward:

  1. Read the reviews that already exist: Your first step in the review management process is to read the online reviews that already exist. Knowing what your customers are saying about you is a good indicator of what you are doing well and where you need to improve. This will also provide you with a good indication of the review sites your customers use and where you need to focus your efforts. An effective way to manage online reviews is to set up a Google alert for your company name to receive updates when a new online review is posted.
  2. Ask: It may sound simple, but if you want your customers to provide a review, in most cases, all you have to do is ask. The best time to request a review is right after your customer makes a purchase. You can do this in a follow-up email, include the request on your receipt, and in all other communications with your customers. Also, don’t hesitate to ask them to write reviews  on different websites. For example, you could request one client to write a review on Google + and other to write reviews on your Yelp page, creating a diverse mix of reviews on multiple review websites.
  3. Make reviewing as simple as possible: Your customers likely won’t go out of their way to write a review unless you have provided exceptionally great service or exceptionally poor service. Offer up multiple options to provide feedback, and give them a direct link to the review site.Simply review writing for your users by:
    1. Creating a review page on your website
    2. Send email reminders to your customers post purchase
    3. Provide links to your important review profiles and use that page as a reference when you ask clients to review your business
    4. Offer a discount or special offer off future purchases
  4. Tell customers why you want their review: Explaining to your customers that you want their review to bring in new business and get feedback about their products and services is often enough justification to get customers to write a review.
  5. Offering contests, coupons, and discounts is one of the most effective ways to get customers to write reviews. You can offer incentives to elicit reviews through:
    1. Email campaigns
    2. Monthly newsletters
    3. Social media contests
    4. Customer appreciation eventsKeep in mind that having a few bad reviews is natural. You should have a good blend of positive, average, and negative reviews. Having only 5 star reviews could be a signal that your reviews are not authentic, and users may question this. Don’t worry too much about a few poor reviews as long as you have a majority of positive reviews.

The Fatal Review Management Error – Fake Reviews

Under no circumstances should you write fake reviews about your business online. There are many well-documented cases of companies creating fake user accounts to write positive reviews. This is really more hassle than it’s worth, and the time you put into writing fake reviews could be spent developing a sound strategy to generate valuable reviews from real customers. and Google easily detects them 99% of the time. May be couple of months after creation but they will detect it.

Writing fake reviews is not only unethical, it could have legal ramifications. In 2013, 19 companies in New York State were charged with violating state laws regarding false advertising, collectively costing them $350,000 (Huffington Post). Add to this the impact it had on their brand reputation, lost sales, and potentially negative impact on the company’s search ranking, and it’s clear this tactic should be avoided.

Speaking of reputation, let’s examine one of the most important review management topics – how to properly deal with negative reviews.

6 Vital Strategies for Dealing with Negative Reviews the Right Way

86 percent of consumers said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviewsDimensional Research

While you may be tempted to give a negative reviewer a piece of your mind and dispute all their claims, you need to understand that a negative review here and there is normal. In fact, it’s a positive sign to your customers that you are being transparent, something that can work in your favor. Customers don’t expect to see 100% 5 star reviews. Most people understand that no matter how good you are at customer service, there is bound to be situations where you will get a negative review about your business.

It’s really a numbers game – the more reviews you get, the more likely you will get a negative review. The key is to know how to manage negative reviews properly. Here is how you do it:

  1. Respond immediately: Once you let cooler heads prevail and realize that one negative review is not the end of the world, it’s important to address the negative review promptly. Waiting to respond or not responding at all will make the customer feel as though you don’t value their business.
  2. Thank them for their feedback: Always thank your customers for their feedback, even if it is a negative review.
  3. Acknowledge their issues: Don’t avoid addressing the reason for the negative review. Apologize for the situation and offer up a solution to the problem.
  4. Be professional: Review your reply before publishing it. Make sure your spelling and grammar is correct, and everything you say complies with your company policies.
  5. Be positive and polite: Tone is very important. Remember, you are speaking on behalf of your business. Avoid being defensive.
  6. Use the negative review as an opportunity: Every negative review is an opportunity to improve your level of service and repair your relationship with that customer. Use the negative comment to highlight the strengths of your company and re-engage the customer

 

If the review brings to light a significant issue with your business or customer service, consider contacting the customer directly to resolve the issue. It’s not only about addressing the negative review, it’s about providing good service and repairing your relationship with your customers.

 

Review Management Impacts Your Bottom Dollar

A study conducted by the Harvard Business School – Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com – revealed that each star on a company’s Yelp page can increase your revenue by up to 9 percent, pointing to the fact that online reviews do have a financial impact on your business.
Google extracts reviews from Yelp and other online public properties not only to rank you but also to show your reviews from Google AND around the web. This means this impact will apply to your business success exponentially. This re-affirms the point that review management is an important marketing strategy that needs to be integrated into your local SEO and lead generation plan as well as website architecture.
Failure to address negative reviews or take advantage of positive reviews (use Google alerts or twitter monitoring tools to get an early notice), restricts your ability to generate leads, rank high and convert these leads into paying customers for your business.

The Impact of Online Reviews on Your Business

In today’s highly competitive market, consumers are unceremoniously scrutinizing your brand image and influencing your conversions through product rankings and other feedback mechanisms online. All the while, the majority of an organization’s net spend goes on online adverts and SEM (Search Engine Marketing).

Is there a piece of the jigsaw we are missing? Are we allocating resources in the right direction?

Google seems to think not. According to a recent study, they found that business listings that received at least 3+ star reviews took 41 out of 47 clicks. Accrediting only 6 clicks to 1 and 2-star reviews. Is it not time we use this intelligence to allocate resources accordingly?

Website Builder’s latest infographic shows that customers are 12 times more likely to trust online reviews, rather than the actual descriptions companies provide. Couple this with the fact that 90% of the decision makers are reading less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about the business, makes for pretty compelling news.
The positive impact of reviews

  • Increased Sales
    According to the study, online reviews produce an 18% uplift in sales.
  • Charging higher prices for your business
    Consumers are willing to pay 31% more for businesses with excellent reviews.
  • Enhanced consumer trust
    72% of consumers admit positive reviews allow them to place more trust in the business.
  • Revenue Growth
    Approximately 5-9% revenue growth is attributed to every star a business acquires.
    Unsurprisingly due to the fact that 84% of the customers admit they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

The negative impact of reviews

The fact remains though; people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones. According to Dimensional Research, a whopping 95% of customers are more likely to share bad experiences, in stark contrast to only 87% sharing what they define as a good experience.

  • Potentially 70% customer loss
    You can lose 22% of potential customers because of one bad review. After three negative reviews that number jumps to 59%. Four or more negative reviews can push 70% of your potential customers away to your competitors. The most worrying statistic though details that on average, a single negative review can cost your business up to 30 customers.

Disturbing news I hear you say, well that’s a given, but you have to find the most effective way to deal with the negative feedback.

My 3 favorite ways are outlined below:

 

  • First of all, you need to know and understand the platforms whereby your customers are leaving these reviews. Each industry will have specific channels customers are most likely to use. Start investigating.
  • Respond to all reviews, especially bad ones. Try to take the issue offline and your aim should be to turn the disgruntled customer into a less angry or satisfied one. The study indicated that a third of all dissatisfied customers either deleted their negative feedback or replaced them with good ones after a retailer replied to them.
  • Regularly ask satisfied clients to review your business online. Think of different ways to award the positive review with a small gift or a discount.

The findings clearly show that online reviews are pivotal to business success, and every business should allocate resources accordingly.
To begin with, set up a review function on your site, micro- formatted for Google web crawlers. 63% of consumers search the web for business reviews, and you want them to go directly to your website for the reviews.

Meanwhile, don’t underestimate the social media impact, as 55% of consumers are using Facebook to learn more about brands.