How to turn website visitors into customers

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Recently we've told you how to get your business online and start taking payments through your website, but that's the relatively easy part. What's more difficult is getting people to part with their money or make an enquiry once they're on your website. Read on to find out how to maximise your chances.

1. Make your site user-friendly

If a potential customer finds your website difficult to use or frustrating for whatever reason, they are not likely to stick around for long, let alone buy anything from you.

Ensure that your site loads quickly – visitors won't wait more than four seconds before hitting the back button – that it is easy to read and that there are no broken links.

2. Can people easily find what they're looking for?

You know where all the products are situated on your site, but your customer doesn't. If it's difficult to find what they are looking for, they'll simply stop trying.

Offer visitors various ways to find information, i.e. search and browse functions. Remember to put yourself in the visitor's shoes or – even better – get a friend who is unfamiliar with your website to complete a task (such as making a purchase) and review how easy it is to do. If anything is not intuitive, don't be afraid to fix it – it could be costing you sales.

3. Keep your sales pages brief

You probably have lots to say about the many benefits of your product or service, but it pays to keep the web content on your sales pages concise. In your descriptions, stick to the information that a customer needs to know to make an informed decision to buy – benefits, technical features, price, delivery – and keep sentences short and punchy. If visitors have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of a page to make a purchase, they may never get that far.

4. Offer alternative ways to buy

Although buying online is a popular choice for consumers these days, not everyone is comfortable with giving their credit card details. And not every sale that is driven by your website has to take place on your website.

If you offer alternative methods of payment, make this clear.

5. Be contactable

Some customers may want to find out more information before they commit to making a purchase, so make sure your contact details are clearly visible on every page of your site or use a ‘live chat' facility where customers can talk to a sales representative in real time.

6. Allay security fears

One of the most important considerations for online consumers is that, when they give their credit card details over the internet, they will be treated securely. The more reassurance you can give to your customers that their personal details are safe the better.

7. Present a professional image

Call it superficial, but the way your website looks is a contributing factor in whether someone chooses to spend money with you. If your website looks poorly designed and is littered with spelling mistakes and bad grammar, this will reflect badly on your company as a whole.

8. Measure your success

Use a free web statistics package like Google Analytics to tell you how many people visit your site, your sales pages and how many of them made a purchase and how many left. This can tell you a lot about how effective your page is. Google also have a free product for more advanced users called website optimiser, which allows you to test two different versions of a page and see which one performs best.

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Setting up an ecommerce website is easy. What's more difficult is getting people to part with their money or make an enquiry once they're on your website. Read on to find out how to maximise your chances of success.