The E-Commerce Column

Tips to Capture Your E-Commerce Customer in 3 Seconds or Less

Customer Paying

I remember when I was first entering the workforce, one of the most common analogies I ever heard was that the most difficult part of business is getting someone through the front door.  Meaning, you can do all of the preparations in the world and have the best product ever.  Unfortunately, that won’t mean anything unless you can somehow get people to know you exist, and get them to trust you enough to take time out of their busy schedule to visit you.  I broke that down pretty simply into two steps – but this is the furthest thing from being simple.  Your e-commerce website isn’t so different, although getting people to know you is a lot easier and cheaper than it is for a traditional brick and mortar business.

It’s one thing to get your business noticed by prospective customers online.  You can do that with relatively low investment, provided you have the correct strategy in place for things like Google Adwords and other marketing channels.  Once you get people to know who you are and they land on your homepage or landing page, how do you truly capture them?  How do you ensure that they stick around to fill out that form or go to your products page?  Here are three tips to help you do just that.

Tip #1:  Remove the Clutter

Probably the fastest way to lose a customer almost immediately is for your site to look too cluttered or too busy.  Almost along the same lines, your site needs to look contemporary.  Upon first landing on your site, your customer needs to be able to very easily know what you do and how you can help them.  You need to convey this without forcing your prospective customer to think about it.  Get rid of everything on every single page that’s not essential to your central mission – making the sale.  Stay away from ads and flashy images.  This advice is incredibly more important for your mobile visitors.

Whitespace is key here.  The more “clean” your website looks and feels, the more likely that your prospect will spend a few more moments discovering your brand and products.  Also, the more easily you can execute tip #2.

Tip #2:  Have a Clear Call to Action

We get it.  There’s almost always more than one thing you want for your customer to do.  You want them to put something into the cart.  You want them to complete a purchase.  You need a newsletter subscription.  You need to gather their information for that “gated” case study or white paper.  You want them to begin a free trial.  These are all great goals to have.  They really are, but if you have to choose one - and only one – which of these would be the most important to your business right this moment?  That’s the only one that should be shown to prospective customers as being the next step.  Everything else should visually be less important.  All of your design and behavioral workflow should instead be geared towards the one most important action you need for your customer to take.

For example, if your call to action (CTA) is to get a sale, then all of the top-most links and reselling techniques on your site should be pointing towards that.  The links you see presented as a primary link should be adding a product to the cart automatically, or at least to the product details page.  It shouldn’t be the newsletter.  You can always integrate the newsletter into the checkout process.  The bottom line here is this… Your customer needs to know what they’re supposed to do next.  Just don’t be tricky about it.

Tip #3:  Make Sure Your Site is Fast

Nothing else matters if your prospects can’t even load your site, or if they feel that they can’t because the site is simply taking longer than they expect.  Your site ideally needs to load in 4 seconds or less on any device.  Anything else is not likely going to capture your customer.  People are highly impatient today, and that’s not going to change.  Be sure when you test this yourself, you test on multiple web browsers, when logged in and out, and using third party testing services.  You’ll get different results on all of these.

Basically, if your site isn’t fast enough, there isn’t anything else you can do.  No tip will be helpful.

Bonus Tip:  Stand-Out Competitive Messaging

This kind of piggy-backs onto tip #2.  Your CTA is part of your onsite marketing efforts to entice your customer to complete the desired activity.  In doing so, you’ll have content, images, and site structure that all work together to create that experience.  When you do this, you should spend some time taking a look at all of your most successful competition.  What are they doing right?  What are they doing wrong?  What kind of tone or archetype is their messaging?  Is it mixed?  Essentially, you’re looking for a weakness.  Don’t just do what they’re doing just because they’re doing well already.  You need to figure how to position yourself as different and better.  Don’t say what they say.  Say how you’re better.  Tell customers how you can solve their problems better than anyone else.

About the Author

Will StrohlWill Strohl

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