How to Increase Sales on Your Website

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People have a very short attention span online these days. That's why you have to make every attempt to be as clear and concise as possible with your website. It's very easy for people to move on to a different website if they can't find what they're looking for right away. All they have to do is press the "back" button and they're off to the next website. In fact, the industry average conversion rate for an e-commerce website is somewhere around 2 to 3 percent, meaning that only 2 or 3 out of 100 people that visit a website actually end up buying anything. There are several small improvements you can make that all add up to make a big impact. Here are five things small business owners can do to improve their website's conversion rate:

Make the call to action clear: The "call to action" is usually a button or text that asks someone to take a desired action on your site. A desired action might be something like making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a lead form, calling your office, etc. Make the call to action stand out by using a brighter color than the rest of your site and make the text more actionable. It's best if the call to action describes the next step in the process, like "add to cart", or "subscribe to our newsletter".

Ask for less information: Websites often ask for too much information on their forms. Studies show that each extra piece of information that is required reduces conversion rates dramatically. Ask yourself if you really need to have all the data you’re asking your visitors for right off the bat. Often you'll find that a name and an email address is all that is needed to follow up and get to the next step with the prospect.

Cut down on text: People don't like to read big paragraphs of text online. Eye-tracking studies show that people like to scan information so cutting down on text and ideally using bullet lists is a great way to format information and make it look less cluttered. Consider breaking up text with images or videos to engage the site visitor.

Keep your promises: If your ad says, "buy green widgets" and you bring someone to a page about widgets of all colors, you didn't keep your promise. People still have to find the green option. Take all of the thinking out of the equation for them.

Make trust visible: Use trust logos, award recognition badges, or other signs of credibility to show the visitor that you are a reputable company. Make sure you put these images where people can see them.  Don't bury them deep down in the footer of your site where they most likely won't get noticed. You can display logos of recognizable companies you've done business with, or those of ratings organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that offer badges that you can add to your website if you are a rated member of their organization.  Bonus tip:  Many people think you have to pay to be a member of the BBB, but you can join and get rated for free. To join, email them and ask for a business profile questionnaire.

These are just some of the basic best practices that you can use to help improve conversion rates. The psychology of why people do or do not complete desired actions can vary between sites since there are a lot of variables involved. What works for one site doesn't always work for a different site which is why it's always important to test your landing pages against each other with A/B testing. (An A/B test is a simple test or experiment that is setup to test two pages against each other to see which one has the better conversion rate.) Google Analytics has some built-in tools that allow you to setup and run these types of tests.

George Zlatin is the Director of Operations at Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing company based in Chicago. You can find George on Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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