Informed action is the key to success, so the best place to start is with a few simple questions (which might lead to a bit of hard work but it will be worth it!).

1. Do you know what your customer wants?

Going back to basics might sound like a waste of time but it can actually save you in the long term. By knowing your products and identifying the potential market for purchasing them, you can target your marketing efforts and avoid wastage.

Exploring the ‘use cases’ for your product (who might buy it and why) is important when considering the key messaging you need to play back to them to make the connection.

They need to feel that coming to your website and learning more about your offering will be a good investment of their valuable time and one that is likely to yield a positive result ie a purchase that will meet their needs.

Bringing them to a destination from some form of marketing needs to be quick, easy and direct. If they click through from an ad, its that product they want to see, not a bunch of other options, nor do they want to be bombarded with a hundred related products until they’ve decided to buy the one. Be careful that you meet their expectations before trying to capitalise on the engagement. Softly, softly, catchee monkey’!

One thing is for sure, what customers really want is consistently good service. 86% percent of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more to get a better customer experience. (RightNow). Don’t fall at the first hurdle by not meeting expectations. Once the customer visits your site you need to make sure that they find what they want easily and are able to pay for it quickly. It’s important to review your checkout process. Where possible offer a checkout as guest option as there are those who don’t want to set up an account. Ensuring that the checkout process is streamlined with minimal steps to make the purchase should increase conversions as will offering delivery and payment options. Flexible payment choices can further reduce friction in the transactional process. Apple Pay is a key example which has strong conversion metrics (likely due to not needing to enter any card details) and means of paying by instalments such as Klarna are fast becoming the norm.

2. Do you know how and why they have arrived at your site?

Knowing what your marketing efforts and spend are yielding is key to building on that success (or adjusting your approach where it’s not working). Being able to track the source of your site visitors will help with that and Google analytics should be your best friend in this regard.

Knowing which social media ads are being clicked through, and ensuring that visitors are landing on the appropriate page for the product, range or service advertised will be key to campaigns success. If you’d not delivering the content they are expecting your bounce rates will continue to rise and they are unlikely to respond to similar campaigns.

Ensuring that your Google ads are accurately worded, appropriately descriptive and relevant to the products and services you sell is critical, otherwise yet more disappointed visitors will bounce as soon as land. The same could be said for Insta and Pinterest images, if they don’t truly represent your product you will disappoint and be disappointed.

3. Are you analysing drop-out hotspots and following up where you can?

Identifying user on-site journeys, conversion and drop-off points is really valuable in being able to address potential friction points and improve outcomes.

If your cart abandonment rates are higher than around 70% it’s likely that you have a problem in the purchase path that is losing you sales. It’s always worth analysing what you could do better. Some optimisation specialists claim that they can get abandonment rates down to 20%!

Doing what you can to redeem a sale is worthy of consideration. Where you have customer data you could set up automated systems to send them a well-timed email or SMS message to enquire as to whether they need help to complete their purchase or offer them a discount to motivate the sealing of the deal.

4. Is your tech up to scratch?

Thanks to the likes of Amazon, online shoppers have very high expectations of what a purchasing experience should be like. Whilst access to resources like Amazons is unlikely to be achieved there are a few simple things that can be done to optimise user experience to at least a comparable level.

If your site is too slow to load then your potential customer will likely grow impatient. Speak to your provider about how site performance can be better optimised. Sometimes imagery contributes to this problem and images are more optimally delivered via a Content Delivery Network (CDN), speak to your provider about this option.

Where your website has been online for a few years its possible it might benefit from a design refresh. It’s also possible that the platform your site is built upon has upgrades or optimisations that could be applied to improve performance. All of these things are worth discussing with your provider, or exploring the market for a new one.

5. Do you demonstrate value

50% of millennial parents say that they try to buy products that support causes or charities (Fort Mill Times). Promoting your CSR initiatives and commitment to ‘giving back’ can be a contributing factor to potential customers identifying with you and can promote longevity of the customer relationship as they feel you are investing in worthy causes together. Additionally socially responsible reasons for buying from you can be compelling such as recycled or recyclable packaging.

The old adage ‘try before you buy’ still stands. Returns policies and satisfaction guarantees are important to consumers, especially with larger purchases that traditionally would have an ‘experience’ attached to their purchase. Uploading videos of your products being used or demonstrating how easy they are to assemble/use can alleviate buyers anxiety around the lack of having experienced the product prior to purchase. Providing augmented reality experiences through apps where users can visualise your product in situ can be really helpful and instil confidence to follow through with the purchase.

6. Do your customers come back?

How would you score customer loyalty on a scale from 1-10? How much do you know about repeat purchasers? Do you have campaigns in place with relevant targeted or financially attractive offers to entice previous purchasers back? Studies show that acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing customer. Nurturing that relationship and the pipeline attached to it is a seriously worthy investment. Know your data and build on it, it will reward you for it!

Courtesy is still a valuable component in transactions. Do you follow up a purchase with a thank you and an opportunity to review? Having remarketing plans in place  that feature previous purchases as the basis for the communication are proven to convert more opportunities. Promoting an offer on that product, offering a new version of it, similar or complimentary product is simply a smart thing to do.