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How To Convert Website Visitors Into Customers

Learn 5 ways your e‑commerce store can drive conversions and increase loyalty.

Attracting people to your website is important, but it’s only the beginning. Once they’ve arrived, you need to engage their interest, encourage them to explore your site, and ultimately, turn them into a customer. Ensuring this conversion will boost sales from new customers and increase repeat purchases from your existing audience.

Converting website visitors into customers should be a top priority for all online marketers, says Sonaly Patel, Senior Commerce Marketing Manager at Mailchimp. “Your website should be designed, built, and maintained with conversion in mind,” she says. “It needs a cohesive structure that clearly conveys your brand’s value, is easy to navigate, and puts customers on the path to conversion.”

Use these tips to turn your website visitors into loyal customers.

Keep navigation simple

From the moment someone arrives at your website, they should be able to find what they want and make a purchase with as few clicks as possible. Navigation needs to be intuitive—easy to use and understand by any visitor.

“Think of your website as a billboard for your brand,” suggests Sonaly. “It should be simple to find information about your business, get answers to questions, navigate between product categories, and make a purchase.”

A clear taxonomy—the way you classify and group items on your website—makes website navigation work. When it’s done right, visitors can easily find what they need.

One important element to a successful taxonomy is incorporating search terms and using effective keywords, says Deana Thornton, Director of Commerce Marketing at Mailchimp.

“Don’t create trendy or cute names for things—if you sell formal dresses, for example, don’t describe them as ‘fancy frocks,’” she says. “Make your naming conventions very basic so users will be able to find what they’re looking for.”

Base your taxonomy decisions on research into what works for other brands and websites.

  • Look at competitive websites. Explore other websites in your industry and see what types of words and phrases the leaders in your space use, says Deana. “Customers are already programmed in the ways they navigate websites and how they likely think about products in your category, so make it easy for them to find and buy what they want on your site.”
  • Review Google rankings. Use Google Trends to see how words or terms for your industry rank. What people search for can give you inspiration for better wording to describe your products. “It can help you gauge one term versus another to see what will resonate with your audience,” says Deana.
  • Study your own traffic. Once you’re established, you can review your own website’s search results to see how visitors typically search. A jewelry store, for example, might find that more visitors are looking for “pendants” or “chokers” rather than “necklaces.”

Create a great destination

A good end-to-end website experience that is visually pleasing, streamlined, and easy to use is critical for engaging visitors. To encourage people to convert, offer them a website that’s informative and relevant to their needs and interests. The pages your promotions drive them to should prominently feature the promoted sale or item and the advertised pricing.

Focus on the following elements if you want to create a website that will encourage conversions.

  • Vivid visuals. Inspiration is everything. Images should clearly show your product from several angles and allow the user to click and magnify it to see greater detail. Videos should be short and to the point and show examples of how your product is used.
  • Efficient performance. Your website menus should be user-friendly and include drop-down submenus for different areas. Links should load quickly and be obvious to the user so they know where to click. Your internal search button should be easy to find.
  • Strong call to action (CTA). When your visitors are ready to convert, make it easy for them to purchase with a prominent CTA button, such as Add To Cart or Buy Now.
  • Peer opinions. The opinions of people who’ve already purchased can have a strong impact on getting shoppers to convert, so make sure you feature reviews and testimonials.

Build a relationship with visitors

New visitors are more likely to turn into loyal customers if they feel an affinity with your brand. Start building a relationship with new customers before they make their first visit to your website. Social media can be a great place to start learning about your prospective customers and introduce them to your brand, says Sonaly. “You may have a robust group of followers, and not all of them are customers, so encourage them to share their contact information to begin the conversation.”

Here are several ideas for opening the lines of communication that lead to conversion.

  • Gather visitor contact info. Forms can be used to gather information about your website visitors and encourage them to opt in to receive emails and other communications from you. This will help you build a contact list of people interested in hearing from your brand—the foundation of a strong email marketing program.
  • Send welcome automations. Once someone has opted in to receive emails from you, a series of welcome emails can introduce them to your brand and include a special offer to encourage a first purchase. Later, you can send automated emails to communicate with them at key points in the customer journey.
  • Respond to customer behavior. Other automated emails can be triggered by your customers’ actions, offering them relevant messaging and freeing you up to do other work on other business matters. These can include product recommendations based on the type of items someone has previously viewed or emails suggesting best-selling products they may enjoy.
  • Use surveys. Everyone likes to be asked for their opinions. It’s easy to create a survey asking your customers what types of products or categories they’re most interested in—this can help you better understand what they want and improve future targeting. “Surveys are great for discovering new opportunities for your business,” notes Sonaly.
  • Offer incentives. To encourage first—and subsequent—purchases, offer additional benefits based on customers’ spending levels. For example, you could promote free shipping at a certain amount spent, or a percentage off based on a total purchase value. Special offers could also extend to future purchases—for example, if a customer spends $150 today, they could receive a $50 credit toward their next purchase.

Take advantage of every opportunity

Even if your customers don’t purchase today, there are still ways to encourage them to buy. It’s important to find ways to engage your customers in real time so you can respond in a way that feels relevant and authentic.

Connecting your contact data in a customer relationship management (CRM) system will help you organize what you know and see patterns in your data. This data can help you segment your customers, create personalized messaging relevant to their needs, and get them to convert.

Use these tools to maximize all your opportunities for sales.

  • Abandoned cart automations. Nearly 70% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts before checking out. If someone visits your website and puts something in their cart but doesn’t follow through, an abandoned cart email can be generated automatically to remind them to return and make the purchase.
  • Retargeting ads. Keep people interested even after they leave your website with retargeting ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. These can remind visitors to go back to your website when they’re ready to purchase and will help you recapture lost sales.
  • Paid search. Paid search brings quality traffic to your website, since it’s based on consumer demand, and can be valuable in engaging both old and new visitors. Use a balance of both text and product listing ads to maximize search opportunities and drive traffic.
  • Reviews and recommendations. With Mailchimp’s follow-up automations, you can ask customers to share what they thought of their purchase, creating valuable content for your website. And, as a bonus, you can share recommendations for other products these customers might like when you reach out to ask for a review.

“People may have simply forgotten to complete their purchase,” says Deana. “These tactics can break through the noise, keep you top of mind, and bring them back to your website to close the deal.”

Check to make sure all your digital advertising is turned off when offers expire, so customers aren’t disappointed when they arrive on your website and can’t take advantage of a sale.

“When someone gets to your homepage, they should be seeing content that’s up to date,” says Deana. “You don’t want them to be greeted by holiday promotions in January. And, you don’t want to seem insensitive if your site isn’t reflecting what’s currently happening in the world around you.”

Make communication simple

Communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship, and customers are more likely to engage with your website—and convert—if they know how to contact you.

Prominently feature all your contact information, including your phone number, email address, social media links, and physical address if you also have a brick-and-mortar store. A live chat function can also be useful for answering simple questions quickly and efficiently.

“Have a 5-star standard of customer communication and support,” says Sonaly. “If you can’t answer a question immediately, be transparent about it, and set expectations with an email or other response letting them know you’ll get back to them as soon as you can.”

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