For most small business owners, common marketing strategies include taking out ads in trade magazines and newspapers, buying advertising space online, or handing out fliers. Then there are the plethora of “guerilla marketing” tools that can be used to generate a buzz in the community about your product or service. But did you know that modifying the look and feel of your website can dramatically boost customer satisfaction and retention, as well as increasing the number of customers who buy after visiting your site?
According to Paul Boag of boagworld.com, it’s possible to boost website sales by as much as 10,000% with a few design and customer service changes – many of which involve improvements to the site’s visual marketing. There are a number of ways that any e-commerce website can achieve this:
- Simplify the page and get rid of any distracting clutter
- Make shopping carts more visible and easier to access
- Increase the size, clarity, and detail of images
- Make links, buttons, and actions bigger and simpler
Simplify and Get Rid of Clutter
Online shoppers have a very short attention span – surveys indicate that most web surfers won’t read beyond the first 300 or so words of text, and many won’t scan down the page beyond what first displays on their screen as the website loads. Slow sites are even worse; if your website has large graphics that are sluggish to load, you may be losing customers to the “Back” button before they even reach your page.
One of the biggest mistakes web entrepreneurs make is choosing an ornate and complex design. In fact, the simpler and more streamlined your site looks and functions, the better. If your web page is stuffed full of animation, graphics, links, and long chunks of copy, sensory overload can send shoppers scurrying to a cleaner, more easily digestible site.
Shopping Cart: Big and Visible
Along with simplifying and streamlining to get rid of unnecessary clutter, it’s important to consider the vital elements of your eCommerce site and ensure that those pieces are big, clear, and visible. Most importantly, the shopping cart should be prominent enough to catch the eye, and simple enough to allow customers to purchase an item in just a few clicks.
Consider the following examples:
- Amazon.com owes much of their success to an intuitive checkout process, beginning with the “Add to Shopping Cart” button. Although it’s small, it’s displayed prominently in yellow, contrasting against the primarily blue site.
- The Canadian bookseller Chapters.Indigo.ca has an even more visible “Add to Shopping Bag” button. Theirs is also yellow, but slightly larger, and it appears twice in the top section of the page.
- Bootbarn.com’s website is simple and easy to navigate, but the “Add to Cart” buttons on their product pages are small and neutral in color, making them almost invisible unless you search for them.
Images: Bigger Is Better
Although this point may seem obvious, it’s overlooked by many eCommerce sites. When it comes to boosting conversions, nothing is more important than clear, detailed photos of your products. Customers ordering an item online are taking a leap of faith that the product will arrive as specified and as it appears on your site. If you have money to spend on making your website look good, make sure a good portion of it goes to photography that will show your product at its best.
Any site, from a prepared food company like Wiltshire Farm Foods to a clothing merchandiser like Ann Taylor, will most likely see a lift in conversions proportionate to the size and quality of the photos displayed on their website. Both of these sites offer good examples of large, prominent photos that do a great job of promoting and selling the products.
Make Links Big, Visible & Self-Explanatory
Trendy clothing merchandisers and cutting-edge technology stores can afford to have complex site navigation, as most of their customers are young and tech-savvy enough to find their way around. But any online business that caters to a broader spectrum of customers, or specifically to mature adults and seniors, needs to carefully cultivate a straightforward site design and make sure their hyperlinks, buttons, and other actions on the site are extremely clear and self-explanatory.
This may mean duplicating information on multiple pages of the site, or even repeating instructions on two parts of the same page, to ensure that customers are able to find the information they need at the right moment to continue with a purchase.
Any site that neglects these essentials of visual marketing is practically asking to lose customers. A clean, straightforward design can work wonders for customer satisfaction and your bottom line.