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5 must-do’s to improve site conversion

January 21, 2019


A few key things you need to know about improving site conversion:

  • It’s about what NOT to do, as much as it is about what TO do.
  • You have to know who you are (as a brand), and what your customer wants.
  • You give it to them.

Sound simple? It is. Some of the most fundamental things you can do to improve conversion are the simplest. And yet, so many brands are missing out on fixing these key friction points in the shopping process. Here are the five key areas of focus you should get right before you consider anything else:

1. Navigation: This is where you need to take off your marketing hat, and put on your customer’s. Shop your own site. Make sure everyone on your team is doing it. Get feedback from everyone- especially real customers. A few must haves for your checklist:

  • A prominent search box, with predictive results.
  • Top navigation categories that are easy for a new customer to understand.
  • Refinements and filters, to allow a customer to quickly drill down to what they want.
  • Inspiration, by way of content, new products and/or solutions on your homepage to inspire the ‘browsing’ shopper .

2. Site speed: If your site is slow, it will hurt performance both from a conversion perspective (high bounce & exit rates), and from an organic perspective- a slow load time will affect your Google ranking, especially if your site is slow on mobile.  A few checkpoints:

  • Check your mobile site speed using Google’s free tool, here. It will tell you your average load time for mobile- and your estimated visitor loss based on load time. Now see how your competitors stack up.
  • Use your analytics tools to see page load time for key landing pages, and look at your top exit pages. This will give you some priorities for where to start.
  • Work with your developers to optimize clunky code, pixels and functionality to improve.

3. Product info: There’s a time and place for everything. Provide the right info, in the right steps along the shopping path, to enable the next click. A few for your checklist:

  • Crisp images, with zoom and alternate views.
  • Thorough product descriptions, with practical info about how to wear, how it fits, how to choose a size, how to use and care for.
  • Links to ‘live chat’ and ‘shipping’ info.
  • Price: clear sale or promo info.
  • Prompts to remind customer of value-propositions that will inspire confidence, i.e. “Fast, free shipping” or “Our guarantee” or “Easy returns”.

4. Shipping: Free and fast. Don’t give your customers a reason to buy it on Amazon. Enough said.

5. Checkout: Don’t get in your own way. Take a look at the metrics around your shopping funnel to see which pages of checkout are seeing the most attrition. Consider:

  • Clear, uncluttered first page of checkout that offers Guest Checkout as well as Registered user checkout.
  • Mobile payments: if the customer has to get out their wallet while shopping on a mobile device- you’ll lose momentum- and potentially the sale.
  • Standard, fast, and faster delivery options showing cost and expected delivery dates.
  • A minimum of interference- don’t get in the way of a customer’s intent to checkout. If you’re up-selling services or products- keep it simple, and keep it outside of the customer’s focused path.

Keeping your shopping path frictionless will take on-going care and vigilance. If you’re highly focused on these, you’ll be more likely to capture new customer sales- and less likely to annoy your loyal repeat customers. The rewards are great- for everyone. Improving the shopping experience will always serve you, and your customers well.


Simplicity is key.

May 21, 2013


But it’s not easy.

Scenario: You set out to make a list of the top 3 strategic initiatives and end up with 20. You just can’t help adding the rejects to the bottom of the list…or the little things. Just in case they make it. It makes everyone feel better to have them captured, so you keep them. But in fact, there’s nothing so demoralizing for the team as the list that never gets done. We need to stop thinking of it that way.

The top initiatives are just that. It doesn’t have to include the little things. The little things are the things we do everyday to support the big things.

Does your company excel at identifying the top few things? One company I worked for called it the “critical few initiatives”. It made it very clear, at all levels of the organization, how to make the right decision about what to focus on, everyday.

It’s not so different from having a clear brand position: once you have it, everyone can use it as a guiding light for behavior, decisions and how they articulate the voice of the brand and apply it to what they specifically do every day.

But why is it so hard to do? How do you do it well?

It’s hard because it requires sacrifice. You can’t do it all at once, with the resources you have. You have to know what’s really important. Startups do this everyday- they have a few good people laser-focused on a clear goal. So they get it done. I’ve been with big companies and little companies, and I can tell you that it’s not size that defines a clear business strategy- it’s courage. That’s right- it’s the courage to take a stand on what’s going to drive your business forward, rather than a mega  diner-sized menu that will have something for everyone, and nothing spectacular for anyone.

J.Crew does this extraordinarily well.

Mickey Drexler, in one of his recent features in Fast Company, says: “Simplicity is very difficult to achieve.” But he has done it- over the past 10 years, with Jenna Lyons as the extraordinary creative lead- they have completely reinvented one of America’s favorite brands. They have a vision, and it has paid off, big time- with Michelle Obama and Jessie Jackson (this Jessie, not the reverend), among many others, as devoted fans to the brand. Why? They don’t do just what’s expected. They keep it fresh and creative. And they don’t try to have something for everyone. Each collection has a point of view. It has become the single most coveted American fashion brand at an affordable price point. You don’t achieve that by being indecisive about your priorities.                                                                                      You can find links to Fast Company’s recent features on Mickey and Jenna, here.

Learning Agile Methodologies helped shape my thinking about how to keep it simple. It’s a flexible, yet highly structured way to prioritize and execute on an on-going basis. It requires decisive action and attention on a daily basis to remain focused. And you can still keep your wish list (your backlog), on the fringes to pull from when each new sprint planning meeting comes up. This isn’t a long term strategic planning tool- but it’s a great way to organize the work to support your key strategies. What it does for strategic planning is give you a better sense of how much time things take- how to structure the research around your plans and whether they’re achievable in the desired time period. It’s a great way to support your strategy company wide, and keep everyone focused.

But it all starts with keeping it simple. You have to start by defining the high level goals. And then constructing a plan of the things you need to have in place to get there. And then editing, editing, editing down the list to the things that REALLY matter. And then staying focused, every day, on those things.

It’s not easy, to plan to do less. But what I’ve found in the past year is that planning to do less actually empowers you to do more- both because you don’t have to rethink your priorities every single day, and because  you make a bigger impact with a few great things than with a zillion insignificant ones.

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