If you’re reading this article, you may have seen our Facebook Live video titled Less Questions = More Sales. If not, don’t worry you can catch it here, or you can read on to find a useful summary of the key points we discussed. This article will help you to answer all of your customers’ questions and concerns.
TOO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS?
Our Facebook Live was centred around the topic of reducing the number of unanswered questions that your potential customers will ask when visiting your site. If an online shopper and has to think too much about how to find something, or how to get somewhere, then your website is over complicated and doesn’t communicate clearly enough. Some questions that may spring to mind when landing on a website are:
- What do they sell?
- How do I find what I’m looking for?
- Are they trustworthy?
- Is this worth my investment?
- What does that mean?
- Why should I shop here and not elsewhere?
- What happens if I don’t like the product?
- When will I receive it?
- Do they offer any discounts / promotions?
It’s important to understand that we’re getting lazier. Our attention spans are getting shorter, and we have little patience when it comes to online shopping. Your customers will briefly scan your online shop, subconsciously taking in only the small parts of information they’re looking for. They will make their mind up about your website in a matter of seconds, so you have very little time to impress them and ensure that all of their questions are answered.
This topic can be approached both in terms of usability and content. We have covered the bases of usability by designing our themes to follow basic web conventions. There’s a reason that ecommerce websites follow certain structures and patterns, and why you find things in the same place on different websites. There’s a certain set of expectations that prevent your customers from having to think too much such as:
- Positioning your logo in the top left corner or top middle of your site, at a reasonable size.
- Make sure your web banners are relevant to what you sell, are clickable, and has a clear CTA (Call to Action).
- A clear menu and navigational structure, using a navigation bar at the top of the site or a hamburger menu
Thankfully, our themes are designed with ecommerce web conventions in mind based on rigorous research. This means that the majority of the usability work has been done for you, so now you can concentrate on ensuring your content is up to scratch to prevent the dreaded unanswered questions.
CLEAR CATEGORY STRUCTURE AND NAVIGATION
You need to make it as simple as possible for your customers to browse your website, so they needn’t think about how to get from A to B. If they need to ask the question, ‘how do I find the product I’m looking for?’, then the likelihood is your category structure is illogical and over complicated.
Over-complicated category structures provide bad user experience and will deter your customers. Its likely we’ve all felt overwhelmed by the amount of choice on a website at some point while browsing online, due to the sheer number of categories and confusing navigational structure. You need to think from your customers perspective and utilise top level categories, sub-categories and product filters so that they can dig deeper into your product offering.
EXAMPLE: GREETINGS CARDS
Let’s say you’re looking for a greeting card for your friend’s Birthday. You have a slight idea of what you’re looking for, but you feel you need a good browse before you make the final decision. You land on a greetings card website, and have the choice between these top level categories:
You then decide you want a funny card, so click on the first category. This brings up a category page cluttered with an array of humorous greeting cards from Birthday to Anniversary, with no clear way to further narrow down your search. This leaves you trawling through pages of products to find the funny Birthday card that you’re looking for.
In this situation, the category structure could be simplified so that the user can shop by occasion. After all, you wouldn’t be randomly looking at greeting cards without a specific occasion in mind. See below:
The next logical step for this category structure is to add sub-categories where relevant to narrow down the search. If you’re shopping by occasion, it makes sense to then narrow down your search based on who’s receiving the card.
Some customers may stop here, and will browse the full range of greetings cards in this sub-category. However, those with a more specific idea in mind will want to narrow down their search even further, based on their individual needs and preferences. This is where product filters are key.
Most ecommerce platforms give you the ability to apply attributes to products such as style, price and brand. These attributes allow you to set up product filters that help to reduce the number of products in the listing to find what they’re looking for.
IS THIS PRODUCT WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR?
Once your customers have navigated their way around your website and have found products they’re interested, the next step for them is to consider whether the product meets their criteria. The information that you present should answer the following questions:
- Is this product what I’m looking for?
- Does this product satisfy my need?
- Is this product worth my hard earned money?
- Can I see what it looks like properly?
There are a number of elements you must work on to ensure that your product information is communicated effectively. The following section will cover the basics for best practices.
You need to choose a clear name for each product that conveys exactly what it is. Here are the common dos and don’ts to consider:
- Consider the search engine potential and think about what your customers may actually be searching for. Use tools such as Google Search Console and EKM Search Statistics to pinpoint the keywords they are using.
- Research what your competitors are calling their products. You don’t want to copy them exactly, but it may assist with your terminology. For example, you may have named your product ‘Rubbish Bin’, while Amazon call it a ‘Waste Bin’.
- If the product is branded, include the brand name
- Avoid using product codes in the product name. The only exception to this rule is if the code is universally recognised, for example, windscreen wipers (Bosch AM980S Wiper Blades – Front Pair)
- Don’t use clever, quirky names unless they are relevant to your brand. If you are going to call your jeans the ‘Lizzy jeans’, you should still include all of the important information so that your customers can still find your product and they can immediately understand what it is. E.g. ‘Lizzy High Waisted Skinny Jeans in Mid Wash’. Clever names are not always memorable.
Your products may have variants such as colour, fit or size that must be clear to select from. Similar to your product names, your variant names should be simple and straightforward so that your customers know exactly what they’re buying.
We notice that a lot of shop owners use product codes as variant names, so as suggested earlier, only do this when the code is universally known, otherwise your customers will have no idea what it means.
We cannot stress enough the importance of good quality product images. They make a huge difference to the success of your website and they help to instill trust in your customers. Images transmit instant information that text cannot, and as we discussed earlier, it’s human nature to scan a page instead of taking everything in. It’s also crucial to take away any concerns or suspicions that your customers may have when ordering from somewhere new.
With that being said, here are some tips to help you nail your product images.
SHOW MULTIPLE ANGLES
In order to give your customers a feel for your product, you need to showcase it from alternate views. Just think, if a customer went into a physical shop they would be able to touch the product and inspect it from all angles. You need to re-create this tangible experience online by providing shots of the product from multiple angles, with a range of different proximities. For example, if you’re selling a wooden garden bench, it would be a good idea to show the full width of the bench from the front, back and side, along with a close-ups of different parts of the bench such as the legs. You don’t always have to trim the images and use a white background, but for some products this is the most clear and effective way of showing the product.
Not only should you provide different perspectives of the product, you should also show it being used in context to sell the experience that comes with purchasing it. For example, let’s go back to that wooden bench. We’ve shown it clearly from multiple angles on a white background, and now it’s a good idea to show the bench in ‘real-life use’, for example, styled up in a garden with props such as cushions and books.
USE DIFFERENT IMAGES FOR VARIANTS
If your product comes in different variants such as colour, then you need to show an image for each possibility. Your customers will thank you for this, as they won’t have to try and picture in their head what a ‘dove grey’ version of the bench looks like, instead, they can see it right in front of them.
UTILISE PRODUCT IMAGE ZOOM
The more detail that you can provide for your customers the better. This goes back to re-creating that in-store experience, where your customers can get up-close and personal with the products. Enable the product image zoom feature so that your customers can get a closer look at your products.
AVOID SUPPLIER IMAGES
We typically advise our shop owners to avoid using supplier images. If you want your shop to stand out from the hundreds of others using the same images, then you need to invest either time or money into taking your own product photos. It is a worthwhile investment as it helps you to shape your own brand identity, while also building more trust with your customers. If your customers can see you have put effort into your product photography, they’ll be more likely to make the sale.
Your product descriptions should be clear, concise and straight to the point. In a nutshell, the description should aim to solve a problem your customers face. How will your product benefit them? Why is it worthy of their investment? For example, if you’re selling a red dress, sell the dream of where you could wear it, and how it will make you feel, rather than just stating that it’s red midi dress with a v-neckline. This is why you need to write your product descriptions for your customers, not for yourself.
- Write your own descriptions.
- Include the necessary specific details such as fit / size / measurements / colour.
- Use headings and bullet points where necessary.
- Utilises tabs to segment the information into sections that are easier to consume, for example, ‘Product Description’, ‘Specifications’ and ‘Delivery’.
- Don’t copy anyone else’s product descriptions, whether that’s your supplier or your competitor. This is costly for your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as it damages your online visibility.
- Don’t use huge blocks of text. Your customers will never take the time to read this, and will be immediately put off.
Customers pay attention to reviews. 61% of shoppers read online reviews before going on to make the purchase. Positive reviews show that your product or service has been well received in the past. They instill confidence in shoppers and prevent your customers from questioning whether they can trust your website. You can utilise customer reviews both on-site and off-site, and we will discuss how you can use third party review websites in the next section.
THIRD PARTY REVIEWS
Off-site reviews are important to your business too. Third party review websites such as Trustpilot are great tools for bringing in more sales (providing your reviews are positive). If you do receive some negative reviews, then use this as an opportunity to gain constructive feedback, improve your service and show that you care about your customers by taking the time to write a response.
CAN I TRUST THIS COMPANY WITH MY PAYMENT DETAILS?
Gaining your customers trust through high quality images and well-written product descriptions is a difficult task in itself, but getting people to actually trust you with their payment details is arguably the biggest challenge.
Before parting with their money, your customers are going to question whether they can trust you with their payment details. Unfortunately, we live in a world of widespread online crime including fraud and theft, which causes anxiety amongst shoppers. Therefore, to convert your customers and minimise their fear, you need to display a variety of trust signals.
Display card logos for the payment gateways that you accept so that your customers don’t have to wait until checkout. This trust signal is extremely powerful, as it reassures your customers that their payment information will be processed safely. Consider using a recognisable gateway such as Klarna and Paypal that your customers will be familiar with, helping to further solidify their trust in you.
FINANCE PAYMENT OPTIONS
If you sell high-ticket items for which you offer finance payment options, then make sure you shout about this all over your website, including in the product descriptions. If a customer knows you offer finance, then they might be more inclined to make the purchase.
Installing an SSL certificate on your site signals to your customers that your online shop is using a protected, encrypted connection. If you have a green lock alongside the word ‘secure’, and your URL starts with ‘https’, then your customers will have faith in you that your site is secure and safe to purchase from.
If you’re receiving a higher level of sales and want to further secure the experience for your business and your shoppers, it’s worth investing in a more advanced SSL certificate (such as an Organisational Validated Certificate, or an Extended Validation Certificate). This is the standard type of certificate required on a commercial, public facing website.
WHY SHOULD YOUR CUSTOMERS BUY FROM YOU AND NOT SOMEONE ELSE?
At this point, your customers may be interested in a product that you sell. But it’s also likely they are interested in the same product, or a similar product on one of your competitors website.
DELIVERY AND RETURNS
Free delivery is the number 1 factor that influences online purchases. If you can offer free delivery, it may just push your customers to choose you over your competitor. If this is something that you can offer, make sure to shout about it all over your website, including on your homepage and your product pages. If you can’t offer free delivery, but you have an alternative offer such as free delivery on orders over £50, then shout about this instead.
Link off to your delivery and returns page from your footer, and include all relevant information such as your delivery options, estimated time-scales and the price of delivery. Don’t leave it till the checkout to surprise your customers with pesky delivery charges, as this will only result in cart abandonment.
It’s highly likely that your customers are going to question what they need to do if they have a problem with their purchase. Everyone’s had their fair share of issues with a product purchased online, so it’s crucial that you answer all of their questions with a clear returns policy. If you can prove that returning is hassle free, you will minimise the risk and improve your conversion rate.
DISCOUNT CODES AND OFFERS
Numerous studies from live chat providers have uncovered a common trend in the most frequently asked questions from online shoppers. The number one question asked is ‘do you have any discount codes / promotions?’ We can all admit that we love getting money off. This is why if a shopper can find a way to reduce the cost of their basket, they will. Therefore, if you’re offering a discount code, you need to shout about it on your site. Make the code stand out by including it in your web banners or USP bar, and even on your product pages, depending on how prominent you want it to be. Retailers like Boohoo and Missguided rely heavily on discount codes in their business model, and they are masters of making them stand out on a page.
If you’re running a promotional sale, or have any other offers on certain products, then it’s worth creating a separate category in your navigation bar so that your customers can browse all of the reduced price items.
ABOUT US PAGE
Your ‘About Us’ page is your chance to sell the story behind your business. A personal and unique story detailing how your business came about, and your core underlying values can be the difference between your customer choosing you or your competitor. If you can communicate your passion for what you do, and connect with your potential customers on an emotional level then you will really start to build valuable relationships and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Is your customer service second to none? Are you willing to go the extra mile to provide a valuable experience? Good customer service is a basic expectation for all ecommerce websites, however, if you can provide a more personal service than your competitors, you’re already 10 steps ahead. While you can work on your categories, products, and everything else we have discussed in this article, your website will never be able to answer all of your customers questions.
Therefore, your customers must be able to easily get in touch with you to ask any questions that they may have.
Live chat is a fantastic tool to answer your customers questions in real-time. Studies have shown that customers find live chat the most convenient way of getting in touch, as it give immediate access to help. If you can answer your customers question while they’re part way through an online purchase, it may give the extra little push they need to complete the sale.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Linking to your social media profiles is an easy way to get connected with your target market. We humans are social creatures, so if your customers are active on social media, it’s likely they’ll want to check your social presence. If you’re actively posting content, it means that you’re more likely to be a genuine credible business.
Not only is social media a great marketing channel, it’s the ideal place to respond to customer queries. Interacting and engaging with your customers in the comments section will show how pro-active you are as a business, and how important your customers are to you.
The link to your ‘contact us’ page should be situated in the footer of your site. This means it’s easy to access your contact details from any page on your website, and it’s often the first place a user will look to find them.
If you’re selling high-ticket items such as settees, you may consider adding your phone number into the top right corner of your site, as they’ll be more likely to want an in-depth conversation about the product before they make their mind up.
Here’s what you should include on your ‘contact us’ page:
- Your company address
- Your telephone number
- Your email address
- Optional – create a contact form
TEST, TEST, TEST
Your website will benefit greatly from a fresh pair of eyes to give you an outside perspective. It’s likely that you’ve put hours of work into your online shop, and you will have looked at it a countless number of times. This makes it difficult to step back and take an objective view. It’s important here to understand that someone else may approach your website in a different way than you intended.
Testing with one person is better than none at all. But, if you can, try and get 5 people to test your website. The more eyes the better, as different users will behave in different ways. This also allows you to test your website on multiple devices and uncover any issues that you may have. Therefore, the more you can ask to test your website, the more bases you have covered.
One of the simplest ways to test your site is to observe your test users, and taking note of the way they navigate the site. This will help you to uncover usability issues, along with errors in your content such as spelling mistakes, poor grammar, broken links and design flaws. Ask your test users to feedback at the end of the test, and consider compiling a small survey of questions that they can respond to.
Tools such as Hotjar allow you to gain analysis of how your visitors are using your website. Useful tools such as heatmaps and recordings give a visual representation of your users interactions including clicks, taps and their scrolling behaviour. It can help you to break the barriers and understand where your visitors are getting stuck and confused. If your users are behaving erratically then you know that something’s not quite right, and they’re having to ask too many questions.
This article is touching the surface on your usability and content strategy, and is a starting point to ensure your site is answering your customers questions. We recommend that you invest the time and effort into following these tips to optimise your site, as you will reap the benefits in the long-term. Download our PDF 10-point checklist so that you can work through each step, and refer back to it whenever you please.
If you’re an EKM shop owner then you can request our unique Evolution Mode service, where our Evolution team will check over your shop and pinpoint any areas of improvement from user experience, to design and content. This will ensure that your shop is always up-to-date, and the best possible version of itself.