Considering the limitless potential of maintaining a strong online presence, it’s essential that your business pays close attention to web design. Common mistakes can lead to user dissatisfaction and make it more difficult to generate profitable leads, which means that learning from the pitfalls of others can prove invaluable. Here are some of the most ubiquitous web design errors that it’s important for your business to avoid:
It’s essential for businesses of all sizes to have user-friendly websites to generate leads and increase customer engagement. Anything that contributes to the irrelevancy of your website can cost your business significantly, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with common pitfalls. Need a new website? Here are 5 of the most common indicators that it’s time to freshen up your content and give your website a makeover:
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be an extremely effective online marketing technique to draw targeted traffic to your website. While some small business owners attempt to manage their own PPC campaigns, this strategy is prone to costly inefficiencies that can drain resources from your company. Here are 5 reasons why it’s in your best interest to outsource your marketing campaign to a professional PPC management firm:
Improving your ROI
Executing a successful PPC campaign is a skill that takes time to master. If you’re under the impression that you can dive headfirst into PPC advertising and implement a profitable campaign, then you’ll probably end up unpleasantly surprised with the results. PPC cannot be learned overnight, and the initial mistakes that you’re bound to make while selecting and bidding on keywords can be costly. Instead of wasting money via trial and error, let a PPC campaign management team take control so that you see results from day one.
A successful PPC campaign requires the consistent attention of a dedicated PPC manager. It’s ill-advised to try juggling a PPC campaign in conjunction with all of your other work responsibilities, since a PPC campaign requires ongoing optimization to be effective. Running a PPC campaign requires an investment of time that is best contributed by a PPC manager that is entirely focused on its success. For example, one of the primary responsibilities of a PPC campaign manager is to keep a close eye on all of your bids, ensuring that your marketing budget is being spent as effectively as possible.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
The world of online marketing is extremely fast-paced, and PPC advertising is no exception. Without being focused on the latest trends in PPC, it will be unfeasible to capitalize on the full potential of a marketing campaign. One of the key advantages of hiring a PPC campaign management team is that they’ll be familiar with the most cutting edge techniques to maximize the impact of your budget. When it comes to outcompeting the marketing campaigns of your business rivals, the benefits of hiring a PPC manager are invaluable.
Refining your Keywords
When businesses try to handle their PPC campaigns by keeping them in-house, usually the attitude is one where the campaign is allowed to run passively after it is launched. The problem with this approach is that the search queries which are most relevant to your site do not remain constant, and so keyword analysis must be an ongoing task. Realistically speaking, this is best achieved when it’s under the close watch of a PPC campaign manager who has been trained to research profitable keywords.
Freeing up Time
Most businesses are stressed for time and have limited resources to accomplish all of their work. Running a PPC campaign effectively requires a serious time commitment and should not be perceived as simply another task that needs to be checked off a list. In order to reap the full benefits of PPC advertising and ease up your schedule, let a PPC manager dedicate their full attention to your project.
If your e-commerce site suffers from shopping cart abandonment issues, take solace in the fact that you’re not alone: the harsh reality is that the global average shopping cart abandonment rate is a whopping 67%.
Put another way: that represents more than two-thirds of your potential sales – gone with the click of the back button!
Fortunately, shopping cart abandonment has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the past few years with the result that a lot more is known about why customers leave websites before buying. And when you know why something’s going wrong, you can do something about it (or hire an expert to do it for you!).
Major causes of Shopping Cart Abandonment
What makes buyers change their minds – and, more importantly, what can you do to fix it?
Consumers hate unexpected costs.
According to a 2012 survey of 19,000 consumers by WorldPay, the number one reason for shoppers abandoning a purchase was unexpected costs.
Fix: Don’t hide your retail taxes or shipping and handling costs. Let shoppers know upfront what charges you’re adding to the final purchase price. Don’t be sneaky and think you can hide the costs until the last possible moment. Do that and you’ll continue to suffer from abandoned shopping carts.
Consumers are just browsing.
Oftentimes, prospective buyers simply change their minds before reaching the checkout. According to Forrester Research, only 3% of shoppers make a purchase during their first visit to a website. Of the remaining 97%, about 71% will pop something into their basket then leave before buying.
Fix: Use retargeting to entice the ‘just browsers’ back. People who’ve put something into their baskets are already part-sold on your product. With retargeting ads, you stand a very strong chance of enticing those would-be buyers back.
Consumers don’t like being made to create an account.
Making users create accounts with you before they buy is another reason for shopping cart abandonment, according to the web research company, the Baymard Institute. ‘Forced account creation’ was the second biggest purchase turn-off (after ‘Unexpected costs’), according to its survey of 1505 internet users.
Fix: Offer users a ‘guest checkout’ option. Don’t force prospects to create an account with you before they’ve made a purchase. You can always offer them an incentive to create an account or opt-in after they’ve made their first purchase.
Consumers are nervous about buying online.
Users are nervous about trusting their personal information and credit card details with a website they’ve never dealt with before. If they don’t see evidence that your website is safe, they won’t want to hand over their credit card details to you.
Fix: Make sure your website features trust signs. Place trust signs on your payment pages. Test the best placement.
Customers hate paying for shipping.
Online users are not only accustomed to getting things free online but they expect it. Worse, a study by ComScore found that 61% of shoppers would abandon their shopping cart if they weren’t offered free shipping!
In Deloitte’s 2014 Retail Industry Outlook, Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman and U.S. Retail and Distribution leader, Deloitte LLP, said same-day delivery and free shipping are no longer unique, but expected.
“In our 2013 Holiday Survey, 71 percent of respondents said they would take advantage of free shipping if offered. And roughly two-thirds (68 percent) said that they were more likely to shop online if the retailer offered free shipping.”
Fix: Offer free shipping. If possible, offer your prospective buyers free shipping, even if it means you have to make up the costs somewhere else.
These are among the biggest reasons for buyers changing their minds before purchasing. It’s important to know the reasons for your prospective buyers changing their minds. To do that, survey your prospective customers. And as with all things related to conversion optimization, test everything!
As a business owner, you know the challenges of converting visitors into customers. Competition is often high and the window of opportunity is limited. The price of entry for modern day businesses is a website where internet-savvy customers can read, get contact information and shop. But, are business owners in general really getting the most out of their websites? Are you? Learn how A/B testing can help.
Guide Your Visitors
Businesses want to increase sales; that is universal. The strategic use of a website can become instrumental to gaining those results, but the key word there is: strategic. Creating a website and generating traffic isn’t enough. In order for your site to work for you, it is important to make sure that it is optimized to direct potential clients along the path to conversion.
Introducing A/B Testing
This is where A/B testing comes into play. It is a great tool to find out what is beneficial on your site, and what components need improvement. You’re essentially performing an experiment where traffic is split evenly between two versions of your site simultaneously. The original version of the site acts as your control, then you introduce specific variables to the second version to test the difference in your conversions. This allows you to see if the changes you have made affect the amount of visitors you successfully convert.
Testing Your Variables
There are many things that can affect how a person behaves while viewing your site ranging from tone, to placement, to wording. Something as simple as the way you phrase a message, can play a major role in the number of people who perform specific conversions. For example, if you are coming across too forceful, that may cause some visitors to lose trust in your company and leave the site.
Placement can also be a determining factor. Just as the location of your physical business is important, so are the location of videos or call-to-action buttons. Let’s say you’re trying to get your customers to sign up for a mailing list, so you have a set of information fields that a customer fills out. If you have an engaging video above your form fields, it may actually be causing people to stop scrolling before they reach the sign-up portion. With A/B testing, you can move the video below your form fields and find out if your sign ups increase as a result.
The Good Old Scientific Method
A conversion can be anything from signing up for a newsletter, to purchasing a service. When deciding what components to test, you can start with the path that users take to compete the conversion. Examine each step and question what could be done differently. By experimenting, you can gain an understanding about the impact your design has on your conversions and then adjust it accordingly. Here is how to get started:
- Decide what increase you would like to target and set a realistic goal for your business.
- Form a hypothesis identifying what changes might help you achieve that goal.
- Start your testing.
- Record and analyze your results.
- Change your site accordingly.
You may be surprised at the difference in results that can occur just by minuscule changes within your page. With A/B testing you can get your conversions up, by getting your website “down to a science”.
Rotating banners or carousels – those devices so beloved of web designers – could be killing your conversion rate.
Really? Carousel conversion rate killer? So say a host of conversion optimization experts after subjecting image sliders/carousels/rotating banner devices to a whole battery of usability tests. “Rotating banners are absolutely evil and should be removed immediately,” states Tim Ash, one of the aforementioned experts and author of “Landing Page Optimization”. 
What is the carousel conversion rate? Are carousels ‘conversion killers’?
What’s so bad about carousels? After all, they showcase a whole load of images and messages, which means they save precious space on any website page.
Users ignore carousels – they think they’re banner ads
Users ignore carousels, according to Jakob Nielsen , a leading usability expert. Because carousels move, users automatically assume they must be advertisements, which makes them more likely to ignore them. What users ignore, they don’t take action on. That means your conversion rate stays the same or plummets. Disaster! Nielsen’s claim is borne out by a conversion study conducted on five Notre Dame University websites with carousels . The study revealed only 1% of all visitors clicked on a feature on the carousels. Of those who did click, 84% chose the first thing on the carousel.
Carousels take up valuable space on your website
There’s another reason for calling the carousel conversion rate killer: they take up some of the most valuable space on your website where visitors usually land. It’s where visitors should see your website’s value proposition: a clear statement that explains how your product/service solves customers’ problems or improves their situation, delivers specific benefits, and tells them why they should use your services and not those of your competitors. It’s the most important part of the home page or any other landing page because it determines whether people will bother staying or going. It should appear on the home page as a concise chunk of text (headline, sub-headline and maybe a few bullets points). If it doesn’t, the chances of visitors staying on the website for more than eight seconds are slim. Tim Ash lists a load of other reasons for calling the carousel conversion rate killer. They include: Their large file size (which slows down page loading times – a big no-no as far as Google is concerned) They waste visitors’ time (and, as you know, most website visitors want instant gratification and give short shrift to any website that doesn’t deliver on immediate expectations) They push navigation down the page (where it might not be noticed). But wait, as they say in infomercials, there’s more. Many more reasons to think carousel conversion rate killer…
Carousels have poor usability
Image sliders/carousels often move too quickly for users to take in the image or message. If there are navigation icons, they’re not always easy to see or use. The result: frustration or confusion on the part of your visitors. And, when users are confused or frustrated, they don’t tend to stick around. Instead, they click on the ‘back’ button and leave. That will kill your conversion rate.
Test, test and re-test
So, if you care about your conversion rate and your website features a carousel, test the impact it’s having on your results. Today! What’s your experience of carousels? Have you tested the impact they have on your conversion rate? Sources:  Ash, Tim, ‘’Rotating Banners? Just Say No!’, April 3, 2012, www.clickz.com  Nielsen, Jakob, ‘Auto-Forwarding Carousels and Accordions Annoy Users and Reduce Visibility’, January 19, 2013, www.nngroup.com  ‘Carousel Interaction Stats’, Weedy Garden Online Home of Erik Runyon, January 22, 2013, www.weedygarden.net
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