It’s common knowledge these days that every business needs to have a website.

If it’s going to do its job properly, the website needs to look stunning, with intuitive navigation and clear links to the products or services that are being offered for sale.  It should be optimised for search engines, so that it draws in web visitors with money in their pockets, who are motivated and ready to make a purchase.  And of course, it will display perfectly across all devices, including smartphones.

But supposing you’ve done all of the above, and yet your website still isn’t producing the volume of sales that you’d hoped for?

Driving sales forward takes time.  But when you’re running a business, time is money, and the sooner you can get those all-important sales coming in, the better the long-term prospects for your company.

So if you’re struggling to improve your sales figures, here are a few tips that could make all the difference.

Give your website visitors the information they need

It might seem blindingly obvious, but a sure-fire way to increase website sales is to make your site as product-focussed as you possibly can.  We see so many sites that have scrimped on their photographs and product information, but this is a huge mistake.  Consumers want to view the items that they intend to purchase, and they want all the relevant information before they go ahead and part with their money.

Stock photographs are all very well, but nothing attracts attention so much as a well-thought out image.  Lots of companies are now cottoning on to the advantages that augmented reality offers, which lets visitors take an all-round view of their prospective purchase.  You don’t have to go to that extent, but you certainly need to make sure that visitors can get a close-up view of your products.  And you definitely need to include as much information as you possibly can.  If you don’t, there’s a very good chance that your potential customer will go elsewhere.

Great photos and product descriptions aren’t the cheapest option, but poor photos and insufficient product information will drive web visitors away.  And once they’ve gone, the chances of them coming back to you are remote at best.

Check your bounce and exit rates

Sometimes a web visitor with money in their pocket will visit your site, but then leave without completing a purchase.  Perhaps they’ve viewed one or two products before going elsewhere, or they’ve browsed through your site but failed to fully engage with it.  Or, worst of all, they might have begun the purchasing process, but left your site before completing the sale.

If your website visitors frequently fail to follow-though on their purchasing journey, do you understand what’s going wrong?  Is there a pattern to their behaviour?  Could it be that they don’t like your product photographs, or perhaps you’re not providing them with enough information?  Maybe they wanted to talk to someone before going ahead, but your site lacks a live chat function?  Or perhaps there’s a bug somewhere in the payment section of your website?

Careful analysis of customer behaviour is crucial for determining which aspects of your website are working, and which ones aren’t.  You might find that some problems are easily fixed, such as improving your product descriptions, introducing live chat, or updating your checkout facility.

Where it’s not clear why visitors aren’t completing their purchasing journey with you, you might need to think outside the box a little.  Is there some way of capturing their email address before they leave your site?  This would enable you to enquire why they left, but you could also take this opportunity to offer a discount code or a free download, as an incentive.

Review your website

If you were setting up a bricks-and-mortar shop, you’d arrange it as you saw fit in the first instance.  Then you’d study the way in which shoppers engaged with your products.  You’d note how long they stayed, or how quickly they left.  You’d look out for any ‘hot spots’ that have customers flocking, and ‘cold spots’ that they avoid. You’d also pay close attention to the products that fly off the shelves, and the ones that nobody wants to buy.

Based on this information, you’d make any necessary changes.  You might refine your stock, alter the layout, introduce different pricing structures and even adapt information tags.  Then you’d sit back to see what difference your changes made. And then you’d do it all over again. Some shopkeepers even go through videos of their store to study customer behaviour, so that they can increase their chances of making a sale.

Every good store owner or manager makes constant adjustments to increase their chances of securing a sale.  But hardly anyone thinks to do the same with their online store!  Instead, they set it up and just leave it.  They might reduce a few prices here and there, or perhaps place a few adverts, but very few website owners think to study the behaviour patterns of their online visitors in order to improve their sales prospects.

The takeaway here is to research the way in which online visitors engage with your site, and then react accordingly.  Finding out what you’re doing wrong gives you the best chance of putting it right, so don’t be tempted to leave your website to its own devices.  There’s always room for improvements, and it’s very much an ongoing process.

Establish your credentials

Absolutely anyone can set up a website, and make bold claims about the goods or services they’re selling.  But there are plenty of con artists around, and website visitors are becoming increasingly aware of the chances of being tricked into parting with their money.  So you need to make sure that your site is viewed as being reputable and trustworthy from the outset.

There are a number of ways you can do this.  Applying for SSL certification is a particularly important step, as it reassures potential customers that your site is legitimate.  But you could also provide examples of case studies too, which helps to establish your authority in your sphere of business.

And don’t dismiss the power of Social Proof.  We’ve covered this in depth in a previous blog post, as it’s an incredibly powerful way of spreading the message about your brand.  It works on the same principle as word-of-mouth recommendations, but thanks to the power of the internet – and particularly social media platforms – even complete strangers can spread the word about your business amongst themselves, at absolutely no cost to you whatsoever!

Refine your Calls To Action and Headers

Calls To Action, or CTAs, are designed to encourage website visitors to complete an interaction with your site.  This could be making a purchase, or adding their email address to a newsletter subscription list, for example.  But it’s surprising how even minor tweaks to your CTAs can dramatically increase your conversion rates. Even something as simple as changing the positioning or colour of a button can make a marked difference to your sales figures.

The same is true of headlines.  The words that you use can have a subtle effect upon your visitors’ subconscious minds, increasing the chances of you securing a sale.  Try putting together a selection of different headlines, and see how each one effects the overall outcome.  It’s helpful to tailor your CTAs and headlines to the specific market that you’re hoping to attract, so check out our guide to creating buyer personas to find out more.

At Brookstone, we have years of experience in website design and marketing.  We know what pulls visitors in, and we know what’s needed to increase your business sales figures.  So get in touch with us today, and we’ll show you the difference that we can make.