This is the time of year when families do their annual spring cleaning… Clearing out the junk that has accumulated over the years. Well, the same happens with web sites and transaction paths. As we all rush to roll out new functionality, old code and features accumulate on your site… hurting conversion rates. Make sure conversion rate optimization is a priority for everyone on your team!
Overall, once consumers have started the checkout process, you want to make sure they stay completely focused on completing that transaction. Any links or images that are not relevant to that specific transaction should probably be removed.
Below are some conversion rate optimization best practices you should have in place…
Since the page header is one of the first things consumers see, you want to make sure that is completely optimized to move people through the transaction funnel.
- Site Navigation
- While you would think it is a good thing to have consumers go back and start browsing your site, this can actually end up in people browsing off your site and/or never transacting. It is very common to remove any site navigation from the transaction path to keep people moving forward to completing the purchase.
- As with the site navigation, you don’t want consumers starting a new search. Remove that distraction from the transaction path.
- An extreme example of keeping people moving forward through the transaction path is making the logo not clickable. That is a little more aggressive. What you do depends on the relationship you want to have with consumers. Amazon.com uses a logo that is not clickable while HomeDepot.com allows you to click on the logo to go back to the home page.
- Don’t make the page header too big. While browsing the site, you need a larger header to hold site navigation, search, store locators, for branding, etc. But now we want consumers to be focused on the transaction process, so a smaller (shorter) header can be used to move the body content and submit buttons above the fold.
- Progress Bar
- As always, it is highly recommended you include a progress bar so consumers can understand where they are in the transaction process.
- Don’t make the progress bar clickable. I have seen some sites do that and it can cause a lot of confusion as consumers bounce around to different parts of the transaction path. It is easier to just offer back buttons so you keep the transaction path linear.
- Transaction Only
- The only content on these pages should be around processing the transaction. No content, navigation, or anything else should appear here.
- Short and Focused
- Break up the transaction path into short, multiple pages. Don’t overwhelm consumers with a very long page. Try to keep submit buttons above the fold if at all possible.
- No Advertisements
- I have seen some sites try to monetize these pages by including display ads. You can do this, but it is very rare where this does not come at a cost to conversion rates. Typically, the revenue generated from the purchase is much greater than any revenue earned by a display ad.
Even though it is often below the fold, you still don’t want unnecessary distractions for the consumer.
- Site Navigation
- As with the page header, we don’t want consumers to start browsing again. Ideally they will complete their purchase first. So, remove any site navigation from the footer.
- Unnecessary Links – Below are other unnecessary links that can be removed from the bottom of transaction path pages…
- Company History
- Investor Relations
- Social Media links
- Affiliate Program
- Store Locator
- Site Map
- Important Links – Links that should stay include…
- Return Policy
- When consumers click on these links, pages should load in a new window that does not take over the whole screen. Specifically, consumers should be able to see the transaction path behind it so they can easily click back to complete the transaction.
- Seals / Certifications
- Seals and certifications like the Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe, Verisign, and Symantec all give you credibility and make consumers more comfortable moving forward with a transaction. So, keep the seals proudly displayed for consumers to see.
Make sure all pages still load quickly. Sometimes a new site release can introduce code that slows down the process. Or during the promote, the technology team may have forgotten to re-establish some important performance boosters such as caching. I have seen this happen many times. It is important that the marketing team function as another set of eyes to make sure everything is working properly.
Even though I started with a spring cleaning theme, you really should be watching your transaction path regularly to maintain optimal conversion performance. Conversion rate optimization isn’t easy. Happy cleaning and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments about this post.