How to Increase Site Conversions - Part 1, Meeting Visitors' Expectations

Another familiar question/issue facing e-commerce sites is how to more effectively convert site visitors into buying customers.  There are several strategies that can help to improve conversion rates because there are many potential variables involved in optimizing site conversion.  One of the primary approaches is to ensure your site is properly meeting your vivisitors' expectations when they come to your site.  This approach is discussed below - other strategies will be discussed in future articles.

If you have additional questions concerning the strategy identified below, or if you would like to talk to us about improving the conversion rate on your site, please contact us at

Note: The following article was also recently posted by Crescendo as a response to an e-commerce question that was posted on LinkedIn.

Ultimately, users leave a site because the site didn't meet their expectations, for one reason or another. This typically means that the mechanism utilized to get a user to the site didn't deliver a page that met the user's expectations.

It is important to realize that users follow a variety of paths to get to a site and, likewise, they have many reasons for visiting a site.  For e-commerce sites in general, users typically visit for various reasons, simply because they are in different phases of the purchasing lifecycle.  For example, some users are performing pre-purchase research; other shoppers are ready to make a purchase when they visit; still others might just be browsing without the intent of ever purchasing at all.

In order to answer the question of how to improve conversions, it will be important to first dig deeper into the current site usage.  Before you can determine why the bounce rate (the % of users that only visit a single page on the site, then leave the site) is high, you need to find out where the bounces are occuring.  For example, are users bouncing from the home page; are they bouncing from a particular landing page they are hitting from a search result link on Google/Yahoo/etc.; or are they bouncing during the checkout process.

Obviously, correcting a bounce rate issue on those various page types can require very different tactics.

The next thing to determine is where the users are coming from and how are they reaching the site.  If users are being driven from "natural/SEO" search results (i.e. not "paid" or "sponsored" results), then you need to identify the search terms that are driving users to the site.  The ultimate goal of this research is to modify site pages to try increase their search result rank for the identified terms.  This process will allow you to more appropriately meet your site visitors' expectations when they click on a search result link to get to your site.

If you are utilizing paid/sponsored search to drive users to your site - the effort is much easier because you can specifically control the link the users click on to get to your site.  With control over the page that the users land on for specific search terms, you should be able to perfectly customize those pages to meet your visitors' needs.  If you meet their needs when they land on your site, your chances for converting them to buyers is much higher.

For example, if you are selling colored widgets on your site and you have found through site usage analysis that most of your users are coming to your site via searching for "orange widgets", you might decide to put a page on your site with content specifically related to orange widget information, including links further into your site so users can purchase the orange widgets (assuming you have some available in your inventory).

You might also decide to use paid/sponsored search to drive more users to the specific orange widget page.  By bidding on the search term 'orange widget' and including in your ad the link directly to the orange widget page, you are meeting your visitors' expectations.

If you find that users reach your site using the search phrase "orange widget price", then you can more safely assume those users are in a different stage of the purchasing lifecyle and likely could be directed straight to your orange widget product page so they can shop directly for the orange widgets that you have available for sale.

The bottom line is this: use your available site analytics to gather data on how users are getting to your site; based on that information, try to assess why users are coming to your site; then try to align your landing pages to more completely meet your visitors' expectations of your site.

Finally, once you think you have appropriately satisfied your visitors' expectations for visiting your site, you need to smoothly and efficiently take the users from product information page(s) through your site checkout process.  This process through checkout is a separate topic of its own and will be discussed in more detail in a different article.