Nothing you’re doing matters one smidge if your website is not planned, created, and optimized with the intention of engaging and converting users once they land.
Website engagement cannot be overlooked if the customer experience is the deciding factor in terms of brand loyalty in today’s digital ecosystem. Here are 10 incredibly useful ways for retailers to increase website engagement.
1. Maximize time on site and time on page
B2C buyers spend an average of 2:47 on-site. Of course, this is the average.
Naturally, bounce rates will be higher for sites that don’t follow through on the promise that was made (in an ad, email, social post, etc). Sessions will last longer based on the visitor’s intent. Returning customers doing research on an item or building a basket will likely stay longer.
Maximize time spent on your website and individual pages by ensuring a smooth flow, quick loading speed (loading time does impact the bottom line), and that valuable, informative content is front and center. When it comes to time on page and engagement, it’s about quality over quantity.
➤ Pro Tip: Leverage rich content, interactivity, and a dash of parallax to really captivate users with an ultra-intense UX.
2. Simplify navigation and smooth out kinks in the UX
The e-commerce marketplace is crowded and noisy, to say the least. The best e-commerce sites embrace a minimalist approach, going with simple and elegant. When it comes to UX and website navigation, less may actually be better.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Leverage a clean, simple layout with limited callouts, widgets, boxes, and pop-ups
- Reduce the amount of CTAs on your pages to direct users toward what you actually want them to do
- Create easy-to-understand nav bars with condensed/collapsed menus by subject or category
- Be conscientious of clutter — use white space where you can
3. Make sure the customer content journey is smooth and consistent from channel to channel
Are you truly focusing on your customers’ content experience? Are you ensuring a relevant, personalized discovery process? You can’t afford even minor experience hiccups today.
The social-to-website and email-to-website experience has to be consistent, easy, and painless. If you want to learn more about content discovery and the customer content experience, check out James Hawkins of Zmags presentation on the topic:
“Ensure the social-to-landing page journey uses similar language, a repetition of images, and a continuation of that conversation from social. When we’re on the internet, what are we doing? We’re [always] engaging with content… why not take that over to your website, and increase the amount of time they’re (consumers are) spending on your site?”
“Ensure the #online #customer journey uses similar language, a repetition of images, & a continuation of the entire brand conversation,” says James Hawkins of @Zmags CLICK TO TWEET
4. Incorporate personalized discovery, related content, and recommended products
Personalization via recommended products and related content is a key piece to get right on your website for better engagement.
E-commerce brands commonly present recommended items (often as up-sells) as well as “complete the look” items (as cross-sells).
5. Do contests, offer giveaways, and give incentives
Incentives, deals, promotions, sales, and freebies can be instrumental in spurring purchases. A survey by RetailMeNot found that 74% of Americans say offers are a top factor when deciding where and what to buy online. 81% of U.S. buyers say finding a great offer or discount is on their mind throughout their entire purchase journey.
The key, here, is two-fold:
- Use AI-enabled martech to create optimized offers to discount just the right amount for each individual so you’re not discounting too much or too little.
- Then personalize offers with custom codes for each individual.
6. Understand consumer psychology and buyer behavior
The psychology of consumer behavior can be viewed from both a macro and micro level. At an overarching level, does your strategy align with or butt heads against what consumers want? Are you going for the hard sell, constantly pushing product, facts, and figures? Or are you taking the time to understand the subconscious needs/pain points your niche audience is dealing with — and then delivering the reward that they need?
When you drill down to the specifics, you can get pretty granular with execution of tactics. For example:
- Certain colors for CTAs and button are more likely to be clicked. Red, green, and orange convert highest.
- Understand how your visitors respond to content “above the fold” — are they more likely to engage? A Google ads survey found that CTAs above the fold had 73% visibility.
- Do overlays and popups work for your visitors? A well-executed popup strategy should result in a 5%-10% conversion lift. Exit intent popups should be contextual, personalized, and mapped to your audience’s exit trigger and journey.
Part of driving better website engagement means creating (or fixing) forms and CTAs that will convert.
7. Improve internal linking and optimize for search and voice
CRO, website engagement, and personalization fit together like peas in a pod that you definitely want to grow.
A good e-commerce website has a search-optimized catalog focused on category pages and possibly a supporting blog which can be optimized to internal-link-related content.
Product category pages
Some of the best SEO opportunities for e-commerce are on your product category pages. These pages are often easy to align with search queries and key phrases that are (a) not too competitive and (b) not too specific.
For example, a women’s fashion brand may have a big catalog with several product categories and lots of product detail pages. One section might be for swimwear and have categories for different styles. In each category, there might be a dozen or more products.
You can align a section with a key phrase, but these phrases are often too competitive. You have no chance of ranking. You can align a product page with a key phrase, but these phrases are too specific. No one is searching for them.
So the sitemap and hierarchy may look something like this:
- Section “women’s swimwear” (too competitive)
- Category “women’s bikinis” (less competitive, more specific)
- Product “Hawaiian style women’s bikinis” (too specific)
- Category “women’s bikinis” (less competitive, more specific)
The next trick is to make sure that you have room on pages to add some copy and create relevance. If the product category page is just a big list of products, Google is unlikely to rank that page very high for the topic.
Working with a blog
With your blog, you’ll want to create links and authority that lead to ranking. Build a set of articles that focus on the related topics. Each of these articles can link to the product catalog and pass some authority along.
When it comes to optimizing for voice search, Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media sums it up beautifully:
“Win @Google’s ‘featured snippet’ by ranking on the 1st SERP, & developing pages from which Google can derive a chunk of meaning,” says @crestodina CLICK TO TWEET
8. Leverage a two-step opt-in form
Multi- or two-step opt-in forms are being implemented more commonly today. This strategic conversion tactic hooks visitors, gets them interested, then seeks more of their information. The idea is to ask for less up front — just a name and an email address — and then seek more information once the visitor indicates interest by beginning to fill out the form.
By minimizing the ask in the initial form, consumers will be more likely to begin the conversion. It’s only after they get past that first form that you ask for more of their data.
9. If you’re not mobile-first, think mobile-first
Optimizing your website for mobile is not optional. Mobile best practices that need to be top of mind include:
- Think about mobile screens. Create unique elements that desktop-designed sites can’t address.
Even though mobile responsive websites aren’t the only element of mobile optimization, there’s nothing worse than a non-responsive website.
- Size matters. Remember, smaller screens make it difficult to view full pages — especially when trying to view imagery and read small copy (that doesn’t zoom or cuts off text when made bigger).
➤ Pro Tip: Again, avoid tiny navigation or over-saturated menu bars. People on their smartphones don’t want to bother zooming in to try to click on a tiny “more Information” link. Make your navigation bar “pop.” On mobile, nav bars are typically succinctly reduced to an expandable three-line icon.
- Make buttons big and easy to tap. Tiny actions requiring precision are really hard for consumers to click.
In short, to optimize for mobile, create an experience that you’d want to have with your favorite brand on your phone.
10. Look to the data and analytics to improve things
You can’t improve on driving website engagement without understanding what’s working and what’s not.
If 9 out of 10 customers only buy once, you’re missing out on huge revenue opportunities. You need a way to understand how to encourage repeat purchases and grow your customer lifetime value… what to do more of, and less of.
With the right marketing platform at your fingertips, compare performance across different marketing campaigns using any number of key metrics, from click rates to conversion rates. With aggregated campaign results, you can measure trend performance across all the tactics you’re using on your website and improve as you go.
Website engagement is everything if you’re an e-commerce brand trying to attract and retain a loyal audience.
Adopting even a few of these these ten tips should net tangible results within months of implementation. Experience trumps all in today’s digital world, and that’s exactly what each of these 10 points comes back to… creating an easy and enjoyable experience that’s tailored to each individual website visitor!
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About the Author
Michael is a content marketing, audience development, and customer experience fanatic. As Digital Content Manager at Emarsys, Michael helps manage the content hub where he and his team create helpful content for e-commerce and digital marketers.