8 tips to increase your high-risk website’s conversion rate
1. Don’t get too cozy
Many of the website owners we have helped, with high-risk payment gateways over the years, operate at a reasonable margin. Unfortunately, decent margins can produce complacency when it comes to other “key performance indicators,” like conversion rates.
Whether you feel you “really need” to improve your conversion rate or not, it is always worth putting some time and effort into it, especially if it’s been a while since you last refined your tactics.
What good is a well-trafficked website with great margins if you are only converting a small portion of that traffic into actual sales?
Conversion tactics are one of the most critical pieces to the e-commerce puzzle, and high-risk e-commerce is no exception.
2. Keep your site speedy and responsive
Pretty much everywhere we went, we found the same piece of advice: make sure your website is fast.
Don’t let your site be bogged down by bloated bells and whistles or hypnotizing effects. While images are essential, they should not come at the cost of speed and efficiency. In other words, if your website takes two times longer to load because of your visuals or other bulky memory-heavy plugins- you are probably losing customers.
First impressions can also be last impressions. If you don’t have the speed to back up your site you are leaving money on the table. Period. Remember, though it might load quickly for you at home or in your office, your customers might be in a weak signal area or have a slow connection, all that fluff can weigh down your site and take forever to load in these types of situations. Also, your own browser caching may make your site seem far faster than it would be for a first time visitor.
Test, and verify
Always consider your customer’s perspective when addressing website issues. You can even test your sites load speed with various speed testers online, a great test page that will also detail specific matters is Google’s own PageSpeed Tool.
Speed impacts far more than conversions
Another, equally important, reason to optimize your site speed is for SEO. Search engines like Google have put a big focus on site speed and if your site is slow, it will be penalized in the search engine rankings.
3. Don’t be afraid to dress up your site and show off, correctly
We know. It seems like a contradiction. Now that we have prioritized speed over image we go and remind you just how important image is. But, like everything in business, there is a balance. Visuals can be a deciding factor in conversion, and it’s crucial to have high-value images on your webpage, especially if you are selling a tangible product.
Detailed pictures of your product (depending on the market) can make the difference between a purchase and a bounce out, or an abandoned cart. For example, most shoppers wouldn’t purchase a new or used firearm or tactical gear if they can’t see an image of it.
When selling used products, having even a stock image of the product can trigger a sale, though the more accurate the picture, the better. If possible, have photos of the actual product you are trying to sell (especially if it’s used).
Making sure your theme and content are visually appealing is also essential. Use images and visuals to help immerse your customer in your “virtual shop,” put them in a better setting to buy stuff, and you may be surprised how much your conversions will increase.
For images, make sure they are not only visually appealing but also informative. Don’t waste space that could be used to help you make a sale, don’t clutter your page with unnecessary images.
High-resolution pictures and video are best, and using proper compression, image optimization and limiting how many images you use can ensure you do not slow your site down noticeably.
Videos can be an essential conversion tool on their own. Consider making or employing product videos to help not only detail the product but to entice the viewer to make the purchase.
Short videos tend to do better than longer ones, try keeping your videos to 30-second snippets or 2-3 minutes.
4. Make your “call to action” button current and noticeable
It turns out you don’t need to have a fancy color picked out for your call to action (CTA) button. What’s more important is the quality of the button’s image itself.
Using an older boxier “Buy Now” button from a few years ago might be ok for you, but it can make your customer question the status of your website. Keeping in mind your customers perspective an older button could be a red flag for them, and all sorts of paranoid questions can come from it.
Also, make sure your CTA (call to action!) is in an easy to spot location, with bold fonts and colors that stand out and are easy to read, don’t make your customer scroll around looking for it, this gives them less time to reconsider their decision to buy.
Keeping your CTA buttons up to date with the new formatting and fonts might seem like a small deal, but you may have lost sales because of it and never known.
5. Shipping options that make your customer smile, AKA FREE
Even when the cost of shipping is built into the price of the product, people LOVE “free” shipping. We recommend you do exactly that, build a portion of shipping costs into each product, so you can offer to ship without an additional fee to your customers.
According to some studies we read while researching this post, 90% of buyers are more likely to buy if there is free shipping involved. Free shipping should be for standard shipping options. By all means, allow your customers to expedite shipping and enable them to pay for that upcharge.
There should always be a good variety of shipping options for your products, but giving customers free basic shipping can be the deciding factor in pressing the “Buy Now” button.
6. Shake what your web developer gave ya!
There are many tools out there you can add to your website, many of these are free or very inexpensive, such as Google Analytics. Using the tools that come with your site and finding the few useful tools that don’t come standard can help you make the difference between an e-commerce shop eking out a little profit every month or a powerhouse of daily e-commerce magic.
Analytical tools can help you recover a lot of potentially lost sales by showing you where you are missing them and helping you fix why you failed them, so in the future, you are more likely to close them.
One thing these tools might tell you is that often people will do shopping research on their mobile device, then come back later to make the purchase on their desktop. A tool you can use to help you take advantage of this is abandoned cart recovery. Make it easy for that customer to come back and finalize that purchase by emailing them a reminder of the items they were looking at earlier.
With a little bit of effort, you can end up making a lot more sales.
7. Tell them what they are purchasing
Product descriptions can make or break your sale. Giving your customer all the information they need to make a decision is important – but being honest and upfront is more critical.
Fortunately, you can do both by creating a well thought out description of your product, its features, and its limitations. Don’t go out of your way to talk a potential buyer out of a product, but be sure you aren’t hiding any information that might make the customer regret their purchase or even worse return the product.
One of the biggest reasons for the existence of the high-risk payment gateway industry is chargebacks, in other words, forcibly returning money to your customers. The more we can do to minimalize chargebacks the better, not only will this help keep your money in your bank account, but it creates a better customer relationship and encourages returning shoppers.
8. Make sure your payment gateway is right for your website
High-risk businesses often have a hard time finding suitable ways to accept payments. We often come across business using an offshore banking solution because they could not find a domestic one. In addition to higher fees, these offshore solutions can create “soft declines” of up to 75%! This means, that when a customer tries to buy something, their bank stops the transaction as potentially fraudulent.
Other scenarios we see are people accepting checks only, for example for their pipe and glassware site, because they cannot find a way to accept credit cards. This can absolutely destroy conversions.
Lastly, we get calls every day from business owners who have had their payment gateway shut down and are accepting 0 sales until they get back up and running. That is literally a 100% drop in conversion! Sometimes merchants simply did not realize they we violating their payment gateway’s terms and conditions. We see this a lot with Shopify. You can read more about high-risk websites and Shopify payments here.
Resources for increasing conversions
We wanted to share with you some solid tips for improving your site conversion, but there are indeed more out there. Here are a few links to articles we found informative and helpful when writing about this topic.