Conversion optimization: why people decide to buy on a web site and why not


For e-commerce businesses and retailers with an online shop, a large part of their digital marketing efforts is about optimizing the buying experience and thus conversion, with an important role for the online shopping process. Abandoned shopping carts and interrupted buying flows are looked at thoroughly since every slight improvement can have a tremendous impact on the bottom-line.

In general, conversion optimization is mainly a matter of personalized and valuable experiences and contextual offers, good design, perceived trust and simply customer-centricity: it all revolves around the so-called "user". The more you know about your - prospective - customer and the more personalized you can work in campaigns and contact strategies, the better.

Using Selligent Interactive Marketing, optimizing conversion, analyzing and improving flows and personalizing, can be done for both new and repeat customers, based on actual behavior or past interactions.

Besides what the numbers and solutions tell you, there are several best practices to optimize the purchasing journey. Econsultancy asked approximately 2.000 UK consumers why they chose to abandon/continue online purchases. Below are a few of the most cited reasons.

What makes people chose an e-commerce site?

1) Trust. An online retailer with a solid brand and reputation obviously has an advantage over less-known  brands when it comes down to the perceived trustworthiness. However, 48% of respondents said that they were looking for trustmarks. So, certainly for lesser-known  brands, it's crucial to have those trustmarks. For retailers with a "less experienced" online audience, a few words of explanation about these trustmarks can be just the little extra they need to convince shoppers.

2) Clear contact details. It seems so obvious but is so often overlooked. When shopping online, many people still want to feel reassured by knowing how to get in touch with a business. These contact details where cited by an impressive 46% of respondents. For huge e-commerce businesses and brands with large online operations, contact possibilities and customer service might be organized differently but, even then, a choice of contact details is important. Contact details give shoppers the feeling they actually deal with a real company and, thus, provide trust as well.

3)Recommendations. Yes, we clearly live in the age of peer recommendations and word-of-mouth. We attribute much of that to social media but the truth is that recommendations have always been important. 41% of respondents said they would use an e-commerce site if it's recommended by friends or colleagues. Retailers can use this finding, by including recommendation and referral programmes  in their multi-channel strategies, as Selligent Interactive Marketing allows you to do.

Other elements include design, a good performing site and even fast load times. It is indeed a total experience.

Online shopping killers

Econsultancy also asked participants what made them abandon (e-commerce) sites after arriving.

Again, the survey found a multitude of elements, including slow loading pages, poor design, hidden costs, and concerns about security. 

Product pages have to contain all information needed to be able to make that purchase decision and can obviously be enhanced with video, several product view options and more.

However, always bear the conversion goal, a sale, in mind (or in other words: keep it relevant for the shopper and the purpose).

Other reasons why people abandon sites when (considering) shopping:

  • A lack of alternative payment methods
  • Not enough reassurances about security
  • No information on return policies
  • Too long processes
  • Unexpected high delivery charges or other costs showing late in the process

Another one is compulsory registration. A practice that is often used but just as extra charges or costs, is not explained early (enough) in the buying process. Forcing people to register to be able to shop, can lead to a quite significant abandonment rate.

Finally, think well about where you put your cross-selling offers and make sure those contact details are always nearby. But most of all: tell people what they can expect early enough and in clear words and promises. Unexpected "surprises" such as compulsory registration, hidden costs or long buying processes lead to missed sales.

Linking marketing processes, user experiences and operational excellence

The survey might not show shocking results but all too often we forget to look at why people buy online and what makes them decide to leave the shopping process.

In the end, it's all really about constantly optimizing every single detail to optimize the buyer's experience and identify and solve all those conversion killers, just like in e-mail marketing and conversion optimization in general.

Selligent Interactive Marketing allows you to identify processes and possible issues rapidly but a good understanding of the customer experience is always important. Acting upon these insights using personalized online experiences and interactions is the basis of conversion and even of the processes after the actual sale.

It's like's Jackie Lambert says in a customer case: "To make a difference as a brand, you need to distinguish yourself and provide an excellent customer experience. But operational excellence is not the end goal. It is the basis, the condition sine qua non."

You can read the full customer case here.