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Want to improve conversion? Start at the end.

conversion rate chartYou don’t make customers fill out unnecessary forms when they’re standing at your cash register, credit card in hand, do you? Ask them for demographic information? Show them print ads for your partners? Why, then, do so many do that online?

While we’ve looked at metrics to find your underperforming pages before, what do you do when nothing obvious jumps out? What do you do first? Easy. Start from the end of the process and work your way forward. People close to the end of your purchase process are (usually) easier to turn into a sale than folks right at the start.

How? Start with setting up a conversion funnel in your analytics program (here’s how to do it in Google Analytics). Then look for changes you can make to your checkout page that make it easier for customers to buy. Do you require login? Separate shipping and billing addresses? Do you have to? Is every form field you ask for really necessary to process the sale? Customers recognize when they’re being asked for unnecessary items. Sure encouraging enrollment in your loyalty program or collecting lots of demographic information might come in handy. But is your conversion funnel the right place to do that?

Another tip: focus on increasing trust. Bryan Eisenberg has a webinar describing multiple ways to improve customers’ trust of your landing pages. Almost everything Bryan discusses here can apply just as well to your checkout page.

Assuming your conversion rate falls into “industry average” (it varies widely by vertical), most people coming to your site aren’t buying. And, when I say “most”, think 90%, 95% or more. Obviously, not all customers come to buy. But accepting more customers won’t buy is self-limiting.

Of course, working from the back assumes you don’t see a glaring problem earlier in the process. But if you see micro-conversions (people moving forward to the next step in your conversion process) around 30% or above, then those aren’t your biggest problem and working from the back makes sense. Focusing on the end goal and on removing barriers at the point of purchase can help you grow conversion rate.

Sometimes, the best place to start is at the end.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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  1. Tim,

    Thanks for the link to the webinar. You are absolutely correct that a great place for improving just about every page is to focus on improving trust and credibility and I would add the second place is to improve relevance and the offer.

    Best wishes,

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