Use These 5 Behavioural Science Tricks to Maximize Ecommerce Sales

By Darwin Liu

Ecommerce brands often spend substantial resources on ads to drive website traffic, but rarely optimize conversion rates enough to turn increased traffic into sales. While conversion rate optimization may seem daunting at first, researchers of behavioural science have taken great strides in the last decade to further our understanding of buyer behaviour. By designing solutions that align with our psychology, we can make it easier for people to do things they already want to do.

Behavioural Science Tricks for Max Ecommerce Sales

Ecommerce marketers who apply the following five principles to ecommerce websites are poised to increase conversions.

1. How You Structure Your Navigation Bar is Extremely Important

Most marketers randomly add menu items and CTAs (call to action) without thinking about consumer behaviour.

Visitors of ecommerce websites (and all others) first look to the right, and then to the left of the web page. The center of the page will always get short shrift from users. You should place your main CTA on the upper right, 2nd most important item on the left, and the least important in the middle of your navigation bar.

These insights are critical when determining where to place important content blocks. Applications, such as Hotjar, that visualize website ‘heat maps’ are useful tools that help webmasters optimize website use.

2. Prevent Information Overload

When it comes to presenting information on the products offered, the adage ‘less is more’ holds true.

There have been many studies illustrating an excess of information that is not critical to the purchasing decision, will actually impede conversions (see The effects of information overload on consumers’ subjective state towards buying decision in the internet shopping environments from researchers at the Soochow University in Taipei). In fact, users much prefer web pages that are simple and familiar (see the Google study, Users love simple and familiar designs – Why websites need to make a great first impression from 2012).

A very clear navigation menu so people can discern where they need to look for products in which category, what is new, what is on sale, etc. will go a long way in providing visitors with the guidance they need to find and purchase the products they want.

Product pages that aren’t cluttered with random details and images also fare better. Keep product pages as short and clean as possible.

Lastly, checkout funnels that are clean with clear directions will boost conversion rates compared to pages that have irrelevant information.

3. Use Social Proof

Social proof is one the original seven principles of persuasion famously proposed by Robert Cialdini. People will be more willing to buy a product if they know that others have bought it as well and preferably also recommend the product.

Ecommerce websites can no longer go without highly-performing recommendation engines that share information about what others think of what the brand has in store. Recommendations are not only of critical importance for conversion rate optimization on the website, but also show up in Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), making them a critical part of SERP conversions.

4. Avoid Friction (Especially on Mobile)

Website visitors abhor having to jump many hoops to accomplish simple tasks. This applies equally to both desktop and mobile versions of websites, but we still see most problems arise with mobile applications where check-outs often become strenuous.

We understand that ecommerce businesses would rather not pay fees to Apple or Google for using Apple/Google Pay, but the cost of having customers struggle with inserting credit card information manually and abandoning a purchase mid-process is likely to dwarf whatever they’re charging the business.

Friction of any kind will always hurt sales.

5. Provide What is Expected

Whether you like the typical make-up of an ecommerce website or not, there is a common template in use with ecommerce sites that people have become accustomed to. When you present a website that looks different from the typical site people have come to expect, your conversions will suffer.

The aforementioned Google study affirms that people prefer websites that are “prototypical” of their categories.

Bottom Line

Website design is critical for ecommerce businesses in any vertical that wants to optimize their conversions. While the task at hand might look daunting at first, valuable research is available on many aspects of website design, from content placement and density to social proof and friction avoidance. Ecommerce managers that apply evidence-based best practices will optimize conversion rates and grow their bottom lines.

Author Bio
Darwin Liu is the founder and CEO of X Agency, an integrated digital marketing agency of growth engineers with offices in Boston, Massachusetts, and Nashville, Tennessee.

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