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Converting Online Visitors to Sales

Converting Online Visitors to Sales

The Missing Conversion Factors Are "Why" & "How"

by Jason Runyan, Advertising Solutions
Revised September 11, 2019
Originally Published August 27, 2009

Increasing website sales without additional website traffic is known as improving the website's conversion ratio. Augmenting website conversion is an ongoing process for all online businesses whether retail, service, commercial, manufacturing, industrial, or hospitality oriented companies.

While much of this article is geared towards improving a website's online conversion, many of the methods are essential for improving offline, (traditional brick and mortar stores or offices) sales conversions as well.

Analyzing the Data

Analytical tools such as Google Analytics, make it easy to see past basic statistical trend reports and graphs on everything including:

  • most popular days & busiest times
  • most popular pages
  • visitor trails
  • products and services viewed most
  • where visitors came from (referrers)
  • among many other statistics

While all these historical statistics and trends are important, two of the most important factors to obtaining a paying customer are still missing; the WHY and HOW.

Investigating Consumer Behaviors

Most businesses have no idea why customers have certain buying behaviors, (what makes them buy) nor how to engage those visitors, and convert them to a paying customers.

This type of analysis requires additional market research for a business to fully understand any particular consumer buying behaviors. Website analytics are extremely important, but only give one piece of the conversion puzzle: static information as to what consumers have done in the past, and thus only allows for reactive analysis.

Consumer behavior research reveals how to be proactive, understand trends, anticipate consumer behaviors, accommodate the visitor, and increase the likelihood of converting that individual to a sale, (or for those using the website to generate leads) getting the prospect to request more information and engage.

To find out what consumers care about, businesses should employ some of the following market research techniques:

Follow-up Satisfaction Emails, Surveys & Contact

Polling visitors and asking about their experience on a website (or with the company as a whole) is an excellent method of obtaining valuable and pertinent feedback.

There are two standard methods to providing follow-up service to an online visit:

  • Implement exit surveys on website pages:

    • If someone exits a website while viewing the cart, one can implement a special cart exit survey page that asks if the consumer had difficulty with the check out process, and provide a phone number to call to place an order, or obtain live help and assistance.

    • If the prospect exits on a product or service page, one can provide a special exit page asking if the individual found the product or service desired, and whether they need additional assistance.

    • If the person exits on a customer service or contact page, ask if they found the customer service information needed, and offer additional contact information.

    • If a live chat service is implemented, the exit survey can activate the live chat operator box for live assistance.

  • For those customers that place a request, or successfully complete the order process (and have provided permission to contact):

    • Send follow-up emails and surveys asking about the website navigation ease of use, the order process, as well as what difficulties were encountered during the checkout process.

    • Specifically ask if the customer feels anything could be done to simplify, or make the process easier.

    • Call or text customers and ask about their experiences, feedback, and make sure to be genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say.

Customer & Employee Focus Groups & Social Media Feedback

  • Inviting customers to join a discussion and help shape the future of the company website is a great method to really get to know what customers care about.

    • The questions should be engaging and get the customer to express emotion when aswering and providing feedback and critique.

    • This type of knowledge is essential in creating a website customers will feel comfortable purchasing from, and interacting with on a regular basis.

  • Conversations with customer service agents and employees whom work directly with consumers are potentially the greatest resource for website (or overall business sales) conversion improvement.

    • Getting employees involved and sharing their point of view, obstacles that may be hindering visitors, and other essential feedback is valuable information.

    • Employees and agents often work directly with consumers and can provide valuable information to issues that may arise during the online purchase or estimation process.

    • Take the time to speak with employees and get their feedback on customer reactions and objections to website usability.

  • Use Social Medias such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Alignable to review and analyze customer feedback and response on the company's products, offerings and customer service.

    • Many consumers are very vocal on social media websites about how they feel they were treated, and what could be done to improve.

    • Remember that depending on the industry, there are other very popular and worthy social medias including Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and others.

Once it is known what customers care about, it becomes easier to understand why some customers may be buying, and why others may not.

Tailoring a website (or company's overall performance) to meet these consumer needs, will not only increase conversion, but also increase customer satisfaction; while building brand loyalty.

Live Online Assistance

Providing live online customer service while increasing website conversion rates can be achieved by using services such as live chat.

  • When offering a live chat service, it should be available to the consumer throughout the website cycle (from initial website landing, through product viewing, to the final checkout steps.)

  • Live assistance services improve website conversion because the service allows consumers to interact and ask questions as though they were in a brick and mortar store, or on the phone with customer service.

  • Such live assist services allow employees to answer any, and all questions, or point the customer to the product or service desired on the website.

  • This ability to interact in real-time as needed helps to alleviate objections in converting a sale.

  • As well, because an agent of the business is directly interacting with the consumer, the agent can use the consumer responses to help gauge if they are closing the sale, or simply raising more objections to be overcome, all in real-time.

A live service is seen as a method to employ trust between the consumer and the business. Consumers are always much more relaxed and assured when known they CAN ask a question of a sales person in real-time, if needed.


Getting to know the consumer, and why they do what they do, is imperative to success, both online and offline.

Without this knowledge, it is a guessing game as to the best way to improve the conversion ratio of a website. Interacting with visitors, getting constant feedback, and input should be an on-going task for every successful business.

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