As you may well have noticed by now, the internet is an integral part of our lives. So much so that the online world has become the go-to resource for consumers to engage with companies.
It’s no surprise then that what you do with your website can have a massive bearing on your online sales and revenue.
But exactly how much does a website increase sales? Let’s take a look.
The internet has become a hotbed of research for consumers. Indeed, it’s become so integral, that the modern consumer can generate anything between 20-500 different touchpoints before even making a purchase (depending on the type of product).
And, there’s been a sharp rise in those purchases too. US ecommerce penetration hit new highs in 2020 at 21.3 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2018.
So, when we think about the question: ‘how much does a website increase sales?’, the figures above suggest that websites will only become more important to businesses in future.
Having a website has become a must thanks to the demands of the modern consumer. Without one, it’s very difficult to build up the trust you need to be a successful business.
But, that doesn't mean your website is simply there for show. It can actually bring you a lot of value – even above and beyond the more tried-and-tested selling techniques like cold-calling, outbound marketing and so on.
In fact, a website is one of the most effective ways to increase sales. To understand why that is, consider that you can:
At the end of the day, a website effectively offers you another always-on sales channel which massively increases your opportunities to generate revenue and leads. However, the simple fact that you have created a website is no guarantee of success.
One of the biggest considerations when it comes to a website is SEO (search engine optimization). Search engines rank websites based on relevancy and other criteria. It’s the reason why, when you type search terms into Google (or whichever is your search engine of choice), the results that are returned reflect what you are looking for.
So, think of SEO as a way of signposting your services, what it is that you do or sell. This can be done through use of keywords, links, and content, among other things. Through careful and strategic SEO of your website, you can improve your chances of bringing in prospective customers and increase sales.
Proper use of SEO is essential if you wish to establish your website and grow traffic online.
There are two component parts to SEO:
SEO is especially important because, unlike ads – which make up a significant proportion of search results – organic traffic costs the same whether you have ten or ten million visitors.
It’s well worth enlisting the help of an SEO professional, so you don’t miss out on relevant traffic.
A website that engages visitors with great design is a massive asset. Not least because visitors use your site as a barometer of whether you’re trustworthy – in fact, a whopping 75 percent of opinions on website credibility come from web design.
So, if your website is outdated or clunky, visitors won’t trust you and will simply bounce. And they’re going to end up on a competitor’s site instead.
Great web design, on the other hand, keeps visitors engaged. In this case at least, looks really do matter – 38 percent of people stop engaging with a website if it’s unattractive. And not only do good visuals draw visitors in, but a carefully designed website is functional and easier to use too. So, revamping your website to look clean and modern has the power to really improve your credibility, attract more visitors, and increase online sales.
As we’ve seen, websites are very much necessary for a modern business, and can even increase sales and revenue. But just how much exactly?
Well, the answer is: as much as you want! And that's because it all comes down to the effort and tactics you employ for your website.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important ways to get the best out of your website, improve your conversion rates, and increase online sales.
Mobile is becoming an ever-more popular way to access the internet. Almost 60 percent of all online searches are now carried out on a mobile device, and by 2025, nearly 73 percent of internet users will access the internet solely via mobile devices. Figures like this simply can’t be ignored.
Optimizing for mobile traffic and having a mobile-friendly design is a must. Be particularly aware of the impact screen size has for mobile devices. This can make navigation and form-filling quite fiddly, and may make images too small, ruining the experience. Responsive websites require fast-loading images and forms that are also nice to look at.
The key here is to make things as seamless as possible for your visitors. That could be as simple as making sure landing pages are aligned with marketing content. Keeping consistency across your website in general is important as it helps create a good user experience. Probably the most important consideration, though, is the checkout process. Nearly 70 percent of carts are abandoned, so this represents a big opportunity to increase ecommerce sales.
Make sure to avoid unnecessary barriers like putting too many steps into the purchase journey, adding too many fields into forms, or not being transparent enough on shipping costs up front. In general, abide by the old adage: keep it simple.
We talked earlier about the value of website design in creating trust, but another fantastic way of doing that is through leveraging social proof – a psychological phenomenon in which people have a tendency to follow the actions of others.
Harnessing social proof involves telling visitors what other customers think and feel about you as a brand. Case studies are particularly useful in a B2B environment, and incorporating feedback either directly from satisfied customers or through re-using testimonial videos and review site quotes and ratings can be very powerful.
You may even want to survey your customers yourself to see what they think of you and then share the results on your website. That way you can pick the questions you ask and therefore the data you can present to potential customers, allowing you to gather the most useful insights.
One of the ways you can easily lose sales is by failing to provide support to confused visitors or those with questions. Having the capacity to provide information and reassurance to remove any uncertainty is crucial. Without that support, potential customers could become just another bounce rate statistic.
Provide visitors quick and easy access to answers to the most commonly asked questions by adding a knowledge base, or an FAQ section at the very least. Chatbots can also be used to offer a similar type of service, but in a more interactive and engaging way.
It’s good to remember the importance of a human touch though, and adding an extra dimension to the human support you provide through live chat can really help personalize the customer experience. Access to live chat during the purchasing process might be the difference between a customer buying or leaving frustrated.
Once a visitor has demonstrated their interest in you by coming and engaging with your website don’t let them slip through your fingers. That could be a potential sale lost.
There’s numerous ways you can keep prospects interested. It’s fairly common practice to use pop-up offers and calls-to-action once visitors are on-site, but be wary of overwhelming your visitors with too many things and putting them off completely.
Re-messaging is also a good option. If a visitor signs up to your newsletter, for example, be sure to send them relevant offers in future. Cart abandonment emails in particular are very effective, boasting an impressive 18.64 percent conversion rate.
Once visitors have reached your site, creating a sense of urgency will help persuade them to buy.
There’s a few options you can go with. One is to opt for the scarcity approach by adding functionality that talks about ‘only X number remaining’ of certain products. Visitors will instinctively not want to miss out. Another route is using countdown timers on offers, which have been shown to create an 8.6 percent uplift in conversions.
It may be your website, but it’s there for your customers. No matter what specific measures you take, always keep the impact on the customer in mind. It’s all too easy to get caught up in creating a website you think looks cool, but ends up being a nightmare to navigate and use.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask, ‘is this making my life easier?’. That is the surest way to get the most out of your website and increase sales for your business.
Benedict Clark is a psychologist and writer, having previously spent 8 years in the digital marketing industry. With a master's degree in Business and Occupational Psychology from Kingston University, he writes about the interplay between customer experience and psychology for Acquire.