7 Conversion Tactics Software Developers Can Borrow From Top Online Retailers

If you’re like most software companies, you’re probably averaging a 1-3% conversion rate of sales to total visitors. For every 100 people who walk into your store, most look around then leave. Some make take your app for a test drive but only a fraction end up buying.

Are your competitors doing any better? What about other industries? Here are some average conversion rates for some mainstream retailers from March 2010:

  • schwans.com (groceries) – 40.6%
  • blair.com (clothing) – 20.4%
  • officedepot.com (office supplies) – 15.4%

How would you like to have conversion rates that high?

Those sites have one thing in common: They have designed their commerce flow from the buyer’s perspective. Here are seven ways to turn this “buyer-centricity” to your advantage:

1. Build Authority with Valuable Content
Assuming they in fact need the product or service you provide, the biggest reason prospects don’t buy is that they don’t trust you yet.”  –Sonia Simone, Remarkable Communication

People who trust you will buy your software. This is where building your authority comes in, and it takes time.

DON’T assume people trust you. People will only care about your product after they believe you can fix their problems. DO create trust and establish thought leadership through valuable content like free video, advice and research, or with ratings and testimonials from other people who trust you.

2. Give Your Traffic a Reason to Buy – And Buy from You.
After you’ve established trust, help a shopper understand exactly what makes you and your product better than alternatives.
DON’T assume that your consumer already knows why your product is superior. DO legitimize your product. Create infographics that clearly state the advantages of your product versus the others (if any) on the market. Make a buyer feel secure about buying from you by having a FAQ section and a clearly stated customer service policy that includes a quick turnaround.

3. Inspire Users to Take Action.
Buttons should be designed to inspire a clear path to action.
DON’T make a shopper search for a link or for a button. DO make the checkout button visible and approachable. Base the copy and design of your checkout button after the best in the world.

Top Ten CheckOut Buttons

4. Make Buying Easy
Look for ways to eliminate all sources of friction in the buying process.
DON’T make forms too long. When forms get tedious, your potential buyer loses interest. DO implement a single-page checkout with Ajax. Checkout is validated in real time and A/B testing has shown an increase in conversion rates of 257.78%. A free Ajax/PHP script can be found here.

Sample Ajax Form

5. Never interrupt the flow of the purchase.
Shopping is a process with many psychological intricacies. If you stop a customer for information while they are in the process of being excited about a purchase, it can end the purchase process permanently.
DON’T make your potential customers go through a mandatory account sign up process before they buy. DO allow them to opt in to create an account after they have already entered their data as part of the check out process

6. Get Your Product to Talk to Them
Your product isn’t just software, but a powerful conversion tool.
DON’T limit your conversion messaging to just your Web site. DO utilize other mediums of communication like your blog, e-mail campaigns and, most importantly, from within your software.

Your software is no longer just software. It’s part of the conversation, and some customers will talk to you through your product, if you let them:

  • “You’re nearing 2000 records. Let us know if you need to upgrade soon.”
  • “You’ve run the demo version five times. How do you like the product so far?”
  • “Got 30 minutes for a feedback session with us? We’ll upgrade you to the full version for free.”

Be sure to make this feel to the customer like conversationware, not nagware.

7. Follow Up
Just because a user has abandoned their cart doesn’t mean that you can’t convert them into a sale.
DON’T become a stalker or a spammer. DO add customer service into your repertoire. If you were able to capture the email address from a shopper who abandoned their cart, follow up with an email that includes the contents of the cart and an offer code.

Boosting your average conversion rate may not be easy, but it is simple: Just remember to think like a software buyer.