In today's super competitive, I-want-it-now mobile world, you only have a few minutes (or seconds) to engage potential shoppers. And if your site isn't mobile friendly, considered trustworthy or a dozen other things online shoppers deem important, that potential customer will go elsewhere.
But never fear. Help is at hand. Following is a list of the 12 fastest ways to lose online shoppers and what you can do to prevent potential customers from buying from your competitors.
1. Your site is not mobile friendly. "With recent changes to Google's search algorithm, businesses without a mobile-friendly site will appear farther down in search queries--in essence, eliminating them from relevance," says Bill Nagel, cofounder & chief marketing strategist, Netsertive, a digital marketing intelligence company. "This is the fastest way for a business to lose a customer to a competitor as more than 90 percent of consumers use search to help them make a purchasing decision."
[ Related: 12 Tips for Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website ]
To find out how mobile friendly your website is, "businesses can perform a quick mobile-readiness diagnostic check of their site through Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool," he says. "This exercise will ensure that a business can be found online and can attract more qualified shoppers in 2015 and beyond."
2. Your site is too slow. "The simplest way to turn off potential customers is with a slow, non-responsive website," says Dan Carney, vice president of Operations at Limelight Networks, a content delivery network provider. "A recent survey shows that nearly 39 percent of customers will wait between 3 and 5 seconds for a website to load until they get frustrated and leave. [And] nearly 41 percent leave after more than 5 seconds," he explains. "If [your] website is not performing quickly, then the customer will simply give up."
To avoid this problem, regularly test your load speeds, and make sure your site is up to speed.
3. Your site is clogged with banners and ads. "Given the size limitations of [some laptop] and mobile devices, space is at a premium," notes Paras Mehta, CTO, ShoeBuy. "Your customers want to know they have arrived at the right place, for the right product, right now. Don't make them sift through [or overwhelm them with] a sea of marketing [banners and ads]."
4. Visitors don't feel your site is safe or trustworthy. "Neglecting to show verification [that your] website is secure can result in low conversation rates for your company and a lack of trust from consumers," says Harsh Sood, CTO, Fareportal. Indeed, "customers [often] refuse to buy goods or services from a site that is not secure due to the risk of identity theft or fraud. To increase conversion rates, and ensure you and your customers' protection, invest in a solid security and encryption software," he advises. Or make sure your hosting provider has.
"Brands that lack clearly defined authenticity policies [and trust marks] are more prone to creating a negative brand perception that may result in a loss of customers," adds Matt Krebsbach, director of Global Public & Analyst Relations atBazaarvoice. A Bazaarvoice survey found that 29 percent of U.S. consumers will not purchase from or enter personal information on websites that do not display appropriate trust marks."
[ Related: 13 Simple Tips for Improving Your Web Design ]
5. Your site is difficult to navigate. "There's nothing worse than a website that is hard to navigate," says Rob Garf, vice president, Industry Strategy & Insights, Demandware, a cloud commerce solution provider. "Retailers will lose customers if their sites aren't easily searchable," he argues.
"Get in the mind of the shopper," he advises. "Consider how they will navigate [your] site to guarantee customers can find products they're searching for." And "test every element of the customer's buying journey through every touch point on [your] site, to ensure high-speed and quality search functionality."
To keep customers engaged, make sure they can find whatever it is they are looking for with just a couple of clicks.
6. Your photos suck. "When shopping online, photography is [often] the only way customers get to know a product," says Aryana Jaleh, the social media manager for Exolab, a Web design and Web marketing company. "So even if the product itself is great, a bad photo won't sell it. Photos have to be clean, with good lighting and accurately [represent] the item."
7. Your copy is boring or difficult to understand. "If you want to lose customers quickly, create content that's either so high level that it's beyond the interest of even the people at the company who are paid to care about it, or so empty and vague that it's like chewing old gum," says Greg Zapar, director of User Experience at Wire Stone, a digital agency. To combat "content fatigue," and keep visitors engaged, eliminate jargon, make descriptions easy to understand -- but avoid manufacturers' descriptions (as it hurts your SEO) -- and "think more visually, [by using] interactive infographics... or videos that get the message across."
8. Customers consider your shipping too expensive. "According to a survey released by SecureNet titled "The Way We Pay," consumers between the ages of 18 and 44 reported shipping costs as the biggest factor impacting their decisions to purchase products online," says Nish Modi, senior vice president of Product and Innovation, Worldpay, a payment processor. "Providing discounts with promotional codes or reduced shipping costs to preferred shoppers with registered accounts can reduce the shock of shipping costs for shoppers." And don't underestimate the power of free shipping.
9. Checking out is a pain. "There is nothing worse than making your selection and then not being able to easily [make the] purchase," states Mark D. Nicholls, managing director & digital innovation practice lead, Information Professionals. "Checkout and payment forms that don't work, or don't work easily, are frustrating and will cause customers to give up," he says. "Too many upsells can also create frustration and lead to loss of customers. There's a reason why Amazon's 1-click ordering was such a game changer. It makes life simple and easy for buyers."
10. Help and contact info are hard to find (or don't exist). "It is critical for companies to have tools in place to respond immediately when a guest asks for help online," says Liz Osborn, vice president of Product and Solution Marketing at Five9, a provider of cloud contact center software. "For instance, having a chat application in place, or at the very least an easy to find 'Contact us' button, is essential to keep online visitors happy," she says. "It's the same as walking into a retail store, where you expect someone to be available to answer your questions. If there isn't, the experience is diminished and you may just leave, without the intended purchase."
And don't make contact forms your sole method of contact.
"Contact forms present an unnecessary barrier between a business and its customers," says Sakita Holley, founder, House of Success PR, a lifestyle PR firm. "Ecommerce sites that only have a contact form and not an email address or phone number listed signal to potential customers that they don't really want to be bothered." Instead, provide "a contact email address and/or customer service phone number that leads to a human interaction," she advises. "Humans have a better chance of saving/closing a sale than an automated message."
11. You bombard customers with email. "A top way ecommerce companies lose customers is through poor quality and high quantity email campaigns," says Antonia Townsend, the founder & chief knicker officer at Enclosed, a luxury lingerie subscription club. "Every single email needs to be enjoyable and deliver value to the reader.
"Flooding a customer's or potential customer's inbox does nothing for anyone," she argues. And it can make you lose customers. That's why Enclosed sends "one 'Knickergram' email per month, genuinely striving to give our email recipients a beautiful, classy and value-added interaction each and every time. As a result, our Knickergram's open rates are twenty times industry norms."
To prevent customers entirely opting out and forgetting about you, however, "give customers an option to opt-out of daily correspondence but still receive the 'important' stuff [or weekly emails]," says Holley.
12. You don't have a social media presence, or don't engage with customers on social media. "I see this all the time: Either an ecommerce business doesn't have a social media presence at all (big mistake) or they have a sizable digital footprint on social media but they spend zero time engaging with their current and/or potential consumers," says Holley. That "can lead to a bored or [disengaged consumers] who may not unfollow you but [will] certainly stop spending their money with you."
Instead, invest in social media "engagement -- responding to comments [on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and] interacting with consumers when they post one of your products on their [social media] page. It can lead to increased sales."