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by Michael P. Hill August 04, 2015

As any online store owner knows, building a website and attracting the right traffic is just a small part of the challenge of creating a successful online store — it’s also vital to pay attention to getting users to buy.

Since you, as the Shopify store owner, have such fine grained control over how your store looks and operates, you have the invaluable position of being able to optimize your site so that users are not only drawn in but engage with your products and are ultimately compelled to buy.

In digital marketing and sales, the process in which a user first comes to your site and ultimately becomes a customer is referred to as the funnel — a name that’s appropriate when you think about how a funnel is wide at the top, which refers to the large pool of potential customers you bring in and becomes narrower as it moves toward the bottom.

The narrower portion of the funnel is analogous to those users who continue down to browse your products, learn more about them and, at the very bottom of the funnel, buy.

Another way to think about it is in terms of percentages — you might have 50 percent of the people who visit your site view one or more product, 10 percent of your overall visit count add an item to the cart and 5 percent of your total visitors buy and become a customer.

The very nature of a store makes it unrealistic to expect every user (or even a huge percentage of those visitors) to ultimately become a customer — just as not everyone who walks into a physical store will walk out having made a purchase, but there are ways to help make encourage users to get closer and closer to becoming a customer.

Many digital marketers and ecommerce experts refer to this as “making the funnel slippery” — a term that draws on the slope-like nature of a funnel.

By optimizing each part of your site (and therefore the funnel), it’s possible to gradually increase the number of users who continue on the next step in the funnel and even a small uptick at each level can have significant financial gains for an online store.

Starting down the funnel

It’s said that Web users evaluate the reputation of a company within just seconds of visiting its website — and if your site is poorly designed, clutter or looks suspicious, many users will click “back” just as quickly as they entered.

Since Out of the Sandbox themes rely on years of experience in Web design best practice, you’re already well situated to create a site that has a look and feel users will trust.

When customizing your Shopify theme, pay close attention to how the fonts, color scheme and copy works together to create a professional appearance.

Welcome shoppers well

When creating your site, think of ways to you can make shoppers feel welcome and understand what, exactly you sell from the first moments they are on your site. This is also a great opportunity to express your brand’s unique tone and point out the unique advantages your products offer, so pay special attention finding ways to work in that information, especially on your homepage.

Content considerations

When creating the content for your Shopify online store, be sure to proofread text carefully and make sure photos are high quality and clear. Most users are quick to spot poor quality copy and imagery and that’s a huge red flag in most people’s heads.

Feature your best

Feature your best and most requested products on your homepage using your Out of the Sandbox Shopify theme’s built in featured products features. Carefully consider which products are most likely to resonate with users who are both new to your site and company as well as ones that might be returning to make a repeat purchase — and find a good mix between the two.

Describe the product well

When users are shopping online, your product description is often your only chance to “talk” to them and sell your product. Use your product description space wisely and be sure to include enough details to not only answer any objections a potential customer mighWays to keep the funnel slippery and covert visits to salest have but also demonstrate how your products will help them in their lives.

Make it easy

Ensure that it’s easy to tell how to add an item to the cart and, once that’s complete, purchase the item. Some Shopify themes obscure the “add to cart” button or make it a bit too difficult to find or understand. While those designs may be creative, there’s no guarantee everyone will understand how to add items — and it’s obviously tough to make a sale with that in the way.

Out of the Sandbox’s Shopify themes come pre-designed with a variety of eye-catching “Add to Cart” buttons, as well as slick animations and even cart overlays (link to post) to make it easy for users to understand how to shop and buy from your store.

Add trustmarks

Users can be a bit wary of buying from online stores — which isn’t surprising given how hard it is to find reputable online retailers. Show your shoppers you’re serious by prominently displaying the logos or seals of trade or business organizations you belong to or publications you’ve been featured in.

Since payment security is often one of the biggest concerns online shoppers have, consider highlighting that your store using SSL to process payment — or even mention that you use Shopify, as this ecommerce platform is becoming more and more well known even to consumers.

You can add this type of information to your homepage or site footer, or have a page or two dedicated to your commitment to security. Product pages are another strategic location for this type of imagery.

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn.

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