‘Tis the season to take stock of what 2015 meant for eCommerce stores and think about how we can improve things in the coming year. I’m pretty sure boosting sales will make the list of every single online shop owner and, hopefully, so will improving the store itself. Regardless of how much TLC the store overall will get, as the essential component of any eCommerce shop, at the very least, product pages should see an update.

Still, turning a boring product page into a highly-converting success is anything but easy and, no matter of how many well-intended recipes for product page success you go through, the manual on how to build successful product pages is far from having been written.

That means that once you swift through the fluff and useless advice, sound principles, smart analysis and a good dose of customer empathy, are the way your store’s product page can become a solid asset for your business.

Go back to the basics

One of the most important rules of website development is that design follows content so, before you even think about talking to a designer about re-working any of your eCommerce store pages, you’ve decided what its elements will be.

The first step in doing so is understanding the difference between what you must have and what you’d like to havewith the former being what your store needs and the latter functioning as extra incentives to purchase. In essence, a product page needs no more than 5 elements: product name, description, image, price and add to cart button. That’s pretty much it. Everything else is either an added customer hook or, most of the time, clutter.

Drop the clutter

Most likely driven by the rise in features on competitor stores, businesses are adding banners, buttons, promos and whatnot hand over fist, in turn, driving competitors to do the same and leading to feature hoarding the likes of which we haven’t seen since The World’s Worst Website Ever.

An important thing to keep in mind when adding features, especially on product pages, is that the more things you add on top of the 5 you need, the higher the odds that they will distract the users rather than encourage them to purchase the product. Imagine the basic elements of your product page as your star cast. Everything else has a supporting role.

With that in mind, build the page around the product, with incentives, promos, supporting multimedia content, price cuts and bundles that directly relate to that product and that product alone.

Don’t drive people away

A frequent but highly counter-intuitive feature we keep seeing more and more of on eCommerce product pages is the link. Seemingly harmless enough, links on product pages can offer more information on the brand, manufacturer, store and whatever else. It doesn’t really matter where it takes users and how helpful the information on said page is, the important thing is that it takes users away from the product page.

Every single marketing effort has one purpose, getting potential customers to your product page. Once there, the page has only one function, getting them to buy. So why in the name of all things sane, would you add anything with the potential to drive them away from the page?

Whatever extra info or assets you believe can provide a strong incentive for potential customers should be integrated into the page, not compete with it.

Build confidence

One of the toughest things for eCommerce stores to do is build confidence both in the quality of the product and, more importantly, in the business itself. A lot of businesses understand consumer confidence as a never-ending string of seals slammed in the footers, reviews, testimonials, social media like and share counts.

In reality, since internet-savvy consumers are used to fraudulent reviews and testimonials, they’re effective only so long as they can be verified and managing to gather a hefty number of social media likes and shares speaks more to the product’s popularity than the confidence customers have in your business.

The road to building consumer confidence is long and requires a mix of convincing product descriptions, high-quality images, verifiable reviews, great customer support, reliable service, all working together to create a remarkable shopping experience. And it all starts with understanding who you’re doing it all for.

Build for your customers

If you want customers to buy your products, you have to build your eCommerce store, product pages and offers to respond to their needs. Sounds great but how does one do that? You can always rely on reputable research papers published for your particular industry but, if you’re looking for insight into the needs and wants of people visiting your store, Google Analytics is your best bet.

GA is a great tool that offers complex, actionable insight into how visitors browse your website, what pages they visit, for how long, allowing you to quickly adapt to make them more effective. What’s more, paired with AdWords campaigns, you can get the information faster and, once you enable Interests categories in GA, you can get the information you need to build real buyer personas.

Seal the deal

As the strongest nudge towards converting potential into actual customers, Calls to Action are the most important asset on your product page. At this stage, confusing CTAs are definite conversion-killers so you want to make sure your clearly state what you want your user to do. This, however, doesn’t mean you have to be boring about it.

Your business’ creativity can effectively shine through without all the bells and whistles of overly-embellished buttons or banners. For instance, instead of a plain Add to cart button, a restaurant can go for an Add to plate one.  Similarly, a fashion outlet can drop the long Add to shopping cart version in favour of an Add to wardrobe. 

Whatever option you choose, make sure your CTA is a simple, visible button, with a clear message that has absolutely no competitor on the product page.

The Bottom Line

Effective product pages are the moment of truth for your eCommerce business, they are where you’ve been working so hard to get users to go and, for all intents and purposes, are your business’ money-makers so don’t let the cobwebs set and, at least once in a blue moon, give them a good make-over.

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