Creating a positive online retail experience to increase conversions.


In a real life store, the conversion rate to customers that enter to customers that buy is usually stated as being around 40-50%. If we compare that to the online retail environment the accepted average is a lot lower, around 2-3%. Retailing and customer service we experience in the high street today is the product of centuries of refinement. Shop design and layouts are meticulously considered and staff are well trained in order to engage with customers and maximise sales revenues. So when it comes to online retailing one could argue there is considerable room for improvement to close the gap…but is this possible and how?

Just a minute….

‘‘The average page visit lasts a little less than a minute’’ (, so customers must be able to find what they’re after super quickly. Amazon is a great example; the search bar is dominant on the home page, the dropdowns of products generated by typing in a search are comprehensive and intuitive and you can add to basket with one click. Registered users can therefore purchase an item within a minute or so. There are multiple benefits of registering for both Amazon and their customers. Payment details are stored, information about previous orders is stored -giving Amazon great information on what offers to target customers with – keeping it relevant – and regular customers can buy almost instantly – on impulse, just like in a real time shop.

On the move…

Google reports that 67% of customers are more apt to make purchases when a site is mobile-friendly. With the increase in mobile browsing and the rise of 4g more and more people are buying on the go which means your website needs to cater to that audience. If a customer is drawn by an advert (say on a tube poster) whilst out, they will in all likelihood browse for the product on their phone then and there. There are still too many brands that neglect their mobile presence and miss out regularly on custom. Consider all your touch points… Every step of the customer’s journey from start to finish must be carefully mapped out in order to give the best possible experience. ‘’You might always deliver a great product, on time, with a smile, but a wayward touch point like off-target advertising, billing mistakes, or an unwieldy website can scare customers off.’’( Consider this list as a reference tool to check the various touch points relevant to your brand.

Remember all the channels you use are playing a part in the eventual online sale. In the DIY field, Screwfix have an official You-Tube channel where there are 724 videos uploaded with over 1,600 subscribers. There are product 'how to' demo's, installation videos, buyer product feature videos and many more. These videos all have links to the Screwfix website and other social media channels which drives traffic and increases their online sales. By demonstrating that their products work and by featuring customer reviews, customer trust is increased and sales follow.

Keep them talking…

Social media is an essential part of the sales armoury. You should have a strategy and a plan for both promoting your brand and also for how your brand approaches social as a customer service tool. JD Power’s recent survey showed that 67% of consumers turn to social for customer service queries. The accepted best practice is for a brand to have a separate twitter feed for example for customer service versus marketing to ensure queries are expedited most efficiently. Of course you customers advocating you online positively. But never forget that even a negative comment or complaint is an opportunity. An opportunity for you to engage and show your brand is willing to stand up and be counted and deals efficiently with inevitable mistakes and problems. The conversation will happen around your brand regardless. If you want to improve conversions you need to be part of it in a positive way.  

The personal touch…

A vital ingredient in the conversion rate of the high street shopping experience is the staff that deal with you in store. You can easily go off your favourite brand if your local store has staff that don’t care about you. As a frequent and loyal customer to a particular store you would expect the sales assistants to recognise you and treat you differently too. Equally you’d rather a sales assistant was not over friendly on your first visit but you’re likely to appreciate their help when you can’t find the size you need. So consider how the ‘human touch’ is still very much missing from most online experiences and what you can do to add personality to their buying experience.

Joining the dots…

A web presence is one thing, but in the modern online environment brands have to join all the dots, offline, web, mobile and social to ensure the customer experience is both seamless and positive. That’s what sells!  

Websites Referenced

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Paul Stephen
Paul Stephen
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
With over 25 years in marketing, Paul is one of the UK's leading experts on digital marketing. He oversees the agency and often lectures and consults within the industry on digital and marketing related subjects and has a particular interest and skills in the travel and tourism sectors.

Paul operates nationally and internationally, helping brands to think outside the traditional horizontal and vertical channels and transform their business with creative multi-channel marketing and digital re-invention.
Paul Stephen

Paul Stephen

24 Oct 2014 - 7 minute read
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