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Product pages are like a field of dreams

You remember that movie where Kevin Costner insisted that ‘if you build it they will come’? That’s how many of us approach our product pages – get the products up on the web and they will sell.

I’m afraid this is a big, fat mistake: you are going to need to work harder than that.

Let me outline the anatomy of a perfect product page for you. It is one that attracts customers, convinces customer, converts customers and cross-sells customers.

This is no field of dreams but a sleek, hard-working beast.

I’ll sketch its outline starting with the obvious but heading determinedly to the winning secrets that most of your competitors will overlook.

Their loss can be your gain.

1. Get the picture

The product images you use must be high-quality, viewable at a large size and, ideally, at different angles. In the non-tactile world of the web you need to give your customers a virtual tour if you are to convince them to make a purchase.

2. Get the pitch

Video didn’t only kill the radio star it also sells the product page. A brief video highlighting the benefits of a product, containing testimonials or helping cement its lifestyle associations will deliver conversion after conversion. Try it and see the difference it makes.

3. Get creative

Images, moving or otherwise, are great but great copy converts too. Copy will help you to rank on search engine pages (SEO) but it will also help you to bank more visitors as paying customers.

Here’s one secret you can learn from journos. When journalists write they get the meat at the top and flesh it out as they go on. You need to ensure that in 60 or so words you have said enough to convince. Then include a Read more where you expand bit by bit on all this (always having the meat of each section first).

Here’s another secret – it’s got to be unique. Even if you have thousands of products you need something unique or you are going to lose out at in the search stakes and fail to engage your visitors.

4. Get reviews and give credentials

User reviews are a critical factor in influencing buying decisions yet getting them needs strategy not just a plug-in. Mail your customers for reviews offering discounts or free samples. Supplement reviews with testimonials.

Whilst you are turning the screw on the buying decision with reviews you can ratchet it up further by always including social sharing opportunities, social proof (share counts) as well as trust signals (such as guarantees, awards or safe shopping logos).

5. Get fast

Keep your designs clean and your sales will be keen. Web users will start to seriously abandon sites in large numbers if their pages take more than three seconds to appear. You must make sure your servers are responsive and your code and images are optimised.

If your product pages snooze you lose.

6. Get smart

So you’ve just about made the sale. Your visitor is convinced. All they need do is choose a colour and quantity. Yet something goes wrong. They can’t find the option button or it’s not easy to use. Kiss that sale goodbye.

(You do, of course, have all your size and colour options on one page, don’t you?)

Exactly the same can happen during the checkout process. The form is too long or the server takes too much time to respond. Another abandoned cart.

If you do nothing else do this: make your Add to Cart or Buy button a different colour to the rest of your page’s design so it is easy to spot.

Best of all, though, get smart and make sure that the buying process is smooth and easy every step of the way.

If you want to get super smart you need to plan your page so that you capitalise on opportunities to cross- and up-sell. As Tesco says: every little helps.

7. Get chatting

In a recent survey it was found that nearly 60% of visitors prefer live chat assistance to any other kind. What’s more it was also found that live chat can increase conversions by 20%.

Live chat wins you the hearts, minds and purses of your customers. Check out the latest research here. Live chat gives you the chance to place the cart back in their hand before they leave it in the virtual aisle. It also sets you apart from your competition and personalises the shopping experience.

8. Get ahead

Finally, here are two ways you can get ahead on the search engine results pages and attract those clicks to your product pages.

They may surprise you. But they can make a big difference.

Your URL appears as, say, 20% of your search result.

Now compare two URLs returned on a search for a Panasonic radio:

Which one makes you want to visit?

Make sure your Titles and Descriptions help drive visitors to your product pages. After all, what’s the point in the best-designed page in the world if no-one comes?

Get a product page that sells

So there you have it: the anatomy of the perfect product page.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas on what may have been missed out. But please don’t tell me that all you have to do is build it and they will come.

The web is way too busy a place for that field of dreams.


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