In the “Build A Better Website” series, we’ll dissect a website page by page and put it back together with purpose and great content so that each page of your site can build trust, earn credibility and drive revenue for your business.
In a previous post we talked about putting together a kick-butt services page that would turn visitors into leads and even customers. But what if you sell a product? Digital or tangible, one product page or a whole ecommerce store, your product page is the workhorse of your site.
It can make – or lose – the sale.
It can convince – or bore – your visitors.
It can generate business for you – or for your competitor if you’re not paying attention.
Product pages are tricky because there are so many options and so many varieties of products. But if you start with a good foundation and build yours with care and purpose, you’ll go a lot further toward making the sale – now, and next time, and next time.
Here are a few ways to kick yours up so it’ll feel as though you’re reaching right through the computer, grabbing your customer’s hand and hitting that “Buy” button.
1. Focus On The Sale
Whether you’ve got a button that says Buy Now, Add to Cart, Purchase, or some other variation, it should be the biggest, most prominent thing on the page.
It should be in a specific color that makes it stand out from everything else on the page and should be within the same grid space as the product name and price. It doesn’t have to be gaudy, obtrusive or bright red. It just needs to be noticeable.
Will people still buy if they have to hunt for a few seconds to find the button? Probably. But why risk losing people (like me) who are so impatient with bad websites that they’d just as soon spend ten more minutes looking for another product on Google than 2 extra seconds locating your Buy button?
By the way, I keep saying Buy “button” because I mean button. Not Buy link or Buy sentence. Shoppers are used to looking for that Buy button. Use it!
2. Keep It Clean
That means very carefully and deliberately organizing everything else – from the quantity field to the shipping calculator to the size and color selections. All of that stuff is important, but find a way to incorporate it without cluttering the page and turning it into a brain-numbing mess.
And don’t let anything creep into that Buy space! The Buy space is special. The Buy space gets royal treatment. Do not mess with the Buy space.
Some people see white space on their website and think, “That’s empty space! I can put something in there!”
Empty space on a website and especially on a product page is good. It gives each element a chance to stand out and be noticed rather than turning into a big glom of noise. Will people still buy if your site is messy and disjointed? Maybe. If you’re Amazon.com.
A cluttered page shows a lack of care that can translate to a lack of credibility and that can translate to a lack of trust. You know what happens when people don’t trust your site? They go back to Google and find a competitor they can.
3. Mind Your Social Sharing
Resist sticking a Like, Plus One, Email or other share button along with the Buy button. Remember, the Buy space is sacred!
But do include sharing icons elsewhere. On the side, beside your photos, wherever they can be seen and used without cluttering the page or distracting from the sale.
There’s value in getting people to share your products. Who knows, that person’s friend may see the recommendation and be prompted to buy, too. It also contributes to social proof. Lots of Likes and Pins can help build your credibility.
4. Entice Your Shoppers
You know how sometimes when you’re shopping online you come across the same product on multiple sites? And every single one of them has the exact same product description? Word for word, same commas, same paragraph breaks and everything?
Do you know what that’s called? Lazy!
If you want someone to buy something, tell them why they want/need/can’t live without the thing you’re selling.
Don’t just copy and paste someone else’s description.
Even if you haven’t “borrowed” your product description, you should still spend some time crafting it. A good product description isn’t all that different than a good service description. It should describe not only product features but product benefits.
Imagine you’re looking for a flowerpot. You find one – the same one – on half a dozen different sites. The price is comparable. Where do you buy? Well, if it was me, I’d buy from the one that explained how the drainage on the flowerpot was so fantastic that I could grow a gorgeous herb garden right on my windowsill and never have a water leak. I probably wouldn’t buy from the one that only listed the height, diameter and material.
Smart ecommerce marketers make sure they provide key features (like size, weight, color, etc) and benefits.
5. And Speaking Of Features…
List ’em all! List more than you think you need. This may take a bit of thinking about your product. There are obvious details, like dimensions, colors, materials, sizes. And there are not-so-obvious details. Will it fit through my front door? Is it safe for people with peanut allergies? Does it stack? Can I put it in the dishwasher?
Depending on your product, you’ll have a different set of details so try to think about not only what your customers might want to know, but what you might want to know if you were doing the shopping.
Here’s an example. I was recently shopping for a bag to keep all my business materials – a briefcase of sorts. I found one that looked fantastic and seemed to have all the compartments I wanted. But… was it waterproof or was that lovely hide going to fall apart in bad weather? And that inside pocket… would my sunglasses fit in there or was it meant for a smartphone?
I ended up not buying that bag because I simply didn’t have enough information. I suppose I could have emailed the vendor and asked but… well, there was another bag at another site that did explain the features.
6. Give ALL The Details
You know those little things every shopper wants to know? Things like: how much will it cost to ship? When will I get it? How do I return it?
Try to include as much of that information on your product page as you can. I know it’s tricky! You don’t want to turn your page into a cluttered mess. That’s why it’s so important to be organized. There are little “tricks” you can use like using multiple tabs and “read more” links, but the more information you can give people on the product page without sending them somewhere else to find an answer, the easier you’ll make their buying experience.
A quick shipping calculator, a statement that all your products are “guaranteed or your money back” can go a long way toward easing someone’s mind, answering questions and pulling them closer to a sale.
7. Make Sure Your Photos Rock
You do not get to cheap out on photos. They should be big. They should be bold. They should be gorgeous, clean and crisp. They should be clickable, rotatable and zoomable. There should be several of them.
One site that does photos extremely well is Zappos.com. You can see their products from angles you wouldn’t even have thought you’d care about. It’s almost like holding the product in your hand.
Remember that bag I wanted to buy? The sites I left immediately were the ones that showed only one picture of the outside of the bag. The ones I lingered on showed me the bag inside, outside, front, back and upside down.
It should go without saying that if you have a “click to enlarge” button that the photo does, in fact, enlarge. What’s more frustrating (or looks stupider) than clicking a photo to enlarge it and getting… wait for it… a smaller photo? Who messed that one up??
8. Offer Reviews
Next to photos, reviews can be your biggest ally. A lack of reviews won’t necessarily lose you a sale but having them can go a long way toward facilitating one.
If you don’t have any reviews, ask for them. Ask your customers to leave a review of their latest purchase. Provide an incentive for people to return and do so. Reviews are the real social proof of an ecommerce site.
Williams Sonoma does this well. Some interval after a purchase, they send out an email asking how you like the product and asking for a review. Do you know what I did when they asked me? I reviewed!
Most people aren’t shy about giving their opinion, especially if they loved or hated a product. Oh, and on another note? Keep even the less-than-stellar reviews. It will bring you a whole lot more credibility than if all your reviews are a solid five stars.
9. Cross Sell, Upsell But Don’t Oversell
If you’re not cross selling or upselling then you’re simply leaving money on the table.
When your customer is looking at a kitchen table, you’d better offer kitchen chairs. And maybe some placemats, wine glasses or even some oil soap for caring for the wood.
The key is to keep the additional products and options limited and relevant. If you show a toaster to your kitchen-table-shopper, it’s probably just going to look silly. It’s not totally irrelevant but it’s a bit of a stretch and there are better choices.
Besides, too many options tend to confuse people and kick them into indecision mode. Keep it simple and avoid the “ooh shiny” moment that keeps people bouncing around from one neat product to another without actually buying anything.
10. Make Sure Your Product Is Available
Here’s a super annoying and frustrating thing: I find a thing I really like. I add it to my cart. I try to buy it. It’s out of stock!
Why on earth couldn’t someone tell me that before I went through that effort? Did they think I would enjoy not getting what I wanted?
If it’s backordered then you should clearly let shoppers know before they attempt to purchase the product – right there in nice, obvious print on your product page. Let them know how long it might be before they will receive the product.
What’s worse than an unavailable product? One that’s been discontinued. I understand having backordered products on your site – after all, people may be willing to wait a few days or weeks. But completely, 100% un-purchase-able? Nope. Wrong. Don’t trust you anymore. Never shopping there again.
If a product is on your site, it must be available for purchase. There is no point whatsoever in keeping a product that you no longer carry. I can’t even make up a stupid reason for doing that. If you can, I’d love to hear it!
In the meantime, get working on your product page now! Remember, depending on your product line you may need more or less information on the page. Start with a solid foundation of good photos, good copy and a nice, big, fat Buy button. Then lay in your other information logically and keep it clean.
The product page is one that can seriously benefit from some pre-development wireframing. Whether you use a wireframing app or you literally sketch it out on a whiteboard, you’ll save yourself a ton of time, effort and money by knowing what all the page elements are before building the page.
It’s a whole lot easier to erase a crummy layout that to rebuild one on your site.
Got any other pet peeves about product pages? Share them in the comments!
More In This Series
11 Tips For Writing A Great About Page
8 Tips For A Contact Page That Converts
The One Thing You Must Do On Your Services Page If You Want To Make The Sale
Join the discussion 11 Comments
Hi Carol Lynn,
These are some great tips on product sales pages.
From a business owner standpoint, I can honestly say that #10 is a struggle, but necessary for success. I owned an e-commerce store previously and keeping products on the site updated is a full time job in itself. One product would be going out and another purchase coming in, it’s a very busy cycle to manage, but that would be the biggest complaint from customers.
As you point out, making the sale is all about keeping things simple and straightforward.
Love these tips!
Have a great Friday!
Keeping products updated is definitely a job! I have a couple of ecommerce clients and they’re always managing inventory. It’s one of those necessary evils because once you get someone to your site willing to give you money, it would be no fun at all to lose them!
Great stuff on sales pages! Two big takeaways for me: 1) The buy space is sacred. Customers will only do one thing at a time and that is the thing we want them to do if we want to sell online. 2) Product description needs to be about the value and benefits, not just the features. The flower pot illustration is a classic example of how to do it well!
This is one of my own personal pet peeves on websites. As someone who does a lot of shopping online I really hate the typical product page: big mess of stuff, generic description. Then you go to another site and…. same description. Over and over. Why would someone bother shopping at one site over another? At that point it’s just price and there’s no chance to build loyalty or get return customers. Even big brands get this wrong sometimes. Lack of attention to detail!
Yes and small businesses may have an excuse, big brands not so much.
This is comprehensive and well though out!
Thanks Geoff, I appreciate your kind words!
That’s a very thourought step by step to create the perfect product site. I know that as a buyer I like the buy button to be very obvious and I like to have as much detail as I can get.
Sometimes, like you, I try to find more details or want to know about more feartures and all I find is the same thing everywhere. I think that the smart marketer will be the one that is going to go one step further to provide MORE and in the end he might be the one who is going to get MORE sales.
Thanks for the great post 🙂
The biggest problem I see with clients that I work with is always trying to cram stuff onto the page. They see empty space and have to put something there. So the Buy button and everything else just gets lost in the noise. I do a lot of online shopping so I get really picky about the sites I use. If they’re not easy and enjoyable I just go somewhere else. I have no patience!!
Great Post Carol!! i agree with you specially on tip#7 which highlights that
Images always speak louder than words in delivering a message easily and
directly to any age and gender that might be visiting your website. Images
might be related to your recent products.
It kills me when I see a product page that has that tiny, 100 pixel thumbnail and you can’t enlarge it or see any detail. How on earth am I supposed to buy a product like that??