I've written quite a bit about conversion rates on this blog, but the fact is that most people that visit an e-commerce web site have no intention of buying. They are window shopping. Optimizing your web site to increase your conversion rate is very important, but you can't forget about optimizing for the 70-80% of people or more that are "window shoppers."

The mistake that a lot of online retailers make is to not engage the vast majority of their visitors -- the ones that don't intend to buy.

Yes, you can entice a small percentage of these window shoppers to buy with offers like "buy one, get one," coupons and free shipping, but what about the remaining lot?

The answer is engagement. If you can engage window shoppers, you can get them to continually interact with your company, and when they are ready to buy, your site will be top-of mind.

So how to you engage window shoppers? Here's how.

Make your e-mail newsletter signup more visible

If you don't have an e-mail newsletter, you really need to start one. Next, make sure your e-mail signup form is visible.

Many web sites have e-mail signup forms at the bottom of their sites. While that's an acceptable place for the form, why not duplicate the form and place it higher up on the page where people can see it right away? By making the form more visible and writing a good call to action (like "Get sales and exclusive tips by signing up for our e-newsletter"), you'll increase your subscriber rate.

This probably goes without saying, but you need to publish your e-mail newsletter regularly and pack it full of good content. Remember, it's about keeping prospective customers engaged.

Write a blog (regularly)

No matter what you're selling, you should publish a blog with RSS feed. Other than product inventory and pricing, the typical e-commerce site is rather static. By adding a blog, you'll freshen the site by regularly adding content that complements the products you're selling.

The goal in blogging is twofold. First, you want to generate some credibility for your company (see the next section on social media for some promotional tips). Second, you're giving prospective customers some good information and keeping your company top-of-mind. Also, good search engine optimization is often a by-product of a well-written blog.

Engage in social media

Admittedly, social media isn't for everyone. But if you, your marketing manager or other staff in your company are already using Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc., then you need to get them involved.

I won't go into all of the options that social media offers (I may go into that in a future post), but for starters, you can create a discussion group on a Facebook Fan page. You can tweet latest blog posts, new products and sales on Twitter. You can make how-to videos for a You Tube channel and embed them in your blog. There are many more opportunities, so be creative.

In conclusion

Here are some questions for consideration within your company:

  • How can my company test positioning of newsletter signup forms?
  • Can I offer people in my company the opportunity to write blog posts to distribute the workload?
  • Who in my organization can I tap to help brainstorm customer engagement ideas? (Don't be afraid to ask entry-level employees for their advice!)
  • How could I make a blog more visible?
  • How can my company use social media in ways my competitors are not?