Back in the day, it was all about the pitch when door to door salesman would come knocking with one goal in mind: To close the sale before the customer closed the door. Now, you have customers coming to you (if you play your SEO right) online, and it's your goal to convert that traffic into sales as well as loyal, return customers.

There are a lot more consumers poking around because they want to kill time on their commute, at boring meetings, and waiting in line at the coffeeshop. However, simply having a lot of traffic isn't enough to keep a business afloat. Studies show that the majority of Americans check out products and services online before making a purchase. How can you turn that browsing into revenue?

Here are nine ways to make it happen:

1. Optimize the navigation

Your customers need to be able to figure out how to purchase items instantly. If even a second is wasted, they'll get frustrated and go elsewhere. This means your nav bar needs to be optimized, easy to find and simple to use. This is something your web designer should prioritize.

2. Diversify your payment options

Don't take American Express, PayPal, or another form of online payment? You need to consider the cost-benefit analysis of losing a percentage of your customers and losing out on chump change that might be attached with higher fee options. Most businesses will benefit from offering every payment option available.

3. Speed up load times

If a page is loading slowly, it's either from the user's internet connection (which you can't control) or from a messy website on your end (which you can control). Things like too much animation and high-end design might look great, but if it slows down your page loads you're missing out on conversions.

4. Manage your reviews

Keeping an eye on leading online review companies like Trustpilot connects consumers with businesses (and vice versa). A two-fold review company that lets users write reviews while also letting businesses ask for reviews (and respond publicly) engages customers, collects review data, and then uses that data to improve business and customer retention.

5. Use outreach carefully

One of the best ways to foster relationships, which can lead to conversions, is to strike the right balance when building relationships. Don't bombard potential customers with sales-y pitches, but do make sure you stay in their line of vision. When you get data such as email addresses, that's big data gold.

6. Stay on top of social media

Only use social media if you'll actually use it. An abandoned Twitter account from a business is much worse than one that never existed at all. Use the analytical tools linked to each platform (many are free) to see which posts are performing and which aren't.

7. Show gratitude

One conversion is good, but continual ones are great. Make sure your customer is satisfied with their purchase by following up with a discount code or other means of showing thanks without them feeling like they've landed on a spam list.

8. Keep quality in mind

Don't lose sight of what's important: The quality of the products or services you provide. No matter what, the best way to retain customers is by keeping your brand at the top of its game. Otherwise, your customers won't be happy but they'll happily spread complaints.

9. Target the right demographics

Stop wasting marketing time and dollars trying to make everyone your customer. Even the broadest product has best markets, so focus your efforts here.

Making the transition from browser to customer is a big deal. Don't take it lightly, and use the best practices at your disposal.

Published on: Aug 29, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.