That's a Lot of Popcorn
Found an interesting chart today on marketingcharts.com defining the top online retailers by conversion rate. This chart shows the total percentage of visitors to a website who completed a transaction during their visit in the critical December timeperiod. All I can say is “Wow”.
Check this out:
To refresh any memories, a website conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who took a desired action – in this case, placed an order. So, from this info, it appears that nearly 30% of all visitors to thepopcornfactory.com placed an order in December! It should also be noted that retailers only qualified for evaluation in this list if they had a minimum of 500k page views in a month. That’s a lot of popcorn transacting across the web.
I’ve been in the direct, online business for many years now. I have certainly spent my share of time obsessing over my own conversion rates, and how to increase them. I’ve hired agencies to help. I’ve tested different variables to help encourage purchase. I’ve implemented multiple promotional strategies (Free Shipping! 50% off! Buy this NOW!). All paid off in different ways, and I’ve felt relatively successful with my efforts, but never to the tune of 30%!
I have a new personal goal.
So how do you improve your conversion rate? And what is it that’s driving such high numbers for these sites? I think it’s a number of factors – all of which must play together truly move the needle. Here are my 5 suggestions to start you along the path of improving your conversion rate:
- Know where you come from.
Do you know your own conversion rate? You better, if you want to improve it. Use Google Analytics or other analysis tools to define your conversion rate.
- Grab a friend
Grab a friend who may be unfamiliar with the nuances of your website and ask them to help you ‘experience’ your website. I suggest you ask them to do two exercises. And don’t forget to watch the entire process. Literally, stand over them – and DO NOT coach them along!
Exercise A) Ask them to visit your homepage and experience your site. Don’t tell them to shop. Don’t tell them to read. Just see what they do. We’ve talked a lot with our clients about the importance of having an easy and intuitive navigational path for our clients (see an earlier post by Ben Chinn, our Director of Web Design & Development: http://blog.inertiabev.com/index.php/2006/10/09/site-structure-and-navigation/), as well as the importance of asking for what you want with headlines and ‘Calls-to-Action’ on the part of the visitor. Both of these efforts can have the desired effect of leading your visitor through your website – ideally to YOUR desired end. Did your friend follow your desired path throughout your website? Did they ‘see’ and act on the things you intend your visitors to? Or did they miss key messages entirely?
Exercise B) Ask your friend to visit your website now with the goal of purchasing a specific product. Start them at your homepage, and watch the path to purchase. Did they get lost? Struggle to find the right page that the product would be on? Did they find the product and the ‘buy now’ button with the minimal number of clicks? Ask them what information they would want to see in order to make that purchase (price, label, tasting notes, reviews). Did they find what they needed? Did it take a few minutes or many minutes, and a lot of ‘back button’ usage?
- Resolve to Test and Measure
It’s ok to fail. Seriously. That’s what testing and optimizing is all about. Set a plan for what you want to achieve (in this case, higher conversion rates), list all of the potential tactics for reaching that goal, and get started. There are a number of things you can test: headlines, promotions, graphics/images, positioning of information on a webpage, the order of your navigational links, etc. For each tactic tested, watch “before and after” results. Did things improve or get worse? If they got worse, great! You learned what doesn’t resonate with your visitor. Another item off your list…
- Take Baby Steps
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just because your conversion rates may be lower than you like, and the shopping experience of your ‘friend’ was clunky, doesn’t mean your entire site needs to be overhauled. Commit to taking baby steps to learning about improvements in your conversion rates. Implement small changes at a time, and measure their impact. Learn what helps your visitor along to purchase and what doesn’t. And give yourself some time to learn. Commit to testing something over at least a week, if your visitor traffic is significant enough to give you ‘usable’ data. If it takes a month to get a real read on results, then give it a month.
- Be Relevant and Meaningful
Your visitor is going to engage with you, and continue to engage with you if you provide something relevant and meaningful to their needs. Think about your own online shopping experience. When you need something and a site has it, that’s relevance. But when you make that relevant product or information entirely MEANINGFUL to them, you’ve now started a relationship. How do you make things meaningful?
Watch how visitors move through your site. Which pages do they spend the most time on? This can give you an idea of the type of content your visitors are most interested in. Finding a lot of activity on your Recipe’s page? Put it up front! Make it easier to find your Recipe pages, add a link to this page from relevant product pages.
Watch what visitors are purchasing. Likely the bulk of your sales are on products you’re well known for, have greatest distribution on, and/or highlight the most on your website. But if a sleepy Zin that’s getting no play on your homepage is actually selling fairly well, it’s telling you to give it some presence. Try it out. Suggest to visitors that this is a “Customer Favorite”, and post any reviews that you can get from your customers on that product.
Don’t forget about your follow up marketing, as well: Email. Once you know what people are purchasing, and where they are going on your website, send emails that demonstrate this. I buy a lot of products on Amazon.com. And, at least once a month I receive an email suggesting other relevant products. This makes my experience with Amazon more meaningful to me. I buy. They suggest. I like that.
What are you doing to stimulate conversion rates? Have you ‘experienced’ your website? Are you bringing something meaningful and relevant to your customers? Think of it this way: if your website was achieving a 15% conversion rate, what kind of sales would that translate to?