September 9th, 2010.
Following Caffeine and Mayday updates to Google’s algorithm it is more essential than ever that internal pages on websites are kept as fresh as possible with new content. It is no longer enough just to have an exciting homepage with frequently refreshed content: this now needs to be replicated throughout your site.
Google will reward fresh content
This video from our friends at SEOmoz shows you ways that you might keep your product pages more interesting to users and more “appealing” to Google through the addition of fresh updated content.
August 25th, 2010.
The bane of every online Clothing retailer’s life is RETURNS.
On average, the return rate is 11% for t-shirts; 25-35% for casual wear; and over 40% for fitted fashions. The return rate is higher for more expensive items. In countries like Germany, the average return rate for clothing is even higher – around 60 %. Most of the returns are due to bad fit (stats from fits.me.)
The returns bear a very high cost for retailers, as the average time for the item to be placed back into the sales cycle is 1-2 months. Summer apparel, sold in August, and returned in October, is difficult to be resold at any price.
This is just the nature of things – however good clothes look on screen they sometimes just don’t look so good once on one’s own weirdly shaped body!
However, it’s crucial for online retailers to minimise return rates and some have gone the extra mile in developing online dressing rooms. Online dressing rooms have come and gone over the years, most of them having promised a lot more than they ever delivered – it’s not exactly an easy conundrum to solve.
So I have been looking into current technology. There does not seem to be a whole lot around but here’s what I found. If you know or any others please let me know.
I hope they give you inspiration.
Hot off the press is youth fashion retailer Seventeen’s virtual dressing room
Online shoppers can now try on clothes in a virtual dressing room using a pioneering new augmented reality application that’s being pioneered by a US magazine publisher.
The application detects users’ image through their computer webcam. Then shoppers choose the piece of clothing they want to try on and see what it looks like on them by laying the clothing image over their own image on their computer screen.
So I gave it a go…….
Well this was fun, and after a bit of trial and error I began to get the idea. It’s good to be able to try on women’s clothes in the name of research though I couldn’t get the clothes to fit me though but then maybe that’s because I’m not a Seventeen year old girl.
Hmmm, couldn’t quite get my laptop angled correctly…
Not really sure if this is going to catch on….
2. Fits me:
Next up is technology being produced by Fits me http://fits.me/. This technology takes the old formula of the user putting in their size and the computer doing its best to recreate your build and to render the product on your body. But this time it looks much more impressive. I gave it a go and it does a nice job as far as I can tell.
First you get your shape
Then try something on
You can see it in action on http://www.hawesandcurtis.com, though they hardly mention it on their site which surprises me. Click on the tiny “change my size” icon.
This is an old favourite and has been around now for a couple of years. This is a sort of online fitting room in that it helps you imagine how a product might look on your type of body, but it’s not attempting anything clever by way of personalising it to your actual shape.
The killer app?
Whilst serving a useful function as an online fitting guide it also doubles up as a sort of online Spearmint Rhino and has become popular with men the world over achieving viral status, which is why if you type in “knickers” in Google and this site comes number one as so many people are now linking to it. Call me cynical but I can’t help feeling that this may have been as much the objective in the first place as helping out on the fitting issue. It’s due for an update quite soon.
This is just a glorified (or not even that) mood board. I can’t believe anyone is really using this in any serious way. Even the demo doesn’t look very interesting. There is a laborious sign up process and you can’t even get the individual items to move around. So you have shoes pointing one way and handbags the other. Nil points I’m afraid.
Virtual Sunglasses from Brille
This site worked nicely. A bit clunky and slow and really unless you live 100 miles from an optician you’re probably going to have more fun and less waiting going into shop.
A few more editing tools might have been good so that I could rotate my head inline with the horizontalness of the glasses. There’s nothing technologically amazing about this site but hopefully returns are reduced by giving the user the opportunity to see how they might look once on.
The separate 360 view of each pair of glasses is useful and makes up for the fact that the site can’t quite display the arms of the glasses on my head. I guess we need some sort of 3D version here.
Anyway, I think I look good with glasses. Any opinions?
And some more just sent in bya reader
Not exactly a fitting room but more a style guide
OK I just saw this so thought I would add it to the mix: It’s an ad by Google. Not sure it’s the future but cant be ignored.
Please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org if you find any other good example of online dressing rooms.
August 17th, 2010.
I spend a lot of my time going round E-commerce conferences picking up new ideas and tidbits for improving e-commerce sites. Nearly everyone is offering software that will increase conversion rates. It’s tempting to think that if one were to buy into all of them that conversion rates would run at 100%!
This article is aimed at e-commerce managers who have covered the basics of increasing online conversions (read article) and now want to move it up a gear.
Advanced techniques for improving conversions rely on optimising landing pages, intelligent online merchandising and recapturing people once they have left your site. A lot of the software being offered is cookie based – that’s to say they that user behaviour is tracked using cookies and appropriate offers and products are then presented to them based on their search, click activity.
Here are a few which stand out – where possible I have suggested the sort of company that they are most appropriate for.
Most websites just have a standard search that their web developer has implemented, usually without a whole load of thought or cleverness. This may not be out of laziness, however, as delivering a good search tool is actually quite tricky (ask Bing/Yahoo etc).
It stands to reason that if you are able to provide users with the results best suited to what they are looking for that they are more likely to convert.
Many companies specialise in providing intelligent search solutions that learn as users search, and that give users the options for how they see results.
FACT-Finder at http://www.fact-finder.com
Celebros at http://www.celebros.com
Both these companies offer a similar service whereby they integrate their search software with your data information so that when people search they receive intelligent results.
Best explained by copy from Celebros’s website:
The search engine can easily return accurate products to any query your customer would make:
Simple queries: Salesperson understands the product searched for and returns results with precise refinements based on your catalog
Complex Query: Salesperson understands which family of products (category) is concerned, and displays products that match the attributes queried (e.g. “dry-hairshampoo”)
Spelling Mistakes: dictionary-based. Salesperson detects and understands any spelling mistake a shopper might make
Synonyms: Salesperson automatically suggests synonyms to fit your catalog and business domain
Missing brand or product: if the shopper queries for a missing product, instead of returning the usual “no results found” page, Salesperson will offer your customer the choice of similar product
Price-based queries: Salesperson is able to handle queries with price terms and price relations (e.g. “shirts under $20)
All contribute to increasing usability and the quality of results and therefore conversions. This also includes the display of any ancillary information on the page (i.e related products) as well as just search results.
Intelligent search solutions are for retailers with large inventories of products and particularly a range of products that have a wide nomenclature, that is products that can be referred to in many different ways e.g sofa, couch, settee, suite.
Avail Intelligence is a company so confident in its ability to give you a good return on your investment that it offers an ROI guarantee. Avail offers merchandising services geared toward your target market. Products are displayed and personalised for every single customer.
Avail Behaviour Merchandising is a tool that lets retailers automatically recommend the most relevant products for each visitor. It makes the online shopping experience more personal. Every step in the buying process is identified and handled separately.
The company promises immediate increases in conversion rates as well as higher average order values as the software helps buyers find what they want (even if they didn’t know they wanted it).
Whilst better for larger retailers, Avail have solutions starting at £200/month for smaller retailers.
Hook logic at http://www.hooklogic.com
Let’s be honest. Consumers have too many product choices with very little differentiation between them, and as a result they’re much more adept at price comparisons and finding deals.
Based on user behaviour Hook Logic incentive programme allows you to feed in appropriate offers to users whilst they are on your site thereby giving the user an extra incentive to add the item to their basket. See below
The Hook Logic Incentive manager leverages targeted incentives. The goal is to get more prospects to climb into your sales funnel.
According to their website Hook Logic will
- Increase leads
- Increase conversion rates
- Increase average order value by 20 percent or more
- Deliver personalised incentives through marketing channels
This solution is really geared for large retailers with high site traffic and where price comparison is easy.
Rich Media Merchandising
10 CMS integrates interactive overlays on your product imagery. These overlays feature live merchandising data. They transform home, category, and landing pages. They could transform your customers’ interest into a “must have” mentality.
This is done with mouse-over hotspots embedded within lifestyle media. These inspire customers and personalise options. It creates a sense of urgency and encourages customers to “buy now.”
This is a fairly low cost option and a great opportunity to respond to customer trends. It’s easy to use, intuitive and it integrates with catalogue and merchandising data for fast development. You don’t have to be a tech expert to deploy rich media content and interactive elements
Again with a starting price of £10-15k this is for larger retailers but is a nice add on especially for high end luxury brands. They claim to have increased conversion rates by 100% for some clients.
My things media at http://mythingsmedia.com
However much traffic you get, it’s likely that 98% doesn’t convert on your site. But what if you can catch them elsewhere and bring them back to your site. Mythingsmedia does that by re-targeting highly personalised ads to users once they have left your site using information based on their buying and search behaviour.
This is very simply how it works:
1. As visitors enter your website, they are tagged with a cookie.
2. If the user leaves the site and later enters one of the thousands of network sites associated with Mythingsmedia they are delivered relevant advertising based on their previous shopping and search patterns.
3. This advertising banner is served to each individual as a personalised shopping window – enabling instant conversions.
Personalised advertising is the key phrase here. The idea is to make sure every impression for every ad is optimised with relevant content based on the consumer.
For a more detailed (and better) explanation – watch their online video.
The cost is based strictly on conversions and they claim to double your return conversions.
This service is suitable for online retailers of significant size and who receive significant traffic volumes.
Consumer Product Reviews
Feefo at http://www.feefo.com
Product review are common place these days. But there is often a niggling feeling that the merchant has cherry picked the good ones to put their site. Feefo is an independent review service that the merchant cannot interfere with.
This is how it works. When a customer buys from you:
If a supplier joins Feefo, the supplier commits to telling Feefo of every sale. When the customer has had a chance to receive the product or service, Feefo email them to ask what they think about the supplier. The customer responds with a very simple form on the site, and the feedback is displayed on the Feefo site (or on the client site via an XML feed) for all to see. It is a very transparent customer feedback tool, and users can trust it as the merchant has no way of “editing” poor reviews.
As well has helping conversion rates, product reviews can also help reduce return rates. If a user has had the opportunity to research a product fully along with any potential problems then they are less likely to buy something and then have to return it.
Online review tools also help merchants can also track overall customer satisfaction rate over an extended period of time.
This is a good fit for small to mid-sized companies that are not household names and who need to build trust with their new users.
Other product review sites include
Revoo at www.reevoo.com
August 17th, 2010.
This article is aimed at people new to e-commerce. It covers some of the basics of ensuring that your website maximises conversion rates.
It should also be read alongside 12 quick ways to increase conversion rates.
For more experienced e-commerce managers please see this article on advanced techniques for increasing conversion rates.
1) Minimized Navigation on Shopping Cart/Basket Pages
There is nothing more frustrating for an online retailer than an abandoned basket. Why did the user go all that way and then lose interest??
It’s fair to assume at the check out stage that a user does want to buy something. So our advice is to minimise the navigation available on your shopping cart pages. Keep wording short, simple, and to the point. Do not allow any distractions that could potentially pull your customer away or cause a delay.
By adding in lots of last minute deals and offers you risk diverting attention and losing the sale. Not everyone subscribes to this method, however at Datadial we believe it to be the best option.
An example: http://www.yapp.co.uk/pages/checkout_Login.aspx
2) Clear and Upfront Notification of Delivery Charges
Tacking on fees on to a final price without notification early in the buying process is the quickest way to lose a potential sale. Numerous surveys have revealed that hidden delivery costs are the number one reason for people to abandon a shopping cart. Notify your customers upfront if they will be required to pay any shipping or handling fees. This is a great way to increase conversion rates and build customer loyalty.
3) Clearly Display Trust Elements for Consumer Confidence
Remember, quite often users do not know who you are, where you are or really anything about you. Therefore it’s crucial you do everything you can to gain, nurture and keep your customer confidence in order to increase conversion rates. Here are a few ways to do this:
Clearly display “trust elements” on your website. Trust elements can include:
a. Credit card logos. Use only approved, high-quality logos representing the types of credit cards you accept. This helps customers feel more secure in knowing you are a legitimate business. It also shows the user that they can buy from your site. It may not be obvious otherwise.
b. Contact information. Whenever possible clearly display your companies contact information. Customers need to know they will be able to contact you if they have a problem, questions, or need more product details.
c. Real employee names and a company director. When people shop online they like to know with whom they are dealing. Displaying real names and titles of key company employees will help consumers feel more secure in knowing there are real people running the show and not just computerised robots or answering machines.
d. Photos of faces and places. Include photographs of the people with whom your customer is dealing. If appropriate and applicable, include very short biographies about the smiling faces on your website. Consider using photographs of your business location if applicable. This helps people understand yours is a legitimate business with a real location and that you aren’t likely to disappear in the night.
e. Visual verifications of claimed approvals, affiliations, and other credentials. If you have the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for example, proudly display it in a prominent place. If you have earned awards for business-related, and sometimes personal accomplishments, tell your consumers with a quality image and link that leads to more information.
f. Push any special customer services you have to offer. If your customer service representatives are bi-lingual or speak multiple languages, find a way to let potential consumers know from the get go.
Multiple Payment options
Most of the time one payment option on your site is totally adequate. But in the interests of maximising conversions you might consider adding other payment vehicles to your site.
The most popular alternative is PayPal. Some users only ever use paypal as they are comfortable with it and trust it. PayPal offers your customers options. They can pay with major credit cards, or can pay directly from their own PayPal account. It also has the advantage (depending on how you look at it) that Paypal store your credit card so that you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit a site offering Paypal. Paypal is also great one for small and start-up businesses that have no established a financial history with their banks. It’s fast and easy to register, display on your website, and capture funds that can be transferred right to your bank account.
So why not add it as an option?
Well it’s expensive with commission rates around the 3% mark (and 20p per transaction). Paypal also have a knack of siding with the buyer in the event of dispute meaning that refunds are issued on request, leaving merchants frequently out of pocket.
It’s an extra administrative thing to manage but if adding Paypal helps get an extra % sales conversion on your site then maybe it is worth it.
Google Checkout also offers easy solutions for start up merchants and small businesses. Google checkout claim to increase leads and create more conversions with a fast, easy, convenient checkout process.
You can also sign for basket abandonment alerts so you can recapture customers who wander away without buying!
The main advantage that Google Checkout has over Paypal is that its icon appears in Adwords results – so naturally drawing your eye to merchants using it, resulting in a 10% uplift in conversion rates according to Google.
However, Google Checkout has many drawbacks. Its interface and design are distinctly amateurish and this influencers trust building for users on their site. (Having said that Paypal’s interface is not much better). Also it’s only possible to link Google Check out to credit card accounts and not bank accounts.
Since its launch Google checkout has not taken off in anyway like Paypal before it and struggles for market penetration.
But, as above, if it means a small increase in sales conversions, and you can put up with the extra administrative hassle, then maybe it’s worth having Google Checkout as well as Paypal as well as normal Credit Card payment facilities.
Like Paypal, Google Checkout is suitable for small and larger merchants alike, though brand aware and high end merchants are unlikely to be found using either as there is undoubtedly something “cheap” looking about both!
July 22nd, 2010.
I recently went to a talk on the different forms that e-tailing is taking over and beyond the traditional e-commerce site.
Below is a distilled version of the talk with just the best bits. A lot of these examples are only availabe in the US at the moment but by reading this you are getting ahead of the curve!
(The talk was by the big cheese at Pod1 – Fadi – so credit to him for researching it all)
E-commerce via Apps
Start accepting cash and card payments with Square. No contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs. Effortlessly manage the money you take with an easy and intuitive interface. US only at the moment and only for payments less than $60 but one to watch for sure.
See corporate video
And a review on how it works
Google shopper (Android only)
This APP allows you to scan barcodes, the co
vers of books and media, and even search by voice – the app will tell you where you can buy the same product and at what price. Pretty nifty if it works!
It took 12 months for the location-based social network to attract one million users and by stark contrast; the second million only took three months. Ever since February 2010, the site has been registering over one million ‘check-ins’ a week.
See how it works:
New e-commerce software
Vendr create POP-UP shops – They say that you can create your e-commerce site within 15 minutes. These are basic obviously sites now but I guess they will improve. In any event they will probably do for many home based businesses.
from their site: “Works with your current website: Add a “store” button to your blog or website, and your store will simply pop-up over your content — no more sending your customers elsewhere to make a purchase. Vendr functions as a part of your existing site. ”
Alvenda software allows you to create e-commerce shops within sites such as Facebook – Alvenda’s first customer, 1-800-Flowers.com, launched during the Mother’s Day holiday in 2009 and recognized a 10.5x lift in shopping activity by making it easier for people to shop.
New E-Tailing concepts
Cutting out the middle man – Harnessing the power of social media to revolutionise product manufacture and pricing.
For furtniture design and manufacture: You choose what makes it into our collection. Vote for your favourites and the most popular will be made available to order.
Buy early, pay less
The earlier you buy an air ticket, the less you pay. Now you can do the same with wine. Save £££!
WhipCar is the first service in the world where a car owner can rent out their vehicle for money, whenever they are not using it. WhipCar pairs sensible drivers with spare car time
April 12th, 2010.
I read an article on Marketing Week “Advertising industry and green charities welcome code changes“.
The story reports on some changes in the codes guiding TV and radio advertising, and one significant change will be that charities will be allowed to run adverts comparing themselves against another charity.
The new advertising code takes effect from September 2010.
I believe it is unlikely that this kind of advertising will go out during prime time TV, or drive time radio; it is too expensive and finger pointing in the middle of Coronation Street isn’t the best way to open up the nation’s purses and wallets.
I do think though that the temptation to run comparative adverts during day time TV will be irresistible to some young up and coming marketing manager. The cheaper costs would be quite a lure, and let’s face it, day time advertising is really boring.
Where I see the some real change happening is in the search market, and given that Google has relaxed its stance on bidding for brand names, we can expect to see a whole raft of guerrilla style PPC campaigns such as “Donations to us go to good causes, not to fund new offices” or “We’re better as we don’t use chuggers” triggered by searches for charity names.
The meta description section of HTML code will become the marketing manager’s secret weapon, and will be “optimised” to within an inch of its life with remarks the activities of other charities alongside traditional calls to action.
The meta description content does not appear on the pages visitors browse, and is only ever seen as a summary of the page in natural search results. Where better to put some unsettling comments and inconvenient truths about charities competing for the hearts and minds of the donating public?
Any bets on which charity will be the first to step up?
March 26th, 2010.
It is a difficult thing running an online business.
The number and variety of companies offering comparable products and services can make it difficult to stand out in a crowd. Your site has to look the part and match the expectations of your target audience.
Your offering has to be priced on a par with your competitors, or the premium justified by quality, environmental friendliness, scarcity, or some other characteristic that matters to your customer.
And then on top of all that, the customer has got to trust you enough to hand over their hard earned cash.
How is a blog going to help?
Within most B2B and B2C websites, there are only so many opportunities to talk about your organisation. You have the product/services pages, the FAQs, press releases and so on, but there comes a point where it looks like you are creating pages just for the sake of it
Blogs have become mainstream due to their personal feel, and writing without a corporate angle means that the content will not appear awkward or contrived.
Yes they require effort and time to maintain. Agreed – you have to think of interesting things to say. OK maybe your competitors don’t blog and they seem to do all right without it.
Here’s why we blog
- it adds extra unique pages to the website
- our blog posts allow us to explore topics at length that don’t necessarily “fit” within the core pages
- well written content attracts links to the site which improves rankings in search results
There are a number of choices out there when it comes to blogging, and your web developer may even have their own bespoke software.
We use WordPress for our blog – the software is free (a perfectly sound reason in itself), it can be configured to behave exactly as you want, and WordPress posts get picked up very very quickly by search engines.
Plan your first posts
List some topics that you are knowledgeable about and feel confident enough to write on. You may even find that some areas need a separate piece in their own right.
Don’t force a style
After you have written a couple of pieces, the articles develop a rhythm of their own. The content will influence the tone and certain topics will lend themselves to humour, sarcasm and so on.
Set a schedule you are comfortable with
You don’t need to publish a new post with clockwork like regularity, and inevitably there will be other things during the working week that require your attention. The more frequently you post the better of course, but keep an eye of the quality of the article. Ask yourself “Is this interesting / useful / important information that my customers should know?”
Have a point of view
You are not the only operator in your market, but your (well presented) opinion is valid. Stay on top of goings on within the industry and have an eye on events at the periphery. In doing so you’ll start to garner the trust and respect of your audience, and they will have confidence in what you say.
Your blog is not a direct sales tool
It is all to easy to list your latest product, special offer and so on in the blog. Don’t. Your blog is an indirect marketing channel and you are writing content that is supposed to get them interested in you, and your ideas. Keep it interesting, resist the urge to sell directly, and your audience will engage with you over time.
If you use the above ideas as a springboard you’ll have the beginnings of a great blog.
Now isn’t there something you want to say to your potential customers?
December 22nd, 2009.
One of the first tasks we perform when working with a new client on search promotion is a health check of the website. The idea is to make sure that the way the site is built does not hamper its performance in search engines.
Business owners and managers don’t have time to learn technical jargon, so if their web developer puts keywords in the URL then the “search engine friendly website” box is ticked. There’s a bit more to it of course, and here are some pointers…….
First things first – hosting
Is your website a .com address? Which company is hosting the site, and where are their servers located?
.com / .net / .org and similar domains are glamorous for businesses as they don’t “belong” to a country like a .co.uk web address does. When confronted with a .com (and other non-country specific domains) search engines look at where the server is geographically located to determine which country the website is intended for. If your website is aimed at a British audience, has a .com address and is hosted on a server in Germany, then your website will tend to perform better in natural search results done by people on German soil. You need to host your website with a company that has servers in the same place as the majority of your customers.
Put your web address in http://whois.domaintools.com to find out more.
If you’ve got a .co.uk or a country specific domain, then you don’t need to take any action.
How much Flash on my site?
Sites built completely in flash don’t always do well in search engines, and tend to be used as a marketing tool or a campaign site. http://www.speakvisual.com is a good example of a brand using flash as a showcase site.
If you go to Google and search for something competitive that people want to buy e.g. consumer goods, clothing, specialist equipment etc, the sites that feature at the top of the natural listings make limited use of flash and concentrate on providing text that search engine spiders can crawl.
Want to see your site like a search engine does? Go to http://www.seo-browser.com and enter your URL.
If you see some text and blue underlined hyperlinks, then what you see is what a search engine knows about your site. If you can click your way through to all your pages then a search engine can do the same. Try getting to Colin Smiths’ page on Speak Visual using SEO-Browser…..
There are a number of different definitions of this word. Google them at your leisure. For this tutorial its the process of choosing between http://www.example.com and http://example.com versions of pages.
Try this simple test go to your website and type in one of your deeper pages without the “www” part e.g. http://example.com/page
- if the website automatically adds the “www” to the URL and you see the page you expect then you’ve got nothing to worry about
- if the website shows both http://example.com/page and http://www.example.com/page then you’ve got duplicate content that needs to be fixed
“If I’ve got more than one version of the same page on my site then its all good! It means there’s a greater chance of search engines finding it right?”
Search engines take the view that information on a website should not be repeated, and generally adds one version of a page to their records, and ignores other versions.
http://www.webconfs.com/similar-page-checker.php have a good tool for checking duplicate content.
Canonicalization is one instance where duplicate content may happen. For ecommerce sites a particular problem is where a product may “live” permanently in the brands category, and the lifestyle section, and therefore will have two (or more) web addresses for the same item.
The content management system can be configured to create only one version of a page, and its worth talking to your team about their proposed way of addressing this.
Page titles, meta descriptions, keywords, and headings
Search engines scan the HTML code on websites for clues as to what the site is about. Its easy to get carried away here so in order to keep it simple….
page title <TITLE>
Each page on your website should have a unique title with the most important word starting on the left….
description <meta name=”Description” content=”…..>
The information that appears here is not visible to customers looking at your pages, however search engines sometimes use this text as a summary of the page when it lists natural search results. This should include calls to action to encourage people to click on your entry rather than others listed on the page…..
headings <h1> – <h6>
<h1> is the most important heading <h2> less so, and so on. So keywords important to your business (and appropriate to the content on the page) should be organised accordingly…..
Most content management administration systems give you the ability to manually edit page titles, and meta descriptions.
Hopefully this article has explained what some of the jargon in SEO-world means, and you now know what impact it can have on your business. Have the conversation with your people, and if any of the above need attention, ask them to fix it.
September 13th, 2009.
At business school I was taught the way to make money was to make our assets sweat. I think they meant to get the most out of everything you owned and to make sure it was being worked night and day to maximum effect. And so at Datadial we try to do the same for our clients’ websites by making sure that they are focused on developing websites that maximise sales levels by being search engine friendly and that convert users in to buyers.
The usual reaction in squeezing more out of a website is to rush into a redevelopment exercise. Redeveloping a website is expensive that is often undertaken on a whim and without real research into what is working and what is not on the current website. Indeed it’s often the case that the current site is perfectly capable of delivering many more sales and that it just needs refining to improve the user experience.
This doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. The key to successful marketing is to consistently test and measure everything that you do. Delivering fantastic conversion figures is within reach for us all, no matter how small the budget.
Here are four ways that we have carried out for some of our clients to help increase their onsite conversions at virtually no cost.
1) Online surveys
What better way to really understand your customers than to ask them for direct feedback?Â What is it that makes them want to buy from you rather than your competitors?Â How did they hear about you?
Carrying out market research will enable you to build on what you’re doing well and make any necessary adjustments and help you to grow. You will be surprised by how many people are willing to take the time to reply to surveys.
We recently did a survey for one of our clients Design911.co.uk which gave vital insight into user behaviour. Coupled with Click Tracking report (see below) Design911 have been able to fine tune their website to respond to users’ expectations and behaviour.
Below is a sample of the survey results that were produced.
2) Mouse tracking –
Why do other sites make it so difficult to buy anything from them? We’ve all experienced a confusing website at one point or another. But could your site also be suffering from usability issues? Find out where the sticking points are with Mouse tracking.
You may also find that users are trying to click on things on your site that are not designed to be clicked on. We found this with Design911:
With design 911 we found that that very few people clicked on the middle of the page and that lots of users tried clicking on ads on the right handside of the page which were not actually clickable. We found too that the search box was being under used as it was below the page fold and that users were taking at least 60 seconds to make a click on key navigation items.
3) Study your analytics
It’s all too tempting to gloss over your analytics reports – these reports contain vital information which reveal where users are getting stuck, turned on or turned off. Seems obvious to say it but unless you take the time to check what is going on on your siteÂ you will never be able to intelligently amend your site and measure the effect of your changes.
There is a mass of information to look at but here are 3 basic things to do
Check Bounce Rates: Bounce rates tell you if a visitor who has been directed to your site via a search engine or Adwords likes what they have found. If they leave the site immediately this is called a bounce. If this happens you need to question if you are showing the right products for the keyword search and if you could provide better information, or if they had come via Adwords, are your Adwords set up correctly.
Funnels: You can set up funnels to determine where people are dropping off over a series of pages (typically the shopping cart process). Different funnels can be set up for different goals.
Compare to previous periods: There are a number of trends such as time on site, the number of keywords that you are being found for, the number of pages per visit that are good to compare from onen time period to another so that you detect trends.
4) A/B Testing
Having pawed over your analytics you can then start making intelligent changes to your site. How will you make more people fill in your enquiry form? How can you get them to add one more thing to their basket. Take a look at the forms below and guess which one had the higher conversion rate.
This company carried out A/B testing on their sign up form and increased their conversion rate by 10%.
This is called A/B testing or Multivariate testing which we use to determine which images, copy and design most appeal to your customers and which version increases conversion.Â You can have as many or as few variables as you like when creating your A/B testing. Ideally you would set it up to automatically serve different versions of the page to alternate users but to save money you can do it on a week on/week off basis.
We helped Conference Genie increase conversions on their site by altering the sign up process. Interestingly we did it by making their site more complicated.
Weirdly the problem on this site was that it was too easy to use. Users could not believe that they could just dial a default number, punch in a code and start a conference call. So we made the site appear to generate a specific telephone number and a unique code for them. Turning a one step process into a two step process actually increased conversions.
Making small changes instead of wholesale changes was also recently backed by Peter Fitzgerald, who leads Google UK’s retail industry division. He said that the whole area of analytics – that’s technical jargon for examining the ways that people navigate websites when they shop online – has taken on new importance to retailers.
Simple changes can make the world of difference, particularly since statistics show that 50.1% of online shoppers who place items in their shopping carts still do not buy them.
By subtly altering a website’s layout based on how people use it, websites can increase sales significantly.
“There is often a lot of unimportant information on the top of a web page. If you move this information out of the way it can make a huge difference,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
For example when Comet, the electricals retailer owned by Kesa, the listed stores group, removed two bits of text from the top of its web page (saying ‘top checkout tips’ and ‘you’re safe with us’ respectively), its conversion rates increased by 6.7pc. “Online retailers are spending more time on analytics to see where things are going wrong,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
Department store group Debenhams recently tested the message and positioning of an online sign-up form for its Beauty Club. Improvements to it increased the number of customers the chain signed up by over 89pc. Little such tweaks are being made by online retailers as a means of gaining incremental sales. Experts say that the results of the small changes can be seen almost immediately.
Google’s Mr Brittin said: “By interpreting analytics data and continually testing their sites, retailers can really understand what consumers are looking for online. Often very small and seemingly obvious tweaks can boost sales significantly.”
All of the above exercises can be implemented fairly quickly and inexpensively. However, don’t underestimate the time you need to truly get to grips with your findings.
By constantly analysing the results and carrying out appropriate changes you will be able to squeeze every last conversion out of your site without incurring expensive redevelopment costs.