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The Best Way to Increase Website Conversions?

Jan 31, 2008
There's no question that the marketplace is loaded with vendors offering solutions to increase website conversions. With an increased drive toward true alignment of search marketing and site optimization for online shopping, it would seem that a majority percentage of people arriving on a website would buy.

But they're not.

In fact most organizations rarely have better than a 1% conversion rate for all unique traffic. What's worse is that many of these organizations have less than 1% unique traffic conversion. Yet, marketing directors and other leaders responsible for online sales in organizations whose names you probably know, continue to burn through massive online budgets, running large infrastructures and managing large teams for what amounts to an anemic performance.

Increasing conversion is the only thing that matters online.

You've really got to sit down and ask yourself why these organizations think the only way to increase revenues is to increase traffic. This is insane. For starters, traffic is not infinite. In fact, most website traffic will never come back to your site. The majority of good prospects are lost to no decision at all.

If you think your traffic is going to come back and buy from you, you'd better think again.

* In a study released by BizRate and The NPD Group, more than 10,000 consumers were surveyed. Respondents indicated what occurred after they abandoned the shopping cart:

* 39% did not purchase the item at all

* 26% purchased the product from a competitor

* 17% made their purchase offline

* 18% returned to the site to make the purchase at a later time.

The next largest group of departing site traffic is driven into the arms of the competition. When you consider how poorly sites convert, you've got to wonder why people continue to burn cash and other valuable resources on traffic without looking closer at this problem.

Instead, marketers should first re-focus on making the site convert better, THEN turn up the tap on traffic. The etailing Group found in a study that 47% of e-commerce directors didn't even know their abondoment rate.


What's worse, consider the following facts:
* 35% of online shoppers find navigating sites difficult (Yankee Group)
* 20% of online shoppers find technical glitches frustrating (Zendor)
* 61% of people who abandon may not come back (Zendor Study)
* 55% of online shoppers are reluctant to provide their credit card information online (Yankee Group)
* Consumers, on average, spend more than 19 hours deciding where to buy online for a given purchase. (ScanAlert)

The fastest way to long term conversion improvements.

One of the best ways to increase site traffic without wholesale changes to navigation and graphics is with real human beings. Deploy a service that offers live chat to site visitors when they arrive based upon some entry criteria like the keywords they used to find your site in the first place. Chat is anonymous and non-confrontational for site visitors who genuinely would appreciate some help.

Staff that chat system with trained sales agents who know your products and can properly qualify based upon the most common needs of your visitors. Be careful not to overload those agents with too much traffic or you'll burn your brand with yet another version of poor customer service. Offer people the ability to speak with your agents on the phone during that sales cycle and conversions will go up even higher.

Then measure those results.

Is it that easy?

Probably not, but you won't know if you don't try. And with websites converting less than 1% of traffic, it would be hard for things to get much worse. Realistically though, you WILL increase conversions.

If you do it right, conversions will DOUBLE. What would that mean for your revenues?

People like to buy from people.

A sale is not just a transaction...it is a transfer of positive energy from one person to another. It is one person helping another make a solid buying decision. Imagine going to the mall and no one being in any store to help you. That would seem weird wouldn't it?

So why do we think it's normal to abandon decades of learning and retailing best practices from with on-line stores? Forget about new navigation and fancy graphics for now. Leverage something that will always be more powerful: the human element.

Then outsource it.
About the Author
Brooks helps organizations convert existing traffic into revenue without increasing advertising spend.
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