eCommerce Equations: Site Visitor to Conversion Ratio

People ask me all the time, “How much traffic do I need to get “x” conversions per day?“.

Unfortunately, the answer is never what people want to hear.  Most people love to latch onto a stat that suits their expectation (ie industry average conversion rate) and apply it to their site traffic.  The problem with that is that nobody wants to substantiate how the numbers were calculated and what factors lead to the results.  If you want to know the truth, you have a lot of work to do to…

  1. Optimize Your Site to Drive Traffic (SEO Waterfall)stats-image
  2. Be Creative In Your Reach (Grassroots PR)
  3. Get Inside Your Buyers Heads (Buyer Search Logic)
  4. Create Demand (Demand Generation Tactics)
  5. Optimize Content to Keep the Buyer Interested (Compelling Content)
  6. Keep Them Coming Back Again and AGAIN (User Experience)

You’ve done your best – now what?  Well, I guess I can give you a snapshot of what the conversion ratio might look like – but again, YOUR CASE must use YOUR DATA to form an accurate picture.  Nonetheless, here is a demonstration of the conversion cycle:

The Buying Funnel - Conversion RatiosIn this example, you see the ratio is 54 conversions per 10,000 site visitors.  This is 0.54% – a little over 1/2 of 1%.  SEO, PR and Marketing will get the eyeballs.  Content and Calls to Action will drive decision steps. Clarity, Merchandising, Removing Distractions and Instilling Confidence will lead to Intent/Purchase Actions.  Upon Completed Purchases – Focus on Service and Building Loyalty.  Create your Formula For Predictability (Consistently Great User Experiences) – and you will all but guarantee a 10%++ increase in # of conversions month-on-month by virtue of driving repeat customer purchases.

The numbers you need (per period, ie per month): 

  1. Total unique site visitors
  2. Total number of visitors who expressed interest (simple equation is total number of visits minus total number of bounces – but this can be much more dynamic and meaningful with more detailed data points – like time on site, number of pages viewed, etc)
  3. Total number of carts created
  4. Total number of transactions

Put each of these stats into your own diagram and see how you are doing.

Here is the IMPORTANT PART: Use this as a benchmark to measure and drive your improvement over time.

Measure, adjust, test, measure, adjust, test…you get the picture, right??

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Posted in Demand Generation, eCommerce "Best Practices", Public Relations (PR), SEO, Site Conversion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Secret Sauce (Part 4): UX, UX, UX – Predictability Breeds Confidence and Loyalty

OK – Let’s Start with the SECRET…

PROCESS is the Foundation of True Perception.

These days, with the emergence and growth of open source development platforms, and templates galore available for “plug-n-play” design, practically ANYONE can have an impressive looking website up and running in a matter of days or weeks.  If you’ve hired an SEO Consultant, you can even get your site ranked well and start to drive some great traffic. Add a few bells and whistles, and BOOM – you are going to ROCK the WORLD …right???

Happy-Customer-Online

Unfortunately there are far too many business start-ups that fall into this famous trap – “Let’s make our front end cool and engaging and focus on driving sales…and (whether conscious or sub-conscious) worry about the back-end details later”.  ouch – that’s gonna leave a mark.

245205-a-delivery-man-bringing-a-smashed-package-to-a-customer-who-looks-confused-and-unhappy

I’m not a huge Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) fan – but I’ve got to hand it to him on his “One Shot” lyrics:

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime

In business, when you are competing with known-entities and big-box players, you have to bite and scratch your way just to get noticed. What you do with your 15 minutes of fame at this point means EVERYTHING in terms of whether you are capable of turning ONE sale   into MANY (repeat) sales – and if you can leverage loyalists and influencers to catapult sales exponentially. This is where we come squarely back to User Experience (UX).

At the risk of over-simplifying – Let’s define some of the key components of UX:

  1. Search: is your SEO where it needs to be – and is it meshed with a little merchandising magic that gives the shopper the sense that you not only have what they are looking for, but is able to ‘speak’ to them as a real solution to their ‘problem’?
  2. Landing Pages: did you lead the shopper to the promised land or a rabbit hole? being vigilant about SEO – creating content, testing and re-testing results – help to assure that site users feel like you are intelligently focused on meeting THEIR needs.
  3. Brand / Design: a critical moment in the ‘first impression’ department is undoubtedly the immediate response to your brand image.  Is your site fresh, distinct, engaging, clean, clear, compelling? Does it effectively build confidence? Does it effectively and clearly lead the user to the purchase? Is it free of distractions and roadblocks that lead to site bounce and cart abandonment?
  4. User Tools: are the site features and search tools geared toward the user needs and goals – or toward your own goals? If you hire someone to coordinate some focus group testing, I promise you will be surprised by what you see and hear. Put the POWER into the hands of your core audiences by crafting and delivering tools that make their ‘jobs’ easier. In B2C, an example might be offering rich faceted search. In B2B an example might be a creating a customized product finder (think: Year-Make-Model in the auto-dealer world).
  5. Checkout: have you finally made the effort to simplify this? most new customers will get checkout fatigue by the third page… Make your checkout simple, clean and quick (one-page preferred) and find subtle ways to display your accreditation’s from BBB, Security Org, etc.  Did I say SUBTLE? PLEASE – do not have 5 different logos with 5 different colors that clash with your brand plastered all over the place.  This will only serve to distract and turn-off buyers.
  6. The Fulfillment Bundle: ah yes…one of my favorites…because it is often under-appreciated, under-analyzed and under-delivered. The heart of this article rests in recognizing and attacking the opportunity you have to close the case with your buyers – transforming them into raving fans and apostles of your brand.  Analyze your product storage and handling, quality controls, commitment to handling and time-to-fulfillment windows, packaging, invoices, marketing materials, labels, scanning, tracking, delivery and all communications that are part of this key component.
  7. Customer Service: while this seems obvious, it is worth noting the importance of viewing customer service as your primary brand ambassadors. (We will address the importance and etiquette of your social media team in a later post). From pre-sales to post-sales and returns – making sure your service team is fully indoctrinated in the BRAND and has a clear, repeatable, customer-centric process for EVERYTHING is absolutely critical.UX-cloud

So here it is: Fulfillment & Customer Service and the PROCESSES that drive these are the components that reveal the REAL YOU – ultimately how your customer will remember you.  This is why I say:

PROCESS is the Foundation of True Perception

In every business, whether service or product related, there must be a detailed process for delivery and support. Without a process, services are delivered in an inconsistent and mostly unreliable fashion – and product delivery without a detailed process may be good one day and shoddy the next (based on who is doing what, and on the whim of an employee who might not have your best interest at heart). Process is the foundation of perception – it is what distinguishes and defines who you are in large part to those who take that first leap of faith to purchase from YOU instead of your competitors.

I have seen the dramatic (positive) effects of focusing on UX from beginning to END – in my own businesses and that of many MANY clients. I know I am a nerd, but this is what excites me about what I do…I live and breathe it every day. I hope a little encouragement and direction can help you do the same 🙂

Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Business Development, Customer Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Business Travelers Rejoice! Electronic Devices ON

According to MarketWatch and PRNewsWire, On Oct 31, JetBlue Airways JBLU  announced that it has “begun the process with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to become the first airline to allow customers to use personal electronic devices during all phases of flight.” Say What?? OMG!

JETBLUE AIRWAYS NEW LOGO

The FAA endorsed the findings of a cross-industry panel of experts that recommended a certification path for airlines that maintains safety.  Several other airlines are quickly following suit – but since I fly JetBlue so often, I could help but share my JOY!

For those of you that travel a ton for business (or pleasure), you know what a hassle it has been to always have to power down before take-off.  Say goodbye to those embarrassing moments…

You’re totally locked into a task while waiting for everyone to finish boarding, when suddenly you get the tap on the shoulder…  Startled, you look up and get “the look” from your lovely flight attendant. And as if announcing it so the whole world is focused on you, she says, “sir…we can’t pull away from the gate until you power down your electronics”, (followed by a look of exasperation, as if you just killed her cat).

Angry-Flight-Attendant-420x0

Every one of my clients hears me talk about OPTIMIZING PRODUCTIVITY as part of the road-map to success.  Productivity can be particularly challenging when hitting the road – cars, buses, airplanes, taxis… but it is imperative that you plan to execute your goals and plans for each day even when traveling.

Now, I am not saying that “Un-Plugging” is bad. In fact, it is healthy to plan your dis-connect time – and travel can sometimes be that ‘excuse’ you need to get that mental-health space.  I guess what I’m saying is that (especially during business travel) you need to be more vigilant about planning your productivity. Momentum plays a big part in reaching goals.

jetblue-electronic-devices-in-flight

My closing point here is simple – I want to publicly say:

“THANK YOU JET BLUE!”

And you can bet I am going to be checking in on #JetBlueSoFly to contribute to the social chatter about this great news!

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7 Must-Do Demand Generation Tactics

Successful Demand Generation requires a healthy (and consistent) blend of tactics that engage resources that bridge between the offline and online world. In this short and sweet piece – I lay out 7 simple yet indispensable demand generation tactics.  Most of this seems obvious, but I can’t express enough the importance of doing ALL of these things.

If you read my post called The Secret Sauce – SEO Waterfall – you may remember that I elude to a hierarchy of sorts when it comes to SEO tactics.  One of the most important things I call out is that in order to REALLY accomplish your SEO goals, is the requirement of leaving no stone un-turned.  In the same way, with regard to demand gen – it is critical to attack every one of these with consistency (and creativity):

  1. Content is STILL KING – UX Optimization of Website Home and Landing Pages
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. Search Engine Marketing – PPC
  4. Social Media / Social Search Marketing
  5. Interactive Content – Video, Webinars, RSS, SMS, Apps
  6. Email / Drip Marketing
  7. PR & Event Marketing

Over the next several weeks, I will publish individual posts to dive in a little deeper  – elaborating on Best Practices of each tactical effort.  Start to consider: Are you engaged in each of these of a consistent basis? In not, understand that you may well be undermining your own efforts.  Prepare to explore and engage!

Posted in Customer Success, Demand Generation, eCommerce "Best Practices", Public Relations (PR), SEO | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The BEST Approach to Content Marketing

As I enter each new client engagement, I am met with a common theme when it comes to managing the ever growing cloud of marketing initiatives – and if you are reading this post, you probably can relate…

Content-Marketing-Cloud-1024x576Marketing is all too often “project-based” – and by nature falls into the category of “copy-cat” – completely unimaginative, lacking in both art and science.  And when time is not on your side, you find the poor soul of your staff that happens to be the most creative and commission him/her to:

  • create a sell-sheet for an upcoming networking event
  • create a brochure for a specialty product launch
  • start bloggingPortrait of an exhausted businessman covering his head with his laptop

Sound familiar??  You are not alone. Being short on TIME and short on RESOURCES is not uncommon.  BUT it does not mean you can’t produce something meaningful – even POWERFUL and RELEVANT to your audience of clients.

You have no doubt heard the old classic K.I.S.S. – “Keep It Simple”.  If you are jumping into the arena of content marketing, there’s another one you ought to know…

B.E.S.T. – an acronym most often attributed to Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute:

BEST-content-marketing-ecom

If you would, allow me to split and re-package this wonderful acronym into TWO buckets for purposes of driving home a point about FOCUS.

1.  First we need to recognize that (Behavioral) and (Strategic) are keyed on OUR objectives & goals – what do we want to say, who do we want to say it to, and does it stay in synch with our brand messaging?

This is really important, but I have to be honest…I find that most businesses, especially when pressed for time or resources, will opt for “throwing spaghetti”, thus limiting their considerations and focus to the (B) and the (S) only.  You Know This is YOU…  so Listen Up…

STOP Focusing Exclusively on the B-S!

2.  (E) Essential and (T) Targeted.  Combined, they are “E.T.” – and together will make your message Out of this World. Get it??  Seriously though – these components need to be at the heart of your content marketing thought-sphere.  Let’s face it…Your efforts almost always start with the internal objectives – but I am begging you – PLEASE don’t stop there. As a society, our subconscious ability to detect the “B.S.” is becoming more and more keenly developed. And we reflexively swat away the BS when our internal consumer alarms start buzzing.  As consumers we are attracted, therefore, to messages that we perceive are focused on immediately meeting our needs. So…What does this mean?

START and END with Focus on Your Customers’ Needs

Yes – your corporate objectives are equally important.  You must focus on those to maintain the essence of who you are and what you have to offer.  The moral of the story…

Be at your BEST by focusing more on the ET, and less on the BS 🙂

Pulizzi

By the way, If you are interested in learning more about building brand fans through good content marketing – I would recommend a book by Joe Pulizzi (no, this is not an affiliate pitch).

It is called “Managing Content Marketing“, co-written with Robert Rose.

Of course, if you want to chat about Content Marketing or anything related to e-Strategy or Customer Success – I welcome your call or email.  Thanks!

Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Customer Success, eCommerce "Best Practices", Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Hydration Principle

You’ve heard it said that the human body depends on water for survival. It’s true: Humans can only survive 3-5 days without water—less when subjected to conditions of high heat. A single day without water significantly reduces bodily and mental performance. If you have ever gone a whole day without some form of water – you know this is true, and probably remember the headache and lethargy that ensued.

Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body utilizes water to regulate its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health.

172a_Deniz-water-hydration-tips

So why is an e-Commerce Business Development Expert opining about HYDRATION?

Well…two reasons really.

1.  I agreed to participate in a “Corporate Challenge” at my client’s office, called “WATER WEEK“. Under a meeting agenda item called “Fun and Health”, CEO of POS Supply Solutions, Stephen Enfield, challenged the entire staff to drink as much water as is recommended (6-8 servings per day of 12-16 ounce glasses). He even distributed travel mugs and bottles to the team with instructions to LOG their daily intake for one week. Each person then submitted a guess as to the total volume (in ounces) that would be consumed by the entire team for the week.  At the end of the week, the one with the closest guess wins a prize!

2.  The analogy of HYDRATION is important to apply to achieve health in the course of everyday business activities.  Let’s take a look at the core benefits of hydration mentioned above:

  • regulation of temperature – In business, you never want to overheat.  Overheating means peaking too soon. Overheating causes friction and damage to the internal gears and most delicate parts of the engine. Overheating is the root of melt-downs and on occasion, the dreaded death-spiral.  Strength and momentum are built on consistency and definable, repeatable processes.  While spikes in productivity (high-velocity) can be valuable, it is important as a business manager to facilitate an environment that is conducive to consistent achievement.  Overheating ultimately results in loss of focus, exhaustion, and friction (operationally and inter-personally).  water-sweat
  • Hydration = Fueling Steady Growth and Managing Environmental Variables that Effect Productivity. Helping all the “cells” work in concert is always more productive than having a few cells that are forced to over-produce and ultimately dissipate under pressure.
  • removal of waste – Let’s not kid ourselves…we have all crossed paths with “dead wood” as some point in our professional lives.  The concept of dead-wood can be applied to both people and processes.  Either way, we are talking about CONSUMERS vs. PRODUCERS – where consumers TAKE more from the system than they GIVE.  Sometimes that may indeed be someone on your team who is only willing to do the bare-minimum and has the “that is not my job” mentality. These types of people are synonymous with “waste”. Hydration in this case is equivalent to a) mentoring and managing this person, helping them get to a place where they can reach their potential OR b) the unfortunate step of “evacuating the waste”.  In terms of processes: I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I have heard the response, “That is the way we have always done it…“.  How many times have you heard yourself say that??  A helpful exercise (Hydration) is to periodically evaluate workflows and processes (once per year is sufficient for most businesses – more often if you are in start-up mode).  On most engagements, I quickly find steps that can be altered slightly, but make a significant difference to productivity and profitability. For example – one client had a customer service rep that each day would review open orders, and email out individual invoices to each customer – this process would take between 20-30 minutes every day.  When asked “why”, the painful response was, “Well…that is how I was trained…and I guess we have always done it that way”. Hydration in this case was taking 10 minutes to write a script to automate that process. Now, that process is a single click of a button. That same 30 minutes per day is now spent on up-selling and pro-active customer engagement initiatives.  So not only is it MAKING MONEY, it is SAVING MONEY (30 minutes x 5 days per week x 52 weeks per year = 130 Hours Annually)!
  • lubrication of joints – When you are young, it is easy to take for granted the value of being nimble, of being flexible, and having quick reflexes. If you are older, er…I mean…more mature (like me) you have not only come to appreciate the benefits of youth but have spent considerable effort to regain some of it. And it gets HARDER with age…doesn’t it? (or so I have heard…) Joint pain can be debilitating, and in many cases prevents you from being able to do many things that are often taken for granted. The same concept applies in business.  If you are not Building Up, you are Breaking Down.  If you are not EVOLVING, you are DECAYING.  Think of each person as a cell or group of cells – and each department as a limb or body part.  Your arms can’t pull or push if the joints are stiff or non-functioning. In the same sense – sales (the forearm) will have a very hard time reaching forward for a customer if marketing (the upper arm) has decided it needs to reach up for the stars!  Hydration in this case is both physical and operational. Hydration is keeping your employees HEALTHY (ie. Water Week Challenge), HAPPY (ie. rewards for achievement) and most importantly… working together for a Shared Purpose.  Communication and Team-Building exercises are akin to Hydration Therapy – and FLEXIBILITY is king in the world of business evolution!

Fitness and Health

Life depends on H2O.

Success depends on the recognition and consumption of H2O…”How 2 Operate”.

So… Keep your joints hydrated and flexible, thus maintaining your ability not only to be re-active when necessary, but to be pro-active because YOU CAN.

btw…I will post to let you know exactly how much water I drank this week 🙂

 

Posted in Beyond e-Commerce, Business Development, eCommerce "Best Practices", Financial Health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment