5 E-Commerce Tips to Test Right Now
Given that many direct marketers are choosing to shift their marketing dollars from print or other channels to the Web, the question then becomes, “How do I spend those dollars most wisely?” In a session I took part in during last week's Catalog on the Road conference in Cambridge, Mass., I suggested the following low cost e-commerce initiatives that'll supply excellent ROI:
1. Set up your Web analytics to track conversions in terms of brand vs. nonbrand purchases. The benefit of this approach is that you can segregate the revenue you're receiving as a result of Web traffic driven by offline marketing (catalogs, broadcast, etc.) vs. revenue attributable to online acquisitions. Then adjust your overall channel spending accordingly.
2. Re-evaluate your “order-taking machines” with fresh eyes:
- Checkout pages: How does the process flow? Can you simplify it? Can you make buttons bigger? Place them above the fold? Change the color to red? Add arrows encouraging forward motion?
- Catalog request forms: The most common mistake here is asking for too much data; all you really need is the postal address. Requiring more than that results in lower conversion rates. Is the form part of your perpetual navigation and easily found?
3. Install an abandoned cart system. One specialty food company experienced nearly a 3 percent lift in overall online sales in 2008 as a result of a program that sent just two messages to customers who abandoned. Your e-commerce platform vendor likely has this functionality by now. If not, there are third-party systems available.
4. Tune up your on-site search functionality. Experienced Internet shoppers no longer have the patience to sort through your carefully designed navigation — they’ll go right to the search box most of the time. If they don’t find what they want in one click, they're gone and you’ve lost the sale.
Execute some searches yourself for your top 20 products and see what you get. You may be surprised at how much of a tune-up you really need.
5. Segment your e-mail campaigns. If you're still blasting the same message to all the names on your list, here are two ways to improve your tactics:
- Pull two small sample files from your main list and send the same message to both with a different subject line for each one. Wait two to three days before looking at the conversions to see which subject line wins, then mail the remainder of the file with the winning subject line.
- As a follow-up to sending any given promotional e-mail, segment out the people who didn't open the message and resend the same creative with a new subject line. For the two combined messages, you’ll experience anywhere from a 20 percent to 50 percent boost in sales.
Bud Reed is the founder and president of Timberline Interactive, a Web marketing and development firm. He can be reached at email@example.com.