E-Commerce Insights: 5 Online Metrics to Maximize All That Data
Picture this: You’re on a sunny beach, stretched out on the sand. A child is sitting next to you with pail and shovel in hand. The child mischievously starts covering your ankles and feet in sand. You smile and continue sipping your refreshing piña colada.
Now a dump truck pulls up and pours a mountain of sand all over you. You’re buried, and the sand muffles your scream.
The former, pleasant scene represents the amount of data your marketing staff had to deal with about 10 years ago. The dump truck represents today’s daily data deluge.
It certainly can be overwhelming, but it also represents a gold mine for you. So make the most of this data by focusing on the five actionable metrics.
1. Check Out Fallouts
Watch the portion of shoppers who load their carts with product only to abandon the process altogether. To address this, find the places where shoppers bail. Use Google Analytics to track your fallout numbers. (Learn how to create a fallout report in the whitepaper on CatalogSuccess.com, which can be found under Related Content beside this article.)
Here are two common ways to catch fallouts:
- Shoppers click helpful information links during checkout and never go back to finish. Think about checkout lines at Target. They’re alleys that you have to proceed down with little hope of escape. Remove all links from your checkout process so shoppers have only one way to move forward.
- Shoppers can’t remember their logins, and they’re often frustrated by your “helpful” password reminder notes. So try a guest checkout that doesn’t require a login. Better yet, use a one-page checkout that asks shoppers to type their contact information rather than logging in.
Many shoppers don’t frequent a site enough to remember their logins. You actually decrease the percentage of customers who complete checkout by making them search for that information.
2. Start Cart Percent
You can’t get shoppers to check out if they never put anything into their carts. This metric shows how effective your site is at merchandising. If you get the fallout numbers noted above, it’s simple to compute start carts. If you want an advanced version, pay attention to the products and categories that have the highest start-cart percentage. Drive shoppers to those products by putting them on the homepage or in e-mails.
3. Site Search Bounce Rate
Most shoppers would rather stick a sharp object in their eyes than use internal site search; it’s one of the most frustrating functions on any e-commerce site. Regardless, many shoppers do use site search. They’re masochists just begging you to sell to them, and they convert at a rate two to four times higher than the average shopper. Google Analytics allows you to track the percentage of shoppers who see your search results page and then immediately leave your site. (Though it’s a bit tricky to set up. See www.google.com/analytics for instructions.)
These shoppers represent a great opportunity to improve sales. You can consult with external firms for additional help or use one or more of the following strategies to reduce this rate and improve sales:
- Create custom landing pages for those frequently
searched terms with higher than average bounce rates.
- Create a search thesaurus that substitutes keywords that produce results on your site for misspellings or alternative product names/numbers.
- Create a “no search results” page that offers top sellers and — big and bold — your customer service phone number and e-mail address.
- Use a service like SLI Systems or Endeca, which have built-in search reports and optimization strategies.
4. Inbound Links
Search engine optimization (SEO) is your best and most cost-effective way to acquire new customers. The biggest factor in growing SEO-based sales is getting other sites, blogs, etc., to link to you.
Have someone spend time getting links. Track the effectiveness at doing so. If you use an SEO firm, it should be able to provide this report; if not, change firms. If you do SEO yourself, consider using analytics software to track this data, such as Enquisite.
5. Inactive E-Mail Subscribers
How many e-mail subscribers do you mail who haven’t clicked or opened in more than three months? The common wisdom is that you need to mail everyone on your list because e-mail is so much cheaper than sending a catalog. However, you can increase deliverability and response from your best buyers by suppressing inactive e-mail addresses from most mailings.
ISPs heed to what shoppers do with your message. If they see a high percentage of your list opening and clicking, they’re quick to deliver the messages. If you’re mailing to a bunch of inactive addresses, the ISPs will hold your mail, shunt you to a junk e-mail box or not deliver at all.
Mailers sending messages once a week ought to mail to inactive e-mails once a month — send a reactivation offer, anything to get them opening and clicking again. Mail your inactive addresses two to four hours after sending to your good names.
Larry Kavanagh is founder and CEO of DMinSite, a provider of e-commerce and e-mail solutions for multichannel merchants. Reach him at (859) 547-5501 or email@example.com.