Maximize Your Web Tools
Good news for American multichannel marketers: The growth rate of the Internet continues to make China’s economic expansion seem paltry. After all, China is only growing at a measly 11 percent!
But there’s bad news, too: 10 years of uninterrupted, 20-plus percent growth has encouraged software companies to produce a seemingly never-ending flood, or plague, of new site features.
Who has the time, energy, money or development staff to try all these new site features? So how do you know which one(s) to work on? And how do you make sure you get the most out of the ones you do invest in?
Here’s a quick primer on how several catalogers are using six new Web features to make the upcoming holiday season a happy one.
1. Customer rate and review feature increases product page conversion 42 percent.
Much has been written about the benefits of allowing for customer product reviews and comments. But a few savvy marketers are beginning to take advantage of how these customer ratings affect conversion rates on the product page.
Kitchen Krafts, a multichannel marketer of baking goods that installed a customer rate and review feature this past March, reveals data that’s consistent with what several other Web sites have experienced.
What’s more, visitors to product pages that don’t have a rating at all are about 7 percent less likely to purchase the product compared to the overall site average. Therefore, consumers appear to trust products with good ratings much more than products with no ratings at all.
Smart marketers drive traffic to the highly rated products by executing the following:
* Featuring them in e-mails;
* Placing them on the home-page and highly trafficked category pages; and
* Using them as landing pages for paid search.
These marketers also are going all out to get more products rated.
2. Wish list: Use your housefile to acquire new customers inexpensively.
Target.com has long been known for its popular wedding and baby registries. The discount retailer’s site also is where you’ll find the next trend in online registries, the “any occasion” wish list, essentially a registry for birthdays, anniversaries or any other event.
On the Target.com site shown on page 37 is the master console customers can use to build wish lists. Target built in a number of shopper-friendly features, including a clever use of classic cross-sells to help its customers add items. Target also makes it easy to buy anything that friends or guests of wish list owners don’t purchase.
The most important feature, though, is the “Share My Wish List” functionality on the lower left-hand side of the screen shot. Target uses its existing online shoppers to entice new customers to visit the site. This feature sends an e-mail that converts well because it comes from people who recipients know and trust.
Catalogers who focus on narrow niches or hobbies can make great use of this feature. Most gift-buying friends of niche Web site customers don’t know the products well enough to choose a gift. Wish lists make it easy for them to buy gifts for their friends.
3. Guest checkout: an easy way to boost site sales 24 percent.
New Web technologies come with a lot of hype. What gets lost in the hype, however, is that marketing, whether it’s on the Internet, a catalog page or in a store, is all about making shoppers feel comfortable with their purchases. So, it’s fitting that one of the most effective Web site features out there today, guest checkout, comes with no hype and requires almost no programming.
Guest checkout gives shoppers the option to purchase products without having to create accounts with merchants. Technology-focused IT directors may think this sounds like a big waste of time, but to the shopper it sounds faster, less intrusive and simpler. That’s why it’s so effective.
As opposed to marketing-focused IT people, technology-focused IT directors will correctly tell you that shoppers have to enter nearly the same information to use guest checkout that they do for a standard checkout. But they’ll argue that guest checkout doesn’t require a password and password hint.
But it’s all about what’s easier, or at least what seems easier, to shoppers. And shoppers strongly prefer the guest checkout option. Women’s plus-size clothing cataloger Ulla Popken saw a 24.9 percent increase in sales by adding the “Continue as a Guest” option to its checkout page. Score one for the marketers.
4. Triggered e-mails yield three to 10 times the response rate of bulk e-mails.
Because of last May’s postage increase, there’s more pressure than ever to produce revenue from e-mail marketing. But how many messages can you send before you wear out your list?
Here’s the trick: Integrate browsing behavior into your e-mail campaigns. E-mails triggered by things that shoppers do on sites produce incredibly high conversion rates.
Today’s premier e-mail platforms can collect browsing data by tagging a site. Marketers can use the data to send triggered e-mails and/or segment files.
One cataloger captures a shopper’s visit to its outlet category. When the cataloger adds new products to the outlet, these shoppers receive an e-mail. It’s a significant revenue generator for the cataloger since 10 percent of the people in its e-mail file visit the outlet monthly, per the below chart.
Unfortunately, many companies using premier e-mail platforms pay premier prices, but they never fully implement the tags necessary to take advantage of this functionality, which is a big waste.
5. Personalized recommendations: Make your site “be all it can be.”
Most Web site homepages are the equivalent of a 1950s television show. The early shows mimicked popular radio broadcasts rather than exploiting the power of the new medium.
Similarly, most catalogers simply view their Web site as an online version of their catalog. They never harness the incredible power of this new medium to personally connect with all of their site’s visitors.
A few sites have chosen to break the printed catalog paradigm. Scientific gadgets cataloger Edmund Scientific’s site uses a shopper’s past order history to populate the second row of items on its home page with likely cross-sells.
Offline catalogs can’t cost-effectively show products on the cover based on each customer’s purchase history. But Web sites can — and should. By failing to do so you miss the opportunity to use this new medium in a way that’s not possible with catalogs.
6. How AJAX helps shoppers.
In the “old days” before AJAX, Web sites had to reload the entire quick-order page to show product names and messages associated with product numbers, which severely affected site performance and slowed down the purchasing process. Most sites didn’t bother, and just dealt with out-of-stock items and errors in the cart. That hardly helped move people along to checkout.
In the “modern” post-AJAX era, shoppers enter product numbers and immediately see the associated product name or message. Technology wizards may cringe at this lowly use of AJAX, but marketers who know the value of using little things to make shoppers more comfortable find it simple and effective.
Implementing these simple and relatively inexpensive features into your Web site can quickly and dramatically improve conversions and increase your online revenue. «
Larry Kavanagh is founder and CEO of DMinSite, a provider of e-commerce, search and e-mail solutions for multichannel merchants. You can reach him at (859) 547-5501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For other articles on Web production, go to CatalogSuccess.com and click on E-commerce.