One of the greatest joys of my ecommerce coaching engagements with store owners is being able to help them grow their online business.
While coaching, I’m constantly testing various methodologies which add incremental increases to their conversion rate.
During a recent promotion with one store owner we were able to achieve sustained conversion rates of a whopping 18.67% over a twelve day period. This conversion rate is well over the industry standard conversion rate of about 2.4%.
The graphic below is a screenshot of the analytics program showing the spike in conversion during that time period.
The average sustained conversion rate for this client over the past 15 months is a solid 10.48%. Again, well above the industry average. Yet, the recent promotion made even that conversion rate look small with the peak conversion rate being an unheard of 26.17%!
How Did it Happen?
By creating a promotion that work in conjunction with events already happening in the media, we were able to feed off of the hype and excitement that was generated through those channels. The best part is we never paid a dime for that exposure. We let the media do it for us and simply created a campaign that took the excitement and moved it to the client’s website in the form of a promotion.
What was the promotion’s foundation? March Madness and the NCAA basketball tournament.
With all the media exposure and hype surrounding that event it made sense to create a promotional campaign which captured the excitement. It’s often said by many that if you want to make money, “follow hollywood” or “follow the media”.
The general idea of the campaign was simple. Take the excitement surrounding the NCAA basketball tournament and turn it into a game which let the customers choose their own “tournament participants” (i.e. products) simply by purchasing their favorite products from the online store.
Version 1.2.2 of Simple Google Analytics (for Zen Cart) now gives you the option to use either the new “ga.js” tracking code (released by Google in December 2007) or the older “urchin.js” tracking code.
The selection is as easy as choosing a radio button in the admin.
This release addresses certain reports widely spread across the Internet by many adopters of the new “ga.js” tracking code Google issued. In those reports users say (and I have confirmed) that results which are provided in reporting (specifically with the ecommerce tracking) are incorrect. In some cases, the revenue figures show as “0” (zero).
I also noticed that the conversion rate was dramatically off under the new ga.js tracking code.
It’s a confirmed Google problem (on their end)
Google has confirmed on numerous boards that the problem is on their end and they are working on correcting it. They hope to have it corrected by early April 2008, but until then, recommend users switch back to the older urchin.js tracking code for more accurate reporting.
This module addresses that recommendation.
It allows you to easily (from within the Zen Cart Admin) switch between the new ga.js tracking code (the default) and the older urchin.js tracking code (to be phased out by end of year 2008 according to Google.)
I installed this new version on my sites (for testing), and now see the proper reporting figures again (*sigh*).
Features of Version 1.2.2
- Adds standard Google Tracking to website
- Automatically Adds E-Commerce tracking to website
- Adds the ability for you to install Google Conversion Tracking
- Enables you to use either the new “ga.js” code released by Google in December 2007 or the older “urchin.js” tracking code
- Fully administered through the Zen Cart admin with a simple radio button selection.
How to Download Version 1.2.2
You can download this new version by clicking here. You will be taken to my downloads page where you can select the new 1.2.2 version.
Complete instructions are enclosed in the download to assist you in either upgrading (from previous versions) or “new installations”. Please make sure you read the instructions carefully for upgrading etc… It is easy and straight forward, but you should be aware of a few file changes.
A screenshot this contribution is below for reference:
When implemented properly, blogs or weblogs as they are also known can achieve two positive things for an ecommerce company.
1) Drive qualified traffic (traffic with an intent to buy products) to their website.
2) Generate additional revenue by monetizing the traffic that does not flow through to the actual site.
So one might naturally ask, “what is the right way to implement a blog?”
Well, there is no right or wrong answer to this, however based on experience I’ve seen one specific method that when utilize has produced sales conversion rates in the area of 24% – 28% (visitors that come from the blog to the online store and then purchase a product.)
Here is the methodology that produced these results.
While reading, keep in mind that this blog has been setup as an “independent third party review” type site.
Get yourself a new domain name that relates to your ecommerce business or industry.
For example, if you sell widgets, and your company name is “Widgets Galore” then you may want to consider the domain name for the new blog being bestwidgetreviews.com (or something related to that concept.)
The key to choosing the right domain name is to make sure you approach it from the stand point of this being an independent third party “reviews” site for your industry or products.
Get new hosting for this domain and site. Although not mandatory, it is preferable to choose a host that is not the same as your current provider. Just make sure they are reliable.
Now that you have your new domain and hosting, it’s time to get the blogging system in place.
Choose a blog platform you are comfortable with and install it on the server. One tip you’ll want to think about is the more control you have over the blog system, the better off you’ll be in the end.
Ok, you’ve got everything in place, now it’s time to start blogging. The remaining part of this article will address how you should approach your blog entries, and how to maximize the revenue opportunity from the traffic generated.
Setting your blog up for success.
One of the first keys to success is to keep in mind that when posting, you must appear that you are an objective third party providing information on numerous businesses within your respective industry. Yes, that can even mean competitors or distributors in some cases.
It may even be beneficial to get a trusted outside third party to do the blogging for you.
Providing what appears to be biased information in your posts can cause readers to quickly feel you are self promoting your own products and company. That can have an adverse effect on the outcome.
No, you’re not trying to deceive them. You’re looking to provide them with an assortment of helpful information on your industry that is objective and unbiased. The information you provide will help them during their decisions making process.
If you show any bias toward your own product, the effect overall is diminished. This is do in large part to readers thinking “is this product really that good, or are they just trying to sell me on it because they own it?”
Sure, you can refer to your company or products more frequently than others during posts, but doing that too often could get you the opposite results you’re seeking.
Let me give you an example.
Would you be more inclined to purchase a car based on what Consumer Reports presents in their reviews, or would you be more inclined to purchase that same car from a dealer that is breathing down your neck trying to force feed it to you because they say “it’s the best?”
More than often the answer is pretty simple.
Consumers put more weight on independent third party reviews than they do on companies that promote themselves.
Now, let’s generate some revenue
You have got your blog in place, it’s time to generate revenue.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t always matter “where or how” you generate the revenue, the fact is that you are generating it.
Ideally, you want the readers of your blog to purchase your products. However, the reality is that you may generate traffic to the blog, but not all that traffic will funnel through to your site. Likewise, not all that traffic may be qualified to by what you offer.
Don’t fear. You can still build revenue from those “non-qualified” channels as well. Here’s how.
We already know that blogging from the proper third party perspective in this case did lead to a 24% – 28% sales conversion rate. That was visitors who moved from the blog to the ecommerce website and then made a purchase.
But what can we do about the other visitors who didn’t funnel through to the website and instead leave at the point of the blog?
We can still generate revenue from them as well before they leave by implementing traffic monetization strategies which seek to target those needs your products could not fulfill.
Traffic monetization is a powerful concept that can aid in producing additional revenue for your company without ever selling a single product.
It is a strategy that should be carefully planned and implemented. You don’t want to hurt your chances of gaining a new customer, but you want to make sure that if they were not qualified in the first place you attempt to present them with offers that may fit their needs and in the end add revenue to your bottom line.
Forms of traffic monetization are many and can be quite complex but the most often implemented strategies involve CPC, CPA, and affiliate deals that pay you for “referring the business.” I won’t go into the specific details in this article as it’s a topic that deserves its own space.
For now, this article merely presents options available to you which can assist you at increasing conversion from your store by maximizing both the qualified and non-qualified traffic a properly implemented blog can bring your way.