Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Conversion Analysis Needed Among Top Destinations Such as BestBuy

Conversion Analysis Needed Among Top Destinations Such as BestBuy

CNN is reporting that Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Apple are doing great this season, which isn’t surprising – their websites are easy to use.

This paragraph caught my eye as I’m a BestBuy user:

Meanwhile, customers leaving the site are not heading to shipping sites in significant numbers, downstream traffic data show. This could be a measure of online sales weakness, mechanical differences in where Best Buy’s site directs customers for shipments, or even just the preference of its customers to buy in stores rather than online.

“ shows a stronger indication that it is being used as a research tool” to check prices before visiting the company’s stores, Tancer said. Traffic from BestBuy is especially heavy to in-store promotional advertisements.

Anyone skilled in website analysis could tell BestBuy its not just about the traffic, it’s about usability.

Consider the purchases I made just a couple days ago.

I went to BestBuy to ship out two gift cards. The gift cards were easy enough to find. However, the cart page is cluttered and difficult to navigate – chance of lower conversion – not making it clean and easy to follow the checkout process.

When arriving at the checkout page, it asks me for my BestBuy ID. I didn’t have one, so thought this would be a great time to make one. However, there was no way to create one at this step (at least that I could easily see). At this point in time, let me also just create a BestBuy ID. It not only gives BestBuy my info, it also keeps me vested in the checkout process.

After realizing I can’t make an ID, the next page that was presented is probably my most hated aspect of forms – too many fields. If they know my zip code, why can’t they fill in my city and state for me? Making someone fill out additional information is another step in losing a customer.

Next, the items were going to different addresses, and I couldn’t ship them independently (like Amazon, which lets me ship every package to a different address). So, I had to go back into the shopping cart, delete one of the gift cards, and then re-navigate back to this screen. More conversion loss in those additional steps. It also meant I was going to have to check out twice. Many people wouldn’t want to go through these steps – even more chance at conversion loss.

The credit card field doesn’t allow for spaces or dashes. It’s a very easy database change to have the system remove non standard characters and not have this be an error. If someone is trying to give you their credit card – LET THEM. Don’t have silly database errors stand between you and a paying customer.

Next, it asked me again to create an account. This should have been done much earlier in the process which was talked about above. I did make an id because I wanted to turn around and have another card shipped immediately after this one. However, this is when it turned ugly. I made an ID, and the system errored out. I tried to make another ID, and it just refreshed the page and didn’t take me anywhere. HUGE conversion loss. I had to delete my cookies, and then re-navigate to the page to checkout. This was two days ago, and I’m still not sure if I have a BestBuy ID. I’m assuming not as I didn’t receive a ‘Welcome to BestBuy email’, but I’m not positive.

From arriving at the Home page, adding a single gift card to my cart, navigating through the checkout process (without creating an account) took 12 page views. This number could be cut down by a few page views. Every time a user must click the ‘continue’ button (this is for any website), there is a chance at conversion loss. The easier to navigate, fill out forms, and check out – the higher conversion percentages will be. Of course, websites do have a minimum amount of information they must collect, but there are many ways of collecting the same information.

When considering conversion analysis, increasing conversions, determining why your site isn’t selling, don’t just make assumptions. Use focus studies, have people try to buy from you. Listen to the feedback. Make improvements.

There were some good things on the site as well. On the page which asked for credit card information was a prominent link to the privacy policy. The checkout pages did have the Verisign seal on it (although, it could have been placed better). The shipping date was estimated, and when I changed my shipping options, the date changed as well. Some simple things that users look for (shipping price and dates are very necessary this time of year).

Some simple changes suggested in this article should increase BestBuy’s conversion percentage. At even a 0.5-1% increase (often increases are higher than this, however, even at these low levels of increases) BestBuy would see a significant growth in online sales. If one considers that conversion percentage is the only statistic used in every marketing analysis reports, it starts to become clear just how important a statistic it is.

If a site had 1 million visitors a month, a 1% increase in conversions is 10,000 more sales. I would guess BestBuy’s average checkout is at least $50 (and could be much higher with plasma TVs, gaming consoles, multiple DVD purchases, etc). 10,000 new sales at $50 is $500,000! That’s half a million in revenue.

When one considers how much top level conversion analysts cost. How much a highly targeted PPC account interacts with conversion percentage. Their is no reason to make this number even higher.

BestBuy would see almost an immediate return with a few changes.

Of course, information like this goes far beyond BestBuy – it applies to every eCommerce site on the web.

If you took an internet user, any one of millions (except for the select few who work for your company) and asked them to buy something they want from your website. What would they find:

  • How hard is that process?
  • How easy is it to find information?
  • How easy is it to checkout?
  • Do error pages blame the user or the website?
  • Are forms intuitive and helpful?
  • Is the cart easy to find?
  • Is it easy to get lost within the shopping cart?
  • Are you measuring shopping cart abandonment?
  • Are you measuring the actual page where abandonment happened?
  • Are you measuring conversions by organic traffic, type-in traffic (i.e. direct navigation), PPC traffic, and by various banner based traffic?
  • Many, Many more questions to ask.

Then think about all the scenarios that could be applied:

  • A grandmother looking to buy her grandson an iPod accessory. She doesn’t use the web much except for email. She still doesn’t understand most of the web lingo, and has no desire to learn. She just wants to find a fun gift for her grandson. Are there reviews, information telling her what is hot, some sort of suggestion for her to follow? Her main concern is privacy, credit card usage on the web, and shipping. S
  • A mother looking to buy her son an XBox game. She doesn’t know the difference between FPS, RPG, etc. She wants to know what other boys her sons age are playing (and what’s appropriate). Many would tell her to buy a gift certificate, but with the correct information, she wants to try and put a gift under the tree. Her main concern is finding the gift. Her second is the exchange policy. She wants to know that if she chooses wrong that her son can exchange it for something he wants. This is the best of both worlds – a gift under the tree, and exchange if she gets it wrong so everyone is happy. Are exchange policies clearly stated?
  • A new father who is hip to the internet lingo, shopping online, etc. However, he now has a 6 year old daughter and wants to see educational games. Being a MORPH gamer, he understands games, but has no idea what is appropriate for a 6 year old. Are ratings clearly marked? Is there a gift suggestion for this age group? etc.
  • The same new father wants a gift for himself as well – a 50 inch Samsung HDTV. He knows what he wants. He’s already done the research. What he wants to know is if he can get the great BestBuy warranty online. He also wants BestBuy to ship it AND set it up. Does the website allow for him to find out delivery and setup options? Does it make suggestions for an audio system that compliments that TV set? If he’s about to drop $3k on a TV, a $1k audio system might be a worthwhile investment for the entire home theater experience. He wants BestBuy’s expert suggestion as well as have the entire audio system installed as well. Is the information there?

Many more scenarios could be devised, the real questions are:

  • Is there information there?
  • Can it be found?
  • Is there an 800 number for clarification?

It’s not always the advertising. It’s not always the website. It is about the user experience and expectations.

Meet the expectations. Guide the users through your website. Remove barriers between visitor and buyer. Watch your sales increase.

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