By Simon Wright

You spend a lot of money enticing people to your Web site, so it’s vital that you devote just as much attention to getting them to complete a purchase. Poor sales conversion rates are the bane of many businesses, but Web analytics can help isolate where the leaks are, enabling you to apply a targeted remedial plan.

Using Web Analytics

When buying online, there are often several checkout screens and various bits of information that have to be navigated. Each successive screen or bit of data that you request has the potential to cause consumers to bail out, whether from apathy, annoyance or a concern about the information they are being asked to provide.

For Web analytics to be effective, you need stats on how many people make it to each stage of the process. As an example, the sales process may require consumers to add the item to their shopping basket. Then, users may need to click through to an order form which collects personal details. And, finally, there may be a payment page where they enter their card details and submit their order.

You might see that for every 100 people who make it to your first checkout page, 80 make it to the second page, 60 onto the final page but only 30 percent then submit their order. In this example, there is plenty of leakage but it’s most pronounced at the point where the customer is asked to submit their payment details.

Order Form Analytics Versus General Web Site Analytics

Often, the biggest difference between your Web site and order form is that your order form will be part of a secure, encrypted section of your Web site. In practice, this often means that your order form Web stats will be reported on separately from the rest of your Web pages. It can also bring in an additional complexity if you outsource part of the order form to a third-party payment provider, such as WorldPay. To get the full picture, you might be reliant on the provision of Web stats from that third-party company.

Improving Conversion Rates

No checkout process will result in a 100 percent conversion rate but significant shopping cart improvements can be achieved. Being armed with Web analytics stats is great, but you should also observe customers attempting the end-to-end process. This can be accomplished through customer focus groups and will provide further insight into what’s causing the blockages and why.

It’s then a case of revisiting your checkout screens. Be vigilant when looking for unnecessary barriers that you place in front of consumers. For example, some sites force users to register with their Web site before placing an order.This can cause high levels of drop out and is often counterproductive. Another pitfall is the practice of collecting customer details and then transferring them to a payment vendor’s page where they are asked for the same information! Avoid this by pre-population of screens with information you’ve already collected. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and you will be well on the road to success.

About the Author

Simon Wright works as mobile delivery manager for Royal Bank of Scotland and has extensive experience across ecommerce and mcommerce including the launch and promotion of Web sites.

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