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First, have to say this forum is amazing. Well orginized and informative.
Anyway, i know theese conversion topics are over popular, but i wanted to see what other people have noticed (in fustration) about the exhausting amount of uniques browsing and not buying. Yes there are a lot of theories, like "is your market flooded, high prices, sitewide and security improvements, good selling copy etc, BUT WHAT IF THOSE ARE ALL MET AND STILL HAVE BAD CONVERSIONS. Let me explain...
To start, we have a fine craft, functional gift, home decor B&M shop which i made into an online store 2 years ago.
Our online sales have been from searches for well known - but hard to find specific artisians (vendors) items, as well as unique product lines that we found (niche) We do not offer cheap, "made in china" solutions, meaning we would sell a nice 200.00 jewelry box instead of a 20.00 cheap made in china one. We found handcraftmanship, material, and quality still have a demand over a redicously low price - (otherwise the only place to shop would be walmart.)
The first concept of the online shop was to allow our visiting tourist customers who all love our products to order online whenever they want. Most said that they couldn't wait to go online to order our other items at a later time. That was useless as there was almost no return. Then i noticed the majority of our sales are coming from search engines, so i optimized. Traffic grew substantially - even sales. But still not enough sales in relation to the traffic. So in the past few months, i revamped my site to include ALL pheasable functions and "trustworthieness" fixed our pricing scheme to be competetive, free shipping, promotions - usability, keyword placement - the works. Well that has raised our traffic 4 times since august 1st while only doubling sales. That means that my conversion rate dramatically dropped. So, i looked into visitor paths this month and found that most fo the search engine traffic was focused. (about 80% effective) This is like searching for a (hard to find) large red widget from well known Vendor A. - and 99.5% not buying. I also took into account return visits (25% of sales) and that AOL users change their IP every click (annoying), but still, what is with the WINDOW SHOPPING?
This is bad because if i wanted to expand PPC or shopping mall feeds, then i would loose money due to bad conversion.
from reading this forum i see other people have this problem. maybe we could brainstorm creative ways to target our market without going broke. I mean, for me things like froogle converts at 3-5% and is free, but shopzilla converts at .5% and is very costly as users double click and robots and all.
anyway thats my rant - i hope im not the only one in my boat
I am relatively new here but i have been running an online shop for a year now (a year yesterday infact!). The market we sell to is quite small but their are a fair few shops so we decided to concentrate less on first time buyers but instead on getting those who had bought with us before, to buy with us again.
To do this we introduced order tracking and a messaging system so that if you have a query you log onto the site and submit a message. And then they log back on to read our reply.
A great deal of our products require instructions so we binned the paper instructions for them all and hosted them all on the website.
What is the point of all of this? We wanted to get people who have spent money with us to be constantly coming back to the website and thus being exposed to our latest special offers etc. We found pretty quickly after implementing this that our sales went up, but almost entirely due to repeat purchasing, our pool of customers remained pretty constant.
Our opinion was that our customer service and products would impress the customer so it was just a matter of forcing them to see the new products to get them to order from us, this appears to work.
Also newsletters are great, we send them out after every big update and within an hour or 2 we get a decent little bunch of orders (often nothing todo with the content of the email, but they just bring people to the site.) This is clearly because somebody who has signed up for a newsletter is far more likely to purchase than a random visitor.
I havent really concentrated on SEO that much, instead we have tried to get our name around the forums etc that relate to our market, this has prooved far more valuable, most of our order are £100-£300 so getting a reputable name is far more important than getting a big volume of visitors.
Thats the approach we took, i would be interested to know other peoples opinions about it.
GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE. A friendly voice on the telephone, even at 1 a.m. my time.
Posted reasonable shipping, exchange and refund policies. Go the extra mile. When a customer buys a $200 item and then it doesn't work out, give them their shipping charge back, too. If you don't gift wrap and a regular customer asks for it, get your own holiday gift wrap out and do them a favor. They'll buy from you again next year.
GREAT PRODUCTS--when a customer says, "People stop me in the street to compliment me on the widget I bought from you," it feels really good. And it makes the widget makers feel even better when I tell them this. Always pass on compliments to your supplier.
This year I would say over 25% of my orders were from repeat customers, some who have been buying from me for 3 to 4 years. Some of these people spend hundreds of dollars at a time and many of the orders come through my shopping cart, although they are also called in.
My accountant tells me that small businesses are always like roller coasters. And yes, this time of year, when I haven't had an order for a week I'm wondering why I was such an idiot to spend so much money on the stuff. Then all of a sudden I get three orders in one day and I start wondering when I can afford more widgets.
I read a thread--here, I think--several years ago that said that people often visit a site 3 or 4 times before they buy, especially an expensive item. So let 'em browse! Maybe come holiday time they'll spend $500 all at once.