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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
hellraiser1, dont' get too hung up on your conversion rate. You are bound to get alot of junk traffic if your traffic qualtripled in such a short period of time. Try to analyse where these traffic is from and identify the "junk" traffic and eliminate them.
[edited by: Raymond at 7:31 am (utc) on Aug. 19, 2006]
i looked at my traffic and noticed a few things. (bear in mind i have done an extensive filter for robots and junk traffic. AOL users (when it says AOL in the user agent) seems to change ip address every page, which makes for an annoying tracking headache. does anyone have a good way to count an aol user once even though the ip address changes every page
also, in late july, i worked on keyword density, links, directories, and generating thousands of pages based on certian keyword phrases my products would be grouped to. All of my 4X traffic increase comes from google, because of the keyword phrases actually existing multiple times on many, many different pages. The traffic is 80 percent good, which is when someone is searching for "Large green widget A" or "widget B by vendor B" they get to the right page. 20% is junk, as i have no idea why my page ranked for the keywords in question.
So i say this, this month i went from an average 125 uniques per day to about 425-600 uniques a day, however, 20 percent is mismatched - so about 325 uniques, and about 40 AOL users are really lets say 10 users - thus leaving me with 300 decant uniques. (ABSOLUTELY NO ROBOTS) Which is about double, and sales have reflected that.
HOWEVER, am wondering what peopele do in terms of PPC when a conversion of over 1% seems impossible due to your market. I fear that if i have an adwords campaign i wouldnt make any money as it just takes too many prople to convert.
As for AOL users (or anyone else)...I would say to assign a cookie ID or session ID and write that to a log file with the page viewed. That way, you can track them more easily.
And, as for conversions...a $200 item is not an impulse buy online. I wouldn't spend $200 on something online until I thought about it....a lot. I want to see it in person, look at it, examine it. Your return visit buy rate reinforces this theory. I would give it a few more months to see what happens. If sales increase, then you are on the right track. If not, maybe the representation you have of the items are not selling the aspect of what it is you are selling...maybe more pics...more "why this is better"...or something.
Do you have a "newsletter" that you could email out once a month for people who are interested? It will "keep you in mind" for birthdays, and the holidays.
And, this is a business decision and I don't know what it would do to your image--but have you thought about a different line for online shoppers? You say that your B&M shop is for "visiting tourist customers." People will spend money on vacation that they wouldn't spend otherwise. And the people taking vacations are usually wealthier than those who are online. A cheap crap line might work better online...but, it could be a slippery slope that kills your high end sales...like I said, it is a business decision.
I think every situation is different. You may have reached the majority of people who can spend that much money on an item and not have to worry about it. You could try some PPC, but be careful and watch your ROI. Try very specific keywords. Good luck!
thats an interesting point of view
our products range an average of 15.00 to 100.00 it really is middle of the road. are we a "bargain basement"? --- FAR FROM IT. Our products are the origional or handmade, or unique, or finely crafted version of an in demand product line. for instance, i could surf the net and easilly find a decent desk clock or jewelry box for 40.00 it is probably made in china, mass produced, and ok material, or used from ebay. In contrast - we would sell a handmade clock or jewelry box, with special hard woods and felt lining or lamination for around $85 - $150.00 hmmmmm doesnt really fit those bargain shoppers. so, the majority of our sales come from someone looking for a paticular artist and/or craftsman that makes great quality unique jewelry boxes or desk clocks. So we brand our artists, get high placement for their product lines and thus make the sale many times over. Problem is, many more people are looking for a clock rather then a clock by artist X. so my marketshare kinda sux.
maybe i should take my ecommerce site technology and apply it to SMC products?
does anyone know or have used SMC products (you know - that late night infomercial saying you can make tone of money selling cheap gifts from SMC...)
I'd assume the luxury gift market is at its most popular between October - December for xmas, so at this time of year, you can email all your prospects to remind them of your presence and presents ;)
i have the works
competitions (that no one usesw reguardless of how much i promote it) free club and email signups
have analytics, and my own heavilly coded log analyzer. filter out all junk. i even take the time to look at the paths of my visitors. 80% are looking for "large blue widget x from vendor A"
this is why i started this post --- for people who HAVE done all of that
let me rephrase what i mean --
i wanted to see what BIG picture lies for certain markets. I see way too much window shopping for what should be genuine traffic.
like why a non seasonal popular product will have a conversion of 2.5 pecent one month with adwords and then drop to 0 percent the next month.
If I read though the list of all you have done the past weeks, I cannot imagine that there is a thorrough plan behind it. eg.
-Optimising for five-word-sequences is questionable
-launching thousands of pages in such a short time span is dangerous.
-Your expert status is questionable if you so quickly think of changing the product-line completely.
and so on.
I'm online for five years now and it was a very slow and partially frustrating process to find the really profitable 'niches inside my niche' that really do convert.
All in all shop-conversions amount to probably less than 1%, but this is because we have some highly informative pages not targeting at direct conversion, but at visitors putting my site to their favourites. I'd say anything between 0,5% AND 3% is quite ok, depending on details.
I have 2k visitors a day now, ecomerce-revenues making up almost 50% from total and still that part alone wouldn't suffice to pay all bills.
I'd estimate that two thirs of our e-commerce revenues still come in via telephone or fax. Last week we got a fax covering a print of our website-form with all form-fields filled in by hand. I suppose particularly for gifts, many people might like to ask by phone whether you'll be able to deliver in time, because daddy's birthday year by year comes so suddenly...
Open that line, and listen to your customers.
They will give the best advices.
You said you went through the conversion-rate-tips in ww and crossed out ALL of them from your to-do-list in a few months.
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.
Improving usability, for instance, which I'd regard the most important issue, is a constant, never-ending process, and not finished within a few months. Whether your usability is OK, is something you can only get to know from those, WHO FAILED to find what they were looking for. Most of those will use that little cross top right, so you'll never get to know the reasons.
To open the telephone line for these people is an absolute MUST for anyone unsatisfied with conversion-rates. Place your telephone number directly underneath that little cross ON EVERY PAGE. Listen to this oral feedback, write it down, and start with improving those issues, that have at least been mentioned three times.
So if possible I think toll free will increase your over-all conversion rate.
Keep it fresh, sale oriented (not just descriptive), custom and detailed.
1. That's what makes the engines come.
2. That's what makes the people come.
3. That's what makes the people buy.
If traffic goes up 4X and sales don't go up 4X. You've got the wrong traffic. Seek those who seek you.
Yes, indeed. It is an important trustbuilding factor to hear a person's voice. Almost any sort of bulk-order beyond 1k $ volume requires that.
And bulk orders are the most interesting ones. Back in the very early days of our website, when I did not even run a shop system (just price infos as tables), we got a first order beyond 1 k covering 300 widgets I never would have thought of, simply because our website at that time was the only one over the whole internet, where this word widget occured. It was a marketing agency who was planning to engrave those widget with their customers-logo as a christmas present for their customer's customers.
from this I see 2 paths in terms of conversions.....
1) content, site
2) target market
The FIRST path, or school of thought is about your content and site, like offering necessary functions and customer service like toll free numbers - emaillist signups, upfront shipping quotes, solid site content, security, etc. (in my defense - I have a toll free number plastered all over and is well used, as well as 2 years of running my site to get feedback on usability, which concluded in months of correction, optimizing and fixing my site for exposure, conversion, and trustworthiness this summer. --- and in reality i would not actually change my product line due to a few discussions on an open forum.
so, i go back to my origional question, "you follow all conversion tips - why is everyone just browsing?" based on the notion of "what else could it be" to cause bad conversion... and thus come up with a second path...
The SECOND path, is about my target market, and found there to be big factors for people to think about when trying to capitalize on their "niche markets". for instance, my genuine traffic did rise substantially, and conversion dropped, which could very well mean "im not getting the right people to my site" also, some markets are unique, like in my situation, fine crafts as a topic yield a lot of people looking for "do it yourself information, and are not really focused on buying. the list could go on, and am wondering what people do to find the right traffic, or target market. At first i thought that having a page for "handblown glass bracelet" on page 1 of the serps would convert well, -- but instead became a landing for people who want to know how to make handblown glass bracelets. hmmmm
so, what are ways to get the buyer traffic to a site with certain items?
JSebastian: If traffic goes up 4X and sales don't go up 4X, you've got the wrong traffic.
or the wrong product.
Do YOU personally buy souvenirs online? Do YOUR FRIENDS?
Do you buy original artwork online? Do your friends?
Are you providing something that artshops / artgalleries / street vendors don't?
To me the answer to these questions is "no" (except the last one which is your personal question). Hence, I would question business idea.
who made the easy money? the masses panning for gold
or the merchants that sold the blue jeans, picks and shovels?
I have been running an ecomm site since '95 and get about
3,500 to 4,500 uniques/day much more after Thanksgiving.
But every summer I go crazy like you trying to figure out
what's wrong with my website , products, prices etc.
The facts is summer for ecom site that sell hard products
especially giftware SUCKS!
I can say that it's all a numbers game, you need to see
much larger numbers to get solid revenue streams.
One thing you might try is affiliate programs like shareasale. At least you will feel like you are trying accomplish something you may not have tried before.
I have had dozens of wannabes sign up with stars in their eyes , but they set up affiliate link farm sites and
most of them never get it that they won't get anywhere like
that. But I have two affiliates that send about 1,200 / day
to us and that traffic does convert very well, but they both
run sites that are very focused on specific topics and have tons of content about the topic and tons of links back to
specific pages on our site.
When it gets slow slow I try different things out of fear,
like this summer I setup pages with low priced items,
that have very high profit margins, thinking that because of high gas prices or the war or whatever is in the news that's bad , I'd sell more low priced stuff and still make good money.
It didn't happen like I thought at all. I didn't sell tons
of the low priced stuff, probably about the same number of
sales as any other summer , so total revenue didn't sore
because instead of selling two or three 75 dollar items
I'd sell two or three 7 to 9 dollar items.
My observation is that folks will buy quality crafted items
if they are presented well , good sharp photos and good
descriptions etc. if they have extra money , but folks won't buy even low priced goods if they don't have extra money.
Its not that I took all the expensive stuff off my website
and replaced it with low priced stuff, they were both there
but perhaps the presence of the low priced stuff turned off
the affluent buyers a bit, the folks that don't have a lot
of extra money are still reluctant to spend even on low priced stuff.
just my 2cents
... instead became a landing for people who want to know how to make handblown glass bracelets
Have you tested this? eg. create an article on How To Make Handblown Glass Widgets, link to it from your product page, and see how many visitors follow the article link compared to how many follow the Buy Now / More Product Info links. That way you should get a better understanding of the motives of your visitors.
If it turns out that a large proportion are in fact seeking 'How To' information, is there a market in this? Could you get together with your artisan suppliers and create How To guides or ebooks to sell as downloads from your site?
thats very interesting - seasonal influx in the market
does anyone else have this problem. whats wierd is you would expect a drastic drop in TRAFFIC for the off season, but it seams that summer traffic maintains itself while conversions drop. and this is based on my adwords that did convert in the winter and spring, and have been doing poorly in july and august (yet costing the same) perhaps different type of people are browsing online in the summer?
You are experiencing a decline in conversion rate, which can be terrible. No one likes to see their CR drop, even when traffic and overall sales are growing. To solve this problem you must figure out the sequence of events.
If you made no changes to the site, but started getting traffic from a new source (search engine organics) and your overall CR declines, that would indicate that the new traffic is lower quality. Why would this be? Well, your new traffic could be less focused. This can happen if you unintentionally rank on a term with good volume that is unrelated to your business.
If you are now getting unqualified traffic, it's not the end of the world. It means you haven't screwed anything up, and since the traffic is free any CR greater than 0 is money in the bank. There are other problems to be more worried about.
If you made changes which then drove in the new traffic (redesigns to generate more traffic, for instance) and your CR drops it could indicate that you made a negative change. This is fine, if you know what the change is. That's why it's best to make changes one at a time, so that you can accurately measure the results.
Once you get an analytics package in place, you're going to have to segment your traffic to separate the new from the old. This can be tough when you have no old data to go back to. You could try a log analysis traffic package to look at your old logs, and try to find a way to analyze it properly. You need to know whether your CR has dropped on the traffic you were getting before you started this process.
If you find that all the CR started to decline on all your traffic at once then you know you broke your site. Don't worry, it happens to everyone. Find what you changed, and revert to the original. If you changed too much at once, and you can't pinpoint the change now, you're simply going to have to change things back one at a time until the problem is solved.
At one company, they kept focusing on analzying, traffic building, but all the while any one in the company, not in marketing knew, that we didn't carry the products that a normal person walking into the store would expect to find.
So marketing kept looking for new products to sell, but customers had a certain expectation of what kind of products a certain type of store would carry, if that wasn't so, they'd look elsewhere...
Or it could be your fulfillment process isn't delivering on what you promise as part of the sales process...
Not all sales is buy, buy, buy...
If you want return customers, who will spread the word of mouth, you have to deliver a good experience, for purchases. Is it hard to track where their orders are?
What is your return policy?
Do you communicate clearly in plain english inventory status of items, or how long it takes to deliver.
I mean you can have the highest keywords, most traffic, but if your not delivering what customers expect they're not gonna buy from you...
Plus it is also worth while to actually get feedback from customers, what are you doing right and wrong, how can you better meet their needs..
Those who demonstrate trust and respect will earn it.
"you follow all conversion tips - why is everyone just browsing?"
As i have looked further into this, this is exactly what happened to me...
This is what i did in july:
1)in july 2005 I revamped my titles, meta, h1 tags, etc for much needed placement for my product and category pages. Well, it worked.
2) I revamped my site to remove possible deterents. Still LOOKS the same, but for instance - the "add to cart" button is bigger, 11pt font is now 12 or 13pt font, simplified categorization (we have a lot of products) etc. etc.
3)Added functionality in my search pages, and FIXED, not changed issues with my secure checkout pages, and our promotions, like coffe club points, contests, etc.
4) Have 1-800 number displayed everywhere, customer reviews, EXCELLENT epinos reviews, great functanility and usability, shipping estimation, free shipping on certain products, competitive pricing, and EXCELLENT fulfillement as we are always commended on our service, and have had virtually no problems at all. Our checkout abandoment rate is 1 in 10 and for every 4 cart additions 1 to 2 people actually buy. Many return and NEVER any complaints, just compliments
And this is the responce:
1)In august, google (and yahoo) traffic became substantially higher DUE to keywords matching my pages better. Note, i get about 200 referrals from google for MANY different pages, no more then 5 referrals per a page in a day, so its well spread out.
2)That traffic, though free, was only 80% effective as some searches were just irrelevant. (and BTW I DO have GOOGLE ANALYTICS, and my own means of analyzing log files) Also, there were a few one page visits that i consider to just be noise, and of course the AOL users and their damn IP changes. --- So i reevaluated what i thought to be good traffic and still, with that number my conversion rate is shy of 1%
3) So, of the "good traffic" i looked at how they got to our site. In fact, they were looking for EXACTLY what i had, and not mnay other people have, to a point where we would be the only retailer that selles the vendors widget they were looking for.
in fact, my direct, return and referral traffics conversion did not drop or rise during this change period
4) i looked at YTD sales, and found excellent detailed and focused keywords that have proven to lead to a sale, for an ad campaingn --- and found that the "selling keywords" did nothing even when my adverts said "buy widget a Now" - people still clicked just for fun -like 400 people before 1 sale came thruogh.
5) Seasons/full business model - Look - i get a sale a day and i cant afford to run a business model off of that. Now i need a "real job" which sux. Id make a .pdf catalog but the investment in that (as i would really have to make one and send it via mail) is too great for a business that makes 1 lousy sale a day. Even if i got a responce, the popular items would be sold out before the catalog even gets read. Some mention a newsletter signup - HAVE THAT next to my "hackerfree" thing in prime space - my conversion for signups is LOWER then sales. As for SEASONS - ya lets assume business goes up 50percent in christmas for gifts (actually last year it went up 10X making 2,000 month a 14,000 month) it still doesnt compensate for the 10 months, not to mention the summer just sucking
And so, what now:
1) what - should i change a color to red - to get more sales. put a 1-800 number in THAT I ALREADY HAVE. does person A like a "yahoo" cluttered layout, or a "google simple layout" etc. I dunno --- people who make theese sites are not idiots - and fix theese problems - just seems to be so marginal in helping. for instance, we get more toll free calls from people trying to contact the vendors (artisians) of the products we sell then sales.
2) Finding niche within niche, and selling keywords. Our sales patterns are RANDOM as heck. i put my products on shopping.com, and 'widget a' sells 2 in a month. in our B&M store it sells consistantly all year, but that same widget doesnt sell on that shopping mall for two more months while costing hunreds of dollars in click through costs, then 1 random sale later.
3) Wrong products? common - thats rediculous. Let me clarify --- Im NOT selling artwork, or stuff that a street vendor sells. Im selling products that cant be found easilly, yet are branded and well known due to the artisians and vendors that make them. For this reason, we don't put things on our website that doesnt make sense. A big market for us is gifts, BUT thats not all we sell either. gifts is kinda general isnt it.
Conclusion) SO WHATS THE KEY - not to say that there is one answer, there isnt, but im sure people are in this prediciment. How do i do advertising when my sales are so random, far and few between.
It just takes too many visitors from too many searches to make a sale.
How do i raise conversion when ive done everything everyone and every pro suggests i do. How do you become succesfull in a world of conflicting opionion, unique situations, and all working upon a small beaken of hope.
ok - to avoid confusion here is my site (i know im not supposed to do this)
type in "www" then "porterhousecrafts" then ".com"
Have you considered adding adsense to your online store?
By doing that I was able to increase daily revenu from dead end traffic in my store while maintaining / increasing my sales.
In any event it might help fund your adword campaign.
I have one leaderboard unit at the top and one link unit on the left in my navigation.
It might seem odd to lead out people who come to your store but if they're about to leave anyway... might as well be through PPC.