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I run an eCommerce site that sells themed home decor and furniture items.
The majority of my traffic comes from Comparison Shopping Engines. I have an optimized feed submitted to most of the big players (Shopping.com, Shopzilla, etc).
The month of September, we achieved a 0.5% conversion rate. (ROI positive)
This month, we're experiencing a 0.1% conversion rate. (ROI very negative)
There have been very minor changes to the feed and the site between Sept-Oct. This drop in conversions is across every CSE engine in the channel.
All signs point to some kind of error on the site. I've checked, checked, and checked again. Everything is in working order.
Any experienced marketers have any idea what may be going on?
Your input is much appreciated!
[edited by: lorax at 1:22 pm (utc) on Oct. 17, 2006]
[edit reason] no URLs please [/edit]
Free Shipping and a 5% coupon is prominently displayed on the page as incentives for the user to buy.
I was actually fairly pleased with the conversions they were giving me. With each optimization round, my profit margin would get better. NexTag, however, was the only CSE I was unable to turn a decent profit on.
I started off with about 1/3 of my products that I knew were good sellers. I then removed products from the feed as they surpassed my 25% marketing cost goal.
Their products were in the $25-$50 range. Consumables - roughly every 3 months customers returned to buy more.
For you though, I'd get 3-5 people who don't know your products to sit down and click through to your pages and ask them for first impressions.
I'd also look at the keywords that generated the click throughs (if you have that data). Do the KWs closely match the products?
I'd also look at your competitors sites - did they drop their pricing or shipping rates?
I'm not sure if this goes for other etailers, but I find that landing people on product detail pages doesn't get as good a conversion if you land them a layer higher with a few simular choices.
This is what we have found to be true also. And it also applies to PPC ads like Google and Yahoo.
We sell big batteries, among other things. We have many models, types and sizes.
So whenever possible, if someone clicks on the "Acme green battery with polka dots", it does not take him to there - takes him to the level higher, which lists ALL of the Acme green batteries. Quite often what he was searching for is not what he is really "looking" for, and that gives them choices.
I have tried shopzilla and wasn't impressed. My sales come from organic search.
That's some good info. CSE's do well in normalized categories like consumer electronics and computers where a consumer is provided with multiple retailers, product specs, buying guides, user reviews, etc.
CSE's do a fair job with Non-Nomralized goods, such as furniture as they don't provide as much up-front qualification. I would suspect the quality of a CSE's traffic is more volatile in these non-normalized segments.
Remember the CSE's organic base comes back for the digital goods. They rely heavily on SEM and SEO for the non-digital items.