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The short answer: It depends. :)
As long as you're making money, you're doing good. Some markets or niches have considerably different "normal" conversion rates or cost-per-visitor. Really, it depends. $0.35 per visitor is far higher than I spend, but I'm targeting a $5-$10 price point. As in all things ecommerce, YMMV.
I offer the customer several ways in which to buy the product. They can buy one widget for full retail value, 3 for a slight discount and 6 for a greater discount. I am also going to offer a subscription plan so people can have a different product delivered once a month. They will be able to subscribe monthly for full value, or subscribe annually for a discount.
All the pages are hand coded in plain, bog-standard HTML. The shopping cart is the freebie supplied by my cc processor, 2CO. (It's basic i know, but it does everything I need it to do.) The other thing is that my site won't need much updating as there is a very slow product cycle.
I know you may think that this is overkill on the details, but with stats I think you need to know the background. :)
So I have already received quite a few orders, which was surprising but welcomed. I am getting a high conversion rate. Once I take out visits generated by myself, friends and family, as well as spiders I am getting about 200 unique visits per month. This is converting to around 15 sales per month. So at the moment I have a converstion rate of 10 - 13%, believe it or not. Now I just need to get the traffic up, and manage to keep this rate of converstion.
I myself am surprised at this because I run other related sites in this sphere of ecommerce, and to be honest I am getting nowhere near that conversion rate. I think it all comes down to highly targetted traffic, a niche market and simple, trustworthy site design.
I hope this helps out.
Good sub segments to look at are: By source of traffic, by section of your site, by number of visits to your site, etc.
By doing this you will then find a range of conversions within your site. Take the best converting group as your goal and try to move the rest of your site's conversion up towards that top converting group.
This type of analysis is essential if you want to understand and improve your site. Segmenting traffic will tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
Nice tip CFX, I think it's sometimes hard to say, well, we're getting a conversion rate of .50% now, we should be able to boost it up to .80%. What if you really can't boost it? In fact, is boosting conversion rates always possible?
As I mentioned before I'd be interested in some statistics for average conversion rates across industries, if anyone has information of that kind.
DavidL, that's just what I was thinking! It's alright now when I'm getting really targetted visitors from strategically placed links, but what about when traffic increases?
I suppose to some degree traffic should increase from sites I'm already linked with, so that may or may not convert into $$$. Also, there will be repeat customers. One of my websites sells the same product and gets regular repeat customers, many buying every 1 - 2 months. This site sells food.
Products on this food related site are quite competitively priced and are of a niche nature. Most items come in around $6 plus shipping.
But like DavidL says, lots of traffic doesn't always convert. I have a site which sells gifts and receives a steady 800 unique visitors per day. However, I get only 30 sales per month on average. However, this jumps dramatically in the months preceeding Christmas.
The gifts sold on this website are priced from around $20 all the way up to $450. They are all handcrafted, handpainted etc etc. The site should be converting much more, but it isn't. So I have begun to completely redesign the entire site taking into account SEO, marketing, branding, ease of use etc etc, all great things I've read up on at WW!
So when I compare and contrast the 2 sites I see some major reasons which, I think, explain the differing conversion rates. These are namely:
1. Product - Can your customers get it anywhere else? You can buy gifts in loads of places, online and offline, but the food I'm selling is fairly unique.
2. Price - If your customer did look somewhere else would they find the same product at a cheaper price. The section of the gift market I am in is crammed with people who undercut almost to the point of selling at cost price. The food I sell on the other, is hard to find, therefore, prices are hard to compare. Also, people are less prepared to spend $100 on a handpainted plate than $6 on a bar of handmade chocolate, for example.
3. Design - Does the site look and feel good? Would you buy from your own site? I ask myself that and have to say I would have my reservations about buying from my own gift shop. Why? Because it looks dated, there are random broken links left behind after years of messing round with design, help sections and contact forms are hard to find etc etc etc. My food shop is new and takes into consideration these things. It's clean looking, product pages explain prices, shipping costs and the timescales involved. Pictures are bigger and clearer. It's easy to find a contact form. All these things can make or break a site.
4. Targetted traffic - If I had a penny for every time this has been said I wouldn't need to write this, I'd be in the south of France relaxing by the beach. But it is true! My gift shop gets around 800 unique visitors per day, but they come from personal sites, directories, lesser known industry sites..... most of which bring in crap, uninterested window shoppers. My food shop has few links, but the ones it does have bring in people who are interested in the goods. That means you're already at second base. If they like what they see they will buy easier.
5. Trustworthy - We hear Microsoft go on about it, but it also applies to commercial websites. On the gift site there is precious little to indicate that we are the online extension of our 'bricks and mortar' shop. The food shop is a totally separate, exclusively-online operation, but still gets a higher converstion rate. The difference is that I have a postal address clearly displayed at the bottom of each page. It's very little, but it instills a feeling of confidence that it is a real person behind the site.
6. Ease of use - It falls under design, but I thought I'd bring it up anyway. On my gift shop, which is now about 3 years old, it is very difficult to find what you really want. There is something like 400 products on it, but I think it has become a bit of a maze. Some people might call it an intelligent application of the principal of sticky content, I prefer to call it a mess. There is no proper search facility, you can't get to any other major section on the site from any page easily. All this adds up to too much effort for a prospective buyer, it needs to be much simpler, like a one way street to the checkout!
Compare the gift shop to the new, WW-inspired functionality of the food shop and I see some major differences. The food shop has a clearly placed search box at the bottom of every page. It works wells, I can see people searhing for products in my log files. The top navigation bar has links to the major categories such as articles, recipes, products, help and then has links to each product. This works because it is a small site with only about 10 products. On the bottom I have text links which reflect and expand on the top nav bar, there's the postal address and the search facility. It makes a big difference to sales, simply because it takes less effort to get to where you want to go.
7. Niche Market - This has also been touched on before, but I just wanted to place further emphasis on it. My gift shop sells a product that isn't extremely easy to find in an ordinary, high-street gift shop. But there are hundreds of online gift shops of varying size and success who sell it. This means greater competition and inevitably there is a greater chance that the visitor will just go and check the same product somewhere else: it's only a click or 2 away. The food I sell is a different ball game. Difficult to find, involves a fairly large upfront, initial capital investment, weighs a lot, costs more to ship, but critically is in demand. My gifts are also in demand, but because there is so much competition, the demand is practically nullified for a small online retailer. I think it's better to go with a niche market with substantial demand, it means there is a much higher chance of getting sales, even if your products cost more and shipping is a little more expensive.
This has gone on too long, I'm sure many who read this will know it all anyway. I just wanted to provide an insight into the contrasting conversion rates between 2 sectors of the market.
If anyone wants to see the sites please sticky me. Thanks,
Boosting conversion is not always possible, especially when the trade off is traffic. We always end up choosing to throw more traffic into our shop even though it is less targeted and converts lower than other traffic sources that are much more targeted. Our rationale behind this that we do not pay for the traffic and it boosts sales, the big traffic sources may not convert a quarter as well, but their sheer volume makes it worthwhile.
I think my point is probably better taken as: understand conversion rates by segments so that when you have to make decisions, they can be informed ones and you will not be shocked by the results.
Also knowing traffic by segment can help you to improve conversion. I was looking at one group and found they purchased from a category of product more than any other group. Most of my shop is for women, but this category is a gift and 80% of the group buying were men.
What to do? Even though it is a semi-minor category, we are going to point a link on the main page for it, so guys can find it, buy their gift, and not get lost in a sea of pink frilly things.
I think your comments were very useful. I must say that for a whole lot of what we do, in so far as ecommerce eMarketing, we are swimming in the dark.
How can I promise my boss that we can boost conversion rates when I am unaware what industry averages are?
How can I know that if I currently have a good conversion rate it will not deterriorate as more traffic passes through the site?
This are tough questions that are probably faced by millions every day.
I don't know the answers, but perhaps this discussion will shed a bit more light on the issue.
As for me, I provide this excellent article:
And patiently await the comments and advice of other.
Thanks for all the great comments. I am right there with you on the gift shop site. I manage a network of 11 sites that are related under a very general category "Theatrical and Costuming Supplies". One of my niche sites gets about 80 uniques a day, but has and average of 2 - 3 sales a day. Another niche site gets 300 - 400 uniques a day, and has about 4 - 6 sales a day.
Now take the lingerie and women's clothing site, one of the most competitive online industries. It gets between 800 - 1,200 uniques a day, but sees about 1 sale a day, woopy <twirling finger>. Nothing but window shoppers. When doing the SEO I was even very careful to stay away from related keywords that would bring the purely cheap thrills seakers in.
I think that is what happens when you have a flooded market. I think the customer gets lost in who to buy from. "I just looked at 15 sites. Now who was the cheapest again?..."
The funniest thing is that the site that does the best was a site that started off purely as a joke between my brother and myself. It wound up in the engines a month later - I had forgotten all about it - and next thing I know people are actually ordering the stuff like crazy.
What about times. I just ran all of our sales through a time lapsed spreadsheet and found that our peak time frame for customers to make a purchase is between 11am - 3pm. With 2pm - 2:59pm being the peak hour. What are you guys coming up with?
Thanks for the link. That was a really good article. THe other articles it lead to were really great to. I did not even know about that site. Plus I found that I was going about conversion rates all wrong. I have been getting the exact dollar amount per unique visitor when I should have been looking at the number of visitors that turn in to a sale.
After using the correct formula I found that my conversion rate is somewhere around 0.61%. Which come to find out is really low. I kind of figured as much though. I have been devoting all of my time to the design and accessibility of my sites and planned on going back and fine tuning the marketing/sales side of the site when I had reached a certain point. The work load never ends.