Practical Ecommerce

Three Simple, But Overlooked, Conversion Tips

Marketing with 404 error pages and showing shipping data before a shopper puts an item in the cart were among the many powerful and often overlooked sales conversions tips that ecommerce coach and entrepreneur, Shirley Tan, shared during a recent webinar.

Tan, who is the founder of AmericanBridal, has some 13 years of ecommerce marketing and operations experience. She presented several sales conversions tips during a recent Practical Ecommerce webinar that sought to give participants suggestions about new ways to market and provide measurement techniques to help fine tune those methods.

Three of Tan’s conversion tips stood out because they were almost unique in ecommerce marketing.

No. 1: Market on 404 Error Pages

Like it or not, some small percentage of your site visitors may encounter a 404 or file not found error page from time to time. These pages are displayed when the file requested by the browser does not actually exist on the web server, and may be the result of a typo in some anchor text or any number of other missteps.

Marketers have long advocated making 404 error pages friendly and offering the unfortunate visitors that see them ways to continue navigating the site.

This 404 error pages uses a graphic and links to get the shopper to continue navigating the site.

This 404 error pages uses a graphic and links to get the shopper to continue navigating the site.

But Tan suggests taking this one step further and offering those customers that land on 404 error pages a special offer for their trouble. Since site performance errors can send shoppers packing, Tan’s approach should help online retailers retain some customers that would have otherwise gone elsewhere.

AmericanBridal offers a 5 percent discount to visitors who see its 404 error page.

AmericanBridal offers a 5 percent discount to visitors who see its 404 error page.

Tan’s approach also makes it easy to monitor how many of your customers that see 404 pages actually convert. Simply compare the number of 404 page visits captured in your web analytics tool to the number of 404 error coupons redeemed.

No. 2: Display Shipping Rates Early

Several studies, including one from PayPal, have shown that higher-than-expected shipping rates are the leading cause of shopping cart abandonment.

To help address this problem, Tan suggests showing shoppers shipping rates at the product detail page level even before they have added an item to the shopping cart.

As an example, Tan pointed to SkyGeek, a purveyor of aviation-related gear, that includes a shipping rate calculator on every product detail page.

SkyGeek shipping calculator.

SkyGeek shipping calculator.

SkyGeek's expanded shipping calculator.

SkyGeek’s expanded shipping calculator.

Consider monitoring the number of times shipping rates are calculated on product detail pages to judge the effectiveness of this tip.

No. 3: Set Shipment Arrival Expectations

Tan also suggested marketing product arrival dates in order to communicate, first, how quickly your business will respond to an order and, second, to avoid customer service problems.

This solution could alleviate customer apprehension associated with purchasing birthday gifts, wedding favors, or other items for a specific event.

For an example, Tan pointed to My Wedding Favors, which tells customers when an item will leave the company’s warehouse and allows them to calculate an arrival date based on their zip codes.

My Wedding Favors can calculate the delivery date based on the customer's ZIP code.

My Wedding Favors can calculate the delivery date based on the customer’s ZIP code.

To decide it this tip works, monitor sales before and after implementing. Also, take the number of delivery-related complaints your business received in the three months before trying this tip and compare it to the number of complaints received three months after implementation. Be sure to look at real numbers and complaints as a percentage of sales.

Summing Up

With just these three simple techniques, you can encourage more sales conversions. Of course, this three unique tips are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg where customer conversion is concerned.

Click here to view upcoming and archived Practical eCommerce webinars.>

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Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Bruce D. Sanders July 7, 2010 Reply

    These three suggestions show good promise in keeping the shopper moving toward purchase by understanding the psychology of the ecommerce consumer. I also like that an effectiveness metric is included for each of the three. I do see a problem with the example of the 404 Error Page. The ecommerce shopper reaching a 404 page on a site they’ve not used before is wondering, “Is this my clumsiness or am I dealing with a retailer that’s clumsy?” The grammatical errors on the American Bridal 404 Error Page (“You’ve reach….”, “to receive a 5% Off….”) would tilt some shoppers’ thinking in the direction of clumsy retailer. That can kill the sale.

  2. Steve @Erraticblog July 8, 2010 Reply

    Great suggestions Armando.

    Good catch on the errors Bruce. I agree that does look clumsy. However I do think custom 404 pages can be very valuable. I have a custom 404 page on my ecomm site and have found most visits to the page are from someone mentioning my company in a forum, blog, etc and simply making a typo when they create their link.

    I have somewhat of a humorous 404 page that hopefully brings a smile to the visitors face. I offer a discount code on the 404 page, but I also explain that if they email me with how they arrived at the 404 page that I’ll give them an even bigger discount. This allows me to go back and hopefully get the link corrected that led to the 404 page in the first place.

  3. Bruce D. Sanders July 8, 2010 Reply

    An even bigger discount for actionable information. That’s a great idea, Armando!

  4. richard gilliland July 14, 2010 Reply

    Does anyone know of any scripts for estimating delivery date We currently use volusion which does not have that feature.

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