Practical Ecommerce

Conversion: Seven Variables That Affect Sales

Most online merchants want to increase sales, grow their business and increase profits, but few know the secrets to doing so. For many merchants, the dollar amount of a sale is the only metric they track. But successful merchants track many more variables than just sales. Here are seven such variables, in fact, that directly affect revenue and profits. Merchants should carefully monitor these with their web analytics software.

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  1. Rank. Your rank is how well your site is positioned on search engine results pages (SERPS). For example, a company marketing Bartlett pears may be listed in response for a query about “fruit.” “Rank” indicates exactly where it’s listed, be it on the first page of results, the second or the 200th. Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you improve your rank for your targeted key words.

    If you’re not measuring your rank or utilizing SEO, it is highly unlikely that you will appear on the first few SERPS for your keywords, making it very difficult for prospective customers to find your site.

  2. Impressions and Conversion Rates. An impression is a single view of an online advertisement or website. Conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors who take a desired action such as converting to a sales lead or purchase. Conversion reporting tracks conversions from various online marketing sources including search engine queries and banner ads. It can tell you the originating engine, keywords, specific landing pages entered and the related conversions for each. By studying impressions and conversion rates, you can determine which ads are working and what elements need to be altered to improve those that aren’t.

    If you’re not measuring impressions and conversions, you’re ignoring which online marketing investments are delivering the greatest return and what elements are compelling visitors to become customers. More important, you have no way of knowing what’s turning potential customers away, or how many sales you may be loosing.

  3. Click Stream Analysis. A click stream refers to the path that users take on your website to travel from initial point of entry to conversion. Studying customer click streams will help you streamline the sales process. A click stream analysis can help identify common paths where there might be cross-selling opportunities and it’s critical in identifying potential failures in a shopping experience. When these points are isolated and corrected, your site should generate a higher percentage of completed sales, and thus, more revenue.

    If you’re not conducting click stream analyses, your ability to determine cross-selling opportunities will be minimal and failures in your online shopping experience will go unnoticed, causing you to miss out on profitable opportunities.

  4. Offline Sales. Often, the sales process can begin online, but close offline. By tracking all stages of the sales process, from initial online contact to offline sale, you can accurately determine your return. This includes seeing detailed information about conversion rates, average sales, length of sales process, cost per lead and more.

    If you’re not tracking all of the stages of your sales process, you’re missing out on important information that will help you efficiently manage your sales pipeline and receive a calculated return.

  5. Return Shoppers. Are customers returning to your site, and continuing to make purchases? Tracking return shoppers can give you a deep insight into common paths where there might be cross-sell opportunities.
    If you’re not tracking your return shoppers, you’re missing out on the chance to increase sales and generate more revenue.

  6. Stickiness. This refers to the length of time a visitor spends on your site. It can help you evaluate your site’s ability to keep visitors actively engaged.
    If you’re not measuring the length of time a visitor spends on your site, they may continue to come and go without making a purchase. Or worse yet, they may leave in favor of a competitor’s site and never return.

  7. Shopping Cart Abandonment. Are potential customers shopping on your site, but leaving before they complete a purchase? Take a hard look at your rate of shopping cart abandonment. This could reveal bottlenecks in your checkout process, lax security (which can result in warning messages from web browsers), time-consuming forms that customers don’t want to fill out or confusing navigation. If you’re not measuring shopping cart abandonment, you will continue to lose customers and sales to your competition.

Data that’s black and white and read all over

By measuring and analyzing factors effecting your sales cycle, you get the complete picture, allowing you to evaluate and take action where necessary. This will result in more qualified traffic to your site, higher conversion rates and greater sales.

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Lisa Wehr
Lisa Wehr
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