Archive for July, 2009

Converting the right thing

July 15, 2009

I was recently at Conversion for Design in Amsterdam. Alongside three good keynote speakers we had plenty of time to work on test cases. The group of 70 or so participants were split into 15 teams each of whom received a case study. These are real life examples of business trying to improve their conversions. They came with a good deal of background, business sponsors to answer our questions and some clear goals. I don’t want to go to into the specifics of the case we had but sketch the important points. For each case study two or three teams studied, brainstormed, developed and then presented their suggestions from which the business sponsor selected one. Each of these winners then went head to head again battle of the bands style to hoose the winner of the event. Our team was lucky enough to win. We did two or three things differently from the other teams and I believe these were the differences that made the difference.

Our goal was given as selling a certain number of products online. These products were easily broken and fundamentally kinaesthetic: it was all about feel and fit. You could think of tailor made suit or driving a car. Currently most products were sold offline in a bricks and mortar store where people got expert advice and could try things on. Once people had bought once buying again was pretty easy and much more common. In fact, after their first purchase, complete brand loyalty was common.

The online channel was having a hard time breaking in. They had done everything they has been told to. They had set up a webshop with all the products in, they had charts to help the consumer decide what version they should have. They had plenty of factual details to help the methodical rational buyer decide. Admittedly returns were tricky and costly but since this was a key drain on order profitability, it was hoped that the user knew what he was doing when he bought. The business had 700 new approaches to SEO and conversion they wanted to try but was looking for our team to find out what they had missed.

Although our team looked at some tactical ways of increasing the conversion rate for the shopping cart we focussed more on the big ticket items. We did this by taking a step back. By asking for more orders the client really wanted more profit. From our brief analysis of the customer behaviour we identified that very few customers buy for the first time online but many repeat purchases are made.

We suggested that the business focus instead on offline purchasers who then bought online. A purchaser who buys his second product online is highly profitable from that point on. Their threshold to buying is reduced because they have the largely kinaesthetic reference for a good brand experience already.

This approach can be accelerated by eliminating channel conflict altogether for instance by letting offline local stores share in the online revenue generated. This means that the offline and online channels are no longer fighting but are helping each other using what each of them does best: the bricks and mortar store focuses on getting a first purchase and bulding a relationship whilst the online store focuses on getting the profitable repeat purchases at a lower cost.

This was one thing our team did differently: we focused on the entire business from the consumer’s point of view rather than on just the web store or the web page. Seeing the big picture is important. Counterintuitively once the online store focusses on a deep relationship rather than just a quick sale it can start to generate more sales.

More on different focuses for greater conversion successes in later posts.

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No fear for WordPress for iPhone 3.0

July 9, 2009

The post I just uploaded has been sitting on my iPhone for the last six months. I spent an hour writing it on a plane thinking that it would be breaking news. Instead a ‘communications error’ meant that that (pretty long) post was lost in limbo for a few months. I could read and edit it locally but just not publish it. Along comes the latest update and suddenly it all works.

Let me say: I love the app. It was until that fatal post one of my most used apps. But from that moment to this the fear of losing a post meant that I never used it once.

I had a similar experience recently with the Dutch national railways site booking a trip to Antwerp. Firstly the site would not allow me to find a trip because it was partly Dutch railways and partly international. Then when I tried to book the international part only, it let me enter my payment information but did not complete the transaction. Is there anything scarier for a user than realising that they have given up all their secrets but that you have not delivered on your side of the bargain?

Fear is one of the top reasons for conversion failure. Going out of your way to remove that fear is a great leap towards increasing conversions.

I still have to go a way before I trust wordpress on the iPhone again but without the fear, I am using it again and it can start again to build my trust.