Tweaking the Steps Along Your eCommerce Sales Path

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ecommerce pathDo you sell products and services via the Internet? Do you get the results you want?

If you don’t get the results you want, it’s helpful to re-visit each step of your “sales path” to see where tweaks can be made.

Do a little marketing detective work

For instance, let’s say your sales path starts with an email broadcast, which directs the reader to your website. Here are the different statistics you will want to analyze to see what’s working and what’s not.

  1. Open Rate: Open rates, on average, hover around 20-30%, and in some industries they go as low as 13%. (See Mail Chimp’s Open Rate by Industry table. Here’s Constant Contact’s version of the Open Rate by Industry.)  If your statistics show that 20% are opening the email, that equates to a real open rate of 40%. We know this because only half of all email users will open their email with the graphics turned on, which sends a “beacon” back to the email server to say “This person opened an email.” If they don’t have their graphics turned on when reading emails, then they won’t show up in your Open Rate.
  2. Check Click-through Rates: Just because someone opens an email doesn’t mean they read it. One way to calculate whether people are actually reading your emails is click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percent of people who clicked on a link in your email which took them to your website. You can you get this statistic either from your email company or from your website statistics. Here’s Mail Chimp’s chart showing click-through rates, and here’s Constant Contact’s benchmarks for click-through rates.) There are a lot of opinions, pro and con, for whether you should put links in your emails or simply put the full text in your emails. Read more about that here in my blog post “Include Full Articles or Only Links?”.
  3. Check Your Website Statistics: Once they click through from the email to the page where you are making your offer, how long are they staying there? This number helps to guide you as to whether they’re actually reading the web page text or not. If your web page is too long, poorly written, or doesn’t clearly explain what you’re offering, people may be turned off. Or perhaps the text isn’t formatted in a way that’s conducive to reading. If they’re not staying long enough on the page to read it, it’s time to re-write the page. HINT: to determine how long it really takes to read the entire page, read it out loud to yourself. That will slow you down so that you read every single word as if it were the first time you’d seen the page.
  4. Bounce Rate: If they read the website text, does it answer all their questions? If not, they may click away and never return. Check your bounce rate. Bounce rate is expressed as a percentage of the people who visit one page of your site, then leave immediately without looking at other pages on your site. Google says the average bounce rate is between 40-60%. If your bounce rate for your page is less than 40%, you’re doing great! If it’s over 60%, you need to tweak that page.
  5. Call To Action. What are you asking people to do once they read your page? A strong call to action matters.  Let’s say you’re selling a class. Should the call to action be “buy now?” Maybe it would be better as “register now” or “click here to register.”
  6. Sales Rate: Did they buy? Which payment option did they use?

Which sources give you the best results?

Every step along the sales path is an opportunity to tweak your technique. Your ecommerce path might start with web traffic from a search engine (so good SEO is important) or it might start with online referrals from other sites. Perhaps you’re sending traffic to your site from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Check each of these “sources” in your website statistics to see which ones yield the best results. To do that, first go to the Landing Pages section of Google Analytics. You’ll find it under the Behavior section of the menu.

landing pages

Then use a very cool feature of Google Analytics, the “Secondary Dimension,” which allows you to select a page you want to focus on and drill down to each source of traffic to that page and how they did individually. To do this:

  1. In the Landing pages table, click on the URL of the page you want to study. This will bring up statistics only for that page and help you drill down to get specifics for that page.
  2. Above the “Page” column, you’ll see a button that says “Secondary Dimension.” Click on that, and a drop-down menu will appear of all the different statistics you can get about that page.
  3. Select “Acquisition” then “Source.” This will show you all the sources of traffic to this specific page. Check the Time on Page and Bounce Rate for each source, to see which on yields the best results.

source

NOTE: The source that says “(direct)” simply means that people came directly to this page without going through an additional website. These are the people who click-through from your email campaigns. If people are reading their email in a browser-based email system, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, the source might say Google or Yahoo.

Once you find the right combination of the steps above that brings the best results, you then repeat that over and over again.

By the way,  I recommend you use Google Analytics, if you are not already using it. It’s free and it gives you a ton of good information about how your marketing campaigns are doing.

Do You Find These “How-To” Types of Posts Helpful?

Let me know if you find this helpful and if you’d like to see more of these step-by-step “how-to” types of posts!

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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10 Ways to Grow Your Mailing List

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Wow, you are going to kill me, but I have to say it:

It doesn’t matter how good your website is, if people don’t come back often. Your website gets them interested; your ongoing relationship with them gets them to buy.

The real key to e-commerce is building a mailing list of people who are interested in the topics you write, speak and teach about. On a good day, you might get 10 percent of your website visitors to buy. But what about the other 90 percent? Are you just going to ignore them and their needs?

The internet is a distracting place and a visitor may only come to your website once. A mailing list member can be told about new articles, new offerings and new resources on your site each month, thereby increasing your traffic and your sales.

I’m not talking about creating huge lists of people who will remove themselves as soon as they get your freebie. What’s the point in that? I’m talking about a sustainable list of people who like the products and services you offer, who have an ongoing relationship with you, and are likely to purchase from you again and again.

I can think of 20 or 30 different things you can do to grow your mailing list. Let’s look at the 10 techniques I like to use.

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing
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Shopping Carts and Merchant Accounts

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Understanding and studying e-commerce can become a full-time business! My friend Paula has written an excellent blog entry about shopping carts and merchants accounts, which gives you an overview of what you’ll need to get started in e-commerce.

Also, from time to time I offer a free teleclass on ecommerce, setting up shopping carts, accepting credit cards, and everything that goes with selling products and services online. Check out our Calendar of Classes:

http://www.passionforbusiness.com/business-building-classes.htm

 

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning
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American Bar Association Launches Business Ecommerce Help Site

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The American Bar Association (ABA) launched SafeSelling.org, a site geared towards small and medium-sized businesses to help answer legal questions about offering products and services for sale on the web. According to their website,

“This site is organized around commonly-asked questions that arise during the development, launch and operation of an online store or other ecommerce site…You will also find links to ABA, government and other free informational sites with useful guidance for selling online.”

An excellent resource!

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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