22 September 2010 11:03am
I have e-commerce retail websites that operate in different territories and the appropriate languages for those territories; UK, Germany, Netherlands, France.
We are a fashion retail site with a strong niche proposition, and our key season is Autumn/Winter. We release a new collection to our sites in early August.
Monitoring YOY performance we are doing really well on acquiring traffic - it is massively up in UK, Germany, France, and up but not to such a great degree in Netherlands.
Total orders are up across all channels APART from Netherlands.
Where we are under pressure however, is in conversion rates. Ever since launch of new collection our conversion rates have performed very poorly in comparison to prior year, down by around a third across the sites.
Coincidentally we have also just invested in Coremetrics. So of course my MD is giving us a huge amount of pressure to use this fancy and enormously expensive tool, to show what is “wrong with the site that is causing the drop in conversion rates”.
However, our site hasn’t changed since last year. It is clear to me and my team that the rise in traffic is causing the drop in conversion rates, and that there may also be a problem with our new range, and our pricing of that range.
The question is, how to prove this using analytics? What should we realistically be expecting conversion rates to do when we lift traffic by such a degree?
We are setting up exit surveys to try to get some real human thoughts on why they aren’t buying, but what we’re being asked to do as of right now is show why our conversion rates are going through the floor.
Of course, we’ve thought about relevance of traffic, but across our traffic sources I can’t see a problem here – we aren’t going after massively generic keyphrases in search, we haven’t started shoving banners willy nilly across the web with no thought – we should still be relevant for the same proportion of our visitors this year as we were last year.
Anyone’s thoughts / advice would be very welcome here. It seems we are trying to use a web analytics tools to prove a problem that doesn’t exist with our website. The increase in traffic is pushing the conversion rates down, and there may also be a problem with how the range is being received, but I’m a bit stumped as to how to show that using numbers, pie charts and graphs.
Managing Director at Digital Gearbox
22 September 2010 17:32pm
Nightmare problem to have!
Not the whole solution - but a few ideas that might help:
- I'd suggest trying to find out how the returns rates are performing for the new range. If they've gone up massively year on year then that would help your pov that the range is wrong (although with the website issue being pre-purchase maybe that's not going to help)
- and seeing what the response is on other channels - if that's similarly affected.
- has the average price per item changed?
- Or the range mix? (eg last year 50% cardigans, this year only 30%)
- Have you double checked that during the checkout process there's no security warnings coming up due to tracking being put in place badly (http in stead of https on an https page will flag a warning on some browser settings).
- Has the bounce rate changed a lot? Maybe try comparing the YoY conversion rates excluding the bouncing data?
- Where are people abandoning the purchase? Has that changed? If not then that might be enough to proove it's not the website.
Bit of a brain dump for you - but hope it helps
23 September 2010 09:58am
Thanks Chloe - useful stuff, also just good to hear from someone else that's its a tricky one cos it certainly is!
23 September 2010 15:05pm
No worries - if I think of anything else I'll drop it up
CEO at Econsultancy
24 September 2010 09:58am
Gareth - I think you may already have looked into these but the most obvious usual answers (outside of the unpalatable possibility that your new range isn't liked / properly priced) would be: has the competition changed much recently? e.g. for what you sell is there someone now ranking well on Google selling something very similar for less etc? And how has your traffic source mix changed over the period? e.g. you might be getting a load more social media traffic which tends to be a bit 'flighty' and convert less well?
Managing Partner at 3TouchPoints, LLC
27 September 2010 13:40pm
First of all, it's an interesting problem and no doubt, you have done a decent amount of home-work at your end to find the root cause. Secondly, here are certain reports and metrics I would like you to look at in your web analytics solution.
First of all, I would go back to my digital marketing firm and look at their paid marketing strategy against this new collection. Specifically, I will look at the cross-channel strategy applied to promote this collection, and most importantly the Display ADs, Search Keywords and the targeting criteria. In parallel, I would recommend checking out the Marketing Suite section in the Top Navigation bar of Coremetrics, and look at the TREND data with respect to Referring Domain and Search Keywords report for the last 3-6 months depending on, when the collection went live.
Secondly, I have seen the similar problem with various apparel brands in the past where, they launched a new collection or a merchandise category, and saw a significant jump in their traffic without any corresponding lift in their conversion rate. Often times, after doing lot of analysis we found that, it was due to poor targeting of their paid marketing (PPC, Affiliates and Display ADs) campaigns. We figured this out by looking at the Referring Domain and Geosegmentation Reports offered by most of the web analytics solution in the market. These poorly targeting campaigns were driving lot of unqualified traffic which was dropping out during the checkout process on the billing address page because, that was the first page where the visitor found that, this brand doesn't offer international shipping yet. So; what I would recommend is, looking at these 2 reports and besides that, check whether you are seeing a lift in your cart abandonment rate after launch of this new collection. Run a Funnel Report in Coremetrics and choose the checkpoints as, Shopping Cart -> Sign In Page -> Billing/Shipping Address -> Shipping Methods. You should find some interesting facts here.
Thirdly, I would look at the Bounce Rate on those pages where, this collection is showcased. For that, you can go to the Site Pages or Most Popular Pages reports in Coremetrics and choose the metric as Bounce Rate. If you don't find this metric then, create a new calculated metric by using the formula as, Single Page Visits/Entries. If the bounce rate is ridiculously high then, I would look for 3 things: First, I will look at the source of the traffic and the keywords that brought the visitor to the store. Secondly, I would look at the product assortment and thirdly, the navigational behavior of NON BOUNCED visitors to understand, what was the immediate next activity they performed once they landed on the page.
Fourthly, look at your immediate competitors website and verify, whether they have the similar product collection or not? If yes, look for 2 things i.e. Product Assortment and secondly the Pricing. Considering the current economic conditions where, the consumer confidence is quite low, and they are valuing price more than the value, it would be good to optimize the assortment and pricing strategy considering what your competitors are offering. But, please be cautious in this regards because, you don't want to erode your margins.
Let me know if you have any followp questions or concerns.
If you want to gain some insight in to Coremetrics reporting, do let me know.
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