The findings of the Econsultancy and RedEye Conversion Report have intensified my belief that those working in the world of e-commerce will remember 2009 as the year when many companies finally got to grips with measuring website activity and optimising. 

Various factors have played their part in throwing the spotlight on conversion. The most significant must be the recession which has forced companies to re-evaluate where they are investing money and levels of efficiency, with the result that there has been more emphasis on fine-tuning rather than increased acquisition budgets.

For many companies, the continued growth of online sales and digital marketing success have helped to mask many examples of bad practice and inefficiency. 

Technology has also played its part in improving conversion rates, with a variety of e-commerce related tools used by companies actually helping them achieve their goals rather than obstructing them.

According to the survey of more than 700 internet professionals carried out for the Conversion Report, the majority of digital marketers say their web analytics, email, paid search and multivariate testing (MVT) platforms have had a positive impact on their attempts to improve conversion rates. 

Even Content Management Systems, much maligned in the past because of their failure to actually help with digital marketing, are more likely to have a positive rather than negative effect.

But more important than technology is the improved understanding of the human input and processes required for optimising websites. Ownership of conversion rates is crucial. According to the research, if an organisation has someone directly responsible for conversion then they are more than twice as likely to have experienced improved conversion rates in the last 12 months. 

The research shows that a clear strategy and systematic processes involving testing and segmentation will pay dividends for companies in their quest to improve conversion rates. 

When we asked respondents to elaborate on what had been the biggest factor in helping to improve conversion, the words that were oft-repeated were 'strategy', 'ownership', 'testing' and 'measurement' rather than specific types or brands of technology. 

The research also found that the following four areas of best practice were particularly highly correlated with conversion success. 

  • Removing bottlenecks and blockages
  • Identifying key performance indicators
  • Using compelling and effective calls to action (CTAs)
  • Aligning keywords, CTAs and landing pages

Because ownership of conversion and systematic processes are undoubtedly important, an obvious question is whether companies should incentivise staff based on conversion. Just over a fifth (22%) of companies said they did this. There was some interesting discussion around this topic at the RedEye launch of this research earlier this month and whether bonuses for conversion can work at a practical level. 

Companies need to look at the bigger picture because those who are rewarded around conversion could be in conflict, for example, with those who are judged by traffic levels. 

But what is clear is that companies need some kind of framework for helping to optimise their websites and email marketing efforts. Hopefully this research will help to build understanding in this area. 

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 19 October, 2009 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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Comments (5)



Conversion tracking is immensely important to any online business, good to see it in the spotlight like this.

Logaholic Web Analytics for conversion tracking, deep user analysis and much more.

over 8 years ago



Conversion has always been the focus. What's changed is that people are much more aware of the methods to improve the user experience that are available to them and there are now much easier tools to adopt to help you really understand where the blockers in your processes may be. In the past people didn't know what they could do to improve conversion so used to go for full redesigns etc. Now people are much more aware that smaller, subtle changes can actually have large impacts to the UX and therefore the conversion.

over 8 years ago

Phil Cave

Phil Cave, Founder, Lead CRO Consultant at People Shaped Marketing

Conversion has been important for businesses ever since the first bubble burst back in 2000-1 and companies actually realised they needed to make money from the Internet rather than rely on VC firms!

Analytics systems have been around for a while, but I think very few people knew how to translatethat data into actionable improvements for their conversion.

From my experience in consulting to companies about conversion rate optimisation, that is largely still the case - although the gap has closed a little. People do understand more about email conversion, search conversion and MV testing (largely thanks to Google) and so have started to make small tests, tweaks and improvements.

There is still a big knowledge gap out there - but I think businesses are now beginning to understand how specialist and important this knowledge is and are starting to work it into their plans and budgets. All helped by increasing coverage in the press and blogs!

over 8 years ago


Stephen Cobb, Online Marketing Evangelist at Monetate, Inc.

Thanks for shining a light on this topic Linus. I think you are partly right when you say:

"For many companies, the continued growth of online sales and digital marketing success have helped to mask many examples of bad practice and inefficiency."

For many years it was a case of online retailers doing so well they didn't know how much better they could be doing. But I would not say bad practice and efficiency, rather lack of standard practice and less-than-possible efficiency.

Of course, we still see far too many cases of search results leading to irrelevant content and online stores that don't even distinguish between new and returning visitors when displaying content, two basic targeting and segmentation practices that one would have thought de rigueur by now.

But we are seeing the spread of a very important realization: there is no point spending money to bring traffic to your site if you have not taken at least the basic steps towards conversion optimization. Acting on that realization clearly requires resources, some of which could conceivably come from a more balanced spend, e.g. SEM v. segment/target/personalize.

Stephen Cobb, Monetate

over 8 years ago



Conversion is basically a spiritual enlightenment causing a person to lead a new life. I agree with that the recession forced companies to re-evaluate. Most of the small companies going to close in recession. But now the owner of the companies feeling relax because the recession is over now and big companies and small businesses will grow again.

over 8 years ago

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