How can you increase online sales?
Conversion rate: the main KPI for E-Commerce
Many entrepreneurs or small businesses who run their own e-commerce operation think that the key to online sales is traffic, in other words the number of visitors to their site. This is not the case, however.
I have, on numerous occasions, consulted for the operators of e-commerce sites who could not explain why their sales failed to meet expectations, despite significant visitor numbers. There can be many reasons behind such lack of success of an e-commerce operation, but it is often due to a failure to adequately analyse analytics reporting metrics, in particular the conversion rate.
What is this conversion rate? It is the percentage of visitors who perform a given action on a website. In the case of an e-commerce site, it is the proportion of visitors who complete a purchase online: if 100 users visit a site and two of them make an online purchase, then the conversion rate is 2%. For generic sites, the conversion rate may refer to, for instance, how many visitors download a pdf catalogue, or how many of them fill out an online form.
It is therefore necessary to start out with an analysis of this parameter, setting it as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) in order to analyse the causes of possible poor e-commerce performance and measure the effects of any modifications made to the site or any web-marketing strategies adopted over a period of time.
Optimising the conversion rate to increase Online sales
After emphasising the importance of analysing site metrics and the sales funnel (this is the path that visitors to a site must follow in order to complete their product purchase) via web analytics, it will be necessary to proceed by defining the most appropriate strategies to increase online sales. These may involve some minor “retouching” of the site (changing the position of a button, changing the colours of the site's layout template, adding to or editing the existing copy), introducing some “calls to action” explicitly inviting visitors to perform a given action, and preparing appropriate landing pages to improve the performance of specific web-marketing activities such as PPC campaigns or advertising on other sites.
It is also good practice for an e-commerce consultant to conduct market research in order to determine how competitive the operation is in terms of the prices of the products or services they sell online and to develop appropriate promotional activities in order to incentivise existing customers to make purchases or stimulate the interest of potential customers.
Optimising conversion rates means increasing online sales while keeping the budget spend for online visibility the same.