I saw this article, in the news, which is about a company suing Google, Overture, and others over click-fraud. In the article, the company states “Lane’s said ads are often clicked only to generate a bigger bill for advertisers, not by someone truly seeking more information.” One could come to that conclusion when running a web advertising campaign and seeing ZERO results. Another conclusion that could be reached is that the site has such poor conversion capabilities, that the site may never get a real customer. If I were Googe et al., I would seriously consider getting usability and e-Commerce experts to look at the deficiencies in the site and see if the second conclusion is more likely (statistcally speaking).
Wide and Deep
Conversions on the web are never cut-and-dry, just like direct mailer promotions. Even the best turn-key systems need refinement and some experimentation to yeild the best results. Often, defining what really constitutes a conversion can lead to interesting avenues of exploration for increasing conversions, because there is more to go after. Consider that not all visitors to your site are in a buying mood. Would you rather have them just leave the site, or perhaps leave their email address or other contact information? An “add me to your news list” is one way to squeeze more blood from the conversion turnip. There are many other examples of broadening the horizon. A good place to start is looking at competition, and then scanning the various books about e-commerce design to build a list. Prioritize this list against what you understand your visitor””s needs to be. When in doubt, setup a survey!
Usability & Functionality
I was recently drilling down into a product sales web site that was developed by another company, and discovered that the usability was leaving much to be desired. To add insult to injury for the random customer, the shopping cart was broken, and the checkout process what really basic and did not recover well when I went back and forth. We were already working with the owners of the site to give it a total make-over, and I asked for all of the web logs. After running some extensive analysis, the raw unique-to-conversions was 0.02% averaged over six months. Once the site is up and running on an e-commerce engine that actually works, it will be telling to see the difference in conversion rates. More: In MagicLamp Networks Newsletter Volume 4, we looked at how poorly designed sites can make web advertising a bust.