When Visitors Achieve Their Goals, Conversions Increase

Anything resulting in a lower level of customer satisfaction or a lost customer is a defect — a flaw in your Web site, sales process, product/service, or fulfillment.

When a visitor doesn’t convert, your site has a service defect. Your processes don’t deliver on promises to customers or prospects. Conversion rate reflects the effectiveness of your ability to persuade visitors to take action, and customer satisfaction. The only way to achieve your goals is if your visitors first achieve theirs.

Recently, I was on a panel at AD:TECH moderated by Forrester’s Harley Manning. He shared important research he’s been working on.

Forrester asked over 10,000 people how satisfied they are with their most recent online purchase. Respondents were grouped into three buckets: dissatisfied, neutral, and satisfied. The groups were then asked how likely they would be to return to the site they purchased from.

Thirty-nine percent of the dissatisfied group said they’d return (I don’t fully understand why); 47 percent of the neutral group said they’d return (not a major improvement). However, 93 percent of the satisfied group said they would return. I’m not a huge fan of self-reported survey data, but I believe the survey is directionally correct.

Not the Fun Machine

Just this past month, we started working with a new client that sells a home-use kitchen machine. (Sorry for the lack of specifics, but as you read on, you’ll understand.) A couple of my senior staffers received their demo machines with much enthusiasm. I spoke with Senior Persuasion Architect Anthony Garcia right before he tried his out.

Anthony was looking forward to a fun experience with this machine. He invited his sister, a chef, to join him for the experience. I’m thinking this is great. He has a free machine, and if his sister experiences it, she’ll probably want one herself. They schedule the evening around playing with this machine. They get all the parts and instructions together and begin.

The next morning, I asked Anthony how it went. He said it was just no fun. The instructions were confusing and poorly written. He and his sister were looking for an experience that just wasn’t there. A little work on the instruction manual to provide some background and make the experience a little more enjoyable could have gone a long way toward a satisfying experience he’d love to share.

This customer experience defect will result in lost sales in the long term. This is a very social product people should love to share.

24,000 SKUs Disappear

Last week, a well-known online retailer asked us to perform a conversion assessment service. That’s a customer-focused view of a Web site and what hinders conversions, as well as a review of what the Web analytics report as defects.

I logged in and looked at the top entry pages to see if any had high abandonment rates or single-access views. Sure enough, one page had a 93 percent abandon rate. It was a category page of $15-30 products. Something on the page was definitely defective.

I found the page on the site. So many things were right. The company has over 24,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) in this category and provides easy access to its in-site search solution. There was a list of new offerings and top sellers, as well as some featured picks.

But the in-site search box was in a banner area above the rest of the page’s content. Half the banner area was a promotional image, the other half was the search field. Defect: The promotional image spoke about offerings for kids. Unless you’re interested in that, the search field became invisible and irrelevant. Visitors immediately became dissatisfied. It appeared this category didn’t offer much of what they wanted. As soon as the client changed the image to focus visitors on the 24,000 SKUs available, the abandonment rate plunged to 53 percent.

There’s tons more room for improvement on the page, but applying this one improvement to this and other site pages has already resulted in a positive return on investment (ROI) for our engagement.

Identifying Defects and Continuous Improvement

Are you looking for and measuring defects in your Web site, sales process, or customer’s post-purchase experience? Have you implemented a process for doing it? What defects have you found and corrected? What defects do you ignore? Are you involved in a continuous improvement process, or is the status quo good enough to satisfy you?

Nominations are open for the 2004 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards.

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