When most people first have their ecommerce website built they tend to want to start pushing traffic at it. Traffic on the internet costs money whether you spend time and money building content for links or use pay per click marketing.
A common mistake people have when they build an ecommerce website is to start throwing a lot of traffic at it. However, what is the point in buying in traffic and pointing it towards a website that you don’t know works yet? When a web designer builds a website it is the first stage of the project. He may (or more likely) may not have thought long and hard about what makes you different from your competition and why people should in fact buy from your website and not your competitors website. It is very likely that they designed your ecommerce website based on what you thought you wanted or even worse, copied from an existing competitors ecommerce store.
Why conversion rates are important in eCommerce
Ecommerce is a very competitive area. When you launch a new ecommerce website you are generally a new brand that nobody has heard of so you have to work harder than established websites to make a sale. You need to make people trust you. You need to make it clear what you do (or more importantly what you can do for them) and you need to make it easy for them to do whatever you want them to do. This means that you cannot just put an ecommerce website together, throw a few products on there and put a few Google AdWords pay per click adverts running. You need to make the most out of every prospect that reaches your website. You need to keep working on your key messages to see what does work and what does not work.
How leaky is your bucket?
Prospects online are precious. They are the thing that will make or break your online business. Water in the UK is not so precious but it is in parts of Africa. So, let’s pretend that we are in Africa where water is scarce and we have a bucket that we need to fill up to take back to our village. There is just one problem. The bucket has quite a few holes in it and when you fill the bucket up of water it loses water. It is so bad that by the time you get back home there are only a few drops left. What would you do? You would fix the holes starting with the biggest ones first.
A website is like a leaky bucket. You need to fix the biggest holes to prevent the water from spilling out. If your bucket has lots of holes it is pointless filling it up with water until you fix them. This is like ecommerce except the water is money (traffic).
Treating your ecommerce website like a sales funnel
A sale is never achieved from one sentence. A sale will require a number of steps to achieve a successful sale. It is the same sales principles that apply to an ecommerce website. Every page on your website needs to persuade the prospect to take action to move to the next step. The purpose of a category page may be to entice a user to click on a product detail page. The purpose of a product detail page may be to persuade the prospect to add the product to the basket. The purpose of the Basket/Checkout page may be to reassure the prospect that you are a secure, trusted website and to actually click the purchase button. It is a series of small steps resulting in a larger goal.
You should treat the whole of your website like a sales funnel. Like a sales funnel people will always fall out along the way till you are left with those who made it to the end.
Conversion comes before traffic
If you first ensure that your sales funnel is effective and you have plugged any major holes you can then be sure to start concentrating on traffic. That traffic will be more likely to convert and therefore generate a better return on investment for you.
By relying on traffic too early can result in an ecommerce site that doesn’t convert very well and ends up costing valuable money on ineffective lead generation.