Techniques used by the top ten converting websites (Part 1)


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New research by SeeWhy /Nielsen published today in a free ebook titled ‘Lessons learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites’ reveals that the Top 10 Converting websites do things differently.

Obviously they convert more.

But what they do to get those conversions is what’s really interesting.

These are some of the major themes that emerge:

·       9 out of the 10 have a catalog

·       9 out of the 10 do not offer free shipping

·       8 out of 10 offer a simple sign up on their home page

·       4 out of the top 5 force a full registration before a first purchase

·       10 out of 10 use remarketing

·       9 out of 10 offer a 1-800 number on their homepage

What interesting is that these sites do not follow conventional wisdom, but rather have developed a formula that works to drive very high quality traffic back to their sites to buy repeatedly. So the secret of success, perhaps is less about the slickness of your checkout, and more about your business model, delighting customers, and building a long term relationship. A symbiotic relationship if you like, where both parties benefit equally. Of course this philosophy is not new. What’s striking is just how well it works in ecommerce. The Top 10 Converting Websites convert 23% of visitors in the same session, compared to 2-3% on average across the ecommerce sector.

The ebook looks at lots of aspects of how these companies do business. You can summarize the findings into three broad conclusions:

This blog looks at the first, and Wednesday and the Friday this week I’ll post blogs looking at the next two.

1. A customer is for life, not just a session

All of the top ten sites have one thing in common. The sites are optimized, not for a first purchase, but have been optimized for repeat purchases. By making it easy for the returning visitor to purchase, and by driving visitors numbers through traditional direct marketing (email and catalog) these sites are getting outstanding conversion rates.

While all of these Top Converting Websites get spectacular conversion results, they are not perfect.

The table above shows, for example, how some of these companies do not focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), perhaps because search traffic is far less qualified than customers coming to the site having already received and browsed through a catalog.

Moreover, many don’t focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) either. Checkout processes on these sites are generally not short. Four out of the top five converting websites force a full registration before a first purchase.  On one site it takes six pages and thirty-nine fields before you finally get to enter your credit card details.

What these sites know is that existing customers are significantly more profitable than new ones: the cost of acquisition can be amortized over many purchases, not a single session. Loyalty economics are well understood by these companies, and their websites have been optimized accordingly. Notably Amazon (number 11 converting website) patented one-click shopping. But even without one-click turned on, it only takes six clicks in total to make a second purchase at Amazon. Amazon also force a full registration before a first purchase.

Crucially, this has to be backed up by delivering on the promise though quality products, efficient logistics, and solid warranty and returns policies (with returns logistics to match). These are just as essential to the long term relationship as convenience.

To get your copy of the ebook ‘Lessons learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites’ simply click here. On Wednesday we’ll look at the second major conclusion, Superior search and selection, and suggest some examples for you to look at on these sites.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Charles Nicholls
Charles Nicholls is a social commerce expert and board advisor to several e-commerce startups. He founded SeeWhy, a real-time personalization and machine learning platform, which was sold to SAP. Serving as SVP of product, he built SAP Upscale Commerce, an e-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer brands and the mid-market. Today, Charles serves as chief strategy officer for SimplicityDX, a commerce experience company. He has worked on strategy and projects for leading ecommerce companies worldwide, including Amazon, eBay, Google and many others.


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