Techniques Used by the Top Ten Converting Websites (Part 3)


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In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I wrote about how the Top 10 Converting Websites achieve spectacular website conversion rates by driving repeat sales and through superior merchandising.

The final major conclusion of the SeeWhy /Nielsen research (published in an eBook titled ‘Lessons Learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites’) is that the top ten converting websites ALL use remarketing.

This is remarkable since our research shows that only 26 percent of ecommerce sites use remarketing.

Remarketing is one of the most effective techniques to boost website conversion rates and is arguably the most profitable marketing technique. Website visitors are ‘remarketed’ based on their browsing behavior — using email, direct mail, or in the case of anonymous visitors, advertising. Of these techniques, email is by far the most cost effective, and the top ten converting websites make use of the email address captured on your first site visit whenever possible.

If you’ve read Part 1, you already know that top converting websites prioritize the capture data of customers. Four out of the top five (and six out of the top ten) all force a full registration before a first purchase. Most aim to capture at least an email address from their visitors, and some go as far as offering free shipping in return for an email sign up.

The Give-Get

For example, WomanWithin is one of the top 10 converting websites. On their homepage, you’ll see this simple promotion designed to help them identify more of their traffic.

And this is what you get back immediately when you sign up for the first time:

It’s a very simple promotion, executed in real time, that not only identifies more visitors by incentivising an email sign up, but it also increases website conversions. The beauty in this is that the recipient of this voucher is much more likely to make a first purchase having received the voucher. And of course, when the visitor makes a purchase, WomanWithin captures all of their personal details. Expect a catalog in the mail next.

Remarketing to Browsers

In the Top 10 Converting Websites list we included (actually number 11) as a point of reference. Amazon, one of the biggest remarketers of all, also has their preoccupation with identifying their visitors. Amazon forces a full account creation before a first purchase. The email address is the third field captured, just in case the visitor abandons the form part way through.

In fact, Amazon remarketing emails are a steady drip, drip, drip of subtle suggestions and reminders to purchase.

Because remarketing, when done well, is perceived as good service, customers accept and value remarketing approaches.

Here’s a recent Amazon remarketing email — I’m sure they are familiar to many of us, but it’s worth noting just how subtle this approach is.

Amazon maintains that a full 30 percent of their sales come from recommendations, which are delivered both on-screen and into your mailbox via email. This is a testament to both the effectiveness of the technique and of remarketing.

Recovering Abandoned Shopping Carts

The Top 10 Converting Websites all remarket. One of the most profitable remarketing techniques is to recover abandoned shopping carts. These programs are triggered by website visitors’ behavior: when they abandon, a personalized email is triggered just for that unique visitor. These techniques are not widely used in the ecommerce sector as a whole, yet they are incredibly profitable. After all, these programs target website visitors that almost purchased. It’s not surprising that a gentle ‘nudge’ proves very effective. In fact, you can recover up to 50 percent of those you email with these programs, so it’s hardly surprising that many marketers that have gone this route consider them to be one of their secret weapons.

ProFlowers followed up an abandoned shopping cart with this email about 24 hours after the purchase was aborted:

While all these companies use remarketing, it is clear that there is room for further improvement. A recent study published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that ninety percent of ecommerce leads go cold within an hour. While following up twenty-four hours later is better than no follow up at all, it is clear that an immediate follow up is best practice.

The importance of an immediate first follow up, in a sequence, cannot be stressed too much. An immediate follow up will generate between two and five times as many conversions as a follow up twenty-four hours later.


All of these companies use remarketing which is, in itself, very significant. Only one quarter of all companies in the ecommerce sector as a whole remarket to their customers, yet all of the top ten do.

When delivered through email, recommendations, suggestions and relevant content get very high open — and low unsubscribe — rates. When delivered via mail, a catalog provides and enhances the choosing experience. Both these channels drive highly qualified visitors back to the website with products in mind to purchase. It’s no surprise that the website conversion rates of the Top 10 Converting Websites are so much higher.

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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