Making sense of “conversion rate optimisation”: Interview with DBD Media

By Chris Lee

Search and social media agency DBD Media, whose clients include IPC Media, De Vere Hotels and Sofa.com, has launched what it calls a “conversion rate optimisation” (CRO) service, aimed at maximising clients’ website revenue from paid, natural and social media traffic.

NMK spoke with Axelle Ros, DBD Media’s Conversion Analytics Consultant, to get some insight into how the new service and ecommerce best practice.

DBD Media’s research into shopping basket abandonment, based on analytics reviews of retail and travel websites, found that over eight out of 10 consumers abandon an online shopping basket without ever completing the transaction.

Ecommerce best practice

Ros told NMK that one of the most common mistakes e-commerce websites make is they tend to assume that once the user has added an item to the shopping basket or cart, the transaction is as good as done.

“All the effort is spent on encouraging users to click that ‘add to basket’ button, after which users are often dropped into a long and complicated checkout process which makes it unclear what they are buying and how much they’re paying, creating frustration and anxiety – and 80 per cent of the time, shopping basket abandonment,” she warned. “One of the most common reasons for abandonment is ‘sticker shock’ – the feeling of dismay or surprise at the price of an item – often because delivery costs or credit card charges are not clearly displayed or clarified in advance.”

Improving conversions

Ros said ecommerce experts should never assume the transaction is a done deal. Businesses need to reinforce their value proposition throughout the checkout process to remind the user why they are purchasing with them and erase any doubts from their mind, she advised.

“Ideally a shopping basket should always include a link to the product page, the product image, the price and the quantity selected, plus chosen options if applicable (e.g. size, colour and so on),” she said. “It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many shopping baskets do not display one or more of these basic elements.”

So just what is “Conversion rate optimisation”?

Ros describes conversion rate optimisation (CRO) as the process involved in testing a website, or user journeys through certain parts of a website, in order to improve the overall conversion rate.

“It is not just about implementing changes – it’s also about testing them,” she said. “To do this we create variations of the website and compare these against that of the original website to find out which converts better. Recommendations on improving a website are based on robust data analysis, usability testing and expert user testing, but at the end of the day it’s what works for your website visitors that matters.”

The mobile question

So how is the rise and rise of “m-commerce” (mobile commerce) impacted by CRO?

“M-commerce is a risky thing to overlook nowadays, given the exponential growth in smartphone and tablet adoption. Not having a mobile optimised site can not only hurt mobile conversions, but other online and offline conversions as well,” Ros warned.

According to Econsultancy research, 57 per cent of people will not recommend a website with poor mobile design and 40 per cent will turn to a competitor after a bad mobile experience. Also, 17 per cent of UK mobile users are explicit in saying that mobile has influenced their in-store purchase. Ros said that given these figures it’s important to incorporate mobile into your wider business strategy.

“[With m-commerce] the most obvious difference is the screen size; mobile websites need to be a lot simpler than traditional websites and avoid link clumps,” Ros said. “Context is also very important. With traditional websites we can make the assumption that the user is sitting in front of their computer, has a mouse and keyboard facilitating input and a large screen enabling multitasking. With mobile however, the environment is highly variable, text input limited and screen size considerably smaller, making it difficult to do certain tasks and easy to get lost.”

Ros believes the mind-set also differs according to type of mobile device as well. Smartphones are usually connected to 3G enabling purchasing on the go, whereas tablet owners prefer Wi-Fi so they are more likely to be in a more relaxed mind-set, at home or in a secure Wi-Fi area, she argued.

“Ultimately great mobile experiences are uniquely mobile, sympathetic to the context and clearly display basic possible actions,” Ros concluded. “Don’t overcomplicate matters.”

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