Your "Must Know" Ecommerce Metrics

Web Analytics can be an amazing technology, but also a highly under-utilized one. Complex deployments and integrations frequently leave business users befuddled. Without dedicated staff to analyze, analytics packages more often than not collect dust.

This brief is focused on outlining the 7 most important web metrics to monitor within your eCommerce business and what to look for as it relates to your website’s performance.

Bounce rate

First on our list is the most important metric you will encounter: bounce rate. Think of bounce rate as a first impression. The definition of bounce rate is the percentage of users that leave your website after only viewing the initial page that was presented.

Bounce rate is so vital because it provides details into how you initially message your value proposition to the customer or prospect. It provides a cue to also help you identify performance issues with your site that may be causing the inflation the metric.

Bounce rates vary by industry, but eCommerce businesses should focus on getting the metric below 30%. Especially important within paid search campaigns, bounce rate will provide valuable cues into which product assortments and promotions at the category and sub-category levels of your taxonomy are doing well. This knowledge can be leveraged across the business in other categories and implemented via multi-variate testing deployments.

Email Capture Ratio

The next metric you want to track is your email capture ratio. As an online business, you probably sell some type of tangible product or service in which you monitor orders or completed information forms. Most businesses monitor their standard conversion rate, but few businesses frequently monitor their email capture rate and take a proactive approach to increasing.

With eCommerce conversion rates yet to eclipse an average of 3%, 97% of users who come to your store are leaving without buying something. Just because they are leaving however does not mean they are not interested in communicating on some level with your business. By gaining an initial step of trust through the capture of an email address, you are not only increasing the size of your house list for future marketing but you are also building a relationship with your customer and can win their business by providing them solutions to their lives.

Strive for a 7-10% email capture rate and place the sign up tool prominent in the header. Too many businesses bury their sign up tool and do not leverage rich applications that can use browser technologies such as ajax to expand a capture field over standard text in an overlay fashion.

Number of non-branded organic keywords

Make sure you look at number of monthly non-branded organic search keywords. When monitoring SEO performance, you need to first strip out the branded terms that correlate with your business. Thats traffic that you would have received without effective SEO. Then look to the number of remaining keywords that were utilized to make up the balance of the remaining natural search visits.

Why is this important? Because SEO is driven from the long tail. Sure, core SEO terms are nice but you need to capture the 4 and 5 word queries that make up the majority of Google queries each day. Long tail placements are achieved through proper site architecture and quality targeted content. Simply put, the more terms that people are using to find you, the better your site is doing in content development. Aim for a 5% to 10% increase each month within non-branded search keywords as you structure your SEO campaigns.

Shopping Cart to Checkout “Step 1″ Progression Rate

Our next metric directly correlates to the transactional process. Make sure you monitor your direct progression percentage from the shopping cart to checkout step 1. See how many of your users are bailing for price shopping and/or they see a promo code box on your site and they are going hunting for one. This type of behavior dramatically impacts your conversion rate and overall profits and steps should be taken to measure and reduce.

Consider adding the promo box at the end of the transaction for non-affiliate sessions in order to reduce leakage. Use a cookie from an affiliate or potentially a URL to trigger two versions of the cart page. By incorporating checkout abandonment tools that re-market via email, and aggressive banners both internally and externally to try and re-capture the lost transaction, eCommerce businesses can pull prospects back in the sales funnel.

Browser and Resolution Percentages

Dont forget about looking at Browser/Resolution percentages (types and sizes) when scaling your eCommerce business. Lace face it, when you sell online you are in the “looks professional…is professional” world and goo design can make even the smallest retailer seem large. If your build your site and it breaks in Safari (Mac’s browser), or the navigation breaks on Firefox 3.5 on a PC, you essentially shoot yourself in the foot.

Look at the varied browsers and resolutions that are being used to view your website. Conduct full cross-browser testing, on varied platforms, to fully notice any potential usability problems that arrive.

Average number of cross/up sells added per visit

If you are an eCommerce business, you already know that intelligent merchandising is a crucial key to success. A primary metric to help you understand performance within online merchandising is that of average cross/up sells added per visit.

This datapoint associates to your cross sell tools that integrate at the product and the cart level and measures the average number of cross-sells added to the cart per visit. The number will provide details into the effectiveness of your product recommendations and if the recommended products are actively engaging and persuading customers.

It is tough to provide a benchmark statistic for this metric since products can vary so greatly in terms of pricepoint. But look at your historical performance and consider automating this component through algorithmic third party solutions.

10 Email Marketing Strategies to Dramatically Increase Your Sales

Email marketing is one of the most profitable strategies available to the online entrepreneur (and offline business owners, too).

Consider this: About 99% of your website visitors will leave without buying anything from you on their first visit. But by creating a great opt-in offer you can at least get their contact details – and then use email marketing to follow up, build relationships, and turn them into paying customers.

And email marketing is by far the BEST and CHEAPEST way to stay in touch with your customers and build rock-solid relationships with them – so they'll buy from you again and again! (This is called the "lifetime value" of your customers, and it's extremely profitable.)

Email marketing just plain works! Just take a look at these statistics from PostFuture:

  • There are now more than 1 BILLION Internet users worldwide – and 90% of them use email.
  • 70% of users receive opt-in email from online businesses.
  • 82% of online buyers have made at least one purchase in response to an email promotion.
  • 32% have made an immediate online purchase in response to an email.

With numbers like these, you can understand why I'm always amazed to hear about a business that STILL has not started to take advantage of email marketing strategies.

If you're stuck for ideas on how to use email marketing to ramp up your profits, here are 10 proven email marketing strategies to get you started …

Email marketing strategy # 1: Develop relationships and establish credibility by offering free information

Sending your subscribers valuable, free information – such as an author eBook – will help them get to know and trust you. Once you've established your credibility, you dramatically increase your chances of converting subscribers into lifelong customers.

You can offer anything from a free report to a free trial version of software … whatever you think your subscribers would like!

Email marketing strategy # 2: Encourage repeat visits by announcing regular specials

Once you've started collecting email addresses, you can send your customers and subscribers regular updates letting them know what your specials are. Sending regular discount offers is a great way to get your customers familiar with you and your site – and turn them into regulars who will buy from you again and again.

Email marketing strategy # 3: Host "Customer Only" events

Suppose you own a restaurant, and you've been collecting your customers' email addresses. You could send each of them an email invitation to an exclusive wine-tasting evening for regular diners only. Rewards like this are one of the best ways to capitalize on the lifetime value of your customers.

If you own an online business, you can set up a special page on your site that is accessible only to customers – and then send them an email telling them how to take advantage of the specials you advertise on that page.

Email marketing strategy # 4: Include promotions in appointment reminders

If you are running a service business, as opposed to a retail business, you can still capitalize on the power of email marketing by sending appointment reminders to your clients.

If you're a karate teacher, for example, you could send your new clients an email three days before their first lesson, reminding them where you are located and when they need to arrive. In that same message, you could include a coupon that offers them 25% off their lessons if they bring a friend to enroll as well!

Email marketing strategy # 5: Follow up with your hottest leads

You can use email to follow up with people you have spoken with personally, but who have not made a purchase. Offer to answer any additional questions they may have, and let them know that you are available to speak with them at their convenience. This can dramatically increase your chances of closing a sale by providing your leads with extra information they're not expecting.

Email marketing strategy # 6: Offer electronic "loyalty coupons"

This is a great way to get your existing customers to buy from you again and again. Simply send each of your customers a coupon that they can print and bring with them into your store or use on your website. It is always a good idea to make your coupons valid for a limited time only to motivate your customers to make a purchase from you as soon as possible.

Email marketing strategy # 7: Send follow-up offers to your customers

Follow-up offers are one of the most powerful ways to build a profitable business. Because they build on the trust you've established to close the initial sale – and turn first-time Buyers into regular customers.

How profitable can follow-up email be? My team once sent our customers a follow-up email introducing them to a product that we thought they might like. The entire process of writing the email and sending it out took about 20 minutes – and the result was a direct profit of $ 74,000!

Email marketing strategy # 8: Encourage "Send to a Friend" referrals

Email is a great way to encourage referrals because it's easy for people to forward messages to their families, friends, and coworkers. Make sure every newsletter, offer, or eBook you send to your subscribers reminds them that they can forward your message to anyone they think might be interested.

You could even run a promotion that gives your existing customers something for free every time they personally refer a new customer to you.

Email marketing strategy # 9: Deliver your product electronically

Suppose you've written a book and you're currently selling paperback copies through your site for $ 29 each. By creating a digital version of your book – which is WAY easier than you're probably thinking – you can simply email it to your customers.

And since you will not have to worry about things like printing costs, warehousing, packaging, and delivery, you can DRAMATICALLY increase your profit margin!

Email marketing strategy # 10: Use email to sell your knowledge and create recurring revenue

If you are an expert on a particular topic – and just about everyone is – then you've got a successful business based on a paid-subscription newsletter waiting to be born.

Of course there are tons of other email marketing strategies you can put to use. And once you realize just how easy it is to use it to drive sales, you'll be thinking of all kinds of new strategies yourself!

Facebook Advertising Best Practices

The popularity of Facebook, with it's almost half a billion active users, and the time that its individual users spend on this site (estimated to be almost an hour), has made Facebook marketing the next big thing in online advertising. You can expand your customer base and probably even have an opportunity to reach out to others which are new to your niche.

Facebook fan pages are effective vehicles to have your message throughout to lots of viewers and increase your web presence. You can even create a separate Facebook account for your business, separate from your personal account and have a separate fan page for this account.

A good practice in advertising on Facebook is to identify what your goal is with this ad campaign. If you aim to get highly targeted traffic to your site you can have the pay per click as an option, but if you want to promote more of your brand, then it would be better for paying per impression because it can display a well created and Interesting image ad.

A good practice also, is to keep your content pages fresh and regularly updated frequently so that viewers will be interested and be motivated to come back on a regular basis. Adding and sharing content can give extra mileage for your Facebook page.

Facebook fans new or old should be encouraged to participate in your fan page. By keeping your page regularly updated, you can encourage them to interact and share information since this can give them opportunities to get information that they have not encountered before and even share it to other people.

By keeping your visitors involved all the way when they are in your page can be good for your Facebook marketing efforts. Sending your visitors to your interesting landing pages can make them more familiar with your products as well as being acquainted with your pages.

For the ads that you placed in Facebook also, you have to make these clear with concise and direct texts that will be understood to your targeted clients. You have to make sure that your products will stand out when placed side by side with competition by highlighting unique features that can clearly benefit customers.

Making ads on Facebook that have strong and unique call-to-action phrases can make your ads different from all the others. These strong and compelling words can make them go to your landing page by making a click on your ads.

An attractive and interesting image ad that is relevant and appropriate for your products or services is also a good advertising practice in Facebook. Remember that your ad is specifically aimed at getting the viewers attention and these people may not be interested in your product in the first place, so you have to make ads that can really attract customers' attention.

Online Advertising: Remnant Traffic

What is “remnant traffic”, and why it is good for advertising?

‘Remnant traffic’ myths.
There are a multitude of myths and misconceptions concerning different aspects of online advertising which are still misleading for both Internet users and advertisers alike. One of these misconceptions is the definition of ‘remnant traffic’. Some advertising networks and agencies have their own glossary open for public use, where remnant traffic is often defined as “the most inexpensive ad inventory traffic by disreputable sites or empty ‘parked domains’ advertising inappropriate content”. Is remnant traffic really as bad as we are led to believe?

In order to understand what remnant traffic truly is let’s look more closely at what the traffic is the remnant of.

Premium traffic: The easiest way to understand is to imagine the banner of a famous brand on a top website’s homepage. In fact premium traffic is the “cream” of a website’s audience. Websites that provide premium traffic are guaranteeing to the advertiser that the audience will note the ad. They will primarily display the banner at notable places so ALL visitors to the site will see it.

This gives us our opposing definition of ‘remnant traffic’. First of all this term had been considered as the unsold inventory of our big brand advertiser above. Another stereotype is that historically remnant traffic was thought of as sold by low traffic ‘unpopular’ websites only, as they have no hope of attracting big name brands as advertisers. In the absence of alternatives these low traffic sites place banners from blind networks, which offer inexpensive ads often of doubtful content and quality.

Thus there formed a situation where premium traffic is considered as top websites traffic and remnant traffic is the traffic of the other less popular resources online. That would sound quite reasonable if it wasn’t found to be largely untrue under detailed consideration. In order to sort out the fact from the fiction let’s look at the nearest relation of online ads – advertising on TV, radio and traditional print media.

As it turns out there was already a very close definition of ‘remnant advertising’ in TV, radio and print media.

Is there ‘remnant advertising’ in the other media?
TV remnant advertising is advertising at any time except prime-time. The further from prime-time an advert is shown, the more discounts a channel offers to advertisers. Discounts on TV may reach 90% for unsold inventory. Discounts on radio are also prevalent and depend on time of broadcast and usual audience listening figures. These discounts may range from 25% to 75%.

Another rule operates for printed media as they are selling physical advertising space. Advertising space nearer the middle of the newspaper is priced vastly differently from a front page advert cost. In this case a direct comparison can be made between advertising on the front page of a newspaper with a banner on the homepage of a popular website.

The win-win nature of remnant advertising was accepted long ago in traditional media advertising and so the approach to premium and remnant ads was formed as the market matured. It is obvious and logical that those media may offer discounts up to 90% for unsold time or space. This is called remnant advertising. In this case both the channel and the advertiser are gaining. The channel covers 100% of scheduled advertising inventory; the advertiser is placing his advert with resources required with a great discount. So as we can see the place for remnant advertising was found in traditional media. Further remnant advertising is working effectively and not giving rise to the rejection of potential participants whether they be advertisers, advertising agencies or publishers.

‘Remnant traffic’ as it is.
Now let’s return to the Internet. If you look through the homepage of any top website, you will usually see only big-brand advertising in all the most notable places. Obviously this is premium traffic, somewhat analogous of prime-time on TV or magazines’ or newspapers’ front pages. If however you leave the page and return to it once or twice, the displayed advertising begins to change before your very eyes from a big brand to smaller or less well known advertisers or brands.

It turns out that as well as TV channels sell their prime-time, large websites sell impressions with a ‘first demonstration’ privilege. By refreshing a page several times we leafed through the big brand premium ad traffic and may now in fact see true ‘remnant advertising’ on a popular website. So that means top sites also have remnant traffic don’t they? Undoubtedly they do and they monetize it as well as traditional media do with their remnant advertising through great discounts. Separately it should be noted that this is the same mythical remnant traffic, which some networks and agencies associate with something inexpensive, negative and full of inappropriate content. These terms are obviously mismatched with the reality of remnant ads on top websites. On these top websites, remnant inventory may still be very expensive and high quality both for ad placement and ad content. Thus we have dispelled this particular myth.

But what should small low-traffic sites do? They do not attract huge site traffic numbers and thus cannot place premium class brand advertising. Are there any alternatives except the placement of inexpensive ad of sometimes very doubtful content, as described at the beginning of this article’s?

Can we benefit from using ‘remnant traffic’?
There are currently four main alternatives each with different pros and cons:

(a)You may place contextual advertising from one of the big search engines. Such services offer banner display advertising too. Among the advantages we should mention flexibility and adaptability of ad settings, rotations, localization etc. The disadvantages include delays with site verification and authorization to collaborate this program and delays with revenue payouts for displayed ads. Example: Google AdSense

(b)You may place a banner from one of the ‘blind’ ad networks. The principal advantages are that it is fast, simple and will generate money for anybody without exception. The disadvantages are lower revenues and the very real possibility of the appearance of inappropriate or shocking advertising content. Example: Clicksor

(c)You may register at a specialized remnant traffic ad network. These networks specialize in monetization of remnant traffic only. Both medium and high traffic sites use their services to fill their remnant ad inventory. The principal advantages are a generally high return in comparison with the alternatives and guaranteed clear and appropriate ad content. The main disadvantage is the current inability to monetize Chinese, Korean or Indian traffic sufficiently using these ad networks. Thus this alternative should be chosen in the case of sites with predominantly European or US traffic. Example: Fidelity Media

(d)You may place social (or philanthropic) advertising. The advantages are worthwhile ads, wholly appropriate content and you can improve your karma by doing social good. Disadvantage: it is generally free and thus not for profit. Example: Ad Council

Hopefully after considering these options there will be an obvious conclusion so do not hesitate to experiment. Earn money from your website and don’t get fooled by pseudo-authoritative statements that your traffic is worthless to advertisers. In most cases it is simply not true.