Crisis looms in online conversion

Millions more people may be going online but convincing them to part with their cash is becoming a tough nut to crack, according a new study, which points to a looming conversion rate crisis among web businesses.
The Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2011 from RedEye and Econsultancy claims satisfaction levels have hit an all-time low, with just 25% of marketers content with their online conversion rates. And this figure has dropped by 5% in just 12 months.
Getting customers to visit your website is only part of story; as the world of digital becomes more competitive – and more tools and methods are introduced – improving conversion rates is a major challenge.
RedEye chief executive and data industry expert Mark Patron points to a dearth of knowledge in the sector.
He said: “With a clear CRO (conversion rate optimisation) strategy and best practice procedures in place, companies can see a serious uplift in sales. Just a few per cent improvement in conversion makes a significant difference to revenues generated.
“What we have learnt is people and processes are key. This report highlights just how important employing a structured process is. Companies that had a structured approach to conversion were twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales. Yet only 31% had a structured process – a major reason satisfaction is so low.”
Coupled to this low satisfaction is the fact that 54% of marketers don’t target basket abandoners at all. Having spent significant budget driving traffic to their site, the majority of ecommerce brands are ignoring these so-nearly-customers. The stats are clear: 70% of companies who target abandoners have increased sales.
In addition, brands are not adapting to the different communication channels. Some 84% of companies are not designing their marketing emails for mobile devices, and 70% are not designing their websites for mobile either. In this fast growing segment, particularly in retail, tablets and handhelds should not be ignored.
Econsultancy research director Linus Gregoriadis said: “Satisfaction rates may be decreasing partly because there is a greater awareness within businesses about the opportunities they may be missing without the right tools and processes in place. Companies will need to increasingly focus on improving conversion rates during 2012, by ensuring they have a structured approach to online optimisation to improve the bottom line.
“The tools for gathering insight and for carrying out tests are becoming more user-friendly and accessible, but organisations must have the right knowledge and expertise around CRO to complement this, both in-house or within their agencies.”
Patron adds: “Companies need to act to confront conversion rates head-on, develop an optimisation strategy or they will see rates dropping further. It’s a real competitive advantage for today’s marketers – get it right and you will make a lot more money from your website.”

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