|Make Money, E-commerce and Credit Card Processing Information|
How Measuring Key Performance Indicators Can Improve E-Commerce Strategy - Part One
The problem with most e-commerce marketing strategy today is that companies don't understand how they use things like web analytics. Most e-commerce directors or web marketers are given a budget and told to stick to it, and good analytics don't usually come cheap. Without web analytics you can't even begin to measure key performance indicators (KPI's), which should be a part of any good e-commerce strategy. We often see that marketers face a problem in that they know they need Web Analytics, they just don't know why they should pay for it and don't know what to measure. This three part series of articles will hopefully help clear up some of the things that marketers should measure as key performance indicators concentrating on one KPI per article.
What is a key performance indicator?
In website measurement terms a key performance indicator is a metric which will help your organization define and measure progress toward your websites business objective. Key Performance Indicators are quantifiable web site measurements that reflect whether you are successfully meeting or falling short of your websites business goals.
That's quite a boring definition of a KPI even if it is important, so in a last ditch attempt to keep you from falling asleep lets talk about Formula 1 (or the Indy 500) and the KPI's they use.
What has Formula 1 got to do with KPI's?
There are many minute factors in formula one that constitute being a winner. Everything down to the performance of the fuel, the tires, the speed of the pit stops, the quality of engine parts, the weight of the car, it's aerodynamic ability, everything is measured and tested, long before the driver even gets into the car. The difference between the winner of a formula one race and second place can be as little as a hundredth of a second.
That extra hundredth of a second could be because the fuel used on that particular race day allowed the driver to get more out of his car than the guy in second place.
How did the race team know which fuel to use?
Because before hand they had tested maybe 50 different types, each one tuned for the demands of different circuits - or even different weather conditions.
They got that extra performance by knowing the key performance metrics of the fuel, so they could say with confidence that 'fuel a' was better for their car if 'condition a' was satisfied.
Condition 'a' might have been the cars weight that day the type of road surface and the weather. When all matched together it meant that the race team had a particular choice to make when selecting the fuel for the car.
The web site KPI I'm about to discuss is the fuel that powers your e commerce sales and lead generation strategies. Both are measured by practically all web analytics systems, but both not commonly measured to their full potential.
Page views per session, the fuel behind your web business objectives
For those of you that know why page views and sessions are important bear with me for a paragraph or two. For those of you that don't here we go.
Why are page views and sessions important?
Page views are a metric that represents the amount of times your pages are viewed by the people that visit your website. On it's own it might be an important measurement if you're a very well trafficked content website looking to sell B2B advertising in the form of some kind of ad (banners for instance).
If you can accurately say to an advertiser that you have 10 million page views per week, it's very likely that this alone will be one of your KPI's, simply because if it goes down, your advertisers will most likely not want to pay you as much to advertise with you. It would be important in this case that you keep the page view count at least to the same level every week in order to keep the same level of banner revenue for example.
Sessions represent the amount of users (people) visiting the website over a given period. Again it's a very important metric to know, the general idea being that more of the right kind of people visiting your pages will eventually mean your bottom line improves.
By combining these two metrics however we get a much more powerful way to use the figures.
Combining the two metrics as one KPI is done by taking a ratio of page views per session as an average. So if 1000 visitors viewed 2,000 pages the mean page views per visit KPI is 2, (2,000 / 1000 = 2).
Why is this combination important?
If your website e-store system required that you need to view 5 pages in order buy a product and your KPI is telling you that your site gets an average of 2 page views per session, then the site is under performing badly.
If it takes 5 pages for your visitors to buy something then your goal should be to get an average KPI of at least 5 page views per session. Otherwise it means that the vast majority of your visitors aren't going deep enough into the process.
Much more importantly deciding on a KPI like this is giving you a measurable objective to work towards. If you know that the vast majority of people are abandoning your website after only viewing one or two pages there is a problem which you need to work hard to solve.
It means you know that somewhere within your web analytics you will be able to detect the areas of abandonment that are the problem. The simple fact of the matter is, if you have a low page views per session KPI then your analytics system (if it's any good), WILL be able to show you where the problem lies. Once you have found the problem areas, congratulations, you're becoming a web analytics expert. Now you know which pages have the problem and you just need to figure out the why.
Figuring out why is the real secret
It may be that you're driving the wrong kind of visitors, such as people who aren't interested in your offer. It may be that you don't have enough compelling content to keep visitors interested. It may be that your shopping cart has a problem with abandonment or your lead generation process is too long or has a scary form to fill in. In all cases your page views per session KPI is the first warning signal and you can monitor it quite easily.
Other warning signals
The other side of the coin is if this KPI is too high. What if you have a 1000 people viewing 20,000 pages? Unless you have incredibly compelling content there is a problem. It probably means that people are very interested in something but can't find it on your site. So having this KPI be too high is also a warning flag that means you need to analyze your web analytics and see where the problems are. Are people skipping around pages? How long do they stay on your site? (another KPI we'll come to in the next article of this series), have you got site architectural problems with navigation?
Too high or too low, it's all useful measurement
The point is to find out how to use the fuel remember? If you start measuring page views per session as a KPI, you will begin to see if you have a problem or not. You can get as deep and as sophisticated as you like, I'm just trying to show you the idea with this article.
For instance you could measure page views per session of visitors only hitting your shopping cart, or lead generation system. Content websites could use page views per session in particular content groups to work out how compelling particular kinds of content are. It all depends on the web site business objective.
Developing KPI's allow you to measure things on your website which directly effect your business objectives. In the example I've demonstrated by finding ways to improve the number of pages people view per session there is more chance that those users will complete your calls to action (buy, register, subscribe, whatever web business objective you may have). This first KPI that I'm suggesting you consider is an early warning signal that something is wrong and it's very easy to determine how to set a measurement. The next KPI I'll discuss is time spent on site and why it is also important as well as how you can use this in combination with page views per session.
Author: Steve Jackson, Editor - Conversion Chronicles
Steve Jackson is CEO of Aboavista, editor of The Conversion Chronicles and a published writer. You can get a free copy of his e-book sent to you upon subscription to the Chronicles web site (http://www.conversionchronicles.com).
Choosing an Ecommerce Shopping Cart
Choosing an online shopping cart is a big decision. Unlike a traditional brick and mortar business, your website is your only chance to impress potential customers. It needs to project a professional image to capture the trust of your visitors. The shopping cart is a particularly important part of your website because it deals with people's personal information and credit card numbers. People are nervous about online purchases and need to be assured that they are giving their credit card numbers to a reputable company.
Saving Money On Your E-commerce Site
After building and transferring many e-commerce sites it still amazes me that owners of e-commerce businesses are still wasting money in three basic ways. For fear of stating the obvious, saving money is the same as making money $100 saved is $100 added to your profit margin. Here are three basic ways to save money on your e-commerce site and increase your profits. While they may be simple we know they are overlooked time and time again resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
How to Boost Conversion Rates, While Lowering Merchant Account Fees!
Using an Address Verification System (AVS) when processing your online credit card transactions can help to reduce the number of fraudulent transactions you receive. However, most online merchants don't know that using AVS can also reduce your number of legitimate orders.
Web Users Crave Familiarity
The sad truth is, general Web users would love it if all our sites looked like Amazon.com.
The Census and the E-Commerce Wave
Understanding business and product sales can sometimes put me in a whirlwind. My job tends to get me involved with loads of different opportunities dealing with all sorts of product lines. It is not my job to understand every single type of product, but it is my goal to assist my clientele with the broadening of their product market.
Are You Making These E-Commerce Excuses? (part 1)
A year ago, I had big plans to re-vamp my web site. I was going to publish my e-newsletter twice a month ? every month, and I was going to upgrade my own e-commerce capabilities. Those were my Internet marketing "resolutions" for 2004.
Complementary-Relational Linking and How It Could Save Your Internet Business
The concept of linking is that sites with common interests should link to drive more traffic to each other's businesses and to increase their "popularity." Search engines, such as Google, give much higher ranking to sites with high popularity. They feel that when many sites are linking to yours, it's a sign of ranking value.
3 Powerful Concepts That Climb Marketing Mountains
You have probably heard many times how you should offer free reports. Like many of us, the idea of putting in work to give something away may have gone through you transparent. (Right in your mind's ear and out the other :>)
Looking For Free Advertising, Here It Is!
There are lots of ways to advertise for free but they are time consuming so I guess technically, they are not free because your time is worth something! But if you have the time and not the money this is for you.
E-Commerce Is Back On The Fast Track
How much holiday shopping did you do on-line this year? If you are reading this, then chances are good that you made at least one purchase on-line. Over 54% of all Americans did it . A much higher percentage (>80%) of Internet users did it.
How To Eliminate Credit Card Refunds From Digital Thieves
Can you encounter the number of times where a Credit Card Sale was generated, only to receive a "Refund Notification" from your contracted e-commerce processor on behalf the "customer"?
Web advertising e-Marketing Places!
Shopping Carts and the E-Aisles
Have you ever gone to the store and thought you only needed a few things so you didn't grab a cart? The next thing you know your hands are full and groceries are crashing everywhere making a big mess. If only you had gotten a cart. Shopping carts are not necessary on your website as long as you do not mind doing a little extra work (just like carrying all those groceries) and processing each order individually. If you choose to forego having a shopping cart on your site, it is important to remember you will have to calculate all the taxes and fees yourself. This delay will ultimately kill your sales.
Keep Your Customers Happy by Organizing Your Payment Options
Anyone using a slow, or an awkward payment processor had better wake up!
Outsourcing Your Ecommerce Order Fulfillment
When your eCommerce business grows to the point where you can no longer package and ship the orders yourself, it's time to begin outsourcing your order fulfillment. Although all order fulfillment centers offer the same basic services, their individual methods and costs will help you choose one over the other. When selecting an order fulfillment service, keep the following in mind:
10 Compelling Benefits of Having A 3rd Party Merchant Account
If you have been wrestling with the idea of applying for your own 3rd party merchant account then take a look at the following compelling benefits of using a 3rd party provider to mange all of your credit card processing needs.
How to Get Free Internet Merchant Accounts
This article will show small businesses how to get free internet merchant accounts. If your business is to grow and succeed, it is essential to accept online credit cards.
eCommerce Software Solutions
All of the long, grueling nights and an unknown number of working weekends spent converting your dream into reality finally paid off-in a big way! Affiliates are signing up every single day and the clicks have really turned into cash. Your success is not limited to a lonely website but several and all of them are helping you move very diverse product lines. The effort has really paid off and you are milking this Internet cash cow for all its worth but there is one little problem, isn't there? You have reached a point where growing your business even more is almost impossible because instead of developing or acquiring new products like you know you should, you are spending all of your time maintaining and servicing the sites you already have. By the time you get finished signing up and communicating with the affiliates, processing the orders and payment information, and handling the logistics of delivery-the day is gone and you are out of time!
Three years ago I was doing some work for a local university helping to redesign an internal website they wanted updated and made more user friendly. When the job was done the person I was doing the job for wanted to use his school issued credit card to pay for my services.
Credit Card Merchant Account Basics
Knowing which credit card merchant account to get can be very confusing. There are thousands and thousands of banks, merchant account providers and third party sales teams that can offer you all kinds of incentives. Billions of dollars are transacted online every year and you want your share. Where do you turn? What do you look for? Read on to find out...
|home | site map|