Darryl Gehly has an excellent piece on shopping cart abandonment over at Darwin magazine, a companion site of CIO.com. Seldom is shopping cart abandonment written about except to complain. Darryl’s article is one of the best and is a definite must read if you have an online shopping cart.
Darryle states that, according to Forrester Research, conversion rates average about 2.4 percent. This is a large drop from the already low 2.9 percent average conversion rate of 2003. I’m surprised to see such low numbers as I know from experience that my own conversion rates run between 5 to 9%. A number of small businesses I counsel have conversion rates between 4 to 5%. At one time Amazon had a conversion rate of about 8.2%, which I have always used as a benchmark. So conversion rates below 3% are a bit of a shock to me.
Darryl describes using a “Sales Funnel” to illustrate and internalize points of shopping cart abandonment in the sales chain. Darryl’s blue and grey funnel is a real eye opener for anyone not familiar with the extent of shopping cart abandonment, which would be most small business people I counsel. I’m going to see if I can make an accurate sales funnel for the Arkansas SBDC for our training seminar registration process.
After identifying possible points of abandonment, Darryle describes the process of measuring using real numbers from websites logs and log anaylsis software. I’m all behind Darryle here, free counters only take one so far. There’s nothing like extracting specific numbers and tossing them into a spreadsheet to find out what’s actually going on. I track click through ratios for several pairs of pages and graph all my key numbers monthly.
Darryl finishes this article on knowing your customer’s intent. Darryl describes proper use of focus groups to get better feedback. As many mom and pop small businesses can’t afford professional marketing focus groups, I recommend they observe friends and family members. Two tips: don’t help them and have them say what they’re thinking out loud.
This high quality article is just part one of a planned three part series. If the second and third part are as good as this first article, then we have the making of a very valuable trilogy which will be long discussed and implemented.
To be fair, I learned of Darryl’s article from Kim Krause Berg at Cre8asite forums, who learned of it from Alan Webb at Abakus SEO blog. There is some good follow-on discussion in the Cre8asite forums. Since drafting this post over the weekend, I have found a great post on key ratios that should be calculated and tracked using visitor statistics. So bookmark this bog or add our RSS feed now so you don’t miss the follow-up post on key website ratios next week.