August 2, 2010

How Many Sales Did You Lose Today?

Last week Craft MBA wrote an article about making it easy for customers to give you money. This is a subject I talk about a lot over here because it can make a very big difference in your profitability. A lot of us get stuck in the mindset that our customers are just like us, therefore they want what we want. They’re indie like us, they have Etsy accounts like us, they grew up with the internet like us, etc.

We Are Not Our Customers
The truth is they aren’t just like us. They don’t know your website well, they may not be computer-savvy. They’re rushed and tired and usually multi-tasking. They don’t want to read a paragraph of instructions on how to place an order. They don’t want to create an account or call customer service. They want a hassle-free experience on a user-friendly, professional-looking website. If you don’t have that to offer, they’re going to the competition.

Asking customers to email you to get off your mailing list may be easiest for you. Selling on Etsy may be cheapest for you. Having a shopping cart that requires a login may be most convenient for you. None of this matters because you aren’t the customer. If you want to make money, all that matters is what your customers find easy, convenient and appealing.

Testing Beats Asking
If you want to improve your customer experience on your website, don’t rely on customer surveys! You may get some valuable feedback from customer surveys, but anything you get is going to be skewed and not give you a full picture of your lost revenue. Here’s why:

The people who already bought from you slogged through your possibly awful ecommerce system or website. They don’t represent the people who didn’t buy from you. These are the people who bothered to suffer through your account creation process. These are the people who already had an Etsy account. These are the people who went to the trouble of emailing you to apply a coupon code. These people are exceptionally patient. These people loved your items so much that they put up with a bad user experience. These are the people who are computer-savvy enough to make their way through your problematic website.

Those people represent the 100 people who placed an order this year. They don’t represent the thousands of people who left your website in disgust. If you’re content with your current sales figures, keep on keeping on. If you want to sell more, start testing.

That means implementing usability improvements on your site and testing to see if it improves your conversion rate. Perform an A/B split test. Send half your website traffic to the old version of your site and half the traffic to the “improved” version. See which version gets more conversions. Tests will allow you to see a truly objective survey of what works and what does not.

You Can’t Run a Report on Sales You Didn’t Get
Never assume your system is fine as is. Yes, you might be getting some business now, but you have no way of knowing how much business you’re losing unless you’re testing out usability improvements and constantly looking for ways to make things easier for your customers on your website.

Some sales are not an indicator that everything is fine as is. The only way to truly know is by studying ecommerce best practices and testing them.

Get Smart
If you don’t know what the best practices are, it’s time to get educated. I discuss them a lot here on Smaller Box. Every week I link articles on best practices. Start following some of the websites I suggest. It’s where I learn a lot of great stuff and get ideas for improving my website and increasing sales. Having a profitable ecommerce site is not a destination, it’s a journey. The web is always changing and it’s important to be adaptable and informed so you can change with it.

Note: Don’t forget about this week’s special offer for Creative Entreprenuers. Deal expires Friday!

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1 Comment »

  1. [...] many customers did you lose today? http://smallerbox.net/blog/ecommerce/how-many-sales-did-you-lose-today You know what happens when you [...]

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