Marketing is a boundless playground and you can drive yourself nuts trying every flavor of the moment. So you need to narrow your focus. After nearly 8 years of testing I can tell you the only 2 things that matter are answering these 2 questions:
1: How can we do a better job converting first-time buyers?
2: What caused a first-time buyer to place their first order?
These are the only 2 questions that matter. Period.
The 1st question requires a telescope mindset. We’re looking at a big data set and picking up patterns. You will find a lot of valuable data in your Google Analytics.
The 2nd question requires a microscope mindset. It doesn’t matter if your site generates 2 or 45 first-time purchases in a month. What matters is if you specifically understand why transaction ID #4566 occurred. It’s really important we talk to these brave first-time buyers. They have taken a leap of faith on you and we need to understand what switch happened in their mind that caused them to make that leap. There are many forces that push the ‘almost’ shopper to quit, and it’s our job to understand how transaction ID #4566 overcome those opposing forces to place their first order.
These 2 questions are strongly related. By better understanding Question 2 you can better answer Question 1.
You may have a subscriber who subscribes to your newsletter and then unsubscribes. You could just let them go, or you could do this:
Caesar’s Entertainment (the casino) noticed something peculiar: Majority of first-time visitors to their properties didn’t return. There are a number of reasons why a customer may not return but a big one is their first visit experience. If the customer has an experience they like, it greatly increases their chances of becoming a regular (thus making Caesar’s Entertainment a lot of money). In the casino business a bad experience is when a first-time visitor loses more than they expect. Since Caesar’s knows the distribution of winning/losing for each type of game they know when the first time visitor is on the losing tail of the distribution (bad experience). This raises a flag in their monitoring system. It’s important to note that most casinos would do nothing for this customer. But at Caesar’s when this event is triggered a manager walks to the customer and asks hows they are doing. The customer says they are having a terrible time and the manager apologizes and offers her a free dinner, a hotel room or a limo ride (for example). To study bottom line impact of this strategy Caesar’s will make the offer to only 50% of first-time visitors who are losing heavily. This allows them to compute the difference. And not surprisingly, that small shift in first visit experience greatly increases customer lifetime value.
This exact same strategy can be applied to your ecommerce store.
… because it allows for an infinite number of interesting business models. My friend Mike Johnson pointed me to something new. Scott Keyes is the Scott behind scottscheapflights.com. Scott’s Cheap Flights is a subscription service that sends out email alerts to subscribers on international flight deals. It’s basically a human powered flight price alert system. But what makes it stand out (for me) is their personality:
I was signing into LinkedIn and noticed a nice little improvement. Moment I got to @ I was shown a dropdown of popular email services. It might just shave off 1 second of typing time, but every second counts:
I admire Amazon. I more than just admire Amazon. Here is a screenshot of Amazon homepage from May 22, 2006. It’s amazing how quickly the world of ecommerce is evolving: