7 Unlucky Things You Can Do To Your Ecommerce Site in 2013

One down, 51 more weeks to go. Today we look at 7 “unlucky” things your ecommerce site may suffer from in 2013.

1. Slow your site speed with social hooks

It’s trendy to have Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest buttons on product pages, but have you counted the cost to page load speed that these third-party scripts carry?

Strangeloop Networks reports the average Internet Retailer 200 site contains 7 third-party scripts on average, some containing as many as 25, each pulling resources from different server locations. “Each script represents a potential “single point of failure” which can hamper speed or worse, prevent a page load altogether.”

With more visits coming from tablets over wifi, this is all the more of a problem.

The solution? Be discriminating about which buttons and tools you add to your page, and ensure they always load after all your other page content.

2. Run UX-based tests

This isn’t the first time I’ve harped on this, but dipping your toe into testing simple cart buttons or single-elements is unlikely to get you big gains.

As guest blogger for Econsultancy, Ian McCaig puts it, there is a difference between a” data driven test, where you use data to understand user behaviour on the site and then form a hypothesis to test,” and a “UX driven test, where someone has an idea and decides to test it.”

McCaig’s group decided to test the impact of UX-driven tests against data-driven ones, and found 77% of data driven tests yielded a strong impact on the metric optimized for, versus 10% of UX tests.

3. Pimp your coupon box

Got affiliate coupon codes floating out there? Best way to mess up your attribution, lower your sales margin and overcompensate affiliates with good SEO skills is to over-emphasize your coupon code box.

What to do instead? We’ve got 6 ideas for you:

1. Use targeted selling rules that suppress the coupon box if not referred by email or an affiliate
2. Issue private promo codes or codes with usage restrictions
3. Use the promo box to build your email list
4. Link to your own offer page
5. Use words like “certificate,” “rebate code” or “offer code” that may suggest they’re not freely available on the web
6. Don’t make it a box (people have a tendency to notice and want to fill in empty fields, buttons much less so!)

4. Waste your home page space

There are a number of ways to waste your home page’s potential. hero shots and distracting rotating banners, unclear value propositions (or none at all), irrelevant merchandising or even annoying country-selector splash pages when geolocation tools can do the job.

5. Be trigger happy

If pop-ups and remarketing campaigns didn’t “work,” no one would be using them, but their timing and messaging can make them effective or detrimental. Check out our past articles for tips on pop-up / lightboxes and remarketing campaigns.

6. Redesign

Contrary to popular belief, your site isn’t going to be the uncool kid at the table because you didn’t undertake a massive redesign project this year.

If the redesign is minimal (re-skinning, changing the look and feel but keeping the general architecture in tact), there’s less resources tied up in the project, but also less impact on the customer. Unless the redesign was undertaken to address shortcomings in the site as expressed through customer feedback, the effort is likely to be pointless for everyone except the branding department.

If it’s radical, chances are you’re at least going to temporarily have a drop in conversion until people get used to the new look and feel or content structure. Even if there are short-term improvements with the new design roll-out, there’s also the likelihood over time, results return to baseline. Resources are tied up in the process for minimal long-term benefits.

I’m not against redesign – I’ve just observed that it’s often done for the wrong reasons and much too frequently than necessary.

7. Overpersonalize

We all know the blunders that can happen with automated personalization and cross-selling tools can cause. Though automated, the “rules” applied to these tools are often human determined, and over-ambitious personalization can pigeonhole the customer experience, or miss the mark entirely.

But our industry is also turning towards Big Data to tie offline and online information, and even cross-website and cross-business data to profile and target customers. Aside from the privacy and bad PR concerns when these strategies start getting creepy (recall how Target accurately discerned the pregnancy of a teenage girl before her father did), too much data can also be a problem.

As Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester notes:

We’re in an era now where “big data” is all the rage and companies have open specs for chief data scientists. But in sectors like the one I cover (retail), there’s such a thing as too much data. Traditional RFM (recency-frequency-monetary value) analysis and data cooperatives among marketers that rely on minimal levels of personal data continue to be incredibly effective. Furthermore, data just creates a mess. That’s why Netflix (which tried to pay someone a million dollars to try to improve its recommendation algorithm years ago without much success) has now reverted to a few dozen people tagging their new releases. And, ultimately, here’s the best way to sell more things: create more innovative and useful products for people rather than spam people you’ve ferreted out on the Internet through their IP addresses.

Like unnecessary redesign, the pitfalls of an unnecessary data mining strategy include wasted resources.

Unlucky in 2013?

Of course, luck has nothing to do with it. These things are all (relatively) under your control. Anything you could work on this year to tune your site?

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5 Responses to “7 Unlucky Things You Can Do To Your Ecommerce Site in 2013”

  1. Derek says:

    What is a really good home page that you like that does not wast all of its space? I know our site has this issue.

    • Hi Derek, I actually don’t think your site is wasting its space – I see several value propositions and the merchandising is given some relevance to a new visitor that has taken no actions of intent on your site (showing top selling in a few categories). You may consider testing the hero shot banner against a different design, and measure in analytics which sections are getting clicks and eyeballs to diagnose if there are any attention problems before you consider testing hypotheses.

      Some sites I like that take a slightly unique design approach (at the moment, anyway) are O.co (when customer arrives, he’s either going to search or browse the menu *primarily*, the featured sales and merchandising does not distract from primary user goals), Dell.com is interesting, it uses large image category navigation, that’s it – no deal messaging (very unusual in consumer electronics sites, not sure if this is a test or the rollout). What I also like about Motosport.com is the parts finder is front-and-center at the top of the page.

  2. Alana says:

    Hi Linda,

    This was a detailed read ; I see you did some really good research before writing this. I have to point out something I’ve noticed over the past one year. Pinterest has actually helped my site’s conversion rate in a huge way ( I can’t explain it, but I’m guessing that most people who use Pinterest are looking to own the items they put up on their boards in the future). What are your thoughts on the Pinterest phenomenon?


  3. Ben says:

    Iv recently done a redesign and conversation rates have dropped from 3.5% down to 2%. Unsure in why the drop has happened. Considering most of my customers each day are new customers and would not have seen the old outdated design.

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