Conversion optimization and e-commerce: the real cost of a failing shopping experience


Every online marketer is constantly optimizing conversion. And that's how it should be. Conversion does not only concerns the forms of interactive marketing and online business we spontaneously think of when speaking about it: e-mail marketing, search engine marketing, e-commerce, usability, you name it.

In social media marketing, despite all the aspects of  'conversations', 'community' etc., you have to take care of conversion as well. The most important question however, is which conversion parameters you use for all these forms and channels. And thus which key performance indicators. An additional challenge is to find common metrics in order to be able to speak ROI across the whole company.

Optimizing conversion is absolutely a 'must'. The reason is not only that as a marketer you aim to optimize the return of your online activities. Your aim is to optimize the satisfaction of your target groups. And in the end both are the same. Conversion marketing is about being user-friendly, customer-centric and relevant for the client, prospect, fan, reader, etc.

When optimizing the overall experience of the Internet user by improving each micro conversion, one should realize that conversion only partly depends on what he does as a marketer. It is mainly function of what people think, feel and experience. So relevance and customer-centricity are the hallmark of conversion. This applies to all channels but also goes for all online experiences and business activities. And one of them is e-commerce.

Missed earnings by failing shopping experiences and transaction problems: why it's way over 44 billion USD per year

Neglecting the user experience and optimization processes in e-commerce has catastrophic consequences. Each step in the online purchase process must be perfect or you are missing transactions and thus revenue. And we are talking about a lot of money.

A study by Harris Interactive and Tealeaf, estimates that missed earnings by failing shopping experiences and transaction problems, is an even 44 billion USD per year (U.S. only)!

However, it is not only the direct loss of income by a missed purchase during the transaction process that costs lots of money. The study also found that many of the respondents step to a competitor after a bad experience with an online retailer. Or in other words, you are missing not only current but also future revenues.

And of course - should I even mention it? - a poor customer experience today travels around the social media world and negative word of mouth can devastate your brand's reputation. This is not really emphasized in the report but it is probably the most important impact of all regarding revenues. In a world where satisfied customers lead to new customers, the opposite goes as well. So you do not only miss one customer when losing a potential one in the buying process: you lose more.

Some key areas to improve e-commerce transaction processes and conversion: 

  • The usability of the e-forms (starting with a continuous monitoring of them functioning).
  • Uptime and availability.
  • Functioning promotions, coupons and so on that match running campaigns.
  • A clear explanation of the shopping process and the shopping cart or - better still - a process and shopping cart so easy to use they need no explanation.
  • Consistent user experience at every level.
  • Focus on 'trust', including mentioning labels and technology partners
  • Keep it simple stupid: make sure people don't have to think and avoid too many options and "distractions".
  • A cross-channel and cross-interaction identification of customers so you know where the problems are in every step and action during the shopping experience.
  • Usability: Test, test, test, implement, analyze and retest. Constantly.
  • Give the online customer a direct way to report any questions or problems. And more than one. Offer choice!

Finally a tip to convince your management to pay more attention to these issues. Calculate the impact of a missed sale and customer the proper way (focus on more than the immediate missed revenue opportunities) by poor usability and lack of investment in the conversion and shopping process.
If you know how many customers really drop out, you have a very powerful argument to go to management and get budgets to do it better...

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