Nov 2022

Conversion Rate Optimization is Everything

Sapient eCommerce's services: Custom Website Design, eCommerce Experts, Warehousing and Order Fulfillment

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming paying customers, or otherwise. The CRO process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from taking the actions you desire them to take.

What is a conversion?

A conversion is the general term for a visitor completing a goal you’ve set for your website. Goals come in many shapes and sizes. If you use your website to sell products, the primary goal (known as the macro-conversion) is for the user to make a purchase.  There are smaller conversions that can happen before a user completes a macro-conversion, such as signing up to receive emails. These are called micro-conversions.

Examples of conversions

Macro-conversions:

  • Purchasing a product from the site
  • Requesting a quote
  • Subscribing to a service

Examples of micro-conversions:

  • Signing up for email lists
  • Creating an account
  • Adding a product to the cart

What is a conversion rate?

Your site’s conversion rate is the number of times a user completes a goal divided by your site traffic. If a user can convert in each visit (such as by buying a product), divide the number of conversions by the number of sessions (the number of unique times a user came to your site). If you sell a subscription, divide the number of conversions by the number of users.

Conversion rate optimization happens after the visitor makes it to your site. This is different from conversion optimization for SEO or paid ads which focuses on who clicks through to your site from the organic search results, how many clicks you get, and which keywords are driving traffic.

How to Calculate Conversion Rate

If a user can convert each time they visit the site:

Imagine you own an ecommerce site — Wampum Wobotics. A user could make a new purchase each session. We want to optimize so they make as many purchases as possible. If a user visited the site three times, that would be three sessions — and three opportunities to convert.

Let’s take a closer look at your user’s three sessions and how they behaved:

  • Session 1: No conversion — user was familiarizing themselves with the site and poking around.
  • Session 2: User bought a shiny new antenna. This is a conversion!
  • Session 3: User came back and bought a new set of gears and a blinking light — another conversion!  Even though they bought two items, this is a single unique order and thus counts as a single conversion.

To figure out your conversion rate, we would take the number of unique purchase orders and divide it by the total number of sessions.

For your imaginary user, they converted two out of three times they came to the site:

To find out the conversion rate for your site, you’ll look at all unique orders divided the total number of sessions.

Calculating Conversion Rate by Sessions:

If a user can only convert once

Now imagine you owned a second site — Wampum’s Monthly Gear Box. Your site sells a subscription for a monthly delivery of wobot parts. A user could come back multiple times, but once they purchase a subscription, they won’t convert again.

Let’s look at an example user’s behavior:

  • Session 1:  User came to the site for the first time to explore the service.  No conversion.
  • Session 2: User subscribed to your monthly Wampum Gearbox service– this is your conversion!
  • Session 3: User came back to read blog articles and poke around.

Your user here can’t convert each time they visit the site. So instead of looking at the number of sessions, we need to measure conversion success by the number of visitors:

To figure out your website’s conversion rate, we would take the number of unique orders and divide it by the number of unique users.

Calculating Conversion Rate by Unique Users:

5 Ways CRO benefits SEOs

While not necessarily directly related to attracting organic website traffic or ranking on a search engine results page (SERP), conversion rate optimization has distinct benefits for SEO. Those include:

  1. Improved customer insights. Conversion rate optimization can help you better understand your key audience and find what language or messaging best speaks to their needs. Conversion rate optimization looks at finding the rightcustomers for your business. Acquiring more people doesn’t do your business any good if they’re not the right kind of people!

 

  1. Better ROI: Higher conversion rate means making more of the resources you have. By studying how to get the most out of your acquisition efforts, you’ll get more conversions without having to bring in more potential customers.

 

  1. Better scalability: While your audience size may not scale as your business grows, CRO lets you grow without running out of resources and prospective customers.  Audiences aren’t infinite. By turning more browsers into buyers, you’ll be able to grow your business without running out of potential customers.

 

  1. Better user experience (UX): When users feel smart and sophisticated on your website, they tend to stick around.  CRO studies what works on your site.  By taking what works and expanding on it, you’ll make a better user experience.  Users who feel empowered by your site will engage with it more — and some may even become evangelists for your brand.

 

  1. Enhanced trust: For a user to share their credit card, email, or any sort of personal information, they must genuinely trust the site.  Your website is your number-one salesperson.  Just like an internal sales team, your site needs to be professional, courteous, and ready to answer all your customers’ questions.

 

The key to successful optimization

To optimize for conversion rates, you have to know where, what to optimize, and who to optimize for. This information is the cornerstone to successful CRO strategies.

If you don’t gather data, then you’re left making changes based on gut feelings alone. Guts are awesome! But making decisions on just gut feelings instead of rooting assumptions in data can be a waste of time and money.

The analytics method

This method, also known as quantitative data analysis, gives you hard numbers behind how people behave on your site. Start with a solid web analytics platform, such as Google Analytics. Next, add tracking for your conversions.

Using analytics based CRO can answer important questions about how users engage with your site. Quantitative analysis provides information like:

  • Where people enter your site, i.e., which webpage they land on first
  • Which features they engage with, i.e., where on a page or within your site do they spend their time
  • What channel and referrer brought them in, i.e., where they found and clicked on a link to your site
  • What devices and browsers they use
  • Who your customers are (age, demographic, and interest)
  • Where users abandon your conversion funnel, i.e., where or during what activity do users leave your site

This information will let you know where to focus your efforts. By putting your effort into the pages most engaged with and valuable to your users, you’ll see the largest impact.

The People Method

Doing your quantitative analysis first is especially valuable if you have a large site with diverse content as it lets you know, from a numbers perspective, where to focus your efforts. But now that you know how users interact with your site, you can investigate the “why” behind their behavior.

This people-focused method, known as qualitative data analysis, is more subjective. You’ll need the quantitative data discussed above to identify who you should be asking. You can’t optimize for all users, so optimize for your ideal user — that is, the user it’s most important to have as a customer.

Ways to get this data:

  • On-site surveys
  • User testing
  • Satisfaction surveys

Qualitative analysis helps optimize for conversions by providing information about users such as:

  • Why did they engage?  Why did they originally decide to visit your site or navigate to a specific page? What about the page or product appealed to them?
  • What do they think your site offers that makes you different from competitors? Is there a feature or service offered by your company that makes buying from you a better experience?
  • What words do they use to describe your products, services, and the pain points they address? How would they describe your product or service to a friend? In essence, how do they talk about what you do?

There are certain things that raw data alone can’t tell you about what brought a user to your site or how to make their experience better. But when you combine this information with your analytics data, you can gain a much better understanding of the pages on your site that present the best opportunities to optimize and engage the audience you’d like to target.

The Bad Method

This comes in many forms. Some not-so-effective CRO methods include:

  • Guesses, hunches, and gut feelings
  • Doing it because your competitor is doing it
  • Executing changes based on the highest paid person’s opinion

All these examples have something in common: they’re not data-based and might as well be random shots in the dark. It’s better to spend the time gathering and analyzing the data so you can create meaningful tests based on clear insights. Nobody loves running tests that fail.

Would you like Sapient eCommerce to help in your CRO efforts? Our CRO services have been carefully developed over the years, helping our clients convert more of their target audience than ever before through features like:

  • A/B testing
  • Lead conversion
  • Visitor analysis
  • UX writing
  • Mobile compatibility

We do everything to optimize your website so that you can convert at a higher rate than ever before.

It’s time to bring in the experts at Sapient eCommerce.

BOOK A CALL

 

 

 

SOURCE: MOZ

Nov 2022

Prioritizing Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

 

 

Digital Marketing Agency

Optimize your webpages to drive potential customers to the content and features that matter and start getting the results your business needs.

Connect with us to find out how we can help your pages attract an avalanche of new leads and increase your sales.

 

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Pack-Timco was a struggling legacy HVAC company when Sapient eCommerce was hired by Amy Jimenez to redesign their ineffectual website.  We developed a transparent and highly communicative relationship that would see them through their rebrand and aggressive growth strategy.

Sapient eCommerce and Pack-Timco found common ground in a commitment to quality and performance. We doubled down on communication to ensure everyone on the Pack-Timco team understood our time-proven methodology, custom website design/development best practices, and which metrics measured progress toward their goals.

 

Today, Pack-Timco is the state’s leading HVAC Engineering company with 60 total employees across all of its locations and generates $10.13 million in sales (USD).

How we can help you

Our optimization strategies ensure your website generates conversions and real results you can measure.

Book a Call – HERE

 

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Oct 2022

Essential Elements of a Professional-Level Website

By: Soren C. Adams | VP of Business Development | Sapient eCommerce

Features and Functionalities of a Professional-Level Website

Aesthetics Inspire Trust

In today’s saturated online environment, it is not only imperative to have a website presence but also to have that website signify your company’s level of Expertise (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are three website factors that Google values highly). Once a potential customer or client clicks on your website, you have mere seconds to impress upon them your worthiness. This is assuming that you have optimized the site to enable the site being found. All other features and functionalities are inconsequential if users are abandoning your site because it’s amateurish, outdated, and flat.

Purpose

What do you hope to accomplish with your website? Many small businesses throw money at their websites without having thought it through. They approach it as if it were a fashion fade. Everyone has one so…. But a company website should be viewed as a marketing tool for attracting potential customers and converting them to paying customers.  Professional-level websites inspire trust in users, convey expertise, and deliver valuable content to people searching for information, services, and products. Identifying your goals and planning a strategy to support achieving those goals is the first step along the journey to developing your website into an effective business tool.

Does your website satisfy potential customers’ search intent? People will come to your website for a variety of reasons using one of three search types:

Navigation Search. Users already know who you are and will either navigate directly to your website using your website address (www.yourwebsite.com) or they will Google your business name.

Informational Search. Here people are searching for information that will enable them to make an informed decision about either which product to buy or which service provider to hire. This type of search usually evolves into comparative shopping. This is where you should try to stand out from your competitors.

Transactional Search. At this point browsers are ready to make a decision. They lean heavily on Google. This is where SEO and having content that incorporates keywords aligned with searchers’ intent pay off.

It’s outside the scope of this article, but to home in on your target audience you should begin with building User Personas. For our purposes in this article, ask yourself a few questions: Do you know your audience? When they search online for your products or services, what keywords or phrases do they use? What device do they use?  What would make them choose to visit your website instead of a competitor’s site? That is, what value does your website deliver that distinguishes you from the crowd? What problem does the content on your website solve for the user?

Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to help you determine searcher intent. These tools coupled with your brick-and-mortar customer service experience will enable you to create content that potential customers and Google consider valuable.

  • Google Analytics will help you understand User Behavior on your website. What content does your present website users find useful? What information they feel is missing in your existing products or services? You can tune into audience demographics and particular interests. You can discern what other websites they tend to visit the most and much more.
  • Google Search Console gives you insights into your users and website. Which search terms have your site appeared in and on which terms have users clicked? This information helps your determine search queries that get a lot of impressions but no clicks, or vice versa.

Armed with this knowledge you will be able to create content that searchers, and in turn Google, consider valuable. It is important to note that if you create value for searchers, Google takes note of it.

Technical Site Optimization

Beyond relevant keywords and content creation, technical optimization or technical SEO looks at how well a website is seen and understood by search engines.

When someone enters a search query on Google (or any other search engine), Google’s spiders begin to “crawl” the Internet looking for content that is relevant to the query. If you have prepared your site (Technical SEO) to be easily crawlable, Google will be able to index pages. That is, Google will be able to organize and store your site’s content in a database. When someone searches for information Google can then quickly located and deliver that relevant content in the search results.

Trust

With the avalanche of online scams, hackers, and bogus companies, trust signals are must-have-elements on your website if you hope to be ranked on Google.  Both search engines and users scrutinize every element of a website before deeming it trustworthy, safe, and secure. Google now penalizes websites that are not secured.

 

It will be hard to build trust in potential customers/clients when this type of warning their introduction to your company. We are constantly having to inform business owners that their sites are unsecure and for this reason their website is not attracting traffic.

Don’t blame Google. Google’s bread-and-butter is derived from delivering trustworthy and relevant search results. If your site presents dubious content or does not exhibit secured signals, search engines will either penalize you or refuse to rank your content. Your competitors will take full advantage of your misstep and misfortune. You must develop trustworthiness through both Technical SEO and relevant content aligned with searcher intent.

Take the time to verify that your site is secure for both you and your customers. Preventing hacking is much easier than repairing a hacked site. Update your SSL certificate, create strong passwords (longer than 12 characters with upper case and lower-case letters as well as symbols) and use tools such as Cloudflare to protect your site from DDoS attacks.

Website Design Aesthetics, Functionality, and the User Experience

Does your website need to be beautiful? Absolutely! Take it from someone who has been in the business for over 21 years.  Unless you’re IBM, Berkshire Hathaway, or Costco if your website looks like a page from an old Sears catalog, few will stay long enough to find out what products or services your company provides. The answer is always form and functionality. Your site should be well-designed, and the functionality should be intuitive and accessible. This combination creates an enjoyable user experience (UX). Put yourself in your website visitors’ shoes and you’ll know what elements are important to improve UX. Site loading speed, for example, is critical to an enjoyable UX. If I have to count to 5 Mississippi before a page loads on a website, I’ll abandon the site. If I must squint to read the content on a page because the font is too small or in some color that blends with the white background, I won’t bother. If a website isn’t responsive and I cannot visit it on my smartphone, I will tend not to visit it again even when I get home and am sitting at my desktop.

The take-home message: avoid frustrating your website visitors at all costs.

Mobile website is essential

62% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. By mobile website or mobile-friendly website we mean a website that is designed and optimized specifically for hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets. Mobile responsive website design is the process of creating a site that is responsive or rather adapts to the screen size it is being viewed on.

Any website designer or agency worth its salt will recommend that your site have responsive functionality. If they don’t, look elsewhere. We haven’t made a non-responsive website since 2012.

Optimize your website for Google and all other Search Engines

We learned earlier how search engines crawl sites to index pages and store them in a database presenting them when relevant queries are made. This is what Google sees when it views a website:

 

This is too involved a topic to cover here but search engines need a little guidance when attempting to understand what a webpage is about. We’ll cover it in an upcoming article as well as a course we’ve developing. For now, it’s important for you to understand that Google’s a poor reader. If you want to be understood by Google, you’ll have to give them a little help and translate the content on your site. This is where Schema format, site structure/structured data, and a host of other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factors come into play.

 

If you need a refresher on the basics, read on.

So, what makes a good website? The Basics

I.     Clear & Visible Call-to-Action

What do you want your visitors to do when they’re on your website? The desired action you want should be clear to the visitor. In general, a Call-to- action (CTA) includes an action button: ‘BUY NOW”, “CLICK HERE”, “REQUEST A QUOTE”, “COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW”, or some variation of these.  You’ve done a lot of work and/or spent good money to attract that website visitor. Don’t have them trying to guess what you want them to do next. The CTA is the mechanism with which you’ll convert visitors into paying customers.

Make sure you have your contact info in the top right and footer with quick links to al the valuable web content, Contact Us forms, Request a Quote button, etc. You should also have an XML Sitemap in place.  It’s a good idea to use of a different color fonts for the CTAs to draw the visitors’ eye.

II.    Intuitive Site Navigation and Architecture

Having clear site navigation helps your visitors quickly find sought after information. It also helps search engines easily index your website pages.

III.   Countdown! 7-6-5-4-3-2-1.  Craft a Perfect Homepage or They’re Gone

Over 90% of website visitors make a decision to stay or abandon the site within 7 seconds. That decision is 100% determined on your homepage. In 7 seconds, they will decide if you’re an expert or a hack, trustworthy, or as good as your competitors. Make a good first impression. Perfect your elevator pitch. Spend the time or money to have a quality logo designed. Write keyword-rich intelligent sincere content.

IV.   What’s Your Story

Please don’t just throw up some lame half-witted vanilla About Us page. Tell a real inception story. Draw the visitor with a story that engages them and engenders trust. Add photos of your team or your place of business. Your potential customer is trying to get to know you and decide whether you’re worthy of her trust.

V.    Tracking of conversions

Congratulations! 1000 people visited your website yesterday. What’s that? You didn’t notice. No one clicked on your CTA. No one called order that Didgeridoo.  you’re selling. Why not? Well, let’s look at their on-site behavior.

You simply must track visitor behavior to develop your website into an effective business tool. What’s working and not working? What content attracts the most visitors and keeps them engaged the longest (dwell time)? What pages have the most abandonments and what can you do about it? Which pages convert? If your webmaster has not at the minimum implemented Google Analytics just fire her. No really. All you’re doing is shooting in the dark.

You need to track your visitors’ on-site behavior before you can develop a conversion strategy, evaluate your digital marketing efforts, and (as my old man was found of saying) connect the dollar-to-the-dot.

 

Aug 2021

Inventory Records: Definition, Guide, and How-to Record Inventory

Inventory is the heart and soul of your business, and it’s constantly moving throughout the supply chain, including:

  • New batches of inventory entering your warehouse
  • Items getting fulfilled and shipped
  • More inventories being ordered, transported, received, and stored

Along with the type of products you sell, your warehouse location(s), and your inventory’s current value — keeping tabs on ecommerce inventory data and information at all times can be challenging, error-prone, and time-consuming. Yet when the accounting period ends, your accountant is going to expect accurate reporting. 

That’s why online brands ditch the manual work and implement technology that makes record-keeping a breeze.

In this article, we explore:

  • What inventory records entail
  • Why it’s important to consistently track inventory 
  • How to outsource inventory management

What are inventory records?

Inventory records are repositories of data pertaining to each item in a brand’s product line, including:

  • What’s in stock at the SKU level
  • What’s been sold and reordered
  • The product’s value
  • The inventory’s storage location
  • Other information that pertains to a business, such as work-in-process (WIP) inventory data

Each entry must have a description of the SKU along with relevant data. These records are either created manually or digitally.

Why it’s important to keep up-to-date inventory records

Keeping proper inventory records provides better inventory control and visibility into inventory as changes occur.

Since inventory is noted as an asset in a business’s balance sheets, you will be expected to provide accurate inventory information at the end of a fiscal year or accounting period.

Here is why every business owner should be keeping proper inventory records.

Ensures inventory tracking is accurate

Consistently keeping track of what’s leaving and entering the warehouse ensures inventory accuracy and inventory reconciliation.

Inaccurate inventory counts can lead to inventory shrinkage, or when stock is less than the recorded balance in the accounting record, and it can cause major discrepancies that can throw off profit margins and other financials.

Makes inventory accounting easier

Accurate inventory records make the inventory accounting process much more bearable.

Keeping track of inventory value and count is legally required of all retailers and manufacturers, as per the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and regulated by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  

By maintaining a proper inventory record-keeping process, you’re also able to track changes in value, so you know how much your inventory is worth at the end of an accounting period.

Helps prevent items from going out of stock

Keeping up-to-date inventory records help you prevent stockouts and have a better understanding on when it’s time to reorder more inventory.

Keep in mind that not having enough inventory can cause out-of-stock issues but storing too much inventory can increase carrying costs  and lead you to potentially accumulate too much dead stock.

Since inventory is constantly moving throughout the ecommerce supply chain, the use of real-time inventory management technology makes it easier to check if all inventory is accounted for when comparing physical inventory and electronic records.

Being able to track inventory without the manual work can reduce risk while optimizing operational costs, including storage fees.

Prevents mistakes from being made based off of bad data

If your records aren’t up-to-date, you and your team risk making important business decisions based on incorrect data.

By using technology to track inventory in real time, you can reduce mistakes by cutting out time-consuming, manual work.

Tracking inventory in real time can be done using inventory management solutions, including inventory apps or a more robust system like ERP inventory software. These systems allow you to aggregate data by connecting your upstream manufacturing activities with your downstream sales.

With real-time data tied to inventory, you’re also given the information needed to identify trends and forecast demand, so you can make better predictions on inventory reorder quantities and levels.

Tips for keeping accurate inventory records

Depending on the number of SKUs you sell, your order volume, and the size of your company, the complexity of inventory record-keeping varies.

No matter how intricate your business is, here are some of the top inventory management strategies you can implement.

Keep physical backups

An inventory audit is defined as the process of checking a company’s actual inventory levels against their financial records to ensure accurate inventory accounting. To make inventory auditing more efficient, it is helpful for retailers to keep physical records of all inventory along with online backups (or vice versa). 

Keeping original physical copies can be a legal requirement in some states. And it also secures your information in case of a situation where your cloud server’s integrity is compromised.

Get input from your accountant on what to record and how

Find an accountant you can trust and get their insights into how to keep inventory records for your business.

In most cases, the information you need during the accounting period includes COGS, raw materials (if applicable), beginning inventory, and the value of ending inventory (what’s left over at the end of an accounting period).

You can also ask your accountant for their advice on how to choose the best inventory valuation method  based on the type of products you sell and your typical sales volume.

Remain consistent in your accounting methods

There are many ways to track and record inventory. No matter what method you choose, the most important thing is to stay consistent to ensure accuracy. 

At the end of an accounting period or financial year, you will need to calculate how much your inventory is worth.

The most common valuation methods in ecommerce include: 

  • FIFO (first-in, first-out)
  • LIFO (last-in, first-out)
  • Inventory weighted average (WAC)
  • Specific identification method

Invest in inventory management software

When it comes to keeping records on inventory, you have two options:

  1. Update records after a designated accounting period (periodic inventory system)
  2. Continuously update the records with every transaction (perpetual inventory system)

As your business grows, adapting a perpetual inventory system is your best bet.

This can be done by investing in an inventory management software, which will help you track inventory flow in real time and record live updates without you lifting a finger.

What a good inventory management software should allow you to do

A powerful inventory management software makes inventory record-keeping a breeze.

By automating the tracking of all inventory and real-time changes, you can optimize inventory to meet demand and improve supply chain efficiency.

With the right software, you can easily download records and custom reports, so you have all the information you need when it’s time to meet with your accountant.

Here is a breakdown of how an inventory management software works.

Real-time views of inventory levels across all channels

As you expand your business, you most likely will branch out from selling exclusively on your online store.

Marketplaces (e.g., Amazon and Walmart) and social media platforms (e.g., Instagram and Facebook) provide direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands different avenues to sell through, so they can broaden their customer reach.

That’s why many merchants implement a multichannel inventory management software, which tracks inventory across channels and aggregates records all in one place. 

If you partner with a technology-enabled 3PL  you get access to built-in inventory management tools that also allow you to track inventory across channels and distribution centers in one place.

This allows merchants to spread inventory across multiple fulfillment centers and be able to track inventory in real time through one dashboard instead of relying on multiple sources.

Automatically generate inventory reports

Arguably, your inventory management software is only as good as the inventory reports it generates. Calculating and tracking these metrics in spreadsheets or through multiple different integrations can be troublesome. 

Inventory management technology automatically aggregates data, so you can pull custom reports whenever you need them.

For instance, many order fulfillment  platform automatically pulls reports and data on SKU velocity, inventory days on hand, inventory turnover rate, and much more. 

Set reorder points based on historical data

Inventory management software allows you to automatically set reorder point notifications, so you can replenish inventory on time without the need to be tracking inventory every hour or manually as each order is placed.

The software pulls insights from historical sales data to give you a better idea of when it will be time to reorder more inventory per SKU, so you can set a predetermined reorder point.