The Importance of Conversion Rate

March 6, 2008

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

“How can I improve the return I get from Comparison Shopping Engines?”

This is by far the question I hear most from merchants using CSEs. The answer is pretty simple: Improve your conversion rate. Making that happen, however, isn’t quite as easy.

First, let’s look at why conversion rate is so critical.

Unless you can drastically increase your average order value or miraculously pay less than the minimum CPC, increasing conversion rate is the only way to impact performance since it is the only remaining piece of the equation. The main reason for this is that CSEs basically charge you the same price for every click. Whether that user searched on your brand or your exact product title, or if that user stumbled across your product through a browse mechanism, the cost to you is the same. Qualified traffic and non-qualified traffic look identical from the merchant’s perspective.

So now on to the hard part…how do you increase it? While there is no silver bullet, there are some best practices you can follow to maximise this metric.

  • categorise products appropriately
  • Ensure titles and descriptions are accurate
  • Populate as many feed fields as possible
  • Submit clear and accurate images
  • Ensure your action URLs work, take the user to a page where the product in question can be easily located and that the price matches the price on the CSE
  • Complete the Merchant Information section in the account login area of all CSEs
  • Actively remove products that do not convert
  • Unless you have already done so, analyze and improve the landing pages on your site

Reviews/ratings on CSEs can impact conversion as well, but only if those reviews are positive, so be sure to provide great service to keep those ratings high.

Ideally, comparison shopping engines will one day expose some level of information as to how a user found the product listing, suggesting some indication of how likely that user is to purchase after clicking, and charge the merchant appropriately. In the mean time, doing everything possible to maximise your conversion rate without the benefit of that insight is your best bet.

“What if my conversion rate is nowhere close to my goal?”

If you use the equation above and enter in your actual average CPC and order value, plus your ROAS goal, you can solve for your target conversion rate. If your current conversion rate from your CSE initiative is significantly different, you may need to adjust your ROAS goal. You can also work to increase your average order value by removing low priced products from your feed or via promotions such as $10 off orders of $100 or more. However, if your target conversion rate is 2% and you are sitting at 0.5% (difference of 4X), it’s unlikely that attempts to quadruple average order value will be successful.

written by Mark Vandegrift — markv at channeladvisor