Cash register @ Hemie's by Paresh Gajria on Flickr

Cash register @ Hemie’s by Paresh Gajria on Flickr

There are three basic metrics that determine how much revenue your e-commerce website will generate. It’s important to look at each one and maximize their performance. The good news is that they’re not additive, they’re multiplicative. That means that making incremental improvements in each area will quickly expand into a significant boost to your e-commerce sales.

The three metrics are:

  1. Traffic
  2. Conversion Rate
  3. Average Transaction Value

e-Commerce Traffic

This is the easy one, right? More traffic means more opportunities and more opportunities (should) mean more sales. So how do you boost traffic?

The most obvious is search engine traffic. In order to earn more visits from Google, your e-commerce site must be well-optimized. Here are some basic tips for improving your website and (at least as importantly) product page SEO (search engine optimization):

  • Place keywords in the page URLs of the site. Many c-commerce packages create ugly URLs with product codes instead of product descriptions with keywords. For example, which of the following URLs “looks” better?
  • Use keywords in the page titles, similarly to the way you place them in the URL. Many e-commerce sites I review use the company name on every page or use popup pages for their products.
  • Use keywords (and product name) in the page headings. The HTML code on your page should use <h> tags and there should be one (and only one) <h1> tag on the page that contains your product name and keywords.
  • Make sure the product images make use of the “alt” text meta tag in the HTML. Search engines can’t “see” pictures and rely on this text to know how to associate your picture with keywords.
  • Make use of Microformats or, as Google calls them, Rich Snippets. These are ways of encoding the HTML on your product pages to explicitly tell the search engines that your product is, in fact, a product. The search engine results pages will then display your page differently knowing that it’s a product.
  • Slow load times impact search engine results. Make sure that your website is performing well!
e-commerce search engine optimization

Here’s a graph of search engine query impressions for a recent e-commerce website redesign.

In addition to making your site visible to search engines, you need to be promoting your site using any and all means necessary. You can do this using social media and/or by paid advertising. If you’re going to pay for ads, I highly recommend you not do it yourself. This is an area where paying a professional will almost always pay for itself.

Conversion Rates

Even if your traffic remains constant, you can make more money on your e-commerce website if more people make purchases. In order to improve your e-commerce conversion rates, there are several things to be mindful of:

  • Depending upon your particular business, being mobile-optimized is either very important or absolutely critical! Mobile traffic is rapidly increasing and it’s critical mobile be part of your internet marketing strategy. Local merchants like florists and restaurants receive a high percentage of time-sensitive, mobile traffic.
  • The user experience must be easy and intuitive. If it’s hard to find products, difficult to use the checkout process or insufficient product details, your conversion rates will suffer.
  • Quality images, strong, persuasive copy and customer testimonials are other tools that can be used to increase your e-commerce conversion rates.

By addressing these issues, you can increase (in some cases dramatically) the number of visitors who make a purchase.

Average Transaction Value

Let’s say that the traffic to your site and the conversion rates stay the same. You canĀ still increase your sales if the same number of customers simply spend more. What are some ways to do this?

  • Up-selling is a sales technique in which you offer more expensive alternatives, upgrades and/or add-ons. If your e-commerce system doesn’t offer this functionality, then you’re probably leaving quite a bit of money on the table!
  • Cross-selling is similar to up-selling, except that instead of enticing customers to buy a more expensive alternative, you’re getting them to buy additional products. This is what Amazon is doing when they show you “Customers who added this item to their shopping cart also bought…” They are frequently variations or complimentary products.

Putting Them Together

Let’s take a look at some math and see how these work together. In the following hypothetical example, we’ll take a before and after look at an e-commerce site’s performance.

[table id=2 /]

You can see that making modest improvements in each of these three areas leads to an overall boost of 72% in e-commerce revenue. There are many, many more techniques for improvement but hopefully these high level suggestions can get you started.