April 19, 2002, 12:00 AM

The 2 most important things retailers should know about web customers

Conversion rate is the most important piece of information retailers want to know about site visitors. Next important: How many people bail out after one page view, say consultants Future Now.


To online retailers, the most important piece of information they want to know about visitors to their site is how many took an action--bought an item, signed up for further information, downloaded a spec sheet. The second most important piece of information? How many people viewed one page and left, says a new report from Brooklyn-based consultants Future Now Inc. “More than any other metric, decreasing the percentage of one-page visits will increase the conversion-to-action rate,” says Bryan Eisenberg, CIO of Future Now.

Increasing the number of pages that customers view is a matter of improving both site navigation and the quality of traffic, Eisenberg says. The report, “The Guide to Web Analytics,” says key questions in improving navigation are:

--Has the sales path clearly mapped the actions that prospects should take?
--How well are prospects guided step-by-step?
--How many leaks are left?
--How many prospects are falling through those leaks?

“Traffic quantity is only remotely connected to sales success,” Eisenberg says. “Concentrate on improving traffic quality, and visitor conversion to action will rise. Discover the traffic converting at a higher rate and focus your optimization efforts there. It is a relatively simple task to determine from your web logs whether traffic from Google converts at a higher rate than traffic from MSN.”

Eisenberg cautions retailers against falling into the trap of believing that having a lot of information about web traffic is useful. “Web server logs and the software used to analyze them generate lots of data, but little actionable information,” he says. “When creating metrics for your web site, always ask yourself: Knowing this information, what can I actually do with it to improve the business? If you don’t know the answer to this question for any given metric, it is not of much value.”


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