Is your website like a leaky bucket? | February 18, 2009
A lot of companies make money by driving traffic to their sites through marketing or SEO campaigns in the hope that some of their visitors will turn into customers. This makes sense when attention is plentiful and online marketing is cheap. However as marketing costs rise and attention becomes increasingly scarce, companies need to look outside of the traditional marketing funnel. Rather than simply increasing traffic, companies need to start focussing on conversions. After all there’s no point spending large sums of money pushing people to your site if they leave when they get there.
I call this the “leaky bucket” approach to product design and marketing. When water is cheap and plentiful, you don’t mind spilling most of it on the ground as long as you capture enough to quench your thirst. If you need more water you simply open the tap faster. You’ll end up spilling more but it doesn’t matter as you’ll catch more as a result. However as water supplies start to dwindle and costs begin to rise you’ll eventually reach a point when you can no longer afford to be wasting so much water. Instead it become much cheaper and more efficient to repair your bucket. As it currently stands most websites are literally leaking customers. These are people that actively want to use your product or service but can’t due to poor organisation or design.
This is where usability and user experience comes to the rescue. By ensuring visitors can find what they are looking for when they reach your site, you can plug some of the bigger holes. However the biggest holes are usually core processes like registration or check-out. A badly designed check-out process could literally be costing your company millions in lost revenue. In fact it’s not uncommon to see shopping cart abandonment rates as high as 95% on some sites.
Some of this can be put down to people window shopping, but a lot of this is due to bad process design. Shoppers with money in their hands getting frustrated by badly designed forms, or blocked by requirements to register before purchasing. For instance we came across a site the other day that prevented customers outside the US making purchases because State was mandatory and zip code was limited to 5 characters. We’ve even seen situations where customers think they have made a purchase but haven’t due to poor feedback design. All these issues are simple to discover and simple to fix.
So as attention starts to dry up, website owners need to start looking at plugging the holes in their system or risk losing out on business. After all it’s been known for a long time in marketing circles that it’s much cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to find new ones.
Posted at February 18, 2009 2:54 PM