How Much Does Buyer Motivation Affect Conversion?

As per Nielsen Online data, The Popcorn Factory, L.L. Bean and Abebooks took the top three spots in terms of conversion rates for online retailers during the holiday season. All three e-tailers converted at least 20% of their site visitors into sales, and the remaining seven (of the top 10) all had conversion rates in the teens.

Bryan Eisenberg's list of these e-tailers sparked a discussion in the comments stream about whether common best practices like writing persuasive copy and improving site usability are really important for getting conversions.

Some readers wondered how a site like The Popcorn Factory garnered first place, chiding them for doing things like placing the "add to cart" button below the fold. "Their design does not even seem to factor in some basic conversion optimization techniques," said one comment.

Eisenberg's response reminds Webmasters to never forget the power of buyer motivation when considering on- and off-page conversion factors like product images and descriptions, ad copy and navigation. "People's motivations trump any great or poor design," Eisenberg says. If shoppers have made up their mind to buy a product from a particular retailer, "then they'll work through almost any poor shopping process--especially if they're comfortable with the brand," he added.

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