Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The least optimized page on your site

e-commerce conversion flow

Most e-commerce websites have a "Sign in or Register to continue" page as part of their checkout process.  Many companies only even have this page because everyone else does.  This page can be a conversion killer and is often overlooked when trying to improve your conversion rate.

Pros:
First, let's look at the purpose and opportunities of keeping this page.

Getting someone's email address before they begin the checkout process allows you to re-market to them via email.  If they don't finish the checkout process, you can send them an email that encourages them to come back and finish, a coupon, or even a survey to find out why they didn't complete their order.  

Getting your visitors to identify themselves before they become customers can also help you with visitor profiling.  Many successful companies, such as Amazon, base their entire business model on visitor profiling.  Analytics solutions like KISSmetrics can help you see and track what each visitor is doing.

The final good thing about this page is that is creates an early commitment of trust.  By registering an account with you, your visitors are indicating a high level of trust (not tied to money).  If they don't buy from you today, it is likely an issue of confidence, not trust.

Cons:
There are some drawbacks to having this page as well.

Asking your visitors to create an account before they can checkout creates a barrier to completing the checkout process.  There are many times I'm willing to do business with a company but don't like the idea of maintaining an account with them.  Despite the trust required to create an account, this page also represents a barrier because it forces your visitors to make yet another decision, register or leave [or checkout as a guest].

On one website we worked on, this barrier blocked 60% of their potential customers from seeing the checkout page.

You can work to optimize this page, but the checkout and landing pages generally represent a far greater opportunity.  For this reason, few companies optimize their Sign in page.

How to test:
How do you decide whether or not to keep this page?

Start by A/B testing your site with and without the page.  This test will tell you exactly how much your "Sign in or Register" page helps/hurts your overall conversions.

Next, create an email re-marketing campaign aimed at getting abandoners back to your site.  Then, turn the register page back on and measure the return from your email re-marketing campaign.

If your email campaign has a higher return than simply sending all of your traffic directly to the checkout page, you should keep your Sign in page.

If you don't have the resources to create and optimize a full blown email re-marketing campaign, remove the Sign in page from your checkout process and send all of your potential customers directly to the checkout page.  You can always ask them to create an account after they have finished their transaction.

Have you tested your "Sign in or Register" page?
[Share your results in the comments.]

Need help testing?
Let's talk: jsmith@contourthis.com