There are two ways to increase online sales, you can drive more traffic to a website or find ways to increase the conversion rate for your visitors. Most of the time website owners are looking for ways to increase online sales by doing both, but sometimes a situation arises that causes the focus to change from growth to minimizing the impact of a loss in website traffic.
Google is constantly updating their algorithms to improve search results, in fact Matt Cutts recently indicated that we can expect another round of updates. Often these updates result in lost traffic for many websites. In the past couple of years the fear of losing steady website traffic from organic search has become an unfortunate reality for more than a few online retailers.
One of our customers, Russell Rhodes, found themselves facing every website owner’s worst nightmare just a few months before the 2013 holiday shopping season. Russell Rhodes is an online ornament shop, their specialty is personalized ornaments for all occasions. Over 65% of their revenue is generated in the last three months of the year, so you can only imagine how tough it must have been to see organic traffic dropping.
Denys Slater, President of Russell Rhodes shared, “We saw organic traffic begin to drop after the update and we knew there wasn’t time to regain our rankings in time for our busiest time of the year. That meant we had to find a way to minimize the impact of fewer visitors.”
The original growth goal for 2013 was to increase conversion by 20%; Denys and his team spend the months prior to busy season focused on enhancing product descriptions and optimizing the merchandise mix. In June of 2013 they implemented Thanx Media’s Hawk Search platform as their solution for on-site search and customer experience management.
They felt the Hawk Search features such as relevant search results pages, Faceted Navigation, Dynamic Merchandising, and Smart Auto Complete would help them meet or exceed their goals to increase conversions and improve the customer experience.
Unfortunately Denys’s prediction came true and their overall traffic was down 35% from November 1 through December 31, 2013. This meant that there was no chance of increasing online sales and improvements to conversion rates were even more critical.
I’m happy to say that the results were fantastic. There was an immediate increase in conversion rates after implementing Hawk Search. Over the course of the holiday season conversion rates increased from 5.2% to 6.9%. The average visit increased by 30 seconds, shoppers added more ornaments to the shopping cart, and converted at a higher rate than predicted.
Even though their traffic was down by 35% from the previous year, they only missed their original revenue goals by 13% due to the nearly 33% increase in conversion rate.
Slater stated, “If it hadn’t been for Hawk Search our gross revenue would have been down by a lot more than it was. What could have been a disaster turned into a manageable situation thanks to the improvements to the customer experience.”
Read the case study here.