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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 essentials of e-commerce optimization & attribution: Part One

Posted 26 May 2011 18:12pm by Paul Cook with 3 comments
Online shoppers are a fickle lot and the competition for their attention and their spend in utterly fierce. Consequently, optimizing every aspect of your e-commerce program, and the tags that manage them, is absolutely essential.
Since we’re working mainly with e-commerce businesses, we compiled a list of the key steps they can – and do – take to optimize online sales.
This is only part one and mixes tag-based optimization issues with general best-practice tips dealing with on and off-site activity.
We’re discussing the list in full at the Econsultancy Peer Summit in New York on June 2 and we’ll publish part two after the event. 

1. Don’t be the tortoise

When it comes to page loading times, lack of speed kills.  Our own study suggested that every 100 milliseconds of extra load time can cost 1% of your potential sales, while the Aberdeen Group found that every 1-second delay costs 7% of conversions.
And, while lots of rich media content can slow you down, so too can all the tags you’re using to track performance. Some analysts are now recommending tag management systems to mitigate the page weight related issues created by all your tags.

2. Start at the top

Since we’ve already established the importance of a fast loading page, you now have some decisions to make as to what should load first. 
The answer is surprisingly basic. Work your way from the top down, loading items above the fold first, demonstrating to your visitor that you value his/her time. It is a simple truth that if a site looks fast on first glance, people are more likely to hang around long enough to complete the page load, and eventually, a transaction.  

3. Serve no tag before its time

Without a tag management system in place, sites simply load all their tags at once, even when they’re irrelevant to the visitor. 
This slows down the page and ignores all the data you probably have on your visitor.  For example, why load the re-targeting tag if the user has already been cookied?  Or if a visitor has come in search of a low-margin product why load Live Chat? 
Aligning the tags you serve with visitor data improves results all the way round.  

4. Not also but only…

Just like in the real world, a messy storefront will cost you customers, a loss that will be compounded if the mess carries over to the inside of the store. 
Both your landing page and subsequent pages need to be more than broom clean, carefully organized with idiot-proof navigational paths. Avoid the “and another thing” syndrome after the initial site launch or makeover, substitute new for old rather than trying to cram in more. 

5. Get the band back together

Even a cleanly designed site won’t make the cash register sing if all the marketing contributors aren’t marching to the same drum. 
Whether you do all your marketing in-house or with a myriad partners, e-commerce won’t be optimized until email, display, social, re-targeting, SEM and SEO activities are all working in concert. Orchestrating monthly/quarterly meetings of the whole “band” is crucial.
Paul Cook is CEO of TagMan and a guest blogger at Econsultancy.

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