September 6, 2011
SMEs are risking their online success by not analysing website data and optimising their sites accordingly. This is the warning issued by a panel of e-commerce experts at a recent round table held by hosting specialist UKFast.
Liam Ahern, Online Business Specialist at online marketing firm I-COM, told the panel that the key to e-commerce is the ‘trackability’ of the data. He said: “There is a lot of data and part of optimising a site is gathering all of it and analysing it. We need to know why customers buy a product before we can make decisions on how to improve a website.”
Nick Rhind, managing director of web development company CTI Digital, said: “Making a change to a website can make or lose millions. Companies need to prepare changes properly and ask what it is that they want to achieve, how they can do it and how easily they can revert back to the old style if it does not succeed.
“Clients have asked us to build their site around a particular page but when we have looked at it, it is the worst converting page on the site. Businesses need to analyse their figures properly because tools such as Google Analytics may only tell half a story; the page may get a lot of views, so the business thinks that it is doing well, but in reality visitors to the page are dropping off within five seconds and it is one of the worst pages. We need to look at the information as a whole to understand the site.”
Analysing information for every visit to your websites is a time consuming job and not all businesses have the capabilities needed to make the most of the data, especially smaller retailers.
David Grimes, director at MyParcelDelivery.com explained that time is not the only factor, having, or hiring, the right expertise is a worthy investment. He said: “From an SME point of view we have just engaged with a company to help with our SEO because we wanted that expert view on analytics. If I was to look at the data of a site, all I would see is a whole lot of statistics. I wouldn’t be able to drill down into it and that’s where we need that expert’s opinion to give us a really good insight into how our site is doing.”
Jonathan Bowers, communications director at UKFast spoke about the e-commerce businesses on their network. He said: “From what we can see the e-commerce websites that grow quickly are those that are obsessive about offering a great user experience and the majority of them found this out by directly gaining feedback and scrutinising the web data.”
Ahern explained that analytics tools should not only be used to monitor pages that need improving but also to see why and how customers are choosing to buy products.
He said: “Businesses still haven’t mastered what is called conversion attribution. What is it that makes a customer buy a product, where did they first see the product, what drove them to the site? Was it a TV advert or a magazine advertisement? Where did the customer go before visiting our site?
“If ultimately they click through a PPC advert to buy the product, even if they have visited the site several times before and been through a whole other journey, tools such as Google Analytics will only show that the sale came from a PPC ad.
“Proper in-depth analysis can give us a full picture of our site, but businesses are still yet to master this.”
Top E-Commerce Tips for SMEs:
* Don’t deviate from the norm in terms of functionality – consumers know how they like to shop online and expect to follow the same journey
* Focus on a simple and clean platform that gives users a quick and problem-free shopping experience with the option for an enriched experience if the user requests
* Invest in expert analysis of data
* Establish your delivery offer early on – it could dictate the design of an e-commerce platform
* Think about how to give users the ‘touch and feel’ experience online – through augmented reality and detailed descriptions.
UKFast is one of Europe’s fastest-growing technical companies (as ranked by Deloitte) and has been at the heart of the UK internet industry for more than 10 years. In addition to being named as one of The Sunday Times best companies to work for, it won the UK IT Awards Employer of the Year in 2010.
Previous accolades include the industry’s Best Customer Service Award in 2009 and being named the ISPA UK’s Best Hosting Provider four years consecutively. UKFast has over 400,000 web domains on its network and over 4,000 clients across all industries. Clients include Virgin, Microsoft and UKTV. UKFast is a member of the Cloud Industry Forum.