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Feb 19, 2009
Case Study

5 Steps: Click-Path Analysis Leads to Shopping-Cart Fix that Lifts Conversions 43%

SUMMARY: Turning more website visitors into new customers doesn’t always require a major overhaul. A tweak or a fix may be enough.

Find out how a marketer used an analysis of website metrics to fix a faulty shopping cart and boost the website conversion rate more than 43%. Here are the five steps the company took. Includes creative samples.

Sharon Mostyn, Internet Marketing Director, Custom Direct, heard upper management loud and clear in March of 2008. They said that something had to be done about the conversion rate for GigglePrint – the company’s direct-to-consumer website for custom-printed products.

Essentially, Mostyn’s bosses said: “The conversion is not what we want it to be -- make it better,” she says.

Mostyn decided she should first dig into the site’s metrics to identify steps in the purchasing process that might prevent a visitor from converting into a customer. What she found and how she fixed it resulted in big gains for GigglePrint.

Here are the steps Mostyn took to boost conversions:


->Step #1: Get in-depth reliable metrics

Mostyn used metrics to learn about customers’ on-site behavior. Working with GigglePrint’s IT team and a provider, she analyzed a score of metrics. Most important for her was the ability to segment website visitors in two ways:

Segment #1: By the steps visitors took, by page, toward purchasing

Mostyn could see the percentage of visitors who:
o Logged in
o Went to the shopping cart
o Selected shipping
o Entered payment information
o Clicked to final preview

Segment #2: By the steps visitors took, by conversion-type, toward purchasing

Mostyn could see the percentage of visitors who:
o Browsed - looked at products
o Shopped - added products to a cart
o Bought - purchased a product
o Bought x2 - purchased more than one product

->Step #2: Set up a click path for analysis

Mostyn was most concerned with converting visitors into buyers. Since every customer must create an account and login before viewing a cart or purchasing, she started the click path at the customer login page. The path ended with the final preview of a purchase.

The click-path analysis gave all visitors to the login page 100% at the start and reported the percent who continued on to the next steps. At the login page, users had a choice: login or click to the homepage, creating an optional step.

Here’s the path:
- Step 1: Login
- Step 2: Go to the homepage or go to shopping cart
- Step 3: Select shipping
- Step 4: Select payment information
- Step 5: Final preview

->Step #3: Look for big drops

Mostyn and her team looked for the spots where a high percentage of visitors abandoned the process. Here are the percentages of visitors moving to the next steps:
-Step 1: Login page 100.0%
-Step 2: Homepage 51.63%
-Step 2: Shopping cart 37.01%
-Step 3: Shipping 32.51%
-Step 4: Payment 24.15%
-Step 5: Final preview 17.64%

The percentages showed that more than half of the visitors at the login page moved to the homepage. That did not seem right to Mostyn and her team.

They also found that almost 44% of visitors who went from the login page to the homepage left the site entirely. They estimated the potential sales loss represented by those departures by analyzing their purchase history. They decided it was too much and investigated further.

->Step #4: Uncover the cause

Mostyn and her team went back to the login page to try to uncover why so many people ended up on the homepage. It did not take them long to recognize the problem.

When returning customers entered their usernames and passwords, they were promptly taken to a cross-sell landing page. When new customers logged in, however, they were dropped on the homepage.

In short, this technical glitch took new customers from the online cash register and placed them outside the front door.

->Step #5: Move customers to cross-sell page

Working with the IT team, Mostyn was able to direct new customers from the login page to the same cross-sell page that GigglePrint had been using for old customers – instead of the homepage.

That cross-sell page offered four related products and accessories dynamically chosen based on other customers’ purchases and the design elements of the selected product. Mostyn and her team did not have to create a new cross-sell page to boost conversions; they just had to make sure every customer saw that page.


The change immediately lifted overall sales on the site – 43.4% more visitors started buying, Mostyn says.

“We were ecstatic. Obviously, you try and increase site conversion and make it the best possible experience for a visitor, and you hope for little gains. But to see huge gains like this, double-digit gains -- that’s huge,” she says.

Here are the click-path percentages for all visitors after the change:
-Step 1: Login page 100.0%
-Step 2: Homepage 17.47%
-Step 2: Shopping cart 44.76%
-Step 3: Shipping 38.73%
-Step 4: Payment 28.37%
-Step 5: Final preview 19.97%

A conversion analysis for new visitors produced these figures:
o 6.5% Increase in browsing
o 25.5% Increase in shopping
o 12.6% Increase in buying

Useful links related to this article:

GigglePrint Creative Samples:

Coremetrics: GigglePrint’s analytics partner

Custom Direct

See Also:

Comments about this Case Study

Feb 23, 2009 - Daniel of Witheld says:
I'm just about to go live with an online biz and it's encoraging to see that leading customers in the right direction online can increase sales by over 12%. Is it not however common sense to test, tweak, test and then retest before during and after site goes live? I'm about to set up my shopping cart and will have a number of test buyers and repeat customers (friends etc) give me feedback before I launch my site at the very least ensure that it functions in the correct order. Not testing would be akin to not ensuring the shop door opened?

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