"It was shocking," Philip Krim, Marketer for The Sleep Better Store told me. "We really, really loved our site redesign. We were impressed with it. I was hoping for an immediate 20-30% sales jump. But, it was flat, if not declining."
Krim had based his site revamp on what his vastly bigger competitors were doing online. He figured since they had more experience and gargantuan advertising budgets, they must know what they were doing. So he tried to steal smart.
Luckily he watched his Web metrics like crazy. His average sales cycle is 60-90-days, and 80% of site-generated sales come in via the phone. But, within just a few days Krim knew by watching visitor click paths and site abandonment rates that the new design was a failure.
With help from Michael Behrens at WebMetro, Krim whipped up a new site in just two weeks. The funny thing is, he doesn't like the new site as much at all. It's far simpler and even less professional-looking. Beautiful images and a heavily detailed navigation bar have been replaced by non-descript text-links.
But potential customers -- boomers looking to spend over $2000 on a new bed -- love it. Total monthly sales doubled, and search-driven clicks converted 500% better than before.
The moral of the story: don't assume your competitor's Web site is better designed than yours, even if it looks prettier. And watch your metrics like a hawk.
By the way, Krim also asked me to tell you he's discovered for high-price items such as beds, that consumers tend to research heavily online prior to buying, your paid search position doesn't matter. A #1 position won't really outpull #3 because folks in research mode often work their way carefully down the results list, clicking on absolutely everything.
Again, it's your site that counts -- it's all about conversions.
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