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May 16, 2006
Case Study

How to Get BizRate Survey Takers to Buy More From Your Site (Plus 4 More Ecommerce Boosters)

SUMMARY: Looking for ways to improve your eretail conversion rates?

Test sending a special email offer to people who fill out a BizRate survey -- yes, the ones who love you and the ones who are mad as heck.

This is just one of five quick fixes one clever ecommerce marketer used to raise conversions 56%, all based on site analytics. More info, plus creative samples here.
Jay Shaffer, VP Marketing and, knew he had problems when he came on board:  Instead of browsing, a significant number of visitors were entering manufacturers’ SKUs into the internal search, suggesting that much of the traffic was price shopping.

Potential customers weren’t interested in specials on the two ecommerce sites. They just wanted to know the cost of a bed or other piece of furniture.

Shaffer had two challenges:
a. How to turn site visitors into buyers.
b. How to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers.

Even with his boss wanting results lifted ASAP, Shaffer still waited 90 days. Why? Because he brought on an analytics provider so he could gather and sort through three months of data. (This is a MarketingSherpa best practice.)

After studying the reports, he came up with five quick fixes to show his company how powerful analytics can be, each one touching a different step in the buying funnel:

-> Buying funnel quick fix #1. Retool left-hand navigation

Digging into the data, Shaffer looked at sales of products versus most popular pages and found that one of the most better-performing categories was lost at the bottom of the navigation bar: bedroom collections. Out of order, the category had been added after the original navigation was set up and was now under “Accents” in the lineup.

Shaffer also discovered that platform beds were one of the most popular products sold but not one of the top pages clicked. He realized it wasn’t listed on the left nav bar, so he added it.

-> Buying funnel quick fix #2. Revamp the category pages

Another area of contention was wasted clicks on the category page. Previously, the photos on the category pages were small -- about the size of a postage stamp -- and somewhat misleading.

When a visitor clicked to the product page, they might see that the bed had a leather inset in the headboard that wasn't visible in the thumbnail. If they weren’t interested, they were stuck clicking back to the category page -- two wasted clicks.

So Shaffer increased the size of the thumbnails. A visitor can still click to the product detail page to see a larger photo, but the photos on the category pages were now large enough to give an accurate idea of what the product looked like.

-> Buying funnel quick fix #3. Revamp the product pages

To get an enlarged view of the product, a customer previously had to click on the words, Zoom 1, Zoom 2 and Zoom 3. There was no picture to give an idea of what the detail in the zoom photo was, which again could result in wasted clicks. Shaffer added small images next to the words.

To get to product details such as the dimensions of a bed, a customer had to click on another box. Shaffer made it all readily available on the product page without the extra click. He also turned the copy into bullet points to make the reading easier.

-> Buying funnel quick fix #4. Add special “contact us” discount

On the product pages, Shaffer added a discount tied to a new “Contact us” link. When a visitor clicked that link from a specific product page, a new window would open pre-populated with that item. It might read, "I have a question about your Plateau Platform Bed." The window included a form with space for a name, telephone number and email address.

Below that, a fill-in box allowed the visitor to type in the question (see sample below). Within 24 hours, the visitor received an emailed answer to the question -- along with a 5% discount. The email read: 

"As our way of saying thanks for your
interest in one of our products, we are
including a special offer for a 5% savings
along with the answer to you question!"

-> Buying funnel quick fix #5. Add post-purchase survey discount offer

"If someone takes the time to fill out a response, whether it's good or bad, they must have cared about you enough to sit there, even to lash out at you," Shaffer says. "This is not a prospect. It's a paying customer, so it's a ripe opportunity."

That’s why he added a 5% discount coupon onto a text-only thank-you email to customers who filled out a BizRate survey (see sample below):

"Dear Customer, Thank you for taking the
time to share your comments in a recent
BizRate post-transaction survey -- we
sincerely appreciate your feedback!"

The discount, which was good for the next 30 days, could be redeemed online or by telephone with a coupon code.


Conversion rates increased 56% for the two sites thanks to these five quick fixes Shaffer implemented.

Plus, 20% of those who received the thank-you email after filling out the BizRate survey placed a subsequent order using the code.

By moving the bedroom category to the top of the nav bar, DirectlyHome saw an immediate jump in conversions.

Platform bed sales have increased 300% since adding them to the left-hand nav bar, and the number of platform bed items in the 50 top-selling items has increased from seven entries to 19.

Shaffer’s work isn’t done. Next up is to refine his online search capability. With any site, "the most important thing is to get people to the product, and when you get them there you get the presentation perfect. I've got the last part down. Now I've got to get to the first part."

Useful links related to this article:

Samples of DirectlyHome’s two discount emails:

Omniture, the analytics package used by and

Mercado, the e-commerce search and merchandising system Shaffer is putting into place:



Note: is a member of, a forum for retailing online executives to share information, lessons-learned, new perspectives, insights and intelligence. More info at

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