Your "Must Know" Ecommerce Metrics

Web Analytics can be an amazing technology, but also a highly under-utilized one. Complex deployments and integrations frequently leave business users befuddled. Without dedicated staff to analyze, analytics packages more often than not collect dust.

This brief is focused on outlining the 7 most important web metrics to monitor within your eCommerce business and what to look for as it relates to your website’s performance.

Bounce rate

First on our list is the most important metric you will encounter: bounce rate. Think of bounce rate as a first impression. The definition of bounce rate is the percentage of users that leave your website after only viewing the initial page that was presented.

Bounce rate is so vital because it provides details into how you initially message your value proposition to the customer or prospect. It provides a cue to also help you identify performance issues with your site that may be causing the inflation the metric.

Bounce rates vary by industry, but eCommerce businesses should focus on getting the metric below 30%. Especially important within paid search campaigns, bounce rate will provide valuable cues into which product assortments and promotions at the category and sub-category levels of your taxonomy are doing well. This knowledge can be leveraged across the business in other categories and implemented via multi-variate testing deployments.

Email Capture Ratio

The next metric you want to track is your email capture ratio. As an online business, you probably sell some type of tangible product or service in which you monitor orders or completed information forms. Most businesses monitor their standard conversion rate, but few businesses frequently monitor their email capture rate and take a proactive approach to increasing.

With eCommerce conversion rates yet to eclipse an average of 3%, 97% of users who come to your store are leaving without buying something. Just because they are leaving however does not mean they are not interested in communicating on some level with your business. By gaining an initial step of trust through the capture of an email address, you are not only increasing the size of your house list for future marketing but you are also building a relationship with your customer and can win their business by providing them solutions to their lives.

Strive for a 7-10% email capture rate and place the sign up tool prominent in the header. Too many businesses bury their sign up tool and do not leverage rich applications that can use browser technologies such as ajax to expand a capture field over standard text in an overlay fashion.

Number of non-branded organic keywords

Make sure you look at number of monthly non-branded organic search keywords. When monitoring SEO performance, you need to first strip out the branded terms that correlate with your business. Thats traffic that you would have received without effective SEO. Then look to the number of remaining keywords that were utilized to make up the balance of the remaining natural search visits.

Why is this important? Because SEO is driven from the long tail. Sure, core SEO terms are nice but you need to capture the 4 and 5 word queries that make up the majority of Google queries each day. Long tail placements are achieved through proper site architecture and quality targeted content. Simply put, the more terms that people are using to find you, the better your site is doing in content development. Aim for a 5% to 10% increase each month within non-branded search keywords as you structure your SEO campaigns.

Shopping Cart to Checkout “Step 1″ Progression Rate

Our next metric directly correlates to the transactional process. Make sure you monitor your direct progression percentage from the shopping cart to checkout step 1. See how many of your users are bailing for price shopping and/or they see a promo code box on your site and they are going hunting for one. This type of behavior dramatically impacts your conversion rate and overall profits and steps should be taken to measure and reduce.

Consider adding the promo box at the end of the transaction for non-affiliate sessions in order to reduce leakage. Use a cookie from an affiliate or potentially a URL to trigger two versions of the cart page. By incorporating checkout abandonment tools that re-market via email, and aggressive banners both internally and externally to try and re-capture the lost transaction, eCommerce businesses can pull prospects back in the sales funnel.

Browser and Resolution Percentages

Dont forget about looking at Browser/Resolution percentages (types and sizes) when scaling your eCommerce business. Lace face it, when you sell online you are in the “looks professional…is professional” world and goo design can make even the smallest retailer seem large. If your build your site and it breaks in Safari (Mac’s browser), or the navigation breaks on Firefox 3.5 on a PC, you essentially shoot yourself in the foot.

Look at the varied browsers and resolutions that are being used to view your website. Conduct full cross-browser testing, on varied platforms, to fully notice any potential usability problems that arrive.

Average number of cross/up sells added per visit

If you are an eCommerce business, you already know that intelligent merchandising is a crucial key to success. A primary metric to help you understand performance within online merchandising is that of average cross/up sells added per visit.

This datapoint associates to your cross sell tools that integrate at the product and the cart level and measures the average number of cross-sells added to the cart per visit. The number will provide details into the effectiveness of your product recommendations and if the recommended products are actively engaging and persuading customers.

It is tough to provide a benchmark statistic for this metric since products can vary so greatly in terms of pricepoint. But look at your historical performance and consider automating this component through algorithmic third party solutions.

Real Estate Management Fees

The property investor has decided to hire a management company to take care of their many properties. They interview several before making a decision on the company they will hire. There are many things they will be comparing, among them the real estate management fee the company charges. The investor needs to determine whether they want to pay a monthly percentage or a flat fee for the managers services.

Investors should look at more than the monthly fee they will be paying. Sometimes for a higher percentage you will receive more services. The cheaper rate of some managers does not include the extra fees charged. Find out if the advertising is included in the normal fee. Will they be charging each time they show the property to a potential client? Are their leasing fees on top of the management fees? The investor should read each companies contract to determine what is included in their real estate management fee.

A real estate management fee is charged based on a percentage of income collected with a minimum monthly base fee. Fees will often vary by the type and size of the property. Fees can be a flat rate for a single family home or 6 percent of the rental income for larger properties. Larger properties typically command a lower percentage rate (ie, 2 percent) than a single family home that may be quoted up to10 percent. Fees are negotiated on a per property basis and depend on many factors including condition, location and size of the property, etc. Leasing and other auxiliary service fees are separate and in addition to the management fee.

The investor should ask what services cost extra. They should determine if evictions are an extra fee. The contract should state how and when the fee is collected. Will the investor be billed or is it deducted from your account? On a monthly or quarterly basis? Is there a cost to prep the units for rent? And what is the typical cleaning fee on vacancies?

A management company fulfills many services for the investor. The company takes care of the daily activities of renting the property, collecting rents, accounting and monthly statements, hire contractors for services such as cleaning, groundskeepers and maintenance work as well as supervise any work. The real estate management fee the investor pays provides them with peace of mind.

The investor has interviewed several companies and found the fees are close in range with a few exceptions. They decide to further investigate each companys contract and references. By comparing all the services and getting good referrals, the investor can make an informed choice.

Interviewing the management company to determine the real estate management fee that charge is the first step to hiring a reliable company. The final cost the investor will pay the management company is determined by many things as well as the monthly fee. How well the company communicates with the investor and tenants, how they handle problems, their attention to detail in the leasing process and their ability to maintain the property in good condition all determine the investors final costs on each property.

Hiring a good management company helps the investor rent his property faster and provide preventive maintenance before problems become major repairs and expenses. The investor should look at more than the initial monthly fees when determining how much it will actually cost them if they go with the cheapest company.

Affiliate Marketing: How to Capitalize on The Growing Digital Economy

In today's world, as long as you have an internet connection and a laptop or smart device, you can build an online business around your interests and run your business from anywhere in the world. You can begin your online journey while going through a step by step training process that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to in order to build your own flourishing online business without the necessity to create a product of your own.

Becoming an effective affiliate marketer understands learning how to generate traffic, build highly targeted subscriber lists, communicate with prospective clients, build websites, and promote high-quality products numerous all media platforms that range from low to high-ticket. Many affiliate programs available provide training that focuses on developing these skills, which will provide all the necessary ingredients for success as a digital entrepreneur in any market.

Utilizing the digital business systems can get you the most up-to-date marketing education, world-class product funnel, state-of-the-art tools, technical support and access to a helpful community to get yourself on track with your business And building your ideal lifestyle. The best part is there is no limit to the number of companies or products you can market. Once you learn the basics, you are free to choose what, where and how you want to advertise.

The education modules provided in more valuable affiliate programs are designed to be practical, hands-on and bite-sized. In order to make learning fun and actionable, each step is clearly explained and supported is available every step of the way. You should expect to benefit from the advise of experienced business system specialists and marketing experts. There is always someone available accessible to help you with along your journey. In every aspect of your training, you'll receive the tools and guidance to improve your mindset and scale your business, giving you significant momentum.

Some of the benefits of the best affiliate programs are as follows:

(1.) Step-By-Step Training: An intensive supply of video tutorials, downloadable reports and training resources focused on online marketing and building internet-based businesses.

(2.) Personal Business Consultant: A professional digital entrepreneur who will serve you every step of the way and act as a guide for you, so that you can build your new business or scale your existing business stress-free.

(3.) Live Webinars: Video-based conferences along with excellent technical support that are organized to ensure you are kept up to date on the latest strategies, trends and events regarding internet marketing.

(4.) Exclusive Members-Only Community: People just like you from every part of the globe who are at various stages of developing their own internet-based business, as well as expert digital entrepreners and various internet marketers that provide a support system for One another to help us all achieve our goals.

(5.) Ready-To-Use Digital Platform: A ready, but customizable set of tools and services that include, but are not limited to: website building, web hosting, graphics builder, report creator, tracking software and pre-designed Landing and sales pages.

(6.) Proven Sales Funnel: An integrated product suite that will allow you to start marketing from day one. This way you can generate income without having to create your own product if you choose not to.

As you implement and master your marketing skills, you will be able to gain time-freedom, you'll enter the world of self-employed and self-reliant entrepreneurs, and will have complete control over your life.

Naturally, business results will vary based on the individual. The goal of these digital business systems is to help you get quality education, access to the cutting-edge online business system and tools that will help you get started in growing your online business, but the time and effort you exert will determine your success level . You and you alone are responsible for your achievements.

We are passionate about helping people reach their goals, so we're giving away a free online-business video tutorial series to introduce you to the world of internet marketing and kickstart your education. This video series is the most effective educational model and affiliate program we have come across, and is the same one we used to begin our online journey.

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.