The Project

Working with a metal cutting supplies company, we made some changes to their main online store. When taking the assignment, online sales had been on a steady decline for the last 3 years and had reached an all-time low. The main goal was profitable sales growth.

The Timeframe

6 months. I took ownership of the project, effective December 14th, 2015. The first 2 weeks mostly consisted of research, so my measurable start date was January 1st, 2016. The project lasted until June 30th, 2016.

What we did over the next 6 months…

Research: Conducted user research, through a variety of methods including email and phone interviews. Provided front-line customer service to understand the customer and get first-hand experience.

Analysis: Utilized the eCommerce platform’s back-end analytics. This platform provides snapshots of various metrics that we leveraged to make decisions. We were able to keep close track of what indicators were moving and when.

Email Marketing: The company had a Constant Contact account set-up, but it was underutilized (averaging 1 email/year). So, we created a small collection of action-triggered email follow-up series. We tied the Constant Contact API into the BigCommerce platform to set these series to auto-trigger. Examples of follow-up campaigns: welcome packet after a purchase (giving access to informational resources). Abandoned cart notification with a 10% off coupon (for new customers). And 30-day follow-up emails asking them how the product is working and seeing if they need any more. Customers who purchased specific types of products would be placed on different product-oriented lists.

Paid Ads: First off, we set up conversion tracking. Next, we optimized for CTR and CPC. After tracking these for a while, we found a few interesting stats:

  1. When customers clicked directly to the e-commerce website, they were unlikely to convert.
  2. Referral traffic from the company’s main website was much more likely to convert.
  3. Visitors who came to the main website through Google Ads and were referred to the ecommerce site had the highest conversion rates.

So, we funneled the budget more towards ads that would focus on prospects who were “ready to buy.” And brought them to the places with the highest conversion rates.

UX: When the website was built, 5 years prior, the tools available were not as advanced or powerful. It had a rather complicated shopping UX, with several repetitive steps. I took this 8-step process, over the course of 4 pages, and simplified it down to a 2-page process with 4 steps. There was a similar issue with the checkout UX: multiple pages, repetitive information input, etc. This was a main factor leading to the astronomical cart abandonment rate (96-98% abandoned). The other main factor leading to the high abandonment rate was the payment options. To improve this aspect, we simplified the checkout process to a 1-page checkout and added the option to pay credit card directly on the page.

The Results

Over the course of those 6 months, we implemented all the above items plus several other, smaller initiatives. The results that we got from our efforts beat the estimates and goals that we had set. During the 6-month period, we saw the following KPI changes:

  • Revenue +104.6%
  • Conversion Rate +775%
  • AOV +54.08%
  • Cart Abandonment -27.2%

All the initiatives we ran to increase these numbers only brought up expenses by a nominal amount. We achieved these results mainly by re-allocating current budgets and utilizing tools that were already being paid for.

Tools & skills used

  • eCommerce Analysis
  • Analyzing Metrics/KPI’s for actionable insights
  • Conversion tracking and optimization
  • Paid Ad Management (creation, analysis, and optimization)
    • Google AdWords
    • Bing Ads
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Researching, analyzing, and writing industry-specific copy
  • Content Creation/SEO
  • Email marketing campaign creation
  • Marketing Strategy and Planning
  • Team Collaboration

Comments or questions? Place them in the comments below.