Conversion matters but what about blog comments?

I’ve been emphasizing how important it is to constantly track and look at how you can optimise your conversion rates on your ecommerce sites. You can imagine how Amazon tracks their daily conversion metrics and are constantly tweaking their site to optimise their conversion ratio. Even a fraction of a percentage point improvement would, in their case, deliver a huge difference to the bottom line.

Give plenty of choice when customer wants to first redeem an offer
It was a welcome find to discover an article from Econsultancy on this important topic of “How to boost conversions by increasing motivation”. The US research they talk about emphasizes the importance of choice in how people take up offers at the early stage.  However it’s best not to confuse potential customers with too many options once they are well on their way to redeeming an offer or using their loyalty points to make a purchase.

Reduce choices as customers move to final purchase stage  
So timing and the type of message at each stage in the customer journey is so important to that all important activity – did they complete their transaction or not? Clear navigation is also key to make sure clients know where they are in the buy process at any time and how many steps they have left before completion.

Sadly there are still too many travel companies which have not tested the usability of their website and customers leave their sites empty handed. In addition providing links away from the booking path are not recommended as they are likely to distract the visitor from completing their booking. This is especially true for those sites using Google maps which could easily take the booker to another site.

Pop ups – do they have a place?
I’m of the opinion that it makes sense to ask customers a question before they click away from an abandoned shopping basket.  However there are those who object to any kind of pop up screen as they believe it hinders usability. What’s your view?

A welcome home and reviews matter
We are now more informed as to how social channels can have a very positive impact on buying decisions in travel, especially at the early stage of deciding where to go. We also know that when a customer returns from a trip they are most able to influence the decision of their friends and family as to where they plan to travel.

We also know that on their return they are also likely to be thinking about where they want to go next. Sadly few travel companies (except booking.com and a few others) have picked up on this opportunity so have not spent time welcoming their customers home and making it easy for them to share their travel experiences directly or on those all important review sites like Trip Advisor and Review Centre. We know that reviews also assist conversion as they build trust.

Do comments matter?
I’ve had a number of discussions over the years with bloggers on the topic of comments and to what extent they will help your user experience and search engine rankings. The theory goes that the more your web visitors interact with your content the more the search engines take that as an indication of content worth listing higher than other content.

However with many companies paying individuals to spam blogs with useless comments and the filtering tools not really doing a great job of sifting them out, some blogs such as 501places.com have decided to switch them off.

My current view is that comments and social plugins showing how many readers have shared the content are very helpful to a reader to show popular content and many blogs list them in order of the volume of comments received.

The age of social sign ins
I think that social sign ins will become more popular for readers as long as sites respect their privacy and do not ask for too many access rights during the initial sign on process. 

Social sign ins bring a more personal dialogue to add value to blogs and you can see how this is used to good effect on blogs such as Techcrunch where comments cannot be made under bogus identities. Using a social ID creates a higher value interaction which also has the added benefit of showing up in the Facebook user’s newsfeed giving added visibility to their comments.

Confusing personal and business Facebook interactions
The one issue of this approach is for those people using one Facebook identity for their personal and business interactions. They may not wish to show their business interactions with their family and social mates

What do you think?
Have comments had their day? Do they add value to your blogs?
Have they made a difference to your search engine rankings?

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