…that’s a question often asked of business owners but, equally as often, answered incorrectly.

We have a very nice client who has had some significant challenges with her website developers who created her new website.

She’s in retail, and the new website is an e-commerce site.

On the face of it, the site is excellent, and the product images are very well shot and presented.

We were called in to drive traffic to the site and measure accurately which source, keyword or ad had done its job and created a sale. Not only that, we would be able to attribute actual sales volume to exactly where our client’s customer entered the marketing funnel and show this and other KPI data on one of our custom designed dynamic, live dashboards.

Using this dashboard means our client would be able to see all this information at a glance on her desktop.

You see, our job is not digital marketing.

We use a lot of fancy tools, but our job is to provide paying customers for this client and provide her with a method of seeing every metric in real time that she needs to understand where to invest her marketing budget. 

Measuring who buys and where they came from in paid traffic marketing is known as first click attribution. However, not everyone buys on their first visit to the website, and it may take an email or seven or a direct mail campaign to encourage the prospect to buy.

We also measure that – this is known as (most) recent click attribution. What was the last marketing pillar that should be credited for the purchase?

So, all was well – or was it?

Well, the first thing we noticed when we tried to make a test purchase on the website was that the checkout process was riddled with barriers. These obstacles were confirmed when we used website monitoring software to record website visitors’ mouse movements. We could see visitors struggling at the checkout process – we could see they had products in their basket – they just couldn’t find a way to purchase them.

Of course, some visitors gave up at the first sign of a challenge; some were determined to buy, and so made multiple attempts at surmounting the barrier. Some eventually made it to the end of the process and, to a soundtrack of George Frideric Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, provided credit card details, but most simply gave up.

In fact, we established that she had 143 cart abandons totalling nearly £24K in product value over the previous eight weeks. Now, cart abandons are part and parcel of e-commerce and disinclination on the part of the purchaser is always possible, but we can be confident that the clear majority of the 143 abandons were caused by the barriers placed in front of the potential buyers.

If the site developers were in bricks and mortar, we had the equivalent of them building and shop fitting a beautiful retail store, putting the finest products on the shelves and then opening the doors to the buying public.

Visitors flocked to the new store and started putting things in their baskets. The only challenge? When they got to the till it was locked and the credit card machine was broken– there was just no way the shop assistants could take money from the eager shoppers.

And so they left empty handed, mystified by the fact that they had visited a beautiful store filled full of exactly the products they were looking for, but they just couldn’t buy anything.

Back to our digital store…

What had gone wrong? Well, it was simple. The web designers saw their role as being one of producing a beautiful e-commerce site. And they did that. Trouble was they didn’t understand that building a beautiful site was not their real task.

The real task was to create a website that made it easy for visitors to provide their credit card details and purchase product. That had to be their number one focus. Sadly, it wasn’t

Ask business owners what is it that they do? And they’ll tell you they are accountants, plumbers, website designers et al.

But that’s not what they do. Nobody wants an accountant – what they want is for their accounts to be presented in proper order to HMRC, account properly for taxes and remain compliant. If the accountant does that, then the business owner can sleep well. So, what accountants do is ensure their clients have a good night’s sleep.

None of us needs a plumber – but we do need a leaking tap fixed. In this instance, what the plumber does is remove the annoyance of a constantly dripping tap.

If we’re in retail, none of us needs an e-commerce website, but we do need an internet platform that allows us to take cash from eager buyers.

  • You sell solutions to needs
  • Your products and services are not the solutions, though. They are just a means to an end
  • People buy the benefit or result that your product or service gives them

It’s crucial that you focus on the solutions that you sell and not on the products or services that deliver them.

So, think again about exactly what it is you do. Then do exactly that.

David Browne

Author: David Browne

David Browne’s Google AdWords campaigns have been described by the big cheeses at Google HQ as an “art form” – which would make David an artist. David honed his skills at the helm of the very successful Scottish Shutter Company, but having handed over the reins to his daughter and son-in-law he now runs his own digital marketing consultancy and is a co-founder of Barefoot Digital.