Conversion rate optimization and stuffed turkey might not seem to have much in common, but for the past two years I’ve managed to combine them in what is now a traditional Thanksgiving blog post here on the Marketing Optimization Blog.
It started out innocently enough, at a wedding in Canada in 2008 a young lady asked me if I had ever heard of turducken. I had not, but I quickly Googled it and found that a turducken is a turkey that has been de-boned and had a duck stuffed inside it, followed by a chicken and a more traditional stuffing. The whole thing is then roasted in the oven.
The conversion rate optimization connection arose when I decided to search online and see if I could buy one of these turduckens for our 2008 Thanksgiving dinner. The Google results that I got in November of 2008 indicated that there were several suppliers promising the best turducken at the best prices. But the pages I arrived at when clicking those links, even the sponsored links, were quite disappointing. Some landing pages did not even show me a turducken, preferring to show me a variety of other food products. (I can’t imagine a real-world storekeeper saying: “Looking for turducken? Try our alligator sausages” but I was getting a virtual version of that.)
I put my 2008 experience down to a variety of factors, the most forgivable being a lack of maturity in the seasonal food sector of online retailing, but the most important being a basic disconnect between traffic acquisition and traffic conversion. Allow me to explain. Online retailing typically evolves like this:
- Put up a site.
- Wait for people to find your site.
- Encourage people to find your site (SEO).
- Pay to get people to come to your site (PPC and display ads, affiliates, etc.).
- Make sure the people who come to your site find what they are looking for.
Too often we see an online store stuck at stage 4. That can mean people are seeing the site in search results and ads but when they get there they don’t see what they are looking for. This usually happens because the site owner has ramped up efforts to get people to the site (traffic acquisition) but neglected to make the most of that traffic (conversion rate optimization).
At stage 4, the site owner may be getting bullish traffic reports showing the site is now clocking way more visitors and page views than it did before a bunch of money was spent on SEO, PPC, etc. However, the conversion rate is likely to be average at best. Too often the site settles for average when just a little more effort could produce way better than average results; for example, making the effort to ensure that clicking an ad for turducken leads to a page featuring turducken, and removing turducken from the keywords on pages that don’t directly relate to turducken.
Of course, you can go further than this, like popping up a “turducken special” on your site when someone arrives there from a search for turducken. The special need not be a giveway, it could be a customer testimonial, or a message assuring the shopper that your turduckens come with a guarantee of satisfaction. And in case it is not obvious, all of this advice applies to just about anything you are trying to sell on line, not just a chicken full of stuffing stuffed inside a duck that’s inside a turkey.
As for 2010, I am happy to report that the annual turducken quest was a very satisfying one. Every vendor who appeared above the fold in Google took me to a page where I could select the turducken of my choice. In the end I chose the Louisiana Crawfish Company and opted for La Boucherie’s Dirty Rice Turducken, a 15-pounder. That’s the “bird” you can see at the top of the post, just out of the oven. It arrived within a day or so of ordering, frozen and packed in a big cooler. The instructions were detailed and following them produced a delicious result. However, it was also a massive result in terms of meat, enough to feed a family of 12 and still have leftovers (ours served 3 people on Thanksgiving and has been feeding a family of 2 for 4 days with no end in sight). Turducken might not be for everyone, but anyone who goes online to search for one is likely to find what they are looking for.