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Empty Calories

1. When a shopper walks into a brick-and-mortar store in their head they’ve pre-allocated time and money investment.  The same phenomenon happens online.

2. Etailer X launched his site in 2003 with 37 pages.  These included product pages, category pages, checkout pages, shipping info, return policy, about us and newsletter sign-up.  With time etailer X learns more about ecommerce and adds a few more pages and widgets (like shipping calculator on product page).  He receives feedback from customers and adds more content on product pages.  He attends a marketing conference, makes a ton of notes and ends up adding pages like customer testimonials, press page, specials page, privacy policy, affiliates page, pop-up homepage offers, etc.  His site now as 75 pages and widgets.  Not only that but pages are getting longer- the product pages have bloated content, return policy page has a growing list of conditions, etc.  Since the initial content was a labor of love it’s hard for etailer X to remove it.  As time goes by more pages and widgets get added (Twitter, Facebook, top sellers, product comparison, etc.).

In point 1 we said shoppers pre-allocate a fixed amount of time and money investment.  This time investment hasn’t increased even though site content has.  The fact is many of these pages and widgets add very little value; some even subtract value through site Exits.  One way to determine the value of a page or widget is by looking at its $ Index (definition).  Pages with extremely low $ Index are like empty calories, they’re no good and should be pruned/tweaked.  If you’ve been adding new content to product pages you can gauge new content effectiveness by studying look-to-book ratio (how many saw product Y page versus units of Y sold) trends.  If look-to-book ratio of the old page is lower that would indicate freshly added content is hurting conversions.  Note: be sure to look at a long enough time horizon when doing such analysis.

I know you love your site, I know it’s a labor of love, but these empty calories are killing conversions.


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