Figuring Out Your Ecommerce Sales Cycle

- May 22, 2008

Today’s post is all about something that every single business man or woman should already know – their sales cycle. As soon as you read “sales cycle”, a number, an amount, or some percentage should have immediately popped up in your head, that corresponds to the amount of time it takes your customers to buy things from you.

It’s imperative that you know what your sales cycle is! You need to know this so that you can:

  • Gain a further level of insight with your customers / shoppers
  • Understand what makes your customers “tick”
  • Learn what it is about your products / landing pages / messaging that encourages your customers make that impulse or that “on-the-spot” purchase
  • Discover what the best ways are for you to market to your audience
  • Find out (through testing) what works, what doesn’t, and what you need to do

That sounds like a list of bullet points for a seminar or a conference presentation, but knowing your sales cycle – and how you can shake things up – helps answer a lot of questions that you may not have known the answers to.

But let’s say that you don’t really know what your sales cycle is. That’s OK – your secret is safe with me. Besides, your sales cycle is always changing, isn’t it? You’re testing different marketing messages, different shipping offers, and different “Add to Cart” buttons, and all of these things affect your Visitor Loyalty, and when Visitors purchase stuff, don’t they? Of course they do!

Google Analytics, being the rock star that it is, has thrown in a few Visitor Loyalty reports within its interface that can help you keep track of how long and after how many visits people are buying things from your online store. If you have my favorite Web Analytics program (and if you don’t, why not?), log-in and visit your Ecommerce reports section. At the bottom of the list of reports you will find links to a “Visits to Purchase” report and a “Days to Purchase” report.

These two reports are great, especially when compared to a previous date-range. You can use this report in conjunction with other marketing or Ecommerce reports, and really get a much deeper understanding of how your online business is doing.

A couple of notes: Generally speaking, the lower the cost of your items, the faster your sales cycle. People will usually buy sneakers / hats / ipods after one or two visits. Things like flights, cruises, resort packages, and to an extent, membership applications, will have a much slower sales and ecommerce cycle than your material goods counterparts. Most people will do a lot of research and comparison shopping first, before they pull the trigger on a flight to Japan from the United States, so that they can get the best deal possible. This sometimes takes a few more visits and days than buying a t-shirt or a new CD (Do people even buy CD’s anymore? :)).

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