Conversion Tip: Avoid One Night Stands

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Jade Hark
on 23/4/10

Following on from Guy’s post about conversion rate optimisation, I thought it would be interesting to look at websites with high conversion rates and have a look into why they are doing so well. I stumbled across this list of the top 10 converting websites in the USA according to Nielsen, a leading marketing and media information company (percentages given are conversion rates):

1.  Schwan’s (food) 41.7 percent
2. ProFlowers (flowers) 26.5 percent
3. (health and nutrition) 24.0 percent
4. Woman Within (catalog/clothing) 22.4 percent
5. (catalog/clothing) 20.5 percent
6. Lands’ End (catalog/clothing) 19.5 percent
7. (pet supplies) 18.6 percent
8. Office Depot (office) 18.4 percent
9. Roaman’s (catalog/clothing) 18.4 percent
10. QVC (jewelry) 18.3 percent

Schwan's - Kings of Conversion

If you take a closer look into why these particular websites are converting so well the results are perhaps a little surprising  and have been summed up by Charles Nicholls, of SeeWhy Inc, a leading remarketing agency:  ‘The top 10 conversion leaders don’t care about one night stands; they want long term relationships.’ So there we have it. No one night stands with your customers, ok?

Long Term Relationships

One of the main things that stands out when you delve a little deeper into what these sites are doing that others aren’t, and what Charles Nicholls was getting at, is that these sites are not optimising for those who want to go into a website, not have to register, quickly whack in their details then leave.

These websites are optimising instead for repeat purchases, making it perhaps a little harder for the customer to make their first purchase due to lengthier sign ups. Once you‘re registered however, these sites make it a piece of cake to buy from them again. This may lose them a little ‘one night stand’ type business in the process, but as you can see from their conversion rates this is more than made up for by the repeat conversions they receive.


Another major reason thought to be behind the conversion rate success of these websites is that they all use e-mail remarketing. They do this by sending an e-mail out to customers who have been flirting with the idea of making a purchase but have not ‘sealed the deal’ by completing a purchase. This has obviously proved to be a successful strategy for these companies and increased their conversion rate. Interestingly Google have just launched their own Adwords remarketing feature, see Robs post about this for more information.

Making Online Shopping Engaging

Slick and easy to use ordering systems seem to be the order of the day too. Below is a screenshot of the ProFlowers website. What they are trying to do here is sell you a vase by enabling you to see what the flowers would look like in a selection of different vases. This is also a technique which the clothing websites in the top 10 use, by showing you different colours etc. The point here is that this makes shopping with these sites a lot more engaging for the customer, and they are more likely to come back for more as well as buying a few extra products they didn’t know they needed along the way.

Would you like a vase with that?

I think you’ll agree it’s all very clever stuff. I wonder how many of these sites will still be in the top 10 next year when some of the bigger boys have caught on.