Key functionality on front page drives online sales
This blog post describes how small changes to a website can have great and immediate impact on online sales.
Learning and taking action quickly?
Two years ago I read a Forrester report called “Small web site investments that pay off” (comment on this post and I’ll send you a link to the full report). The report summarized what web professionals around the world consider to be low-cost web activities that have a strong positive impact on the bottom line.
During the last two years, the Hurtigruten web team has been working through different parts of the list. We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction!
To identify what key functionality is on your website, you need to investigate why people visit your website.
Why do people visit the Hurtigruten websites?
When customers arrive at a Hurtigruten website, they have something in mind.
Some customers have been exposed to a TV campaign and go to our websites to read more about one of our special offers. Since the ships themselves are quite important to our travellers, customers are also interested in which ship departs on a specific date. Some people arrive at the home page just to find the Hurtigruten telephone number (+47 810 03 030) or to find a local travel agency. Others are merely exploring which destinations Hurtigruten offers.
In the Norwegian market, many customers use Hurtigruten as a means of public transportation (see a good example of a public transportation website ). Other customers are traveling home for the weekend and are merely looking to book a trip. For these customers, schedules/delays/cancellation information is very important. Traffic status therefor has (as of March 2011) prominent placement on the front page of the Norwegian website.
In our international markets, customers arrive on our websites to plan a trip that may only happen once in a lifetime. They may already have a print catalog or they might have performed a Google search for Norway cruises or some other search terms. Other visitors arrive trying to figure out when they can see the Northern lights! Another group of customers have already booked a trip and arrive looking for practical travel information.
That’s a quick summary (not exhaustive) of why people visit the Hurtigruten websites. These words (Special offers, Book a trip, contact information, Find travel agency, Traffic status, Plan a trip, Practical travel information) provide clues to what ”key functionality” should be on the front page.
What do you mean by putting key functionality directly on the front page?
Instead of making users click a link to get to your main site functionality, let them begin key processes — such as logging into an account, booking a voyage, or generating a price quote — immediately. For example, an airline was convinced that linking to its flight search application from the home page was effective. But when the company conducted an A/B test comparing the link with putting search fields right on the home page, it saw a 45% increase in conversion rate with the new design.
Before the change
Before the change, we did not have a booking search box (to/from, date, search) on the front page.
After the change
Results of putting key functionality on the front page
- Record sales day in B2C
- Record booking day in B2C
- Record web visits into our booking engine (16th February)
- Record day for our ROW(rest of the world) market, which outsold our Norwegian market
- B2C visits increase by 68% compared to previous weeks
- Port-to-Port bookings online increased from 38% to 51% compared with our reservation center
Other discussion topics:
- Why didn’t we do this earlier?
- What would our total online sales be today if this had been done a year ago?
- Are there other factors that may have affected the results?
- An increase in traffic on our booking engines, exposes more customers to our system limitations. How will this affect the customer experience?
- An increase in traffic to our booking engines, enables us to identify and fix problems quicker (speed, error messages, usability issues, modify search, etc).
The rest of the list from Forrester Research:
Here’s is the complete list of low-cost activities that have a strong impact on the bottom line: