Running an e-commerce site can be a game of inches; the difference between a conversion rate of 1.5% and 2.5% can be the difference between bankruptcy and profitability. For anyone selling products online, a significant portion of time will be spent trying to optimize the conversion funnel and convert as many visitors as possible to paying customers.
There’s no longer a need to rely on your gut when tweaking your product offerings or checkout process; there are countless tools out there that are designed to give e-commerce sites a wealth of information about their customers as well as bring more potential customers into their funnel. Below are profiles of 50 Web-based apps that can be used to improve your conversion rate and generally improve your on-site monetization. (By the way, check out our in-depth reviews of simple and advanced split-testing apps as well. And for more tips, sign up for our free email newsletter.)
Knowing what parts of your sales pages are attracting eyeballs and clicks can help you determine what’s working (and what isn’t). If you want insight into how your potential customers are engaging with your pages, check out these tools:
Crazy Egg. The gold standard in tracker technology, Crazy Egg offers a “ScrollMap” tool in addition to a traditional heatmap. They also have an overlay tool and a “confetti” integration that presents clicks segmented by referral source.
Cost: Starts at just $9/month, with tiers up to $99/month.
ClickHeat. This tool, offered by Labs Media, shows hot and cold “click zones” on an HTML page.
Cost: ClickHeat is free and open-source software.
Reinvigorate. This tool package includes heat maps along with a suite of other features such as detailed visitor reporting and referral tracking. Cost: Starts at $10/month (with a 14-day free trial), up to custom packages that start at $100/month.
Lucky Orange. This software shows visitor interactions, including mouse movements and clicks, in real time. It also features a real-time visitor display on a map of the world, along with top performing regions. Cost: Starts at $10/month for the “Small” package, up to an “X Large” subscription at $100/month.
Attention Wizard. This software is a bit different from the others featured here; Attention Wizard simulates human vision during the first five seconds of exposure to a website. This can be useful for testing proposed redesigns or tweaks to your landing pages. Cost: Starts at $27/month for the Bronze plan, up to $197/month for the Gold plan.
Clickdensity. One of the original heatmap tools, Clickdensity offers an opportunity to detect design flaws and user frustrations with your pages. Cost: Starts at $100/month, up to $400/month (there’s also a free version that can run on a single page).
If you want a bit more visibility into your conversion funnel in order to determine which campaigns and strategies are working (and which aren’t), some of these apps may come in handy:
CPV Lab. This software suite can be useful for e-commerce sites and affiliate marketers, allowing users to test different lading pages in a flexible hosted environment. Cost: $297 (after the first year, updates are available for $147/year).
PadiTrack. This service allows users to track conversions through various funnels, pulling data in directly from Google Analytics. It also features tools to increase email subs through behavioral targeting. Cost: Free!
LinkTrackr. This conversion tracking software allows site owners to identify their most profitable traffic sources. LinkTrackr also features affiliate link cloaking services and A/B split testing capabilities. Cost: Starts at $9/month, up to $69/month for the Extreme package.
Demon Tracking. This tool is designed to show webmasters which traffic sources are making them money and which are worthless (it also comes with a pretty amusing illustration of the frustrations many e-commerce companies and affiliate marketers face). Cost: $47.
AdTrackz Gold. This software package shows which keywords ultimately result in sales (allowing companies to target their PPC campaigns), split test salesletters, and protect affiliate links. Cost: $97 for bundle that includes WordPress Plugin and unlimited domain license.
Visitor Tracking & Analytics
Knowing how many people are on your site and how they’re interacting with your content and calls to action is a key part of any e-commerce site. Here are some resources for basic (and advanced) visitor analytics:
Whos.Amung.Us. This is a pretty basic but very effective stats package for websites and blogs. Check out the sample stats page to see the capabilities (much of the functionality is available free; for power users, there’s a premium package). Cost: Starts at $5/month, up to $50/month (prepaid discounts are also available).
KISSMetrics. This analytics package captures the details of what happens before a person becomes a customer, and then is able to show you detailed information about their activity once they do convert. Cost: Starts at $150/month, up to $500/month for a Professional plan that includes 1-on-1 consulting and a dedicated metrics specialist.
Clicky. This real-time analytics service allows site owners to get immediate notification on visits and conversions. There’s also a Clicky app that lets you monitor your site activity on the go. Cost: Free! White label solutions start at $49/month.
Feedjit. This tool lets you see the actual identity of visitors on your site, whether they’re friends and family or your biggest customers. The live traffic feed lets you understand how visitors are engaging with your site, and where their journeys begin and end. Cost: There’s a basic free version, as well as plans priced at $4.95 and $9.95/month.
Go Squared. This analytics package provides a ton of real-time data, including traffic sources, engagement metrics, and day-to-day comparisons. Cost: Plans start at $24/month and run up to $299+ monthly for enterprise versions. There’s a 14-day free trial on all options.
Piwik. This tool has a number of features that may be useful for ecommerce sites, including details on abandoned shopping carts and categories reporting. It also offers more traditional analytics metrics to track your visitors. Cost: Free!
Woopra. This software provides real-time customer insight, allowing marketrs to see level of activity for current customers. Woopra also features Retention Analytics, Funnel Analytics, and Segmented Analytics for more detailed analysis. Cost: Starts at $79.95/month, up to $1,199.95/month (there’s also a basic free version that includes up to 30,000 actions per month).
ShinyStat. This software integrates analytics, detailed conversion reporting, and pay-per-click performance monitoring into one package. Cost: In addition to a free version, the ShinyStat Pro starts at €88/month and goes up to €1,800/month.
RJMetrics. This platform pulls in metrics from existing dashboards and services, combining them into one platform for more efficient analysis and decision making. Cost: Pricing here is based on the number of people in a database, starting from $500/month and going up to $2,000/month.
Jirafe. This platform features a purchase funnel that breaks down how visitors move through the site, as well as a customer acquisition dashboard that reports traffic by sources and cost. Cost: You’ll have to contact them for complete pricing information.
Split testing is a huge part of any e-commerce site; if you’re not constantly experimenting with alternative layouts and user experiences, you’re leaving money on the table. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that make the split testing process more efficient and productive:
Optimizely. This software makes split testing and multi-variate testing relatively easy, with a slick user interface that makes setting up variations and analyzing results very straightforward. Cost: Starts at $17/month, up to $359/month for the Gold package.
Crowdvert. This one is less of a software solution and more of a consultation service for A/B testing, with a free initial evaluation and performance-based pricing. Cost: There are three different pricing options, each with different fees and guarantees. A Conversion Optimization Audit is available for $1,999.
Cost: You’ll have to request a demo to get pricing info.
Vertster. This service is designed to get you A/B testing in no time, featuring a quick set-up and low maintenance. Features include Taguchi-based multivariate testing, URL split testing, and detailed management reporting. Cost: Starts at $15/month for basic services, up to $250/month (and more) for larger sites and enterprise versions.
Sometimes you need more than a slick software package to kickstart your e-commerce operations. When your business needs some personalized review and feedback, there are a number of e-commerce consultants out there who can help:
Downtown Ecommerce. This company is focused on helping startups to medium-sized businesses get a handle on e-commerce and grow their operations. Services include e-commerce development, optimization, and marketing.
Ecommerce Partners. Based in New York and with offices in California, Florida, Germany, and Australia, Ecommerce Partners offers a wide range of consulting capabilities. Check out their case studies to get a better feel for what they can bring to your business.
Solid Cactus. In addition to e-commerce software solutions, Solid Cactus offers personalized consulting services (they also have a great blog that’s worth bookmarking)
Blue Acorn. This is a one stop shop for all things e-commerce, including development, optimization, and marketing. The Blue Acorn blog has some great insights on e-commerce optimization as well.
Surge Labs. This team of experts focuses solely on the shopping cart and checkout process, using a multi-step optimization process designed to boost results.
Wider Funnel. This company offers landing page optimization, conversion optimization, and help with implementing A/B/n and multivariate testing. The Wider Funnel Blog gives a good idea for the capabilities of the team there.
Email Marketing Apps
Keeping in touch with customers and others on your mailing list can be a critical driver of repeat business and new conversions. A modern e-commerce strategy requires a sophisticated email client that can handle list segmentation, autoresponder email campaigns, and advanced reporting.
MailChimp. This service lets you design and send emails to your audience, and includes a ton of advanced reporting options and integration into other platforms. Cost: Beyond the free version, plans start at $10/month and head up to more than $102,000/month for really high volume senders.
CoolerEmail. For custom email marketing, CoolerEmail offers a product that features email personalization, high delivery rates, easy Outlook integration and a bunch of templates. Cost: Starts at $19.95/month, up to $99.95 for the self service account products.
iContact. This service features options to do advanced coding for HTML pros or easy-to-use email design for those with little or no experience. There’s also an interface to publish messages directly to social media platforms. Cost: Starts at $14/month up to $47/month (with additional options for large volume senders).
StreamSend. Features here include list segmentation, customizable sign-up forms, easy list importing and exporting, loads of templates, advanced reporting and analytics, and easy integration into outside data sources. Cost: Starts at $19.90/month, up to $209.90.
Atomic Mail Sender. This package allows for an unlimited number of emails on your mailing list and an unlimited frequency of sends. A bulk mail sender lets you rotate SMTP servers, limit the emails sent through each, and manage email delays if needed. Cost: $79.85 one-time fee.
GraphicMail. This service comes with free live training, a library with more than 400 templates, and solutions that let you send SMS/text messages as well. Cost: Basic plans start at $9.95/month, up to $229.95/month and higher for larger volumes.
Mail Dog. Based on the idea of turning strangers into friends and friends into customers, this service includes list and subscriber management tools, design wizards and email templates, and back end reporting to evaluate the success of your campaigns. Cost: Starts at $29/month, up to $99/month.
Message Sherpa. This solution includes a unique content management system, one click formatting of messaging, and the ability to borrow or share content from other businesses in your industry. Cost: Full service plans start at $300/month. Self service plans start at just $15/month, while network publishing deals are priced at $129 monthly.
YesMail. Capabilities of Yesmail include triggered mailings, email optimization, and lifecycle marketing. Yesmail also publishes an email marketing blog that has some great insights on customer conversion. Cost: You’ll have to contact Yesmail for quotes.
Campaigner. This solution allows marketers to set up sign-up forms, manage and segment contact lists, and add automated recurring and triggered email campaigns. Cost: Starts at $10/month, up to $200/month for larger lists.
PPC Bid Management
If you’re in the e-commerce space, odds are that you’re very familiar with PPC. The ability to attract new customers in a cost efficient manner through PPC marketing is often the difference between boom and bust for e-commerce sites. Below are some tools to help bring some discipline to your marketing efforts:
WordStream PPC Advisor. This software is designed to allow users to run effective and optimized PPC campaigns with minimal time commitment. Features include a huge keyword database and an AdWords performance evaluation. Cost: Starts at $225/month, up to $750/month (assuming you prepay for an annual subscription).
BidMaximizer. This download allows you to eliminate bid gaps, track AdWords position relative to competitors, and show keyword status. Cost: Starts at $48/month, up to $799/month for the Enterprise edition.
WordWatch. This package provides advanced algorithms to manage bids, and also offers automated keyword bidding and PLA campaign optimization. Cost: Starts at $49/month, up to $399/month for SEM agencies.
Kenshoo. This solution features advanced reporting, bid optimization, PLA tracking and reporting, and a premium tool with seven different algorithms for choosing keywords. Cost: Contact Kenshoo to get a quote based on your specific needs.
Marin Software. Marin offers paid search solutions as well as display advertising and social search services. They also have a collection of whitepapers with good ideas and information around paid search optimization. Cost: You’ll have to contact Marin to get an exact quote.
Click Equations. This service includes a flexible bid management interface, advanced analytics, and an Excel plug-in to manage reports. ClickEquations is meant for advertisers that spend at least $25,000 monthly on paid search. Cost: Fee is based on total search engine spend managed through ClickEquations.
ClickSweeper. This one allows for bid management across extended ad networks, analytics-based bidding strategies, ad copy evaluation, and automated performance alerts. Cost: $400/month or 10% of ad spending (whichever is greater).
SearchForce. This tool features advanced big management capabilities, optimization strategies, a performance history tracker, and Facebook analytics and ad management that is directly integrated with Facebook’s ad management API. Cost: Contact SearchForce for exact pricing.
AdWords Conversion Optimizer. This official Google tool is designed to let you spend less time managing bids manually. On average, campaigns using the Conversion Optimizer get a 21% bump in conversions and lower CPA by 14%. Cost: Free!
In the last several years there have been countless products and online apps pop up to help e-commerce sites track their customers, improve their sales funnels, and promote repeat business from their customer bases. Not all the apps listed here are right for every e-commerce site, but for many there will be an opportunity to improve efficiency and make more money.