Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

February 21, 2000
Spinning Your Web
Evaluate your Web site for stickiness

How sticky is your Web site? It's not a trick question. "Stickiness," as used by Internet marketers, describes a Web site's ability to capture and keep a visitor's attention. Sticky sites make shoppers hang around and encourages them to return. With competitors only a click away, the stickier a Web site the better.

Unfortunately, many e-tailers don't get it, says Rubric Inc., a provider of Internet automation software which shopped and evaluated 50 top e-commerce Web sites. The sites studied were the heavy hitters, including, L.L. Bean, CDNow and Gateway Computers. Surprisingly, even these Web retailers' sites were found to be little more than fancy vending machines, providing "stuff" and little more.

Among Rubric's findings:

  • E-commerce sites are not proactively promoting and cross-selling products. Nearly half did not ask buyers if they wanted information on related products. Only 16% sent an e-mail offer within 30 days.
  • E-commerce sites are not personalizing offers. Only two of the e-mail offers received in the study were personalized and one of them offered women's clothing to a man.
  • E-commerce sites do not attempt to build ongoing customer relationships. When buyers took advantage of a follow-up offer, only 25% of the sites studied recognized the buyer as a repeat.
  • E-commerce sites do not communicate effectively with customers. Although 57% of the sites studied provided a self-service way for customers to check the status of their orders, 40% of the group did not respond to e-mail inquiries.
At the same time, 90% of buyers in the study said personalization would increase their likelihood of purchasing from a site again, while 94% of the group said they were more likely to respond to offers related to their purchase and interests.

Rubric recommends software-based solutions such as "lights-out marketing" – so named because the merchant doesn't have to manually intervene – which automatically offers additional products based on the customer's purchasing history.

- by Mark E. Dixon