How one misplaced link can cost your website millions

The following story is from a real customer who's website was recently analysed by the Clicktale Consulting Group. What's particularly interesting about this user case is how simple the problem was, why it remained undetected for so long,  and how much money it was worth in online revenues to that company!

Needless to say, once the problem was revealed, the customer's online team was able to quickly resolve the issue, leading to an immediate and very significant jump in conversion.

The Challenge:

The customer is a well-established and highly regarded travel bookings company. They've been in business for many years, and rake in over $300 million in annual accommodation-booking sales. They also have over a million web searches per day.
This is what their typical online customer journey looks like:

Diagram of the customer journey on a travel website
Diagram of the customer journey on a travel website

Website visitors would start by choosing a flight to their desired destination. Then they would move to the next page to choose a hotel. With the hotel booked, the next step is to review the booking on the Summary page, then pay and receive confirmation. All in all, a fairly standard journey-flow for a travel website.

However, the online team, with the help of their Clicktale Conversion Funnel, found that too many customers were dropping off at the critical stage of the process: the Bookings Summary page.
The problem was, nobody could understand why they were dropping off. A/B testing had been tried, but without any clear idea of what to test, the process was proving slow and the results were as yet, non-decisive.

Uncovering the Problem: Side by Side Heatmap Comparison

The online team then tried a different strategy. Using Adobe Analytics, they decided to compare how converting and non-converting customers behaved differently on the Bookings Summary page.
With the Clicktale software fully integrated into their Adobe Analytics dashboard they were then able to bring up the heatmap of customer experience for both segments.

Side by Side heatmap

The side-by-side heatmap comparison (similar to the one shown here) was able to show the online team exactly how some visitors acted before they progressed to the payment page. And it also showed precisely what other visitors were doing just before they dropped out.

Creating a Strong Hypothesis:

As a result of analyzing the heatmaps and then drilling down into individual Session Playbacks to watch how individual customers proceeded down the page, the team were able to begin piecing together a picture of why  visitors were dropping out at the critical stage.

What they found came as quite a surprise: From the heatmap comparison they found that those dropping off the page were paying an inordinate amount of attention to the top of the Bookings Summary page. And at the top of the page was an innocent 'Special Offers' link which was deflecting their attention.

To confirm their suspicions, the team watched a number of Session Playbacks. They found that while visitors were quick to book a flight and then a hotel, the presence of a 'Special Offers' link just before the checkout was giving them second thoughts: Maybe they could find a better deal? Conversely, those that did progress to the checkout had in most cases, not noticed the 'Special Offers' and had therefore proceeded directly to payment.

The Solution: Remove One Link. Improve Conversion by 7%

Once the problem was highlighted, the online team immediately conducted an A/B test, leading to the eventual removal of the 'Special Offers' link from the Bookings Summary page. The result was clear and immediate: A 7% increase in conversion.  Based on a single website change.

An Extra $1 Million in Online Annual Revenues

Based on the company's $200 million in sales, if we assume 50% is from online sales, then that's $150 million in online annual revenue. 7% of this is more than $1 million in extra revenue from the removal of the 'Special Offers' link.
Summer Vacation picture

A powerful example of large revenue increases created by small website changes and a strong affirmation of the power of in-page digital customer experience!
And of course, the same lesson could apply to almost any eCommerce site - not just travel!




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