The proliferation of coupons, country-specific currencies and language-specific products, while valuable at the core, increase the opportunity that customers won’t receive their discount, see the wrong currency in the cart or receive the product in the wrong language. It’s time to utilize a new weapon in the e-commerce battle – protected URLs.
One of the first and most deadly tricks in the early days of multi-currency e-commerce was the ability to edit the price of a product in the HTML page or URL. A perpetrator could simply change a number (the price) and reload the page or URL to fake out an e-commerce system and pay less for the product than advertised.
It’s laughable now for those in the know that untold millions of dollars were lost due to 16 year olds being smarter than e-commerce managers of companies the world over. Luckily, server-side validation of the product price became commonplace long ago to thwart the wily teenager.
However, now we have a new problem: customers viewing product prices in the wrong currency. This can happen due to an ill-conceived marketing campaign or a faulty url parameter.
Either way, the confusion rises and conversion rates drop when your customers don’t see the currency they expect. Protecting your URL can help you avoid unnecessary conversion rate drops due to currency confusion and a variety of other mishaps.
Here are five ways companies can use protected URLs to increase conversion rates:
1. Protect a reusable coupon code
If you have a code that you want to send to a select list of customers, but don’t want prying eyes to find the code and distribute it on the Internet, lock the code away in a protected URL.
2. Deliver special product pricing
There are certain times you’ll want to discount a product for an individual customer or even for an entire marketing campaign. To prevent people from changing the price that’s sent for this one-time purchase, protect the data in a short URL.
3. Prevent long URLs from breaking in e-mails
E-mail clients are notoriously poor at handling URLs that are longer than 70 characters, especially when forwarding occurs. Eliminate the risk of your customers not being able to use the link by shortening the URL with a protected URL.
4. Modify a campaign in mid flight
How many times have you sent out a marketing e-mail and realized there was a mistake? It’s happened to the best of us. As a best practice, use a protected URL when sending a campaign link, because you never know what mistake or logical change may be needed later. Using protected URLs allow you to change what’s happening behind the scenes even though the link is already propagated.
5. Lock affiliate codes to a link
Affiliate competitors can compromise affiliate links by removing or changing the affiliate’s tracking identifier and flooding the Web with the updated link. Don’t lose sales because you haven’t protected the link from prying hands!
URL shorteners are similar to protected URLs. Sites like Bit.ly, tinyurl, ow.ly, su.pr and del.icio.us can take your URLs and serve a similar e-commerce function.
However, third-party sites have only basic analytics, such as click-through rates and day/time grouping, but not much else. Furthermore, those sites allow you to deactivate the shortened links, which otherwise never expire.
Because they are external sites not integrated with your e-commerce site, URL branding, link uptime and control are not within your power. For these reasons, you should have a URL shortening and protecting feature integrated into your e-commerce system.
Here’s an example of a short, protected URL followed by the more traditional long, unprotected URL.
Short, protected URLs are an invaluable tool in today’s e-commerce world. Use protected URLs liberally to simplify your e-commerce life.
What creative uses for protected URLs have you employed? Do you have any great stories of protected URLs solving a business need?