I love these things. Marketing Sherpa released a study
(pdf link) today with a WalMart.com heat map. What's a heat map you say? The detailed technology is beyond me, but users wear special goggles or glasses while viewing a web page and a computer records where their eyes focus and what they click on.
Users on the Internet usually follow the same patterns of either a triangle or "F" pattern. What that means is that most of the content on the right side of the page and content below the fold might as well not even exist. Less is more.
Google Search Page heat map from Did-It.com. Yes, they have a goofy and annoying home page, but that's another topic:
Take a look at the Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2006 (pdf link) from Marketing Sherpa, it looks like a great deal of valuable information.
Also of particular interest is that "fewer than 50% of merchants we surveyed said they track loyalty, lifetime value, or retention costs." If we all know that it's cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a customer, then why is the ecom industry so far behind in using the proven segmentation models that catalog marketers have used for decades? More than likely, small to mid sized Ecommerce companies lack the statistical or catalog industry background to implement even the simplest database segmentation methodology. The ecom industry is currently focused on analytics, conversion rates and multivariate testing, and I only hope that evolves into customer segmentation and retention, at least for the companies I work for and not the competition.