So you've made the move to the net and set up your online storefront following all the great advice found on the Register.com Learning Center (of course). You have a steady flow of visitors and your site is generating some revenue through e-commerce. This is great news - but how do you know how well you are really doing? To help us answer this question, I spoke to Register.com's Senior Vice President of Customer Marketing (and Learning Center Marketing Guru) Doug Shuman about how you can best gauge your results on the web.

Q: What are the most important things you need to know about your site to know how you are doing?

A: There are a few key things I look at when I'm trying to gauge our performance here at Register.com. I look at the number of people visiting your site, the number of sales we have made through our website and the average order value of those sales. Finally, I look at the number of people leaving our site without buying. From these elements, you can easily monitor conversation rate and abandon rate for trends that might indicate your marketing efforts are having a positive impact.

Q: What is a conversion rate and abandon rate?

A: The conversion rate is the rate at which visitors to your site convert to customers - in other words it is the number of visitors to your site divided by the number of sales made from your site for a set period of time.

Abandon rate, just like it sounds, is the rate at which people abandon or leave your site (without purchasing). Abandon rate is calculated by dividing the number of visitors to your site by the number of visitors that leave before they purchase.

Q: What would you consider a good conversion rate?

A: Normally, anything below 2% is really bad and anything over 10% is phenomenal but as a general rule - if you are just starting out in the e-commerce world, it's smart to aim for about a 4% conversion rate. To put that in perspective, a site like Amazon.com (a major e-commerce machine) runs at about a 6-7% conversion rate.

Q: Wow, that seems really low.

A: Yes, even the high end of web conversion rates may seem low - especially if you're used to selling in a physical store but keep in mind, the internet has made everything easier. It's easier to search, find and purchase exactly what you need but it's also easier to comparison shop and in just a click of a mouse you can jump from one 'store' to another. In the physical world deciding to leave one store and look elsewhere takes much more time and sometimes expense. So in the physical world, walking into a store is a greater commitment to purchase there - that's just not the case in the online world.

Q: So how can customers grab and hold a visitor's attention on their website?

A: There's an old trick that many physical stores figured out long ago and the best web vendors have found effective ways to replicate - that is putting the most attractive or impulse items right in-front of potential customers. In a physical store, these easy to purchase items are at the cash register, in the front of the store or on the 'end-caps' of each isle. In the online world, these items should be prominent on your home page or very easy to locate from your homepage. The easier it is for customers to find what they are looking for on your site - the more likely it is that they will not decide to look elsewhere and will make the purchase from you.