Conversion Analysis: PCA

By /

December 3, 2006

I love to critique websites for conversion, but sometimes it feels like shooting fish in a barrel.

Tomorrow I am flying to SES Chicago, so I’m pulling together everything I need for my trip. This usually includes a coupon for my favorite parking lot, Parking Corporation of America. Today, I couldn’t find a real coupon, so I got onto the Internet and typed in “coupon PCA.” I was pleasantly surprised to see that their own site was #1 in Google.

Problem #1: Is it a link or not?

Despite the great Google SEO, I almost didn’t get a coupon, because the site told me to click on my airport, but it appeared that only the airports at the bottom of the screen were live links:

The various ways of showing that a link was mousable threw me off — it was clear that the underlined text was a link, but not so clear that the other text in a different color without underlining also denoted a link. I did figure out that Pittsburgh was a link, and did get my coupon, at which point, I started to see what other benefits the site offered.

Problem #2: Forms that don’t work.

I park at PCA about once a month, for two or three days. It seems from their site that they have a frequent parking service — once you’ve parked there for 31 days, you get a free 10-day stay. This would be valuable if they let you hold onto it until you actually stay at the airport that long, but I don’t know the terms. Nevertheless, I filled out the form and hit “Submit Form.

Strangely enough, my email program came up instead of a “Thank you” page. So I went back to the Frequent Parking service page and ran my cursor over the “Submit Form” button. Sure enough, there was no URL assigned to that button but rather, a mailto address:

Problem #3: No trust.

Then I went back to the home page and looked at their GPS (Guaranteed Parking Service.) Like the free 10-day stay, I had my doubts about that one. I have never been unable to park in the Pittsburgh PCA – ever. That’s not a service or benefit: it’s like making a reservation at a restaurant that always has a couple of empty tables. (Maybe that matters for a weekend like Thanksgiving?) Then I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and saw that the copyright was 1998-2002 (I always wonder if sites with out-of-date copyrights are still in business.)

Still on the topic of no trust, I went to the Pittsburgh prepayment page, and saw that it had collapsed in on itself. Here’s a sample:

As usual, this was a page that rendered beautifully in IE, not in Firefox. But would you want to be leaving 16% or more of your money on the table?

In Summary

It’s true that I did convert – I did get my coupon. But I’m not a new or even semi-new customer; I’ve been there enough days to get lots of free stay cards. I would probably park there even without a coupon, using my AAA card for a smaller discount. Getting a frequent buyer card in the hands of someone like me should be PCA’s prioirty.

And then there is the issue of trust. I know that they’re a real company and that I can trust them because I have parked my car there so many times this past year alone. What if I were just checking them out for the first time?

Robbin Steif

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics ten years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a recent Diamond Award for business leadership. You should read her letter before you decide to work with us.

Contact Us.


24 S. 18th Street, Suite 100,
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Follow Us



We'll get back to you
in ONE business day.