Conversion Rate Optimization Blog

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Meet the authors of the invesp blog: Ayat, Khalid, Stephen, and Masroor.

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There’s a golden rule to conversion optimization that is actually crucial to understand before you begin any optimization effort: What works for one site, may not work for yours (even if they’re in the same vertical). This is key for many reasons because once you understand this rule, reckless copying off competitor sites will stop, and many blogs or books that give all the “conversion” secrets will be appropriately deemed as useless. There is never a one size fits all in conversion. There are best practices, sure, but never assume that there are single answers. Take something as simple as “CTA” above the fold: a well-known “best practice.” There are so many other details that go with this: text on CTA, elements surrounding CTA, location “above the fold,” look and feel of CTA, etc.

One key component to conversion, which is also many times lost amongst our customers, is catering the site to the target market. Who are your current customers, who are the customers you would like to get, and what do they like? In today’s world, the CEO’s decision trumps numbers and statistics; although they define the needs and wants of the market.

The Problem

Our customer, GoSection8 offered one of the largest rental-listing service for the Section 8 housing market. Visitors to the site have two options to subscribe: a free membership option and a premium paid membership. GoSection8 was unable to successfully maximize on premium memberships for their site. Our analytics assessment pointed to several areas, which we can focus on: the homepage, signup page, rentals pages, and the property listing page. The conversion optimization team noted that users were opting out of premium membership and choosing free membership instead. Analytics showed that the signup page, which displayed the plans available to new users, suffered from higher than normal exit rates, and most visitors simply chose free membership. The team identified this page as one of the initial pages to work on.

Conversion Framework Analysis

The original page design looked like this

GoSection8 landing page before

The initial Conversion Framework assessment pointed out multiple issues on this page.

Trust is the first element we evaluate during a Conversion Framework assessment of any page. The Trust element is broken down into over 70 sub elements that we analyze on any given page. Trust is evaluated from the moment the visitor enters the site, until they leave (and likely remains until they receive the service or product they purchased).Customers that browse the website and end up on a signup page are generally more interested and invested. A good percentage of them could be at the “Purchase Decision” stage of the buying stage process.However,the visitor is wondering if they are making right decision in trusting this company and will they really get the service/product they are purchasing. Trust sub factorsare especially strong when a customer is making a monetary investment, although these factors still play a role even with free accounts and signups.

What immediately catches the eye and can be described as “low hanging fruits” on the signup page for GoSection8 are two things: the video and the lack of a clear CTA immediately. The video is taking prime real estate and is pushing the CTA way below the fold. Is the video that effective? The numbers are clearly telling us it is not because the conversion rate is dismal.

Sub-elements of Trust also include: “Benefits above the fold,” “Concise benefit list,” both of these elements point to the importance of presenting the customer with information rather than video.  Another sub-element includes “Congruency of the site page.” Congruency is important throughout the site and on each page. What it refers to is the overall flow of the page achieving the goal the page is intended for. While videos may have benefits in certain situations, they must be used sparingly. Our previous work shows that videos perform especially well when paired with the proper and persuasive information. The video in this particular case distracts from that overall goal of the signup page and fills an important space and its stats are showing it is causing high bounce and exit rates. So rather than presenting the visitor with a concise and congruent message (ie benefits) on the sign up page, the visitor is presented with the video and is expected to watch it to learn about membership benefits.

Additionally, in order to establish trust, a customer must see what they should be doing next on the page, and where to go. “CTA Placement” above the fold is a key element of trust. If a customer arrives and is presented with a video and ocean of copy and no clear immediate next action, it is likely they will leave the page.

Hypothesis

In the first iteration of working with the sign up page, the team had a simple hypothesis to test: “Removing the video and replacing it with benefits and a CTA will increase sign-ups.”

Here is the new design of the top section of the page:

GoSection8 landing page after

The Results

The results were staggering.

GoSection8-landing-page-results

 GoSection8 results

Our customer saw a dramatic uptick in paid sign-ups. There was an 88.46% increase in conversions from this change.

Conversion Optimization Insights from the test

Why would removing the video and replacing it with clear benefits and CTA increase conversions? Was it something wrong with video? Our changes did a few things:
1. Visitors arrive knowing exactly what the offer is and move beyond the “fluff.”In this case the fluff is the video.

2. A clear action and giving visitors a roadmap of what to do next is key to increase persuasion.

3. The video was taking prime real estate and could be replaced with more actionable and important elements.

Lesson learned

If you want your visitors to take a course of action on your site:
•    Remove videos from the very top of the page and place them lower on the page.
•    Place the corresponding CTA in an obvious and clear manner for them to find it.
•    Make the most important action on the page (the paid account) the most important element.

This particular customer’s site and this sign up page went through many changes. Follow the Invesp blog (@invesp ) and twitter hashtag #piicasestudies to learn more about conversion increases through optimization and testing on Pii.

For the purposes of this post, we need to get one basic thing straight: what is a landing page?

The literal definition is: a ‘page’ that a web visitor ‘lands’ on when clicking on a link to that page or when arriving at a site after entering a URL in a browser.

So a landing page can be just about any page on your website. A fact confirmed by lots of leading landing page specialists, including Unbounce and Hubspot.

The Term ‘Landing Page’ Sucks

What good is it if it refers to every page on your site? Why not just stick with ‘web page’ and have one less bit of jargon to deal with. Yes, in their definitions Hubspot and Unbounce go on to clarify that a landing page is really one with a single purpose, usually some form of conversion; but the term is never-the-less confusing.

Oddly, of all the landing page definitions we researched, Wikipedia’s was most clear and concise, including: “… a landing page (is) sometimes known as a “lead capture page”.

Landing Page Best Practices 01

That’s how we’re going to play it – landing pages are those whose sole purpose is to capture leads. In the case of ecommerce landing page, those ‘leads’ could be sales.

Landing Page Optimization

With the importance of landing pages now in proper perspective, it’s no wonder landing page optimization is a topic endless amounts of information and advice on the web.

But even the best of that information can be somewhat misleading. The sheer volume of information creates its own ‘waves’ of truths that may not always be true in every case. Unsuspecting landing page optimizers can’t be blamed for using the well-intentioned online advice for their own optimization, but not get the expected results because the practices were applied in exceptional circumstances.

The following are just three examples how this can happen, but they touch on some of the most staunchly promoted landing page optimization best practices.

1. You’ll Get Better Conversions Rates if You Reduce the Number of Entry Fields in Your Web Forms

If yours is a lead generation landing page, the web form is the focus of everything thing you do to design the page and drive traffic to it. You can break the bank on SEO, PPC, user experience and social media, but if your landing page form doesn’t work, you’ll have few leads and be poorer for it.

The conventional wisdom is that fewer form fields means the visitor has less to do and less anxiety about doing it, so there’s more chance that they will. You’ll find countless studies on the web that prove this is true, including from Marketing Experiments, Quick Sprout, and Unbounce. And they are absolutely correct. Most sources say that, for maximum LPO, you should have three to five form fields on your forms.

Landing Page Best Practices 02

So why does HubSpot use 11 fields on their ebook landing page forms?

  1. We all place more value on something that we have to give up more to get. In other words, an offer that only requires your name and email address is viewed as somewhat less valuable as one that requires more information.
  2. HubSpot has developed a reputation for providing top quality content for free. Visitors know they will get something worthwhile, so they are willing to part with more information to get it.
  3. Three of the HubSpot fields are optional, so visitors know they don’t have to fill out the entire form if they don’t want to.
  4. None of the information HubSpot asks for is redundant, out-of-line or pointless.

So when is the conventional wisdom that fewer form fields mean higher conversion rates not true for you? When you offer a good enough incentive to get the information you seek; when you make at least some of the fields optional so people don’t feel bound to complete the entire form, and when you do not ask for information repeatedly, like State, Country and Zip Code, (when the zip code alone will do) or info that is out of line – imagine the plunge HubSpot’s conversion rates would take if they asked for your telephone number.

2. One Clear Call-to-Action Button Will Increase Conversion Rates
The call-to-action button, whether it’s on your web form, or on a landing page that leads to your form, is the point at which a visitor becomes more engaged with your message, your product and/or your business – indeed, it could be the point she becomes a customer.

How important is that?

Again, you’ll find copious amounts of online advice and studies showing that a single, distinct call to action button increases conversion rates. At least 91 of HubSpot’s ‘101 Examples of Effective Calls-To-Action’ are just that – one button that is different from every other button and element on the page in color, shape and/or size.

Landing Page Best Practices 03

But a recent Invesp case study showed that multiple call-to-action buttons increased conversions by 20%.

What gives? The page in the Invesp study is an ecommerce shopping cart page. Among other conclusions about why the second button increased conversions, Invesp pointed out that, when a number of items were placed in the cart, the lower call-to-action button was pushed below the fold. The added button, placed at the top of the page was always visible and drew customers’ attention.

3. You Will Boost Conversion Rates if You Remove the Website’s Navigation Menu from the Landing Page
This is an extension of the idea that a single call to action helps visitors focus on one point of conversion. The conventional online wisdom (and again, studies abound to prove it) holds that, by including your website’s standard navigation bar on your landing pages, you give visitors a distraction that takes away the focus of the page and reduces the chance of conversion.

This one is somewhat different from the other examples we’ve used so far because we can’t find any examples that the opposite can be true.

So when can this ‘truth’ not be true for you? Seemingly always.

While all of other bits of advice and study results we’ve looked at in this post are generally accepted and adopted across the web, only 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars (MarketingSherpa). It’s odd, one of the few apparently irrefutable LPO best practices is used by fewer than one in five landing pages.

What Should You Do?

There’s lots of great landing page optimization research being done by respected and reliable organizations across the web. But LPO is a young science and, like all youth, it can be fickle. That means, despite the conventional wisdom, you need to find what works best for your business, page and conversion goals. It would be a huge mistake to ignore the findings of others, but the only way to know what works for you is to test it and keep on testing it.

By Stephen Da Cambra on April 8, 2014 6:14 am

The silver lining of appallingly low online conversion rates is that even small conversion improvements can produce big bottom-line improvements.

And whether you listen to the experts, like Neil Patel, or simply observe the experts, like Google (which performs thousands of tests each year – pardot.com) you’ll know that A/B or split testing is integral to improving conversion rates.

But, believe it or not, if you run any kind of testing program, you are in the minority.

Only 44% of companies use some form of testing to improve their conversion rates.

But Don’t Get Smug if You Split Test 

Perhaps the biggest misconception tests have is that, because they test, they maximize their conversion rates. There are two reasons that this isn’t necessarily true:

  1. AB tests are a means, not an end. Just like having a hammer, saw and level does not mean your building will be solid, merely having a testing program does not mean your conversion rates will be optimized, or even improved.In a nutshell, any test program that runs on ‘let’s change the CTA button to orange and see what happens’ has the same chance of wasting time and money, and not producing reliable results, as it does of improving conversion rates.
  2. The CRO Junkie Syndrome – While most seasoned conversion rate optimizers understand point one, they may not realize that they are CRO junkies.

AB Tests 01

What is a CRO junkie? If you get a shot of adrenaline every time you see an uptick in conversions during or following a test, you are at risk of being a CRO junkie. (That’s more or less all of us.)

What’s the problem with being a CRO Junkie? First, don’t worry, you’ll not have to check into rehab for this one. Indeed, a passion for better conversion rates is sorely lacking in digital marketing.

The CRO junkie problem is two-fold. First, CRO junkies tend to leap and the first sign of a win. As soon as they see an uptick in rates, they get their shot of adrenaline. Satisfied, they presume the test is a success.

The second problem is they tend to look for the win and the rush that comes with it. And they don’t stop until they score a hit.

It means many negative results, and the valuable lessons they hold, are overlooked, ignored or dismissed as invalid. As outlined in a case study by Unbounce, even ‘failed’ AB tests can be used to increase conversion rates.AB Testing 02AB Testing 03

You should benefit from every well planned and executed test, regardless of results.

“The goal of a test is not to get a lift, but to get a learning.”
Dr. Flint McLaughlin
MEC Labs

The Bad Habits of a CRO Junkie. The quest for the next hit of improved conversion rates means every CRO specialist can fall victim to habits and characteristics that don’t account for the margins of error that are inherent in every test. And their AB test results may not reflect the truth.

1. Incorrect Sample Sizing – How long have you been analyzing your landing page results? Hopefully from the beginning. That means, even if yours is a relatively new company, you could have two or three years of traffic, bounce rate and conversion statistics. For many, the base conversion rate that they set out to improve with a testing program may be the result of analyzing hundreds of thousands of visits, hits and misses.

But the conversion junkie may be tempted to make profound decisions about your conversion funnel based on a comparatively small sample.

To illustrate the problems that inadequate sample sizes can cause, let’s say you want to know which of two local schools offer a better education for your child. If you get two sample test results from each school and find that school A’s results are higher, is school A necessarily the better school? Of course not. The samples you happened to get from school B could be their worst results the results from school A could be their best results.

If, however, you checked every test result from both schools, you could make a very accurate assessment of which school was best.

Known in some circles as ‘statistical power” or , the basic principle is: the larger the sample size, the more accurate the results. (qubit.com)

2. Acting on False Positives – The quickest way to understand false positives and the negative impact they can have on your AB test is to do an AA test. Simply put, an AA test observes the performance of your landing page without comparing it to a variant. Every page goes through cycles of higher and lower performance. The CRO junkie looking for a 5% uptick in conversion rates will find it even in an AA test – or when there has been no actual change to produce the positive result.

Some ‘successful’ AB tests are the result of false positives.

3. Wearing Blinders – As mentioned, junkies tend to look for what they seek – higher rates. But in doing so, they can overlook or dismiss tons of valuable information that may be considered negative of not indicative of a successful test. Just as disastrous is the information that is never discovered because the test is concluded once the sought-after boost is delivered.

4. Failing to Follow-up – One of the best ways to battle incorrect sample sizes, false positives and missed information is to run follow-up tests to validate previous results. A well-rounded testing program will run the same or similar tests at different times, to account for external or unknown factors, like seasons, current events and economic climate, to confirm results.

The CRO junkie might not want to risk the win of a positive result with follow-up tests.

In the End: It’s way better to be a CRO junkie than to not test your landing pages at all. And it’s easy to kick those nasty junkie habits.

Website owners are often surprised by how giving visitors easy to locate options, and often repeating a “Call to Actions” multiple times on a page, can lead to significant increases in conversions.

The Problem

Our customer, Fulcrum Gallery, a company that specializes in selling of art pieces online, was facing major conversion issues. Our analytics assessment pointed to several areas, which we can focus on: the homepage, product pages, checkout process, etc. The conversion optimization team noticed that the website suffered from a high checkout abandonment rate. Analytics showed that the cart page had high exit and bounce rates as well. The team identified the cart page as one of the initial pages to work on.

Conversion Framework Analysis

Let’s go through the test.

This is what the original cart looked like prior to making any change to it:

fulcrum gallery original cart

The initial Conversion Framework assessment pointed out multiple issues on this page.

FUDs (Fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is one of the main elements we evaluate during a Conversion Framework assessment of any page. The FUDs element is broken down into over 70 sub elements that we analyze on any given page. FUDs vary from one page to the next based on the type of page. The FUDs visitors face on the main homepage are different than those on the cart page. On the main homepage, a visitor is wondering if they landed on the right website or if the website has what they are looking for. On a cart page, the visitor is wondering if she is making the right purchase decision or if her items are going to arrive on time. One of the sub- elements of FUDs is “webpage element clarity and balance.” With element clarity and balance, the most important elements of a webpage should be highlighted and they must designed and placed in a way to draw visitor’s attention. When evaluating the “webpage element clarity and balance” on Fulcrum’s original cart design, we noticed that the “Continue to Checkout” button, which is the most important element on the page, is not placed in a way to draw a visitors’ attention.

The “Continue to Checkout” button was placed along a gray bar, which takes away from the visual draw of that element. The “Continue to Checkout” hadalso the same size and look as the “Continue Shopping” button. Finally, the “checkout with Amazon” button was placed next to the “Continue to Checkout” button had a better visual appeal. The “checkout with Amazon” button color stood out very clearly on the page.

Hypothesis

Prior to changing the size and the look of the “Continue to Checkout” button, we decided to simply place the button above the cart, thus drawing customers’ attention to it. The hypothesis was: Adding a second “Continue to Checkout” button on top of the cart will increase conversion rates.

Is it possible for two CTAs on the same page, which essentially have the same function, to increase conversion?

Here is the new design of the cart page:

fulcrum-gallery-after

The Results   

The results were quite exciting. Our customer saw a 20% increase in conversions from this simple change.

Conversion Optimization Insights from the test

Why did adding an additional “Continue to Checkout” button increase conversions?Introducing a top “call to action” did a few things:

  1. The top call to action is highlighted and appears as an important element on the page.
  2. The top CTA draws customers’ attention to both “Continue to Checkout” buttons since it is a top element and the eye is accustomed to the look and feel of it.
  3. For customers with multiple items in their cart, they don’t have to scroll down to start the checkout process since the “Continue to Checkout” button is now located on the top as well.

Lesson learned: if you want your visitors to take a course of action, place the corresponding CTA in an obvious and clear manner for them to find it.

This particular customer’s cart went through many changes. Follow the Invesp blog (@invesp) and twitter hashtag #piicasestudies to learn more about conversion increases through optimization and testing on Pii.

Posted in (Ecommerce)

While it’s always been a focus of ecommerce strategizing, the promise of a personalized online shopping experience remains largely unfulfilled. It’s a curious circumstance because the statistics show that there’s a big demand, and payoff, from customizing the offering each of your customers get when they visit your site.

  • 59% of online shoppers believe that it is easier to find more interesting products on a personalized online retail store
  • 56% are more likely to return to a site that recommends products
  • 53% believe that retailers who personalize the shopping experience provide a valuable service
  • 45% are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations
    (Invesp Infographic: Online Shopping Personalization Statistics & Trends)

Online-Shopping-Personalization

The Lack of Personalization is Not All Your Fault

Ecommerce sites can’t take all the blame for the shortfall in personalized shopping. Online shoppers are notoriously protective of the sort of personal information required to personalize their shopping. However, the numbers show that many of them are willing to open up about their preferences if they know that it will improve their shopping experience.

With 59% of marketers experiencing good ROI after personalizing their online store, there are clear benefits for both the shopper and retailer. When done right, there’s no real reason for ecommerce sites to avoid personalization.

An Onsite Personalized Shopping Comparison – Amazon.com & Henrys.com

First, the following comparison is very unfair. Amazon is probably the most famous online retailer and a personalized shopping pioneer while Henry’s is a regional bricks and mortar camera retailer with an ecommerce site.

But the examples show the two ends of the personalized shopping spectrum. I visited both sites recently while online shopping for a digital camera. The screencaps below are the pages displayed when I returned to each site some days later.

Amazon.com

In an effort that might be the state-of-the-art of onsite personalization, almost every element on the Amazon page is personalized in some way, according to my account details, shopping history and my potential shopping needs, including the following particular points:

  1. Amazon immediately lets me know this page is personalized to me with the ‘Stephen’s Amazon.com’ link. It even sounds nice – imagine my own Amazon!
  2. A personal ‘Hello’ and link to My Account.
  3. My ‘Wish List’.
  4. Amazon knows my location and refers me to the local site.
  5. Hovering over ‘Your Account’ produces 14 personalized options.
  6. Appstore for Android. Having visited their mobile site, Amazon gives me a link to the Android Appstore (though I’m not sure why they think I’d be interested in ‘Garfield’s Escape’, whatever that might be). It’s refreshing for an Android user to arrive at a site that recognizes there are a few mobile devices and operating systems in the world not made by Apple.
  7. While I have never bought shoes online, at least they know I would be more interested in men’s sandals than women’s sandals
  8. A list of the cameras I checked out on my last visit. No need to click on anything, but everything right there, ready to go. If online shoppers are doing any serious comparisons, they are very likely to return to a site more than once throughout the process. How often have you been frustrated by having to search again for an item you just viewed a few minutes ago, before leaving the site and returning?

Ecommerce Personalization 01

Henrys.com

While not the behemoth that is Amazon, Henry’s has the means to produce a shopping experience that’s more personal than this:

  1. A link to ‘Your Account’.

Ecommerce Personalization 02

That’s it. No first-name basis here. No personalized options. No hint of what I shopped for when I last visited. To be fair, when I click on ‘Your Account’ I land on a page where I can enter my account information, which then leads to a page that has a ‘Wish List’, ordering history and account management options. All the personalization outlined on the Amazon page came without any clicking or logins.

Off-Site Personalization

A personalized shopping experience is not limited to your ecommerce site. From email to social media, you can stay in touch with and create a unique relationship with each shopper.

According to Invesp’s research, email is by far the most important digital channel for online shopping personalization. It consistently outperforms all other advertising channels, online and off, and lets you completely personalize your customer interactions.

Yet it remains underutilized as an advertising medium and its potential for personalization is even more neglected.

According to the 2013 Experian Email Marketing Study, as reported by marketingland.com, the majority of companies in the study asked customers for personal data, but 70% did not personalize their email messages.

That’s even more surprising when the same study shows that personalized email produces some astonishing results compared to generic messages.

  • 29% higher unique open rates
  • 41% higher unique click rates
  • 26% higher unique open rates just from a personalized subject line

A Quick Ecommerce Email Personalization Case study – EB Games Gets It

Take a look at the list of emails below. Do any of the subject lines stand out? Hint: it’s the only that’s personalized of the 11 emails listed.

Ecommerce Personalization 03

And EB Games carries the personalization through to the content of the email, including:

  1. A link to coupons targeted to my shopping history
  2. An invitation to visit my local bricks and mortar store
  3. My EDGE Level (whatever that is)
  4. My shopping reward points (which I didn’t know I had, but now I’m interested)

Ecommerce Personalization 04

Where to Start Your Ecommerce Personalization

In addition to using your customers’ account information and email addresses (all with their permission, of course), and their shopping history, another way to personalize their experience is by simply asking them. Here’s how Selfridge’s does it in the U.K: (via econsultancy.com)

Personalized05

By Stephen Da Cambra on February 27, 2014 10:59 am

If you have ever visited a tradeshow, you probably experienced a very clear example of the effect of social proof. Think back to the time you spent strolling the trade show floor, not with any particular booth destination in mind, but just looking to see what’s what.Social Proof for Ecommerce Conversion Optimization 01

Which booths caught your attention? Chances are you were drawn to those that had visitors and avoided those where the booth representative stood alone.

Yes?

The thing that attracts you to the busy booths, or crowded stores at the mall, is the social proof demonstrated by the mass of people.

According to Wikipedia, social proof is:
“a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”
(emphasis is the author’s)

When you were just looking around the trade show floor, you didn’t know which booths were worthy of a visit. You assumed that the people visiting the busier booths must know something you didn’t, and you were drawn to those booths.

Now Think About Your Ecommerce Customers

They ‘stroll’ across the web looking to make a purchase. Sometimes they know exactly what they want and where to get it. But most often they are unsure what to buy, where to buy it and sometimes even why they want it.

Take for example digital cameras. Shoppers face an incredibly wide range of choices and options online. How are they to know which model is best suited to their needs? Which site offers the best value? And does the average shopper really need a 15 mega pixel camera and a 50X optical zoom?

More and more studies show that online shoppers depend on social proof to guide them in making a purchase.

  • 70% of shoppers consult online reviews and ratings before making a purchase (BusinessWeek)
  • 63% say they are more likely to buy from a site that has product ratings and reviews (Search Engine Journal)
  • 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals (Invesp)
  • Online reviews are the most popular user-generated content (Forrester)
  • Reviews generate 21% higher purchase satisfaction and 18% higher loyalty (PowerReviews)

It is undeniable that social proof works to generate traffic, conversions and sales.Social Proof for Ecommerce Conversion Optimization 02

How to Improve Your Social Proof Marketing

Compared to trade show booths, the problem facing ecommerce sites is that it’s impossible to show new visitors the crowd of shoppers on the site. But using the tools of social proof marketing tools will get the point across:

1. Customer Reviews and Ratings – the numbers outlined above prove the power of using reviews and ratings. If you want more proof, look around at the major online retailers. You’ll search for a long time to find one that does not have some form of customer reviews and or ratings.

Many ecommerce sites hesitate to use customer ratings for fear of getting too many negative responses. But fear not, 75% of reviews are positive. (PowerReviews)

And negative reviews carry two major benefits. First, they add authenticity to the positive reviews (no company gets 100% positive reviews, so customers will tend to dismiss those that claim to do so). Second, they give you the opportunity to address customer concerns and demonstrate a high level of engagement and customer service.

2. Testimonials – Sometimes forgotten in the tide of newer technology, testimonials are no less valuable than in the days when they were just about the only social proof tool in the shed. If you’ve ever received a thank you note or compliment over the phone, get permission to use it on your site. While ratings put a numeric value on your company and products, testimonials give them a story.

3. Images and Videos – We all like pretty pictures and, to meet demand, the web becomes more visual every day. Five years ago there was no Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat. And Youtube is the second largest search engine on the web.

Your testimonials are more likely to be believed when accompanied by a corresponding picture, especially when it’s from a recognized brand advocate. (KISSmetrics)

With the ascendency of image-based sites, customer-generated images and videos have been one of the biggest social proof trends of the past couple of years.

According to visual commerce platform developer GetCandid.com, people who look at user-generated photos are five times more likely to buy online than those who don’t.

Conversion-optimized social proof: GetCandid.com takes social proof to a higher level by letting ecommerce sites to create galleries of ‘shoppable’ customer-generated images. That means not only will your customers be able to see lots of images from other shoppers just like them, but each image carries its own call-to-action button that means viewers are just one click away from buying what they see in the picture.

Socila Proof for Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization 04

Shoppable User-Generated Product Shot

4. Social Sharing – Social media marketing has its fans and detractors, but, regardless of your opinion, there’s very likely a conversation about your products, brand or something very close to them going on right now on social media. While you may not want to pursue an active social marketing campaign, the numbers show that it’s folly to not let your customers share your content and products to their social networks or let them login to your site with their social accounts.

  • 65% of adult internet users have an account on at least one social network
  • 40% of consumers prefer using a social login over setting-up a new account or using a guest account
  • 68% of consumers use social sites to read product reviews
  • 50% use social networks to provide product feedback
  • 131% more time is spent on your site by consumers can comment and share using their social accounts
    (monetate)
Social Proof for Ecommerce Conversion Optimization 03

Social Sharing on Mobile Devices

 

The Bottom Line: Social proof works. On the trade show floor and for ecommerce.

  • It fosters powerful word-of-mouth advertising
  • It’s an endless supply of content (“Content marketing is the only marketing left.” Seth Godin)
  • It adds credibility. How? Just ask yourself: what’s my impression of a site that has no testimonials, social sharing icons or customer reviews?
  • It improves you site’s user experience (UX) – we all want to know what our friends and neighbors are doing
  • And social proof shows your customers that you are focused on them
By Stephen Da Cambra on February 10, 2014 9:09 am

Considering it’s just a few short clicks from beginning to end, your online conversion funnel has lots of tricky turns, bumps and exit points. Keeping prospects on track is key and you can’t let up on your efforts to do so until the final CTA completes the conversion.

Whether you want to generate leads or make a sale, the very last step in your funnel involves some sort of sign-up form. But, just because you got them this far doesn’t mean your prospects won’t bolt in a second if your form isn’t optimized at least as much as the rest of the funnel.

The following tips will help you improve your prospects’ experience when using your forms and plug the leaks that happen too often at the crucial end-point of your funnel.

1. Short is Sweet – Getting prospects to your sign-up form means you’ve conquered the fears, uncertainties and doubts (FUDs) that everyone experiences when shopping or ‘signing-up’ online.

The worst FUDs happen when they are asked to enter personal information. Online customers are increasingly aware of the value, security and misuse, of their personal data. So they are increasingly hesitant to submit it.

The more information you ask for, the more FUDs your customers experience, and the less chance you have of getting them to convert.

Check the epic length of the form below. Like sitting through a four-hour movie, you’d be exhausted at the end of this one.

Sign Up Form Tips 02

So many fields are absolutely not needed here, including:

  • Secondary email? Why?
  • The prospect is asked for a City, then State/Province/Region, then Zip/Postal Code, then Country. This isn’t rocket science. If your prospect enters a U.S City, a U.S. State and a U.S. Zip Code, they’re not likely to be from Scotland. Indeed, except for the actual street number, you can get all the same information, which takes up five fields here, from the single Zip/Postal Code field
  • Tax ID? Way too soon in the relationship (which hasn’t even started) to ask for tax numbers.

Getting Information vs. Getting Conversions – With the chances of conversion shrinking as the amount of information you ask for grows, it’s better to keep your initial sign-up forms short and sweet. Once customers take your initial call-to-action, they have entered into a relationship with you and are more likely to submit the info you need at subsequent stages of the relationship.

Contrast the form above with the one below from Zappos. Knowing they can get more information later, they use a very short form for their account registration.

Tips for Sign Up Forms 01

2. Keep Reducing the FUDs – A shortened form stops more FUDs from creeping in. But some already exist and the more you do to dispel them, the more success you will enjoy.

Zappos surrounds its sign-up form with a number of anxiety-reducing elements including: assurances against unauthorized charges; a “Safe Shopping Guarantee”; trust symbols like the BBB seal; a “How we protect your data” link and an assurance that returns can be made free of charge. (One of the biggest concerns online shoppers have is what to do if an item bought online needs to be returned or exchanged.)

SignUp03

3. What’s in it for Me? Even the humblest among us like to get things. And when you’re asking a prospect for something, especially closely guarded personal information, it helps to offer something in return.

This is particularly important for lead generation. An ecommerce shopper is motivated to complete your form because she wants to make a purchase. But the same is not true for a prospective lead.

The closer that you place the benefits of signing-up to your form, the better. At Invesp.com, the sign-up form is completely enveloped by the benefit.
Signup form Tips 04

Outlining the benefits the customer will enjoy can help your ecommerce sign-up too. Apple includes the following beside their AppleID sign-up form.

SignUp05

4. Tell Them Why – It’s all well and good to know that you should keep your forms, but what can you do when you absolutely must have certain information to complete the conversion?

Fear about submitting personal information comes from not knowing what will happen to that information; how it will be used and who sees it. It helps to make your Privacy Policy easily visible and accessible, and include assurances, similar to those outlined above on Zappos.

But it’s even better to tell your customers exactly why you ask for certain information. Like Walmart does:

SignUp06

5. Clear Call-to-Action – It’s the single most important element of any sign-up form. You can minimize the information you seek, you can give airtight assurances and offer undeniable benefits, but if your prospect does not find and click on your CTA button, it’s all for naught.

Check all the images in this post. In those that have a CTA button, it is the most distinctive element on the page.

But we still see major sites with unispiring CTAs like the one below – a grey button that tells prospects to “Register”:

Sign Up Form Tips 08

Putting it All Together on Your Sign-Up Form

Some sites are getting it right. In researching sign-up forms for this post, the best one we found comes from ModCloth.com.

  1. It’s Short – They don’t even ask for your name!
  2. FUD Relief – They outline their Return Policy and include a link to their Privacy Policy immediately beside the CTA.
  3. Lots of Benefits – Including “Discover …”, “Gain …” and, best of all, “Get $10 Off”.
  4. Clear CTA – Big, orange and simple.
  5. Social Logins – This may not be an option for everyone, but it sure is the best way to simplify your sign-up form: eliminate it. The best part? Social logins increase registration rates by 20 to 40% (http://blog.gigya.com/real-roi-with-social-login/)

Signup Form Tips 07

Change Your Sign-Up Form Focus

No one intentionally creates poorly performing sign-up forms. Forms began as a technical way to get to customer information online. As a result, they focused on what your company needs from your customers.

The first step in improving them is to focus instead on what your customers need from you.

By Stephen Da Cambra on January 29, 2014 6:20 am

It’s simply no longer an option to ignore or underestimate the impact of mobile shopping on ecommerce.

Sales results from the 2013 holiday season underline why. According to Custora’s Ecommerce Pulse, as reported on marketingland.com, mobile e-commerce grew 50% during the 2013 holiday season versus 2012.

Almost 30% of holiday ecommerce orders were made on mobile devices.

But, in a June 2013 post, Marketing Pilgrim highlighted a study that showed 49% of ecommerce merchants did not have a mobile-optimized site and, remarkably, a further 17% didn’t know or weren’t sure if their sites were optimized.

Part of the problem is complacency. Many ecommerce merchants look at their desktop site on a mobile device in the comfort of their home or office. The site seems to look fairly good. Sure, the copy is a little small and you need to zoom in to get a proper look at images, but they don’t look bad.

But mobile users are, in a word, mobile. They are in a bricks and mortar store comparing prices, walking down the street or in line for coffee. They have no time for slow loading sites, pinching and zooming are awkward and, if they can’t spot your call-to-action at strolling speed, forget it.

In other words, on mobile, a desktop site can be a real conversion killer.

Your ecommerce site needs to go mobile and here are four best practices to make it so:

1. Find the Right Fit – Mobile screens that is. If this sounds like an obvious and simple task, it’s anything but. While mobile devices include smartphones and tablets, the variety of screen sizes for both types of devices has mushroomed in the past couple of years. They now include mini tablets and smartphone displays that are not much smaller than the mini tabs, and all sizes in between. And you need to keep in mind landscape and portrait orientations for each size.

Google recognizes three ways to build sites and landing pages for mobile devices and displays, including:

a) Create and maintain a separate mobile URL

b) Use the same set of URLs, but serve different HTML and CSS on each one, depending on the device.

But, by far the most popular and, not insignificantly, Google’s recommended way to optimize your pages is through responsive web design (RWD).

Simply put, RWD ‘responds’ to the device used to access your pages by using CSS code to render the page in a way that best fits the device’s screen size and orientation.

But there are a couple important considerations you should make before deciding on your best option:

a) Google does not rank RWD sites higher. Because Google recommends RWD, many people assume that means a responsive site will enjoy higher rankings. But that’s not so. As long as your site meets Google’s guidelines and best practices for mobile optimized websites, they will identify it as friendly to their smartphone bot, regardless of whether you used RWD or not.

Good to Know: Google makes it clear that they will demote your site on mobile search results if it does not meet their mobile site guidelines.

b) RWD may not be your best option. Major ecommerce sites, including Amazon.com, Ebay.com and BestBuy.com, use one of the other two options to build separate sites for mobile. Indeed, even Google does not use RWD for their mobile sites (see point 3 below).

Below: Zappos.com on three different screen sizes. Note the m.zappos.com URL on the mobile sites, denoting that it’s separate from their desktop site, instead of RWD.Ecommerce mobile landing pages 22

2. Get Your Colors Done – With your pages sized properly for mobile, the primary issue becomes readability. Color and contrast are a big part of that.

Many current desktop color trends, like using a shade of gray instead of black for text, may not work well on a smartphones.

In the two examples below, you can see the differences in colors (light blue background vs. white background) that ModCloth.com uses for their desktop (left) and mobile (right) sites.

Again, it’s important to note here that ModCloth has chosen a non-RWD option for their mobile site so they can serve different options and content. If you choose RWD, your color combinations must work for mobile first.
Mobile Landing Pages

3. Organize Your Content for Mobile – If there is a downside to RWD, it is that you have very little control of where each element is displayed when the page is re-sized for each device.

If you used more than one column for your RWD desktop site, the content in left side columns will appear before the content of columns to the right. The result is that elements that appear beside each other on your desktop site can be displayed far away from each other on your mobile site.

Elements like your call-to-action, which might appear above the fold on the right of your desktop site, can end up at the very bottom of the mobile page. Think of the impact that has on your conversion rates.

The solution for RWD is to design a one-column site, though it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be problem-free.

If you choose one of the dedicated mobile site options, you’ll have much more control over how the site displays on each device.

It’s the main reason why sites like Amazon use dedicated mobile sites. They have far too much invested in their site design and conversion path to risk it on the almost random re-sizing that comes from RWD.

Below: Even large, separate mobile ecommerce sites have problems fitting absolutely every screen size and format. Below is the m.zappos.com as it appears on a 4″ Android device in landscape format.
MobileOptimized11

4. Simple Forms – First, considering that too much complexity is a major drag on your conversion rates, all your forms, even those on your desktop site, should be simplified to gather only the information that is absolutely essential for conversion.

But the complexity problem is much more acute on mobile. Not only do mobile users not want to key in a lot of data, but longer forms can affect how quickly your page displays and its appearance on the device.

In addition to reducing the amount of information required, make sure each entry field is clearly marked to avoid confusion.

Mobile devices make online shopping more convenient for the shopper, but more complex for the seller. The variety of devices and screen sizes makes it almost impossible to have a site that will appear and function optimally on every device.

Mobile First: With the trend on desktop sites to sparse content, many businesses have adopted the ‘mobile first’ approach to their web design, building it for mobile and then enhancing it for desktop.

But there is no perfect answer. You’ll need to research your options mobile site options at least as much as you did for your desktop site.

And, of course, you’ll need to test everything.

4 in 10 Social Media users have purchased an item online or in-store after sharing it or marking it as a Favorite on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Check out our new infographic titled, “How Social Media Influences Purchase Decisions – Statistics And Trends” to know more about this topic.

How Social Media Influences Purchase Decisions – Statistics And Trends

 

Infographic by- Invesp

To Publish this Image on your Blog or Website . Copy this code

Social Media Sites Most Likely To Influence Purchases

 Social Media Site %age
   
FaceBook 30.8%
YouTube 27%
LinkedIn 27%
Google+ 20%
Pinterest 12%
Twitter 8%

 

78% of respondents said that corporate social media posts impact their purchases

Why Consumers Follow Brands On Social Media

 Reasons FaceBook Twitter Pinterest YouTube
         
To keep up with activities 52% 57% 35% 41%
To learn about products and services 56% 47% 56% 61%
To leverage sweepstakes and promotions 48% 36% 28% 20%
To provide helpful feedback 32% 27% 22% 23%
To join brand fan communities 27% 26% 25% 19%
To make purchases 21% 15% 25% 21%
To complain about products and services 18% 19% 12% 9%

 

Social Media-Related Shopping Stats

After marking an item as Favorite:

  • 50% of the shopping within a week
  • 80% of the shopping within 3 weeks
 Social Media Site %age
   
FaceBook 38%
Pinterest 29%
Twitter 22%

 

How Social Media Influences Purchase Decisions

Reasons Pinterest FaceBook Twitter
       
Additional product information 43% 25% 26%
Product discovery 35% 31% 35%
Purchase location identification 28% 15% 38%
Purchase reminder 26% 23% 32%
Product recommendation 26% 19% 32%
Product sale or purchase alert 19% 37% 32%

 

41% of shoppers shop impulsively for an item after seeing it on social media.

88% of people deliberately searched for the item they purchased or marked it as Favorite

50% of Pinterest purchasers created a pinboard specifically for a purchase decision

Major Product Categories For Social-To-Sale Purchases

Product Category Pinterest Facebook Twitter
       
Food & Drink 24% 14% 13%
Art & Design 21% 5% 9%
Gardening & Décor 18% 8% 8%
Fashion & Beauty 17% 22% 18%
Tech & Electronics 6% 25% 34%
Other 14% 26% 18%
By Stephen Da Cambra on January 15, 2014 6:31 am

If anything, it’s a major flaw in accepted ecommerce strategy that we pay more attention to attracting customers than we do to the checkout process they follow. Never before has the need to study retail checkouts been so high than since the emergence of ecommerce. And, considering the pitiful conversion rates, never has it been more crucial.

Battle the FUDs

If your online customer had the same familiarity and certainty she has in the checkout line of a bricks and mortar store, where she is even willing to wait to checkout, you could expect your online conversion rates to move closer to the almost 70% that bricks and mortar stores enjoy.

But, conversely, even experienced online shoppers have certain fears, uncertainties and doubts that prevent them from converting at the same rate as they do in bricks and mortar stores.

If there is one overarching guideline to improving your cart/checkout abandonment rates, it is to reduce your customer’s FUDs.

As we go through the following tips, keep track of how many address FUDs and you’ll also get a clearer overall picture of how to improve your checkout process:

1. Answer customers’ questions before they checkout. Yes, this isn’t related to the checkout process, but customers will often start to checkout just to find answers they can’t get otherwise. Answers like shipping charges, taxes and payment options.

By adding that information to your product pages or when customers click “Add to Cart”, you will reduce the chance that they proceed to checkout to find it.

And don’t think that by giving them the information early that they won’t need it later. Many customers will have similar questions when they are deep into checkout, and if they can’t find answers then, they’ll abandon. So keep providing that information throughout the checkout process. You can’t tell them often enough that you have free shipping.

On the Cart page below, Zappos.com answers customers’ questions about shipping costs, estimated taxes, coupon/gift certificate redemption, shipping and returns information and privacy policy.

Ecommerce Checkout 01

2. Simplify the Process. In the infographic Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics, Invesp’s research shows that, when asked why they abandoned their shopping carts, 12% of respondents said the checkout “needed too much information” and 11% said the checkout was too complex.

Below are two examples of how ecommerce retailers have simplified their checkout process:

Zappos.com, which is owned by Amazon, lets customers login with their Amazon account instead of requiring a separate Zappos account.

Checkout02

One source of unnecessary checkout complexity is asking repeatedly for the same information, or for redundant information. An example of information redundancy is asking for City and State information, both of which can be easily found using the customer’s zip or postal code.

Henrys.com uses billing address information on file to eliminate the need for shoppers to re-enter shipping address information.

Checkout05

3. Treat Guests Like Family. 14% of customers abandon their checkout because they are required open an account. With heightened awareness of identity theft and increasing concern about information privacy, more and more shoppers are resistant to submitting personal information, particularly for small or routine purchases.

Guest checkout options let customers complete transactions quickly and easily without the fear that they have exposed their information yet again.

As a retailer, of course you would like to gather as much customer data as possible. But it’s value must be weighed against the cost of lost sales.

Checkout08

4. Have Credibility. Ecommerce retailers force customers to make a considerable leap of faith by asking them to shop online rather than a bricks and mortar store. A tangible store gives customers the reassurance that it will be there if the customer needs to make a return, if they want to buy complementary products later, if they need service, etc., etc..

That those reassurances do not exist in the same way online is one of the greatest sources of FUDs. Websites come and go, data gets leaked, deliveries never happen, and, when any or all of these occur, the customer has little or no recourse.

Your customers, especially new ones, need to know that yours is a trustworthy business and credibility symbols are a good way to let them know.

The image below shows just some of the credibility symbols and assurances that Zappos uses to reassure their customers.

Checkout09

5. Be as clear as possible about the information you seek. This is especially true of information entry fields. When designing your checkout process, assume that each customer is using ecommerce for the first time.

In the image below, the headline and each data entry field are clearly defined:

Checkout10

6. Clearly let them know when something is wrong. How many times have you been through a checkout, filled in all the information, double-checked your order and finally clicked the last “Submit Order” button, only to have absolutely nothing happen?

You first thought is that you did something wrong, then you figure there is a technical problem, then you worry about checking-out again for fear of being charged twice.

And then, after searching and scrolling around, you find out that all that anxiety, all those FUDs, were caused by a space in your telephone number that the form wasn’t designed to handle.

How frustrating was that? Have you ever left the checkout because if it? Many shoppers have.

So don’t let your customers experience the same frustration. Clearly indicate when information is missing or wrong, like Zappos does.

Checkout11

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