Wondering what you can do to improve your online sales? It’s time to start testing.
There are many names for it – conversion rate optimisation (CRO), personalisation, A/B testing – but it boils down the same thing: splitting your traffic and showing them different versions of a page in order to determine, statistically, what performs the best for your website visitors.
There are a number of platforms dedicated to testing – from enterprise favourites such as Adobe Target and Webtrends Optimize, through to newer offerings like Optimizely and Visual Web Optimizer. Google Content Experiments is also offered as a free service and can provide a good foundation for those looking to get started with testing.
Whichever platform you chose, one thing is certain: in the modern landscape, testing is a must. It will give you a better understanding of your user behaviours, backed by hard data, as well as a view of the levers you can use to affect your sales.
Don’t be afraid to challenge long-standing ideas or think outside the box – experimentation is a key part of the process. The results of testing can often be counter-intuitive, so be open to the fact that you may not know your audience as well as you think.
1. Focus your call to action button messaging
Something that has given us a great deal of success with our clients is ensuring that their call-to-action buttons (CTAs) have the correct message that resonates with their audience.
What is it that your audience is trying to achieve on your site? What language do you use to communicate with them?
Have they been adequately primed to purchase, or do they need more information/comfort before they proceed? Is it the type of product that can be bought impulsively, or one that requires more deliberation?
Every business and every audience is different. For online retail, it’s worth testing a range of different CTA messages:
- Buy Now
- Add To Cart
- Add To Bag
- Express Checkout
- One Step Checkout
Subtle tweaks to the standard messaging may also have a larger impact than you expect, such as adding punctuation or a reassuring message:
- Buy Now!
- Express Checkout – It’s Easy!
2. Optimise the look and feel of CTAs
Colour matters, size matters, and font matters. It should be intuitive to your users how to convert their intention to buy into the step of clicking through – obvious enough to stand out, but not intrusive to the point of taking them out of their experience.
Some great examples of CTA look and feel can be found here:
3. Use faceted navigation
Anyone who regularly purchases online will be familiar with the concept of faceted navigation – the ability to refine search results by including/excluding things such as size, colour or manufacturer on the fly, without the need for a complete page refresh.
Faceted navigation is used by the majority of online retailers, from Amazon through to ASOS. If you’re not currently using it, faceted navigation should be one of the first things you look to test, and find out what works best with your audience.
For more information on faceted navigation, see below:
4. Display customer testimonials/reviews
The visibility of customer testimonials or reviews can have a large impact on your customers’ comfort level – the reassurance that your site can be trusted, that the process is secure, and that the product itself is of value can be the tipping point in a purchase decision.
For service sales, testimonials make sense, while for a product based retailer, reviews would be preferred – however, you may have exceptional feedback about shipping or customer service that makes sense to include.
If you’re going to include testimonials, remember – the messaging of the testimonial is important. Will the contents of the testimonial resonate with your audience? Test some different configurations and see what works for you.
5. Show security messaging
Your cart messaging can have a major impact on the user deciding whether to proceed with the sale. Consider testing messages around security that could influence their decision:
- Customer support availability
- “Secure checkout” and SSL provider logo
- Return policy
- Delivery guarantee
Find out what connects with your users.
6. Implement live chat
Implementing a live chat widget can give an additional layer of confidence and security – your customers have an instantly accessible point of contact if they encounter any difficulties through the process, and it gives you that extra chance to keep the customer engaged with your page. Even if they don’t engage with the live chat functionality, just having it available may have an impact on the customers’ trust.
Consider using testing to determine the ideal placement and positioning of the widget.
7. Include video
When looking at conversion tips, you’ll read it a lot – “video converts better”. There is no doubt that from an informational perspective, a short video can quickly summarise and illustrate the value of your product or service, but there can also be a benefit INSIDE the shopping experience, replacing the usual product images with a video that gives a full view and rundown of the item.
Test and see how video can integrate with and improve your existing product information – or perhaps, replace it altogether.
8. Simplify the checkout process
Unless you’ve already actively worked at it, chances are that there are a number of places you can improve your checkout process:
- Minimise the amount of data you ask for from your users to simplify the checkout process and make it as easy as possible for them to complete their purchase.
- Reduce the number of steps in the checkout to reduce the number of potential dropout points.
- Minimise the use of CAPTCHA, which has a high failure rate and can encourage users to drop off
Testing can help quantify the effect of these changes on your conversion rate.
Consider also using a module for your e-commerce platform, such as One Step Checkout for Magento, or an integrated API like Stripe.
Test, and test again
Remember that testing is an ongoing and iterative process. Over time, your customers will mature, and trends will change. The mindset behind testing is to test many things, and to test often.
Considering a site refresh? Run a test and see the actual impact it will have on your sales.
Are your sales numbers slowing down? Revisit some of the areas you have already optimised, and determine whether your audience’s tastes have changed.
Joey Nguyen is Head of Technology at 2DataFish, the leading analytics, optimisation and tag management consultancy in Australia, providing digital marketing consulting to Australia’s biggest brands.