Years spent optimizing and marketing ecommerce stores has taught me one important lesson: no change is too small. Making simple tweaks to your online store may make no difference to the bottom line, or it may make a difference of $300 million.
Average online stores splutter along. You keep on making ordinary profits. There’s a profit plateau where you get stuck, a glass ceiling that you can’t break. And, you don’t want to be just an average ecommerce website.
Constant innovation plus calculated experimentation is the fuel blend that propels an online store. I am not asking you to throw away your winning formula and replace it with an unknown quantity. But, there are several small tweaks that you can try out. Maybe, one such change will help you boost conversions, or maybe all the changes together will help you haul in heavy profits.
A/B testing makes it extremely easy to try out new ideas and measure their impact. Digital marketers for online giants like eBay, Shopify and Amazon have been testing every aspect of their website, and they have found out what effect a new feature or tweak has on a specific audience. Less awesome, but equally determined marketers (like myself), have studied their tactics, and now everyone knows what can be done to improve online experiences.
However, what works for one ecommerce website or online store won’t necessarily work for others. But, no one is stopping you from testing new ideas, features and approaches on your website. Not only that, our ecommerce team has even prepared a list of things you can start implementing!
What we see has a huge impact on our desire to buy. Do you remember reading the words “Images shown are indicative only” on boxes for food and other stuff? Advertisers know that larger and richer images create a favorable picture of the product in the minds of the reader – even when readers know that the actual product differs from the displayed images.
Try putting up larger and better product images that make users fall in love with the product and trigger an instant impulse buy. Just check out how irresistible Louis Vuitton’s Fuselage Sneaker Boot looks, dominating the page:
In case the product has one main image and several other images around it, you can change the placement of the main image, remove some of the distracting images and offer different options for viewing the image in detail. Something as simple as a product image zooming feature can help tip the balance in your favor. Another feature you can play with is offering the customers a 360-degree view of the product. See how Amazon accomplishes the goal with simplicity and style – users simply need to roll over the image to zoom.
Many a times, visitors shop online for products that they have only heard of. By displaying a video of the product in use, you can inform and persuade visitors at the same time. In case you offer services, you can experiment with videos outlining features and business benefits of your services – a large number of people prefer watching videos to reading text. A good example is Amazon’s Kindle Fire product page – the attractive and informative video offers a good alternative to the page cluttered with tons of text details regarding the product.
Creating a sense of urgency can help convert hesitant buyers. If possible, for certain products or services, offer steep discounts for the first few buyers. Let the discount percentage taper off as time duration increases. In case you sell rare products or products that tend to go out of stock, you can try hammering home the fact that the product is available for a limited period to create a similar sense of urgency. Test this for a wide range of products to see what difference it makes to your sales.
One of the major benefits of offering anything substantial for free is that you at least get user’s credit card details in return. But, if you are at the initial stage and simply want to popularize a specific product or service, it may be a good idea to try offering it for free with no strings attached – not even asking for card info. Just email and name followed by download. If this doesn’t drive downloads, nothing will. See how the marketing gurus at BaseCamp do it:
Too many online stores insist on registration before checkout. Registrations are useful as they provide customer information and help build a stronger database. But, many visitors leave without registering or buying. If you don’t already offer it, start offering guest checkout and see how it goes. While this may mean lesser registered members, the tradeoff can pay well in terms of increased sales.
For some products and services, it is feasible to offer free trials. This is especially true when your product is new and you are confident of its ability to wow the users. So, try offering free trials on products to spike the interest of the visitors. You can also play around with the duration of the free trial: usually longer trials get more buyers. Of course, this strategy will not work for all kinds of products or services. So, it is best to shortlist the items that can benefit for this technique and test the outcome.
If you are already offering free trials or major discounts, try and put a monetary value on the free usage. For example, if you are offering a free trail for some software product or application, you can say “Get Free trail worth $500.” Or, “Save more than $250 by buying [insert product] today!” Buyers are more likely to try something for free if they can see it as savings or earning in real money. While savvy online shoppers can see beyond gimmicks, if you are offering real value, there is a good chance that this will help you get more sales. Check out how Netflix uses this technique to persuade users into signing up for a free trial.
Along with prominent CTA buttons, place text CTAs as links. By placing links at the key points in a sales copy, you encourage the customers to click and make a deal right after reading a convincing point. This tactic can yield best results for products or services that have a long and detailed sales copy.
Display product reviews from customers or from magazines or blogs. Most users research products online before buying – if they get a good review right on your page, chances are that they will buy from you. It may be difficult for smaller online stores to be reviews, but it is best to give it shot. Taking steps to encourage user review at the same time is recommended.
A sign guaranteeing the quality of the product, or a sign showing the online transaction is totally safe can help reassure the users. So, place such symbols through your pages. If relevant to your offering, you can also display customer testimonials and highlight your social media presence to build trust. This small tweak can work wonders for smaller, growing ecommerce websites.
Additionally, you can highlight your commitment to quality in a separate page. The link to such a page can be placed prominently to reassure any dithering buyers. Check out how Play dot com’s page assures users.
What happens when a customer is interested in a product or is trying to buy a product but runs into problems, or has questions? Try offering a Live Chat option to stop losing potential buyers. But, try this only if you are able to provide reliable chat support. Top stores (Flipkart, for example) in evolving ecommerce markets like India offers telephone assisted sales to fulfil the needs for first-time online buyers. The personal touch can pay off big time and help foster loyalty.
While a single, well-placed CTA button can serve quite well, it is good idea to try out several CTA buttons spread throughout the page. This can be especially effective for products and services that require long descriptions and page scrolls, or for products that require good research and long sales funnels.
The tricky part is finding a balance between the central CTA and other links that provide more information or suggest alternatives. You don’t want to dilute the power of the key call to button, but at the same time, you need to suggest other possible actions (add to wish list, read reviews, etc.) to the roving eyes of the users. See how Flipkart tries to find a balance:
Some online stores use a single page checkout, while other prefer a multi-step checkout. Should you break down the checkout process in shorter steps or can you craft a simple single page checkout? Try reducing or increasing the step by one and see if this has any results on the sales. You may be surprised at how a little variation can change the results.
Word-of-mouth is the best way of promoting your ecommerce store and products online. While it is not a good idea to pester users to share products while they are still in the buying process, it is advisable to ask them to share their purchase on social media after they have made the payments.
One of the most annoying parts of online shopping is filling in credit or debit card information again and again. Ecommerce sites that securely store customer’s card number or other details can offer express checkout. In case of regular purchases of similar kinds, the purchase details can also be made available to the logged in user to speed up the checkout process. A good example of this how FreeCharge offers superfast checkout to its logged in users in two quick steps:
Customer’s contact and credit card information is valuable. If you are finding it tough for people to register with your site, or want to build a customer database, you can ask the users to generate a promo code by filling up certain information.
Most ecommerce websites, especially the big players, accept discount codes. Try offering product coupons with every purchase or registration on your site, or send coupons to loyal customers via promotions emails and encourage them to buy at discount rates. This tactic has a better chance of success if you can maintain exclusivity of coupons. Word of caution: such discount coupons can drive sales, they also eat into profits.
While most shoppers are tech-savvy, a lengthy or detailed web form can be a big turn off. Reduce your form fields to bare minimum – if some information is not mandatory, don’t ask for it. You can ask for it after the payment is made.
Visitors also don’t like it when they fill up a form only to get a message that they have made some mistake and need to re-fill it. Try a form that immediately tells visitors whether information entered in a field is correct or not.
At times, visitors are distracted by all the links and blinks and information surrounding the form. Once the customer opens a form, make sure that it opens in a modal window to ensure that the form is not left unfilled. In case distracting elements on the page are keeping users from filling the form, this approach can lead to a stronger engagement with users and more goal conversions.
While displaying the Order Summary is a good practice, if you display it alongside the form and on every step of the checkout process, you may be causing a few cart abandonments. When impulse buyers see the information too many times, they may change their mind and decide not to spend so much money. So, display it just once when needed, and then get rid of it.
set a realistic time limit for the test, make sure that you display the same variations to repeat visitors, be patient, and don’t jump to conclusions: if a test works, run it with greater intensity and for longer duration to see you can replicate the results of the experiment.No excuses now. Sure, A/B testing your ecommerce website design, features and approaches can take time and effort, but it will definitely help your reap rich dividends. Just
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