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By Stephen Da Cambra on August 28, 2014 6:23 am

It’s like watching a train wreck. Everything rolls along nicely, then you sense something is wrong and suddenly it’s off the rails.

I’m talking about online sign-up forms and processes. If it seems harsh that I describe some as ‘train wrecks’, think about it this way: digital marketing and conversion optimization are about calling on your customers to join you in a voyage of discovery. And any bump along the way can derail your customers from the path.

The journey begins the moment customers become aware of your value proposition and it continues at least until they convert, but it really should never end.

As we all learn more about how to make our customers’ experience better, there’s a refreshing ‘smoothness’ in ad copy, landing pages, calls-to-action and other conversion milestones, versus even just a few years ago.

But if there is one conversion point that continues be a bump in the road, it’s the sign-up form.

Like every other conversion point, no one can tell you what will be the most effective form for you, your products or your customers. You must test to find that out.

But the things that conspire to make your form ineffective are crystal clear because the success of your sign-up form, like everything else along the path to conversion, depends on your customers’ experience of it. Anything that makes the customer uncomfortable, uncertain or that seems wasteful will make the form less effective at capturing data.

A Quick Example of a Sign-Up Form Train Wreck

The following sign-up process follows so many commonly accepted best practices that it’s not the best example of a train wreck. But it shows that the wheels can come off on even a well-planned journey.

Everything Rolls Along Nicely: After clicking on the CTA in the ‘70% Off’ promotional email, the following brilliant sign-up form is presented. With just a single field to fill out, the shopper thinks: “no problem, just my email address and I get to take advantage of 70% off. I’m willing to give that much personal information in return for that value.”

And there’s more:.

  • The copy is well written and laid out. The ‘70% Of Every Day’ value proposition is clear
  • The call-to-action is the most obvious element on the page
  • The advice that preferences can be changed any time and that the company has a privacy policy helps alleviate apprehensions that the customer may have
  • And there are lot of big, colorful and bright images showing me how I can use my 70% savings

Effective Sign-Up Forms 01

Then You Sense Something is Wrong: After choosing an item to buy, the customer is presented with the following screen on the way to the checkout.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 02

So what’s wrong with that screen? Again, the only thing that’s required at this point is an email address. Not a difficult request, but didn’t the customer already give her email address? Why does she need to enter it again? Not to worry, there’s a good chance the customer still perceives it as a fair exchange for value and is not perturbed enough to become one of your shopping cart abandonment statistics.

Suddenly It’s Off the Rails: In one simple step, the customer goes from having to enter her email address just twice, to being forced to submit it a fourth time.

Why?

Effective Sign-Up Forms 03

And the fourth request for an email address isn’t the only thing that puts this one off the rails. Check the Privacy Policy copy. In the first stage of the sign-up process above, the customer is invited to ‘read our full privacy policy’. It’s a great way to tell customers that, if the security of their information is a concern, they have quick and easy access to the policy.

But by the third form page, the copy changes to: ‘by creating an account you are agreeing to our privacy policy’.

Hold the phone. Agreeing? Agreeing to what? In addition having to enter her email address an inordinate number of times, the customer is now also forced to review the privacy policy in its entirety to make sure she is comfortable with everything to which she must ‘agree’.

This sign-up process has gone off track.

The Most Effective Sign-Up Form? You Don’t Even Know It’s There

OK, before we begin this section, I understand the following example only works for an online service like Babbel’s. And when I say ‘most effective’, it is so only in my humble, subjective opinion and in comparison to the other forms I reviewed for this post.

But rarely have I been hooked so well.

I live in a country that has two official languages: French and English. I’ve always felt guilty about my lack of understanding of French. Except for ‘bonjour’, ‘au revoir’ and ‘ou est la salle de bain’, I’m hopeless. So when a call-to-action to learn French came from Babbel, I took it.

The journey began with a simple first step, two choices, easy, painless, no worries.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 04

Even when the subsequent screen asked for my age group, it raised no flags. If I was concerned about privacy, I could choose any age group I wanted.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 05

Then, suddenly, I’m learning. And, considering it’s part of my French vocabulary as outlined above, I knew the answer. Cool.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 06

After answering a series of similar questions, I was given a phrase-matching exercise, which I also aced. And I now have a score (gamification). And a gauge of where I am in the process. And all I’ve told them so far is that I’m a beginner and the age group I belong to.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 07

Look at this: I’ve completed the first round. And they say I’m ‘very good!’ My first name? Yes, sure, let’s go! (Notice that Babel doesn’t actually ask for your name.)

Effective Sign-Up Forms 08

Now, is the following bit where it gets difficult? But they only ask that I ‘Please answer these simple questions.’ No sweat.

Android, Just right. Online advertising.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 09

Password? Yes, I want to get in on this action again. Email? Well, everyone asks for that and I give my junk mail address anyway. And my score is down to zero, so I’m anxious to start racking up the points.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 10

Effective Sign-Up Forms 11
After I confirm my email address, look what happens: I’m already into a French course.

Effective Sign-Up Forms 12

See what happened there? To make sure I had the best customer experience possible, Babbel made their conversion path a game of learning and made me feel that I was going where I wanted to go, not where Babbel wanted me to be.

On the way, and with me hardly even noticing their effort, Babbel managed to find out the following from me:

  • First name, which they used to personalize the rest of the path.
  • Age group
  • Mobile OS and device type
  • Immediate feedback of the effectiveness of their product
  • Which of their marketing channels worked to get my attention
  • Acceptance of their Privacy Policy and Terms of Business
  • Email address

Not a bad haul of data.

Again, the Babbel example may not apply to very many situations. But hopefully it at least shows that the focus of the most effective sign-up forms is not only on what information you need from the customer, but also on how you can remove the bumps on the customer’s conversion path experience and turn it into one that makes her willing to give you that information and more.

So many landing pages, so little time. They come at you from your email box, web browser and search results. It’s so bad that we tune most of them out. At least I do.

So I thought I’d ‘stop and smell the roses’ (or is it ‘cow chips’?) of the landing pages that come my way to see what best practices are used, where I think pages could be improved and what optimizers might consider for their next round of AB tests.

Let’s Call it ‘The Good, The Bad and The Study’

The glut of landing pages makes it impossible to discuss them all. Below is a random cross-section of examples from one morning’s worth of PPC ads.

This is an unscientific review. You’ll note that these landing pages are quite different from each other and that’s a good thing. It means that some are scant on conventional best practices, but hopefully they are so in search of new paths to the customer’s heart. It makes it difficult to review each page from a single checklist. Besides, landing page design and optimization is still an art. And who wants to read a scientific art review?

Hopefully the points covered will at least serve to get you to look  at these and other landing pages more critically, arrive at your own conclusions and use them to improve your testing and results.

QuickBizStores.com

landing page review 01

The Good: Lots of highly visible calls-to-action for a Free Trial. This tells you the designers took the time to define a clear conversion goal for the page and they are going for it. CTA buttons appear twice above the fold and once below. They get support from a variety of easily scanned, bulleted copy that is generally benefit-driven. The product is for those who do not have the time and/or inclination to set up a complex ecommerce system, so the designers have wisely left the tech talk for later.

The Bad: What? We’ve hardly met and you want my name and address? And if I give it to you it means we have an ‘agreement’? What kind of customer do you think I am? The sign-up form in the top left, a spot where most people start their scan of a web page, is misplaced. Customers have not yet received enough information to answer the questions and concerns they have before they are ready to go to second base.

AB Test Suggestion: Move the ‘QuickBizStores Total Ecommerce Platform’ paragraph to above the sign-up form window. It’s short enough that the form, copy and portfolio animation (is that what it is?) will still be above the fold, but the customer gets the chance to be wooed by a little copy before being asked to enter into a relationship.

1DollarWebHost.com

Landing page review 03

The Good: Well designed with good, benefit-driven content. A lot of information is conveyed above the fold, but the design doesn’t seem too busy. It helps that the information is parceled in a number of different devices, including the headline, image (especially the piggy bank), paragraph, bullets,
text box, etc..

The Bad: Once you go below the fold, it’s like you’re in a parallel universe where CTA buttons don’t exist. It’s good that the designers expand upon and add to the information delivered above the fold. But regardless of how good it is, asking visitors to scroll back up the page to take the call to action forces them to take a step backward at a moment when they may be ready to take the ultimate step forward to become a customer. It’s good to have a CTA button on hand should it be needed.

AB Test Suggestion: Try adding testimonials, social proof or at least a brief portfolio/customers section. Calming the customer’s fears, uncertainties and doubts, especially for an offer that many may find ‘unbelievable’ (free website, $1 dollar hosting), makes more sense here than on most other sites.

Delmoco.com

landing page review 04

The Good: The ‘good’ in this page is that it is not terrible. Relatively clean design – even if some of the elements struggle to remain aligned in the standard ‘twentythirteen’ WordPress theme. Good effort to include conversion-boosting components, including big imagery, testimonials, a short entry form, video and bulleted benefits.

The Bad: Where’s the call to action above the fold? Yes, if you look closely you’ll spot it – or them; there are multiple, competing calls to action – but they should be ‘bonk-on-the-head’ obvious. In this case, the CTA that’s above the fold, (a white button on a white background) is the least noticeable main element on the page. Tsk, tsk.

AB Test Suggestions: Must stick with the CTA buttons on this one. First, try a color, any color other than white, for the ‘Request a Quote’ button. Second, try copy that implies a benefit on the “Consultation Request’ CTA button. Or at least something other than ‘Send’.

YP.ca (Yellow Pages)

landing page best practices review 04

While I’m not sure how big the companies are in our first three examples, they’re not likely to be on par with Apple and Microsoft and not as likely to have access to the same design and conversion optimization resources. While Yellow Pages is also not Apple or Microsoft, they were huge long before most of us could fathom the idea of a computer hardware or software company. In any case, we should see some higher-end design and conversion tactics here.

The Good: This is the only one of our examples to prominently feature direct contact information above the fold. But that’s it. While there’s nothing really wrong here, there’s also nothing remarkable.

The Bad: The call-to-action button. On a page headlined “Put ads right in front of customers who are actively searching for your products or services’, which is a fairly exciting prospect, the CTA reads ‘Let’s Talk’. Let’s talk? Talk shmalk. I want to do what it says in the headline. And I want to ‘Get Started Today’ or ‘Build My Business’ or ‘Turn my Website into a Customer Magnet’ or at very least ‘Get a Free Consultation’, but ‘Let’s Talk’? Nah, I don’t want to do that.

AB Test Suggestions: Get rid of the fine print below the CTA. Don’t even test it. Just get rid of it. No one wants to ‘submit’ and/or be ‘bound’ – at least not on a Yellow Pages site.

MailerLite.com

Landing page review 02

The Good: Just about everything. Within 10 seconds of landing, I know how easy the product is to use, that I can try it for free and that the company has ‘Happy Customers’ – who started with that same free trial. And the site does all that in 10 words. It’s simple and brilliant.

The Bad: The site needs to be a heck of a lot more brilliant to make sure no visitor has even a single question about the product, the company or anything to do with either one. Why? Because there is no telephone, email or contact information of any sort on the landing page. Check it out. The words ‘Contact’, ‘Call’, ‘Telephone’ and/or ‘Help’ do not exist on the landing page, nor do the terms ‘Get in Touch’ or ‘Customer Service’ or anything like them. Nowhere. Not even in the footer menu. Good way to ruin a good thing.

Oh, wait, in what must be the most glaring example ever of ‘two peoples separated by a common language’ (mailerlite.com is UK-based), if you have a question on MailerLite.com you must click the ‘Support’ link in the navbar. Then, suddenly, you have more contact information than you know what to do with:

  • A nice, quick query form
  • An email address
  • Separate US and UK telephone numbers
  • A ‘Knowledge Base’
  • Two ‘customer service’ people
  • The founder of the company
  • Even a mailing address in Lithuania

Yet not the faintest sign of any of it on the landing page. Brilliant.

AB Test Suggestions: You have three guesses.

OK. That’s my two cents – and some extra change – on these web pages. I would love to get your feedback.

The mobile shoppers who read product reviews on social media channels show a higher conversion rate – as much as 133% higher. On a grand scale, this conversion represents billions of dollars of business worldwide. The online population is increasing by leaps and bounds and more and more people are influenced by opinions shared on social media. Social media celebrities such as vloggers and serial product reviewers tend to have a huge impact on people’s perception of product quality. Businesses are noting an increased level of impact that positive and negative reviews have on purchase behavior.

The question is, what kinds of figures do social media commerce trends translate to? The following infographic, “US Social Commerce – Statistics and Trends” provides you the answer to your query. We’ve dug up some interesting facts on the actual sales that happen due to social media opinion and how much sales is due to social media referral. This infographic will focus solely on the trends and stats of social commerce within the US. We will be focusing specifically on the period 2012 to 2015, given social media’s massive surge and public influence during this period.

US Social Commerce - Statistics and Trends

 

Infographic by- Invesp

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US Social Commerce Sale Between 2012 to 2015 (in Billions)

Year Social Commerce Sales (in Billions)
2012 3
2013 5
2014 9
2015 14

 

Did you know that social commerce sales are forecasted to represent 5% of online retail revenue in 2015?

Did you also know that positive product reviews online can bump up a product’s price by 9.5%, while negative reviews have an 11% chance of changing a person’s intent to purchase?

Most Popular Social Commerce Features That Are Integrated On Leading E-Commerce Sites

Social Commerce Feature Others Top 25 Companies
Facebook Like Button 58% 86%
Pinterest Pin It Button 61% 82%
Twitter Tweet Button 60% 86%
Google+ Button 42% 39%
Ratings & Reviews 73% 82%
Product recommendations 84% 82%
Social shopping applications 8% 86%
Social Login 15% 82%

 

Average Order Value By Social Referrer

  Social Referrer Average Order Value
Polyvore $66.75
Instagram $65.00
Pinterest $58.95
Facebook $55.00
Reddit $52.96
Vimeo $50.75
Twitter $46.29
LinkedIn $44.24
Google+ $40.00
YouTube $37.63

 

33% of consumers have acted on a promotion on a brand’s social media page

85% of orders from social media sites come from Facebook.

Percentage Of Social Orders Originating From Facebook(By Industry)

Industry Percentage Of Orders
Photography 98%
Sports & Recreation 94%
Pet Supplies 94%
Dropshipping 93%
Jewelry & Watches 92%
Clothing & Apparel 87%
Food & Beverage 86%
Home & Garden 83%
Web Design 81%
Health & Beauty 81%
Music & Movies 80%

 

Top US E-Retailers By Percentage Of Traffic From Social Networks

US E-Retailer Percentage Of Traffic From Social Network
Zappos 10.16%
Fab.com 25%
Nomorerack.com 35%
Victoria’s Secret 8.5%
Nordstrom 8.33%
Nike 8.4%
ShoeDazzle.com 10.5%
Foot Locker 5.72%
Wayfair 7.13%
Cafepress.com 9%

 

 

By Stephen Da Cambra on August 12, 2014 9:33 am

It’s often the single, tenuous bridge between your landing pages and all the potential customers searching online for products and services like yours.

How it’s written affects your ranking in paid search results and cost per clicks.

Even if they think it’s really important, PPC ad copy is far more important than most people realize. Seemingly minor differences in the copy can be the tipping point between a very successful campaign and wasting your PPC budget.

Writing good ad copy 01
Basic Benefits of Good Ad Copy

(While you can run paid ads on a number of different platforms, including major search engines and many social media platforms, there’s not time or space enough here to cover them all. So we’ll only get specific about Google’s Adwords. Most of the general points will apply to your ad copy on any platform.)

The many benefits of better ad copy, and the fact that your copy can always be improved – so you can always improve each benefit – means it deserves as much attention any other part of your PPC campaign, if not more.

Quality Score: Google actually tells you how good your ad copy is by assigning a Quality Score to each ad. Quality Scores range from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest quality. Ads with higher scores enjoy greater benefits.

  • Lower Costs – If your ad has a higher score, you can bid less to get the same ranking as an ad with a lower score. It might seem odd that Google gives preference to lower bids just because the ad copy is better. But the reason is simple. Better ads are clicked more often, so a top quality ad with a lower bid can actually make more money for Google.Here’s a simple example of how that is so:High Quality Ad Bid: $5.00
    Number of Clicks on the Ad per day: 15
    Google’s Revenue per day: $75.00

    Low Quality Ad Bid: $10.00
    Number of Clicks on the Ad per day: 5
    Google’s Revenue per day: $50.00

  • Higher Return – For the same reason that they can enjoy lower bid costs, higher quality ads can rank higher on the page for the same bid as lower quality ads. This means higher value from your PPC budget.
  • Increased Traffic – In addition to lower costs and increased ROI, well written ads have higher click-through rates (CTR) which drives more traffic to your site. If you’ve done your landing page optimization, that means more sales.

Writing a Good PPC Ad

Everything you know about writing good ad copy for any other medium, including print, electronic and online, comes into play in the three lines and 95 characters (spaces included) that Google gives you for your ad copy.

writing better ad copy 02

(Your ad may also list your address, telephone number and/or customer reviews, depending on the Google features you use, but they are displayed as they are listed in your account details, you don’t get to edit them for each ad)

Done properly, that very limited space can be used to write an ad that fulfills all the criteria of the traditional AIDA marketing and advertising model: create Attention, develop Interest, generate Desire, and call to Action.

The Three Necessary Elements of Good Ad Copy

Instead of writing each ad off the top of your head and hoping for the best, if you breakdown each one into its basic elements and use best practices to execute each element, you’ll be well on your way to writing good ad copy.

  1. The Keyword – If you’re here to learn about how to write a better ad, you have done your keyword research, right? Your keyword or keyword phrase for the ad should appear as close to the beginning of your ad copy as possible.The keyword phrase is highlighted in bold copy in the ad is displayed in search results. It is the main confirmation to the searcher that your ad is relevant to their search. Searchers tend to scan ads for those that seem most relevant. Those ads that create Awareness of that relevancy by highlighting the keyword phrase in the headline have a higher chance of appealing to the searcher and getting clicked.Writing good ad copy 04
  2. The Benefit – Unless your product is very rare, you face lots of ad competition for your keywords. How do you make your ad stand out? Make sure the benefit and/or value of your offer is very clear, especially if it is unique. It will generate more Interest and Desire.Make sure you highlight the benefits of your offer and not just its features. You don’t have space or time enough to do both.Your competition’s product or service probably has similar features, but you can make your ad stand out by highlighting benefits that your competition missed. A ‘12-volt vacuum motor’ will not stand out as much as ‘clean your home faster’.

    Often it’s not the feature-based benefits that get the best results, but those that appeal to the emotional needs and/or uncertainties the shopper may have. Emotional benefits can relate your product to better health, increased safety, improved appearance, higher social status, etc..

    A shopper’s uncertainty about whether or not your product is the right choice can be quelled by listing your ‘no questions asked return policy’.Shoppers are also reassured by social proof; clear evidence that others find your products and services appealing. Depending on whether or not your business meets their AdWords ‘Seller Rating’ criteria, Google will give you the opportunity to list seller ratings on your ad. If they do, take it.
    writing good ad copy 05

  3. The Call to Action – Regardless of how close your keyword is to their search term, or how good your benefits are, never expect to get the click without asking for it. While ‘Call Now’ or ‘Buy Today’ are standard CTAs and work well, don’t be afraid to throw in a little emotional appeal into your CTA. For example, instead of ‘Call now for music lessons’ try ‘Start your musical journey today’.Your call to action should appear in description line 2 to capitalize on the interest and desire you created with your benefit statement.

The Sure-Fire Ad Copy Formula. It doesn’t exist. The only way for you to write better ad copy is to always be testing. Try different benefits, appeal to different emotions, use different calls-to-action. But don’t look at it as constant testing, that sounds like work. Instead, think about it as constantly improving your ROI.

Imagine life in a world of perfect landing pages. All you have to do is get visitors to click on your link and ~ poof ~ once they see your landing page, they all convert.

It’s a dreamland scenario for conversion optimizers, but it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

For an extreme example, if you gave away a Ferrari to everyone who took your call-to-action, you’d likely get a 100% conversion rate – though you’d be in dreamland for entirely different reasons.

Back to reality, depending on your sources, industry sector, etc., average landing page conversion rates hover around 2.5% to 5%. According to searchengineland.com, the landing pages in the top 10% of conversion rates convert at 11.45% or higher. The highest converting landing pages have rates of 30% or more.Design a High-Converting Landing Page

So, if the Ferrari trick gets you 100% conversions, but is entirely unrealistic, and realistic rates are at 5%, the problem of improving your landing page conversion rates is relatively simple.

Find out what prevents visitors from taking your call-to-action at the same rate as they take the Ferrari CTA. (OK, I know this sounds far-fetched, but bear with me, it’s worth it.)

What Stops Visitors from Converting on Your Landing Page?

Looking at a 5% conversion rate from another point of view: 95% of visitors do not convert (this is your ‘unconversion’ rate). That extreme variation in rates changes the problem you face in designing for higher rates.

Here’s a simple example of why the problem changes: If you wanted your sports car to have a top speed of 100 mph, and it already topped out at 90 mph, the question you must answer is: “how do I make the car go faster?’ Conversely, if your sports car could only reach 5 mph, the question you need to answer is: “why is it going so slowly?”

Landing pages are the sports cars of the web. They are finely tuned to get higher conversion rates. But they only get 5% of visitors to convert. To design a page for higher conversions, we need to find out why the page is so ‘slow’.

In Other Words: Focus More on Why Visitors Don’t Convert

If this sounds like simple semantics, think of it another way. Among the typical tips you’ll find online to improve conversion rates, one of the more common is to test the color of your CTA button to see which color converts best.

In one Hubspot test, a red CTA button outperformed a green button. The increase in clicks on the red button was an impressive 21%.High converting landing pages 02

But let’s look at it from the other point of view. A 21% increase in a 5% conversion rate is 1%. If your ‘unconversion’ rate is 95%, the decrease in the unconversion rate is only 1.05%. Suddenly, looked at another way, the 21% increase is not so impressive.

That 21% improvement in conversion rates barely scratches your unconversion rate problem.

If you paid more attention to decreasing that massive unconversion rate, instead of the increasing the relatively tiny conversion rate, it can have a bigger impact on your bottom line. A 21% decrease in your unconversion rate translates into a 500% increase in your conversion rate.

Discovering Why Visitors Don’t Convert

The Ferrari example produces a 100% conversion rate because the sheer enormity of the benefit outweighs all the obstacles that lie between your visitors and their conversion.

The more of those obstacles your landing page eliminates, or at least diminishes, the better its conversion rates will be.

The particular reasons people convert on your landing page are as varied as the people who land there. But, if you want to design a higher-converting landing page, consider the following before you begin:

  1. Relevancy to a Need: Your potential customers search online because they have a perceived need or want that will be filled by either buying a product or service, or finding appropriate information. That need is foremost in their mind as they search the web. If the offer on your landing page happens to perfectly fit that need, you have a high chance of converting the visitor.Regardless of your ad copy or whatever other reason visitors thought your landing page might solve a need, if it is not quickly apparent that it will do so, they will leave.
  2. Trust & Confidence: Visitors, particularly first-timers, don’t know your business; don’t know if it’s legitimate; don’t know if you’ll deliver on your promise. In other words, they don’t have a lot of trust in your company and your offer, and they don’t have a lot of confidence that you can actually solve their need. Without a certain amount of trust and confidence, conversion rates will be low.
  3. Fears, Uncertainties & Doubts: Similar to trust and confidence, but on a more granular level, every visitor to your site has a number of fears, uncertainties and doubts. Even if your offer seems relevant and they have confidence in your ability to deliver the benefits, they may be fearful that their information will be misused, they may not be certain of their need and they might doubt that your solution will actually help.

In the Ferrari scenario, relevancy is eliminated because, even if they don’t want a Ferrari, they know it has a high monetary value for anyone. Similarly, any issues over trust, confidence, fears, uncertainties and doubts are dashed by the size of the benefit they will receive.

How to Put it All Into Action

As we have said many times in this blog, something that improves conversion rates on one landing page may not have the same effect on a different landing page. But if you want to address the obstacles listed above that stand between you and a converted customer, you need to consider the following elements in the design of your page.

  1. Headlines & Sub-Headlines: After they land, you have mere fractions of a second to prove the relevancy of your offer to visitors’ needs. The more you do so in your headline, the more likely it is that the visitor will stay long enough to move onto other elements of your page.
  2. Image or Video: Even if your headline gets them to stay, visitors are still full of fears, uncertainties and doubts about your offer. That makes them skittish and ready to leave. A picture is worth a thousand words toward easing their concerns – and a video runs at 30 pictures per second.
  3. Trust Icons & Elements: Your visitor has trust and confidence issues because she doesn’t know you. By using symbols that are familiar to her, like a Better Business Bureau logo, or instilling trust through customer reviews, testimonials and social proof, you can quickly reverse the concerns. A clearly identified privacy statement will also help ease some of their fears.
  4. Call-To-Action Button: Yes, color is important, but its placement, at a point where they realize all the obstacles to conversion have disappeared, is at least as important.
  5. Benefits First, Then Features: Regardless of the obstacle, the more benefits customers believe they will get from your offer the more likely they are to convert. Be sure to first tell them about how their needs will be solved, then about the features that will solve them.

So designing your landing page for higher conversions comes down to two choices: start thinking about the points above, or start negotiating a bulk discount from Ferrari.

Sources:
Quick Sprout: Anatomy of a High Converting Landing Page
Invesp: Ecommerce Product Page Optimization [webinar recording]

By khalid on July 21, 2014 10:27 am

More than half (62%) of US consumers with Internet access now shop online at least once a month. More than 8 in 10 people (83%) are satisfied overall with their online shopping experiences. Check out our new infographic titled, “Online Consumer Shopping Habits and Behavior” to know more about buying habits of online consumers and latest online shopping trends.

Online Consumer Shopping Habits and Behavior – Statistics and Trends

 

Infographic by- Invesp

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Consumer Satisfaction Levels With Different Aspects Of Online Shopping

Reasons %age
   
Ease of checkout 81%
Variety of brands and products offered 80%
Number of shopping options offered 73%
Number of payment options available 71%
Free or discounted shipping 69%
Ease of making returns and exchanges 62%
Ability to purchase through a tablet application 61%
Ability to contact a live customer service rep 58%
Ability to purchase through a smartphone application 55%

 

80% of surveyed consumers are more likely to purchase a product online when offered free shipping

64% of consumers are more likely to purchase when offered free returns and exchanges

How Consumers Use Their Shopping Carts

Reason %age
   
Loading up their carts with an aim to purchase 58%
Using their shopping carts as wish lists 19%
Load up their carts until they qualify for, or receive free shipping privileges 13%
Abandon carts if the purchase decision falls through (this happens more often than an outright purchase) 11%

 

36% of online shoppers say they spend time to find out which site stocks their desired item at the lowest price.

50% of surveyed online shoppers use their smartphones and nearly 60% use their tablets to make purchases

33% used coupons provided by online merchants for their purchases

78% of online shoppers don’t look at a product in a store before buying it online

31% expect to spend more on online shopping than they did in the previous month

Time Spent On Retail Sites By Device

  Device %age of total time spent
   
PC 49%
Smartphone 37%
Tablet 14%

 

84% of online shoppers refer to at least one social media sitefor recommendations before shopping online

60% of online shoppers like to receive an incentive or promotion from a brand before shopping

Social Media Sites Studied Before Making A Purchase

Social networking site %age Of Shoppers
   
FaceBook 77%
Twitter 26%
LinkedIn 22%
Pinterest 18%
Google Plus 17%

 

The Most Purchased Products Online

Product Category %age
   
Consumer electronics 69%
Books 67%
Clothing and apparel 63%
Household goods 38%
Office supplies 30%
Consumer packaged goods 28%
Sporting goods 20%
Pet supplies 20%
Food & groceries 20%

 

By Stephen Da Cambra on July 14, 2014 2:39 pm
Posted in (Ecommerce,Shopping Cart)

It looms over ecommerce like a rain cloud over the parade. While online shopping continues to grow in leaps and bounds, all of us lament that it could be many times better if two-thirds of shoppers didn’t abandon their shopping carts before checkout.

To get an idea of the impact of shopping cart abandonment on ecommerce, look at the numbers. If you assume an average abandonment rate of 65%, then all your ecommerce sales come from the 35% of carts that are not abandoned. If you reduced abandonment by 10%, or 6.5% of those who abandoned, your online sales would increase by almost 20%.

Another way of looking at it: for every 1% increase in abandonment, there’s a 2% decrease in sales.

To date, the majority of efforts to stifle cart abandonment have focused on the pre-cart and at-the-cart stages of the process. The statistics, including the information outlined in Invesp’s ‘Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics’, repeatedly show that abandoners exit early overwhelmingly due to their on-site experience, including:

  • Shipping costs
  • High price
  • No guest checkout
  • Need too much information
  • Complex checkout
  • Slow or crashed site
  • Not enough payment options

Retarget to reduce shopping cart abandonment
Surprisingly, despite the research, studies and all our efforts to curb cart abandonment, the situation gets worse. For the four years up to 2009, the average cart abandonment rate was 61.59% (IBM/Comscore, MarketingSherpa). In the four years up to 2013, the average rate was 63.81% (IBM/Comscore).

So what are we doing wrong? In trying to reverse the abandonment tide, user experience (UX) has become one of the hottest pursuits in ecommerce web design. Over 50% of sites now offer some form of free shipping. We add security and credibility symbols to every nook and cranny. Mandatory sign-up is rare. And, all-in-all, we’re making it easier for people to buy from us.

But the rain cloud of abandonment still darkens the ecommerce horizons.

Retargeting – Improving UX After Abandonment

Targeting your customers is a basic practice of marketing and sales. Instead of aimlessly sending your messages to the public at large, it makes sense to focus on the demographics to which your product is most suited; those who are more likely to buy. It’s a faster and more efficient way to a sale.

Traditional sales and marketing models target a market, generate interest and desire from it, and urge it to action. But it ends there. And that creates two problems.

The first problem, which will need to be left for another blog post, is that we assume a converted customer is will return. Without follow-up, we leave those 2.5% of shoppers, who we actually convinced to buy from us, to float off into cyberspace without ever again calling out to them.

The second problem is the 97.5% of those we didn’t get to convert. They include those who abandoned their carts and those who never even started the cart/checkout process.

Think about everything that had to fall into place to get those people to your site. Of all the competitive messages and distractions online, you managed to get them to click on your link. It’s quite an achievement and it’s a shame to let it go to waste.

Retargeting helps reduce that waste by optimizing UX after the customer abandons or leaves.

Two Main Types of Retargeting for Ecommerce

When you retarget your customers, you focus your marketing efforts on those people who have visited your site and left without purchasing. You got those people to visit at least once, so it stands to reason that they’ll be more inclined to return versus those who have never visited your site. And the inclination is even higher if they had products in a cart before leaving.

There are two main ways to retarget.

Retargeting with Advertising

When you add a JavaScript tag, also known as a pixel, to your site, ‘cookies’ are added to visitors’ browsers when they land. You can track that cookie with a retargeting application so that if and when they search again for products like yours, your PPC or banner ad will appear. When it does, the familiarity they already have with your site and/or product increases the chance that they once again will click on your ad.

retarget to reduce shopping cart abandonment

Source: retargeter.com

Retargeting with advertising works. A study by Comscore and ValueClick found retargeted ads to be twice as effective as other tactics in getting shoppers to search for a particular brand.

In October of 2013, Facebook introduced new ‘custom audience’ features to help marketers retarget people who have visited their desktop or mobile sites with Facebook ads.

Retargeting with Email

While online marketing tactics continue to evolve and different trends like social media emerge, the old standbys, including search and email marketing. continue to prove their worth. While social still struggles to get any real traction with customer acquisition, search tops the heap by accounting for 16% of online customers acquired. Though email lags behind search, it still dominates social with a 7% acquisition rate and, perhaps most importantly, it continues to gain strength as an acquisition tool with a 400% increase in the past four years (forbes.com).

Retargeting with email is also becoming more popular as a way to address abandonment. According to the e-tailing group, the numbers of retailers using email to retarget abandoners grew by over 20% between 2102 and 2013 to 28%, and the trend is expected to continue.

And best practices are emerging for the process.

  • Start right away – While the tactic of sending follow-up emails has long bbeen used for branding and customer retention, they are often sent days or weeks after an interaction. For retargeting, following up immediately, or at least within hours, is shown to produce the highest conversion rates.
  • Stick With It – Again, traditional email follow-up campaigns were often a one-off affair. But for retargeting, while early emails account for over half of recaptures, second and third emails can add another third to your recapture rate.
  • Change ‘em Up – Instead of sending the same ‘You’ve abandoned your cart’ email repeatedly, it is best use a progression of messages messages. eCommerceFuel.com recommends that you start with a reminder that the shopper has abandoned his cart, followed by a request to finish the purchase and finally offering a discount to encourage completion of the purchase. It’s important to note that any discounts offered to improve conversions should not be so great as to encourage abandonment just to get the discount.

The Results? Retargeting emails to reduce cart abandonment are still in their infancy compared to other tactics. But there’s reason for optimism. eCommerceFuel reported monthly recovery rates of between 3% and 11% from one email retargeting campaign.

retarget to reduce cart abandonment

Retargeting email results reported on ecommercefuel.com

Sources:
USA Today
GetElastic.com
AdRoll.com
eConsultancy.com

By Stephen Da Cambra on June 30, 2014 12:38 pm

How’s your social media marketing working for you? If yours is like most businesses, it’s fallen a little short of expectations, or a lot short.

If your social marketing has been a let down, consider these three points:

  1. Stop thinking of social as a straight-line sales or lead generation channel. If you’re trying to sell directly on social, you’re missing the point. ‘Social’ means ‘human interaction’ and without that interaction, your social will fail.
  2. Stop thinking of social as a popularity contest. If you consider your social to be a failure because you have fewer ‘likes’, ‘followers’ or ‘connections’ than you hoped, then you were doomed from the beginning. The point of social media marketing is the same as the point of all marketing, to promote sales and/or generate leads. As you know from your website, traffic (likes, followers and connections on social) is only part of the equation. Conversion is another, just as important part.
  3. Lots of companies use social to drive lots of sales and/or get lots of leads. You can too. One of the great beauties of the internet is that it is a giant open book. If there is a huge sales success story on the web, you can find it, study it and learn from it. Then you can adapt those lessons to your business, test them and see what works.

Social Media - Increase Conversion Rates 06
If one point above is more crucial than the others, it’s number three. By following it you will automatically accomplish the other two points. You’ll realize that social isn’t a straight-line proposition or a popularity contest. And you’ll find new ways to measure your success, like with better conversion rates.

Three Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Conversions

Ecommerce, lead gen, conversion optimization and social media, and how they work together, are all incredibly complex topics. Your social media might not be up to snuff because your social accounts aren’t optimized, or your product images are blurry, or your landing page doesn’t live up to the promise of your tweet.

The examples below show how three companies use social to overcome some of the obstacles that stand between them and converting their customers. But if yours is not a well rounded digital marketing campaign, then what these companies do, or anything your company does, will be less likely to work.

1. Relieving the FUDs (fears, uncertainties and doubts)

GoTire is a mobile tire service franchise operation that received over $200,000 investment capital on TV’s ‘The Dragon’s Den’; Canada’s equivalent of ‘The Shark Tank’.

One GoTire franchisee uses instagram and twitter to post images of the operation in action.

Take a look at GoTire Vaughan’s instagram page and you’ll see a variety of vehicles, receiving a variety of services, in a variety of locations. And most of the shots feature the Go Tire truck in the background for branding.

These are not professional shots, but taken by the franchise owner or an employee.Social Media - Increase Conversion Rates 01

How can this improve conversion? Go Tire is the first of its kind in its markets and many potential customers have questions about how it all works, what services are offered, etc.. By providing visual answers to these questions, the franchisee quickly removes many of the concerns and uncertainties that might prevent a customer from converting – before the customer even gets to the site.

2. Infusing Social Proof

It’s no secret that Pinterest drives sales. A Shopify study shows Pinterest delivers higher average order values than Facebook, Twitter and even Google. And there are no shortage of ecommerce retailers trying to get in on the action.

But if there is anything more surprising than the Pinterest’s sales potential, it is the number of etailers who use it merely as an extension of their product pages; a click on one of their pins goes straight (straight line?) to their web page.

But not for Mod Cloth, while some of their pins lead to their landing pages, many don’t. Clicking on Mod Cloth’s pins will just as likely lead to a third party site, one that features a Mod Cloth product.

Social Media - Increase Conversion Rates 02

A Mod Cloth Pin (above) …

Social media - Improve Conversion Rates 03

… links to 3rd party blog post …

Social Media - Improve Conversion Rates

… which links to Mod Cloth’s product page.

How can this improve conversion?: When customers click on an appealing Mod Cloth pin and land on an independent blog or site, it shows that their choice is popular and they are not alone in their opinion. While we all like to have our own fashion sense, we also like to know that others find our style attractive too. It’s called social proof, and leading your customers to it before they get to your site increases their chances of converting.

3. User-Generated Content

If there is a ubiquitous social media headache, it is finding and/or generating good content. Most ecommerce businesses have an edge on other sectors because they at least have product shots that they can use for content.

But what about the ongoing grind of finding great shots, well-written blog posts, video clips, etc., etc., etc.?

User-generated content (UGC) lets you turn your customers into never-ending sources of great website and social media content like testimonials, blog posts and images.

How can this improve conversion? UGC might be the golden nugget of digital marketing. One simple solution scores lots of marketing goals. UGC inherently provides the often-elusive social proof that can move lots of product and it relieves the pressure to keep finding worthwhile content.

Better yet, if you do what Yogarat does, you can directly link your UGC to your product pages. Imagine a potential customers seeing another customer enjoying your product and being one click away from buying the item.
SoMe03

(Oh no! That’s a straight line!)

By Stephen Da Cambra on June 19, 2014 6:56 am

At Invesp we’d like to think that conversion optimization is the most important link in the digital marketing chain between your target customers and a qualified lead or an ecommerce sale.

But if we were an SEO company we’d be singing a different tune. How can conversions be so important if you need traffic before you can start converting? From that point of view traffic and the SEO that brings it appear to be the most important link in the chain.

Want to know what’s really most important? Think about SEO and conversions, and think about one without the other. Alone, each one is obsolete.

It’s a huge waste of money to generate crowds of traffic without maximizing the opportunity to convert them. And who’ll you convert if there is no traffic?

So, even for conversion optimizers like Invesp, SEO is very important.

SEO & Content 01

How’s Your SEO Doing?

For most, the answer to that question doesn’t come as easily as it did a few years ago. There are still some good SEO stories, but also some bad, and many of them are mysteries. Gone are the simple days of giant leaps in rank from keyword-rich articles and three hundred backlinks per post.

The changes began for SEO three years ago with Google’s Panda update  and they were completed with last summer’s Hummingbird update.

If there is a common thread between Panda, Hummingbird and the intervening Penguin, it is that they all aimed squarely at improving the quality of the content that is the basis for everyone’s search engine ranking.

It makes perfect sense. Google’s product is search results. Every search result represents a piece of content. Each of the three big Google updates over the past three years were not meant to change the SEO game, they were meant to improve Google’s product.

If content continued down the keyword-rich, information-poor slope it was on before Panda, Google would today be serving a lot of empty content calories to its searchers. And the risk would be that they would move on to seek meatier, higher-protein results from other search engines.

Today’s SEO is largely based on quality content. The evidence is everywhere and even diehard SEO proponents are throwing in the towel. In a recent column titled ‘A Step by Step Guide to Link Building for Boring Industries’, Matthew Barby of searchengineland.com concedes the following: “Yes, I’m gonna say it: content marketing is the way forward.”

How’s Your Content Marketing Doing?

Just to make sure we’re clear, by ‘content’, we mean any piece of online data that can be picked up by search engines. These include images, videos, social media posts, blog posts and comments, web copy, forum entries, etc..

So SEO should be fairly easy. Just produce lots of good quality content and it’s off to the first page of search results you go.

But there are two problems with that thinking:

  1. Everyone who practices SEO does the same thing: create a lot of good content.
  2. Generating lots of good content is not always easy to do on your own, and it’s increasingly expensive to get someone else to do it for you.

One Tactic to Boost Your Ecommerce or Lead Generation Content & SEO 

With all the emphasis on content for SEO, there’s way more great content being produced today than just a year or two ago. The increase seems exponential as content producers try to outdo each other for quality and quantity.

And whether yours is an ecommerce or lead gen site, and even if you have no formal content marketing plan, you’re involved in the content race too with your product shots, blog posts and social media.

A Content Angel Hides in the Detail

Today, so much content is produced so quickly that much of it flies by without being consumed. When’s the last time you read a full blog post, (other than this one, of course) word-for-word, beginning to end? When looking a product image, are you getting the detail you need to make a purchase decision? And how many intriguing tweets do you intend to get back to, but never do?

There is detail in all the content we produce that no one ever gets. To boost your content and SEO, harness the content detail that your customers likely miss.

As an example, let’s look at a detail in an image. Can you guess what product is pictured below? (scroll down slowly to not ruin the guessing game)

SEO & Content 02

OK, here’s another shot that gives you more of a clue. can you guess the product now?

SEO & Content 03


Still stumped?
Here’s the full image:

SEO & Content 04
See what happened there? We just created the basis of a mini social media promotion (“Guess the Product for a Chance to Win It!”; hey, Zappos.com, call me), with two new images and who knows how much accompanying copy, from a single existing photograph.

Here’s another example: we were flattered recently to get mentioned in a tweet by @SocialAgentTips, a social media resource for real estate professionals. The tweet included a link to an image that seemed familiar, but we weren’t sure we had seen it before.

SEO & Content 05SEO & Content 06

It turns out @SocialAgentTips took a detail from Invesp’s infographic ‘How Social Media Influences Purchase Decisions’, and used it for a tweet and image post. Of course, they quite kindly and appropriately gave Invesp credit in the tweet as the source of the content.

By applying @SocialAgentTips’ technique to the full infographic you could create at least 10 more tweets and image posts – not to mention literally dozens of tweetable statistics. Again, all from a single piece of content.

For the final example, take a look at this blog post. Most businesses have a rocky relationship with their blogs. They know how important blogging is, but finding blog topics can be so frustrating that many an eagerly launched blog has crashed and burned for lack of ideas.

Look closely at each paragraph above. Most of them can be the subject of an entire post. Starting from the top, each paragraph could produce the following posts:

  1. Why Conversion Optimization is the Most Important Link in the Digital Marketing Chain
  2. Why SEO is the Most Important Link in the Digital Marketing Chain
  3. How SEO and Conversion Optimization Work Together to Make Your Digital Marketing a Success
  4. The Pitfalls of Generating Traffic Without Conversion Optimization
  5. … I think you get the idea

Both SEO and content marketing have changed. The good news is that those changes bring new opportunities to drive traffic to your site.


image source: vabulous.com

By Stephen Da Cambra on June 10, 2014 6:33 am

Remember the good old days of retailing? You could count on at least two truths. First, advertising would get people into your store and, second, you converted some of that traffic into customers – at least 20% of them, with many sectors enjoying rates of 50% or more.

And there was a bonus truth: ‘cart abandonment’ wasn’t in your vocabulary.

Then along came ecommerce. The two truths remained the same. Online advertising, like SEO and PPC, would drive customers to your website. But the second truth proved shocking. While conversions still occured, online conversion rates were an appalling 2% to 5%.

And the third truth was scorched by 60%+ cart abandonment rates.

AB Testing to the RescueAB Test Myths 01

As the web evolved and technology made it easier to find answers, AB testing came to the fore as a means to improve conversion rates.

What a concept: serve two variations of a web page to customers and see which one performs better. Then use the winning version in subsequent tests to get even better performance. It seemed like the key to an enviable progression of ever-increasing conversion rates.

AB test results were considered so conclusive and reliable, many site and landing page designers used them as a rule-book for conversion optimization. More and more orange call-to-action buttons appeared, privacy assurances popped up and content pages increasingly featured headlines that began with a “How to…” or “9 Most/Best/Great …”.

All seemed well, but, oddly, while many AB tests improved rates by hundreds of percentage points, average conversion and cart abandonment rates remained the same.

And the reason why is revealed by subsequent AB tests, which show that many of the long-held truths of conversion optimization and design can be mythical.

AB Test Myths Busted by AB Tests

1. Always Have Your Call-to-Action Above the Fold

One of the reasons we so readily ‘swallowed the pill’ of early test results is that they made so much sense. One such is the best place on the page for your CTA.

Early tests showed that, if the CTA was below the fold, many page visitors bounced without heeding the call. The assumption was that, if it was out of sight below the fold, visitors didn’t know the CTA was there.

However, in a number of tests, including one by Marketing Experiments, below-the-fold CTAs outperformed above-the-fold versions.
AB Test Myth 02AB Test Myth
In the Marketing Experiments test, which showed a 20% increase in conversions, the post-test analysis determined that customers must appreciate the value of taking the call-to-action. If you can’t convey that value above the fold, they won’t take the call-to-action just because it’s there.

2. Video and/or Images Increase Conversion Rates

Another connection we have to AB test results is that we can often relate to the findings. As it became easier to add images and videos to landing pages, many test results showed that pages with visuals out-converted text-based versions.

And all it took for us to quickly accept those results as ‘etched-in-stone’ is to consider whether we would prefer to read 300 words or watch a snappy video. Gimme the video.

But, in a recent Invesp test, removing a video from above-the-fold, and replacing it with benefit-driven text, increased conversions by 88.46%.

Why? Not all video is faster at outlining the value of your offer than copy. And, while there are some exceptions, videos do not have actionable calls-to-action. The copy added by Invesp was to the point and very clearly outlined the value. And it was accompanied by a clear call-to-action.

3. You Must Highlight Privacy & Trust Factors

Again, you can easily relate to this one. It didn’t take us long to realize that all the personal information we were asked to submit to open an account on ecommerce sites, or to download some marginally helpful whitepaper, would later be used to bombard us with marketing messages – or worse.

We quickly hesitated to give away our personal info and soon AB test results showed that highlighting privacy policies and/or trust icons, especially close to CTAs, boosted conversion rates.

But it looks like consumers are more discerning than we think. In a test outlined last month on visualwebsiteoptimizer.com, adding the reassuring copy “We respect your privacy” immediately below the CTA button decreased conversions by almost 25%.
ABtestMyth03
What happened? in their analysis of the results, VWO concluded that adding the text had the counterintuitive effect of instilling fear into customers’ thought process. Without the ‘privacy’ copy, they didn’t think about it, but when it appeared, they became concerned.

In this case, the page asked only for an email address, not even a name. Especially in light of stronger email filters, customers likely don’t mind swapping such a relatively small amount of info to take advantage of an offer. Privacy concerns don’t enter their minds, unless you place them there.

4. You Must Optimize for Mobile

With the proliferation of mobile devices, it’s a no-brainer that we should test what converts best on them.

One of the first findings was that mobile users preferred sites that displayed well on mobile devices because they didn’t have to pinch, squint or zoom to see content – or buy something.

With the aforementioned double-digit growth, year after year and with no end in sight, it has become conventional wisdom that your site must at least use responsive design, it not be designed for mobile first.

But don’t go mobile too fast. As outlined on www.wordstream.com, Jeff Allen of Hannapin Marketing, a big fan of mobile PPC, was surprised by AB test results that showed a desktop landing page outperformed a mobile-specific page by more than 25% in a month long test.

More bad news for mobile optimization? As shown in the Invesp infographic “U.S. mobile Commerce Sales”, tablets account for almost three times the sales of smartphones – and even Google suggests you serve your desktop site to tablets.

So Should You Just Stop Testing?

No. On the contrary. By busting its own myths, different results from similar AB tests are the perfect case for more testing. Indeed, because it’s obvious that you can’t rely on someone else’s results, you must test everything yourself to see what works best for you.

So there’s only one truth about AB testing: test everything and keep testing everything.

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