Conversion Rate Optimization Blog

About the Invesp Blog

This blog is brought to you by the team at Invesp, a conversion optimization company.


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

Subscribe

RSS Subscribe via RSS Feed

Or, receive weekly updates by email:

Free Landing Page
Templates

Two easy to customize,
highly converting
landing page templates.


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

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

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.

By Stephen Da Cambra on May 26, 2014 6:27 am

If in the past year there’s been an ecommerce topic hotter than the disruption caused by mcommerce, well, let us know in the comments below. Other issues may have enjoyed their 15 minutes, but mobile commerce has been somewhere on the podium for the past few years.Mobile website Optimization 01

E-retail specialists, conversion rate optimizers and web site designers tout the advantages of mobile optimization because shoppers increasingly use their mobile devices to buy. Many (at least those sounding the death knell for desktops) go so far as to say you should optimize your site for mobile first, then convert your mobile site for desktop use.

Why all the attention and focus on mcommerce? Sales growth.

Here are some of the numbers: In 2013, the U.S. saw 4.2% growth in overall retail sales and 16.9% growth in ecommerce retail sales. Very healthy numbers, yet they look decidedly feeble compared to the 2013 U.S. sales growth numbers for mcommerce:

  • 70% increase in retail mcommerce sales
  • 45% increase in mcommerce’s share of all ecommerce sales
  • 50% increase in mcommerce’s share of all retail sales

And the forecasts are for high growth, versus overall retail sales and ecommerce sales, into the foreseeable future.

Are you ready for your first shot of perspective? Despite the impressive growth numbers, at $42 billion, mcommerce accounted for 0.9% of all retail sales in 2013. (Total U.S. retail sales 2013 – $4.53 trillion)

Let’s make it a double-shot. ‘Mobile’ sales figures, including those quoted above, include sales from smartphones and tablets. While an impressive 25% of all online retail traffic on Black Friday 2013 came from smartphones and only 14.2% from tablets, tablets accounted for twice the dollar sales of smartphones.

Average order value on tablets, $132.75, also eclipsed the average smartphone order by 13%.

So what’s all ‘perspective’ about the smartphone vs tablet numbers for mobile website optimization?

Next time you’re on a tablet, check out some ecommerce sites. Visit the big ones: Amazon, Zappos, or Reebok’s ecommerce site. Look for the differences between the site you see on the tablet and the site you get on your desktop.

In the vast majority of cases, there isn’t any difference. The major ecommerce players serve their desktop sites to tablet browsers.

Mobile Website Optimization 02

Reebok’s Desktop Site ^

Mobile Website OPtimization 03

Reebok’s site as it appears on an iPad ^

On their ‘Checklist for Mobile Website Optimization’ even Google tells you to “serve tablet users the desktop version”.

In the Neilsen Norman Group study cited by Google on the checklist, the conclusions include:

“This (the work and issues around tablet optimization), combined with the popularity and ease of using (desktop) websites on tablets, begs the question of why companies would have a tablet app in the first place. In fact, we advise most companies to stick to their website and invest the resources in improving web usability, which still suffers badly in most companies.”

If you’re keeping score, with advice against tablet-optimizing coming from on high, it means that, if you do optimize for mobile, you should optimize purely for smartphones. That means you are doing all your mobile optimization just to capture 0.4% of all retail sales.

Why You Still Must Optimize for ‘Smartphone’ Commerce

First, if yours is a purely ecommerce business, you better optimize for smartphones because they represent 7.2% of your sales and they are growing fast.

If you have ecommerce combined with bricks and mortar locations, you’ll have to determine what percentage of your sales come from smartphones and if it justifies mobile optimization or a mobile-first site.

But even if yours is mainly a bricks and mortar business, like Best Buy (whose online sales in Q1 2014 were 8.2% of total domestic revenue – forbes.com), you still must optimize for smartphones and here’s why:

According to research done by QuickSprout:

  • 58% of consumers with smartphones use them for store-related shopping
  • 88% of consumers agree that a mobile device makes them more spontaneous with online shopping
  • 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal, including buying online

How should these numbers affect your perspective on mobile optimization? It’s folly to think of online shopping as device exclusive. An online shopper doesn’t say to herself “right, I think I’ll go shopping on my desktop today.”

Broadcast messages on television, radio and print combine with digital marketing messages, content and ecommerce sites on desktops, tablets and smartphones, to each play a role in the decision to purchase.

Think about it. How many times have you seen or heard an interesting advertising message and immediately grabbed an online device to check it out?

SP-Commerce

Mcommerce on smartphones, let’s call it sp-commerce, is not a monolithic sales medium, but part of this three- or four-screen sales process. Indeed, sp-commerce’s role in the multi-screen process may be more important than its share of your retail sales.

The QuickSprout numbers show that shoppers use their smartphones to research products in-store. While show-rooming is popular on smartphones, have you ever seen a shopper use a tablet in-store to research a purchase?

That fact, combined with the very high spontaneity factor highlighted by the QuickSprout numbers, give smartphones the unique potential of being your sales associate and impulse aisle.

One More Perspective on Mobile Optimization

If you accept that mobile optimization is really sp-commerce, and that sp-commerce’s benefits for many businesses go far beyond the actual sales it generates, then responsive design, by far the most popular way to optimize for mobile, falls short for and might cost you more in lost sales than the cost a creating a site specifically for smartphones.

One of the biggest problems with responsive design is that it does not compensate for many desktop site features that don’t work on smartphones, including text links, mouse-over effects like drop-down menus and graphic effects like zooms and sliders.

Check out how text links on the Zappos desktop/tablet site turn to buttons on their sp-commerce site.

Mobile website Optimization 04

Zappos desktop site with text links ^

Mobile Website Optimization 05

Zappos smartphone site with button links ^

If you’ve played the digital marketing game for more than a couple years, you’ve seen some big changes. SEO has been turned on its ear in just the past year. Social media is a ‘bucking bronco’, full of energy and potential, but always changing direction and difficult to harness. And web design continues to morph as we discover more about how we consume information, and buy, on the web.

But good old PPC just keeps doing its thing, largely unchanged since Google started Adwords (while Bing/Yahoo have Bing Ads, Adwords remains the hugely dominant PPC player) in the early 2000s.

PPC works. It’s why companies like Amazon and Lowe’s spend tens of millions of Adwords dollars annually and why Google reaps tens of billions of dollars annually too. PPC’s popularity and success puts it on a bit of a snowball’s roll. It’s success as an advertising medium has lead Google to continually improve it and make it easier for advertisers to use, which helps more advertisers get more sales, which leads Google to make further improvements – and so on. It’s reached the point where even neophyte advertisers can set-up an AdWords account and launch a relatively well-optimized PPC campaign in relatively short order.

And from there the sky’s the limit on how successful of your PPC advertising can be. From defining conversion goals and segmenting your audience, to improving quality scores and sharpening your bid strategies, even very successful campaigns can be improved to whittle down costs-per-click (CPCs) and improve click-through rates (CTRs).

How Your Successful PPC Campaigns Fail

So, if Google has made AdWords almost fool-proof. And there are endless PPC specialists out there ready to help you improve your CPCs and CTRs, how can you fail?

By not knowing that you are failing. Too often we play a PPC game where only CPCs and CTRs are the measure of success. If you can reduce your bids for the same ad position and improve your click-through rates by 10%, huzzah, it’s a win.

But is it really? To highlight the point, we pretended our roof began to leak during a rain storm one evening – in other words, we need to ‘repair a leaking roof’ and we searched Google for just that.

PPC Landing Page Optimization 01

Notwithstanding the surprising lack of exact matches for our search phrase, the PPC results on the subsequent SERP produced some likely candidates for solving our problem. In other words, a number of the results could prove successful by conventional PPC standards and get us to click on the ad.

But, in the case of this particular search, if clicking on the ad is considered a successful end for the PPC ad, it’s the beginning of the failure of the PPC campaign.

How so? Regardless of how well the PPC ad copy reflected the search term, which is generally the first step in getting a searcher to click, none of the subsequent landing pages are optimized for the PPC ad.

Here are the two ads that most closely reflect my search term (highlighted in the image above), which studies show to be the ones I am most likely to click, and their subsequent LPs.

1. Fixing Roof Leaks – We Offer Efficient Leaky Roof Repair Services. Call Us Today.
A fairly good PPC ad, with the search term/keyword phrase (‘roof leaks / leaky roof’) repeated in both the headline and body of the ad; a bit of a benefit: ‘efficient’; and a call-to-action “Call Us Today’.

PPC Landing Page Optimization 02

2. Is Your Roof Leaking? – Affordable Roof Repair Company. Call Us Today For A Free Estimate!
Potentially an even better PPC ad than the first (one never knows until you check the analytics), that somewhat repeats the search term in the headline and body, offers a benefit: ‘affordable’ and, unlike the first ad, gives you a clicking trigger: ‘free estimate’, in addition to the CTA.

PPC Landing page Optimization 03
So what’s wrong with these two landing pages?

Neither one of them, and indeed none of the other landing pages from the SERP, are optimized for the PPC ad.

Both of the ads above lead to the respective roofing company’s homepage (for many reasons, not the best idea for your PPC landing page). The website for ad #1 doesn’t even mention roofing, as it did in the ad, and the website for ad #2 offers industrial flat roofs exclusively.

How to Optimize Your Landing Pages for Your PPC Ads

Lower CPCs and higher CTRs are wonderful, but they don’t put money in your pocket. You must look at your PPC ads as the mid-point in the overall PPC journey, which starts with the search terms your potential customers enter and ends on the PPC landing page to which they are delivered; where you can convert them into paying customers – and really make your PPC successful.

Ideally, each one of your PPC ads will lead to a landing page that is optimized for it.

  1. Let Them Know They Are On the Right Page – Anxiety and FUDS (fears, uncertainties and doubts) are perhaps the largest hurdle between you and converting your web visitor. In the case of your PPC ads, the first step to easing your customer into your landing page is to immediately confirm that they have found the right page. The simplest way to do so is to merely repeat the main search term from the PPC ad in the title of your LP, like VistaPrint does:PPC landing Page Optimization 04
    PPC landing Page Optimization 05
  2. Think Like the Customer, Adjust Your Personas for the PPC Ad – Pretend you are the potential customer in the ‘repair a leaking roof’ example. It’s night time, stormy and water drips on your head. Think about your state of mind and what on a landing page would help to ease it.How about this “Are you in a leaking roof emergency? Call 515-555-555 24 hours a day.” In our example, if any of the landing pages made that offer, they would be very likely to get your business.Personas are composites of your potential customers. PPC landing pages often deal with particular aspects of those personas. Making concessions on your LP for those particulars will make it more successful.
  3. Optimize the Content for Your Ad – Again with the ‘leaking roof’ example, even if you use the advice in points one and two above, you’re only part way there, and you could still lose the customer. Having landing page content that’s relevant to the corresponding PPC ad helps your campaign in two ways.First, anxiety and FUDs are further reduced when the visitor finds more information that is pertinent to their search, which again increases their chances of converting.Second, relevant content helps improve your Google quality score, which will reduce your costs-per-click and improve your ad rank.

These are just a few ways to optimize your PPC landing pages. But don’t be intimidated or shy about learning more, the payoffs can be huge.

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.

DOWNLOAD FREE WHITE PAPER: Personas 101 - How to Target Your Ideal Customer
DOWNLOAD