All posts by Mohita Nagpal

How PowToon Optimized Its Pricing Page To Increase Revenue

PowToon is a cloud-based animation software company based out of London. Launched in 2012, PowToon has over 12 million users worldwide from various business verticals who use the tool to create fun and engaging explainer videos.

Problem

For any SaaS firm, the pricing page is closest to the funnel. So it makes sense to optimize it for maximum impact on the bottom line. Like most SaaS businesses, PowToon’s pricing model is based on different feature offerings. These include watermark removal, privacy control, quality, and export options, among others. A relatively new entrant to these capabilities is storage.

Powtoon offers three plans:

  • A free plan that offers 100 MB storage.
  • A $19 monthly pro plan that offers 2GB storage.
  • A $59 monthly business plan that offers unlimited storage.

This is how PowToon’s pricing page originally looked:

unlimited_2gb

Test

Dan Rimon, director of product at PowToon, decided to test out different pricing levers. The hypothesis was that the ‘unlimited storage’ feature offered under the business plan was an unquantifiable and vague commodity, whose true value could not be perceived by prospective buyers.

“We didn’t know exactly how our target audience would perceive the ‘storage’ capability. Both our business plans (unlimited and 2 GB) offer practically unlimited storage. The fact that we were not able to crunch the feature in real numbers (unlimited) may have been leading to the wrong perceived value,” said Dan.

The idea was to test different storage values for the Pro and Business plans. Dan tested three versions against the original:

  • 10 GB storage in Business Plan and 10 GB storage in Pro Plan
  • 2 GB storage in Business Plan and 2 GB storage in Pro Plan
  • 10 GB storage in Business Plan and 2 GB storage in Pro Plan

Just to remind the readers, the original version offered Unlimited versus 2 GB storage for the Pro and Business plans, respectively.

Results

The third version with 10-GB storage for the business plan versus 2-GB storage for the pro plan turned out to be the winner. It increased the revenue by 27.9%. Here’s the winning version:

Powtoon Pricing Page A/B testing

Dan attributes the results to a clear distinction between the value perceived in the case of the 10 GB versus 2 GB version.

“We attribute the results of the test to our users’ abilities to really understand the value they were getting. Users responded better to a real number (10 GB) than ‘unlimited’, which frankly sounds lovely but is hard to quantify,” Dan added.

Continuous Process

PowToon has taken the route to continuous testing to optimize its pricing page. Their product team runs a test every two weeks and shares the results and learnings internally, regardless of an inconclusive test. They next tested the way their monthly and annual pricing plans were displayed to find out whether it psychologically impacted the way visitors chose a particular plan. Though the original version outperformed the variation in this case, they nevertheless made this cool video to share the results internally.

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How PowToon Optimized Its Pricing Page To Increase Revenue

Optimizing Mobile Home Page Increases Conversions for Wedding Shoes Website

Elegant Steps offers a large selection of wedding shoes in the UK, both online and in store. More than 50% of its users are new, female users discovering the website organically through mobile. The bulk of them are brides-to-be who are looking for wedding shoes.

Problem

After looking at Elegant Steps’ Google Analytics (GA) data, it was found that while its desktop website was converting at 2%, the mobile version was converting at a much lower 0.6%.

Observations

Hit Search, a digital marketing agency, used VWO to help Elegant Steps dig deep into the problem. They used GA, heuristic analysis, and VWO’s scrollmaps and heatmaps capabilities to find that:

  • Hardly any visitors were scrolling enough to reach the Shop by Brand section on the home page.
  • Elegant Steps’ 3 main USPs, including free shipping, weren’t appearing above the fold on mobile.
  • The text on the home page image was hard to read because it was the same color as the background.

This is how the home page looked on mobile:

elegant_control_jpg

Hypothesis

Armed with these observations, Niall Brooke from Hit Search set about optimizing the mobile home page to fix the problems. It was decided to:

  • Introduce the Shop by Brand section higher up on the page, as the presence of an established name is known to help instill trust and assuage fears.
  • Many studies have found that unexpected shipping cost is the biggest reason for cart abandonment. It was hypothesized that displaying “Free Shipping” above the fold will help reduce bounce and encourage users to continue down the conversion funnel.
  • Change the CTA copy from the generic “Shop Wedding Shoes” to the possessive, “Find my new wedding shoes.”
  • Change the text color on the image for the text to be readable.

This is how the variation looked:

elegant_variation_jpg

Test

Hit Search ran the new version of the home page against the original only for mobile visitors, using VWO’s targeting capability. Niall set VWO’s Bayesian-powered statistics engine to “High-Certainty” mode, and the results kicked in within a month.

Results

“The results were positive with almost a threefold increase in conversions and almost a 50% drop in bounce rate,” said Niall.

In his closing thoughts, Niall had this to say, “VWO is a brilliant all-round conversion optimization platform which we use on a daily basis to perform user analysis, A/B and split tests,” he added.

Mobile an afterthought?

According to a 2015 report, the average conversion rate for mobile websites in the US was 1.32%, significantly lower than its desktop counterpart (3.82%). Though studies have suggested that visitors mostly use mobile for research purposes and make the actual purchase through desktop website, there’s no denying that online retailers are still leaving money on the table. We would love to your thoughts about optimizing mobile websites. When does it become important for you to start looking at mobile optimization? Just hit us the comment section below.

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Why we are Evolving into a Conversion Optimization Platform

Seven years ago, VWO was created with the aim to make marketers’ lives simpler. With its easy-to-use visual editor, it helped marketers focus on their main job (to increase conversions), than to chase the elusive IT team to get that A/B test running.

In these seven years, searches for A/B testing have gone through the roof, more than a dozen similar tools have entered the market, and A/B testing is now an integral part of marketing. VWO has been used to run some 700,000 tests, optimize close to six billion experiences and generate more revenue for businesses across industries and countries.

To say we are happy and humbled would be an understatement. But what will not be an understatement is to say that we have never felt more committed towards making our customers successful.

In the last one year, we have spent a lot of time looking at data. We have spent a lot of time looking at our most successful customers to figure out what is it they are doing that makes them successful.

And we have found that the businesses getting the most success out of A/B testing are the ones following a scientific process. These businesses clearly define what numbers they are trying to move, identify areas that can be improved, step into the shoes of their visitors to understand their pain-points, run A/B tests based on evidence and are incredibly zen about a few losses on the way.

Marketing might be driving the optimization process, but the culture of optimization seeps through every department in these organizations. The focus is on analyzing results, sharing insights and delivering better user experience all around. A/B testing is not just a hack or a seasonal marketing tactic, it’s an year-round commitment towards a ‘user-first’ philosophy.

These businesses understandably have to depend on multiple tools and products to continuously run this scientific process. They often use one tool to track the bottomline, another to prioritize and chart out the testing plan, another to observe visitor actions and yet another to run A/B tests. Getting multiple tools to work for one single process comes with its own complexities. To get real insights from that pool of data is another challenge.

We at VWO have not merely been observing all this. We have used all these observations in building the new VWO.

The new VWO will enable businesses to run all parts of this scientific process through one platform. The seamless connectivity of data will ensure businesses don’t lose track of the user story at any point of the process, putting unprecedented power in the hands of marketers.

VWO – The first Connected Conversion Optimization Platform

Right from tracking metrics, analyzing visitor actions, creating testing plan to running A/B tests, the new VWO will help marketers do everything optimization at one place, one point. To get a sneak peek into what is coming up, check out vwo.com/evolution.

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First CRO platform

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[Infographic] The Anatomy of a Perfect Checkout Page

So you’ve spent time, money and effort creating your online shop. Your landing page is engaging, your product descriptions are tempting and your product photos are spot on. You have a steady stream of traffic coming to your site – but are your sales figures matching up?

If not, it might be time to optimize your checkout process.

Your checkout process is that last hurdle that turns visitors into customers, so it’s crucial to get it right. According to the Baymard Institute, 68.83% of online shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a huge missed opportunity that could potentially be recovered.

So what makes the perfect checkout page?

Perfection varies according to your product and audience. Imagine buying a high-end designer item versus buying office stationery. You’ll want to dwell over one purchase while pay using a one-click button for the other. No two eCommerce websites are alike, and so no two checkout processes should be either.

The only way to find your own version of ‘perfection’ is to continuously test to see what works. It’s imperative to explore the possibilities in a planned way – with A/B testing.

You simply create an alternative version of  your checkout page and compare it against the original to see which produces the best results. The benefit of testing is that you get data that tells you which version works better before committing to any major changes. A/B tests can be as simple as changing a few words to altering the entire layout.

Here are some ideas to get started:

Test for Checkout Page Usability

  • Is the information ordered logically?
  • Are instructions on forms clear?
  • Are there any distractions?
  • Is the text big enough?

Test for Psychological Triggers on Checkout Page

  • Are there visual cues of security?
  • Is the progress bar obvious enough?
  • Are the images large enough?
  • Does the colour scheme work?

VWO’s repository of over 150 case studies is a good starting point for those who want to see what others are testing. But every retailer is different – so look at your own findings and data to see what you should try.

Fine-tuning the checkout process takes time and experimentation. Get it right and you’ll end up with happy customers who will be coming back for more. Get it wrong and your tests will only point you in the right direction.

We’ve put together this handy infographic that pinpoints the key elements to a successful checkout page which can help when planning your testing process. Don’t rely on luck and guesses – test, plan and strategically experiment with your process to ensure your sales match up with your web traffic.

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A/B test proves that women find bearded men more attractive

Yes, you heard that right. The age old debate has finally been put to rest. For many years now, researchers have presented us with conflicting studies about whether women find bearded men more attractive or the clean-shaven ones. For every research that claims the smooth clean-cut look is more desirable among women, there are two counter studies claiming face fuzz is the way to go. But now, a US-based eCommerce website has finally A/B tested their way to the truth. Read on..

The Company

AdonisClothing is a US-based eCommerce store exclusively dealing in men’s fashion. However, what sets them apart from other e-shops is that they don’t sell directly to men. Their target audience is women who shop for their boyfriends and spouses. Their website encourages women to shop for a ‘complete makeover of the guy’ and that’s one of the reasons their average order value is on a higher side at $90. Also, according to the company’s CEO Jason Johansson, 80% of their repeat customers are women.

The Problem

Like many eCommerce websites, AdonisClothing had a lot of visitors coming to their product pages, but very few were adding products to cart. So JJ (he insists on being called that – says the two letters add to his personality), started his conversion optimization strategy from the product pages.

Here’s how the product page originally looked.

clean shaven

The Test

JJ came up with a curious test idea very few would have imagined, forget even testing it out. He tested out the photos of the models on the product pages — clean-shaved against bearded ones! When asked what made him test out chin carpet when the whole CRO world is perfectly busy testing out the optimum UX and design, JJ had a quaint answer. He explains how his fiancee kept pestering him to grow his stubble, much to his disdain.

“She always said that I looked better in a beard, but I never agreed. So one night, I had this epiphany that why not ask a larger set of people. And what better way to do that than my website — which is mostly visited by women,” he said.

Here’s how the variation looked:

bearded look

The Results

The test was run for 15 days on over 36,000 visitors (of which 70% can be safely assumed to be women). The goal being tracked was clicks on ‘Add to Shopping Bag’ button. Well, what do you guess. The Variation outperformed the Control by a stubbly 49.73%, resulting in a 33% increase in sale orders. The variation had a staggering 98% statistical significance.

comparison

 Woah! What happened here?

JJ is understandably stoked. He came up with one of the strangest testing ideas and managed to achieve remarkable results which will not only be helpful for other eCommerce stores in the coming future but also the research community.

“I think this piece of data will be used even years from now by researchers and marketers to support their views. I feel exceptionally proud of having come up with this test idea,” said JJ.

Why the Variation won?

1. Bearded men are perceived as healthier, more attractive

According to a study by scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior, women find men with heavy stubble as healthier.

beard

The 10-day mighty crop of facial hair is supposed to be the optimum growth.

2. Beards are epic

John Lennon

Peace was not the only cool message proclaimed by John Lennon.

3. Ryan Gosling is internet’s darling for a reason

Ryan Gosling

The man has tutorials dedicated to replicate his 5 o’clock shadow.

The future looks bright

After the success of this one test, JJ has decided to replace all the clean-shaved models on his product pages with ones sporting a scraggly beard. Check out AdonisClothing’s website here.

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[Infographic] VWO eCommerce Survey 2014: What Makes Shoppers Buy

We asked online shoppers what were their biggest pain points, what made them purchase right away, what made them come back to their abandoned carts, how social networks influence their purchase behavior, and much more.

We got some pretty amazing insights which will help eCommerce stores optimize their business strategies. If you want to read the full report, click here, else proceed to the infographic.

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5 Consumer Insights from VWO eCommerce Survey 2014

With more than $262 billion in annual spend last year and the figure projected to touch a massive $370 billion in 2017, online shoppers are the most important piece of the eCommerce jigsaw. And as these consumers mature, converting them to customers can become increasingly difficult.

So VWO set out to survey more than 1,000 online shoppers to find out what catches their attention, what frustrates them and, most importantly, what makes them “buy” in 2014. We got our hands on some really interesting consumer insights, particularly around how to turn cart abandoners into customers.

In this post, I will summarise 5 insights derived from the report. If you want to check out the rest of the data, get the full report here (It’s free). I hope this information will help brands and eCommerce stores to optimize their communication and business strategies to better serve the rapidly evolving customer.

1. Retarget with discounts to boost conversions 

Retargeting

According to the survey results, a massive 54% of online shoppers said they will purchase products left in their cart, if they are offered again at a discounted price. This is a huge opportunity for eCommerce firm – it  means that not all carts are abandoned forever and there’s a huge potential to retrieve lost sales.

Marketers could capitalize on this data by offering abandoned products at a discounted price – either through emails or ads. This means that you should try to get their email addresses even before their names in the checkout funnel. What’s even more encouraging is that among Millennials (age 25-34), the number is significantly higher at 72 percent.

54% shoppers will purchase abandoned cart products if offered at a discounted price

2. Facebook is THE social channel to target Millennials

Social commerce

There’s no denying that there’s increasing convergence of social networking and eCommerce. And among these social networks, Facebook is the most influential among Millennials. 53% shoppers said Facebook keeps them informed about the latest in online shopping. While women chose Pinterest as the second-most influential social network when it comes to online shopping, men opted for Twitter. Which makes sense since Pinterest is more suitable for products which are visually appealing, such as fashion and home decor.

3. Reviews are a huge purchase driver

eCommerce reviews

55% of online shoppers say reviews are important for them before making purchase decisions. Customers want to know what others thought of the product and the experience with a particular store before making a purchase. The smartest online stores already understand this and ask customers to leave reviews for their purchases. You can put up online review badges and widgets that aggregate and present customers’ ratings to win the trust of the visitors.

4. The young are downloading shopping apps, but few actually use them

Mobile apps

Mobile and tablet use is shifting quickly, rapidly emerging with younger age groups as compared to the older groups. An interesting trend that emerged from the data is that despite 40% consumers saying they have shopping apps installed on their smartphones and tablets, just a portion of them actually use the app to shop online.

5. Consumers would rather spend on additional purchases than on shipping

Free Shipping

The results of two separate questions have clearly indicated that shipping charges are a bane to conversions. When asked what made consumers abandon their shopping carts, unexpected shipping cost emerged as the biggest reason. In a different question, a fourth of consumers said they would spend on additional purchases instead of paying for shipping.

Gear up for the holiday shopping season

The holiday shopping season is in full swing. Make the most of it by using these insights to market more effectively to your website visitors and make them buy from you. Get the full report by clicking on the banner below.

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(Infographic) How Sports Marketers Can Increase Online Sales

With the MLB World Series fever in full swing, it’s a good time for online sports marketers to tap into the craze and increase online sales and bookings.

The top 5 MLB teams make for a collective valuation of $8.2 billion with the New York Yankees right at the top with a massive $2.5 billion valuation. If you look at the annual spend of Americans on sports each year, the number touches an eye-popping $25 billion. Even the number of baseball tickets sold each year in the US is just a quarter shy of a billion.

Yet, most sports websites have a conversion rate of 1%. That means, for every 1,000 visitors coming to the website, only 10 end up buying. That’s some massive waste of the traffic! In this infographic, we share the secret sauce of successful marketers and what you can do to increase your online sales and bookings.

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Why Random A/B Testing is a One Night Stand

A/B Testing VS. CRO

So you run a test or two, have your moments of virtual euphoria and promise yourself to roll out a meticulous Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) strategy to increase website sales and revenue. But then… You lose steam, the inspiration wears off, you don’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to conduct the research this “long and winding” process requires. You want quick, Flash-like results, so you give into the delicious temptation of running more random tests.

A successful random test, after all, is like a seductress. The northward-looking graphs, that beautiful-almost-perfect statistical significance, the simple awareness that a mere tweak can bring in so much more fortune. It’s all nothing short of a digital orgasm.

The case for random testing

As the headline of this article suggests, there are going to be some hidden and not-so-hidden innuendos around one-night stands. So if morally-questionable analogies aren’t your thing, try to make them your thing and read ahead. Here are some virtues of random testing:

They are seductive. Addictive too

A/B testing is seductive. It works like a charm. Run one successful test and those shiny numbers won’t let you sleep in the night. Buoyant by the successful result of one test, you will want to jump on to the next bed test.

Immediate gratification

The ratio of “time invested” against “gains in sales/revenue figure” is high. You invest 5 minutes setting up a mindless test and you get a conversion boost of 10%. Similarly, you invest 15 minutes in a bar (modesty is thy name) and get some massive ego/vitality/happiness boost. That’s some insane luck and optimization of time. Rejoice while it lasts.

Justify your existence

Getting nasty e-mails from the boss? He wants results and you need to justify your fancy designation and salary. Run a quick test and justify your existence.

Releases ‘feel-good’ hormones

Research has shown that running a successful A/B test makes the brain release a feel-good chemical called Dopamine. Well, that’s a giant piece of lie. But you get the idea. Successful tests make you feel good. And so does good sex.

But the flip side…

You are not going to be lucky every night time

You might have had beginner’s luck, but not every random test is going to end up on your success list. You are going to make some bad choices and that’s going to lead to some fantastic where-did-I-lose-it-kind-of-existential-crisis.

There is going to be a void

A random CTA change might lift your conversions, but the increase is going to be just a pebble in the pond. It won’t significantly affect your bottom-line. You will have to make big, research-backed design changes to fill the conversion-shaped emptiness of your website.

In short, you will have to learn to live with a permanent void in the world of random testing.

You will be like a rolling stone

However fancy Bob Dylan may have made it sound, but living a life with no direction and plan is kind of uninspiring after a while. With random testing, it’s like the 60’s hippie movement. Each day as it comes. There is going to be no plan to fall back upon. There are going to be a few good tests and then there are going to be many that suck.

So random testing is okay while you are still testing the waters of optimization, trying out a tool, selling the concept to your boss or just discovering its virtues. But you need a streamlined process, a well-oiled structure and something more stable and scientific to be able to use A/B testing in the long run to increase conversions.

The case for CRO

You need a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) strategy. A strategy which stands upon the wheels of research, asking questions, arriving at a hypothesis, testing, reporting and analyzing. A/B testing is not equivalent to CRO, it’s just a part of the CRO process. Albeit, the sexiest part. The CRO process requires planning, thought, commitment and patience – all the hallmarks of a wholesome marriage. So, here’s why CRO is a lot like marriage.

There’s the courtship period

You can’t jump into bed with CRO right away, there’s a courtship phase wherein you lay out the strategy, work on a process, figure out the rules and prepare the ground for a sound and long association.

Requires commitment

Once you commit yourself to a CRO plan, you will have to keep infidelity at bay. Random testing will be lurking at many corners, trying to seduce you with the sinful promise of the forbidden and the mysterious. But you will have to keep your eyes fixed on the strategy at hand so as not to ruin the marriage. Difficult, but worthwhile in the long run.

But it will make you richer

Or at least your bosses. And if you are lucky, the fortune should trickle down. CRO can holistically work to lift your conversions the way random/fluke testing can’t. Of course, there’s no guarantee. But making research-backed design changes that significantly change visitors’ behavior on the website is more likely to increase your bottom-line than making a mere CTA color change.

Happy conversion optimization to you

If you want to find out a bit more about A/B testing and CRO, you can check out the following resources:

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14 Actionable Tips to Increase Travel Website Bookings

14 CRO tips

So the visitors land on your travel website, search for flights and accommodation and then randomly leave without completing the booking — almost on a whim. If your website has also been seeing a similar trend, then you are not alone.

On an average, more than 95% traffic coming on hotel, airline and tour packages websites leave without completing the purchase process. Why? Because travel eCommerce is one of the trickiest online businesses — thanks to lengthy marketing funnels, complex search parameters, complicated checkout processes, multiple forms and massive personalization. The average conversion rate (% of website visitors turning into customers) of travel websites is a dismal 4% — far below the 10% conversion rate of financial and media firms.

Travel conversion rate

But you can always improve this figure by optimizing your website so that more visitors turn to customers. Here are 14 tips you can implement on your website to make more visitors convert — complete the transaction.

1) Make your ‘Site Search’ smart and intuitive

Search box
William Shatner pointing his finger towards the search box acts as a directional cue for visitors

For no other industry is the search function as critical as for travel websites. In the case of eCommerce stores, visitors operate in the ‘browsing and finding’ mode. They may or may not use a site search. But when it comes to travel sites, the entire premise of the prospective transaction is based on site search. Only when a visitor selects a location and a date, will he find relevant results from which he/she will make a choice. Not only should your site search be extremely fast and accurate, it should be as intuitive as possible.

There are four key search parameters — date, location, budget and number of people. You can use drop-down menus for calendar and locations, and pre-define different budget categories for visitors to choose from. You can also save their booking history and populate past search parameters for convenience.

Personalization
Expedia gives the visitors a Scratchpad in which their search history is saved

2) How and what you display in site search results is crucial

The result page that appears after a visitor inputs his search combination can overwhelm a visitor into abandonment if the information is presented in a haphazard manner. It’s important that the visitor gets all the needed information without having to leave the funnel. The flight and hotel options should be displayed in a clean layout with pricing being highlighted.

Search results page
Priceline encapsulates its call to action button (Choose) and Price to draw visitors’ attention

An editable search bar should also be prominently displayed so that the visitor can modify the search results without hitting the back button.

3) The progress bar is your lifeboat

Progress bar

The booking process is extremely complex with many steps in the booking funnel – hotel booking, flight booking, amenities, cab pick and drop. Complex booking experiences make travelers switch to higher cost offline channels. In a survey conducted among US passengers, it was found that at least 18% of travelers don’t find online planning and booking easy.

It’s extremely difficult to cut down on the amount of information that must be collected during the booking process. But dividing the process into identifiable steps makes customers’ life much easier. These identifiable steps are like road signs — the customer will know what lies ahead after they complete that step.

4) This is the add-ons market: Upsell and Cross-sell with elan

Cross-sell and Up-sell

Would they want to add on travel insurance as a package deal? Or perhaps, get flight seats with extra legroom at a little extra cost? Or may be extend the trip by three days to get a steal of a deal? The options for add-ons, cross-sells and upsells are immense in the online travel business — extra baggage, hotel upgrades, meals — all are additional services that could be clubbed with the booking to increase the average order value.

According to a TripAdvisor survey, free Wi-Fi is the most requested hotel amenity with 89% of travelers wanting it, followed by free parking and breakfast. However, you need to take care of two things when it comes to upselling and cross-selling. First: Don’t offer an upsell option when the visitor is at the checkout. You don’t tell the traveler what they don’t have and confuse them when they are about to close the deal. Secondly, don’t auto-check the add-ons as the customer might not notice them at that point but would get mighty pissed when they see the inflated cost at the checkout.

5) Personalization is the key

The incredible thing about online travel is that every booking is personalized to some extend. One traveler might always go for free Wi-fi as a criterion for hotel booking while another might always choose flights with 100% on-time record. Using a personalization tool to remember travelers’ booking history will help you make relevant offers the next time they come to your website. You could also track their in-session activity to understand their behavior and booking habits.

Recommendations
Travelocity makes recommendations to travelers on the basis of their past results

When you display the search results, you could also put badges on thumbnails to highlight a particular feature the traveler requested the last time. It’s a great way to catch their attention and offer relevant information really fast.

6) If you know them enough, offer recommendations

This is the second part of the personalization process. If a traveler has booked with you a couple of times, that’s good enough information for you to offer trip recommendations. If there is a lot of consistency in their booking behavior — sea-facing hotels, family trips, spa and recreational activities — you can assume he/she is a leisure traveler and accordingly recommend similar travel experiences.

A global hotel chain ran an A/B test in which it replaced its search widget with a recommendations widget on its search results page. This increased the hotel’s revenue by $658,000.

7) Leave no room for ambiguity

Any information that is vague and open to reader’s interpretation is a potential conversion barrier. The multitude steps involved in the booking process are anyways a hindrance to smooth web experience. Review all the information throughout the funnel for ambiguities.

For example, when you ask visitors for their age, you might be showing them three options to choose from – kid, adult and elderly. Now you might think you have communicated yourself clearly but what about someone who is 17? He definitely does not think of himself as a kid and neither is he legally an adult. Or what about someone who is 59? An adult or elderly? There’s always some room for confusion here. And if the ticket prices vary according to these groups, then the visitor won’t think twice before abandoning you for some other website which clearly states the age group, like this:

Clarity of information

Here’s another example of ambiguity. By looking at their analytics, Expedia found that many of their visitors were clicking the booking button but weren’t completing the transaction. After some analysis, they found that an optional field on the booking form (called ‘Company’) was confusing the travelers. The visitors thought the field required them to enter their bank name. Having entered the bank name, they then went on to enter their bank address (not home) in the address field. This was causing the credit card transaction to fail. Expedia simply deleted the ‘Company’ field and reaped in higher profits. (Here’s the full case study)

Here’s a look at what all information leisure travelers are interested in at the time of planning a holiday.

Information sought by travelers

8) Make room for the last minute traveler

Last-minute queries on mobile device for hotels and accommodations went up by 79% during January 2012 compared to 2011. Tap into this most obvious market segment by prominently displaying a ‘Express booking’ button on your homepage.

9) Make them an offer they can’t refuse

The world of online travel is an unfair one. Google analysis shows that an average travel shopper visits 22 websites (Yessir, not a typo) in multiple shopping sessions before finally booking a trip. Planning a holiday is a thoughtful and complicated process with the visitor going on a ‘Control + W’ spree at the slightest of whims and inconveniences. You have to get their attention really fast and make them act right away in order to score transactions. One of the ways to do that is by using the Urgency principle — one of the six persuasive psychology principles mentioned in Robert Cialdini’s book ‘Influence’.

Last few tickets available at discounted price’
Book now to get a free hotel upgrade’
Book in the next one hour to get free wine on arrival
‘Get complimentary breakfast if booked in the next 30 minutes

There are endless ways to generate urgency and dissuade the visitors to go on a website hopping spree. However, be reasonable and don’t make a promise you can’t keep because that will just tarnish your reputation.

Creating urgency
Booking.com constantly updates its booking status to create a sense of scarcity and urgency

10) Wear nice shoes

Men are judged by the appearance of their shoes. And the authenticity of your business is judged by the appearance of your website. Shoddy design, clumsy layout, too many rotating image carousels, misspellings, bad grammar, unrecognizable security logos and no trust badges are all signs of a possible fake. Online frauds are the order of the day and visitors are ever more cautious about revealing their personal and credit card information online. Hence, it’s very important that your website oozes trust and authenticity.

Marriott homepage
Marriott’s homepage has a minimalist classy design which evokes credibility

When you are asking for their credit card information, display a security seal along with it. Use testimonials, customer reviews, media coverage and privacy policies to win the visitor’s trust. Hotels and airlines should ensure their booking processes are secure.

Planetamex, a travel agency, didn’t come across as credible due to the use of dated logos and award seals on its website. They ran an A/B test and replaced the homepage banner with the one built around the credibility markers of the AMEX brand. This new version increased their phone call conversions by 48%.

11) Don’t make them hunt for the login button

Login button

The customers will return to your website to update, modify or cancel their bookings or just to look up flight schedule, flight number, hotel location or any of the various pieces of information that make a booking. They will also come back to look up their frequent flier miles or seek information about the loyalty programs. Make sure you display the Login button pretty prominently on the homepage as Delta does above so that the customer doesn’t have to frustratingly hunt for them.

12) Reviews are a goldmine

Reviewers' ratings

Reviews are a great form of social proof in any kind of online business. But if you are into the travel business, their importance can’t be emphasized enough. Here are some thundering facts about reviews in the online travel business.

A word of caution though. Don’t go about faking reviews, because frankly it shows.

13) Make sure your website works seamlessly across all devices

If you haven’t done this by now. Get up from that couch and get to work right away. Because if your mobile and tablet sites are not optimized for conversions, you are pissing off a mighty chunk of potential customers, and losing reputation and money alike. Want some hard facts? Here are a few:

Mobile and tablet data(Source: The Connected Traveler Report)

Invest in a responsive design so that the visitor has a seamless experience across all devices. And if you have different websites for mobile and tablet, make sure they have the same functionality and features.

14) Invest in cool tools

Let’s face it. The competition in online travel and hospitality segment is immense with little distinguishing one website from another. If you want to be noticed amid the crowd, you will have to go an extra mile and offer a unique service and tool no one else is offering (or at least offer it in a cooler way).

Kayak offers an ‘explore’ tool that let’s you scan the world map for places you can travel to within a specified budget.

Explore tool

Similarly, Bing Travel had a cool ‘price predictor’ tool which would forecast whether fares for a particular flight and location would increase or go down. Alas! Microsoft killed the tool earlier this year, much to the disdain of travelers.

The First Optimization Step

If you are just beginning with the optimization process, looking at the maximum drop off page in your analytics would be a good starting point to fix the leaking conversions. Should you have any questions about website optimization, conversions, A/B testing and Matthew McConaughey, please drop in a message in the comment section.

The post 14 Actionable Tips to Increase Travel Website Bookings appeared first on VWO Blog.

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14 Actionable Tips to Increase Travel Website Bookings