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The Complete Guide To Using Personas To Optimize Your eCommerce Website

State Of Buyer Personas 2016 established that approximately 60% of the survey respondents took their first-ever buyer persona development initiative within the last 2 years—a result similar to the previous year survey on personas.

It has been almost two decades since the term “persona” was first coined and used by Alan Cooper in his book “The Inmates Run the Asylum.” However, organizations still struggle to develop personas effectively. As a result, the gap between what the consumer wants and what companies provide has widened.

Look at this survey graph for a quick look into the mistakes that can taint customer-business relations, when the latter does not know its ideal customer well:

thunderhead-biggest-mistakes-companies-make-with-customers-apr2014In this blog post, we walk you through the process of creating effective personas, how your business can benefit from these, and why these should be a part of your conversion optimization strategy. Let’s begin:

How to Create Effective User Personas

To create personas that are effective, it is important to first understand what personas should not be:

  • A demographic profile
  • A market segment
  • A documentation of behavior based on a research that lacks data

Having listed the “nots” of personas, let’s deep-dive into what effective personas comprise and how to develop these. Research, qualitative and quantitative, is the foundation of personas. When based on research, personas unveil:

User Motivation

What your users want to accomplish?
What drives your users’ behaviors?

User Mindset

What do your users think?
What are their expectations?
What will make them buy?

Friction

What could be their reasons for hesitation?
What could be their hindrances?

To develop personas that can give you insights as deep as finding answers to the above questions, and a few more tough ones, we advise you to:

  • Use Qualitative Research.
  • Use A/B Testing.
  • Perform Competitor Analysis.

Using Qualitative Research

Qualitative research tools such as on-page surveys, in-person interviews, and so on can help you uncover the expectations and motivation of a user.

We list some use cases for on-page surveys to help you understand how these can be wisely used for gathering information that is required for developing effective personas:

Use Case 1. Understanding Purchase Decision

Understanding customer motivation for buying a product plays a significant role in replicating the buying behavior. If you knew precisely what motivated a visitor to buy from you, it is the next step to motivate other visitors in the same direction.

What you could ask?
  • Did you find what you were looking for?
  • What motivated you to complete your purchase?
What triggers to use?

Goal Completion: As soon as a user completes a signup form or makes payment for items in the cart, this survey should pop up to understand the true motivation behind the purchase.

Use Case 2. Determining Purchase Satisfaction

It is important to know the purchase satisfaction level to determine if there are reasons that can stop them from buying or make them buy from elsewhere. It can also help you categorize people who have high or low purchase satisfaction levels, if you are able to observe a pattern.

What you could ask?
  • On a scale of 0–10, 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how satisfied are you with your last purchase?
  • The reason behind your rating. What do you think is good/bad about buying from us?

Analyzing the information that you have from your survey:

With regard to the question on purchase satisfaction levels, the information that your users reveal can be smartly analyzed to create user personas. Let’s say that you have an online apparel business. Running such surveys can help you:

  • Identify users who are not at all interested in your product (those who rate you between 0–3), users who do not have a firm opinion on your product (4-7), and users who have purchase satisfaction levels (8–10).
  • Understand the reasons behind high and low purchase satisfaction levels for all categories of users mentioned in the previous point.
  • Identify patterns, if any, in those rating your product high/low. For example, do those who rate the product on a scale of 8–10 buy the product because of “fresh styles and patterns,” do most of these people fall in the age group (20–25), and so on.
  • Build user personas based on this information.
What triggers to use?

Time spent on a page: Show the survey after visitors spend “X” seconds on the first webpage they visit. Target the survey using custom targeting to those who have made an online purchase earlier from you.

Asking these questions at the right time can help you fetch actionable information, uncover user motivations, as well as apprehensions.

Similarly, exit intent pop-ups and in-phone surveys also help you find out if your product/service is providing the value that your users and/or customers expect out of it.

Your qualitative research findings can then be dissected to create personas. Consider an example:

You are an eCommerce business selling antiallergic bedding. Your in-phone customer interview and on-page surveys help you determine one of your persona “Jane” with the following attributes:

  • Aged 32, she has very sensitive skin, which is prone to allergies.
  • She is willing to pay a little more if the product quality is good.
  • She also cares about the product being eco-friendly.

Your qualitative research would further help establish:

Jane’s motivation to buy your product: The bedding suits her needs, is priced just what she thinks is right, and can be found easily online.

Jane’s mindset while making a buying decision: She cares about her health and skin. She will not risk investing in any product that can cause allergies. She is also quality-conscious.

Jane’s bottlenecks to buying: She might return the product if she does not find it comfortable and per the quality that she expects. Style and comfort go hand in hand for her.

When you have conducted qualitative research and listed down motivations, bottlenecks, and mindset, you need to gather insights on what your user/customer is doing online. So the next logical step is to unveil Jane’s onsite behavior.

Running visitor recordings, heatmaps, and form analysis will give you different insights into your buyer’s or user’s onsite motivations, constraints, hesitations, and restraints.

For example, using form analysis can help you identify the form fields that lead to customer hesitation or customers abandoning the form.

VWO Form Analysis
VWO Form Analysis

Using A/B Testing

Let’s say that you have listed a few findings about your personas, after conducting an in-depth research. However, you want to be as sure as possible. The following attributes can be put to test:

  • Comfort vs. Style
  • Discount vs. Buy One, Get One Free
  • Value of free shipping and free returns

A/B testing can help you narrow down to attributes as close as true to your real users. Whatever assumptions, observations, and opinions you have about your users, you can A/B test them to find out what your ideal users associate more with.

Performing Competitor Research

Digital intelligence tools can help you dig deeper into competitor data to analyze their traffic. Using such tools, you can find out where your competitors are putting their effort into—social media, mobile, content, email marketing, and so on.

After you have an idea of where your competitors’ major efforts go into, you can work backward to identify the audience they are targeting for creating user personas. This elaborate and well-researched post on medium will tell you how you can crack competitor research to create user personas for your business.

Benefits of Personas for Your Business

Mathilde Boyer, Customer Experience Director at the House of Kaizen, lists 5 ways in which every business can benefit by using personas.

“Personas shouldn’t only be created to trigger user empathy within an organization. They should be built with a practical application in mind so that they can be instrumental in a Conversion Optimization Strategy. Validating personas through actual user data and connecting them to target audiences increases their ability to drive business strategies.

Creating and leveraging user personas brings 5 key benefits to Marketers and Product Owners.

  1. Connect research insights
    Develop a unified view of your customers and prospects by identifying commonalities and unique attributes to provide a deep understanding of motivations, anxieties, decision making styles and moments when users find inspiration.
  2. Strategically manage marketing budget
    User personas allow you to prioritize target audiences and shift spend based on channel performance for individual audiences. Maximize your marketing investment by focusing your efforts and budget on the profitable leads.
  3. Develop powerful brand and product storytelling
    User personas can be leveraged to tailor storylines and bring your value proposition to life. They are key to understand aspirations, desires and perceptions of your customers. They are also crucial to strike the right note with unique content created to move buyers from interests to purchase.
  4. Go beyond marketing silos
    User personas allow you to ensure continuity and complementarity of messaging and creative across all user touchpoints (ads, website, emails, offline campaigns, customer service script, sales pitch, etc.).
  5. Prioritize product roadmap
    User personas should be a valuable levier to inform your product development cycles and ensure that new features are developed to solve evolving prospects’ problems and needs.”

Other than the benefits that Mathilde talks about, personas are also helpful in bringing uniformity to every department of the business regarding who their customer is. From customer service representatives to sales to marketing to the administrators, everyone is aligned to consumer goals. This helps everyone across the business keep their ideal customers happy, and thus increase overall satisfaction as well as retention.

Why Should Personas Be a Part of Your CRO Program

Protocol80 compiles some interesting facts on why personas are awesome. We list 2 of these here as evidence on why personas should be a part of your conversion optimization program.

“In the case of Intel, buyer personas surpassed campaign benchmarks by 75%. They were more cost efficient than the average campaign by 48% DemandGen Report.

In the case of Thomson Reuter, buyer personas contributed to a 175% increase in revenue attributed to marketing, 10% increase in leads sent to sales, and a 72% reduction in lead conversion time.”

Personas can help you improve conversions by:

  • Improving your personalization efforts.
  • Helping enhance product user experience.

Improving Personalization – Content

Personas help bring in more clarity on crafting tailored content that appeals to the target audience of the business. Consider an example:

You are an eCommerce business. One of your user persona is say, Mary – The Loyal, with some of the following characteristics:

  • Visits your website frequently
  • Makes a purchase every month or two
  • Shares reviews
  • Does not purchase expensive products
  • Does not buy more than 2 or 3 products in a single visit
  • Is fashion-conscious, but does not compromise with quality

As you understand the buying behavior of this user persona, you can run campaigns with content specifically focussed at converting these users. For example, when Mary-the loyal visits your website again, you can personalize recommendations based on her last purchase, which might interest her into making a purchase.

Here are 11 examples of personalization that you can read about. We simply love how Netflix serves content based on past user views.

Enhancing User Experience – Design and Development

At the design and development level, personas work as a research tool for businesses intending to enhance browsing/buying experience for their online users. These personas that are based on usage goals, browsing and exploring behavior, as well as pain points, tell the why behind the actions that users take on a website.

Such information is critical for designing any product or service. Understand, relate to, and remember the ideal user Mary-The Loyal throughout the entire product development process. The following design and development problems can be sorted by making user personas a part of the process.

  • When design teams do not have an understanding of which design elements on the website to prioritize. In this case, design and development teams end up wasting time on either developing or optimizing features that their ideal customer, Mary-The Loyal, does not use.
  • When design teams are finding it difficult to pitch their proposal to the management. This is where they can use actual data to enhance their idea and show the actual problem they are trying to solve by making the proposed changes.

Mathilde adds to how personas help enhance user experience.

“From a UX perspective, user personas are crucial to prevent self-referential design as they allow to focus the efforts on the needs of the customers and help be mindful of designing experiences as if we, marketers, were the end users.

Data-driven personas are also the foundation to map out customer journeys and ensure full alignment between user needs or perceived needs and the relevancy and length of the experience they have to go through to achieve them.

Personas become extremely powerful when they are taken beyond their naturally descriptive focus and provide a predictive view on how your product or service improves your ideal customers’ lives once they’ve used it for a certain time. The predictive side of personas is a key asset to design future-proof products and experiences.”

To Wrap It Up

When you make personas a part of your strategy, you are trying to maximize value for your ideal users. Here’s how Alan Cooper explains this concept in The Inmates Are Running The Asylum:

“The broader a target you aim for, the more certainty you have of missing the bull’s-eye. If you want to achieve a product-satisfaction level of 50%, you cannot do it by making a large population 50% happy with your products. You can only accomplish it by singling out 50% of the people and striving to make them 100% happy. It goes further than that. You can create an even bigger success by targeting 10% of your market and working to make them 100% ecstatic. It might seem counterintuitive, but designing for a single user is the most effective way to satisfy a broad population.”

Ultimately, filling the gap between the product value as perceived by your ideal user and the actual value that your product provides, will help you convince and convert your users into buyers.

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The post The Complete Guide To Using Personas To Optimize Your eCommerce Website appeared first on VWO Blog.

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The Complete Guide To Using Personas To Optimize Your eCommerce Website

5 Conversion Rate Optimization Challenges For Enterprises To Solve

Although the interest in conversion rate optimization is increasing over time, organizations are unable to adopt it fully. To ensure its smooth adoption and implementation, certain challenges and misconceptions need to be addressed.

interest in conversion rate optimization google trends
Google Trends

In this post, we will talk about 5 such conversion optimization challenges that enterprises face and ways to overcome them.

Challenge 1. Politics and People—A Cultural Challenge

An organization’s culture is made of 2 core components—people (skill and mindset) and their interpersonal relationships (power to influence and politics ). Creating a conversion optimization culture becomes challenging when either people lack the understanding and skill or when influential people in the organization want their opinions to be valued more than what data and facts indicate.

Political

Brian Massey, Founder, Conversion Sciences shares his view on the political challenge as follows:

Brian Massey

Why has Donald Trump’s top-down, opinion-driven leadership style been accepted by the white-collar working public in the US? Because enterprise businesses have trained us that this is how leadership works. We have a name for this leadership style: “HiPPO,” or Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. Joel Harvey calls it Helicopter Management. This is the management style of charismatic or autocratic leaders who drive action in their organizations by helicoptering in, expressing a lightly-informed opinion, and enforcing their opinion in one of the following two ways:

* They bestow budget upon the loyal.

* They threaten the jobs of the disloyal.

So marketing teams can grab the budget and buy the latest tools. But they then struggle to find the man-hours necessary to make the tools effective.

Like all big business problems, it’s a cultural issue.”

James Spittal, Chief Executive Officer, Web Marketing ROI also talks about the HiPPO effect and the political challenge that obstructs a culture of conversion rate optimization.

James Spittal

Only a small portion of changes are A/B tested, kind of like the “HiPPO” effect. The typically small and under-resourced internal CRO team madly tries to work with an agency to get as many A/B tests launched as possible and keeps up their A/B test velocity while talking to everyone about CRO. Meanwhile, a C-level executive asks for a change to be pushed straight into the source code base without it being tested, costing the organization potentially millions of dollars and because they don’t know any better.

Keith Hagen, VP & Director of Conversion Services at Inflow views politics as an obstacle in the implementation of quality insights for any CRO program.

Keith Hagen

Not all insights are equal. One insight can be worth millions; the other may not move the needle at all while the enterprise pays its employees to test and implement that insight as well.

Terming what an insight actually is, is important as well. Insights come from customers and identify a customer obstacle or opportunity.  If you are not making something better for the customer or capitalizing better on what you have, it should not be worked on. Enterprise organizations have a lot of voices, and the higher paid voices tend to influence what optimizations are made to a site.

The solution he proposes—Score Insights Based on Their Potential.

Every insight should be scored on its potential and shared across the organization. Whether the insight is about an obstacle to a purchase or an opportunity to sell more, the potential should be assigned a dollar value so that it is clear what NOT working on the insight will cost.

People

James Spittal, Chief Executive Officer, Web Marketing ROI attributes the lack of skill—technical or development—with regard to why people in an organization pose a challenge to creating a culture of CRO.

James Spittal

This challenge simply occurs because of people in an enterprise not having the knowledge, talent, or skills. Often, we see people with a graphic design, pure web design, pure analytics, or pure UX background become the “de facto” CRO team. But they struggle because it’s unlikely that they have the technical skills or development skills to be able to implement advanced A/B test ideas (major layout changes, modals, segmentation, changing cart flows, doing tests on pricing, etc.). Often, they also struggle to get resources internally or externally and build a strong business case to increase the CRO budget.

Johann Van Tonder, COO, AWA Digital, shares similar views regarding people and the lack of talent to implement conversion optimization.

Johann Van Tonder

The challenge is to find good optimization talent. While there is no shortage of people marketing themselves as CRO practitioners, only a small percentage of the candidates we screen make it into our organization. This is the same pool that enterprises are recruiting from.  

A good optimizer is both analytical and creative, with a solid grasp of disciplines as diverse as psychology, copywriting, marketing, and statistics. They are brilliant communicators with an entrepreneurial drive and at least basic coding skills. Finding them is not easy.

Solution

The first step of creating a culture of data-driven conversion optimization in any organization is to educate the people about its benefits. Any enterprise planning to implement such a shift—moving from random A/B testing to scientific conversion optimization—must first understand the “why” behind it. That’s why we have 15 conversion rate experts share why they feel it is important to step up from A/B testing to conversion optimization.

Any cultural change requires the complete support of the top management. That’s why it is all the more important to convince it about conversion optimization. Here’s how you can use data to convince your top management about why they need conversion optimization:

  • Highlight improved user experience as a double win.
  • Present a competitive analysis.
  • Stress the gaps in your current approach.
  • Show the money.
  • Show the data.

Challenge 2. No Defined Structure that Supports CRO

It’s a huge challenge for enterprises to put together a structure that supports conversion optimization effectively. There are a number of questions that arise when addressing this challenge. Would it be beneficial to hire a dedicated conversion optimization team, or would it mean only additional expenditure? Who is responsible for conversion optimization?

With regard to this challenge, some interesting observations were listed by ConversionXL’s report on State of Conversion Optimization 2016. One of the findings quoted in the report mentions, “…only 29% of people said that there’s a single dedicated person who does optimization. 30% more said there’s a team in charge of optimization, but 41% of respondents had no one in particular that was accountable for optimization efforts.”

Some companies have internal conversion optimization teams that comprise an analyst, designer, marketer, and project manager. However, should these people invest all of their time on conversion optimization? One way of dealing with this is to have all team members allocate time between core job functions and conversion optimization.

Another challenge related to the lack of structured process to conversion optimization, as explained by Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners, and a digital marketing keynote speaker, is the isolation of the CRO team from the rest of the teams.

Tim Ash

The biggest problem that an enterprise CRO faces is the siloing emblematic of big companies. All job functions and even departments are compartmentalized and do not communicate well with each other. So even though a CRO group or team exists within the company, it is only able to focus on limited tactical objectives and simple split testing. Typically, CRO initiatives pass through compliance and approval reviews, get watered down by the branding gatekeepers, and then languish in the IT development queue to get implemented.

At SiteTuners, we have developed our Conversion Maturity Model to grade organizations on key aspects of their optimization effectiveness. Dimensions include culture and processes, organizational structure and skill set, measurement and accountability, the marketing technology stack, and of course the user experience across all channels.

One of the biggest determiners of success is whether there is active and consistent support for CRO from high-ranking executives. If there is political air-cover and the CRO team reports high up in the company, this team can work across the silos to tackle fundamental business issues involving products and services, the business model, back-end operational efficiencies, and fundamental user experience redesigns.

Solution

Lay down a clear process for conversion optimization that needs to be followed by everyone in the organization. Create a dashboard or platform where all the conversion optimization activities are planned, updated, and reported. Share this platform with everyone in the organization. Encourage a culture where everyone contributes to conversion optimization. However, make decisions based only on data. For example, while deciding what to test and optimize, follow a scientific hypotheses prioritization framework. The benefit—though everyone gets to share their observations and hypotheses—is that only the most relevant of those are tested.

Challenge 3. Inefficient Methodology to Implementing Conversion Optimization

Paul Rouke, Founder and CEO, PRWD points out that lack of user research is one problem in the current conversion optimization methodology followed by most enterprises.

Paul Rouke

Among enterprises, a lack of an intelligent and robust optimization methodology is a major barrier to them making experimentation a trusted and valued part of their growth strategy. Lack of user research in developing test hypotheses, alongside lack of innovative and strategic testing, instead a focus on simple A/B testing, are some of the biggest barriers which prevent enterprises from harnessing the potential strategic impact conversion optimization could have for their business.

As shown below, the interest in A/B testing is far more widespread than in conversion optimization.

interest in a/b testing vs. interest in conversion optimization - google trends
Google Trends

It is important to understand that testing random ideas based on opinions is not a smart way of testing. You may get a winning variation even by testing “ideas,” but this will not help solve the real pain points that users face. The challenge, therefore, is to eliminate guesswork; and the solution is to focus on data instead.

Here’s what Brian Massey has to say regarding eliminating guess work and relying on a behavioral data-based methodology.

Brian Massey

Enterprises are missing out on an area, that is, following Moore’s Law in terms of increasing capability and decreasing costs. Behavioral data collection is dropping precipitously in price, and new capabilities are coming online weekly. Just as Microsoft didn’t realize that mobile phone market would follow Moore’s Law, enterprises run the risk of missing the growth in Behavioral Science, a discipline designed to eliminate guessing from business strategy and tactics.

Mathilde Boyer, Head of CXO, House of Kaizen and Peter Figueredo, Founding Partner, House of Kaizen also talk about what is inefficient about the current conversion optimization methodology, as followed by some enterprises.

Mathilde Boyer

Opinion-based A/B testing is the gangrene of CRO programs. It hinders the process of objective creation and prioritization of test hypothesis. This tendency can lead to situations where a high level of resources are invested in low-impact optimization activities. Generation and prioritization of test hypothesis needs to be data-driven, systematic, repeatable, and teachable to allow for expansion of optimization activities across a business.

Peter Figueredo

Companies who invest in CRO typically rush to get testing started and overlook the importance of conducting research. Without proper research for informed testing, the design process CXO has lower chances of success. If your doctors do not know the root cause of your ailment, then they are likely only treating the symptoms but not curing the disease. Research should never be ignored and should be a critical component of House of Kaizen’s CXO success.

Solution

Data-driven optimization is focused on identifying friction, understanding the why behind user behavior, and testing hypotheses based on that data/information. Here’s what a formalized conversion optimization methodology would comprise:

  1. Researching into the existing data
  2. Finding gaps in the conversion funnel
  3. Planning and developing testable hypotheses
  4. Creating test variations and executing those tests
  5. Analyzing the tests and using the analysis in subsequent tests

You can read more about the scientific methodology for conversion optimization in this post.

Andre Morys, CEO of Web Arts,  in one of his interviews, talks about what’s wrong with the methodology. According to him, 80–90% of big companies do not aim for bigger goals, which could be change in the growth rate. This is another methodology-related drawback, as the goals being set do not take the profitability into account. Andre’s interview answers many other questions related to business growth.

Challenge 4. Choosing the Right Tool to Meet the Business Goals

The decision-makers in an organization have a variety of tools to choose from for meeting their business goals.  For example, when deciding on an A/B testing tool, they have to make a choice between a:

  • Frequentist-based statistical engine
  • Bayesian statistical engine

Moreover, there are multiple tools that help accomplish specific objectives. Enterprises might use hotjar for heatmap reports, a/b testing from VWO, and some other tool for on-page surveys. Reporting becomes a pain when instead of using one connected platform, enterprises use multiple tools to execute their conversion optimization program. If enterprises instead switch to a single connected platform, they can save a lot of time and resources.

Another problem with not using a single tool for testing and optimization is that it becomes difficult to explain instances of success and failure to the top management. This could be confusing for managers who are not in touch with day-to-day implementation of the conversion optimization program.

Solution

For selecting the correct tool, decision-makers need to weigh the pros and cons of their actions. They need to evaluate the tool based on how effectively and efficiently it can solve their specific business problems. For enterprises looking to invest in a tool for business growth, here’s a post on what decision-makers need to know before investing in CRO or A/B testing software.

Challenge 5. Insufficient and Incorrect Budget Allocation

Back in 2013, most companies spent less than 5% on conversion optimization from their total marketing budget.

budget for conversion optimization - graph

Moving on to 2014, a report from Adobe says that top-converting companies spend more than 5% of their budgets on optimization. Per the conversion optimization report 2016 by ConversionXL, businesses have increased their spend on optimization. The problem, however, lies in correct allocation.

Paul Rouke talks about inefficient budget allocation as follows:

Paul Rouke

Budgets for conversion optimization within enterprises are continuing to increase, but typically in the wrong direction. Enterprises focus far too much of their marketing investment in enterprise technology. As a result, there’s little investment in people and their skills to actually harness the technology—whether building their in-house team or harnessing specialist agencies.

Enterprises which invest in Human Intelligence (HI), above and beyond technology, and AI are the ones who are positioning themselves for significant and sustainable growth. Growth is about people.

Solution

Before deciding the amount that enterprises should spend on conversion optimization, they should think about the return on investment from CRO. Organizations need to budget for the conversion optimization tool while analyzing their goals and actual gains. To read more on how to budget for conversion optimization, read this post by Formstack.

Summary 

Although the interest in conversion optimization is growing, due to certain challenges, it is not being adopted fully by enterprises. Some of the drawbacks that this post talks about are related to organizational culture, structure, methods and processes, tools for conversion optimization, and budget. These challenges are either related to adoption of conversion optimization or its smooth implementation. Solving these can help enterprises deploy conversion optimization efficiently and effectively to achieve growth and success.

Hope you found this post insightful. We’d love to hear your thoughts on challenges that enterprises face when implementing conversion optimization. Send in your feedback and views in the comments section below.

Approach_Increasing_Conversion_Rates_Free_Trial


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5 Conversion Rate Optimization Challenges For Enterprises To Solve

2017 eCommerce Conversion Rate Trends That Are Here to Stay

We have hardly seen through the first month of the year and the internet is already overwhelmed with the advice and trend pieces on eCommerce.

In this post, however, we specifically focus on those trends that can influence eCommerce conversion rates this year. It is important to keep a watch on such trends to keep ahead of the game.

Let’s read through what eCommerce experts are saying.

On-Site Search Optimization

Effective site search is well known for increasing website conversion rates. Weblink’s internal study for 2016 points out that shoppers who use internal site search converted at a 216% higher rate than those who do not.

Internal site search stats
Source

In 2014, Smashing Magazine benchmarked the search experience of the 50 top-grossing US e-commerce websites, revealing a lot of untapped potential:

  • 60% of e-commerce websites do not support searches with symbols and abbreviations.
  • While 82% websites have autocomplete suggestions, 36% of implementations do more harm than good.

According to Paul Rogers, 2017 will see more and more eCommerce businesses fix and optimize their on-site search in order to increase their conversion rates.

Paul Rogers, eCommerce consultant

I think an area of eCommerce that more and more merchants are starting to address, with a view to optimizing conversion metrics, is on-site search. Many of the clients I work with have upped their game in this area this year, making use of things like self-learning capabilities (via a third-party solution, supporting merchandising), natural language processing (to better understand more complex queries), product / category / attribute boosting and also promoting the use of the function.

In my experience, users who complete a search are considerably more likely to convert. I’ve seen positive results from making search boxes more prominent and more of a core navigation focus (through encouraging more complex queries like ‘search for product, SKU, brand or help’ for example). There are some really good, advanced solutions available for eCommerce stores now that can handle far more complex queries and drive more trade — I really like Klevu for the NLP and catalog enrichment side of things, but Algolia is very strong too.

Using a third-party solution is generally the best route for optimizing search, as the majority of the eCommerce platforms on the market (with the exception of enterprise systems like Oracle Commerce Cloud and IBM Websphere) have weak search technology, some of which are unable to process even the most simple queries.

Amazon Rise Continues

A survey conducted by BloomReach 2015 revealed that approximately half of the online consumers conduct their first product search on Amazon. The survey gives some interesting insights into how and why Amazon continues to dominate American e-commerce market year-on-year.

In fact, the percentage of people who search for a product first on Amazon has gone up from 30% in 2012 to 44% in 2015. Check the graph for numbers on first searches made on Amazon vs. search engines vs. retailer websites.

amazon search vs. search engine vs. retailers
Source

Andrew Youderian believes that the same trend will continue well into 2017 unless other players are able to build a brand connection with customers.

Andrew Youderian, eCommerce entrepreneur

I think many merchants in 2017—especially those in the U.S.—will see continued downward pressure on their website conversion rates due to Amazon. As Amazon continues to gobble up market share, they are increasingly becoming the go-to place for consumers looking to purchase online. Unless merchants are selling something unique or have a strong brand connection with their customers, it will be difficult to win this battle, and it’s a transition that many merchants haven’t yet made.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Chris Lake, co-founder of EmpiricalProof

The main trend for 2017 is the widespread maturing of the Conversion Rate Optimization industry. It is reminiscent of the usability and analytics industry a decade or so ago. Budgets are on the rise, companies are adopting a structured approach to optimization, and hiring in-house staff for the same.

Chris backs his statement with an interesting study by eConsultancy, according to which over half of companies plan to increase their conversion optimization budgets in 2017. The whole CRO industry will attract attention from the C-suite, he adds further.

CTA_evolution

Personalization

A survey conducted by eConsultancy in 2013 concluded that 94% of the in-house marketers consider website personalization to be critical to the success of the business. This popularity of personalization in eCommerce has grown over the years. Evergage combines extensive data on personalization in a stats roundup for 2016. The gist of the report is that consumers are likely to buy from a retailer that:

  • Recognizes them by name
  • Makes suggestions based on recent purchases
  • Knows the purchase history of their consumers

While a lot is being discussed on personalization since long, Tracey Wallace opines that 2017 is going to be the year of personalization.

Tracey Wallace, Editor in Chief at Bigcommerce

The eCommerce industry has been talking about personalization for a while, without much data or fruition. In 2017, I think personalization is going to be the key to more sales from your already existing customers –– i.e. driving up AOV and retention. With so many channels for customers to check out on (and most brands being at least multi if not omnichannel), what will make them checkout on *your* webstore? VIP programs, special discounts, and early access will help to foster loyalty and drive up repeat sales. Plus, you can use this same type of segmentation to sell B2B and wholesale without having to take every single call. 2017 will be about efficiency, and there’s nothing more efficient than getting people who have already purchased from you to buy again, and again, and again.

Mobile Optimization

Throughout the day, the one device that consumes most of our time is mobile. comScore reports that digital media time in the U.S. has exploded recently – growing nearly 50 percent in the past two years, with more than three-fourths of that growth directly attributable to the mobile app.

Since mobile plays a critical role in significantly increasing reach, awareness, and engagement, it is time that eCommerce players start giving it the due attention. Look at the following graph to see how mobile and tablet usage has been increasing over time.

mobile optimization
Mobile and tablet usage combined, beat desktop usage for the first time worldwide in 2016

Google has already shown its inclination towards mobile by announcing a “mobile-first” culture. As a result, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is being talked about a lot.

William Harris, Growth Marketer & Entrepreneur

One of the biggest trends in 2017 will be the growth of AMP. I tested this out with a few merchants on Shopify Plus when they were running the beta, and the results were impressive.

We know that stripping pages down to the necessary elements tends to increase conversion rates.  We know that faster load times tend to increase conversion rates.  So when you combine the both, it only makes sense that conversion rates will go up on mobile devices. Since mobile accounts for the majority of website traffic, that’s where the biggest increase in conversions will come in 2017.

Look to see more merchants adopting AMP and pushing the mobile conversion rate even higher (especially when AMP gets better and more flexible).”

Smarter Buy Buttons

The busy consumer is looking for smarter ways to shop. While he browses his mobile to make a mental to-buy list, he compares the best deals on a desktop for making an informed purchase.

For retailers, there lies an opportunity in this challenge. With the help of buy buttons, social commerce has enabled eCommerce players convert the buyer at the first point of contact – mobile, tablet, desktop, email, Facebook, Pinterest, or anywhere else.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded Magazine, says that buy buttons will be one of the major trends driving up conversion rates for eCommerce in 2017.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder, Retail Minded Magazine

The buyer journey will always evolve and as a result, retailers must, as well. Among the ways I believe eCommerce, in particular, will see change in the year ahead is by the introduction of smart buy buttons. Such buy buttons do not need as many steps to purchase as they have in the past. This will undoubtedly help conversion rates, as well as connect consumers to brands more efficiently and more quickly than ever before. Through the introduction of buy buttons via social media, email, video platforms and other digital avenues, I believe that customers will be able to skip steps they have not been able to in the past. And, as a result, retailers will benefit with stronger sales and customer engagement.

To Wrap Up

Personalization, on-site optimization, the continuous rise of Amazon, conversion rate optimization, buy buttons—eCommerce businesses can use these trends to their advantage in 2017.

Have any of the trends listed above had any impact on your business? Tell us and our readers in the comments section below.

The post 2017 eCommerce Conversion Rate Trends That Are Here to Stay appeared first on VWO Blog.

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2017 eCommerce Conversion Rate Trends That Are Here to Stay

How Tough Mudder Gained a 9% Session Uplift by Optimizing for Mobile Users

The following is a case study about how Tough Mudder achieved a 9% session uplift by optimizing for mobile. With the help of altima° and VWO, they identified and rectified pain points for their mobile users, to provide seamless event identification and sign-ups. 


About the Company

Tough Mudder offers a series of mud and obstacle courses designed to test physical strength, stamina, and mental grit. Events aren’t timed races, but team activities that promote camaraderie and accomplishment as a community.

Objective

Tough Mudder wanted to ensure that enrolment on their mobile website was smooth and easy for their users. They partnered with altima°, a digital agency specializing in eCommerce, and VWO to ensure seamless event identification and sign-ups.

Research on Mobile Users

The agency first analyzed Tough Mudder’s Google Analytics data to identify any pain points across participants’ paths to enrollment. They analyzed existing rates from the Event List, which demonstrated that interested shoppers were not able to identify the events appropriate for them. The agency began to suspect that customers on mobile might not be discovering events easily enough.

Test

On the mobile version of the original page, most relevant pieces of information like the event location and date, were being pushed too far down below the fold. In addition, lesser relevant page elements were possibly distracting users from the mission at hand. This is how it looked like:

tough mudder
Event location and date way below the fold on ‘original’

The agency altima° decided to make the following changes in the variation:

  1. Simplified header: Limiting the header copy to focus on the listed events. The following image shows how this looked.

    img2
    Simplified header copy
  2. List redesign: Redesigning the filter and event list to prominently feature the events themselves. The following image shows the same:
    List redesign to optimize event location and date
  3. Additionally, an Urgency Message was added to encourage interested users to enroll in events nearing their deadline. See the following image to know how it was done:
    Urgency message to push quicker enrollments

For these three variations, seven different combinations were created and a multivariate test was run using VWO. The test experienced over 2k event sign-ups across 4 weeks. The combinations of variations are shown below:

Test Results

After 4 weeks, Variation 2, which included the redesigned event list, proved to be the winning variation. This is not to say that other test variations were not successful. Variation 2 was just the MOST successful:

The winning variation produced a session value uplift of 9%! Combined with the next 2 rounds of optimization testing, altima° helped Tough Mudder earn a session value uplift of over 33%!

Why Did Variation 2 Win?

altima° prefers to let the numbers speak for themselves and not dwell on subjective observations. After all, who needs opinions when you’ve got data-backed results? altima°, however, draws the following conclusions on why Variation 2 won:

Simplified header:

Social proof has demonstrated itself to be a worthy component of conversion optimization initiatives. These often include customer reviews and/or indications of popularity across social networks.

In fact, Tough Mudder experienced a significant lift in the session value due to the following test involving the addition of Facebook icons. It’s likely that the phrase Our Events Have Had Over 2 Million Participants Across 3 Continents warranted its own kind of social proof. 

List redesign:

The most ambitious testing element to design and develop was also the most successful.

It appeared that an unnecessary amount of real estate was being afforded to the location filter. This was resolved by decreasing margins above and below the filter, along with removing the stylized blue graphic.

The events themselves now carried a more prominent position relative to the fold on mobile devices. Additionally, the list itself was made to be more easily read, with a light background and nondistracting text.

Urgency message:

The underperformance of the urgency message came as a surprise. It was believed that this element would prove to be valuable, further demonstrating the importance of testing with VWO.

Something to consider is that not every event included an urgency message. After all, not every enrolment period was soon to close. Therefore, it could be the case that some customers were less encouraged to click through and enroll in an individually relevant event if they felt that they had more time to do so later.

They might have understood that their event of interest wasn’t promoting urgency and was, therefore, not a priority. It also might have been the case that an urgency message was introduced too early in the steps to event enrolment.

Let’s Talk

How did you find this case study? There are more testing theories to discuss! Please reach out to altima° and VWO to discuss. You could also drop in a line in the Comments section below.

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Running an A/A Test Before A/B Testing – Wise or Waste?

To A/A test or not is a question that invites conflicting opinions. Enterprises when faced with the decision of implementing an A/B testing tool do not have enough context on whether they should A/A test. Knowing the benefits and loopholes of A/A testing can help organizations make better decisions.

In this blog post we explore why some organizations practice A/A testing and the things they need to keep in mind while A/A testing. We also discuss other methods that can help enterprises decide whether or not to invest in a certain A/B testing tool.

Why Some Organizations Practice A/A Testing

A/A testing is done when organizations are taking up new implementation of an A/B testing tool. Running an A/A test at that time can help them with:

  • Checking the accuracy of an A/B Testing tool
  • Setting a baseline conversion rate for future A/B tests
  • Deciding a minimum sample size

Checking the Accuracy of an A/B Testing Tool

Organizations who are about to purchase an A/B testing tool or want to switch to a new testing software may run an A/A test to ensure that the new software works fine, and that it has been set up properly.

Tomasz Mazur, an eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization expert, explains further: “A/A testing is a good way to run a sanity check before you run an A/B test. This should be done whenever you start using a new tool or go for new implementation. A/A testing in these cases will help check if there is any discrepancy in data, let’s say, between the number of visitors you see in your testing tool and the web analytics tool. Further, this helps ensure that your hypothesis are verified.”

In an A/A test, a web page is A/B tested against an identical variation. When there is absolutely no difference between the control and the variation, it is expected that the result will be inconclusive. However, in cases where an A/A test provides a winner between two identical variations, there is a problem. The reasons could be the following:

  • The tool has not been set up properly.
  • The test hasn’t been conducted correctly.
  • The testing tool is inefficient.

Here’s what Corte Swearingen, Director, A/B Testing and Optimization at American Eagle, has to say about A/A testing: “I typically will run an A/A test when a client seems uncertain about their testing platform, or needs/wants additional proof that the platform is operating correctly. There really is no better way to do this than to take the exact same page and test it against itself with no changes whatsoever. We’re essentially tricking the platform and seeing if it catches us! The bottom line is that while I don’t run A/A tests very often, I will occasionally use it as a proof of concept for a client, and to help give them confidence that the split testing platform they are using is working as it should.”

Determining the Baseline Conversion Rate

Before running any A/B test, you need to know the conversion rate that you will be benchmarking the performance results against. This benchmark is your baseline conversion rate.

An A/A test can help you set the baseline conversion rate for your website. Let’s explain this with the help of an example. Suppose you are running an A/A test where the control gives 303 conversions out of 10,000 visitors and the identical variation B gives 307 out of 10,000 conversions. The conversion rate for A is 3.03%, and that for B is 3.07%, when there is no difference between the two variations. Therefore, the conversion rate range that can be set as a benchmark for future A/B tests can be set at 3.03–3.07%. If you run an A/B test later and get an uplift within this range, this might mean that this result is not significant.

Deciding a Minimum Sample Size

A/A testing can also help you get an idea about the minimum sample size from your website traffic. A small sample size would not include sufficient traffic from multiple segments. You might miss out on a few segments which can potentially impact your test results. With a larger sample size, you have a greater chance of taking into account all segments that impact the test.

Corte says, “A/A testing can be used to make a client understand the importance of getting enough people through a test before assuming that a variation is outperforming the original.” He explains this with an A/A testing case study that was done for Sales Training Program landing pages for one of his clients, Dale Carnegie. The A/A test that was run on two identical landing pages got test results indicating that a variation was producing an 11.1% improvement over the control. The reason behind this was that the sample size being tested was too small.

a/a test initial results

After having run the A/A test for a period of 19 days and with over 22,000 visitors, the conversion rates between the two identical versions were the same.

a/a test results with more data

Michal Parizek, Senior eCommerce & Optimization Specialist at Avast, shares similar thoughts. He says, “At Avast, we did a comprehensive A/A test last year. And it gave us some valuable insights and was worth doing it!” According to him, “It is always good to check the statistics before final evaluation.”

At Avast, they ran an A/A test on  two main segments—customers using the free version of the product and customers using the paid version. They did so to get a comparison.

The A/A test had been live for 12 days, and they managed to get quite a lot of data. Altogether, the test involved more than 10 million users and more than 6,500 transactions.

In the “free” segment, they saw a 3% difference in the conversion rate and 4% difference in Average Order Value (AOV). In the “paid” segment, they saw a 2% difference in conversion and 1% difference in AOV.

“However, all uplifts were NOT statistically significant,” says Michal. He adds, “Particularly in the ‘free’ segment, the 7% difference in sales per user (combining the differences in the conversion rate and AOV) might look trustworthy enough to a lot of people. And that would be misleading. Given these results from the A/A test, we have decided to implement internal A/B testing guidelines/lift thresholds. For example, if the difference in the conversion rate or AOV is lower than 5%, be very suspicious that the potential lift is not driven by the difference in the design but by chance.”

Michal sums up his opinion by saying, “A/A testing helps discover how A/B testing could be misleading if they are not taken seriously. And it is also a great way to spot any bugs in the tracking and setup.”

Problems with A/A Testing

In a nutshell, the two main problems inherent in A/A testing are:

  • Everpresent element of randomness in any experimental setup
  • Requirement of a large sample size

We will consider these one by one:

Element of Randomness

As pointed out earlier in the post, checking the accuracy of a testing tool is the main reason for running an A/A test. However, what if you find out a difference between conversions of control and an identical variation? Do you always point it out as a bug in the A/B testing tool?

The problem (for the lack of a better word) with A/A testing is that there is always an element of randomness involved. In some cases, the experiment acquires statistical significance purely by chance, which means that the change in the conversion rate between A and its identical version is probabilistic and does not denote absolute certainty.  

Tomaz Mazur explains randomness with a real-world example. “Suppose you set up two absolutely identical stores in the same vicinity. It is likely, purely by chance or randomness, that there is a difference in results reported by the two. And it doesn’t always mean that the A/B testing platform is inefficient.”

Requirement of a Large Sample Size

Following the example/case study provided by Corte above, one problem with A/A testing is that it can be time-consuming. When testing identical versions, you need a large sample size to find out if A is preferred to its identical version. This in turn will take too much time.

As explained in one of the ConversionXL’s posts, “The amount of sample and data you need to prove that there is no significant bias is huge by comparison with an A/B test. How many people would you need in a blind taste testing of Coca-Cola (against Coca-Cola) to conclude that people liked both equally? 500 people, 5000 people?” Experts at ConversionXL explain that entire purpose of an optimization program is to reduce wastage of time, resources, and money.  They believe that even though running an A/A test is not wrong, there are better ways to use your time when testing.  In the post they mention, “The volume of tests you start is important but even more so is how many you *finish* every month and from how many of those you *learn* something useful from. Running A/A tests can eat into the “real” testing time.”

VWO’s Bayesian Approach and A/A Testing

VWO uses a Bayesian-based statistical engine for A/B testing. This allows VWO to deliver smart decisions–it tells you which variation will minimize potential loss.

Chris Stucchio, Director of Data Science at VWO, shares his viewpoint on how A/A testing is different in VWO than typical frequentist A/B testing tools.

Most A/B testing tools are seeking truth. When running an A/A test in a frequentist tool, an erroneous “winner” should only be reported 5% of the time. In contrast, VWO’s SmartStats is attempting to make a smart business decision. We report a smart decision when we are confident that a particular variation is not worse than all the other variations, that is, we are saying “you’ll leave very little money on the table if you choose this variation now.” In an A/A test, this condition is always satisfied—you’ve got nothing to lose by stopping the test now.

The correct way to evaluate a Bayesian test is to check whether the credible interval for lift contains 0% (the true value).

He also says that the possible and simplest reason for A/A tests to provide a winner

is random chance. “With a frequentist tool, 5% of A/A tests will return a winner due to bad luck. Similarly, 5% of A/A tests in a Bayesian tool will report erroneous lifts. Another possible reason is the configuration error; perhaps the javascript or HTML is incorrectly configured.”

Other Methods and Alternatives to A/A Testing

A few experts believe that A/A testing is inefficient as it consumes a lot of time that could otherwise be used in running actual A/B tests. However, there are others who say that it is essential to run a health check on your A/B testing tool. That said, A/A testing alone is not sufficient to establish whether one testing tool should be prefered over another. When making a critical business decision such as buying a new tool/software application for A/B testing, there are a number of other things that should be considered.

Corte points out that though there is no replacement or alternative to A/A testing, there are other things that must be taken into account when a new tool is being implemented. These are listed as follows:

  1.  Will the testing platform integrate with my web analytics program so that I can further slice and dice the test data for additional insight?
  2.  Will the tool let me isolate specific audience segments that are important to my business and just test those audience segments?
  3.  Will the tool allow me to immediately allocate 100% of my traffic to a winning variation? This feature can be an important one for more complicated radical redesign tests where standardizing on the variation may take some time. If your testing tool allows immediate 100% allocation to the winning variation, you can reap the benefits of the improvement while the page is built permanently in your CMS.
  4. Does the testing platform provide ways to collect both quantitative and qualitative information about site visitors that can be used for formulating additional test ideas? These would be tools like heatmap, scrollmap, visitor recordings, exit surveys, page-level surveys, and visual form funnels. If the testing platform does not have these integrated, do they allow integration with third-party tools for these services.
  5. Does the tool allow for personalization? If test results are segmented and it is discovered that one type of content works best for one segment and another type of content works better for a second segment, does the tool allow you to permanently serve these different experiences for different audience segments”?

That said, there is still a set of experts or people who would opt for alternatives such as triangulating data over an A/A test. Using this procedure means you have two sets of performance data to cross-check with each other. Use one analytics platform as the base to compare all other outcomes against, to check if there is something wrong or something that needs fixing.

And then there is the argument—why just A/A test when you can get more meaningful insights by running an A/A/B test. Doing this, you can still compare two identical versions while also testing some changes in the B variant.

Conclusion

When businesses face the decision of implementing a new testing software application, they need to run a thorough check on the tool. A/A testing is one method that some organizations use for checking the efficiency of the tool. Along with personalization and segmentation capabilities and some other pointers mentioned in this post, this technique can help check if the software application is good for implementation.

Did you find the post insightful? Drop us a line in the comments section with your feedback.

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Win More Conversions from Impulse Buyers | 4 Ways for eCommerce Enterprises

In-store is a clear winner compared to online when it comes to impulse buying, as established by a 2016 Creditcard.com survey. Does that mean that there is a dead end to encashing impulse buys online?  No.

Recent tests conducted at User Interface Engineering show that impulse purchases represent almost 40% of all the money spent on e-commerce sites. For eCommerce enterprises, it is rather the right time to innovate and evolve to ramp up sales from impulse buying. The first step, however, is to understand the user who is to be targeted for impulse buying.

Whether you are an established eCommerce enterprise or an aspiring one, the following practices can help you convert more impulse buyers:

Leverage Social Commerce

Social media promises a positive outlook for e-commerce enterprises when it comes to impulse buying. Major social media platforms such as Instagram have rolled out nifty new buttons that let users buy what they like, as soon as they see it online.

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James Quarles, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development, analogizes an eCommerce website to something of a digital store window, a place to potentially win a sale when customers are in “discovery phase of finding something and not probably even deliberately looking for it.” Therefore, social commerce is, in a way, the answer to instantly gratify the consumer as soon as he realizes the want to buy something, regardless of the buying phase.

Pinterest launched buyable pins for the iOS and Android devices. Major retailers such as Macy’s and Nordstorm are early adopters of this move.

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eMarketer, in its talks with Michael Yamartino (head of eCommerce, Pinterest) found out that since buyable pins are a mobile product, people might just make impulse purchases while browsing social sites on mobile.

Another interesting aspect of social media driving sales has been highlighted by Yotpo. According to its study, reviews as a social proof lead to higher conversion rates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Such reviews and recommendations are likely to push suggestive impulse.

Social reviews and Suggestive Impulse

In context to the impact of user-generated content on impulse purchases, Instagram has played a major role. Nordstorm is again one brand that has taken to Instagram for leveraging its impact on sales.

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Cognize Human Psychology

The Wall Street Journal lists reasons shared by professor Kit Yarrow at Golden Gate University, about who makes impulse buys:

  • People who are emotionally tapped-out because of family or work demands.
  • Inexperienced shoppers who tend to be swayed more by the stimulation overload they experience when they’re shopping. This makes them vulnerable to sales messaging and special offers.
  • People who are unable to express their anger. They typically have high standards of niceness or they’re simply overlooked by others. Impulse purchasing is often fueled by the anger that needs an outlet and the craving for relief.

All three reasons listed above reflect human psychology, and this is where the opportunity for eCommerce enterprises lies. The rule of persuasion is one such psychological trait that can be leveraged. 

To validate the rule of persuasion and increasing ‘clicks’, Dr. B J Fogg, psychologist at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab says that three things must be present: motivation, ability and an effective trigger.

Fear of missing out or the scarcity principle establishes the motivation for purchase. Creating scarcity is one tactic that eCommerce enterprises have been using to their advantage to get improve as well as quicken purchases. A post on Marketing Profs lists four ways that the scarcity principle can be used to push impulse purchases. Take a look at the following points talked about in their post:

  1. Create “open” and “closed” periods for ongoing offers.
  2. Create limited production runs.
  3. Provide benefits to early adopters.
  4. Don’t record webinars (this point is for SaaS).

Thom O’Leary, President, Fixer Group Consulting says, “Use countdown timers (on site or in emails) for increasing impulse buys.  Timing is everything, and no one wants to miss an opportunity. Customers have an easier time making a quick decision when they see time ticking away.  As email services and technology improves, it’s simple to add dynamic countdown timers to emails and on-site content, increasing urgency and making the decision to buy on impulse rather than making a well-considered decision.”

Seasonal sales, a technique that Ann Taylor and a number of other eCommerce players use, also create a sense of urgency in customers.  Promotional schemes such as ‘Thanksgiving Sale’ fetch more sales from impulse seasonal shopping.

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You can also apply the persuasion principle by providing users with free shipping when they have made just enough purchases online to win it. Coupling this with product recommendations can help them buy a little over and above the free shipping threshold.

Explore Newer, Smarter Technology

If you are thinking about going mobile, and there is every reason that you must, it would be reassuring to know that mobile commerce is a major contributor to impulse shopping. Consumers are spending more of their time browsing apps on phones. The on-the-go use that mobile phones offer make it one of the most obvious technologies to engage users:

Push Notifications

Not all your consumers would be aware about the discount running on your website. And, even if they do, they might not remember. Sending them a can provide the nudge that they need. The eBay app sends out push notifications to its users, informing  them about the start or end of any auction. That is how ebay combines technology with the persuasion principle to get more people to buy without much preparation.

 ebay push notification
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Internet of Things

Adding to the scope of conversions from impulse buys is the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT). The Amazon dash button has taken IoT to a higher level. This button allows its users to order from Amazon whenever their inventory/items need to be restocked, without signing in.

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Focus on Ease of Use and  Online Experiences

Earlier, we have already discussed how mobile commerce is tapping into the impulse of consumers. If you combine the ease of use of mobile technology with trustworthy payment solutions, you can delight your customers with frictionless online shopping experiences. Mobile technology optimization can further increase conversions for your business, as it did for Your Tea. They used VWO’s IDEACT services for a full redesign of the product pages. Structured Conversion Optimization got YourTea a 28% boost in revenue.

For the sake of simplicity though, let’s split ease of navigation and online experiences into two points.

Website navigation, should also be designed with ‘ease of use’ in mind. For a quick read, check these 22 Principles Of Good Website Navigation and Usability.

Although designing is the first step, how do you know that this design in fact is effective? This is when A/B testing comes into play. Set up two different variations of a navigation menu to find out which one scores better. You can also read this VWO post about 8 Ways to Refine eCommerce Site Search and Navigation for quick product finds. For making it easy for users to find products on discounts, eCommerce enterprises can also use approaches such as allocating sections such as ‘Deals on Discount’ or ‘New in Store’ to their home page.

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Conclusion

With an increase in touchpoints, the opportunities for converting impulse buys from online shoppers are growing each day. What eCommerce enterprises can do best is to leverage on each opportunity area that we have listed in this post, and innovate.

Have anything else to add? Drop in a line in the comments section.

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Going Omnichannel | A Robust Framework for eCommerce Enterprises

Consumers in the digital age want an integrated shopping experience. They might browse an eCommerce website on mobile but ultimately make a purchase from desktop. Or they might pay online, but pick up the purchased item from the store.

Such user behavior has been highlighted by a 2014 GfK study: “With people constantly moving between devices, it is important for marketers to reach their audience across all platforms. Brand experiences should be consistent, allowing for people to begin an activity on one device and finish on another.”

In this post, we discuss a robust omnichannel strategy that can help eCommerce enterprises create such integrated experiences across devices. The strategy includes:

  • Understanding cross-device user behavior
  • Crafting smooth shopping experiences across channels
  • Forming organizational structures that support omnichannel

But before we begin, let’s see how an ideal omnichannel experience for a consumer, say “Sarah” would look like:

Sarah is checking Instagram from her mobile and likes a dress her friend is flaunting. She visits the retailer’s website on mobile. She adds the product to her “wishlist” on mobile. Later during the day, she accesses her wishlist on the desktop, with the decision to make a buy. She chooses the option “inform when available in my size” and 3 days later, gets an email notifying her about the availability of the dress. It also informs her that “click and collect” is available on the product. She decides to pick up the dress from a physical store.

So how do eCommerce enterprises go omnichannel successfully? Let’s talk about the three steps.

Tracking Cross-Device User Behavior

The fact that people toggle among multiple devices throughout the day makes understanding the cross-device user behavior an absolute essential for eCommerce enterprises. Traditional analytics tracking tools such as Google Analytics do not offer the scope for establishing a connect between users and their disparate gadgets. Cross-device tracking removes this barrier for eCommerce enterprises and enables them to understand their users’ behavior across all touchpoints.

Cross-device tracking allows enterprises to understand whether a person browsing a website from smartphone X is the same person who made the purchase from laptop Z. Such information is important to rectify conversion credit allocated disproportionately to the last device of purchase. So if the use of mobile devices leads to desktop purchases, eCommerce enterprises might want to spend more on mobile ads and mobile website optimization.

cross device user tracking
A simple representation of cross-device usage

There are two main methods to track cross-device user behaviordeterministic and probabilistic.

Deterministic Device Matching

This methodology makes use of user’s signin information. As users are required to sign in to the website on each device they use, enterprises can track their behavior across all touchpoints. User Authentication is a type of deterministic device matching. It uses specific identifiers such as a customer ID, signin information, and so on to study and form a link between user behavior across devices.

Probabilistic Device Matching

Unlike deterministic device matching, this cross-device tracking technique does not rely solely on the user’s signin information. As the name indicates, this method computes the probability that various devices belong to or have been used by the same individual. An example of how probabilistic device matching works is extrapolation. For example, if a mobile and a tablet use the same Internet connection, it can be extrapolated that they belong to the same household. Device Fingerprinting is another famous probabilistic cross-device tracking technique. It combines device settings and browser options with some other attributes such as WiFi info, IP address, and more to identify users.

Build Smooth Shopping Experiences Across Channels

The next step, after tracking and understanding user behavior across devices, is to create seamless experiences for your users.

Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon shares his thoughts on a seamless customer experience:

“Ultimately, customers don’t care about what channel they’re shopping in or about how we deliver them a product or service. They simply know they’re shopping with Walmart.”

For Walmart, no matter what channel their customers buy from, it is important that they recognize the brand and get the same shopping experience throughout. Creating cohesive, consistent brand voice/experience can help eCommerce enterprises pave trust and encourage strong engagement, and, therefore, improve sales.

Other than brand consistency, a smooth and seamless shopping experience also constitutes customer experience. Hubspot talks about Oasis, a UK fashion retailer, in their seven inspiring examples of omnichannel user experience. On entering one of their stores, you’ll find sales associates walk you through all the product-related information using iPads. So, just in case something  is out of stock, the staff places an online order for the customer and the item  is shipped directly to customer’s home.

Here’s how Oasis uses iPads in-store to assist customers:

Omnichannel Strategy Oasis
Source

eCommerce enterprises should focus on the following points for providing a superior omnichannel shopping experience:

  • Providing relevant local information
  • Ensuring faster, safer payment solutions
  • Providing personalization
  • Making use of advanced technologies

Providing relevant local information

 A post on Think with Google reports that 75 percent of the shoppers who find local retail info in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores. For eCommerce enterprises, this data opens up a number of opportunities. For example, eCommerce enterprises can  inform online customers looking for a particular item online about its availability at a nearby store. To make this activity more effective, they can use geo-targeting to drive more in-store purchases from people  from the local vicinity who have an intent to buy.  Moreover they can also provide information such as local store hours, directions to the local store, or any discounts running in the store. Providing local relevant information online can also help convert more of those shoppers who view shopping as an experience and not just a purchase activity. Retailers, on the other hand, can benefit from the impulse buying tendency of people who exhibit a search online, shop local behavior.

Ensuring faster, safer payment solutions

 A Search Engine Journal post lists 10 popular online payment solutions such as Amazon Payments and Google Wallet. As these options are trustworthy and secure, these will encourage users to pay from any channel that they use.

Deploying these payment solutions is a win-win for both the parties, because these solutions are  convenient, quick, and trustworthy.

Providing Personalization

The interconnected and digitally empowered consumer demands relevant and personalized experience. For an omnichannel player, this would mean understanding which devices are used by the consumers and how. For example, Evergage talks about how eBay creates omnichannel personalization for its users. The eBay mobile app allows users to enable push notifications, which informs them about the start or end of any auction. The desktop site, on the other hand, is designed for easy search and window shopping.

omnichannel strategy - ebay personalized push notification
Source

Advanced Technologies

Innovation and technology enhance the omnichannel experience both for buyers and eCommerce enterprises. Using virtual reality, for example, can help eCommerce players make use of virtual environments that are otherwise difficult to create inside a store. For the user, these technologies can address buyer’s uncertainty.

For example, before making a decision to buy a hat, a person would like to know which hat type, color, width, and so on would suit him the best. Without physically trying a number of different hats, he can use such technologies to find out what looks best on him. For the eCommerce enterprise, this means being able to provide their users with better services and experience even if all the types of hats are not physically in store.

Tommy Hilfiger also provides a fantastic in-store VR experience. As a result, shoppers can view virtual catwalks and shop the season’s runway styles.If you are looking for more on the who and how of virtual and augmented reality in retail and eCommerce, here’s a Forbes post to read.

The following image shows customers experiencing Tommy Hilfiger VR:

Virtual Reality in Tommy Hilfiger Omnichannel Strategy
Source

Forming an Organizational Structure that Supports Omnichannel

Customer experience might suffer if an eCommerce enterprise is not structured to meet the requirements of omnichannel retail. When departments operate in silos, the problem of sales attribution often arises. Such conflicts are unhealthy, as they can jeopardize the enterprise’s ability to deliver a smooth omnichannel experience.

An organizational structure that is better aligned for omnichannel, requires various departments within an organization to work together and be accountable to each other. Macy’s, for example, has also completely restructured their merchandising and marketing functions. They have also created chief omnichannel officer positions in their organization.

Keith Anderson, SVP Strategy & Insight, Profitero,  suggests the following when it comes to creating supportive organizational structures for omnichannel.

“Here is the approach I suggest:

  • Top-down commitment and support are essential. In the absence of the same, many organizations fail to prioritize or align on how to implement and execute on omnichannel.
  • Key functions should be responsible, but the whole organization is accountable. Certain teams or titles should be primarily responsible for doing the work of marketing and selling through all channels. But the entire business should be accountable. There is a risk in simply appointing a “head of omnichannel,” without anticipating the impacts on other functions such as customer service, finance, and logistics. Digital and omnichannel competency is necessary for all company functions and disciplines, not just an isolated, specialist team.
  • Definitions of success and incentives matter. Many companies that try to embrace omnichannel discover internal conflicts driven by misaligned incentives. For example, who gets the credit for an online sale fulfilled and collected in-store? How are inventory and labor costs allocated?

Ultimately, KPIs and incentives need to balance near-term and long-term goals such as maximizing profitability in the short-term versus growing market share. Also, enterprise success must always be prioritized over success in an isolated channel.”

Conclusion

While creating  customer-centric experiences is the key to succeeding with omnichannel, it begins with understanding user behavior and extends to framing the right kind of organizational structures. There is a huge scope for eCommerce enterprises to adopt and excel at an omnichannel level, given that they make use of user information, technology, customer service, and their internal structures efficiently.

Over to You

Have feedback on how eCommerce enterprises can develop a robust omnichannel strategy? Please leave a comment.

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Micro and Macro Conversions | Choosing the Right CRO Metrics

Clearly defining the key performance indicators, or KPIs, is the first step to any Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) campaign. It is only through tracking and measuring results on these KPIs that a business can optimize for growth.

The KPIs in CRO can be broadly divided into two categories: macro and micro conversions (or goals).

  • Macro conversions are the primary goals of a website. Examples of macro conversions for SaaS, eCommerce, or any other online enterprise could be revenue, contact us, request a quote, and free-trial.
  • Micro conversions are defined as steps or milestones that help you reach the end goal. Micro conversion examples would include email clicks, downloads on white paper, blog subscriptions, and so on.

Improving macro goals is imperative to the growth of any enterprise. However, it is equally important that enterprises measure micro goals so as to enhance overall website usability. Avinash Kaushik talks on similar lines: “Focus on measuring your macro (overall) conversions, but for optimal awesomeness, identify and measure your micro conversions as well.”

In this blog post, we discuss why enterprises should:

  • Track Micro Conversions Alongside Macro Conversions
  • Optimize Micro Conversions That Impact Macro Conversions

Track Micro Conversions Alongside Macro Conversions

Each micro conversion acts as a process milestone in the conversion funnel and impacts the ultimate step, or macro conversion. The following example explains this in a simple manner. Let’s take the case of a regular conversion funnel of a SaaS website. The funnel starts at the home page and ends with a purchase.

The visits from the home page to the features page and from the features page to the pricing page are micro conversions in this example. These micro conversions have the same end goal, that is, “purchases”.

conversion funnel SaaS - Micro Goals and Macro Goals

If we were to double micro conversions from the home page to the “features” page, the result would be almost same as shown in the table below:

Increase in Micro Conversions Impacts Macro Conversions

The number of completed purchases, that is, the macro conversion, also doubled. This example illustrates how micro conversions can have an impact on the macro conversions in a funnel.

 Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO of MECLABS, shares the same thoughtThe funnel represents and should be thought of as a representation of what is the heart of marketing, and that is a series of decisions. Those decisions are key transitions; I would call them micro-yeses. There are a series of micro-yeses necessary to help someone achieve an ultimate yes. The Ultimate Yes is the sale in most cases. At each of these junctures, we have to help people climb up the funnel.”

While there are a number of reasons why micro conversions should be tracked, here are the two main arguments:

  • Micro conversions help you assess buyer readiness, or intent.
  • Micro conversions help you assess points of friction in a buyer’s journey.

Micro Conversions Help You Assess Buyer Readiness or Intent

All visitors who land on your website don’t have the intent to make a purchase. Some of them could be running a quick comparative research while others could be checking out your products or services during their first visit. Tracking micro conversions helps you understand whether a visitor could be a potential customer. For instance, tracking micro conversions, such as downloading a product brochure or adding a product to a wishlist, shows the future possibility of conversions on a macro goal.

NN Group has defined micro conversions as, “These are not the primary goals of the site, but are desirable actions that are indicators of potential future macro conversions.”

These micro conversions, or secondary goals, are worth tracking as they clearly show that a visitor might have an interest in your business or product.

Here is an example:

PriceCharting conducted a preliminary A/B test to study if their buyers intended to buy from them at higher prices. They used the learning from this preliminary test for future testing. The objective of the test was defined as: Figuring out how price sensitive were the customers. On the “control,” they used “Starts at $4” next to the “Price Guide” CTA. Two other variations were studied against control. One of them stated a starting price of $2 next to the CTA, and the other mentioned $1 as the starting price. 

micro conversions on CTA for Control
Control
Micro Conversions on CTA for Variations
Variations

The test results showed that the variation which stated the highest buys won the most clicks on the “Pricing Guide” CTA. This implied that people visiting PriceCharting valued their products and showed readiness to buy even at higher prices. The learning from this exercise for PriceCharting’s future tests was that price was not a major factor influencing their visitors. 

Micro Conversions  Help You Assess Points of Friction in Your Buyer’s Journey

Along with providing a complete view of your buyer’s journey, tracking micro conversions also helps identify drop-offs on the conversion funnel. For example, on an eCommerce website, users frequently visiting the product page but not adding products to cart implies something is putting off the visitors for moving from “product” to “add-to-cart.” Optimizing the micro goal here, which is increasing “add-to-cart” actions, will ultimately result in increased revenue.

Here’s an example of a multi-step sign-up form on a SaaS website. Suppose many users do not complete the form. By tracking micro conversions on the form, you will be able to identify the friction points. Maybe one of the steps in the form that asks for credit card information of users brings the most friction. With this knowledge, you can assess where users lie in their buyer journey and optimize the form accordingly. Optimizing each step in the form or micro conversions will help you improve your macro conversion.

When testing, the primary goal in the above examples can be to improve micro conversions. A case study by VWO talks about how displaying a banner for top deals increased engagement by 105% for eCommerce client Bakker-helligom. Ben Vooren, an online marketer at Bakker, realized that visitors go to the information pages and read the information, but leave without buying from the website, which was the macro goal. This was the friction that Ben wanted to address. He hypothesized that adding commercially-focused banners at the top of all the information pages (micro goal) will help resolve this friction. The test was run for 12 days on 8,000 visitors. The winning variation led to a 104.99% increase in visits to the “top deals page” and a statistical significance of 99.99%.

Optimize Those Micro Conversions Which Impact Macro Conversions

While running an A/B test for multiple variations, studying micro conversions on each of those variations can provide valuable insights. It can show you which changes impacted micro conversions, resulted in improved macro conversions, and which ones did not. As we mentioned, there are a number of micro conversions that you can look to optimize. But not all of these would contribute equally to macro conversions.

For instance, to optimize an eCommerce product page with macro goal of “increasing checkout”, there could be a number of test variations that you can run:

In Variation 1 the CTA ‘add to wish-list’ is made prominent
In Variation 2 the CTA ‘save for later’ is made prominent

Both of these variations will not yield the same impact on the macro goal of increasing checkouts. You may realise that making the “save for later” CTA more prominent is yielding more increase in checkouts. So you would want to prioritize that micro conversion in the subsequent tests.

That said, when running a conversion rate optimization program, the test goal should be set as close to revenue as possible. There are two scenarios explained here wherein optimization for micro conversions can prove disastrous:

When Macro Conversions are Not Considered

Solely optimizing for micro conversions without considering how it impacts a major business goal is a total waste of time and efforts.

Peep Laja from ConversionXL says, “If you don’t have enough transaction volume to measure final purchases or revenue, that sucks. But if you now optimize for micro conversions instead, you might be just wasting everyone’s time as you can’t really measure business impact.”

For example, an eCommerce website  can increase micro conversions (visits from the home page to the product page) by making the menu bar prominent on the home page. This change might result in higher visits to the product page. However, if you are not tracking the impact of this change on macro conversion (checkouts),  the whole optimization process would lack direction.

When the Focus is on Quick Results

A/B tests with macro conversions as the primary goal can take a long time to provide conclusive results. Conversely, certain tests which measure micro conversions have a lesser testing time.

This happens because macro goals are always less in number in comparison to micro. For statistically significant results, a good amount of conversions on the macro goal are required. This exercise would take comparatively much more time than collecting micro conversions.

For example, on a SaaS website, if your primary goal was to increase visits from “the home page to the products page,” the test will take lesser time (because it has higher traffic) to give conclusive results compared to if the primary goal for the test was “Request a Demo.”

However, testing micro conversions with the objective of completing an experiment faster can lead to failure. While you can track different micro conversions, each of them may not result in a winning variation. This happens because each of those micro conversions might not directly lead to a lift in conversion rates. The false Micro-Conversion Testing Assumption example explained in a post on WidderFunnel, is one example that explains this. The gist of the proposed example is that optimizing micro conversions by assuming an equal drop-off at each stage of the funnel ultimately led to the loss of revenue.

Conclusion

The success of a CRO program rests on how well you define your micro and macro goals. The closer your micro goals are to the end goal in the funnel, the higher are your chances of getting a winning variation. On the other hand, tracking micro conversions and improving them can help you enhance the overall UX of your website.

What metrics are you tracking and optimizing for your conversion rate optimization program? Drop us a comment and let us know.

Free-trial CTA

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Micro and Macro Conversions | Choosing the Right CRO Metrics

Kickstart Your Personalization Program With This 4-Step Guide

Today’s leading online enterprises know the key to cracking higher conversions—providing relevant experiences to users through personalization. There is a large amount of data across the Internet that reinforces the power of personalization. CMO by Adobe, for example, compiles interesting data about personalization from different sources to present a complete picture on personalization:

  • The in-house marketers who are personalizing their web experiences see, on average, a 19 percent uplift in sales.
  • About 94 percent of customer insights and marketing professionals across multiple industries suggest personalization is “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important” for meeting their current marketing objectives.

While enterprises understand how important it is to craft relevant content and experiences for users, how do they go about doing it? For those who want to start a personalization program, this blog post chalks out a 4-step approach for implementing web personalization:

  • Identify segments to target.
  • Plan the personalization campaign.
  • Implement the campaign.
  • Measure success from personalization efforts.

Identify the Segments You Want to Target

Segmentation begins with knowing who your visitors are and segregating them into different segments based on certain traits or characteristics. Google Analytics, for example, is a great tool to help you do that. You can slice and dice your visitors’ data, based on various attributes to identify segments that drive significant traffic to your website. Further, Google Analytics can give you a lot more than just traffic numbers. If you have “revenue tracking” in place, you can identify specific segments that bring you the highest conversion rate as well as absolute sales figures. These are the segments you should be targeting.

If you have a CRO program in place, you can also look at past A/B test results to identify segments that you might want to target. Run post-test segmentation and drill into the results to look at individual segments that won higher conversions, or find hidden winners. For example, you could run post-test segmentation and find out whether social traffic got you more conversions compared to direct traffic.

Creating thorough customer profiles is a traditional method of segmenting visitors. A customer profile could be based on the following:

  • Demographic information: Age, gender, location, ethnicity, and marital status
  • Psychographic information: Interests, values, hobbies, and likes/dislikes
  • Firmographic information: Company name(s), size, industry, revenue, and roles

While demographic and psychographic information is important for consumer marketers, firmographics are used by B2B marketers. You can extract psychographic information using website cookies. On the other hand, you can ask users directly for firmographic and demographic information.

For instance, the following image shows an ideal customer profile for an automobile website. It lists important information which is required for creating profiles of target customers—demographic information of the users, the type of engagement shown on the website, and the type of products they intend to buy or already own.

ideal customer profile for personalization
Source

Enterprises also need to understand why it is important to target a certain segment. Is it that the segment that they want to target drives the major share of revenue for your website? Target your most valuable visitors to achieve your personalization goals.

  • If an eCommerce enterprise observes that people in their mid 20s account for 70 percent sales of their sports equipment, it could run a campaign for that segment showing a separate section devoted only to sports goods on the home page.
  • B2B marketers can target segments per industries such as healthcare, BFSI, or government. These segments can be targeted by either offering a product with personalized messaging or offering different products to different segments.

Enterprises can also run personalization when they have a segment-specific business goal in mind. For example, if the objective is to increase hiring from a specific region, visitors from that region should be targeted with a personalized message or content on the website. Here’s a case study on how geo-targeting helped VWO increase CTR to its careers page by 149 percent. Similarly, if an eCommerce enterprise that caters to global markets wants to introduce a new product for a specific region, it can run personalization on its website for visitors from that part of the world.

Planning a Personalization Campaign

Enterprises planning for personalization need to consider its “how” and “where”:

How Should They Target the Segment

One message does not fit all. For instance, an eCommerce enterprise can target two different subsegments from a certain main segment, that is, women aged between 20-30. The first sub-segment can be of “fashion-conscious and impulse” buyers. The other segment can be of those women who make only carefully thought out, high-end luxury purchases. Both the subsegments drive a large percentage of sales to the accessories section of your website.

User behavior information such as “number of sessions to transaction” using cookies can help classify users into these segments. An impulse buyer would complete a purchase within a single session, while a carefully thought-out purchase might take multiple session before a visitor converts.

For the first segment, you can run personalized cross-sell campaigns on products for which they show the intent to purchase. For the second segment, consider targeting a lookbook that shows how your high-end products such as platinum/diamond jewelry can seamlessly blend with their outfit and add a charm to the wearer’s personality.

Here is another example. A B2B software company first might want to show a basic product video to a first-time visitor on the website. Later, the company might target a one-to-one live product demo offer to someone who has visited the site multiple times and looks highly engaged.

A Hubspot post which lists 3 examples of personalization, talks about how Lynton personalizes its home page for new and repeat visitors. The CTA on the home page shown to first-time visitors says “Learn About Inbound,” while the CTA for repeat visitors reads “Start Your Project Today.” Hubspot’s hypothesis behind running this personalization campaign could be that while new visitors might be interested in knowing more about inbound, the repeat visitors might already have explored enough on inbound and now need to start their learning. With the goal of increasing clicks from both new and repeat visitors, they showed personalized CTAs to both segments.

Personalizing CTA for new visitors
CTA on Lynton Homepage for New Visitors

Personalizing CTA for repeat visitors
CTA on Lynton Homepage for Repeat Visitors

Another widely used method is geo-targeting visitors from different countries, using their native language. A post on QuickSprout talks about how Neil Patel increased search traffic by 47 percent by translating his blog in 82 languages

Where on the Website Should the Personalization be Implemented

After identifying the segment, you should target and craft a messaging strategy for them. The next thing that enterprises need to find out is where to place personalized content on their websites.

Identify the pages that you should be running your personalization campaign on. Should it be the product page that has a large amount of traffic? Probably yes. Should it be the checkout page for eCommerce? Probably not. Look at your website analytics data (in Google Analytics, for example) to identify pages that drive high traffic. You could also look at specific pages where the segments are browsing/arriving mostly.

The next step is to identify areas on your webpages that fetch maximum attention or engagement. Scrollmaps and Heatmaps, for example, will show the scroll depth of your page or help identify the sections of the webpage that are highly attention grabbing. These tools help you understand:

  • On your B2B website, whether the eBook you have targeted to get more sign-ups from your eCommerce clients should be placed in the middle of the website scroll or pushed to the top.
  • On your eCommerce website, whether you should place the lookbook for your fashion-oriented segment of women on the top of the page or on the left.

Running a Personalization Campaign

To run a personalized campaign, using a prefered tool, enterprises can design and modify different variations of their website for varied segments they want to target. For example, one of the personalized variations of your website could be targeted at mobile traffic. This variation can be a modification that displays less content compared to the content that the desktop version displays. (The hypothesis is that “mobile users want to go through minimal content.”)

The first step is to set up target segments within your personalization tool. In VWO, for instance, you can either choose a predefined segment or define a custom visitor segment for different variations. Next,  set up a conversion goal that you want to track on running the personalization campaign. Tracking CTA clicks on a variation that has been personalized or tracking revenue from the personalized home page variation created for business-class travelers—the goal should be exactly what you want to achieve with your personalization efforts.

creating personalization goal

When the segmentation is applied to the created or modified variations, you are ready to run your personalization test campaign.

Measuring the Impact of Personalization

A/B testing is one approach to measure the success of your personalization campaigns. You can run your personalization campaign as an A/B test. If your campaign delivers a win, you should replicate its success by planning and running more campaigns on similar hypotheses. If it fails to achieve the goal, identify and record the reasons for what went wrong. Maintaining a repository of learning is essential to refrain from committing the mistakes of past A/B tests and running smarter campaigns in the future.

Google Analytics conversion funnels also can help measure the impact of personalization. To see how successful you have been in your personalization efforts, compare your target metrics for the period before you implemented personalization with that of the period after it. Gauge the same conversion funnel for the same amount of time, and see the difference in results if any.

Conclusion

Running personalization requires enterprises to answer a number of questions regarding for whom and why the personalization campaign being run for, how and where on the website will the campaign be run, and what results will the personalization efforts reap. With our 4-step approach to personalization, you can effectively implement your campaign.

Are you personalizing your CRO campaigns? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

A/B test your personalization program

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Kickstart Your Personalization Program With This 4-Step Guide

3 Smart Moves for eCommerce to Fuel Customer Engagement

It is not enough for eCommerce establishments to provide exceptional one-off experiences to their users. eCommerce enterprises have been increasingly working on improving customer engagement with a view to forming long-term and meaningful relationships.

Gallup’s report on customer engagement 2014 states that fully engaged customers represent an average 23% premium in terms of share of profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.

Interestingly, Gallup defines fully engaged customers as those who are both emotionally attached and rationally loyal. To achieve complete engagement, rational loyalty as well as emotional connections need to be leveraged. The influence of social web and its impact on engagement is another aspect toward which eCommerce enterprises need to pay significant attention.

In this blog post, we discuss the three key attributes—emotions, participation, and user behavior—that eCommerce enterprises should focus on to improve customer engagement.

Leveraging Emotions to Drive Engagement

eCommerce enterprises have started paying a lot more attention to whether their customers really associate with the brand and the ways in which they can connect with customers at a deeper emotional level. Dove’s real beauty campaign is a classic example of using emotions to drive engagement. The campaign tapped into the emotions of many women about themselves and their appearance. In their new campaign—#MyBeautyMySay, Dove wants women to define their beauty their own way. Through this campaign, Dove attempts to connect to the self-respect aspect, which many women believe is a “battle still to be won.”

Customer Engagement - Emotional Connection

Targeting Emotions for Customer Engagement

Developing deeper levels of emotional engagement with consumers also requires eCommerce enterprises to foster transparency and trust in customer relationship. Using social proof, trust seals, and reviews on the website creates a sense of trust among their users.

Using humor has a strong emotional appeal, and when used appropriately, never fails to make an impact. For example, Hublogix includes Betabrand in its list of eCommerce excellent marketing for humorous product descriptions on its website.

Using Humor for Customer Engagement
The question, however, is that how do you use customer emotions to take a preferred course of action? A post published on My Customer gives a five-point list on building emotional engagement. The post talks about the following list:

  1. Know what emotional triggers exist currently in your experience.
  2. Define what emotion you want your experience to evoke.
  3. Listen to your customers…a lot.
  4. Identify your customers’ subconscious experiences.
  5. Never stop improving the experience.

Improving Engagement through Participation

Another way to improve user engagement is by soliciting participation. Involve your buyers in product creation and innovation. Consider the example of Vans. The leading shoe brand encourages users to design their own pair of sneakers, using a customization feature.

User Participation for Customer Enagement

Moreover, to increase the engagement level of people who understand the nitty-gritty of the products, eCommerce enterprises can focus on co-creation. McKinsey talks about what brands who have mastered co-creation do to gain an edge over others. They researched more than 300 companies in three European countries and identified three key areas where those who lead at co-creation focused: targeting co-creators, finding the motivation, and focusing on a sustainable pay-off.

Leveraging social media for participation is another way through which eCommerce enterprises can drive more engagement and purchases. According to a 2016 Yotpo consumer survey, 72% of customers say that seeing Instagram photos of a product increases customers’ chances of buying. These numbers give eCommerce enterprises a good reason to invest in social curation for driving user engagement. One way of doing this is using shoppable images on your site—product page, home page, or a dedicated photo gallery page. ASOS makes a creative and engaging use of Instagram images shared by customers, by running the #AsSeenOnMe campaign on its website.

ASOS Customer Engagement with UGC

Warby Parker’s started its home try-on services in 2012. It was also smart of them to start a user-generated content (UGC) campaign for the same. Warby’s customers become a part of the campaign by sharing their photographs while trying the five pairs of Warby glasses and sharing it on their social media with the hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn.

Forever21 has created a single hashtag for all content generated by its users. (The benefit of using just one hashtag is that people associate better with the brand as well as with the hashtag.) Forever21 has the campaign #F21XME featured on its website, which asks participants to upload their favorite F21 outfit on Instagram using the hashtag, and get a chance to be featured.

User Generated Content for Customer Engagement

Twitter Product pages are helping eCommerce enterprises solicit more meaningful engagement through social media. Twitter product pages are tweets that lead to shopping information about an item. A buy button is included for those who wish to buy.

Twitter Customer Engagement

This post on Sprinkler can be your guide to social commerce.

Leveraging User Behavior to Drive Engagement On-Site

We discussed earlier how emotional loyalty and participation can be leveraged to increase engagement. However, it is equally important for eCommerce enterprises to focus on increasing customer engagement from rationally loyal consumers, which can be done by providing them an enhanced on-site experience. Continuously improving users’ on-site experiences requires eCommerce enterprises to dig deep into user insights, identify and resolve pain points, and discover what interests or repels users. This can be done with the help of tools such as heatmaps, visitor recordings, and form analysis.

Visitor recordings play back the actual interactions that any user has had on your website. These insights can be used further to analyze or validate whether any element on the website can prove to be a distraction for the user. In a case study by VWO, about UKToolCenter, removing the product filter improved site engagement by 27%. Using visitor recordings, the hypothesis that the product was a distraction was easily validated.

Heatmaps highlight areas of maximum engagement on a website and also pinpoint dead zones. eCommerce enterprises can study low-engagement areas and suggest actionable improvements, which include:

A form analysis can be run for understanding how users interact with forms. This interaction allows you to fetch insights from drop-offs per field, time taken to fill the form, fields ignored, and so on. This data can be used further for fixing the pain points that users face, and optimize web forms for more engagement and conversions.

Feedback and insights gathered from on-page surveys can also be used for improving on-site user engagement. For example, if a user spends more than five minutes on a product page, a survey can be triggered to find out whether the user intends to buy something or is searching for something specific.

Conclusion

User engagement is not just about metrics that show us click-through rates or pages viewed in a session. For eCommerce enterprises, driving robust engagement constitutes:

  • Leveraging the emotional connection that consumers form with brands
  • Encouraging participation across the website and social channels
  • Deploying user behavior data and insights to track and improve on-site interactions

How are you driving meaningful engagement for your eCommerce enterprise? Drop a comment or feedback below.

cta_fuelCustomerEngagement

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