If you’re currently using a ‘one size fits all’ marketing approach for your business – you might want to rethink things. You may not realize it, but your existing clients went through a ‘journey’ – before they decided that you were the best business to meet their needs. Each stage of this journey requires a different marketing approach and you might be missing out on revenue if you’re marketing doesn’t cover each aspect of the ‘buyer’s journey.’ In this guide, we’re going to look at what the buyer’s journey is, and what implications the concept has for your business, especially…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve all been there: you’re sitting in yet another kickoff meeting, tasked with the impossible: find a way to get more conversions from your homepage with less manpower, fewer resources and a shoestring budget. P.S., can you get it done before the end of Q1?
You leave wondering if it’s too late to take the afternoon off and just let the vodkas martinis slowly wash the pain of your work life away:
Don’t give up just yet.
One marketing team used their homepage, existing resources and some savvy know-how to increase conversions on their homepage from 0% to 6%… and you can, too. Read on to find out how (and save those martinis for a victory party)!
The Kiva Microfunds case study
Meet Adam Kirk, Head of Marketing for the US borrower program at Kiva Microfunds, a non-profit organization that connects low-income entrepreneurs all over the world with interest-free loans. Adam explains:
We’ve done just under 3000 loans to date in the US and over half have been to women-owned businesses, over half to people of color and over half to low income households.
Compared to other lenders in the biz, Kiva is impressively over-indexed in these categories — they’re clearly impacting the people who need it the most.
One of Adam’s main key performance indicators (KPIs) for the US borrower program is loan application completions.
His goal: first generate enough leads from the homepage… then drip content that encourages prospects to sign up for a loan.
His struggle with meeting this goal?
We know that when borrowers hit our homepage, they’re clearly interested in Kiva. But a lot of those visitors don’t do anything once they get there: they bounce.
Adam’s team is tiny (as in…it’s just Adam and an intern running all their marketing programs) and support is scarce. Without a ton of engineering resources, tools and A/B testing options, Adam needs to be scrappy about the projects he tackles.
The overlay conversion play
After doing some research, Adam decided his homepage needed a little something extra to give his abandoning visitors a softer step towards conversion.
Use an overlay to focus attention on a single offer and grab email sign-ups for the monthly Kiva newsletter.
What is an overlay?
Overlays appear on top of a page’s content (in a lightbox), focusing the user’s attention on a single offer. They can be triggered on entrance, on exit, on scroll, after delay and on click.
That way, Adam would give visitors a quick next step before leaving and capture their contact information for future follow up (when they’ve warmed up to taking a loan).
Since he was already using MailChimp, he was able to quickly throw together some copy and design to test their free overlay tool on his homepage.
Adam talks about the goal and design of the pop up, laughing:
Well it was pretty ugly. It was just one form field and we couldn’t do any kind of targeting so it literally popped up all the time, after five seconds on the homepage.
To test it, Adam got scrappy and split his homepage traffic 50/50 from a total of 10,000 visitors a month. He then set the overlay live and waited to see if it would make a difference.
Despite the drawbacks, Adam’s experiment worked. From that overlay alone, 3-4% of visitors who would have exited instead entered their email address.
Boom! 150 net new leads from one “ugly” pop-up!
Testing Unbounce Convertables
Adam had reaped the benefits of an overlay, but was ready to start more segmented targeting, so he decided to give Unbounce Convertables a shot. He explains:
I had already shown how the first overlay worked despite its simplicity, so I figured, why not do something now with actual logic behind it.
With the same goal in mind and an arsenal of design and copy in his back pocket, Adam got his Unbounce overlay live in only five minutes.
Since his goal was to provide value by giving abandoners an easy next step before they leave, he set the overlay targeting to appear on exit to new visitors only. This ensured that users would only ever see the overlay once, and that it’d only be presented to people who were getting ready to exit (some visitors to their homepage were likely ready to take action).
Here’s what his overlay looks like:
Screenshot of the Kiva Micrfunds Homepage Convertable
Of people trying to leave the Kiva borrower hub, Adam’s team is now capturing 6-7% of them. That’s 3x the conversions from what the original overlay provided.
It doesn’t end there. Adam now uses the thank you page (also an overlay) to shape his traffic to the Kiva community.
Showcasing a smiling business owner, the goal of the thank you is to put a face to the loan and entice potential borrowers to click through and read more:
Screenshot of the Kiva Microfunds Post-Confirmation Thank-You
From farmers and foodies to artisans and app developers, the Kiva community is filled with real-life success stories of Kiva-funded entrepreneurs.
Screenshot of the Kiva Microfunds Community Page
The results from traffic shaping?
We’re still testing! But I’m pumped to see what we can do next.
Adam and his team at Kiva were able to stretch their existing resources, time and manpower to generate some pretty impressive conversion results — all with overlays.
So next time you’re in a kick-off meeting, tasked with the impossible, think of Adam’s success and remember:
What do conversions, your homepage and vodka martinis have in common?
The answer is VICTORY.
Psst. Already a customer? Log into Unbounce now and start using Convertables at no extra cost. You can use the same drag-and-drop Unbounce builder to drive conversions on both your campaign landing pages and your website!)
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When the Russian ruble’s exchange rate slumped two years ago, it drove us to think of cutting hardware and hosting costs for the Mail.Ru email service. First, we had to take a look at what email consists of. Indexes and bodies account for only 15% of the storage size, whereas 85% is taken up by files. So, optimization of files (that is, attachments) is worth exploring in more detail.
At the time, we didn’t have file deduplication in place, but we estimated that it could shrink the total storage size by 36%, because many users receive the same messages, such as price lists from online stores and newsletters from social networks that contain images and so on. In this article, I’ll describe how we implemented a deduplication system under the guidance of PSIAlt.
Conversion-Centered Design (CCD) is a framework for leveraging principles of persuasive design, copywriting, and psychology throughout the campaign process to nudge your visitors toward a conversion.
The CCD principle of Closing is about studying the area around your CTA, the design of your CTA and the copy you use to inspire a click.
There are several factors that influence the decision to click — some are positive some negative.
Negative influences include what I refer to as “stop words”: words, phrases or graphical elements that are placed in close proximity to your CTA which may create a moment of pause as your visitor contemplates their meaning.
Words such as “spam” in privacy statements below your CTA have been shown to decrease conversions because they plant a negative inference in the mind of your prospects right at the point of conversion, when they might otherwise not have been thinking that way.
Trust seals – especially when there are several banded together – are commonly used with the goal of increasing confidence, when in reality they can sometimes come across as desperate, causing reflection like “Why are they trying so hard to convince me of the security of this transaction? Is it not really secure or trustworthy?” More often, the key to a secure transaction is the presence of the lock icon in the address bar that denotes that the page uses a secure socket layer (SSL).
Psst: Did you know? All professional level Unbounce plans include SSL on custom domains. Start a free 30-day trial today and see the difference SSL makes on your conversion rates.
Examples of positive influences are statements that reduce anxiety at the point of conversion.
For instance, being explicit about how long it will take for a call back gives people a point of reference. “We’ll respond to your request within four hours” is much stronger than no statement at all. Placing this short statement either directly above or below your CTA will ease the anxiety at the perfect moment
For a webinar registration, mentioning that the session will be recorded eases the anxiety of not being able to attend, encouraging people to register anyway.
Another critical part of the conversion equation is what you actually write on your buttons: your call to action.
At Unbounce, we’ve looked at our customers’ landing pages to learn more about the impact of different words and phrases in CTA copy. And some of the data is quite surprising…
The price of free
Contrary to popular belief, I’ve found in several A/B tests that the word “free” can have a negative influence on conversions.
I think in part this is because we are all becoming savvier about marketing practices. Giving your email to a company is a form of social currency and thus is not free. We understand that we’ll be marketed to via email — making the reference to “free” seem a little like a bait and switch.
On the microsite for our Landing Page Conversion Course (below), I used a Qualaroo survey widget to ask what was preventing people from starting the course. Two common answers were “How much does it cost?” and “I don’t know how much it is.”
Based on that feedback, I hypothesized that reiterating that the course was free in close proximity to the CTA would result in more conversions (clicks on the button).
I used my photo (as the author), and in a subtle way mentioned that the course was free.
The result of the A/B test?
For this test, I split the traffic 10/90. This was to accelerate the speed of the test based on knowing from historical data that the current champion consistently converted at 26%.
The new treatment lost by 14%.
What made this treatment lose? Was it my face? (I hope not.) Was it the word free?
This got me thinking about the power of the word “free.” We dug deep into our customer data and discovered the following impact of including the word “free” in a CTA (versus not mentioning it).
As you can see, across 20,000 landing pages, CTAs without the word “free” converted on average 16.8% better than those with the word “free.”
So if free doesn’t work… What does?
Data shown represents lead gen landing pages only (pages with a form).
The chart above illustrates some other words that are commonly used in CTA copy, and their effect on conversion.
As you can see, even a slight variation in button copy can affect conversion rates. But before you go changing your CTA copy, it’s important to note that these are average conversion changes based on aggregate data. Therefore, use the data to inform your A/B tests, not to make off-the-cuff changes.
After you close the deal
Think your job is done after you’ve snagged that conversion? Think again.
As a optimizer, you should think of what a possible next step could be, and design an experience to ask your new lead/customer to take that action.
This is where the CCD principle of Continuance comes in. Read on to learn more about Continuance or download a PDF of the entire CCD framework to read at your leisure.
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