It’s not every day that marketers use the words “email” and “CRO” in the same sentence. After all, most email marketing strategies for eCommerce are mainly focused on sending newsletters, promotional emails, transactional emails, and maybe even cart abandonment messages. If you’re really savvy, you might even be sending post-purchase emails to leverage the traffic you already converted in the hopes that those shoppers will come back to buy more. But here’s the thing: When you focus your email marketing efforts solely on the end of your sales funnel, you’re actually neglecting the majority of your site traffic. That’s traffic…
Give yourself a pat on the back. It’s time to celebrate, right? After all your hard work you’ve finally got the sale or sign up you’ve been searching for. You’ve used your audience data to optimize your landing page design, finesse your language, and ensure everything on the page is as perfectly personalized as possible. So here’s to a job well done. But, and I’m gonna rain on your parade here. Your job is far from over. Sure, you’ve managed to get the sale, but that’s not the end of your job. It’s the end of the purchase journey, and…
The best color for your CTAs. What hero images work best. How to tweak your headlines. Writing conversion focused copy. All of these are the bread and butter of writers like me. We know these articles are going to grab attention because, well, people are always looking for an easy fix. Marketers the world over dream of changing their button color and seeing a 200% increase in conversions. They fantasies about using a headline template that’ll skyrocket their income, and honestly believe that a better hero image could save a failing business. And so we create content that plays to…
‘A-ha!’ moment (n.): An insight that leads to more substantial revenue lift and profitable growth for your company (e.g. the moment all Optimizers live for).
At WiderFunnel, our mission is create profitable ‘A-ha!’ moments for our clients every day.
Last year, I created a five-part ‘A-ha!’ moments series: Five mini blog posts focused on five of our favorite insights from 2015. Well, turns out 2016 was also full of ‘A-ha!’ moments that were too good to keep to ourselves.
This post explores five of WiderFunnel’s favorite ‘A-ha!’s from the past year. I hope that they inspire you as you begin planning your 2017 experiments!
‘A-ha!’ #1: Using color psychology to increase conversions
If you follow WiderFunnel, you probably know that we are not big fans of conversion optimization ‘best practices’ like “all calls-to-action should be orange”.
Because, frankly, best practices may not be the best thing for your business. They must be proven in your business context, for your users.
That said, this first ‘A-ha!’ moment comes from a color isolation test. But, the ‘A-ha’ isn’t the result, it’s the why behind the hypothesis.
One of our clients provides an online consumer information service — users type in a question and get an Expert answer. Once a user asks their question, they have entered a four-step funnel:
Step 1: Ask the question
Step 2: Add more information
Step 3: Pick an Expert
Step 4: Get an answer (aka the checkout page)
We have been testing on each step of this funnel, but this particular experiment was on the all-important checkout page, the final conversion.
What can the right color do?
For each WiderFunnel client, we create a customized growth program, however, each program is built with our proven Infinity Optimization Process™. The process cycles between two phases: Explore (information-gathering) and Validate (testing and proving).
Research on consumer behavior, psychological principles, and persuasion techniques is a huge part of the Explore phase. Our Strategists use this research, along with several other information touchpoints, when developing hypotheses.
This past year, one of WiderFunnel’s favorite bloggers and researchers, Nick Kolenda, published a giant piece on color psychology. Kolenda looked at 50 academic studies on color, and compiled his findings. According to him, certain colors can inspire certain actions.
In the case of this client, Optimization Strategist, Nick So, wanted to see if adding a subtle, subconscious visual cue to the checkout page would be more motivational for users. He was looking, specifically, at warm colors.
Persuasion principle: Warm colors (with high saturation and low brightness) increase arousal because they trigger impulsivity, and tend to increase behavioral responses.
The test: Isolation I and isolation II
In the first isolation, Nick decided to put warm colors to the test.
Hypothesis: Increasing prominence of the checkout area by using a color linked to increasing action and responses will improve visual clarity of the page and increase conversions.
In the variation, Nick removed all other background colors and added a warm orange background to the payment section. And it worked! This variation saw a statistically significant 2.82% increase in conversions.
We wanted to validate this insight across audiences, so Nick created a second isolation for this client’s mobile users.
He tested the Control against two variations: Variation B (the warm color isolation) was built on variation A, so Nick was able to track the isolation properly. In this experiment, the color change was responsible for a 2.7% lift in conversions, almost the exact same increase as in the desktop test.
It’s always amazing how such seemingly subtle psychological cues and persuasion elements can have a big potential impact on user behavior. We are fortunate to be able to have a client that has the traffic, trusts us, and understands testing enough to allow us to run an isolation on such an interesting concept.
– Nick So
‘A-ha!’ #2: Sometimes, all your users need is a clear next step
You may have heard the phrase “if content is king, revenue is queen”…
Our second ‘A-ha!’ moment comes from testing we have been doing with one WiderFunnel client: A content site that provides information for the individual investor. This client offers a ton of free resources on its website to help users stay on top of their finances.
Of course, they also offer subscription services, such as their newsletter and professional advisor service, which provides premium stock-picking advice to users. Our goal is to help this client increase profitable conversions.
When we began testing with this client, there were many different paths that users could take after landing on an investing article. And there was almost no indication that there were professional services available (which is how this client makes money!)
The WiderFunnel Strategy team did an initial LIFT analysis of the site-wide navigation, which revealed several problems, like:
There was not a clear, primary call-to-action in the nav (Clarity)
There was a general lack of urgency (Urgency)
The menu drop-down for “Stock Picks” had one, ambiguous dropdown (Anxiety)
If someone is ready to spend money, it is not clear how to do so (Clarity)
We wanted to test giving users a clear action to take in the site-wide navigation. This way, a user who wanted more would know which path to take.
We tested adding a “Latest Stock Picks” call-to-action in the nav (replacing the “Stock Picks” dropdown); the assumption was that users of this client’s site are looking for stock-picking advice, specifically.
Hypothesis: Creating a clear “Latest Stock Picks” CTA in the site-wide navigation will cause more users to enter a revenue-driving funnel from all parts of the site.
We tested two variations, each of which featured the “Latest Stock Picks” call-to-action. But, in each variation this CTA took the user to a different page. Our ultimate goal was to find out:
If users were even aware that there are premium paid services offered, and
Which funnel is best to help users make a decision and, ultimately, a purchase?
With variation A, we added the “Latest Stock Picks” CTA in the nav. This call-to-action sent users to the homepage and anchored them in the premium services section. (This is how the functionality of the original dropdown worked.)
This section provides a lot of detail about this client’s different offerings, along with a “Sign Up Today” call-to-action.
With variation B, we wanted to test limiting choice. Rather than showing users a bunch of product options, the “Latest Stock Picks” CTA sent them directly to the professional advisor sign up page (this client’s most popular product).
Both variations beat the control, with variation A resulting in an 11.17% lift in transactions with 99% confidence and variation B resulting in a 7.9% increase in transactions with 97% confidence.
Interestingly, because variation B was built on variation A, we were able to see that it actually decreased transactions by 3.3%.
So, what does this mean? Here are a few takeaways we plan to explore further in 2017:
Users may have been unsure of how to sign up (or that they could sign up) due to lack of CTA prominence on the original site-wide navigation
It is also possible that Urgency was a motivator for this client’s users: Changing the “Stock Picks” drop down to a “Latest Stock Picks” CTA increased urgency and led to more conversions. This wasn’t a clear isolation but it’s good evidence to follow-up with!
Users prefer some degree of choice over being sent to one product (as seen with the decrease in transactions caused by variation B)
But the main moral of this ‘A-ha!’? Make sure your users know exactly where to find what you’re selling. ‘Cause content without conversions is just free publishing.
Earlier this year, I published a case study on WiderFunnel client, weBoost. WeBoost is an e-commerce retailer and manufacturer of cellular signal boosters.
This case study explored several tests that we had run on multiple areas of the weBoost site, including a series of design tests we ran on their product category page. Our third A-ha! moment takes up where the case study left off in this series…
A quick refresher
Originally, the weBoost product category pages featured a non-traditional design layout. A large image in the top left corner, very tall product modules, and right-hand filters made these pages unique among e-commerce catalog pages.
We decided to test displaying products in landscape versus the long, portrait-style modules. According to a Baymard study of e-commerce sites, technical products are easier to compare in a horizontal layout because there is more space to include specs. This was variation A.
In variation B, we wanted to explore the idea that users didn’t need to see a product details page at all. Maybe the information on the category page was all users needed to make a confident purchase.
Variation B was built on variation A, with one isolated change: We changed the primary visual call-to-action from “View Details” to “Add To Cart”.
In a backward ‘A-ha!’ moment, variation A (based on the Baymard study) decreased transactions by -9.6%. Despite our intentions, the horizontal layout might have made it more difficult for users to compare products.
But! Variation B, with the add-to-cart focus, saw a 16.4% increase in transactions against the control page. It turns out that many users are actually comfortable adding products to their cart right from the category page.
Variation B moved more users further through the funnel and ultimately resulted in a large uptick in transactions, despite the negative impact of the horizontal layout.
After comparing variation A to variation B, WiderFunnel Optimization Strategist, Michael St Laurent, estimated that the “Add To Cart” call-to-action was actually worth a lift of 28.7% in transactions.
The follow-up (and subsequent ‘A-ha!’)
We knew that the horizontal layout led to a decrease in transactions and we knew that the horizontal layout plus the isolated CTA change led to a sizable increase in transactions.
So, we ran the obvious follow-up experiment: We tested a variation featuring the vertical module design with the add-to-cart focused call-to-action. We expected to see at least a 29% increase in transactions. We used variation B from the previous test as the Control, following proper Design of Experiments.
As predicted, when we tested the “Add To Cart” call-to-action on the vertical modules, we saw a whopping 38.1% increase in transactions (more than double the 16.4% increase we observed with the horizontal layout, and 9 percentage points more than the estimate).
It never gets old to see isolations at work. The ‘A-ha!’ moment here is that no test ever has to be a ‘loser’. If you structure your tests using isolations, you will be able to track the potential impact of each change.
This entire time, we were assuming that users needed more information to make a technical product selection. We were focused on making the specs easier to compare, when there was an entire segment of the audience that was ready to put the product in their cart without more investigation. Sometimes you have to challenge your assumptions. In this case it paid off!
– Michael St Laurent, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel
‘A-ha!’ #4: De-emphasizing price reduces user anxiety
One of our clients is Vital Choice, a trusted source for fast home delivery of the world’s finest wild seafood and organic fare, harvested from healthy, well-managed wild fisheries and farms.
Our fourth ‘A-ha!’ moment from 2016 came out of the testing we did with Vital Choice on their product detail pages and revolves around de-emphasizing price, in favor of value proposition points.
While the results may not be surprising, the WiderFunnel Strategy team would not have prioritized this particular test if they hadn’t done extensive user research beforehand. Because we took the pulse of Vital Choice users, we were able to reduce anxiety and provide more motivation to purchase.
Let’s say you wanted to order a few organic, grass-fed American Wagyu beef patties from the Vital Choice website. You would have eventually landed on a detail page that looked like this (the Control in this experiment):
As you can see, price is displayed prominently near the ‘Add To Cart’ call-to-action. But, during the Explore (information gathering) phase, WiderFunnel Optimization Strategist, Dennis Pavlina, identified several common themes of barriers to conversion in user survey responses, including:
Price: Users love Vital Choice and the excellent quality of their products, but they often mention the premium they are paying. For many users, it is a ‘treat’ and a ‘luxury’ to buy from Vital Choice. Price-related themes, such as discount codes or coupons, also came up often in surveys.
Shipping: Users often express concern about how frozen perishable items are shipped, particularly in warmer climates in the U.S.
If we could reduce user anxiety in these two areas, we believed Vital Choice would see a surge in conversions.
Hypothesis: Adding relevant value proposition points that justify the price and quality of the product, and adding copy to reduce anxiety around shipping in close proximity of the order area on the product page, will increase conversions.
It was unclear what users would receive in their shipment i.e. how it would be shipped to them, how long it would take, etc. (Anxiety)
There were no prominently displayed value proposition points to justify the price of the product. (Value Proposition)
There was a lot of emphasis on the price of the product. (Anxiety)
This variation led to a 3.3% increase in conversions and a 2.7% increase in average order value, resulting in almost $250,000 in estimated additional annual revenue.
Conversions were up for almost every goal we tracked: Visits to checkout (step 2), visits to checkout (step 3), visits to checkout (step 4), total visits to cart, and average order value. But they were down to unique visits to cart.
The most interesting part of analyzing results was noticing that, although unique visits to cart were slightly down, there was a large increase in total visits to cart. It’s a surprising pattern. We hypothesize that users may have been more confident and willing to purchase more items at once, when anxiety was reduced.
– Dennis Pavlina, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel
The fact that de-emphasizing price worked for Vital Choice users isn’t what made us say, ‘A-ha!’. But, the proven power of listening to, and addressing their users’ stated concerns, did. When in doubt, ask your users.
A-ha! #5: Quick view, long delay
A-ha! number 5 comes from testing we did with another one of our clients, a large retailer of sports goods, footwear, and apparel. We have been working with this company for more than a year to optimize their e-commerce experiences, with the goal of increasing transactions.
Like on many e-commerce sites, users on this client’s site could view product details directly on the category page, using a Quick View functionality. When a user hovered over a product, they would see the product details in a Quick View window.
In our final ‘a-ha!’, we explore what (so often) happens when you test a common practice.
Distraction is a very common barrier to conversion; often, there are elements on a client’s page that are diverting visitors away the from the ultimate goal.
For Michael St Laurent, the Quick View option on this client’s category page was a potential distraction.
The more visual cues and action options your visitor has to process, the less likely they are to make a conversion decision. At WiderFunnel, we have found that minimizing distractions such as unnecessary product options, links, and extraneous information will increase your conversion rate.
– Michael St Laurent
So, he decided to put his theory that the Quick View is an unnecessary distraction to the test.
Hypothesis: Disabling the Quick View functionality will result in reduced distraction and ultimately, more conversions.
The Control in this test was the client’s original category page, featuring the Quick View functionality.
In the Quick View, users could quickly move from product to product on the category page without going to a product page itself.
We tested this control against a variation that removed the Quick View functionality completely.
It turns out the Quick View functionality was, indeed, distracting. Disabling it resulted in more product exploration as well as more transactions; transactions increased by 4% (a big lift for a high-traffic company like this one!)
If your site has a functionality, like Quick View or a rotating banner, you should probably test it! While ‘flashy’ functionalities are…well…flashy, they are rarely what your users want, and may be preventing your users from actually purchasing.
At the end of every month, the WiderFunnel Strategy team shares their favorite ‘A-ha!’ moments from the past four weeks. Sometimes, the ‘A-ha!’ is an exciting result and big lift for a client, sometimes it’s a twist insight, sometimes it’s a ‘losing’ test that inspired a winning test.
As Chris Goward explains,
There’s no downside to communicating what you’ve learned from every test. If you view your optimization program as a strategic method for learning about your customers and prospects – for truly understanding their mindset – rather than a tactical tweaking program, you can take a broader perspective and find the gains in every test.
I hope that these ‘A-ha!’ moments inspire you to do the work, structure your tests properly, and learn constantly in 2017. And I encourage you to share your favorite ‘A-ha!’ moments in the comments section below.
When it comes to overlays, everyone’s a critic — especially your prospects. Image via Shutterstock.
These days, cyberspace is about as cluttered as my closet.
And in that deep sea of endless streams and notifications and other dopamine-releasing distractions, getting your offer seen can be challenging to say the least.
Luckily, overlays can help mute some of that background noise by focusing your visitor’s attention on one (hopefully) compelling offer.
But your job doesn’t end there.
Once you get your prospect’s attention with an overlay, it’s your job to use design and copywriting best practices to keep their interest.
What are these best practices I speak of? Let’s take a look at some overlay examples we spotted in the wild for some concrete examples of what you should — and shouldn’t — do.
Be immediately clear on the value of your offer
I have to admit that when I first saw this overlay, I found the tongue-in-cheek copywriting delightful.
The headline was clever and had me nodding my head:
And while the self-aware overlay is a cute idea, you know what’s less cute? Just how quickly your prospect will look for that “x” button if the value of the offer isn’t abundantly clear.
Don’t make readers work to find out what your offer is. It’s fine to be cutesy, as long as you’re explaining what’s in it for them. See how Groove clearly explains the benefit of signing up for their newsletter?
The transparency of this offer makes it appealing, and the specificity of Groove’s current monthly revenue adds credibility.
Pro tip: When you’re pushing a subscription, your copy has to do a lot of work because there’s no immediate value. Test including a tangible offer like a free ebook.
It’s not about you!
This overlay by the Chive has personality, but not much persuasive power:
The headline – “the best newsletter in the world” – is playful (if a little cocky), but it fails to communicate what makes the newsletter great and why readers should care.
They’re so caught up in self-praise that they forget to explain what’s in it for the reader. How will signing up for this newsletter impact the reader’s life?
This overlay by GetResponse is guilty of a similar infraction, and to be frank, the tone is a little despie:
This overlay uses “I” and “us” language without ever explaining the benefits of the offering — not to mention it never really explains what GetResponse is.
This is problematic, because the overlay appears on a page giving away an ebook only marginally related to their core offering — so it’s safe to assume that not everyone will know what GetResponse is.
I’d test an overlay that includes a compelling, customer-focused unique value proposition and a clear hero shot so people can quickly understand what they’re dealing with at a glance.
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Lead with what’s in it for them
So what does customer-focused copy look like? Preneur Marketing’s overlay leads with a headline that explains in detail what the reader will get when they sign up:
So much specificity!
But Preneur Marketing doesn’t stop there. They lay the persuasion on thick using a number of trusted devices, such as a UVP, a hero shot, a list of benefits, social proof and a single conversion goal (do these elements sound familiar?).
A great thing to test would be a hero shot representative of the actual offering, like the one in this overlay by Acquire Convert:
Use overlays to counter objections
No matter which stage of the buyer journey your prospect is at, their inner monologue will include some objections to your offer. Overlays are a great way to counter them.
For example, have a look at this overlay by Gr8fires, which appeared for visitors to their ecommerce store. They knew visitors to that page were likely shopping around for the best deals and were likely already thinking, “I don’t know how much stove installation is going to cost.”
To counter that objection, Gr8fires created an overlay with an “installation calculator” that detailed the costs associated with installing their product. See how the headline mirrors the conversation in the prospect’s head?
The results of Gr8fires’ overlay campaign were incredible: 300% increase in monthly sales leads and a 48.54% lift in sales. Image source.
This example is particularly wonderful because it accomplishes something for both the marketer and the prospect. On the prospect’s end, it delivers great value in exchange for a very small commitment (entering name and email). On the marketer’s end, it helps to educate prospects on a larger-ticket item that typically requires more convincing.
A real win-win scenario. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Don’t be a negative Nelly
If you’ve seen overlays across the web, you’ve likely noticed that “yes” button text is often juxtaposed with “no” hyperlink text in close proximity. And you’ve likely noticed that the “no” hyperlink text is often sassy.
I see this everywhere online — marketers resorting to language like:
Nobody thinks this.
Or this one:
Don’t forget this one:
Or finally, this example, which borders on offensive:
This is getting out of hand.
It should go without saying, but you should never talk down to prospects simply because they might not want your offering.
Not only does that create friction to completing the form, it can also damage your brand’s image and credibility.
This example by Narcity misses the mark for a different reason:
This overlay forces a lie in order to opt-out: “I’m already subscribed.”
This is problematic for two reasons:
If people are subscribed then they shouldn’t be seeing this to begin with
It creates cognitive dissonance, forcing prospects to stop and think.
In short, it creates a jarring experience that doesn’t make you wanna fill in the form.
So what should you be doing?
Mirror the voice in your prospect’s head
Don’t talk down to your visitors with “I can’t stand exclusive offers” opt-out copy.
Stop and reflect on what they’re likely thinking when they click that “no” button. The folks at TVLiftCabinet.com keep it classy:
When at a loss, stick with a straightforward, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”
Make it easy to say yes
There are tons of other things you can test to make your overlay offers irresistible to visitors.
Test fewer form fields to reduce perceived friction on your forms:
Adding too many form fields can have a negative impact on conversion rates.
Make visitors feel like they’re being offered something exclusive:
Whatever you do, never forget that your prospect’s attention is a valuable commodity.
And once you have it, you should respect it by doing everything you can to deliver meaningful value.
Let’s face it: video marketing is getting harder. And social media platforms like Facebook are making it even more complex. From evergreen content to “disappearing” videos, there’s a lot of content out there and you need to cut through the noise. But there’s still plenty of opportunity. According to Vibhi Kant, Product Manager at Jie Xu: people spend more than 3 times watching Facebook Live video when they’re actually live. That’s a lot of attention waiting to be tapped into. Twitter first opened the doors for live video with Periscope. But according to our own stats from within the Unmetric…
Those email metrics may provide you with more insight than you thought. Image via Shutterstock.
The components of an A/B test are pretty straightforward: change some stuff, compare key metrics, deploy winner, repeat.
So when you start an A/B test on your email, this is the sort of process you fall back on. You brainstorm a couple of alternate subject lines, test them on a small segment and send the winner to everyone else. This is a great way of making sure you’re sending the better of two ideas, but does it really mean you’re sending better email?
Instead, today we’re going to focus on the benefits of A/B testing for the future. That means turning your results into actionable guidance for feature planning, branding, sales and retention strategies.
Maximizing is not always optimizing.
It can be really tough figuring out which features need the most attention, not to mention prioritizing improvements your top users would be most excited for. Email can help!
A simple email teasing upcoming improvements to X or Y feature can give you valuable insights for your next product planning session on what changes actually pique a user’s interest.
Similarly, you can test something like, “What would you like to see added to feature X” vs “…feature Y.” Even if you get little to no feedback, the comparative open rates can tell you a lot about which features people want to see updated.
This can be especially insightful for startups, because setting the wrong priorities for your development team can hamstring your growth. In cases like this where the stakes are higher, it may be more powerful to subtly present options and observe responses than to straight up ask.
The problem with asking users what they want directly. Image via Frankiac.
What if you’re getting ready to launch a new feature or plan an event, but you’re torn on what to call it. Simply run a test with a sneak peak email to your most engaged users and see what gets their attention.
This one may feel a bit weird, because branding of your product and features can feel really personal, but it’s also really important, so why leave it to your gut when you can test?
You don’t even have to build out a fancy announcement email, because you’re just looking for opens, indicating that initial spark of interest. The body can be a simple, plain text save the date or a link to a survey or something.
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Sales materials development
Good email testing can also translate to benefits for your sales team. Imagine their eyes lighting up when you pass them a document illustrating how your highest value customers engage with different phrasings of your core features.
There are a couple of interesting ways to execute on this, but I think the most practical is to build an onboarding email with links to your features, and then test headlines for each section (bonus points if you randomize the order to satisfy the statisticians in the house).
You could also stretch this across multiple emails in your onboarding drip campaign, or send a one-off “What’s new” update.
Now that you’ve figured out which features resonate most with your high-touch users, it’s time to figure out what gets people hooked on your product or service in the first place.
There are a ton of ways to accomplish this in the traditional on-site manner, but how does email fit into the picture?
The most obvious option here is to use the information you gleaned to craft a killer onboarding campaign that introduces new users to the most beloved features first. That strategy, however, is really focused on top-of-funnel retention. Today, I want to take a look at the other end: churn prevention.
There are, of course, some users that were never a good fit to begin with and will churn regardless. But for those that just never got the hang of things, the most common move is to hit them with a “Hail Mary email” — one last-ditch effort to win them back.
A lot of times this comes in the form of a direct note from someone asking what they could have done better, but why not use that space to run some tests? Not just to squeeze out a few more opens on a low-converting email, but to see what actually gets people’s attention. Then you can take the stuff that works, and work it into your onboarding campaign to keep people from ever getting to the Hail Mary state.
These are, of course, not the only ways that you can incorporate your learnings from tests into other aspects of your marketing, but it’s a great start if you don’t have a process like this in place.
The structure you build out to track and share the results from tests like these can be tremendously helpful for the whole team — not just in the ways I’ve outlined above, but also in just keeping everyone on the same page and in line with what your customers want to hear.
Have anything to add? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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.
There are two main methods to track cross-device user behavior—deterministic 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.
“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:
eCommerce enterprises should focus on the following points for providing a superior omnichannel shopping experience:
Providing relevant local information
Ensuring faster, safer payment solutions
Making use of advanced technologies
Providing relevant local information
A post on Think with Googlereports 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 it’s 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.
Deploying these payment solutions is a win-win for both the parties, because these solutions are convenient, quick, and trustworthy.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
TL;DR Canada’s largest sporting goods retailer has a multi-faceted optimization program, but two recent tests revealed impactful insights about the company’s ‘Free Shipping’ value proposition. Read the full case study here.
Sport Chek is Canada’s largest national retailer of sporting goods, footwear and apparel. We partnered with Sport Chek just over a year ago and have been working together to optimize their e-commerce experiences, with the goal of increasing conversions in the form of transactions.
While Sport Chek’s conversion optimization program is multi-faceted, two different tests recently revealed impactful insights about one of the company’s value propositions.
What is a value proposition?
Value proposition can be thought of as a cost versus benefits equation that shows your prospects’ motivation. But it’s all about perception: if your perceived benefits outweigh the perceived costs, your prospects will be motivated to act.
All value propositions have varying degrees of value depending on how they’re interpreted and how they’re communicated. Your benefits hold different weight for different people―it’s all about finding out which of your benefits are perceived to be most important to your prospects.
Sport Chek offers free shipping on online orders over a certain dollar amount. Of course, offering some degree of free shipping is basically par for the course in today’s e-commerce world. It’s a Point of Parity―these are the features that are important to your prospects that you also share with your competitors (the basic entry requirements to the game).
The question in this case was: How can Sport Chek communicate this offer in a way that provides more value to their customers? How can they make this Point of Parity look like a Point of Difference―a feature that’s important to the prospect and unique to your business.
Two experiments, one on the cart page and one on the product page, that led to substantial lift for Sport Chek
An unexpected variable that revealed an insight about the company’s ideal ‘Free Shipping’ threshold
The results of these experiments showed that ‘Free Shipping’ is an extremely elastic value proposition point for Sport Chek. At varying “you-qualify-for-free-shipping” price points, there are major swings in user behavior.
In the past, their ‘Free Shipping’ offer was an under-utilized value proposition because it wasn’t being emphasized in the right way. Now, this value proposition point is more visible and being communicated with more clarity.
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