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Eating Our Own Dogfood – How To Optimize For Revenue As A SaaS Business

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we at VWO are very passionate about experimentation.

Not only have we built a product around A/B testing and conversion optimization, but we are always looking for ways to run experiments on our website.

Recently, we got our entire team to actively research and contribute ideas for optimization on our website and ran multiple tests. This post is a narrative of what we did after.

Who Is This Post for?

This post will help SaaS growth-hackers, marketers, and optimization experts to predict the business value from a test.

The aim of this post is to not only share the tests we ran on our website, but also introduce a revenue-based framework that predicts the business impact of an A/B test and prioritizing on the basis of it.

Revenue-Based Optimization

Need for a Model

After we propelled our team to suggest ideas for testing, we had more than 30 hypotheses looking at us, but no distinct way of knowing which of these to take up first. Of course, there is a range of prioritizing frameworks available, but we particularly wanted to look at the ones that would directly impact our revenue.

This framework helped us project the potential impact on the revenue from each test. Here’s what we did:

Step 1

We decided to identify high-impact pages and winnow the pages that were not as important for our business, that is, pages where no goal conversions take place. We looked at Google Analytics for pages with the:

  • Highest Amount of Traffic
    (We used “New Users” to nullify visits by existing customers.)
  • Highest Number of Goal Conversions
    (Goal conversion, which contributes to your overall business goal, is the main goal for your website. In our case, this meant all qualified lead-generating forms. A free trial or request a demo qualifies a visitor as a lead with a genuine interest in our product; or, as the industry popularly refers to it, a Marketing Qualified Lead.)

This gave us a list of pages which were high-value in terms of, either traffic generation or last touch before conversions.

We identified the following key pages:

  • Free-trial page
  • Request-a-demo page
  • Homepage
  • Pricing page
  • Features page
  • Blog pages (All)
  • Contact-us page

Step 2

Our main objective was to project an estimated increase in the revenue due to a particular test. If your test increases the conversion rate by say 20%, what would this mean for your business and, in turn, the revenue?

This is how our marketing funnel looked like:

VWO Marketing Funnel

Note: You should use data from the recent 3–6 months, and the average (mean) of each step. This is to accurately reflect what to expect from your testing and be relevant to your business.

For each of the “Key Pages” we identified in the first step, we also dug out the corresponding numbers at each funnel stage. We’ve explained each stage of the funnel and how it is calculated:

a) Key Page Traffic: The total number of pageviews per Key Page (new users in our case). You can find the data in Google Analytics.

b) Total Conversions: The total number of leads generated from each particular page. If there is an additional qualification your company follows, source this data from your preferred CRM or Marketing Automation software. For example, at VWO, we use Clearbit to qualify our leads in Salesforce.

c) Opportunities: The total number of opportunities generated for your sales team. This data will be available in your CRM; make sure to count qualified opportunities only.

d) Customers:  The total number of customers created in a month.

e) MRR (New): Or monthly recurring revenue, means revenue booked on a monthly basis; you can use this to estimate annual recurring revenue, or ARR, as well.

Step 3

Now that we had all the numbers needed in our arsenal, I decided to calculate some more internal benchmarks. This gave us the performance of our marketing and/or sales funnel.

  1. We computed the conversion rate of a particular page, using the following formula:
    Existing conversion rate = (Total Conversions Key Page Traffic); this is represented as %
  2. The conversion of your leads into opportunities:
    (Opportunities ÷ Total conversions) × 100, represented as %
  3.  The conversion rate of opportunities into customers:
    (Customers ÷ Opportunities) × 100, represented as %
  4.  The average revenue per user or ARPU:
    Total MRR  ÷ Total number of paying customers

Now all you have to do is to impute these numbers in this template.
Revenue-based Testing Model
The model uses all of that data and projects how much revenue increase or decrease you can estimate based on your test results. This estimate can give you a good idea of where to begin or prioritize your testing.

Step 4 (Optional)

This is where it may get tricky. At VWO, we sell both Enterprise plans and Standard plans. So to be fair, we must estimate each cohort with separate data and individual conversion rates.

For example, Opportunity creation % for an Enterprise plan may be lower, but a Standard plan is easier to convert. You may want to decide what type of plan do you want to focus on.

We, for instance, used website traffic and Alexa rank as the benchmark for lead qualification. We attributed more value to the leads that came in through key pages and prioritized them.

This led us to the next step, which is the qualification rate of the said lead of high value. This rate may be in the range 30–50%, depending on your definition.

It was interesting to note that each page had a different qualification rate. For example, we get better quality leads from our Request a demo page than we do from our free trial or blog post page.

Tests Conducted:

After we had the model in place, we played around with the increase or decrease in our conversion rates. This was to identify what would be our best optimization opportunities?

The free trial pages and the home page were among the high-priority pages, in terms of the impact of revenue. (Unfortunately, I can’t share the exact numbers with you.) We first looked at the hypotheses on the free trial page:

Test 1 – Free Trial Page

Our hypothesis was “Illustrating VWO features and social proof on the free trial page will compel users to sign up for the free trial.”

Here is a screenshot of what it looks like in VWO.
hypothesis-free-trial

Bonus tip: VWO has recently launched a new capability called PLAN that lets you manage and prioritize your testing hypotheses. To learn more about this capability, visit the VWO evolution page.

This is what the control looked like:

Free Trial Control

Our heatmap data also showed a lot of users clicking the features page after accessing the free trial page.

Screenshot of heatmap data:

Heatmap Screenshot for test

We created a variation which included the features we offer to solve this issue. Here’s a screenshot of the same.

This is our current free trial page:

Free Trial Page(New)(Variation)

We ran the test for over 2 months. The result was an increase of 6% in our conversion rate, which led to increased revenues.

Test 2 – Request a Demo CTA (A/B Test)

The main CTA on the homepage has been the free trial CTA. The headline on the homepage was “A/B Testing Software for Marketers.”

The hypothesis for the test was “We will get more qualified leads through a request a demo CTA on the homepage.”

This is what the control looked like:

Homepage Control

We came up with a more targeted copy and changed the existing CTA to Request A Demo. Here is what the variation looked like:

Homepage variation

We also wanted to change our positioning due to our foray into Conversion Optimization. The results from this test were that our variation beat the control and had more than 31% improvement in the conversion rate.

Based on the first example, we have already implemented the new free-trial page as our main free-trial page now. Based on the second test, we updated our current home page.

All in all, this model helped us correctly predict the best optimization opportunities, make our testing better, and more strategically aligned to business goals.

Let me know your experience with this model and how you go about testing.

Would love to hear your feedback on this!

Free-trial CTA

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First CRO Certification Course in Italy – An Initiative Supported by VWO

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How can you learn Conversion Rate Optimization in a way that you can apply it easily to any project?  How can you make a low performing website to a highly remunerative one without redesigning it from scratch?

Those are just two of the questions that Luca Catania, Director of Madri Internet Marketing & Head of Marketing of Catchi, answered during the First Certification CRO certification Course in Italy supported by VWO.

The course targeted a wide audience—from people with no experience in CRO to experts in the field. Attendees comprised c-suite executives—Entrepreneurs, Head of Marketing, Managing Directors, Consultants, from more than 20 different industries.

The objective of the training was to teach participants an innovative step-by-step approach to CRO, in which participants are guided to learn a system that they can apply to any business to increase conversion rates, increase leads, increase sales online.

Participants got the chance to learn how to optimize their websites in a real-time setup. Using the VWO platform live in the course allowed the participants to understand and experience how the software can help optimize websites and achieve better conversions.

Do you want to improve you CRO skills? 

You can read interesting case studies and find the dates of upcoming courses in Europe/Australasia, following Luca Catania on LinkedIn.

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Optimizing Mobile Home Page Increases Conversions for Wedding Shoes Website

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

Problem

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

Observations

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

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

This is how the home page looked on mobile:

elegant_control_jpg

Hypothesis

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

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

This is how the variation looked:

elegant_variation_jpg

Test

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

Results

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

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

Mobile an afterthought?

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

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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.

Multivariate Testing CTA

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Your VWO campaigns will not be affected by the Dyn.com or any other DNS outage

Yesterday, a massive distributed denial of services (DDoS) attack on DynDNS server shook the internet with popular websites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, AirBnB, Shopify and thousands more being inaccessible for most part of the day. The enormous scale of this outage impacted millions of users across the globe with billions of dollars being lost in revenue and business.

The incident didn’t impact VWO since we don’t use Dyn as our DNS service provider. However, no web services provider is 100% secure from such attacks. A few months ago, a similar incident happened to our DNS service provider. The issue took some time to get resolved but VWO’s asynchronous SmartCode made sure that our customers need not worry about such threats at all!

The VWO SmartCode works in parallel with your website code and doesn’t get in the way of your website loading even if the SmartCode is unable to load for some reason. This means that while the VWO app service was down because of the attack on our DNS service provider, your website and landing pages continued to work as usual. The only impact our customers saw was their A/B test campaigns not loading properly.

Here’s a quick snapshot of how the VWO SmartCode works relative to your website:

how VWO SmartCode loads

VWO’s asynchronous SmartCode does not add to your page load time. With Synchronous code, the browser has to wait for the test package to download and then process it before loading the rest of the page. If for any reason the tracking code can’t contact its servers then the browser will wait, usually 30 to 60 seconds, until the request times out. If your tracking code is in the <head> tags, then your entire page won’t load and your visitor will be stuck with a blank page. Asynchronous code does not have this critical problem. If for any reason, the asynchronous VWO SmartCode can’t contact our servers your page will still download and render properly.

At VWO, we define our success in terms of always serving in the best interest of all our customers. And this becomes crucial in critical times like this when web service providers are facing serious repercussions for absolutely no fault of their own.

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How RuneScape Leveled Up Revenue Through Process-Driven CRO

The following is a case study about how RuneScape followed a structured conversion optimization (CRO) program to increase revenue on its website.

About RuneScape

RuneScape is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It was developed by Jagex and launched in January 2001.

The popularity of the game is enormous. RuneScape has welcomed over 250 million players to its world since its release. More than 2 million users play every month, and millions more watch avidly through social channels.

RuneScape has consistently strived to deliver a great experience to its users—not just limited to the game but also on its website. After all, it’s the website where users find forums and game guides, and buy in-game items.

The CRO Team

Rob Marfleet, UX Specialist at Jagex, takes care of User Experience and CRO across the payment flow on the website (the payment gateway and its preceding pages). Dave Parrott, Payments Services Director at Jagex, and Nastassja Gilmartin, Payments Manager at Jagex, help Rob in identifying testing opportunities and analyzing test results.

Rob Marfleet, UX Specialist at Jagex, takes care of User Experience and CRO across the payment flow on the website.

Rob works with teams of designers and developers that help facilitate implementation of winning test variants on the RuneScape website.

Additionally, Rob takes help from Disha Ahuja, Client Success Manager at VWO, to utilize the VWO platform to its full potential.

About the Case

About 50% of users on the RuneScape website arrive as direct traffic. The other half of the traffic consists of users from referrals, social media, and email marketing campaigns.

Rob adds, “This is mainly down to RuneScape enjoying a very loyal user base, with many players having played for several years.”

The CRO team aims to optimize high-potential pages, that is, pages that are closest to the payment gateway and require minimum effort in optimization. The Treasure Hunter page on the website is one such high-potential page that the team chose to optimize.

The Treasure Hunter page lets users buy keys to unlock treasure chests in the game. The treasure chests contain items that can be used within RuneScape.

Rob explains, “Treasure Hunter activity is an optional mini-game within RuneScapekeys are earned through play, but can also be gathered in bundles that are purchasable on the site.

This is how the original page looked like:

RuneScape Treasure Hunter control page for A/B TestOn clicking Continue on the Treasure Hunter page, users are directed to a Payment page where they can choose from multiple treasure chest packages.

RuneScape payment page
Payment page

The RuneScape CRO team thoroughly analyzed the Treasure Hunter page and identified optimization opportunities. Next, the team used VWO to capitalize on these opportunities.

Optimization Process

The CRO team followed the following process to improve conversions on the RuneScape website:

  • Setting a Goal
  • Finding Opportunities for Optimization
  • Creating Hypothesis
  • Developing Variation
  • Analyzing Test Results

Setting a Goal

The goal of the optimization campaign was to grow revenue by increasing the number of purchases.

Finding Opportunities for Optimization

The team at RuneScape studied a heatmap of the Treasure Hunter page. The heatmap showed that a significant number of users were clicking the Get Keys section on the page—a section which was not clickable. Users perhaps either wanted a direct access to the keys or wanted to search for further information.

Heatmap of RUneScape original page before A/B test
Heatmap of the original page

Next, the team watched visitor recording sessions on the page and observed that a lot of visitors on the Payment page returned to the Treasure Hunter page. The team realized that the Treasure Hunter page probably did not offer sufficient information about the treasure chest packages to users.

Creating Hypothesis

The team hypothesized that providing details about treasure chest packages on the Treasure Hunter page will lead to greater conversions on the Payment page.

Developing Variation

Based on the hypothesis, the team created a variation of the Treasure Hunter page. The variation included a new section highlighting four treasure chest packages. Here’s how it looked:

RuneScape Treasure Hunter variation page

An A/B test was run to find the better performing version between the original page and the variation.

Analyzing Test Results

The test ran for a month from August 15–September 13, 2016. The variation outperformed the control and increased the number of purchases by almost 10 percent.

RuneScape A/B Test analysis - Report
Test result report on VWO

Rob shares his learning from the A/B test:

I think one of the more important aspects to take note of here is that the page variation actually resulted in less traffic to the payment page, but increased the amount of purchases made. Effectively, we can say pretty confidently that by giving the users package information upfront, we created higher quality traffic to the next stage, simply through transparency, and informed the user before going forwardusers who went to the purchase page already knew what they were after.

This is incredibly useful when considering other areas of the payment flowif the effect can be replicated, it can potentially translate to more wins.

Next Steps

The CRO team did not stop after it found success with the A/B test. The team felt that the variation can be optimized even further.

The team realized that the offer of four treasure chest packages can possibly leave the users spoiled for choice. The team hypothesized that recommending one of the packages to users will help them choose better and, consequently, increase conversions.

Based on this hypothesis, the following variation was created:

RuneScape follow-up A/B Test variation

The variation featured a Recommended package. This variation was pitted against the winning page from the first A/B test.

The variation won and further increased the number of purchases by almost 6%.

Experience Using VWO

Rob shares, “As a hands-on user of VWO, I’ve personally experienced how quickly it allows prototyping and testing of new ideas, features and content. The ability to push changes, without having to involve multiple teams to relaunch areas of the site can’t be praised highly enough, and the ability to reverse those same changes instantaneously is equally as useful. It’s allowed me to run a number of campaigns straight away that would normally have to be scheduled further down the line, at a more opportune moment, and that’s pretty invaluable.

Using the actual software is very straightforward and easy to understand—campaigns can be built in a short period of time, and having Disha available any time to help determine the best testing practices has definitely helped me find wins—she’s super friendly and eager to help, and I’ve already implemented several testing campaigns that have been borne out of collaboration between her and myself, one of which, is in the process of being fully implemented on the site.”

What Do You Think?

Do you have any recommendations on how RuneScape can further improve user experience and conversions on its website? Did you get any conversion optimization ideas for your own online enterprise? Tell us using the comments section below.

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How “Your Tea” Boosted Revenue by 28% Through Structured Conversion Optimization

An increasing number of companies and agencies are following a structured approach to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Presently, we will be looking at how a tea eCommerce website increased revenue using conversion optimization.

About the Company

Your Tea is an online tea eCommerce site serving health and lifestyle-focused consumers. Tiny Tea Teatox is one of their largest sellers in their diversifying everyday tea product ranges.

Your Tea signed on We Are Visionists (WAV), a digital agency that partners with eCommerce agencies and startups, to help solve their clients’ digital problems ranging from paid advertising to conversion rate optimization.

We got in touch with Joel Hauer, founder at WAV, to know all about their successful optimization exercise that resulted in a 28% improvement in revenue.

Onboarding Your Tea

WAV pitched CRO as part of a raft of complementary services, including SEO and PPC, to improve Your Tea’s online presence.

Joel says, “It made business sense and so it was a straightforward decision for Your Tea. If you can create an uplift in your revenue by improving your product page, why wouldn’t you? We were able to make projections based on anticipated improvements to the site, and those projections were what got us over the line. We are lucky to have such a pragmatic client!

Process of Optimization

What WAV wanted to do was to insulate Your Tea’s revenue stream against any potential declines in traffic and maximize revenues in the periods of high traffic.

While doing so, they decided to follow a formalized approach to CRO, that is, researching their website data and visitors’ behavior intently to create hypothesis and running A/B tests that would impact revenues the most.

The Research Phase

To begin with, they analyzed their website data using Google Analytics (GA) to understand the journey of the visitors. They detected a large number of drop-offs on the product pages of the website, that is, a lot of people were landing on the product pages but not adding anything to the cart. They discovered that the Tiny Tea Teatox product page in particular was attracting the largest amount of traffic, and decided to optimize it first.

On further research on that page, they found that more than 50% of visitors were browsing through mobile. This information compelled WAV to closely analyze the mobile version of Tiny Tea Teatox. They found multiple optimization opportunities. For instance, the CTA was not prominent, there was no detailed description of the products, and more.

Here’s how the original page looked:

A/B test Control

Hypothesis Creation

Since a majority of traffic was coming from mobile in particular, WAV decided to optimize both the desktop and mobile versions of the Your Tea website. They hypothesized that adding a more prominent CTA, along with a detailed description of the product and user reviews would increase add-to-cart from the product page.

Using Visitor Behavior Analysis, they were able to develop their hypotheses further. For instance, by looking into heatmap analysis, they realized that visitors mostly browsed the product description and its benefits.

A large number of visitors also visited the reviews section, thereby making it clear that they were looking for trust elements. WAV decided to add more product information and benefits, along with credible “before and after” images and testimonials to the page. WAV also conducted website surveys and user testing sessions, which confirmed their hypothesis of adding more “credibility proofs” to the page.

The Test

WAV concluded that a full redesign of the product pages could yield better results than a series of incremental improvements from smaller tests. Such a massive redesign required heavy technical work, and WAV used VWO’s Ideact service to create a variation. Below is the screenshot of the control and variation:

Your Tea Control Variation Here’s how the Before And After section in the variation looked like:

Here’s the Why Buy From Us section in the variation that aimed to improve the website’s credibility :

Credibility Proof in the VariationResults

With the tests, they tracked two goals, that is, the add to cart conversion rate and the revenue.

The improvement in add-to-cart actions led to an impressive 28% increase in the revenue. In terms of add-to-cart conversions, control of the test was yielding a conversion rate of 11.3% in contrast to the variation which emerged to be the winner with a conversion rate of 14.5%.

Road Ahead

To capitalize on these higher conversions, an optimized checkout experience is required.

The agency could identify that the checkout pages were receiving multiple views from the same visitors. Users were getting stuck in loops around the checkout page. After they identified what to look for, the data from analytics supported it. Currently, they are testing to optimize the mobile experience on parameters such as anxiety and trust signals.

When asked about his biggest learning of the test, Joel responded: “One thing that came out of this test was learning more about the checkout experience—particularly on mobile.”

Experience Using VWO

Joel remarks, “The work of VWO’s Ideact team in setting up the tests on the technical front to help us record users through the checkout experience was invaluable.”

“We loved working with Rauhan and Harinder from VWO. The willingness to go the extra mile and help us get the maximum insight from our tests was fantastic. Having spoken about the features in the pipeline, we’re excited to see what’s to come.”

What Do You Think?

Do you have any similar experiments to share? Tell us in the comments below.

cta

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Mastering eCommerce Conversions with VWO and Demandware

Shopping Cart and Conversion Optimization platforms together have been making lives simpler for eCommerce business owners. With its latest release, VWO adds Demandware to its kitty of third-party app integrations to allow easy configuration of VWO SmartCode on Demandware stores. In addition, eCommerce stores using Demandware can also track their store revenue and configure custom URLs to run tests.

Using the plug-in, Demandware users can now directly add their preferred type of VWO SmartCode (Asynchronous or Synchronous) to all pages on their shopping website and get cracking with their A/B testing campaign. The plug-in also allows eCommerce websites to track revenue conversions in their preferred format, using different combinations of tax and shipping charges along with the actual value of each order.

A key outcome of this integration is that businesses running Demandware can enable custom URL tracking. This tracking allows running test campaigns on SEO-friendly URLs that don’t have a common pattern. In a typical eCommerce store, URLs are often morphed to match frequent search queries. However, the changing nature of these URLs makes it difficult for marketing platforms to recognize their page types. VWO’s custom URL tracking allows users to easily classify URLs into different categories such as Product Page, Category Page, or Checkout Page, and then run test campaigns on a specific group of pages together.

How Does it Work?

Installing the VWO code on your Demandware store is a one-minute process. Simply download the VWO plug-in and import it into your Demandware studio. Now, follow these simple steps to configure the VWO cartridge for your store with your preferred settings.

In simple words, there is no need to individually add the VWO code to all pages on your Demandware store. The VWO plug-in does all that for you in no time! Also, don’t forget to configure your revenue tracking with VWO and enable custom URLS for running targeted campaigns.

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Mastering eCommerce Conversions with VWO and Demandware

Resolving User Pain Points Across eCommerce Conversion Funnel

As reported by Internet Retailer, the projected online global consumer spending by 2019 will more than double to $3.551 trillion of the global spending in 2015, accounting for 12.4% of the total retail sales.  These numbers show that consumer inclination toward online shopping is increasing. However, the gap between what consumers want and what they get is also widening. This is where the importance of providing visitors a friction-free experience across an eCommerce conversion funnel stems from.

Competition also has been becoming increasingly fierce. Global marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba are eating into a large share of the retail market. Numbers from Ecommerce News suggest that by 2020, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba will own at least 40% of the global retail market. eCommerce enterprises and retailers, however, are confident that they can one-up players like eBay by providing enhanced customer experience and services.

eCommerce enterprises also realize that the modern consumer/customer journey is complex. Empowered and informed consumers neither have the patience nor any reason to buy from eCommerce establishments that fail to provide instant gratification.

In this blog post, we talk about how eCommerce enterprises can smooth out friction at each stage of the eCommerce conversion funnel—awareness, consideration, and purchase. We discuss how enterprises, regardless of where the customer enters the funnel, can provide an enhanced and optimized customer experience.

Addressing Pain Points at the Awareness Stage

A consumer at the awareness stage already has a preconceived notion, which is molded by social and digital content. The ability of consumers to create, absorb, and distribute information has increased manifold. The following Deloitte Consumer Review 2014, which represents consumer attitude toward digital content, validates the same.

user engagement through digital content
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To stand a chance of gaining user attention/awareness in the digital eCommerce arena, online enterprises need to ensure that they have a strong digital content strategy in place, which consists of formulating a clear objective, understanding the target audience, determining the brand’s voice, and more.

Let’s also not forget the impact of search engine optimization on accessibility and online presence. Forbes talks about SEO key trends 2016 for eCommerce, highlighting the measures that enterprises can ensure  to grow their online presence . A MOZ post discusses the changing face of search in the age of video transcription.

With mobile usage on the rise, consumers expect high quality and variety of content to be available on their smartphones. However, according to BrightEdge Content Engagement Report 2015, more than 1 in 4 mobile sites is misconfigured, which results in an average 68% loss of smartphone traffic to that content. These statistics don’t frame a great picture, given that the Google searches via mobile have already surpassed desktop searches.

While eCommerce enterprises need to optimize quality content for awareness through search, they need to do so with the goal of acquiring quality traffic. Analyze where most of your traffic is coming from. Go a step further to find out the traffic sources that are driving most engagements.

After you have figured out the traffic sources that are driving most conversions, you can create a winning user engagement strategy for those channels. Here’s an interesting case study on how Michael Kors integrates Instagram and other social media to boost eCommerce and store revenue.

awareness stage strategy example for eCommerce
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Addressing Pain Points at the Consideration Stage

A consumer at the consideration stage is well aware of your existence. The problem for eCommerce enterprises to address at this stage is understanding their visitors’ intent and motivations—what do the visitors want and what would make them convert. Addressing the following questions can help eCommerce enterprises ease the users’ pain points.:

  • Why certain visitors don’t buy right away while others do?
  • What can alter a visitor’s buying behavior?
  • What distractions can put off a potential customer?

Taking a predictive action approach at this stage of the funnel is one way of dealing with the friction before it happens. This approach requires creating customer personas, mapping user journeys to understand how users interact and engage with your website, and then using this information to work out tactics that ease user interactions and experiences.

Visitor recordings and heatmaps, as well as user feedback gathering tools such as on-page surveys, can be deployed by eCommerce enterprises to gain clear insights into the what and why of on-site behaviors of visitors.

Losing potential customers to competition at the consideration stage is another big challenge for eCommerce enterprises. Although an understanding of customer intent and motivation can make visitors’ experiences delightful—even to the extent that they  come back or spread a positive word around—there are high chances that even a positive on-site experience doesn’t make them buy from you.

Reason? Visitors at any stage of conversion are continuously relying on their own research and user-generated and influencer-generated content to reconsider their purchase decision.

Influencing Purchase at the Consideration Stage

There are a number of things influencing buyer behavior at the consideration stage. A ready-to-convert visitor might interact with your website and go back to the consideration stage if he/she is able to find a better deal elsewhere.

One of Harvard Business Review posts talk about why users need not choose a fixed path to conversion. An extract from the same HBR article is quoted below:
“Julie Bornstein, CMO at Sephora, has seen social media change how people buy beauty products. Recommendations from friends have always been important, but now these recommendations spread ‘quicker, faster, and further’ at every stage in the funnel. The decision on what to buy increasingly comes from advocates who share their experience in a way that pulls in new customers and informs their purchase decision. Sephora’s response has been to bring all the stages of the funnel together at a single place, creating its own online community where people can ask experts and each other about brands, products, and techniques.” 

From a user’s perspective, User-Generated Content (UGC) helps build trust  and mitigates the fear of buying, which could otherwise have been a huge point of friction. It has also changed the way eCommerce businesses build engagement. For a complete picture on how UGC can be leveraged, check out this article by MAVSOCIAL. Using trust seals and testimonials is equally important for easing out the fear of being cheated or misled. For more insights on the importance of trust, read how this eCommerce business established credibility by adding a trust badge and increased its conversion rate by 72.05%.

The takeaway here is to keep the visitor engaged through your eCommerce website and build trust. This can be achieved using a good mix of predictive analysis, user-generated content, and leveraging principles of persuasion that can turn user buying behavior in your favor (consider FOMO). User interface is another parameter that eCommerce enterprises must test and improve for driving more visitor engagement at the consideration stage of the funnel.

Addressing Pain Points at the Conversion Stage

The decision is made in your favor, and the visitor is going through the checkout on your site to buy the product. What could stop a visitor from converting at this stage? Is it that the visitor’s preferred mode of payment was not available? Is it that your shipping costs are exorbitantly high? VWO’s Shopping Cart Abandonment Report 2016 states, “One-fourth of the respondents will not check out if they encounter unexpected shipping cost.”

Regardless of the length of the checkout, the goal for eCommerce enterprises should always be to make the checkout distraction-free.

Consider Amazon’s example: At checkout, they have only two options listed—place order or close the window. Not providing unnecessary navigation options on the checkout eliminates distraction at this final step.

Amazon's example of distraction free navigation
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A thorough usability study for their checkout can help eCommerce enterprises find out what needs to be fixed and what can be made better. Here’s a usability benchmark of 100 eCommerce sites that have been ranked by Baymard, according to their checkout usability performance.

eCommerce checkout usability performance benchmark
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Another article by Baymard talks about mobile checkout usability, which is no less important than website optimization, considering that people are browsing their phones more than ever. However, there is still a huge potential for retailers to drive conversions directly from mobile.

Optimizing for mobiles and tablets becomes all the more important because consumers often browse one device and buy from another. The meandering that happens between different devices before a visitor converts, requires eCommerce enterprises to track and analyze cross-device behaviors.

Conclusion

An ideal funnel in the current dynamically changing times is not only the one that drives more conversions, but also the one that is able to provide exactly what customers want. Whether consumers are in the awareness, consideration, or conversion stage of the buying journey, eCommerce enterprises can help improve the online buying experience by understanding and addressing frictions at each stage.

What do you suggest can ease user pain-points at each stage of the eCommerce conversion funnel? Comment and let us know.

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Resolving User Pain Points Across eCommerce Conversion Funnel

How a Billion Dollar eCommerce Major Achieved More Visits-to-Order Using VWO

About ShopClues

ShopClues is an eCommerce major in India serving 42 million visitors with a global Alexa rank of 431. Backed by the likes of Helion, Nexus and Tiger Global, the five year old ShopClues is already valued at one billion dollars.

We got in touch with Divakar Ravichandran, marketing technologist at ShopClues, to talk about the process they follow, the hurdles they face and the results they’ve achieved.

The Team Behind Optimization

Divakar belongs to the on-site merchandising team and takes care of on-site optimization. While A/B testing and optimization became a core function only four months ago, they were quick to set a goal of optimizing the high traffic and marketing pages. To scale fast they decided to have at least one effective A/B test deployed every week. The rigorous regimen paid off and they were able to achieve a 26% higher visits-to-order from the homepage.

Optimization Becoming a Practice

When asked if he sees optimization becoming a regular practice at the company, Divakar told us that within four months, a set of few minor and two major design improvements have been made live site-wide. It’s a move in the right direction and he is confident that conversion optimization will be adopted deeper and wider into the marketing function.

Process of Optimization

The team is currently focused on optimizing the homepage and the category pages. They act as owners for the homepage while with category pages they collaborate with the respective category managers.

Test 1 – Homepage

Each element of the homepage is carefully tracked for conversion signals and this data then fuels hypotheses and testing. On the homepage, the main navigation bar links were getting a lot of clicks. Particularly, the first link that was ‘Wholesale’. The challenge, they identified, was to send better qualified traffic to the category pages.

Original

Shopclues A/B test control page Screenshot

ShopClues hypothesized that replacing ‘Wholesale’ with other marketing categories (like ‘super saver’ bazaar) and moving it to the left navbar can make the page more visually aligned and help receive better qualified visitors to each of the category pages.

Variation

Shopclues A/B test variation page screenshot

Results of Optimization

The new top navbar with the marketing categories now receives 50% more CTR. And as expected, the quality of visits to the categories improved as evidenced by an improvement of 26% in visits-to-order.

Testing Helps Uncover Further Areas for Improvement

Re-positioning ‘wholesale’ also meant the change had to be highlighted to the visitors. For this purpose, the team has displayed a banner that says ‘new’ right next to the ‘wholesale’. This change has since then further improved the CTR on ‘wholesale’ category.

Test 2 – Marketing Category Page

With the category pages, the team obtains data from the analytics team, deploys heat maps where required and sends these reports to their respective managers. The category managers then point out areas that require attention. Based on this feedback the team sets about creating hypotheses, prioritizing tests and executing them.

Here’s an example of how this works in real: By using Visitor Behavior Analysis the team noticed that for one of their promotional categories (Sunday Flea Market), filters like ‘new arrivals’ ‘best selling’ and ‘price sorting’ were getting the bulk of user attention. On-Page Surveys were then used to collect feedback from visitors themselves about these filters. Based on this insight a new test was created where visitors were spared that step in their search. The variation presented visitors with the products that matched the filters upfront in a horizontal display (see below).

Here’s how the original page looked:

Shopclues A/B Test Control Screenshot

And this is how the variation created based on user behavior and feedback looks:

Shopclues A/B Test 2 Screenshot of variation 1

Shopclues A/B Test 2 - Variation Screenshot

The test is still going on but early signs are encouraging with the new page getting 16% higher visit-to-order.

Experience Using VWO

VWO consists of a complete set of tools and features using which I was able to infer how visitors use the site (heat maps, visitor-recordings etc) and even how they feel (surveys). Gleaning insights from these data, I could strategize and easily launch A/B tests, multivariate tests, personalization triggers and more to optimize our funnel. The complete process of “data driven” optimization through this tool is self-explanatory and easy to set-up.

As an enterprise customer, ShopClues could also take the help of our Customer Success Managers. Divakar was kind enough to acknowledge the contribution of the CS team to their optimization efforts:

The response from the team is quick and they are available to discuss tests hypothesis and helps in setting up them effectively. I sync up with my support manager almost every day of the week to plan and optimize things.

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How a Billion Dollar eCommerce Major Achieved More Visits-to-Order Using VWO