eCommerce Growth Show

Optimizing D2C eCommerce with User Intent with Ben Labay- eCommerce Growth Show Ep. 21

The direct to consumer industry is one of the fastest-changing ones. We are experiencing a new wave of changes as you are reading this article, discovering each day the effects of a pandemic on the world economy and consumer behavior. There are, of course, many other reasons behind these changes, but this one is probably the most discussed topic nowadays.

The focus on this week’s eCommerce Growth Show was not on COVID-19, but on D2C in general, conversion rate optimization, online customer behavior and finding customer research data to help you evolve your business.

Let’s get into it. Enjoy!

Who is Ben Labay?

Ben Labay is the Research Director from the CXL Agency, combining years of academic and research training with UX knowledge to help scope and run experimentation programs for companies.

Key takeaways from this episode


When to go against conversion rate

With the fast-moving consumer goods segment, direct to consumer, the performance marketing side, the on-site journey, you’re looking session-based, typically you’re wanting specific actions and behaviors every time someone visits.

The big thing that we found was to really not focus on conversion rate too much. In fact, with Native Deodorant, for example, we worked with that site for almost three years and the conversion rate stayed about the same the whole time. We were running tests to affect conversion rate but really where the winds came was that we kept on running tests and kept on learning and improving the experience and allowing them to triple the traffic to the site and retaining that conversion rate and allowing them to add products and add different packages and things like that. 

So, with the fast-moving consumer good, it was more AOV-focused, sacrificing conversion rate actually, thinking about average order value.

To someone that purchases the first time, do we want them to increase AOV now, to sacrifice it later or maybe we want something small we give them to increase the chances of repeat purchase and a longer tail lifetime value? There was some data science there and a lot of numbers to crunch to work on that data science on what made sense. Do we upsell them on the first visit? Do we upsell them on repeat visits?

Leveraging zero-party data for longer consideration time user journeys

For longer consideration time, [there is] more of a brand marketing play, a little bit more analogous to a B2B situation where people are coming, evaluating, they open a bunch of tabs, they think about it a lot. It takes them some months to get it. They share a URL with their spouse. In the diamond ring space, it was the woman that would shop that she would spend it. It was the man that purchased. So the user was not the buyer. This is very analogous to B2B. 

The biggest wins we got there were when someone would drop into the site, how quickly they got to the product page, what questions, what value they saw along the way. So, did we send them directly there? Was there a bit of a cul-de-sac where we asked them some questions? That was a big play. 

Then more and more this idea of smart funneling, this idea of capturing intent, which is sort of permission marketing – this is another way to say it. Who are you? What are you looking for? Asking these questions on the front end, allowing them to self describe and then getting them to shake their head “yes”, you’re grabbing that zero-party data, that intent data.

You can then remarket with it, which makes marketing more efficient, so all the retargeting. If they provided an email, maybe you can do some customized campaigns according to that as well. The sales process or the marketing part on that side is a little bit different.

Using the voice of customer research to find great value propositions

With reference to André Morys’s 5 questions to ask a customer about their journey on your eCommerce website, one of the questions was “What nearly blocked you from buying from us?”

There’s a portion of your users that get through that journey, that would have gone through no matter what. They’re your core customer, your value proposition resonates with them, they’re who you speak to. So, you’re not going to get actually good data from them. But optimization is all about margins and process. So how do you address that? 

It’s the other portion, the minority probably or maybe the majority that are sort of on the fence, they went through the conversion anyway, and they did have some hesitations. They did have some worries and questions in their head.

On the product page or on the cart, ask “Is there something holding you back from making a purchase today?” It’s a very surgical, aggressive question but the options are “yes” or “no”. It’s just as easy to click yes or no as it is to close out that little pop-up. But if they click yes, you leverage consistency, principle, maybe they’ll give you a little bit more in the open-ended box, and you can ask them the question there. 

Another flavor of this to make them work a little bit harder is “What were the top three things that almost held you back?” That makes them work a little bit harder. You never get three things, you lower your response rate, but you get more thoughtful answers. If you’ve got traffic, that’s a question to try as well.

The other kind of voice of customer dimensions that we go for is around motivation. Usually, we’re sending a survey out for that. What matters to you when shopping for beauty and cosmetics online or jewelry online? What matters to you most? Why did you choose us versus our competitor? What other competitors were you looking at? 

The other one is behavior, just friction, getting voice of customer data on that. That’s through user testing. That’s another kind of flavor. One spoke of the wheel is anxieties, another is motivation and then behavior, friction.

What do you do with the data?

You’re trying to mitigate those objections, but it could go into product or feature, it could go to your product team. People have questions about something and so maybe change the messaging to mitigate those issues or to add new features to your product.


Next week is bringing to the table Jeff Loquist, the Director of Optimization from SiteTuners, who will be discussing something simple, but far more complicated than it seems: focusing on the essential.

Definitely look forward to the next session on Thursday, September 17, at 3 PM UK / 10 AM EDT!

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