The future of ecommerce
Ecommerce Growth

Why The Future Of Ecommerce Belongs To The Optimizers

This is the best time to be in business, especially in eCommerce.

Would you like to take your eCommerce business to another level?

It all starts with understanding, creating, and improving your eCommerce funnel. It’s what helps you in the process of increasing your eCommerce conversion rate and drives the greatest revenue.

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, once said that smart investors love data (i.e., numbers).

As an eCommerce marketer, you might be wondering what these numbers are, and why they are so important to your business.

All right, I’ll tell you.

What percentage of your customers abandon the shopping cart?

Sadly, shopping cart abandonment has resulted in $18 billion in lost revenue per year for eCommerce brands.

 

Cart abandonment stats

 

You see, all of the user behavior data (e.g., time on site, scrolling history, heatmaps, purchase history, and even the data from Google Analytics) are all important.

Start collecting them.

If you fall in love with data, you’ll increase your eCommerce conversion rate.

Caution: You don’t have to log into your Google Analytics account every second to love data. Once or twice in a week is fine.

When you’re looking to deliver a great user experience, you can’t just add a button or link, create content and hope it sticks. You’ve got to understand the conversion architecture.

 

Conversion Architecture

 

It’s no longer enough to design or redesign your website – but it’s more important to optimize every element (e.g., headline, product descriptions, images, copy, white space, call-to-action) of your page for conversion.


Chris Goward

As Chris Goward, CEO at WiderFunnel and thought-leader in optimization, said at the International Ecommerce Day Conference this year, the future of eCommerce is here. Brands that will thrive are the ones that take pride in conversion optimization.

 


That being said, let me show you the 3 action steps to take:

1) Optimize your eCommerce conversion rate based on insights from testing

“I remember my first test. It was a lead gen form. I completely redesigned it. I learned nothing. And it felt like I was on top of the world.” – Alhan Keser, Optimization Strategist at WiderFunnel

Do you have a growth mindset?

Growth Mindset Table

[source]

It may seem like a common question but think about it for a second before giving your answer.

The word “growth” is defined as the process of increasing in size.

In the context of eCommerce and digital marketing, we’re referring to the size of sales, email list, customer base, networks, repeat customers, and so forth.

But let’s stick to “sales” for now.

Therefore, a growth mindset helps you think of increasing sales through testing. Split testing sounds like jargon to most eCommerce entrepreneurs. They see it as a difficult task, reserved only for the geeks.

Hey, if you’re thinking like that, you’re wrong.

Since CRO is what drives the modern-day marketing funnel, you can’t ignore split testing. Take a look at the effect of split testing on a campaign:

Campaign Results

In fact, a survey of 2,938 marketers by VentureBeat shows that conversion rate optimization is critical for any business that leverages the internet to get customers.

Before you embark on a split testing experiment, you need to set a conversion goal. That is, you choose a specific metric or result that will be used as a benchmark.

For example, let’s say that you have 2 variants of the same web page. The benchmark (which acts as your conversion goal) is that any landing page that first generates a 27 – 30% conversion rate becomes the winner.

Here’s a practical split testing experiment:

A while ago, Chris Goward helped a client that sells cosmetics and other beauty products optimize their landing page.

The simple goal is: To get people to sign up for the monthly subscription. Funny enough, they used “submit” in their CTA. Who still uses that? (We’ll see)

Form and CTA

Chris figured that if the client uses the above landing page CTA as it is, there’s no way to determine any conversion issue.

To curtail this, a split testing experiment was set up. This time, the default CTA becomes the “control.”

Variation A uses social signals in the call-to-action button, while in Variation B, a sense of urgency is added to presumably lift sales. The CTA copy was the only tweak to the landing page. Every other element stays intact.

Results A/B test

When Chris and his team tested these variants (as shown in the screenshot above), they found that adding “social signals” reduced signups by 6.5% and with urgency, signups went down by 0.5%.

Well, this means that the “submit” button is the winner. Although, it’s CRO best practice ever, and people frown at it.

It never works, until it does. – Chris Goward.

2) Understand that best practices may be useless

Yes, rather than falling for all the best practices that you read on blogs and books, affirm to yourself, “but it’ll work for me!”

For example, if you’re told that adding a sidebar at the right side of blog performs best, why don’t you switch the sidebar to the left and see what happens?

In Matthew Woodward’s words, “The right sidebar does seem to perform slightly better, but it’s nothing to write home about.”

Mathew's Blog

Read Scott’s comment on the experiment:

Comment on the test

Outside the typical result, here’s the real deal:

Even if you don’t improve your eCommerce conversion rate, going contrary to the best practices, you will learn a lot of lessons. This is priceless!

Although, further experiments were carried out on the landing page above to boost conversions, but with the focus on the CTA, the “Submit” button won.

The lesson is summarized in this image:

Best practices

Well, unless the “best practices” are tested in the context that’s relevant to your audience, it’s worthless.

If the tiny word “submit” is relevant to your landing page offer and audience, nothing should stop you from using it. The fact that it doesn’t convert for Page A doesn’t mean it’ll fail for Page C.

One of the so-called best practices that most eCommerce marketers think is necessary, and which they must do is website redesign.

The question is, except your website is truly broken and doesn’t represent the brand, do you have to redesign it?

First, consider this: according to a Forrester Research study in 2012, 39% of eCommerce sites report reduced conversion rate after a redesign.

3) Put users first, design will follow

Whether you sell physical or digital products (e.g., ebooks, software, online courses), you’re aiming for one thing.

I thought you would say “customers.”

Yes, CUSTOMERS!

But why do we act as if website design comes first?

Imagine this scenario: you visit Wal-Mart to pick up a new stroller for your child. On the homepage, you see a scrolling banner and get excited. Unfortunately, the banner isn’t clickable, and it scrolls faster than you can imagine.

Poor user experience.

Walmart homepage

(That’s what happened to Chris when he wanted to buy something for his kid.)

Why didn’t Wal-Mart make the banner clickable and slower?

Well, I guess they weren’t so concerned about eCommerce conversion rates. After all, with millions of customers already on the site, they’ll make sales.

Of course, they’ll make sales, but what happens to the customer? What sort of experience do they leave with?

Remember this: Great customer experience doesn’t begin after the customer purchases an item, but on their first visit to your website.

More importantly, you don’t just want to get a one-time sale. Successful eCommerce businesses are built when their customers become loyal and keep coming back.

According to Business2Community, 73% of consumers would expand their purchases if they had a superior customer experience, and 58% are more likely to tell their friends.

Customer experience chart

It’s one thing to get a custom website or landing page, drive targeted visitors to it, and have your marketing funnel ready to receive them…

BUT what happens when these people don’t take action? Haven’t you wasted time, money, and other precious resources?

Don’t hurt your eCommerce conversion rate with cluttered banners on your website just because you want sales. If you’re selling (say digital cameras), there’s no need instructing your website designer to provide spaces on your homepage for the products.

Because at the end of the day, if the extra elements you added to your homepage (or any other page for that matter) doesn’t drive user engagement – then you’ll, in turn, have a leaky funnel.

Sales funnel

Eliminate unnecessary elements on your page. Even if it’s an eCommerce subscription landing page, focus on the offer, the persuasive copy, and the call to action.

Eliminate vagueness and make it easy for the user to willingly take action. The truth is, you should not persuade them to do what they don’t feel like. Make them “feel” like doing it.

That’s what eCommerce conversion optimization is all about – in a nutshell.


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As Alhan Keser, Optimization Strategist at WiderFunnel says: 

 “You should become a conversion optimization heavy hitter in the modern era.”


And for that to happen, make sure that the designs of your homepage, landing page, product page, or checkout page align with the user’s preference – based on the data you’ve collected about them.

For example, if you notice through heat map tracking that your users like to scroll to the bottom of your product page (maybe to read customer reviews), then you should add a call-to-action beneath and make it more prominent.

When you add clarity around your goal (e.g., get people to sign up), your chances of hitting the market increase dramatically.

Conclusion

Ecommerce is dynamic. The ideas and methods for acquiring customers and increasing revenue will continue to change.

In the past, it’s all about starting a new eCommerce business, driving traffic, and generating sales.

Today, things are different. The demands have shifted. The competition is strong, and will get stronger.

You need to understand your audience better and tailor your message to them – continually.

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