In May, Amazon announced one of its most significant changes to ever impact Amazon customer service – a steep 20% increase to the annual fee for Amazon Prime members. Amazon began rolling out the increase to renewing Prime members on June 16th.
According to a recent survey by Effective Spend, 54% of Prime members are at risk of canceling their membership due to the fee increase.

Over half of Amazon Prime members are at risk of canceling after the fee increase.

Over half of Amazon Prime members are at risk of canceling after the fee increase. (Image Source)

This potential exodus of Prime members presents an excellent opportunity for other online retailers. The survey looks at what these “At-Risk” Prime members care most about when shopping on Amazon, which suggests some key optimizations retailers can make to their own sites to convert Prime dropouts into their own loyal customers.

#1: Focus on Customer Reviews

You guessed it. Customer reviews are still KING! 60% of the At-Risk Members surveyed said that they “always” read customer reviews before purchasing a product on Amazon. Another 30% said that they “often” read reviews before purchasing. At-Risk Members also responded that the content they read in the reviews is more influential than the total number of reviews for a product.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • While gathering reviews can be a difficult and time consuming task, retailers can identify their top selling and most profitable products and focus on getting a couple of high-quality written reviews for those products. Even a single 5-star review with good written content can go a long way in converting a visitor.
  • Retailers aren’t bound by Amazon’s customer review rules when gathering reviews for their own websites. Unlike on Amazon, you can provide incentives to customers who leave a review on your own site, such as offering a discount on their next purchase. And, outside of Amazon, you can use any means of communication to reach out to your own customers to request reviews – emails, phone calls, box inserts, etc.

The active wear company Outdoor Voices has built up something of a cult following in a very short time without relying on Amazon. They’ve invested a ton of effort in collecting customer reviews on their site. Furthermore, they do a great job of highlighting some of the best and most insightful reviews for their products right within each product page.

 Outdoor Voices has built up a following without relying on Amazon.

Outdoor Voices reviews do not rely on Amazon Prime members.

Outdoor Voices has built up a following without relying on Amazon. Images source

#2: Proactively Answer Questions in Product Descriptions

When comparing different types of product page information, At-Risk Prime Members ranked product descriptions as most influential in their purchasing decision. Product descriptions outranked other product page elements, including videos, measurements and instructions.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Enhance your product descriptions by exploring customer comments, questions and feedback
    • Read customer reviews – both positive and negative – to understand what information reviewers are trying to share with their fellow consumers.
    • Likewise, if you have a Q&A section, don’t just answer customer questions – determine which questions you can proactively answer within your product page content.
    • Check in with your customer service department to understand what questions they are getting most often from shoppers.

Furniture is a tricky and often stressful product to purchase online, and Wayfair provides a very informative shopping experience, striving to understand what questions customers have had or will have about their products. Many of the product features and details are written as if they are directly answering question that the shopper has. In this example of a sofa with a fold out bed, they ensure that the shopper knows what size the fold out bed is (Queen) and that (Yes!) the mattress is included – two critical details the shopper will need to know before making a final purchase.

Outdoor Voices reviews do not rely on Amazon Prime members.

Outdoor Voices has built up a following without relying on Amazon. Images source

#3: Use Images to Give More Product Details

The survey found that at-risk Amazon Prime members ranked images as the second most influential form of product information behind the product description. Images tell customers a lot about your product and very efficiently at that!
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Show the product in context of how it’s going to be used. For example, a cutting knife can be shown cutting food in a kitchen.
  • Provide an image that gives a size perspective relative to a familiar object, for example, your product pictured next to a house or being held by a person.
  • Show different angles of the product in case certain features are hidden from one angle that can be seen in another.
  • Include an image of the packaging along with any accessories included with the item.
  • Think of the product images as a means of proactively answering customer questions in a visual rather than written format.

Several years ago, Birkenstock famously broke up with Amazon. While they’ve mended ties and are selling on Amazon once again, they’ve enhanced their own site to drive more direct sales. For each shoe product, a shopper can view 5-10 different high-quality images of the shoe, including images of the shoes “in action” on someone’s feet and close-ups of the shoe so that you can see the detail of the material and style. They’ve implemented a responsive color selector, as well, so that each image of the product can be viewed in each color available.

Birkenstock uses images to communicate details and colors on their product pages.

 

Birkenstock uses images to communicate details and colors on their product pages.

Birkenstock uses images to communicate details and colors on their product pages. Image source

#4: Drive higher AOV with with low-cost products and accessories

The survey revealed that 80% of At-Risk Members are purchasing products from Amazon that are typically under $50. Furthermore, 94% responded that they’ve purchased a product that was less than $10. Amazon Prime members are comfortable purchasing low cost items when shipping fees are a non-issue.
One of the things that Amazon does best is to provide product recommendations and suggestions to help guide customers toward adding more items to their cart.
Retailers can employ similar product suggestion strategies, recommending add-on and accessory items that can expand the revenue on each order and push customers toward the free shipping threshold.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Show “purchased together” recommendations to encourage the purchase of complementary products.
  • Recommend bundle deals that include the primary product along with necessary or popular accessory items.
  • Proactively suggest re-orders of products that need to be re-purchased frequently while customers are shopping for other items on your site.

UrbanStems is a great example of a site that has the “candy isle” concept down. First, you choose your flowers, then, they suggest multiple add ons (including actual candy!) for around $10 which will all complement your order.

UrbanStems is uses the “candy isle” concept

UrbanStems is uses the “candy isle” concept

An honorable mention also goes to H&M. On any given product page, you’ll see a scrolling list of recommended product pairings, including basic items like undergarments to add to your order.

H&M uses a scrolling list of recommended product pairings.

H&M uses a scrolling list of recommended product pairings.

H&M uses a scrolling list of recommended product pairings. Image source

#5: Reduce Risk for your Customer

Without the safety net of their Prime benefits, shoppers are less likely to take risks with their purchasing decisions. The Effective Spend survey found that Prime Loyalists (those unlikely to cancel their membership) are 9% more likely than Non-Members to buy unfamiliar brands. Additionally, Prime Loyalists are 10% more likely to purchase products with less than a 3 star rating compared to Non-Members.
This is understandable given that Prime benefits provide a sort of safety net and reduce the risk of things like paying for expensive return shipping fees.
Retailers should consider ways to reduce risk for their customers and make them feel more confident in their purchasing decisions.
Recommendations for retailers:

  • Work with customers to get more 5-star customer reviews – as discussed earlier, this is one of the most important ways of building confidence in your product.
  • Offer free shipping on a customer’s first purchase.
  • Highlight your “easy returns” process.
  • Implement a live chat and prominently display it to encourage customers to ask questions that they need answered before they can complete their purchase.
  • Prominently display your customer service phone number so customers with questions can quickly reach someone.

Competitive Cyclist makes customers feel at ease right from the start, offering a discount off of your first order, a low free shipping threshold, and easy to find help chat and phone support.

Competitive Cyclist offers a discount off of the first order.

Competitive Cyclist offers a discount off of the first order. Image source

Here are 3 conversion optimization examples of how to kill the “slider”.

This is not a post about how carousels kill conversions.  They can, but it’s not about that.

This post is about doing what’s best for the people who want to buy from you on your site.

Every CRO and savvy eCommerce manager I have ever met hates carousels.  In fact, we’ve never actually blogged about it because EVERYONE ELSE already did.  Bringing up carousel flaws would be akin to bringing up the Hindenburg’s.

What we at Inflow will do, however, is document the death of the carousel. But before we do, let’s talk about its birth.

Blame Yahoo! if you want

It seems like the carousel has been around forever, at least in Internet terms. Broad adoption started in the summer of 2009 after Yahoo introduced it on its homepage.

Blame Yahoo if you want

If your site still has a rotating carousel, perhaps you still have a Nokia phone?  You can check your email on it, you know!

From that point on, every website felt free to:

  • Whisk away copy while it was still being read
  • Randomly change calls to actions
  • Remove control from the user actions
  • Create “banner-blindness”
  • Periodically attract attention no matter how irrelevant to the viewer.
  • Slow page load time with multiple big images

So, for some, it might not be a surprise that there is a better way to structure an eCommerce homepage.

The death of the (unnecessary) carousel

In our 2018 Best in Class Comparative Matrix for eCommerce, we saw only 6 out of 10 sites still used the homepage hero carousel.  That number is less than half of what it was 2 years earlier.

The reason why is simple: it was never the best option for most of the sites that did it, and that statement is still pretty much true.

Optimization Away from Carousels

So, how does a site transform its homepage from having a carousel? Here are three conversion optimization examples for removing carousels.

Zappos.com

Before

A year ago, Zappos was sporting a left category nav, hero carousel and a couple of static promo areas to the right.  That made it jam-packed with options.

Zappos

After

Zappos simplified things by ditching the carousel, the left nav on the homepage and instead focusing the homepage on the things customers want most.  They are still testing this bad boy with over 5 major variants identified, so check back in February to see the winning combination. ;)

So apparently, Zappos.com never needed a slider. Note that they kept the slides, but moved 2 of them to the bottom of the site in favor of stuff users most want (a lot of which was not even on the homepage of this eCommerce behemoth just a year ago).

There’s a big lesson here for those willing to learn it and kill their carousel.

Zappos

UnderArmour.com

Before

Under Armour had a carousel last year, alternating between two and three slides.

Under Armour

After

Over the past year, they have MADE ONLY ONE CHANGE on their homepage.  That was to ditch the carousel.


Underarmour

Williams Sonoma

Before

Williams Sonoma made some minor navigation changes over the past year and added lazy-load to the homepage, which widened it a bit.

Williams Sonoma

After

For the most part, the only significant change to the homepage was REMOVING THE CAROUSEL.

Williams Sonoma

Take-Away

If you were to take the lead from these 3 best in class sites, you would blindly get rid of your eCommerce site’s carousel.  But wait!!!

You can see below that there are still 6 out of 20 Best-in-Class eCommerce sites that are standing by their carousel. You bet they have tested their homepage over the past year.

eCommerce sites carousel use

eCommerce sites carousel use

So Why?

The answer is that the carousel, as they have it, is right for them and their audience.  For now, at least, until something tests better.

This is why we test.

keith-haganAbout the author: Keith Hagan is an award-winning conversion optimization expert and Director of Conversion Services at Inflow. Keith’s insights have been featured in well-known publications, such as Moz, HuffPo, Forbes and more.

Do online reviews really matter, and do they make a difference to your business? The answer is yes, they absolutely do.
Consumers increasingly use reviews left by other consumers as part of their pre-purchase research efforts, and a bad review can have serious effects on your sales.
Herd shopping psychology plays an ever effect on consumers’ behavior online. Groupon is a wonderful example of that, with deals kicking in only if a certain amount of people pay for them. Research shows that the more people have already opted in on a deal, the likelier it is new visitors will commit to it.
User reviews are not so far removed from this phenomenon.

Over 80% of people said that positive reviews would encourage them to purchase a product. The same number of people changed their minds about purchasing after reading as little as one or two negative reviews.

Fake & Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, fake reviews exist, and they exist in a massive abundance. Competitors have been known to leave bad reviews on products posing as disgruntled customers, That is why more needs to be done to help consumers identify a fake review.

You are bound to get a negative review at some point during your business career. That’s simply the reality and nature of the world. It can be devastating for a business, but most people recognize that everyone makes mistakes. A couple of bad reviews aren’t going to put the nail in your coffin and close your business down.

Here are just some of the facts why online reviews are not to be ignored:

  • 68% of millennials trust online reviews, with positive ones producing an 18% average uplift in sales
  • Consumer reviews are more trusted than descriptions that come from other manufacturers, nearly 12 times more.
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business which means these decisions being made are made quickly, without much hesitation.
  • The top five industries to be affected negatively by online reviews are restaurants, hotels, doctor’s offices, hospitals and hair salons.

Negative reviews aren’t all bad; these have been known to create a buzz around your business and increase its exposure, unlike fake reviews that have been so outlandishly obviously fake and ridiculous that they go viral.
Want to learn more about how online reviews can make or break your business? Check out our infographic.

User Reviews are the King

User Reviews are the King

About the Author

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at websitebuilder.org. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies.

You want to optimize your ecommerce site, but where do you begin? What do you look for? What page elements are worth evaluating?

At Conversion Sciences, we have a checklist that our team goes through when evaluating a new client website, and today, we’re going to share that checklist with you. This checklist includes virtually everything you’ll want to consider optimizing while putting together your own A/B testing campaign.

This is not a list of everything you should test. It’s a list of everything you should consider testing. Optimizing an ecommerce site requires strategy and prioritization. It would take an eternity to test every single item on this list using proper testing procedures.

But if there is anything on your site worth testing, I can tell you with 99% certainty that it’s on this list.

Checklist Navigation

To make navigation easier, we’ve broken our ecommerce optimization checklist into 8 distinct categories. Select the category you wish to optimize in order to get started or simply scroll down to start with item #1.

  1. Sitewide Optimization
  2. Homepage Optimization
  3. Category Optimization
  4. Product Page Optimization
  5. Shopping Cart Optimization
  6. Checkout Optimization
  7. Dashboard Optimization
  8. Thank You Page Optimization

The Complete 110 Point
Ecommerce Optimization Checlist

110 Point Ecommerce Optimizaiton Checklist Cover

Free. Click to Download

Section #1: Sitewide Optimization

1. Sticky Elements

Sticky Header

Sticky Header

Sticky elements are items that remain fixed on the screen as the users scrolls up or down. The most commonly stickied page elements are the header navigation bar. Stickied elements tend to attract focus and distract from other page elements, which means they can work both for and against you and should be including in your testing.

Elements to Consider in a Sticky Header or Footer

Elements to test in sticky header and footer

Elements that can be added to mobile and desktop stickies

2. Dropdown Menus

Dropdown Menu

Dropdown Menu

Dropdown menus are pretty straightforward and a staple of ecommerce sites and websites in general. They offer a quick understanding of the site’s information architecture and ready access to subcategories.

3. “Supernav” Dropdown Menus

"Supernav" Dropdown Menu

“Supernav” Dropdown Menu

If you look at many of the largest online retailers, you will notice that certain dropdown menus expand into large fields with more items and added visual elements. We called these “supernavs” here at Conversion Sciences and they can be a powerful tool for highlighting specific offers, deals and product categories. They can be difficult for a visitor’s eyes to parse, so use carefully.

4. Hover or Click?

Should your dropdown menus open as soon as the user’s mouse cursor hovers over them? Or should they activate upon an actual click? It may not seem like a big difference, but it’s a potential item to test for. If poorly implemented, they can be a barrier to site navigation.

5. Re-Order Navigation

One of the most common problems we encounter is sub-optimal navigation ordering. Categories aren’t properly selected and ordered. Menus and menu item placement seems almost random. There is an argument for placing the most clicked navigation items toward the left or top. You can determine this using a heatmap report from CrazyEgg, HotJar, ClickTale and similar user testing tools.

6. Add Navigation Links

Another common problem we encounter is a lack of obvious navigation links to popular products or product categories. Ecommerce stores include feature images and headlines somewhere on the front page, but forget that they need to be added to the primary menus as well. Redundancy is not a vice, and when discussing your bread and butter products, it’s typically a virtue.

7. Change Link Copy

Your main navigation communicates your offering. Choosing the right words helps those who never click on your navigation. When testing navigation language, it is common to see an increase in conversions but no increase in clicks on the navigation elements we’re testing. Navigation is a way to communicate your value proposition and offering.

After determining that all the right links are present, look at the word choice for each link. Is there a more accurate or intuitive way to define that category or other link heading? Could you be more specific? More general? Are certain categories selling like crazy when the user enters the website directly via the product page but rarely being clicked on via navigation?

8. Visual Cues

Visual Cue

Visual Cue

Visual cues are visual elements that point the eye in a specific direction. Make sure that your visual cues are working for you rather than against you.

9. Add Value Proposition

It’s amazing how many ecommerce websites completely lack any discernible value proposition. While creating a unique value proposition can be a bit more difficult for stores offering numerous products, it doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Look for ways to define your value and pitch why visitors should continue shopping on your site at every opportunity.

Value Proposition Elements

Quickly give the visitor a reason to stay.

  • Are you the cheapest, highest quality, or do you have the biggest selection?
  • Do you have a generous return policy or warranty?
  • Do you serve a niche in the marketplace?
  • Do you have a unique brand voice?

10. Shopping Cart Dropdown or Modal

Shopping Cart Dropdown

Shopping Cart Dropdown

When a customer clicks on that shopping cart icon in the navigation bar, what happens? Are they taken straight to the checkout page or does clicking trigger a dropdown or modal display? Customers wishing to review their shopping cart might prefer a dropdown. Customers wishing to get straight to checkout might be annoyed by the extra click. You’ll need to test to know how your visitors are responding.

Pro tip: Be sure to instrument your cart dropdown or overlay for tracking by analytics. It’s part of the purchase funnel.

11. Sitewide Search

Sitewide Search

Sitewide Search

Similar to navigation dropdowns, the search bar is a huge part of how visitors interact with an ecommerce website. Should yours be bigger? Should the written prompt be different? How should it fit into your layout? These are all important questions to ask when evaluating your overall navigation layout.

12. Related Items Based On User History

Related Items Based On User History

Related Items Based On User History

Upselling will reliably increase your average order value. Are you suggesting alternative or related products to browsers within your search algorithm? Where and how are you suggesting those products?

13. Header Content

If a visitor doesn’t find what she’s looking for in the body of a page, she will return to the top of the page. Your header should provide a next step.

Elements to consider in the Header

  • Company Logo
  • Value Proposition
  • Return Policy
  • Navigation
  • Phone Number
  • Search
  • Value Proposition
  • Click to call (Mobile)
  • Subscribe
  • Live Chat
  • Checkout/Cart
  • Clearance
  • Login
  • Sitewide Promo

14. Footer Content

In its lonely home at the bottom of the page, footer elements don’t get seen as much by visitors. This is usually the basement location for search optimization copy and keywords. It can also be the last resort of a frustrated visitor. Consider all of the elements you would consider for the header. Check your heatmap reports as well. You might be surprised by the number of clicks you’re getting in your footer.

15. Channel-Dependent Pages & Elements

A group of power shoppers was recently discussing the retargeting ads delivered by one major apparel retailer. They unanimously decried the ads that featured a desirable product, and then dropped them on a page that didn’t have that product. Keep the promises you make to your visitors.

What can you offer visitors coming in from different traffic channels? Are they directed to channel-specific pages? Are they served dynamic content? This can have a massive impact on your success in converting users from each channel.

16. Email Collection Modal

Email Collection Modal

Email Collection Modal

Email subscribers purchase at a significantly higher rate than social followers or new browsers. The question is how do you attempt to attract new subscribers? While users claim to find them annoying, popup modals tend to be very effective at converting visitors to subscribers.

17. Discount Modal

Discount Modal

Discount Modal

For ecommerce sites, one of the most effective types of modals is the discount modal. Users are already there to buy. Accepting a discount is a no-brainer.

18. Live Chat

Live Chat

Live Chat

Live chat has become an effective tool for eCommerce stores. It can be auto-prompted or offered in the Help section, and it’s definitely on the list of things to test.

Section #2: Homepage Optimization

19. Hero Shot

Hero Shot

Hero Shot

Your homepage’s hero shot is the above-the-fold area incoming visitors see as soon as they arrive. It’s one of the most important pieces of real estate on your website, and a top priority for split testing.

20. Dynamic or Static Heroes?

Dynamic Hero Shot

Dynamic Hero Shot

Should you utilize dynamic elements like sliders or other moving graphics? Or should you keep the page static? It’s important that you catch visitors’ attention here, but what that attention catches on is equally important.

Rotating carousels slow load times and only improve conversion rates if ordered properly and times perfectly. Large video backgrounds can bring a page to its knees, making the site seem slow and cumbersome.

21. Homepage Header Navigation

While many sites choose to keep their navigation consistent across the entire website, if there is any page where customization can be beneficial, it’s the homepage. This is the gateway to your business, and experimenting with different looks and functions on this specific page can be beneficial.

22. Homepage Value Proposition

Homepage Value Proposition

Homepage Value Proposition

Just like you need to emphasize your value throughout the website, it is especially important that you present unique value on the homepage, and more specifically within the hero shot. Some ecommerce stores emphasize quality. Others emphasize price. Others emphasize special offers like discounts or free shipping. You’ll need to test to know what works best with your audience.

23. Should You Add A Video?

Homepage Video

Homepage Video

Promotional videos provide a fairly consistent boost to website conversion rates, although I have yet to see many examples of them being tested on eCommerce stores. If you are struggling to differentiate your brand, it’s definitely something to think about and consider testing for. Be cognizant of increases in load time.

24. Primary CTA

Does your homepage have a primary Call to Action (CTA) or a handful that stand out? If so, how can those be optimized? If not, should you have one or more?

25. Should You Highlight Popular Products?

Highlight Popular Product

Highlight Popular Product

Should you highlight popular products or products you are looking to push? How prominently? Where on the page?

26. Should You Highlight Special Deals?

Highlight Special Deals

Highlight Special Deals

If you are advertising a promotion in the marketplace, your main landing pages should mention the promotion. You can highlight special deals on the homepage, category pages, product pages, and even in the cart. Consider a small deals bar, big hero shot, or sidebar displays.

27. Should You Include Testimonials?

Homepage Testimonials

Homepage Testimonials

Customer or influencer testimonials can build trust and advance the value proposition on almost any page of the website.

28. Should You Highlight Top Categories?

Category Spotlight

Category Spotlight

Should you promote specific products or highlight product categories? Should they be displayed in your hero shot or somewhere else on the page?

Section #3: Category Optimization

29. Faceted Search

Faceted Search

Faceted Search

Faceted search allows browsers to adjust their selection criteria on the fly, allowing for very customized searches. If you offer a large inventory and don’t have faceted search, it’s something worth re-evaluating.

Consider testing the order of faceted search categories. Also play with unrolling some categories in the facet menu by default.

30. Sidebar Navigation

Sidebar navigation is one of those things that can help or hurt. While sidebar lists can guide a visitor to the products they are looking for, the tyranny of choice can make a page overwhelming. Sidebar navigation may help on some pages and hurt on others. Our testing indicates that it really depends on your site and your audience.

31. Adjust Image Sizes

In general, more detailed images perform better than stock manufacturer images. Ecommerce layout is all about maximizing the value of limited space. Are your images too small to make an impact? Are they too big, obscuring other important information?

32. Category CTAs

Category CTAs

Category CTAs

Should you just list your categories or include CTAs to prompt entrance? Are your category CTAs effective or do they need to be improved?

33. List View or Grid View?

Grid View

Grid View

Product category page list view

List view

On category and search results pages, visitors will have a preference for grid layouts or stacked list layouts. List layouts are easier for comparison. Grid layouts fit more products onto the screen. You may give visitors an option.

34. Modify Row & Column Count?

For sites with heavy traffic, sometimes something as simple as modifying the number of rows or columns can impact your conversion rate. Should you have 8 products per row or 3?

35. Category Page Product Information

Deciding what to display on category pages is critical and worthy of a series of tests.  What product information should you display with each item? The options are almost limitless.

  • Product Image
  • Product title
  • Product description
  • Star rating
  • Price
  • Product options
  • Stock availability
  • Video or animation
  • Badging

Every audience will react differently.

36. What Type of Information Should Be Filterable?

There are many different ways to classify and categorize products. If you don’t offer enough filters, you can make searching difficult for users. If you offer too many options, you can create unhealthy friction in the browsing experience.

37. Endless Scroll or Pagination?

Do you break categories with hundreds of options into pages or do you use endless scroll? Most large retailers currently use pagination, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every eCommerce business.

38. Should You Include Special Badges?

Bestseller Badge

Bestseller Badge

Editor’s choice, top picks for 2017, new items, bestsellers etc. Should you include special badges or keep all things equal?
Consider some of  these.
  • New
  • Editor’s choice
  • Clearance
  • Popular
  • Best Seller
  • Limited Time
  • Hot Item
  • Free Shipping
  • Save 25%

Section #4: Product Optimization

39. Primary Product Image

Product Page

Product Page

Your primary product image might just be the most important single element of your product page. Does the image optimally display the product? Is it high quality? Is it big enough?

40. Add to Cart Button

Where should the Add to Cart or other CTA button go on the page? How big should it be? What color should it be? What should the copy say?

41. Price Placement

Where should you list the price? How big and bold should it be? Should you make it look discounted even when it isn’t?

42. Product Reviews & Ratings

Product Reviews & Ratings

Product Reviews & Ratings

User reviews have become a core part of eCommerce, as modern consumers place more and more weight in feedback from other consumers. Should you display reviews or ratings? If so, where? How obvious should they be? Should you only show reviews if they meet a certain threshold?

43. Product Value Proposition

Should you dive right into the product description or include a one or two sentence product value proposition?

44. Shipping & Return Policy

Are your shipping and return policies obvious or hard to find? Do they encourage trust in your brand or make users skeptical? Weak policies can result in lower conversions, particularly with first-time customers.

45. Product Sizing Chart

Are you including a sizing chart to help potential buyers understand your product dimensions? If so, is this enhancing the user experience? If not, should you add one?

46. Cart Success Modal or Navigate to Cart?

Cart Success Modal

Cart Success Modal

When a customer selects “Add to Cart”, does a modal popup or does it take them off page and directly to checkout? Modals tend to make it easier for users to continue shopping, while direct checkout navigation is more streamlined when you are expecting a single purchase.

47. Related Item Fields

Related Items

Related Items

When users are looking at a product, are you suggesting related or alternative products for them? This is Amazon’s #1 methods for increasing cart size.

48. Detail Sections

Truncated Content

Truncated Content

We believe that the Product Page should provide all of the information necessary for the visitor to buy. How you fit this information onto the product page is a question worthy of testing.

The options are many.

Visitors know how to scroll, so it may be find to simply list everything out, like Amazon. The question then becomes, what order?

You may have success with tabs or rollout sections that reveal the information with a click. Heatmap reports will give you an idea of which sections are most important. The most important should be open by default. Sections can be ordered top-to-bottom by visitor interest.

It’s important that key information is displayed pre-click, but it’s also important that non-essential information is available without being distracting.

49. Additional Social Proof

In addition to reviews, there are other forms of social proof that can be experimented with on your product pages. This could look like social sharing, displaying how many customers have already bought the product, influencer testimonials, etc. While reviews are fairly ubiquitous, other specific types of social proof might be even more powerful in your niche.

50. Trust Indicators

Trust Indicators

Trust Indicators

Could additional trust indicators improve your product page conversion rate?

51. Add to Wishlist

Wishlists let customers tell you exactly what to sell to them. If you don’t have a wishlist feature on your site, you should probably add one.

52. Additional Image Thumbnails

Additional Image Thumbnails

Additional Image Thumbnails

In addition to the primary product image, it’s important to evaluate additional images and the thumbnails displaying them. Are you including enough additional images? Do the image thumbnails displayed do a good job of showing off the product? Are they in the best possible order?

53. Project Scarcity

Are you including signs that indicate the product is scarce or in danger of running out? Whether legitimate or not, projecting scarcity on your product page can sometimes increase the conversion rate.

54. In Stock or Out of Stock?

Should you include copy indicating when a product is in stock or out of stock?

55. Image Hover

Image Hover

Image Hover

Should users be able to explore an image by hovering their mouse over it, or should you require them to click to explore the image?

56. Display Shipping Time

Should you display the estimated shipping time on the product page or wait until the customer begins checkout?

57. Promotion Messaging

Should you display special promotions on the product page, and if so, where?

Section #5: Cart Optimization

58. Proceed to Checkout Button

Proceed to Checkout Button

Proceed to Checkout Button

Where should the Proceed to Cart or other CTA button go on the page? How big should it be? What color should it be? What should the CTA copy say?

59. Cart Page or Straight to Checkout?

Should clicking on the shopping cart icon take users to a cart preview page or skip straight to the first page of checkout?

60. Continue Shopping Button

Where should the Continue Shopping button go on the page? How big should it be? What color should it be? What should the CTA copy say?

61. Discount Code Validation

Discount Code Validation

Discount Code Validation

What happens when invalid discount codes are entered? Is the automated validation system bug-free and optimized to keep users engaged with the checkout process? Have you tried giving users who enter invalid codes a small, limited-time discount to encourage them to make the purchase?

62. Product Descriptions

Should you include product descriptions on the cart page? If so, how long should they be?

63. Product Images

How big should the product images be on the cart page? Where on the page should they go? Can you use them as a visual cue to draw users’ eyes to your primary CTA?

64. Upsell Items

Upsell Items

Upsell Items

Should you include related items, recently viewed items, or other upsell-focused items to the shopping cart page? If so, where on the page should you places them?

65. Visual Contrast & Hierarchy

Visual Contrast

Visual Contrast

You might notice that Amazon’s shopping cart page is very monochromatic. It all sort of looks the same, and while it’s not necessarily confusing, it doesn’t draw your eyes to anything in particular. Meanwhile Yandy.com’s shopping cart has contrasting colors with a very distinct visual hierarchy. The eye is clearly drawn to the checkout box in the middle-right of the page. Which style will work best for you?

66. Payment Options

Are you offering enough payment options? Are you letting your customers know about the options you currently provide? Should you make additional payment options obvious at the beginning of the checkout process like Yandy.com, or should you reveal them more subtlety when it’s time to process payment?

67. Shipping Time

Should you reveal estimated shipping time on the cart page or attempt to use it here as a selling point? Or should you save it for another point in the checkout process?

68. Shipping Cost

Should you display the shipping cost (or lack thereof) on the cart page or save it for elsewhere in the checkout process?

69. Price Display

Price Display

Price Display

How should you display product pricing on the cart page? Should it be highlighted? Minimalized? Should discounts be displayed next to the original price?

70. Project Scarcity

Are you including signs that indicate the product is scarce or in danger of running out? Whether legitimate or not, projecting scarcity on your cart page can sometimes increase the conversion rate.

71. Trust Indicators

Could additional trust indicators improve your cart page conversion rate?

72. Remove Navigation?

One question you have to ask is where in the checkout process (if anywhere) should navigation options be removed. Having general navigation options can sometimes be distracting and prompt cart abandonment. Should you remove navigation on the cart page or after users begin the checkout process?

73. Promotion & Coupon Entry

Should you allow users to enter promo codes and coupons on the cart page or wait to provide that option on the payment processing page or some other page in the checkout process?

74. Cart Visual Design

Cart Visual Design

Cart Visual Design

Could a redesign improve your conversion rate? Are parts of your cart page visually unappealing? Does the page design reflect your brand? Should it be more design heavy or more minimalist?

75. Quantity Change Functionality

Should users be able to change the quantity of a given item in their cart from the cart page? Adding this functionality often enhances the user experience.

76. Multiple CTAs

How many CTAs are displayed on your cart page? How many should their be? Should their be multiples CTAs for the same link? Should their be multiple different CTAs? You’ll need to test to find out.

77. Add to Wishlist

Should you provide users with the option to add cart items to their Wishlist from the cart page?

Section #6: Checkout Optimization

78. Guest Checkout

Guest Checkout

Guest Checkout

Should you require all users to create an account or allow a guest checkout?

79. Add “Use Billing/Shipping Address” Checkbox

Use Billing Address

Use Billing Address

Most consumers have a billing address identical to their shipping address. Including a relevant checkbox that lets them copy/paste improves the user experience. At this point, most consumers expect this feature and will be annoyed if it’s not available, potentially even to the point of abandoning the checkout process.

80. Shipping ETA

Shipping ETA

Shipping ETA

Should you display the estimated time of arrival (ETA) before the order is placed? If so, there are quite a few different options and placements for offering shipping options and presenting the ETA.

81. Validation Errors

Validation Errors

Validation Errors

Validation errors and their accompanying notifications are a fundamental part of the checkout user experience. Any errors or sub-optimal elements can significantly hurt your conversion rate. Make sure that error notifications are obvious and specific, helping users quickly enter the correct info and proceed with checkout.

82. Checkout Copywriting

The copywriting throughout your checkout process is incredibly important. It’s not enough to just write something and leave it. If you want optimal results, you have to test.

83. Remove Sitewide Navigation?

One question you have to ask is where in the checkout process (if anywhere) should navigation options be removed. Having general navigation options can sometimes be distracting and prompt cart abandonment. Removing them, however, can sometimes annoy customers. You’ll need to test before you make a call.

84. Create Account Prompts

If you make account creation optional, where should you prompt guests to create an account? Should you prompt them multiple times or just once?

85. Add Trust Indicators

Could additional trust indicators improve your checkout conversion rate?

86. Add Risk Reversal Indicators

Money-Back Guarantee

Money-Back Guarantee

Money-back guarantees. Return policies. Quality assurance. Consumers fear risk, particularly when they are first ordering from your business. Highlighting policies that lower risk for the consumer is a great way to increase conversions.

87. Abandonment Remarketing Strategy

Do you have a pixel collecting data on your checkout page for remarketing ads? If not, you should.

88. Checkout Order Form

When collecting data from users, there is essential data that absolutely MUST be collected to deliver the product, and then there is non-essential data that is helpful for segmentation and marketing. The first category is just a matter of optimization. How can you request that info in the best possible way? The second category requires you to find a balance. How much can you ask for without creating too much friction?

89. Single vs. Multipage Checkout

There are case studies where splitting up the checkout process to multiple pages increased conversions. There are case studies where condensing the process to one page increased conversions. You’ll need to test to find out what works best for your audience.

90. Add Progressing Tracking

Progressing Tracking

Progressing Tracking

Letting users know where they are in the process and how far they have to go can encourage them to stick with you, particularly if your checkout process is longer than two pages. This can take the form of  breadcrumbs or a progress bar or some other form of visual progress indication.

91. Custom Checkout or 3rd Party Solution?

It used to be that a custom built checkout was the only viable solution for creating a top-of-the-line checkout experience, but that simply isn’t the case anymore. Nowadays, there are some very high quality 3rd party solutions that have hundreds of built-in integrations for any service or function you could possibly think of. In fact, if your custom checkout was built more than 5 years ago, it is very likely you will benefit from switching over to a 3rd party solution.

92. Separate Checkout Subdomain?

Should you include your checkout under domain.com/checkout or checkout.domain.com?

93. 1 Column or 2 Column?

Single Column Checkout

Single Column Checkout

Is there any significant performance difference between a single column checkout and a double column checkout?

94. Sticky Order Summary

Will a sticky order summary enhance the experience for consumers and increase conversions?

95. What To Expect Next

Telling visitors what to expect next at each stage of the checkout process can enhance trust and reduce abandonment. How can you do better at setting expectations throughout your checkout process?

96. CTA Buttons

We’ve touched on CTA buttons a number of times already, but they are just as important to test within the checkout process as they are everywhere else.

97. Promotion Code Entry

If you incorporate coupons and discounts into your marketing, it’s important that your promo code entry field is easy to find.

Section #7: Account Dashboard

99. Order Status

Order Status Dashboard

Order Status Dashboard

The goal of virtually any ecommerce business is to create repeat customers. You want people coming back to your site as often as possible, and one way to help facilitate this is with an active dashboard that provides up-to-date information on the status of customer orders. Are you providing your customers with the information they want?

100. Value Building Copy

The account dashboard is prime real estate for customer retention. It’s the portal through which returning customers will interact with your site or attempt to close their account. It’s a great place to have value building copywriting designed to keep them on your customer list. When was the last time your revisited this copy?

101. Reorder & Upsell CTAs

Dashboard Upsell

Dashboard Upsell

The dashboard is also a great place to upsell customers with special offers and data-based recommendations. Are you taking advantage of this?

102. Bulk Order Options

Would some of your customers buy more if they had a bulk order option?

103. Default Subscriptions

For subscription revenue models, are you providing users with a clear path to upgrade or modify their subscription? Are you re-enforcing the value from within the account dashboard or are you trying to retain customers by making cancellation difficult?

Section #8: Thank You Page

104. Add Survey

Thank You Page Survey

Thank You Page Survey

Converting a visitor into a buyer is really just the first step. What you do from here forward is equally, if not more important. Attempting to collect additional information about your new customer is one way to kickstart that next stage in the relationship with a better understanding of the customer.

105. Immediate Upsell

Is the most profitable post-sale option an immediate upsell? Or will that turn off new customers? This is a MUST TEST. Post-sale customers are already in purchase mode and might be in prime position for an upsell, but upselling can also backfire, so again… MUST TEST.

106. Email Signup

Thank You Page Email Signup

Thank You Page Email Signup

While email addresses are often collected during checkout, that doesn’t mean customers want to get your emails. Following up with an incentivised email signup offer prepares customers to receive future emails from you that aren’t strictly order related.

107. Encourage Social Sharing

Certain niches attract highly engaged customers who will happily advertise their purchase to friends, family, and followers. Are you giving these customers easy access to share about their purchases on social media? Is your open graph data setup correctly so that auto-click sharing generates attractive posts?

108. Account Creation

Thank You Page Account Creation

Thank You Page Account Creation

If you offer  guest checkout, the Thank You Page is a great opportunity to prompt customer account creation. Is that the best use of this real estate for your business?

109. Encourage Referrals

Referrals are THE highest converting marketing channel in existence. If you can get your customers referring your product to their friends and family, you are virtually guaranteed additional customers. Have you tried utilizing your Thank You Page to encourage referrals?

110. Confirmation Email

Confirmation Email

Confirmation Email

Everything you can do via the Thank You Page you can also do via the confirmation email. Check out our confirmation email writeup here.

Are you still here?

That was a lot to cover, and there is no way you’re going to remember it all. If you think this is something you’ll use in the future, go ahead and download the checklist PDF below.

Download the Checklist

The Complete 110 Point
Ecommerce Optimization Checlist

110 Point Ecommerce Optimizaiton Checklist Cover

Free. Click to Download

You already know that online reviews are a big deal.
But what you may not realize is that you have a TON of available options for taking control of your user review profile. There are some insanely effective ways to acquire and harness user reviews in 2017, and the businesses that are utilizing these strategies are achieving absolutely insane growth.
Today, we are going to cover some of the best strategies for acquiring user reviews and harnessing them to increase site conversion and growth.
But first, let’s look at the data.

What The Data Says About User Reviews

Sometimes different metrics reveal conflicting truths about a given subject. That’s not the case with user reviews. They make a significant impact from any angle we look.
Some of the more revealing statistics include:

  • Consumers spend 31% more on average when the business has excellent reviews.
  • According to Google, business listings that have 3+ start reviews receive 87% of total clicks.
  • Given equal pricing, guests are 3.9 times more likely to choose the higher rated hotel.
  • Customers who view user-generated content have a 133% higher conversion rate.
  • 59% of consumers won’t buy after reading 3 negative reviews

If there is any question on the importance of harnessing reviews, this infographic from WebsiteBuilder.org should definitively put it to rest:

 

Types of User Reviews

When you think about what a review is, you might picture an Amazon product listing, with a star rating out of 5 followed by a few paragraphs of text.
That’s certainly a common version of user reviews in action, but it’s not the only one. In order to understand how many strategies we have available to us for utilizing online reviews, we need to first understand just how many different types of reviews exist.
Here are a few common types of user reviews:

Testimonials

A testimonial is a review written specifically to highlight the upsides of a product and encourage those considering it to make the purchase. A testimonial is given by someone who has actually used the product, but is not intended to be an objective, pro/con analysis of the item. The goal of a testimonial is always to promote the product in question.
Testimonials can be written, recorded as audio, or captured in video and often need to be actively solicited.

Testimonial for OrbitMedia.com

Endorsements

Endorsements are essentially the same as testimonials, but instead of being given by an average user, they are given by someone with influence in the business’ niche. That influence can be as widespread as an international celebrity or as targeted as a niche blog.
When an endorsement is given, the endorser’s influence is being intentionally channeled in order to encourage more people to purchase the product. In order to receive an endorsement for your product or service, you will typically need to have provided some level of value to the endorser (through your product/service or in the form of direct payment) or have an existing relationship.

Endorsements for Aaron Orendorff

Endorsements for Aaron Orendorff

On-Page Reviews

An on-page review system allows users to publish their reviews of your product, good or bad, directly for public viewing. On-page reviews tend to be more trusted by consumers, as they are theoretically more objective than testimonials solicited by the business.
Businesses that host on-page reviews for their products are taking the risk that negative user feedback will paint their product as a dud for prospective buyers. The upside is that having a positive on-page review profile can communicate significantly more value to potential buyers than hand-picked testimonials.

On-page review for ByJodi.com

On-page review for ByJodi.com

Social Media Page Reviews

Certain social media platforms now allow businesses to open up their social pages for user reviews. Similar to on-page reviews, social page reviews can be either positive or negative and offers a risk/reward scenario for business.
On sites like Facebook, reviews are prominently displayed and easily accessible. Business also have the option of disabling reviews on their page for any reason, which lowers risk in the event a page receives too many negative reviews for the owner’s liking.

3rd Party Review Platforms

3rd party review platforms allow users to rate any business in a given category. They tend to be very popular with consumers, as 3rd party control of the site limits chances for businesses to manipulate their review profiles. Businesses are rated on these sites whether they wish to be or not, so the best course of action is usually to claim your listing, ensure listing information is accurate, and then respond to reviews.

3rd party review site listing for Close.io

3rd party review site listing for Close.io

Blog Post Reviews

The most thorough type of review you can receive is a full blog post dedicated to breaking down your product. These take some serious investment on the part of the user, and thus, typically only happen if their is something in it for the reviewer.
If your product receives a decent amount of search queries, that can be enough to prompt blog post reviewers. Affiliate programs and direct sponsored posts can also result in these types of reviews. If your product makes enough of a splash to be considered one of the top 10 or so on the market, you will probably also find yourself the subject of comparison/contrast reviews and “top _____” lists.

Conversion Sciences review of top A/B testing tools

Conversion Sciences review of top A/B testing tools

Youtube Reviews

Similar to blog posts, Youtube has become a popular destination for video reviews on a wide variety of projects. While visual items tend to perform best, anything that can be reviewed via a written post can be reviewed via video.
And just like blog posts, the best way to encourage Youtube reviews is to provide incentives for Youtube reviewers.

Youtube review of Freshbooks.com

Youtube review of Freshbooks.com

There’s More You Can Do Than Sit And Wait

So we know without a doubt that reviews can be a powerful force in our business, and we’ve seen the variety of review types you can use.

The question then becomes, how can we capitalize on these reviews instead of just passively waiting for positive reviews to roll in? Or if we are actively encouraging reviews, what more can we do to harness those reviews versus just hoping they catch people’s attention?
There are two primary objectives at play here:

  1. How can you collect more reviews & better quality reviews?
  2. How can you harness those reviews for the purpose of increasing conversions and driving growth?

We’ll look at each objective separately.

4 Ways To Collect A Larger Number of Quality User Reviews

The first step to harnessing user reviews is collecting them in the first place. Here are 4 great ways to do that.

1. Ask customers for reviews during the follow up process.

The easiest and most consistent way to get reviews is simply to ask for them. Give customers some time to experience your product and then include a review request in your follow up process.
The timing is very important here. Yotpo estimates 8.1% of customers will respond to review requests on average, but that number can be significantly increased by optimizing the timing of your requests. While Yotpo uses machine learning to optimize send times, you can optimize open rates to a lesser extent by split testing.
Since email is the preferred method for post-sale follow up, the subject lines will make a big difference as well. Be sure you are using subject line best practices:

  1. Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Use a familiar sender name.
  3. Use personalization tokens.
  4. Do tell them what’s inside.
  5. Start with action-oriented verbs.
  6. Create a sense of urgency.
  7. Use numbers.
  8. A/B test your subject lines.

Remember that not all reviews are created equal. If your Google My Business profile, for example, is at 3 stars, it might be more helpful to ask that users review that listing as opposed to your Facebook page. On the other hand, if very few people find your business through your GMB listing, it might be more effective to direct users to your on-page review section. It’s up to you to identify where reviews are most important and direct users there.
Here’s a simple follow-up template you can use, courtesy of Grade.us – click here for 6 additional templates.
[su_note note_color=”#7aed8d” text_color=”#000000″ radius=”10″]Hi Jan,
Thanks for choosing [your business]. I wanted to reach out personally and ask about your experience.
What was your experience like? (e.g. amazing, terrible, etc.)
We want to be better. Your feedback helps us accomplish that. If you’re willing, it only takes a minute or two.
Share your review here [link]
Thanks for your trust,
Andrew[/su_note]
It’s also important that your user experience is low-friction for those who choose to click-through and leave you a review. For written reviews, you could use a plugin like Rich Reviews, or if you are interested in capturing video testimonials, you could use an app like VocalReferences.

2. Provide incentives for customers to review.

One option for increasing your review count is to offer incentives for reviewers. By offering a discount, giveaway, upgrade, etc. you can encourage users who wouldn’t normally review to submit their feedback.
You’ll need to be up to speed on local and national laws if you go this direction, and even then, you can only really use this strategy for your own on-page reviews or internal feedback. Trying this strategy to encourage reviews on 3rd party review sites is the quickest way to incur big-time penalties with those types of sites.
As you can see in the JCPenney example below, largest businesses often use sweepstakes entry as their reward system, since this ensures a user’s individual commentary doesn’t in any way affect their chance of winning the reward.

JCPenney review incentive

JCPenney review incentive


Another great incentive that doesn’t really feel like an incentive is to hold a contest, where users compete with their own user-generated content. This works particular well with visual products or creative audiences, but it can work for a wide variety of businesses. Contests tend to work best when driven by social media marketing.

3. Send free stuff to reviewers and influencers.

The best, most thorough reviews you can get come in the form of blog posts, but like I mentioned earlier, in-depth, blog-post-length reviews take a lot of work, and simply asking someone to review your product in this manner isn’t typically going to cut it.
In most cases, you’ll need to compensate the reviewer, at minimum, with a free copy of your product. Some reviewers or publications that include reviews will do sponsored posts, but the best, most trusted reviewers won’t go further than accepting a copy of the product and will attempt to provide an unbiased review, for better or for worse.

Sponsored review of YOKO

Sponsored review of YOKO


Unless you are a big brand with an anticipated product release, you probably won’t be able to get the top reviewers in your niche. Instead, you’ll want to focus on finding influencers with small but highly engaged audiences.
Youtube and Instagram are both notably powerful platforms for getting these types of reviews, and Social Media Examiner has a great guide on running influencer campaigns in just this way:

  1. Find authentic influencers
  2. Hire by fit, not followers
  3. Track response to links
  4. Offer coupon codes
  5. Create titles that drive niews
  6. Optimize video for SEO

This approach is very targeted, and while it can scale, if you are looking to scale from the start, there is a better option.

4. Setup an affiliate program.

Creating an affiliate program is the easiest way to incentivize every single blogger in your niche at the same time. Everyone has equal opportunity to cash in on your company’s buzz by writing reviews and adding affiliate links.
Unlike sponsored posts, bloggers don’t have to explicitly state that they are writing the article with that incentive in mind. All they are legally required to do is acknowledge somewhere on their site that they include affiliate links on their site. Since affiliate marketing is so commonplace, most readers won’t interpret the presence of affiliate links as a suggestion that the review is biased, which is less the case with sponsored posts.
In other words, if you can get people active in your affiliate program, you end up getting the best of both worlds.
This model is particularly effective for services that require month-to-month payment. For example, ConvertKit chose from the get-go to put it’s growth stock on the affiliate train. They offered 30% recurring affiliate revenue (more than any of their competitors) and then got some big time affiliate marketers on board.  If you search for reviews, you will find page after page of blog posts promoting their product.

ConvertKit has a LOT of blog post reviews

ConvertKit has a LOT of blog post reviews


These reviews were instrumental in driving ConvertKit from a failing company at the beginning of 2015 to $518,000 MRR to close out 2016.
And as a user of ConverKit since 2015, I can tell definitively that it’s not the quality of the product or even the marketing that is driving growth. It’s a solid product, but what has ultimately been the key driver in its growth is the exponential effect of a well-run affiliate program.

3 Ways To Harness User Reviews For Increased Conversions

So we have our reviews now. What do we do with them? What can we do with them?
Every business model will work a bit differently, but the following three strategies can be applied to virtually any business.

1. Include positive reviews throughout your funnels.

The easiest way to use reviews is simply to plaster them all over your funnels, and you should absolutely be doing that. There are few better ways to improve site conversions than by adding generous helpings of social proof.
 
And while you no doubt understand how to add a testimonial or review to a landing page, you might not realize how effective it can be to add these reviews to your checkout pages as well. Neil Patel found that just adding a testimonial to his checkout page increased conversions by 6.38%, without any additional optimization.

Testimonial on checkout page

Testimonial on checkout page

2. Drive the narrative by responding to good & bad reviews.

People don’t like to be scammed. They don’t like receiving poor quality products. They don’t like bad service.
They also don’t like seeing hard working business owners abused. People understand that there are many consumers out there with unreasonable demands and a penchant for unfairly flaming any business that doesn’t submit to their insane demands.
When you are actively engaged with user reviews, you can help drive the narrative about your business instead of having it swept away by individual consumers. You can thank those who leave positive reviews and invite them to purchase form you again. You can respond graciously or cheekily to the ridiculous reviews. And you can learn from the reasonable negative reviews.

Owner responds to a negative review

Owner responds to a negative review


This will look different for every review type we’ve discussed. For blog posts reviews, you could thank the reviewer for posting and answers questions from readers in the comments. For reviews on your own site, you could make special offers or engage in other forms of customer appreciation.
By being active with reviews instead of passive, you can help shape the narrative on your brand.

3. Upsell reviewers.

This is perhaps the most overlooked strategy here. When someone positively reviews your brand, they are in a prime position to be upsold.
They have literally gone out of their way to mention how great you are or how positive their experience with your brand has been. Now is the time to move them to the next level in your funnel or simply offer them a refill, additional item, or any other form of upsell.
Having great segmentation is important here. Your upsell pitch needs to be hyper-relevant the the reviewer. And how you attempt to upsell will depend on the nature of the review.
If you are requesting a review via email, you could include an upsell offer directly under the review request.

Yotpo review email with upsell

Yotpo review email with upsell


You could also track reviewers and include them in a separate follow up sequence that attempts to upsell them later.
For blog posts or youtube reviews, you could offer a special discount to viewers. There are a lot of possibilities. The only area you will need to be careful with is 3rd party review sites, as they probably won’t want you using their platforms for upsells.

Don’t Sleep On User Reviews

User reviews are a big deal, and harnessing them can have a major impact on website conversions and overall business growth.
I hope you’ve found our comprehensive overview helpful today, and I’d love to hear if you have any additional review strategies that have worked out for you. Let me know in the comments!

Ecommerce is a now a $2.35 TRILLION pie.
It’s big. It’s getting bigger. And it’s why we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about ecommerce optimization.
For many new and even established businesses, however, the problem is less about conversion and more about getting people to your website in the first place. You need a consistent means to drive targeted traffic to your store.
To help solve this problem, we’re bringing you the following infographic from Visiture, highlighting the 3 most effective eCommerce marketing strategies in 2017.
 
Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

The global average conversion rate for ecommerce stores is 2.32%.
Some stores, however, manage to get rates as high as 10%.
Just how do they do it?
Some may attribute it to the quality of their products. Others might point to the quality of their traffic. But if you dig deeper, you’ll find that the world’s top retailers invest in creating an optimized experience for their customers.
For a store struggling to convert browsers into customers, there’s a lot to be learned from these retailers. So in this post, I’ll show you how some of the world’s best performing stores use conversion rate optimization to get more customers.

1. Reassure ecommerce customers of their financial safety

A third of your customers hesitate to punch in their credit card details because of recent data breaches at major retailers. Reassuring customers that that their credit card information is safe at all times is a proven way to improve conversion rates.
For example, when you try to checkout on Alibaba.com, you see a bunch of badges assuring the buyer of the store’s security credentials:

Alibaba's security credeintials

Alibaba’s security credeintials


On NewEgg.com, you’ll see similar badges on the site’s footer:
New Egg's credentials

New Egg’s credentials


On ThinkGeek.com, there’s a separate section on its website detailing the site’s payment security protocols:
Think Geek's payment security protocols

Think Geek’s payment security protocols


WalMart.com has a separate section on its website to educate customers about its privacy and security policies.
Walmart's page devoted to online security

Walmart’s page devoted to online security

2. Offer multiple payment options

Some of your customers prefer to use their credit cards, some others like to use their existing Paypal balance. By limiting available payment options, you make it harder for customers to finish their purchase. In fact, one survey found that 56% of customers expect multiple payment options at checkout.
Take a look at the number of payment options Alibaba offers through Alipay:

Alibaba payment options

Alibaba payment options


Note that Alipay also localizes the payment form. If you’re accessing the site from China, you’ll see methods that American customers don’t.
Note that Alipay also localizes the payment form. If you’re accessing the site from China, you’ll see different methods available to you than a US-based customer

Note that Alipay also localizes the payment form. If you’re accessing the site from China, you’ll see different methods available to you than a US-based customer


Amazon isn’t far behind either. It also offers multiple payment options on its checkout page:
Amazon's payment options

Amazon’s payment options


Most payment processors will let you accept payments via credit cards, debit cards and even bank transfers. You can also integrate Paypal on the checkout page to give customers another option to buy your products.

3. Make cart contents visible at all times

“What items are in my cart right now?” This is a question your customers have likely asked themselves as they browse through your products.
To get an answer, they have to click on the ‘Cart’ icon and navigate away to another page. This halts the customer momentum and creates friction in the purchase process.
Remove this friction by making the contents of your visible at all times.
For example, once you add a product to your cart on Quiksilver.com, you can see the cart contents by simply moving your mouse over the cart button.

Hover view of shopping cart on Quicksilver

Hover view of shopping cart on Quicksilver


Macy’s does the same. After adding a product to the cart, the cart contents are shown by hovering the mouse over the shopping bag icon.
Hover view of Macy's shopping cart

Hover view of Macy’s shopping cart


Customers easily see what all they’ve already added to their cart without navigating away from the page.

4. Enhance trust by emphasizing awards, testimonials and certifications

With revenues of $2.6B, NewEgg is one of the largest private companies in America. Yet, NewEgg uses several trust markers on its site to assure customers of its legitimacy.
Scroll to the site’s footer and you’ll see a link to its awards and rankings. On this page, NewEgg offers a comprehensive list of all the recognition it has received:

New Egg's many awards and certifications

NewEgg’s many awards and certifications


In an industry (computer parts sales) where authenticity is crucial, such external validation helps assure that customers of the retailer’s trust worthiness.
NorthernTool.com takes a different approach – it highlights how the business has been “family owned and operated” for 30 years in its footer:
Northern Tool offers assurance by stating how long it has been operating

Northern Tool offers assurance by stating how long it has been operating


Try creating a similar page on your site listing any public recognition you might have received. This can be a blurb from a prominent publisher, an award, or a testimonial.

5. Use HTTPS/SSL to enhance ecommerce security

After the recent string of data breaches at major retailers, your customers are obviously nervous about data security.
Adding a SSL certificate to your site – particularly the checkout pages – can help restore some of their confidence.
This is particularly true for users on modern browsers like Chrome or Firefox which highlight SSL certificates in the address bar.
Take a look at the SSL certificate visible on NewEgg after you add a product to your cart:

New Egg's SSL certificate

New Egg’s SSL certificate


This is a quick, cheap way to give your store a security boost. Plus, it might also help with your SEO since Google favors sites with HTTPS/SSL.

6. Humanize your company to increase trust

If you scroll down to the footer at Overstock.com, you’ll see something unique: a link to the CEO’s Twitter feed.

Overstock gives you an easy way to access its CEO

Overstock gives you an easy way to access its CEO


Remember: people like buying from other people, not faceless corporations. For large businesses like Overstock, this is a particularly big problem. Adding the CEO’s Twitter feed on the homepage shows that there are real people with real values behind the business.
That’s just one way to humanize your store. Another way is to tell customers your origin story, your mission and your key people on your About page.
Here’s how Zappos does it:
Zappos humanizes itself by proving it has a sense of humor

Zappos humanizes itself by proving it has a sense of humor


By calling its CEO/COO/VPs “monkeys”, Zappos tells the customer that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Zappos takes this far beyond the About page. It also offers customers and other business owners tours of its offices, conducts Q&A sessions to help them understand Zappos’ culture, and shares its reading lists and core values with site visitors.
Sharing information about your company's culture has a humanizing effect

Sharing information about your company’s culture has a humanizing effect


You don’t have to go that far, of course. Even something simple as a company blog can go a long way in creating more trust.
For example, take a look at Patagonia’s employee blog: The Cleanest Line.
Patagonia's employee blog shares their outdoor adventure experiences and insights, it doesn't directly sell any Patagonia products

Patagonia’s employee blog shares their outdoor adventure experiences and insights; it doesn’t directly sell any Patagonia products

7. Offer unique methods to visualize or test products

Putting up high resolution imagery is old hat in conversion optimized design. To stand out from the competition, you have to find more compelling ways to help customers test or visualize your products.
MyHabit’s (an Amazon deals site) 360-degree videos are a great example of this. The video plays seamlessly when a customer hovers over the video button, showing off the product in rich detail.

360 degree views on My Habits

360 degree views on My Habits


Not all products require a video or 360-degree images though. For stores with limited items, creating dedicated landing pages is a great idea as well.
See how Apple does it for all its products:
Apple uses clean and unusual shots to display their products

Apple uses clean and unusual shots to display its products


Of course, not all product presentations have to be visual in the traditional sense. Costco sells printers by mailing prospective customers a sample page from the printer.
A mailed test page is a clever way to show customers how the product performs without setting up a physical store

A mailed test page is a clever way to show customers how the product performs without setting up a physical store


This is a clever way to show the customer how the product actually performs without actually setting up a physical store.

8. Assure customers of free shipping at a single glance

In a survey of holiday shoppers, 93% of respondents said that free shipping drove them to take action. Free shipping also ranked as the second biggest factor in ecommerce purchases.
Telling customers front and center about your shipping policies is a good way retain visitors. Place this declaration in a highly visible area above the fold, preferably before customers have even had a chance to browse through your products.
For example, ASOS shows its shipping policies right below the navigation menu:

ASOS's prominent shipping policies

ASOS’s prominent shipping policies


This tells both local and international customers whether it’s actually worth spending time on your store.
JCPenney does something similar – you can see exactly how much you need to spend to get free shipping.
JCPenney's shipping policy

JCPenney’s shipping policy


This acts as an incentive as well. Customers who are unwilling to pay for shipping might bump up their order value to avail free shipping benefits.
Stores with physical locations can go a step beyond free shipping and highlight in-store pickup on their homepages as well.
For example, on Macy’s, you’ll see a big banner advertising its order-online, pickup in-store policy:
Macy's shipping policy is unique so is very easy to find

Macy has a unique return policy, so they’ve made it very easy to find.


It’s also a good idea to highlight your return policy if you’re selling products customers are anxious buying online. For example, AutoZone gives customers assures customers that they can return their purchases in any store, no questions asked.
Auto Zone's shipping polices

AutoZone’s shipping polices

9. Create product pages that fit your customer personas

Your customers will use your store in different ways. Some will dig through technical specs, while others will browse through dozens of reviews before pulling the trigger.
Creating product pages that fit each of your customer personas is crucial for a high-converting ecommerce experience.
For example, NorthernTool.com gives visitors an option to print out reviews for the product:

Being able to print easily is important for Northern Tool's personas

Being able to print easily is important for Northern Tool’s personas


This is necessary since a lot of NorthernTool’s customers are older people who prefer to read on paper instead of a computer/smartphone screen.
In contrast, NewEgg’s customers are very tech savvy. To appeal to these users, NewEgg gives a detailed rundown of each product’s technical specifications:
Technical depth might overwhelm users on another site, but New Egg's personas demand it in order to make a purchasing decision

Technical depth might overwhelm users on another site, but New Egg’s personas demand it in order to make a purchasing decision


Such technical depth might overwhelm users on another store, but for NewEgg’s savvy customers, this is a necessity for making a purchase decision.

10. Help customers buy with guides, ideas and how-tos

Creating content that helps customers choose products offers four benefits:

  • Helps your store get social shares and traffic.
  • Improves your SEO by attracting backlinks and expanding your keyword footprint.
  • Increases ecommerce conversion rates by helping customers choose a product that fits their requirements.
  • Increases average order value by recommending higher priced products to customers.

This strategy is particularly effective for stores that sell difficult-to-buy products such as DIY supplies, computer components, etc.
For example, Lowe’s creates a ton of content aimed at helping DIY enthusiasts. This content is displayed prominently on the nav bar under “Ideas & How-Tos”.

Lowe's free how-to guides

Lowe’s free how-to guides


eBay takes things one step further by letting users create guides of their own. Such user-generated content (UGC) helps eBay attract a massive amount of targeted search traffic.
User generated content UGC helps eBay attract a massive amount of targeted search traffic

User generated content UGC helps eBay attract a massive amount of targeted search traffic


Kate Spade ditches the buying guide in favor of a Tumblr blog. This blog curates styles, pictures and even quotes that help customers choose while also propagating the Kate Spade brand.
Kate Spade Tumblr

Kate Spade Tumblr


For a number of upcoming retailers, content is the foundation of their entire store. For example, men’s fashion retailer MrPorter was originally a blog that turned into a store. Even today, its online magazine is the central focus of the store.
MrPorter's online magazine

MrPorter’s online magazine


Creating such helpful content can be a potent strategy for getting more traffic, more conversions and bigger orders.

Conclusion

Globally, conversion rates for ecommerce stores vary considerably. While a few stores struggle to get 2-3% conversion rates, top retailers convert as many as 10 out of every 100 visitors.
To get such high conversion rates, top retailers use a number of tactics. These range from mitigating customer risk to creating quality content that helps people choose the right products. By using similar tactics on your store, you can radically increase conversion rates and boost your revenue without a change in your traffic or product-line.
Key Takeaways

  • Use security badges, multiple payment options and third-party rankings, awards and certifications to underscore your store’s safety and trustworthiness.
  • Reduce friction in the buying process by making your cart visible at all times.
  • Tell customers about your shipping and return policies as soon as they land on your site.
  • Create product pages that address FUDs specific to your customer personas.
  • Create content that helps customers buy in order to get higher conversion rates and more traffic.

About the Author

Khalid Saleh headshotKhalid Saleh is the co-founder and CEO of Invesp Conversion Optimization, a leading provider of conversion optimization software and services. Invesp’s Pii powerful A/B testing engine allows users to test unlimited variations of a landing page and offers them a quick turnaround on ROI. Follow Invesp on Twitter, Youtube and Google+ for latest conversion rate optimization tips.
Feature image by Polycart via Compfight cc.

Here are several questions about applying conversion science to ecommerce sites. These questions came from the sponsors of the GP Ecommerce Summit in Bucharest, Romania.

  1. Can we consider Conversion Rate Optimization a real science?

What defines a science? The Scientific Method.

  1. Assume we know nothing about a problem
  2. Research it
  3. Develop hypotheses
  4. Select the most likely hypothesis for testing
  5. Design a test that isolates that hypothesis
  6. Run the test using sound statistical methods
  7. Evaluate with post-test analysis
  8. Draw a conclusion
  9. Use the new information to formulate new hypotheses
  10. Repeat

I’ve just described our six month Conversion Catalyst process to you. We “science the sh*t” out of websites. Without the science, we make bad decisions, emotional decisions, decisions based on superstition and myth.
There is also a component of sport in conversion optimization. We are in this to win. While we must be objective, we like to find revenue and hate when our tests are inconclusive.

  1. What are the first steps you have to take if you wish to increase your conversion rate on your e-commerce website?

My recommendation is that ecommerce sites focus on the value proposition their offering. This is a combination of your categories (what you sell), your shipping policy, your return policy and your brand.
Zappos built an amazing online brand by putting its value proposition front and center, “Free shipping both ways. 365 day return policy. Empowered customer support people.”
What is your value proposition? Fast delivery? Local manufacturing? Free installation? Donations to charity with every purchase? Emphasize it on your site, in your cart and throughout checkout.

  1. How do you create a good landing page and what are the best ways to test it?

The best landing pages keep the promise of the ad, link or post that brought the visitor there. They make an offer that matches the promise as exactly as possible. They show the product, even if it is a service or a PDF or a video series. Good landing pages provide proof points that are specific and supported by fact. Good landing pages build trust by borrowing from customers and customers. Good landing pages make the call to action the most prominent thing on the page. And good landing pages don’t add any distractions, such as social media icons, links to other pages or corporate site navigation.
This is the chemical equation for landing pages: Offer + Form + Image + Proof + Trust = Landing Page

The chemistry of the landing page

The chemistry of the landing page

  1. Can persuasive writing help you sell more online or do you need more than that? For example, how do you test a good headline?

Most of our biggest wins come from copy changes, like headlines. We are even testing different kinds of testimonials on one site to see which build the most trust. The words are very important. This is related to the value proposition I discuss above. When you learn the emotional language that brings visitors into your site, you learn something about your audience. This insight can be used anywhere.

  1. What is an important point you want to drive home?

There is a wave of ecommerce sites rushing to rebuild their sites using responsive web design (RWD). This is in part due to Google and Mobilegeddon, but few can ignore the growing influence of mobile devices on our revenue. This rush to RWD is a mistake for many businesses who will find themselves with a poorly performing mobile site and a lower conversion rate on their redesigned desktop site. Tragic.
You should embrace your mobile visitors, and there are alternatives to RWD. I’ve seen some redesign horror stories and some pretty amazing success stories. Mobile design is still too new for there to be best practices, but our testing tells us what successful mobile designs should begin to look like.

  1. How do you remember the ecommerce market in the USA from 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, we didn’t have the data tools we have today. We relied much more on qualitative research. Most of my work was building out personas, making content recommendations and working with “best practices”. Google Analytics was young. We had been using server logs to get unreliable data on visitors. Only a few years before I had written my own web analytics package to get an idea of what was working on my sites.
Today, we have amazing qualitative and quantitative tools to uncover problems with our websites. We enjoy powerful testing tools to help us determine exactly what effect our changes will have on our businesses. We are creating revenue in the laboratory using science and creativity. We have moved from the tool-building phase into the human creativity phase. It’s a very exciting time to be an online business.
[sitepromo]
[signature]

For those of you who optimize, and benefitted from a more efficient online store or higher lead conversion rate this holiday season, we straighten our lab coats and salute. You should enjoy one of our more cheerful holiday treats.
For those that aren’t going into this holiday season with a 20%, 30% or more revenue lift from this year’s optimization efforts, we offer this cautionary tale set to the music of Timbaland feat. One Republic.

2016 is just around the corner. Don’t be singing this song next year.

Sing along to the instrumental video at the bottom of the post.

I’m holding onto hope
Got the holidays coming ‘round
It’s Black Friday night
But my cart don’t make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and simply bounce
But wait…
You tell me that you’re sorry
Then you bought from someone else, and said…

That it’s too late to optimize, it’s too late
I should have hypothesized, it’s too late

I want another chance, make a call, add to cart, click through
And I need you like a heart needs a beat
(But that’s nothing new)
Yeah yeah

I offered you a discount, fifteen percent, it’s true
And you say
Sorry like the buyer Google let me think was you,
But I’m afraid

It’s too late to optimize, it’s too late
My shoppers were traumatized, it’s too late
Woahooo woah

It’s too late to optimize, it’s too late
No calls to super-size, it’s too late
I shouldn’t have compromised, it’s too late
I just didn’t realize, it’s too late
My site wasn’t quantified, it’s too late
I’m going to be down-sized, it’s too late
And now I am ostracized, it’s too late
A hanky to wipe my eyes, it’s too late

I’m holding onto hope
Got the holidays coming ‘round…

 

[sitepromo]
[signature]

What has the Conversion Scientist been reading lately?

AdExchanger: Why Do Mobile Users Not Buy On Mobile?

We believe that mobile traffic is every bit as important as desktop traffic. Many businesses walk away from their mobile traffic because it doesn’t convert well. This is a mistake.
Two points found in this article drive the point home:

  • App and Mobile Functionality (sucks)
  • Mobile Represents a Different Type of user

Spend some time on your mobile site. Don’t just create a responsive version of your desktop website.
Read more.

Marketizator: 25+ Tools That Conversion Rate Optimization Pros Can’t Ignore

I often say we’re living in a golden age of marketing, in which we can find data to answer almost any question we have. And these tools aren’t expensive. Every marketer can benefit from these tools with a little curiosity and patience.
[sitepromo]

Nielsen Norman Group: Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency

I reviewed 47 wordpress templates for a competition earlier this year. 98% of them used a “flat” design approach. Of course, we’re seeing this style of design pervade websites.
Is this a good thing? Nielsen Norman Group says we can use flat designs if we follow some smart guidelines.
Read more.
Got suggestions for what we should be reading? Share them with us!
[signature]