mobile conversion optimization

What is the job of an optimizer? Is it just improving conversion rates? If not, what is the goal of a CRO professional and what are the steps of conversion optimization?

Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist, shares the steps of conversion optimization. He is the founder of Conversion Sciences, and author of the book “Your Customer Creation Equation”.

If you are new to conversion optimization or if you need to take your website conversion to the next level, Brian’s book is a fantastic foundation. It will help you understand the way an optimizer looks at the world and looks at a website.

What is the Goal of Conversion Optimization or CRO?

Let’s start off by talking about what conversion optimization means to me. I don’t see my job as just improving conversion rates, but getting the most value out of every visitor to your website.

In a lot of situations that might mean a conversion to a sale. But even on an e-commerce site, we might want to connect with visitors who aren’t yet ready to buy, so we try to get them to join an email list. We can get value from them by asking them for their name and email address in exchange for fantastic information, a discount, or something else of value.

In the mobile world, a conversion may look like a phone call. Click-to-call is a powerful way for prospects to take action when away from their phone.

There are a number of things we can do to get value from our visitors, and for us, everything is on the table.

The reason I want to lead the life of a conversion optimizer is because we do wonderful things for online businesses. This is probably why we’re so well-liked.

Benefits of conversion optimization. Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist, shares the steps of conversion optimization.

Benefits of conversion optimization.

Benefits of Being or Having a Conversion Optimizer

First of all, we do increase the revenue from the traffic that you’re getting. The net result of that is that it decreases your acquisition costs, your advertising spend.
If more of those clicks that you’re paying for turn into customers, then you get a positive return on your ad spend.

Having a site with high conversion rates often means people are staying on your site longer. They are buying more often. They are typically visiting more pages. Google understands this and rewards you with higher rankings. If people are staying on your site and not “pogo sticking” back to the search results page, well, your organic ranking will likely go up.

We, of course, increase your growth because we don’t just test what goes on your pages. We can test pricing, we can test bundling, we can test new features — we can test the things that are core to your business.

And we provide the data that makes you smarter at identifying where you should be investing your advertising and marketing dollars.

We’ll know which channels are converting best, which things you’re doing well and which you are not. And you can adjust your marketing spend accordingly.
So, conversion optimizers really are wonderful for a business.

Knowing which path your users are taking is a starting point to increasing the revenue from the traffic that you're getting.

Do you know which path your users are taking?

Logically, we might think that a path through our website should look a certain way, but in truth, the visitors want something different.

It’s our job to understand what that desire path is. For instance, in a park like this, people may be avoiding the paved path because it’s concrete which is harder on your knees when you’re running than dirt. It may not just be because it’s the shortest distance.

We want to understand the visitors’ motivations. That is what I spend my days doing. My whole job is to make sure that I’m not using mental shortcuts to make decisions.

Our biases keep us from providing the experience our users want. Steps to conversion rate optimization.

Cognitive bias codex.

The 3 lbs. of gray matter between our ears is just packed full of biases, shortcuts, and stereotypes. These biases, stereotypes and shortcuts, cause us to think we’re doing the right things when we’re making decisions about design, or about our products, or about our pricing.

But in truth, we’re doing it wrong for our users. We take shortcuts. We’re not really connecting with what our users want. This whole method, the steps to conversion optimization, is designed to keep us from relying on our biases to make decisions.

The Importance of the Optimizer

When you’re optimizing, you play a really important role in the design process and in your company. You are the one who is double checking the assumptions that are being made. You are the one making sure that those assumptions are what our visitors and our customers want.

When you're optimizing, you play a really important role in the design process and in your company.

The optimizer plays a key role in the design process and in their company.

The Benefits of Conversion Optimization

An optimizer has many benefits. They save time. There’s nothing that wastes more time than launching a campaign, spending your marketing budget on that campaign and then not having it work. So, by doing a little extra work on the front end, collecting some data, you can make sure that your campaigns are going to be more successful so you don’t have to start over and relaunch them.

The Value of Data (and its many uses)

Data is a great way to deal with what we call helicopter executives, executives who feel that maybe the team isn’t making the right decisions. They feel that they have to come in and review your creative and your campaigns, making changes to what you’re doing. Of course, their assumptions are based on the same biases that anyone’s are.

If you are able to say, “Well, we have some data that says this is the best thing,” then they’re more likely to think, “OK, this makes sense. Go ahead.”

You’ve just removed one cook from the kitchen.

How a conversion optimizer should handle agencies and teams.

How a conversion optimizer should handle agencies and teams.

Oftentimes you’ll get creative from your agency and think, “Is this really effective creative?” Your agency may present you with options and ask you to choose. As an marketer, your answer should always be “I don’t know, go collect some data to find out which one of these ideas is most likely to be the best choice”. This should be the job of your agency’s experimenter. This is a powerful way to manage teams effectively.

Steps to Conversion Optimization: Gathering Good Competitor Ideas

We like to take ideas from our competitors and from other websites that we like, but we often steal bad ideas. Just because our competitors are using them doesn’t mean they’re working.

An optimizer wants to take ideas and test them before stealing them. At Conversion Sciences, we say, “Steal like a scientist.”

Digital Marketing Careers Require Experimentation

If I haven’t made the point abundantly clear, people with the skills of an optimizer are very valuable. And right now these skills are hard to find and expensive. In a few years, these skills are going to be absolutely required. So, if you don’t have these skills, you’re not going to be able to work in premiere digital marketing roles, in digital product management, or run a business that requires the web to succeed.

Experimenters Can Take More Chances

As a conversion optimizer, you can take more chances because you know how to create experiments that allow you to be more creative.

Experimenters take these really creative ideas that would otherwise sound risky, find a way to collect some data, and then understand whether or not that idea is actually going to improve things. You also avoid implementing a bad idea. We call this a “design insurance”.

You don’t have to always play it safe with your campaigns. You can come up with crazy ideas and experiment before you actually launch and take all of the risk.

Being able to take more risks, a CRO expert can get more leads, more sales, and lower acquisition costs.

Being able to take more risks, a CRO expert can get more leads, more sales, and lower acquisition costs.

And, of course, you get more leads, you get more sales, you lower your acquisition costs, you grow your business.

That’s what most people want from their conversion optimizer. But conversion optimizers are so much more valuable.

My day deals almost exclusively with ideas. Ideas for how to improve a website, ideas for how to improve a customer’s journey, ideas for what kind of content we should be putting on the page, ideas for how we should discount, ideas for how we should lay out a page. Ideas for what we should be doing and advertising. For almost anything that’s going to be seen or experienced by the user, there are ideas for improving it.

How to Find the Right Ideas: good reasons to kill ideas

I’m going to walk you through the process of figuring out which ideas are the right ideas.

When we first start with a client, we go through their website and perform an analysis. This includes an analysis of  their existing data. We come up with a very long list of what looks like really good ideas for improving the conversion rate.

Our job is to kill some of those ideas and get them off the list so that we can move on to the ones that are good ideas. In fact, the scientific method that I use on a daily basis is designed around this.

The job of an experimenter is to come up with ideas and then find out why that idea is wrong. When you test a hypothesis, you are actually testing against the null hypothesis trying to prove that idea won’t improve things. If you can’t, despite trying everything, then you’ve got a winner.

So, what are the good reasons to kill ideas? We evaluate ideas based on these criteria. Is there a reason that we should keep this idea on the list?

Reasons to Kill an Idea

1. That’s a lot of work

Some ideas require too much work to test and implement. We might say the website needs to be redesigned. That’s very risky because it changes everything. And so we’ll often just pull that idea out right away.

Ironically, this is the way most website redesign is done. 90% of the market is still redesigning websites this way.

They start by hiring a creative agency or bringing in a creative team. That team does a little research at the beginning of the process, and then they make all sorts of design changes based on that research. Then, they push it all out and hope that they made the right choices.

That’s very risky, and so full-scale redesigns don’t stay on our list very long.

2. It’s too small of an idea

Some ideas just aren’t that impactful. For instance, if we had an idea to change something in the footer of a page, we can tell from our heatmap reports that few visitors are seeing the footer area. We would say that’s too small of an idea. It doesn’t have enough of an impact and we’ll drop it from the list.

Likewise, changing the color of a button or changing the font of our headings are low-impact changes. We tend to just get rid of these ideas.

3. No one is seeing it

There are pages on your site that are important to the customer’s journey, but not a lot of visitors are visiting it.

For example, sometimes FAQ pages can be really important to our visitor’s journey. If we had a hypothesis that said we’re going to change the order of FAQ questions, but we looked in analytics and saw that few visitors were actually visiting the FAQ page, we would say it’s probably not a good thing to test.

On the other hand, few people are seeing the checkout process on an ecommerce website, but those visitors are in the process of buying. In this case, we want to keep checkout ideas at the top of our list.

4. I don’t have any data on it

For each idea on my list, I have to ask myself, “Can I find some data on this idea.” This is the question we ask ourselves over and over and over. If I can’t find data on an idea, or I can’t generate data on that idea, then it’s not a testable idea.

A good example might be things on a website that encourage people to visit a physical store. There are technologies to track this cross-channel behavior, but it’s very expensive technology. Even if we have really good ideas about how to drive more people to the brick and mortar store, we really don’t have a way of collecting success data related to that idea. So, that would be something that we would eliminate because we don’t have the data.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: Gather Existing Data

Let’s talk about sources of data. Once we’ve gone through our list, we’ve got things on it which we think are good ideas. We think they are easy to implement or can be implemented in a reasonable amount of time. We think people are visiting those pages, and we think we can find some data on them.

One of the first places I like to look when I’m building a landing page are the client’s paid search ads.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: Gather Existing Data.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: Gather Existing Data.

Using this made-up example for the U.S. Mint — that’s the part of the US government that prints money — let’s pretend that they’re offering 50% off dollar bills.

Now, you might think this is a crazy offer, better than anything you have. But the truth is that we all have an amazing offer: a great product or service that’s priced right. It saves time. It saves money. It solves a problem. Yet, you still have trouble converting people. Well, don’t be too discouraged, because the U.S. Mint would have trouble giving a dollar bill away for 50 cents.

Go to your paid search team or your advertising team and ask them for a spreadsheet with the last six months or a year’s history of ads.

  • How many impressions they generated
  • How many interactions they generated
  • How many conversions they generated

Go through the data and look for those ads that had a lot of impressions or more importantly, had a lot of impressions AND conversions.

If we look at the third one in our example above, we see it has an interaction rate of 2.8%. That seems like the highest rate, but it was only 37 interactions. This sample size is a little bit too small for us to have confidence in. I’m more interested in those that have 612 or 943 conversions.

It seems that “50% off dollars for a limited time” has a better conversion rate than “Dollar Bills: Buy one, get one.” When I write copy for my landing page, I’m going to favor language that includes “50% off”.

I would not be as excited about “Discounted Dollar Bills” because it had a 0.3% conversion rate and a high enough number of interactions that we can believe that this data is probably accurate.

You see how I can use our ads to understand which words, which headlines, I should be using in my landing pages and in my copy. It’s on my list.

Social media Ad Performance and Conversion Data

We can do this with social media as well. For instance, if we want to put a video on the landing page or video on our homepage, video ads can help us understand what people are interested in.

Use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to look at our competitors’ ads. Find out what words they’re using and if they have a lot of keywords that they’re using.

Previous Email Campaigns Data

Email campaigns are another great source of data. I looked at the subject lines for emails that Conversion Sciences sends. We send emails for new blog posts all the time. I wanted to know which subjects — which titles of our blog posts — were getting the most clicks. I took six months of data and I ranked it based on their click through rate.

Previous email campaigns data: email subject performance.

Previous email campaigns data: email subject performance.

Looking at the top ten, we see “writing”, “copywriting”, “persuasion”, “value proposition”, “persuade people”, and “business taglines”. My audience is interested in the words that influence conversions.

I was a little surprised, but we were able to use this data to produce a free copywriting report on how to write copy for conversion writing, and this converts very well for us.

Download these 21 quick and easy CRO copywriting hacks.

Download these 21 quick and easy CRO copywriting hacks.

In this case, the data really did point us in the right direction. The data created a hypothesis, an idea, and then gave us the data that said you should launch this. Then we used the conversion data, the number of leads that we’re generating on our website, as the final proof that this was a good idea.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: User Testing

Another step in conversion optimization is user testing. Everybody thinks that a conversion optimizer spends most of their time split testing. This is the best data we can generate, the best tools that we can use. But in truth, I want to gather data faster and doesn’t require me to use precious visitor traffic.

We only want the most important and best ideas to go to AB testing while using user testing to figure out which of my creative ideas is best.

Our user testing includes things like a 5-second study. A 5-second study works great when I have three or four different headlines and three or four different images that I want to consider for a landing page.

We’ll use a service like UsabilityHub or Helio and we’ll ask for 25 people to come and look at each of our mockups. The 5-second test works like this: test subjects get to see the mockup for five seconds and then it disappears.

But five seconds in the human brain is quite a long time. After the five seconds is up, we’ll ask questions like,

  • Does this business seem credible?
  • What do you think this business does?
  • Do you know what we were asking you to do?
  • Where would you click if you were going to take action?
  • Can you remember any of the bullets or any specific information on the page?

We can score these twenty five people in each of these areas. The image and headline combination that scored the best tells us that it’s probably the best idea.

We now have some data from real world people that is telling us which idea to take to an AB test. There might be a couple of these that score well. So, we want to take the two best ideas to an AB test, but it also means we don’t have to test the others and waste traffic on those.

There are a number of tests that you can use for user testing. Usability hub or Helio, offer a question test where the visitor gets to look at the page as long as they want and answer questions.

A first click test measures how quickly someone can find where they’re supposed to click based on the prompt that you give them. How many of them get it right in test layout or how clear the call to action is on your page.

User testing tools like UserZoom or UserTesting.com allow us to set up a scenario and ask the visitor, for instance, to go through and purchase on a website. We watch them as they try to complete the task. We see where they get confused, where they get tripped up. They’re talking out loud as they’re going through it.

You’re going to see issues in these user tests that you wouldn’t catch otherwise. It can be very enlightening. We can really learn quite a bit from that user testing videos.

More Data Sources: User Intelligence Tools & Reports

Another step of conversion optimization is to look through user intelligence reports. User intelligence is different from user testing.

User testing uses strangers and pretenders. These are people who aren’t actually trying to solve a problem, but we’re using them as a focus group to play with our creative and see how effective it is at communicating with human beings.

User intelligence tools are actually watching your visitors as they interact with your website.

Analytics has the most obvious user intelligence data. Google Analytics is a great behavioral database. It’s all the people who are coming to your website to try to solve a problem. It shows you where they landed, what channel brought them, what pages they visited, how long they were there, where they left, if they bought, how many of them bought, what their computer setup was, what browser they’re on — all of this information is in Google Analytics.

It’s a great database for asking questions. I probably spend at least 10 to 20 percent of every day in analytics, and if I’m working on an analysis, I’ll spend the entire day in analytics, it’s such a rich source of data.

The other thing we use is what are called heatmap reports. They tell us how far the visitors are scrolling when they visit a page, where their mouse is moving on a page, and where they’re clicking. These are great tools for answering specific questions about a page.

You don’t have to be a Ph.D. in science to understand them. If you can read a weather radar map, you can read a heat map.

Here is an example.

Heatmaps of a website page for golf resort in Hawaii.

Heatmaps of a website page for golf resort in Hawaii.

This is a resort in Hawaii, a golf resort. They assumed that since it’s a golf resort, people who are considering booking a room are going to be interested in golf.

On this page, which lists all their specials, they listed the golf specials at the top. When we went in and looked at where people were clicking on this page, we found out that “Free Breakfast” was most clicked item, even though free breakfast is down near the bottom of the page.

People don’t behave the way you think. What is the cost of breakfast? At this resort, it might be 40 or 50 bucks. If you’re going to save a couple of hundred dollars on golf, it would seem to be a better value, right? Not according to the visitors.

These are the sorts of insights that conversion optimizers love to find.

I also spend time watching session recordings. With session recordings you get to watch visitors as they’re working through your site. You see where their mouse is moving and what they’re clicking on. It takes a while, but you find things that you wouldn’t otherwise discover.

Session recording of golf rates page.

Session recording of golf rates page.

If you watch a bunch of these, you begin to understand what’s bothering your visitors. If I’ve got a specific idea that I’m trying to remove from the list, I’ll spend some time watching session recordings.

Sticky heatmap.

Sticky heatmap.

A more advanced conversion optimization strategy is running an eye tracking study. Now, this doesn’t work directly with your website, but you can bring people from your website if they’re willing to take a look. And it’s just amazing that this technology exists because eye-tracking studies used to be so hard.

Submit a mockup to a company called Tobii, and they’ll bring 25, 50, 100 people to look at it. They’ll record what the visitors see on the page using laptop cameras. Laptop cameras have such high resolution that we can tell where people’s eyes are looking on the screen.

We can see what people linger on, what ideas they like, what offers they like, and where there are images that stop them on the page. This information is really valuable if you’re trying to critique your page layout.

Gamification: AB Testing

The last thing that I spend time on is AB testing. Because if we’re going to take something to an AB test, as it’s the best data we can collect, we only want to take the best ideas. And it takes quite a bit of work to get AB test results.

Here is an example of one that we did. We worked with a company called Automatic and they had a plug that plugs into your car and connects your phone to your car’s computer. They came out with this new Pro version, but everybody was buying the Lite version.

Why wouldn’t people buy the Pro version? Sure, it’s more expensive, but it’s so much better. Maybe we’re not communicating how much better it is effectively.

We did a “Thank you” page popup survey asking, “What made you choose Lite instead of Pro?” We found out that people didn’t understand the value of the Pro features.

We created a version of the product page was simpler. It was a shorter list of features, and we only highlighted the things that were most different. This is something you should consider any time you’re offering multiple plans or products on a pricing page.

We designed an AB test. One half of the visitors saw the original page, which we call the Control. The other half saw our variation. The result was a 13% increase in conversion rate for our variation. We also saw an increase in revenue per visit because more people were buying the Pro version.

After A/B testing, we saw a 13% increase in conversion rate by removing information from the page.

A/B Testing: automatic pro vs lite.

This achieved exactly what we wanted. The data we collected during the AB test was very reliable, because these tests are designed to eliminate as much randomness as possible.

What are the Steps of Conversion Optimization Summary

If you are going to be a successful digital marketer, you are going to be an experimenter. Your ability to use the tools and data of the trade will determine your future in a data-driven marketing economy.

Shopping cart abandonment is the most heartbreaking of conversion killers. it is also a fertile place to increase the performance of your website.

Shopping cart abandonment is like cholesterol: There is a good kind and a bad kind. For each there is a strategy for reducing the impact of abandonment on your business.

Good abandoners leave because they aren’t done with their shopping process.

Bad abandoners leave because you surprised them or didn’t provide the information they were looking for.

But it’s 2020, and the number of smartphone dependent shoppers has grown considerably. Thus, we will add one more layer of complexity to the shopping cart abandonment recovery strategy: desktop vs mobile visitors. Why it happens and what to do about it.

Cart Abandonment Rate Formula

The shopping cart abandonment rate formula is quite an easy Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to calculate. Divide the total number of completed purchases by the number of shopping carts created within the same period. Subtract the resulting number from one and multiply by 100 to get the abandonment rate percentage.

Abandonment Rate Calculation Example

  • Total number of completed purchases: 335
  • Total number of shopping carts created: 500
  • Cart abandonment rate: ((500-335) / 500) * 100 = 33%

Definitely not a bad shopping cart abandonment rate. Only 33 out of 100 customers are leaving their carts behind. Do you experience high add to cart but low conversion rates? Keep reading.

Top 7 Cart Conversion Optimization Solutions: How to Eliminate the Causes of Cart Abandonment Consider the following tactics to optimize your online shop cart conversion rate. They may help you reduce or eliminate the causes of shopping cart abandonment.

Top 7 Cart Conversion Optimization Solutions to Eliminate the Causes of Cart Abandonment.

The difference between mobile and desktop visitors

“A growing share of Americans now use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home. Today roughly one-in-five American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.”

Source: Surveys conducted 2013-2019. Data for each year based on a pooled analysis of all surveys containing broadband and smartphone questions fielded during that year.

Traditionally, the desktop computer is a research tool and the smartphone is a dopamine delivery system.

These are two very different uses of internet attached computers.

For someone on a desktop, adding your product to their cart is the end of a journey. For the mobile user, the add to cart is to see how it will feel.

For a growing segment of our population, this is changing. For more and more people, the smartphone is their only source for communication, research, and dopamine. Reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites and lower-income Americans.

For this reason, we are not going to assume that most mobile visitors are “just shopping.” We are going to look at the causes of checkout abandonment and provide a playbook for eliminating them.

There are also consumers who only buy your products on desktop computers. They would not even think to pick up their phone and buy what you sell.

Let’s dive into how to reduce shopping cart abandonment and improve conversions.

Why do Shoppers Abandon the Checkout Process?

Just as science has identified “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol,” there are “good” and “bad” abandoners among your website’s visitors.

The Good Abandoners

Good abandoners leave you as part of their process. They are walking all the way to the edge of buying, even though they are not ready to buy. They are imagining purchasing from you. Yet, they fully intend to continue comparing your offering to alternatives when they start the checkout process.

And they may be hoping you’ll hang on to their selections for when they return. Wish lists and persistent shopping carts are a big help to these abandoners. More on that later.

The challenge is to get them to come back and buy when they are done. We cover some of the strategies for retargeting this visitor later on this article.

The Bad Abandoners

Bad abandoners leave you because they didn’t like what they saw after they got started. These abandoners are bad for you because they are lost opportunities. They were going to buy, but you chased them away with your checkout process.

Your purchase process confounded them, introduced new fears, or asked them to do something they weren’t ready to do, like create an account. Many of these abandoners started the process simply because they didn’t have all the information they needed to make their decision.

This kind of abandonment can be treated by improving the checkout process and by using pricing and shipping strategies.

The five primary “drivers” of Desktop cart abandonment

According to Forrester Research’s report “Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment,” the five primary “drivers” of cart abandonment are:

  1. Shipping and handling costs were too high. (Bad abandoners)
  2. The shopper wasn’t ready to purchase the product. (Good abandoners)
  3. The shopper wanted to compare prices on other sites. (Good abandoners)
  4. Product price was higher than the shopper was willing to pay. (Bad abandoners)
  5. The shopper wanted to save products in his cart for later consideration. (Good abandoners).

Let’s look at what causes bad abandons and then talk about encouraging actual purchases.

High shopping cart abandonment rates are conversion killers. But they are also a fertile place to increase your shop's performance. Read on!

High shopping cart abandonment rates are conversion killers. But they are also a fertile place to increase your shop’s performance.

Understanding Mobile Abandonment

There are two kinds of abandoners: Those who were never going to buy and those who would have bought if only…

  • If only they could be sure their discount was applied.
  • If only they hadn’t been surprised by shipping.
  • If only the final price hadn’t been too high.
  • If only the form had been easier to enter their discount code.
  • If only there was somebody to talk to.

And there are some things that aren’t under your control, but are a particular problem for smartphone users…

  • If only my table hadn’t become available.
  • If only the movie hadn’t started.
  • If only my lunch hour had been longer.

The Impact of Distractions on Mobile Checkout

We have dedicated a whole article to maximizing mobile ecommerce checkout conversions. Take a look.

Top 7 Cart Conversion Optimization Solutions: How to Eliminate the Causes of Cart Abandonment

Consider the following tactics to optimize your online shop cart conversion rate. They may help you reduce or eliminate the causes of shopping cart abandonment.

1. Free Shipping/Free Return Shipping

When a visitor is ready to take action, they instantly begin doubting the sanity of their decision. This is the time to reassure them. Your return policy and shipping offers are great ways to remove their doubts. Getting stuck with a product you don’t want is a real fear, no matter how inexpensive the purchase.

Shipping costs are not usually refunded. Even if you have a generous return policy, buyers can see this as a risk. If your profit margins allow for free shipping both ways, great. Otherwise, adjust your pricing strategy.

In a few words, you should tell them that buying from you is  safe if this does not turn out to be a good purchase.

2. Lack of follow up actions after add-to-cart

What do you do when someone adds a product to the cart?

The typical ecommerce site takes the visitor to the Cart page. The problem with this approach is that it takes the visitor out of their shopping experience, maybe before they’ve finished buying.

The answer is typically a “Continue Shopping” button, that takes them to some part of the online retailer site.

By making the cart popup overlay larger, we increased conversions by 13% for TATSoul.

By making the cart popup overlay larger, we increased conversions by 13% for TATSoul.

But, when a visitor has reached a product page, they are at the bottom of a rabbit hole. It may have involved a search, several category pages, and several product pages. They don’t want to start over.

To solve this problem, ecommerce sites have begun keeping them on the product page after they click Add to Cart, keeping their rabbit hole intact. However, if no visible acknowledgement is given, the visitor loses some of the satisfaction of their action. Or they may think the site is broken. Or they did something wrong.

Make sure that you give your potential buyers a clear signal that they’ve done something amazing. BJ Fogg recommends that you celebrate their action in some way. This should increase the likelihood that they will complete the purchase. These are two examples that signal to the visitor that they have done something amazing.

After the click to buy, Nike adds an overlay to the product page and shows a timed checkout link.

After the click to buy, Nike adds an overlay to the product page and shows a timed checkout link.

Nike hovers a Checkout overlay for a few seconds leaving the shopper in the same product page unless they click the “View Bag” or the “Checkout” button.

Or this one from Forever21 that tells their potential buyers they have done something amazing. Complimenting their taste, reiterating their offer to increase cart size (coupon code) and showing them product suggestions.

Forever21 does not lack on follow up actions after add to cart: promo codes and related products.

After showing the same overlay to the potential buyer, Forever 21 goes one step further.

3. Unsaved Carts

If I come back to the site, I expect my cart to still be there. Saving the visitor’s cart is an important part of abandoned cart remarketing strategies, in which an email or an ad brings them back to their selections.

Save the cart – by implementing a perpetual shopping cart – and find ways to encourage visitors to return.

4. Offer Live Support, Loyalty Programs

Your visitors will buy from you if you treat them well. They will buy again and again. Your willingness to be there for them both before and after the sale will determine their long-term value and your success.

The cart is a great place to show them you care. Have someone available on the phone or in a chat to answer their last minute questions. Let them know that this purchase is part of a reward program that shows you appreciate them.

There is an entire segment of your visitors that care about their relationship with you. Be a good relationship partner.

5. Exit Intent Offers

Remind them about the promotion you are currently offering just before they leave. Stop abandonment on its tracks. On Exit intent pop ups could help you with abandoned shopping bag recovery. Check out these 7 Best Practices for Using Exit-Intent Popovers.

6. Enable Guest Checkout

Maybe your customer doesn’t want to commit to you, yet. Offering guest checkout could make a difference in your cart optimization efforts. Instead of asking them to create an account, test and implement these Guest Checkout Tactics to Grow Ecommerce Sales (with Examples and Ideas) 

7. Ask your customers why they are leaving their cart behind

There are many tools to choose from that enable you to set up a short visitor survey to simply ask why they are leaving without checking out. This is a great use of exit-intent overlays. These can be delivered using Justuno, OptinMonster, Optimonk and other tools.

Cart Abandonment Solutions

Ok. We eliminated the causes but that doesn’t completely get rid of the problem. There will still be abandoners.

The most popular cart abandonment solution is the abandoned cart email or email recovery campaign. A great way to re-engage if you were able to get your prospective customer to give you their email. We promise to bring you a new article with the best abandoned cart emails cart and abandonment email examples soon.

ASOS example of abandoned cart email for their email recovery campaign, the most popular cart abandonment solution.

ASOS example of abandoned cart email for their email recovery campaign, the most popular cart abandonment solution.

To help you on your quest to lower your shop’s abandonment rate, we will also include examples of abandoned cart text messages, subject lines and email sequence.

If they don’t respond to your emails, not everything is lost. You can always implement an ad retargeting campaign. There are tools that even offer cross-device and cross-platform compatibility and mobile retargeting.

What is a Good Abandonment Recovery Rate?

According to the Baymard Institute, the average abandonment rate on online shoppers is 69.57%. In plain terms, 695 people out of 1,000 are abandoning their carts. A good abandonment recovery rate will be between 10% and 30% of revenue.

If you’d like to boost your website’s bottom line and gently nudge your customers through the checkout process, book a free site review with us.

We’ll take a look at your site free of charge.

Concerned with your mobile ecommerce checkout conversion rates? Discover how to maximize these seemingly fickle mobile visitors.

There are approximately 50 million mobile-only users in the US alone. That’s roughly one in five American adults who are “smartphone-only” internet users.

If all they have is a smartphone that’s what they will use to shop from someone. And that someone better be your ecommerce site. How? Maximizing mobile ecommerce checkout conversions. Here are a few ways to convert these mobile visitors into shoppers you may want to test on your online store.

And don’t miss out on our “bonus track” that shows you how to test your mobile checkout flow to boost conversions at the end of this article.

Gauge Mobile Ecommerce Checkout Success: the Add-to-Cart Rate

When we think about mobile ecommerce sites we tend to imagine small versions of our desktop sites. The screen is smaller. The images are smaller. The conversion rate is smaller.

Even as mobile traffic is eclipsing that of desktop and tablet visits, our mobile conversion rates remain low. We typically see mobile ecommerce conversion rates that are one-fourth to one-half that of desktop rates.

You could just say that people don’t buy your products on mobile devices, but there is a metric that says this isn’t so. It’s the Add-to-Cart Rate.

Mobile visitors are adding products to their carts. According to research the add-to-cart rate for smartphone users is only 25% lower than it is for desktop users.

When mobile visitors are adding products to their carts at higher rates than they complete checkout, we could say we have an abandonment problem.

Begin the Conversation on Maximizing Mobile Conversions

Just because a mobile buyer isn’t ready to checkout, you shouldn’t assume that you can’t begin a conversation with them. Offer to help them out in exchange for a first name and an email.

This tactic won’t be unfamiliar to most ecommerce sites.

  • Email me this cart
  • Save this cart
  • Get a discount in Facebook Messenger
  • Get a discount code

REI offers a “Save for Later” button in their cart. Clicking this takes the visitor to the account creation page. Nice save, REI.

Maximizing Mobile Conversions: REI offers a "Save for Later" option in their cart.

REI offers a “Save for Later” option in their cart.

Asking Visitors to Create an Account: Do or Do Not?

Which happens first? A visitor trusts you enough to create an account before they buy, or they buy and that builds the trust they need to create an account?

The truth is that you have a segment of each of these visitors coming to your site. You need to understand which is larger.

For some visitors, asking them to create an account with you to buy is going to be too much. It exacerbates the fact that buying or entering information on a mobile device is more difficult and the buyer is often victim to distractions around them.

Having an account can be a liability. If customers have an account and forget their password, they they are likely to abandon their carts. You need to know the abandonment rate at the account creation step. This will tell you how big your problem is.

The good news is that there are ways to increase conversions for these mobile shoppers. Check out the following example from Victoria’s Secret. A smooth and simple transition from shopping checkout to account creation.

Mobile ecommerce dilemma: create an account or guest checkout to maximize conversions?

Victoria’s Secret offers a guest checkout.

Victoria's Secret mobile ecommerce checkout example. Victoria's Secret asks the visitor to create a password after all information has been entered.

Victoria’s Secret still asks the visitor to create a password after all information has been entered.

Want more guest checkout inspiration? Check out these rocking mobile guest checkout tactics by major online retailers.

Always test account creation. The negative impact can be substantial, even taking into account future purchases of those who do create an account.

Mobile Ecommerce Checkout: Change the Order of Entry

When working with human beings, it is often surprising how changes that seem inconsequential can have a big impact. Changing the order of your cart is one of those things.

For example, look at Lowe’s mobile checkout. They ask for the credit card information before they ask for the buyer’s billing address.

Why on earth might this be better than asking for the billing or shipping address first like (almost) everyone else?

Who knows. It may require the buyer to dig out their credit card. That increases the sunk cost perception. At this point, they might as well finish entering the address — and anything else you ask.

Lowe’s asks for the credit card number before the billing address in their mobile checkout.

I can’t tell you that this will work for your audience, but it is certainly part of our playbook for maximizing mobile conversions.

Proper Use of Discounts

Automatically applying discounts not only eliminates one more step on the mobile ecommerce checkout, but it will entice your customers to keep moving forward.

How to Offer Third-party Payment Options and Boost Mobile Conversions

If entering your name, address, credit card number is a pain on a mobile device, you would think that using third-party payment systems might be a boon for mobile ecommerce checkout. After all, these services have your address and multiple purchase options on file, options that include direct deductions from your bank account.

Nonetheless, we find that simply offering Paypal and Amazon often won’t improve mobile checkout completion rates as much as we would expect.

Part of the reason may be when these options are offered. If the option to pay with Paypal is made after the visitor has entered their billing address, then a big part of the reason to use Paypal —  to avoid entering the address — is lost.

Etsy offers a Paypal payment option, but they do it after the billing address has been entered on the smartphone device.

How not to offer third party payment options: Etsy offers the Paypal option only after the mobile visitor has entered the payment details.

Etsy offers the Paypal option only after the mobile visitor has entered the payment details.

REI, on the other hand, offers both Paypal and Venmo payment options, and does so early in the mobile checkout process. Note that this also removes the requirement that the visitor create an account.

How to Offer Third-party Payment Options and Boost Mobile Conversions: REI offers PayPal and Venmo at sign-in.

REI offers PayPal and Venmo at sign-in.

You can explicitly position these payment methods as “Express Checkout”, “Fast Mobile Checkout”, or “Fastest on your phone”.

Magic Spoon leads with "Express Checkout" options on their mobile shopping cart.

Magic Spoon leads with “Express Checkout” options on their mobile shopping cart.

Use Trust and Proof in your Mobile Ecommerce Checkout to Boost Sales

This is true for both big-screen checkout as well as mobile. Remind your customers that this transaction is safe and secure.

Yes, you have less screen space to deal with on a mobile device. Nonetheless, you should test the following elements in your checkout.

These elements should generally be non-clickable. Don’t take your visitor out of the buying process. If you need more space to express something like your return policy, use a modal dialog box that opens over the mobile checkout screens.

Return policy

Summarize your risk reversal strategy. This can include anti-spam policies.

Maximize conversions on your mobile shopping cart checkout. Warby Parker reminds visitors of free shipping and returns near the "Place order" button.

Warby Parker reminds visitors of free shipping and returns near the “Place order” button.

Your value proposition

Offer a bulleted list of your key differentiators, such as free shipping, free training, free installation, fast service, years in business, etc.

Galeton reiterates their guarantee and return policy right below the Checkout button.

Mobile ecommerce checkout best practices: Galeton spells out their generous return policy right below the Checkout button on mobile phones.

Galeton spells out their generous return policy right below the Checkout button on mobile phones.

Testimonials

Yes, you can use testimonials in mobile checkout to reinforce the sale.

Customer support rating

If you have high marks on your net promoter score, brag a little.

Certifications. Make sure your certifications are there in the checkout. An example includes Google Trusted Store.

Security badges. Remind them that this is a secure transaction.

REI uses a Norton security badge to express the security of their site.

REI uses a Norton security badge to express the security of their site.

Phone number. You can build trust by putting a phone number in your checkout and avoid losing a sale. Use the right call to action and you may save sales with phone calls. Even if few buyers use the phone number, it can add credibility. It says, “Yes, we’re here for you.”

REI may lose some of the benefit as they bury their phone number in the footer. Warby Parker, on the other hand, offers a variety of contact methods throughout their cart.

REI buries their phone number way down in the footer.

REI buries their phone number way down in the footer.

Warby Parker offers a number of ways to complete the transaction if the customer has doubts or prefers them. Discover how to increase mobile ecommerce checkout conversions.

Warby Parker offers a number of ways to complete the transaction if the customer has doubts or prefers them. Discover how to increase mobile ecommerce checkout conversions.

Live Chat. Test this. We don’t yet have evidence that it can improve mobile ecommerce checkout completions, but it could save some abandoners.

Be careful how these kinds of tools render on smartphones.

Even a small Chat badge can get in the way of key information on a mobile device.

Optimize Mobile Checkout Element Placement: Experience a Lift in Conversions

With limited space, it’s important to decide where to test these elements on your shop’s mobile checkout. Here are some placement options for highest impact to experience a conversion boost.

Near call-to-action buttons

Test security badges, customer support ratings, and your return policy above or below buttons such as “Continue”, “Preview”, and “Complete Purchase”.

When a customer decides to buy, there is a natural desire to delay the decision before thumbing the button. We always want to “think about” our decisions involving money. You can counter this with an affirmation of the transaction.

We have written the most extensive guidelines for placement, copy and design of your mobile call-to-action buttons to increase conversions. Check it out.

Near requests for personal information

When a mobile visitor is about to submit personal information to you, there is a natural hesitation. Giving you their email address, physical address, credit card number, or CVV number can feel intrusive.

This is another great place to inject risk reversal messages, testimonials, and a reminder of your value proposition.

In a “sticky” header or footer

Sticky elements are very important in a mobile interaction. One of the first things we address on a mobile site is the contents of the sticky elements.

The header or footer that is always on screen should probably change when the visitor enters the mobile shop checkout process. This is a great place to test trust builders.

Almost any of these elements can be placed in a header or footer. Don’t underestimate the number of things you can place in a sticky header or footer.

As a stand-alone sticky element

Elements such as security badges, certifications, and ratings can be individual elements that stay on screen. These are typically at the bottom. Be careful that these elements do not take the visitor away from the checkout process.

Can I Increase my Mobile Store Checkouts with Apps?

We see apps as a retention and loyalty tool. Apps do have advantages. Apps can provide a more controlled environment, such as making the phone vibrate when you purchase.

If your app provides a feature that can’t be duplicated online, you may consider promoting it on your site.

Warby Parker offers their app in a sticky footer featuring their “Virtual try-on” feature.

Word of Caution: In case you were wondering about an app effectiveness in acquiring new customers, we don’t have any experience that indicates this, even if the shoppers are familiar with the brand. Besides, an app requires two high-commitment conversions: one to install that app, and then one to buy.

In essence, an app becomes part of your offering, a part of a beloved product line. If you have a rabid tribe of enthusiastic customers, the app may be your best retention and repurchase strategy.

Bonus Track: How to Test and Develop your Mobile Checkout

Imagine that your website’s mobile version is strictly targeted at aliens, beings from another world. These beings have oversized thumbs. They live on a world near black hole, so time changes much more slowly. And their world is covered in volcanoes, so there are always distractions around them.

This pretty much sums up your mobile shoppers. They are VERY different from your desktop and tablet visitors.

As such, you should test your mobile ecommerce checkout separately. Letting it evolve independently from your desktop checkout as you learn more about your smartphone visitors.

You can create a different mobile checkout experience in several ways.

Modify your Responsive Web Template for small screens

Your developers will be able to add, remove, and modify elements based on the size of the screen being reported by your visitors’ browsers.

Use third party add-ons that target mobile

Ecommerce sites like Shopify offer plugins that can implement elements such as exit-overlays and sticky headers and footers.

Use Javascript and change things in the browser

There are a number of testing and personalization tools that will allow you to change mobile checkout elements in your visitors’ browsers. You can shape the mobile checkout experience in this way to maximize mobile conversions.

Live User Testing

Would you like to see just how difficult your mobile checkout process is for visitors? If so, we recommend virtually looking over your visitors shoulders.

We are fortunate to live in a golden age of marketing tools. Services like Validately and UserTesting will bring people to purchase something from your website on their smartphone, while recording and talking through their experience.

You will have at least one “palm-to-forehead” moment watching these videos.

And then you can make it easier for your mobile customers to go through your ecommerce checkout process.

Would you like to know why your mobile visitors don’t buy from your ecommerce site? Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist®, unveils the mystery – and tells you what to do about it.

If you are like most ecommerce sites, you’re getting more mobile visitors, but the conversion rates are significantly lower than your desktop and tablet visitors – a lot lower.

Find out how to reverse this trend, increase your sales, and learn to love the small screen.

Understand your mobile ecommerce website visitors

Let’s take stock of your mobile visitors. What are they really like? This will require some analytics work. Even if you aren’t yet comfortable with analytics, get a Google Analytics login and follow along.

Are tablet visitors mobile or non-mobile?

Tablet visitors are generally happy with a desktop-like experience because they have large screens. However, tablet visitors are often in a “lean back” context, browsing for entertainment rather than to accomplish a goal. If your tablet visitors have conversion rates and average order values similar to your desktop visitors, you can regard them as, what I call, “non-mobile” or “big screen” visitors.

Look at your mobile visitors and non-mobile (desktop plus tablet) visitors separately.

Why your mobile visitors don’t buy from your ecommerce site: Questions to ask

To fully understand why your mobile visitors don’t buy from your ecommerce site, answer each of the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers.

1. Is your mobile traffic growing?

Look at the total number of visits (or sessions) for mobile and all visitors over time. Then look at the last month. Google Analytics has a report (Audience -> Mobile -> Overview) that will show you the percentage of these visitors to your site.

The Google Analytics Mobile Overview report shows mobile traffic (green line) is clearly trending up as a percentage of all traffic (blue line).

Figure 1: The Mobile Overview report shows mobile traffic (green line) is clearly trending up as a percentage of all traffic (blue line).

Has the percentage of mobile visitors changed over time? Is this percentage bigger or smaller in more recent months?

2. Does your mobile traffic convert lower than your desktop traffic?

How much do you make from each mobile visitor? Look at the revenue per visit or session value for mobile visitors and compare this to non-mobile visitors. You’ll find this by clicking the Ecommerce tab in the Mobile Overview report.

Choose the Ecommerce view to see average session value reports.

Choose the Ecommerce view to see average session value reports.

If your mobile visitors are converting less or spending less per transaction, you will see it in these metrics.

Report showing the average order value for mobile is less than desktop. Figure 2: In this example, the average order value for mobile visitors is only $0.20 compared to $3.75 for desktop visitors.

Figure 2: In this example, the average order value for mobile visitors is only $0.20 compared to $3.75 for desktop visitors.

You may want to analyze a longer period of time if you have seasonality in your ecommerce business.

3. Do your mobile visitors convert in other ways?

Look at non-ecommerce conversions, including email, subscriptions, registrations, phone calls, and social messenger permissions. Compare these conversion rates to your big-screen or desktop conversion rates.

report showing registration rates for mobile vs desktop visitors. Looking at Goal Set 1, we see that mobile visitors have a lower Registration rate (last column) than desktop visitors.

Figure 3: Looking at Goal Set 1, we see that mobile visitors have a lower Registration rate (last column) than desktop visitors.

4. Do your mobile visitors buy as much their desktop counterpart on the first transaction?

Look at your average transaction size, or average order value. Is it larger or smaller for mobile visitors? In Figure 2, we can see that the average order value for this online store is considerably smaller for mobile visitors ($46.60) than for desktop visitors ($160.43).

5. What channels make up your mobile traffic?

Do you have more mobile customers coming from email and social media?

While more visitors from YouTube are coming on desktop, the opposite is true for Facebook visitors.

Figure 4: While more visitors from YouTube are coming on desktop, the opposite is true for Facebook visitors.

6. What is your ecommerce cart abandonment rate?

This is the number of visitors who add to cart, but don’t check out.

CAR = Transactions / Sessions with Add to Cart

Related Reading: Mobile Call-to-Action Buttons: Best Guidelines for Placement, Copy, and Design

7. What is your mobile checkout abandonment rate?

This is the number of visitors who start to check out, but don’t complete the process.

COAR = Transactions / Sessions with clicks on Checkout

Answering these questions will help you determine the particular behavior of your small-screen visitors. When you are campaigning for resources, you need to be able to tell the story of your mobile visitors.

Report showing mobile visitors have higher abandonment rates than desktop.

Report showing mobile visitors have higher abandonment rates than desktop.

In the example above, we see that mobile visitors have much higher Cart Abandonment (75.66%) and Check-Out Abandonment (68.88%) rates than desktop visitors (52.43% and 37.62% respectively).

This is an indication that this mobile checkout process may have some issues.

The reasons your mobile visitors aren’t buying from your ecommerce site

It costs more to buy on a small-screen mobile device because it takes longer and it extracts a psychological price. There are three major reasons your conversion rate is lower for smartphone users.

  1. Your mobile visitors are coming with a lower level of urgency. They are standing in line, waiting for a table, or checking out of a group conversation.
  2. Your responsive website template assumes a mobile site is just a small desktop site. It’s just too hard to checkout.
  3. Your website is too slow. Mobile visitors have to wait much longer for a slow site because their connections have lower bandwidth.

Conversion Rate Optimization Tips: Mobile visitors aren’t here to buy. Don’t fight it

Mobile users are likely to have a “lean back” attitude compared with your big-screen visitors. For a portion of your visitors, their shopping experience is less urgent, driven more by opportunity than by purpose.

Mobile visits are more often sourced by interruptions than by intent-driven search advertising. They are clicking through, based on a recommendation on Instagram, clicking on your Facebook ad, or coming from your abandoned cart email. In these cases, they are responding to an interruption. They may have a need for your product, but they weren’t shopping intentionally. They were interrupted.

Visitors coming from a search engine are intentional. They are signaling that they are actively trying to solve a problem.

Your mobile traffic is more likely to come from interrupt-driven sources: email and social media websites. Accept this, and move on.

“If you are investing more in the cheap clicks of social media, you are going to attract more “lean back” mobile visitors.”

Start a conversation instead

If you have a large percentage of mobile visitors coming from interrupt-driven campaigns and they are not converting, don’t focus on the sale. Focus on getting an email address or permission to communicate via a social messaging app, like Facebook Messenger.

What call to action would a mobile visitor respond to?

Content: Offer sizing guides, buyers guides, style guides, installation, and how-to videos in exchange for an email address.

Save my work: Offer to store the items they’ve added to their cart in exchange for an email. We call this a “screen hopper”. They may be more willing to buy later when they are checking emails on their computer at work. Offer to send them a link to their wish list via Facebook Messenger. Just know that their return visit will probably be on their smartphone.

Join our community: Offer to make your more passionate mobile visitors a part of an exclusive community.

Discounts. Offer a future discount in exchange for their email address or permission to send them a message.

Don’t redo the whole site. Land mobile visitors on specially designed pages in your online store.

Focus on getting the second visit.

It’s hard to complete forms on a smartphone

Forms are frustrating. They take the joy out of the purchase. No one likes entering their address once, let alone twice. And we tend to make more mistakes on a mobile keyboard. It’s not hard to track form errors in analytics. If you do, you will likely find more errors from mobile visitors.

The reason mobile is harder is the input method: 2 thumbs vs. 10 fingers for a keyboard. And on-screen keyboards aren’t tactile. There’s no feedback. Mistakes happen more often, extracting a psychological price.

Your clue that you have a user-experience problem is a high checkout abandonment rate (see above). If so, you should help your mobile visitors out.

Watch some screen captures

The recommendations I give here may or may not be affecting your visitors. Before you begin making changes to your site based on my rantings, find out which issues are affecting you.

The best way to do this is by watching screen recordings. I KNOW IT’S BORING. But it will take you less time to watch 100 of your visitors interact with your checkout than to make all of my recommended changes.

Screen recordings are pretty easy to get these days. Look at tools such as CrazyEgg, Sessioncam, Mouseflow, and Hotjar.

I recommend watching 50 to 100 visits that include a checkout or an abandonment. The best tools will let you search for these particular recordings. As you watch, tally the number of visitors who struggle, and notice which fields trip them. Star the visits that result in an abandonment. You’ll want to play these for your development team later.

Reduce the form fields

It may seem obvious that you need a credit card billing address, expiration date and CVV number. But, do you really?

Can you get this information from PayPal, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, or some other service?

Use the right mobile keyboards

There is no good reason to make me enter sixteen numbers using a QWERTY keyboard. The number targets are tiny. Give me the numeric keypad.

The same goes for entering a phone number, CVV, expiration date, PIN, and US postal codes. Use the numeric keypad please.

Choosing the wrong keyboard may be the reason mobile visitors don't buy from your ecommerce site. Use the numeric keyboard for numeric fields.

Figure 5: Use the numeric keyboard for numeric fields.

If you want my email address, please use the email keyboard. It doesn’t require me to do anything special to enter “@”, “.” or “.com”.

Eliminate the endless drop-downs

How many countries are there in the world? If you are choosing your country on a mobile device, you know there is a lot, about two minutes worth of scrolling through a dropdown. I’m from the United States. I have to scroll to the bottom of a long list of countries to find “United States”.

If you don’t ship to Mars and Venus, they shouldn’t be on the list.

Your mobile visitors know the abbreviation for their country. Let them enter “USA” or “Canada” or “UK”.

Also, I’m from Texas, which means I scroll through 40 states. I hate your state dropdown, but not as much as those poor souls from Wyoming.

Avoid fancy fields on mobile forms

There’s been a trend toward auto-formatting fields. Phone numbers magically get parentheses around the city code. Dashes magically appear.

Fancy fields fail too often on mobile devices. If you have the resources to continuously QA all of the new browsers on all of the new devices coming out, you’re probably okay.

Cover the exits

Use exit-triggered, or exit-intent popups to make a final pitch to your mobile visitors. These popups appear when your mobile visitor tries to leave the site. This is a great place to offer to continue the conversation, save the cart, or provide a discount.

Use trust and proof in your mobile ecommerce checkout

You can’t make mobile visitors wait

I often hear that web visitors have the attention span of a goldfish. Mobile visitors could have the patience of a redwood tree and still abandon your page because it doesn’t appear to load.

Your mobile site is slow. This is because no one has a 4G connection to the internet, even if they’re standing right under the cell tower. Have you tested your website with the WiFi turned off? Probably not.

Your mobile site must be snappy. Google considers a mobile page speed slow if it takes more than 2.5 seconds to load over a 4G connection. There is nothing more painful than having to wait for the information needed right there and then when on a smartphone. Even a goldfish won’t hang around if you’re not responding quickly.

Barriers to Sales in Mobile Ecommerce Websites: Someone else designed my shopping cart

You will run into some barriers in optimizing your mobile checkout.

We’ve all been told to think “out of the box.” But “out of the box” shopping carts do not let us customize for our mobile visitors.

Third party services such as Shopify and BigCommerce do their best to give you a strong starting point. But you’ll need resources to customize their default experience for mobile.

Integration with third-party payment options requires work. Services like PayPal and Stripe need to balance security with integration that looks seamless. This is just the first step toward mobile-optimized checkouts.

Your mobile website isn’t a mini desktop site

Google successfully convinced most online businesses to go to a responsive web template with its Mobilegeddon threat. As I said in “Is Google Using Mobilegeddon to Lead You Astray?”, a responsive desktop website only gets you part of the way there.

  • Mobile visitors want more than a mini-me of your desktop site. They want:
  • Smaller forms.
  • Faster load times. Have you tried using your mobile site outside of your corporate WiFi network?
  • Thumb-driven content. Sliders and carousels work on mobile.
  • Custom keyboards for numbers, email addresses and text.
  • Location-based content, like maps.

Mobile visitors want something fundamentally different. Give it to them. Expect to make changes to the way your responsive template works. After a period of testing, your mobile site will evolve away from your big-screen site. That’s as it should be, and it’s the only way to get your mobile site converting as high as your desktop site.

Related Reading:

All you need to know about mobile call-to-action buttons to increase conversions. Don’t miss out on these call-to-action (CTA) button design guidelines.

The world is mobile. Some users may not even own a desktop and, with the probable exception of work, they prefer mobile. And we say “probable” because nowadays some workplaces offer tablets. So, let’s  not forget about tablets.

You want every visitor to count towards your conversion goals, and this includes your mobile conversion goals.

Mobile best practices don’t really exist. Every audience is different, and we have the tests to prove it. What works for one business doesn’t always work for others.

There is an almost infinite number of things that you can consider for testing on a website. And many of them aren’t worth testing.

We are going to share some design ideas for your website’s mobile call-to-action buttons, so you can test them and discover what works for yours.

Conversion Sciences’ Guidelines for Mobile Call-to-Action Buttons

We’ll split these ideas into three major categories: placement, copy, and design. You can elaborate your own list of ideas — we call them hypotheses — based on what you know about your visitors and your website that could result in a lift in conversions.
Remember, there are no best practice unicorns hidden in this article.

Before delving into CTA button placement, copy, and design, let’s review some mobile conversion testing concepts.

Mobile visitors are in a fundamentally different context than their desktop counterparts

Most mobile websites are responsive designs, designed first for the desktop. This only gets you 50% of the way to a high-converting mobile website. Why? Because a mobile visitor is immersed in a context that is essentially different than the one for desktop visitors. They are waiting for a table, standing in line at the bank, or relaxing on their couch. Often, they are better positioned to start a conversation than to finish a transaction.

This is one reason we often see mobile conversion rates that are a half or a quarter of desktop conversion rates.

As we test for conversions the mobile version will evolve and differentiate itself from the desktop version. We have to make different decisions on which calls to action to use, which calls to action to prioritize, where to place them, whether to use text or icons, and so on.

It is not obvious how to design your mobile call-to-action buttons to maximize conversions.

Always Test your Mobile CTA Buttons

Consider the symbol for infinity. The infinity symbol represents to us the fact that there is an almost infinite number of things that you can consider for testing on a website. From the operating system to the type of visitor and everything in between.

The number of tests we could elaborate could really reach infinity.

Placement, size, call to action text, stickiness, and frequency all combine to increase the number of possibilities. And don’t forget to consider interactions with other elements. Is that chat icon covering up your mobile call to action button?

Note: In the following sections, we run the design tips, ideas and guidelines from the top organically ranking articles on mobile call-to-action button by the conversion scientist himself: Brian Massey, who’s been a conversion optimization expert since 2007.

Discover what he has to say on mobile call-to-action button placement, copy and design. You’ll be surprised and learn a ton from his answers.

How to Identify the Optimal Placement for your Mobile CTA Buttons

Your visitors’ thumbs are spending too much time on your screens and your mobile conversion rate is suffering. – Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist®.

Conversion Sciences Team: mobile call-to-action button placement best practices

We found articles on this topic that recommended organizing mobile CTAs according to their priority. For example, on an ecommerce site, you should order these calls to action: “Continue shopping”, “View your cart” and finally, “Check out”. The literature said they should be ordered to follow eye movement, from top to bottom,

Is this correct and what guidelines would you give somebody regarding mobile call-to-action button placement?

Brian Massey: What you mention isn’t wrong on desktop screens, but on mobile it’s very different.

For mobile websites, the first question we ask is, which call to action do we optimize for.

How hard is it to take action on a mobile device? It’s pretty hard, even for digital “natives”. Forms are just more difficult to fill out on a mobile device than using a keyboard.

This is one reason for lower mobile conversion rates. In general, the longer your forms, the lower your conversion rates. This problem is amplified by small digital keyboards.

On one particular ecommerce website that was researched, visitors have to go through a four step registration process to buy from this e-retailer on desktop.

If your signup process requires them to find a piece of information, such as a password or account number, your mobile conversion rates will drop.

On mobile, it may make sense to prioritize for something easier to complete. We have to find out which call to action to optimize for. For example, we may find that the best option is optimizing for collecting emails.

Discover how to create top converting registration forms for your website or landing pages. Don’t let the design of your form hurt your conversion rate.

Are your forms stopping your visitors from converting on your site? Follow these guide and create the highest converting registration forms ever. Of course, this will not preclude you from testing what works and what doesn’t work on your site and with your audience. Read on!

Steps for Creating Top Converting Registration Forms

I recently went to a website to buy a new keyboard for a laptop. I found the site with the right price and delivery and put the keyboard in my cart.

When I went to checkout, the first question on the billing form was Gender.

Gender?

Why does an electronics part manufacturer need to know if I’m a man or woman?

It introduced enough doubt in my process that I left — I abandoned my order.

The unfortunate statistic is that 86% of visitors abandon forms of all kinds.

It’s doubly heartbreaking when they do so in their cart, because that costs you ready buyers.

How to Create the Highest Converting Registration Forms: 13 Key Tips

The thirteen recommendations made here will set you on a path to reduce your abandonment rates. My favorites are:

  • What am I signing up for? Use a title that explains why the user needs to sign up. Keep this intro short, sweet and simple. Make sure your call to action matches the title. Be more creative than a “Submit” button.
  • Show them their password (who said invisible passwords was a good idea?) Let them pick if they want to see it or not.
  • Put errors in an obvious place and make them visible. Make sure to read the last section on how to use error messages as a conversion opportunity.
How to create top converting registration forms: informational messages make for a smoother conversion path when they are located close to the corresponding field. Easy to notice and to understand.

How to create top converting registration forms: informational messages make for a smoother conversion path when they are located close to the corresponding field. Easy to notice and to understand.

Here’s the rest of the recommendations for creating top converting registration forms.

  • A social signup option can speed up the form filling process and help you create the best conversion registrations forms.
  • Leverage Autofill whenever possible or offer preset options. This is especially true on mobile devices. Nothing more annoying than fumbling around with a form.
  • Make the most of mobile devices. Enable only relevant keypads as required on the field. Make it easy for your visitors. Don’t make them switch to a numeric keypad or keyboard to enter the zip code or phone. Use specific HTML input types. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll avoid friction in this crucial conversion moment.
  • Explain why you need the information and what you expect them to enter. Just because it’s evident to you, does not mean it’s clear to everybody. The same applies to mandatory fields.
  • Limit the number of fields in your form. Don’t drive your prospects away at the mere sight of the longest form ever.
  • Billing address same as shipping address? One checkmark will take care of filling up the fields – internally, of course.
  • Multi-step forms. Split. Split. Split. Research shows that multi-step forms outperform their single-step registration forms. Especially when asking for sensitive information (such as phone) or when the form is too long. Adding a progress bar will entice your prospects to keep going as they are almost done.
  • Google’s UX researchers found that aligning labels top-left of the fields increased form completion time. This is because it requires fewer ‘visual fixations’. Basically, your eyes scan downwards faster. You are forced to scan in a zig-zag motion when the labels are placed to the left of the fields. The exception is when you are using always visible inline form field labels.
  • Did I mention speed? You can make your website as fast as possible, but slowing down like molasses at the time of filling out a form is unacceptable. Make sure your forms load fast and don’t slow down your page speed to increase conversions.
  • Make sure you are GDPR compliant. You have to ask permission for each and every opt-in.

Ready to AB Test? Read on!

UX Design Guide for Form Validation to Lift your Conversion Rates

Forms are a key component of Landing Pages (in addition to Offer, Image, Trust and Proof). When a visitor considers completing a form — for lead gen, to subscribe or to purchase — it is the moment of truth.

So, it is sad that so many forms work to chase these ready customers and prospects away. Forms are meant to have a conversation with the user. One that guides them all the way to the conversion with the best UX possible.

Form validation used to be a “developer” thing and we need to make it a marketing thing. Forms are placed at your sales funnel’s most crucial moment, the conversion. Therefore, it is only logical that improving the UX would help lift conversion rates.

Here are four elements to consider as you guide development of your website forms in these areas to avoid confusion:

1. When to Show Validation Errors: The right time to inform  the user about problems or success

Consider the two main types of form validation: Inline validation and Post-Submit validation.

Inline validation checks field entries as the information is entered.

Post-submit validation validates entries after submitting the entire form. The visitor doesn’t know if the username they chose was already taken or if their email address was entered incorrectly until after they click the button.

If mistakes were made and the form re-loads, the visitor must manually search for the incomplete fields, and correct them. This adds friction to a shopping cart checkout process or a newsletter signup. This hurts completion rates.

Post-submit validation also suffers from scroll confusion. When the page reloads, the error messages often appear off-screen. The visitor may not know that there’s even a problem with their entry until they scroll around. This is a bigger problem on mobile devices where screens are smaller.

Our recommendation is to use inline validation so users can adjust, learn, and correct as they move from field to field. Inline validation is especially effective for the username and password fields, or any field with strict input requirements.

Instagram makes good use of "always visible inline field labels." Discover how to create top converting registration forms for your website or landing pages. Don’t let the design of your form hurt your conversion rate.

Instagram makes good use of “always visible inline field labels.”

Don’t limit messages to errors. Success validation messages are always helpful and encouraging. For example, a simple check mark by the field can let the user know their username was accepted and it’s unique.

2. Where to Display Validation Errors: Right place for validation messages

When messages are located close to the corresponding “failing” field, they lead to a smoother path for conversion. They become easier to notice and to understand.

You may be tempted to add the error messages by the Submit button. But there are only two occasions where you can display the error or validation message next to the Submit button.

The first is  when you perform an post-submit validation and there was no page reload.

The second is when the error affects the whole form, as may happen with a dropped mobile connection, and the page was not reloaded.

In any case, if there was a reload of the page, display the validation errors at the top of the page.

Wave accounting software registration form. Great location for the informational password field. Their social proof is very persuasive.

Wave accounting software registration form. Great location for the informational password field. Their social proof is very persuasive.

3. Right color or Right Graphic Representation

Did you know that 1 in 12 men have some degree of color blindness? Source: Color Blindness

Color blindness is more prevalent among males than females, because the most common form of color vision deficiency is encoded on the X sex chromosome. Source.

In spite of this, if you follow the rules (blue is informational, green is success, red is an error and yellow as a warning) even color-blind visitors will understand the meaning.

If red-green color blindness is the most prevalent - one in twelve men are color blind - should you rely solely on color to get your message across in your registration forms? Image source: Pinterest.

If red-green color blindness is the most prevalent – one in twelve men are color blind – should you rely solely on color to get your message across in your registration forms? Image source: Pinterest.

I recall asking a friend of mine – yes, he was color-blind – how could he tell the traffic signals apart. His answer was, “I know where they are placed.”

We don’t have specific placements on forms, but we can take advantage of icons. And these have rules as well: X for error, checkmark for success, exclamation point for warning and “i” for informational messages.

4. Clear and persuasive language for error messages

A red symbol notifying you that there is an error and no explanation of what it is or how to fix it can lead to form abandonment. It becomes extremely frustrating for users that may be trying to register for your demo or buy from your online store when they don’t know what they did wrong.

Instagram's sign up form error messages are not helpful to the user. There is no clear explanation on how to fix them.

Instagram’s sign up form error messages are not helpful to the user. There is no clear explanation on how to fix them.

If all problems are opportunities, then error messages and error pages are generally missed opportunities. Marketing should be policing the errors reported on their website, messages that have traditionally been written by a techie in IT.

Clear and persuasive language for error messages can actually work in your favor, improving the user experience and increasing conversions.

I’ll give you an example. A few months ago I had to make a doctor’s appointment. The receptionist scheduled me for the following day with the nurse practitioner. I asked if I could see the doctor – best dermatologist in this neck of the woods – and her answer was “No, you will have to wait until she comes back from vacation.” Which happened to be 3 days later.

What do you think would have happened if she would have said, “Of course. She will be back from vacation on this date. But we can get you in tomorrow if you’d like to see her nurse practitioner”. She could have probably have persuaded me to see the NP.

Wayfair's newsletter sign up form has a confusing call to action button text. What will happen after I press continue?

Wayfair’s newsletter sign up form has a confusing call to action button text. What will happen after I press continue?

Related Reading: Why is my Conversion Rate Dropping? 8 Common Reasons

How to Write Great Error Messages

Follow these guidelines to write error message that won’t have your visitor feel like an idiot.

  1. Get rid of IT jargon. Say goodbye to “Submit”, “Send” or “Error”, not only do they have different meanings in English language, they have a negative connotation putting the blame on the user.
  2. Clearly and simply identify the error and give the user a solution.
  3. Never blame the user. Rephrase your error messages or better yet, provide your website visitors with informational messages so they know what to enter in the first place.
  4. Provide a way to contact you, be it chat, email or a customer service number, in case the user needs your help to solve the issue.

Nothing is more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. You’ll want to know why, so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check.

Watching your conversion rate drop is not fun. It will make you lose sleep until you know what’s causing it. And maybe worse until you see it climbing back up again.

Fortunately, any drop in conversion rate has an explanation and one or more solutions.

Bringing it back may be just a matter of time, but just waiting is never a good answer. Sudden drops in conversions can be quite frustrating if you do not know where to dig. Do you agree?

It may be some of the obvious culprits that are to blame for your website conversion rate dropping – website redesigns, landing page changes, new offers, pricing, promos, or sales. But if it’s not obvious, keep calm. Go through this checklist and get it taken care of.

 

Keep calm and read this post if your conversion rates are dropping.

Keep calm and read this post if your conversion rates are dropping.

1. Those Devilish Tracking Codes

It happens. You may believe your analytics tracking codes, also called tags, are working and reporting on your conversions without a hitch. You may find that’s not the case anymore. Incorrectly installed tracking codes could be the cause of your conversion rate dropping.

Maybe they got corrupted when making small tweaks to your site or when implementing a new campaign or when versioning a landing page.

Retrace your steps. Try to remember what you have modified lately. Yes, this is when you’ll realize you should make it a habit to use Google Analytics’ Annotations. This is a great way to easily find the changes you’ve made, changes that may have broken your tracking.

To make sure all of your analytics tracking codes work as they should, we recommend Google Tag Assistant. This is a plugin for your Chrome browser. It will tell you if your tracking is setup properly on any page of your site. Heed the recommendations in the tool. Nothing should be misconfigured.

Here are some places to look:

  • Did you launch any new landing pages? If so, are the tracking codes setup on them?
  • Did you release any new offers? Make sure you’re creating goals in Google Analytics for all of your reports, demos, trials and purchases.
  • Did you add any third-party tools to your site or ecommerce plugins? Make sure they are properly integrated with Google Analytics.

2. Conversion Rate Dropping due to Lack of Browser Compatibility?

Google Analytics has very handy reports to identify where the problem may lie. Check for a significant drop in conversions for a particular browser. Your major browsers include Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox & Edge and on mobile, Android and iOS.

Found it?

Browser testing: Target Chrome 71.0.3578.98 / Windows 2008 R2.

Browser testing: Target Chrome 71.0.3578.98 / Windows 2008 R2.

Now we test the Target website on Chrome 51.0.2704.103 / Windows 2008 R2. Notice the differences.

Now we test the Target website on Chrome 51.0.2704.103 / Windows 2008 R2. Notice the differences.

Finally, Target website tested on Firefox 30.0 / Debian 6.0.

Finally, Target website tested on Firefox 30.0 / Debian 6.0.

Test your checkout flow, your forms, on-exit intent pop-ups, even your landing pages with that browser. Keep in mind that not all browsers behave in the same way on every operating system. Therefore, you have to check on Windows, Mac and Linux, at the very least. Has some of your website’s CSS or Javascript become obsolete?

Google Analytics has a very handy report for this: Audience > Technology > Browser

Google Analytics browser report.

Google Analytics browser report.

Then select the Ecommerce report. You’ll be able to look for browsers that underperform.

If it’s not a particular browser, check for mobile, tablet, desktop or amp technical bugs or issues. Is an element of your responsive landing page now hidden from view on a mobile device?

3. Don’t Underestimate Website Performance

If your server or your CDN are experiencing glitches, or your website is suffering from a sudden slow down in page load speed, you may not have dropped your organic rankings yet but your customer UX has degraded.

Moreover, your visitors are currently sending those unhappy experience signals to search engines. Ouch!

Check the Search Console coverage report to make sure you didn’t have any 500 internal server error. If so, talk to your hosting company or sys admins to have them resolve it.

Google Search console coverage report. Is your server or CDN misbehaving? Could this be the cause of your conversion rate dropping?

Google Search console coverage report. Is your server or CDN misbehaving? Could this be the cause of your conversion rate dropping?

Now take a look at the Google Analytics speed reports and compare it with the previous period. A slowdown of the average server response time will point to a need for additional server resources or to a software upgrade. If the average page load time is the one that has increased and you are running a CMS like Magento, Shopify or WordPress, start digging into extensions, plugins and image sizes.

Improve visitor experience by addressing page load speed issues.

Improve visitor experience by addressing page load speed issues.

I guess, pinpointing why your website conversion rate is dropping can get a bit technical, huh?

4. Have you Forgotten to Optimize for Mobile Devices?

Ok, you already checked that your site was displaying correctly when you checked for technical issues. But, it’s possible that your mobile customers require a different conversion experience than the one you crafted for your desktop users.

Access Google Analytics and compare traffic for devices under Mobile Audience overview year over year. Maybe it’s time to contact our Mobile CRO experts. We wrote the book on it.

 

5. Your Marketing Personas Changed Behaviors

Usually, customer behavior takes quite a long time to reflect negatively on your conversion rates. So, concentrate on other issues unless you’ve noticed your conversion rate dropping for a while.

If the latter is the case, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at your marketing personas. Times do change.

6. Conversion Rate Dropping with a Traffic Increase?

A decline in traffic volume can obviously decrease the number of conversions and possibly your online shop conversion rate. But what if there’s an increase in traffic? Yes, even an increase in traffic can badly affect a website’s conversion rates.

First things first. Make sure you identify the traffic source that has experienced a decrease in conversion rate. Is it the same as the one whose traffic volume increased? Remember to check their landing page functionality. If that’s not the problem, review a few of these scenarios.

6.1 Paid Traffic Increase

A lower conversion rate with a paid traffic increase could be pointing to non-relevant campaign targeting or to a lack of understanding what will persuade your visitors to buy or try your products or services.

Maybe you need to put things in perspective and understand that in some occasions such as Black Friday, prospects perform a lot of comparison shopping. Therefore you may experience much higher traffic driven by your social or ppc campaigns but a decline in conversion rates. I bet you are spending more on these campaigns as well, aren’t you?

Optimize your ad copy and landing pages accordingly so your site won’t be left behind in this increased competition and avoid significantly lower conversion rates.

Answer this, have you been running the same campaign for a long time? People are clicking but not converting? Maybe it’s time to change the landing page.

Examine each step of your funnel and look for weak points. Arm yourself with Heat Maps. They can definitely help you identify what your visitors are seeing or missing. Engage in split testing and get those conversion rates back up.

6.2 Sudden Surge in Social or Organic Traffic Volume

A spike in social or organic traffic may be attributed to the creation of clickbait blog posts. The problem with these articles, is that while traffic may increase, these visitors tend not to convert – at least not immediately. You will experience a perceived “drop” on conversion rates as a similar number of conversions are being diluted in higher traffic. Social traffic tends to react faster than organic, so look for correlations there first.

6.3 The Attack of the Bots or Ghost Spam

Bots can also generate a sudden growth in direct or referral traffic. It’s quite easy to identify those bots on analytics – unless they were spectacularly well coded. This is rarely the case. Bots don’t have gender, age and they have 100% bounce rate.

They will produce the same effect as any spurt in irrelevant and non-converting traffic: declining conversion rates.

6.4 Are You Emailing Less?

Email is one of the highest converting traffic sources for most businesses. If you have reduced the frequency of email or have changed the kind of email you are sending, this may impact you overall conversion rates.

Nothing more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. Evidently, you’ll want to know why so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check.

Nothing more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. Evidently, you’ll want to know why so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check. This image has been designed using resources from Freepik.com.

7. Blame Seasonality for Your Conversion Rate Dropping

Does your conversion tend to drop at this time of the year? Seasonality usually causes a very rapid change in conversion rates and it may be accompanied of lower traffic or not.

If your traffic has not changed, compare with last year’s data and see if you are following trend. We tend to think of seasonal changes as holiday times but professional services like website design tends to drop during those times.

One of the most interesting seasonality drops I have ever seen happens in the wedding services industry every New Year’s eve. I guess one celebration offsets the planning of the other. So, tread carefully when making website changes without considering these seasonal effects or they could play against you.

The same seasonality may affect traffic, therefore always keep track of decreases or increases in seasonal trends.

8. When your Competitors Cause your Conversion Rate to Drop

If your conversion rate is dropping and you cannot find anything wrong with your site or with your actions, you may want to check what your competitors are up to.

Maybe they are running a special discount or a promotion that drives conversions away from you. Monitor their actions and respond accordingly. This may help you address some of the conversion loss.

Of course, lower conversion rates don’t mean as much as Return on Investment (ROI), so don’t leave that metric aside, You may be alarmed because you see your conversion rate dropping but in the end, that’s not what really matters What counts is your bottom line. Looking at a single conversion rate could be narrowing your view of the business, especially on this day and age of omnichannel marketing.

And, if all else fails, you can hire Conversion Sciences for a CRO Audit. Having a pair of expert eyes analyze your site, your 360 degree customer journey and review your conversion rates is always a plus.

Sales funnel or full funnel conversion optimization? Which should you use and when? It all depends on what you want to understand.

Full funnel conversion optimization – or the Conversion Sciences Profit Funnel™ – provides the analysis and insights needed to help positively impact your business bottom line. Analyzing a sales funnel helps improve those issues found in a specific buying process.

There is nothing wrong about analyzing a sales funnel conversion rate or a sales funnel model for a specific segment of a customer journey. But your online business will definitively benefit from performing a Profit Funnel™ or full-funnel conversion optimization as well.

A highly experienced team of conversion experts can leverage both models when optimizing, instead of narrowing the view and hurting profits. An inexperienced conversion consultant will only see a siloed series of sales funnels, evaluate them independently and make decisions based on their own unique ROAS instead of their interactions.

Deliver double-digit sales growth every year, year after year. Increase revenues and profit. And shorten your sales cycle with our ecommerce and lead generation solutions.

Let’s review the key differences between sales funnel and full funnel conversion optimization or Profit Funnel™. We’ll begin with a great example of both models, a definition of a full marketing funnel. Finally, we’ll cover their differences in scope and the metrics used by each funnel.

Happy customers means returning customers. The starting point for full funnel conversion optimization is the customer blueprint and guess whose CRO audit services include a map of the customer journey for your online shop? Conversion Sciences.

Happy customers means returning customers. The starting point for full funnel conversion optimization is the customer blueprint and guess whose CRO audit services include a map of the customer journey for your online shop?

Example of Sales Funnel vs Full Funnel Conversion Optimization

Imagine an addiction treatment center that offers both low-cost at-home testing kits and treatment programs. Their at-home drug testing kit sells for $10, and it costs $5 to manufacture and ship. Their treatment programs start at $15,000.

They have an effective social media presence, paid campaigns to engage and attract their target market. And they also provide valuable resources for people with addiction problems and for their loved on their website. These range from informational articles to online quizzes to help find out whether or not one is suffering from an addiction and what is the best course of action.

Ok. Time to tackle sales funnel optimization. If they analyze their PPC sales funnel they will realize that it is costing them $20 in ad spend to convert each home testing kit sale. This added to the manufacturing and shipping costs may lead them to determine that this $10 sale is costing the company $25. But they are not looking at their profit margins, they are simply calculating Return on Ad Spend or ROAS.

Thus, they may decide to turn off the ad spend and stop this failing campaign because they “lose” $15 per sale. Or they may attempt to improve a Google Ads campaign that is already performing quite well.

But what if this addiction treatment center looks at the full-marketing funnel or Profit Funnel™ instead?

They would find that 20% of their customers have repeated their kit purchase every 3 months.

By the same token, they have not estimated the impact that their content development and social media efforts have on those conversions. And they were attributing the sale to the last touch-point.

As the buyer journey is not limited to a single channel, analyzing a single sales funnel could narrow your business focus and marketing assessment scope.

Moreover, this treatment center finds that 2% of the people who purchase their $10 test later sends a loved one to their center for a $15k treatment program. Those $20 in ad spend for each testing kit sale got the family to notice their services and inquire about their drug-rehab program. Therefore, for every 100 tests they sell, an average of 2 patients will join their treatment program generating a minimum of $30,000 in revenue.

Before I became the CMO, I was more focused on how we were spending our marketing budget than on how marketing could help drive long-term business objectives.But thinking like this holds businesses back. Marketing should be valued for its long-term potential, rather than its short-term efficiencies.

-Monty Sharma, CEO and CMO, Jenny Craig

So, What is Full Funnel Conversion Optimization or Profit Funnel™ Optimization?

As we have noticed, a full funnel evaluates the 360 degree customer journey with a company or brand. Its goal is not only to acquire a customer but also to understand, nurture and improve their relationship and experience with the brand.

It focuses on not only pre but post-transaction because it takes into account how this will affect the probability of increased number of subscription renewals or sales, lower customer rotation, lower customer acquisition costs, and increased profit margins.

As we can clearly see, even though it’s called a funnel, this model looks more like an infinite loop with many potential touch-points throughout the buyers journey, over time and across a multitude of devices and online/offline experiences.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa? Full funnel analysis and optimization will deliver a more cohesive personalized experience to your online customer segments.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa? Photo: Grant Ritchie via Unsplash.

1. Sales Funnel vs Profit Funnel™ or Full Funnel Optimization: Differences in Scope

One of the main differences between sales funnel and a full funnel conversion optimization is its scope. The oftentimes narrow span of a sales funnel is overshadowed by the number of elements or touch-points that a Profit Funnel™ considers.

Let’s check them out.

Single Path vs Infinite Loop: Are you optimizing for Omni channel yet?

The most evident difference between the sales and the Profit Funnel™ models lies in their reach. Highly restricted to a specific conversion path for the sales funnel versus a very broad view of the customer journey for the latter.

While most sales funnels are focused on a single transaction (such as a lead, sale or subscription) the full funnel or Profit Funnel™ acknowledges the entire lifetime of a potential customer or client. Its purpose is to allow us to take a step back and look at the entire customer journey or full marketing funnel and help optimize by what is most profitable without discarding the customer experience.

One Decision Maker vs Multiple Stakeholders

Have you been optimizing for a single decision-maker? Maybe you were leaving some marketing personas out of the equation. The higher the ticket price, especially for B2Bs, the higher the likelihood of having more than a single decision-maker involved in the purchasing process. Most companies will include different stakeholders’ input through the funnel and each one of them may further or delay that coveted B2B sale.

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person. Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

Conversion Sciences Profit Funnel™ recognizes and accounts for this fact. Trying to optimize a single funnel to convert this lead is short-sighted, when understanding the 360 degree customer journey and optimizing for it, will significantly increase conversions and boost profit margins.

Single Device vs Cross-Device

We often find – when auditing a client’s conversion efforts – that their sales funnels don’t include mobile customers. Addressing this gap via mobile conversion optimization efforts has increased their profits manyfold.

The Profit Funnel™ recognizes the value of determining which of those platforms holds the highest potential for each particular conversion and finding a way to best optimize each path.

Sales funnels often focus on increasing conversions on a certain page on either mobile, tablet, or desktop. Thus, leaving out the reality that customers will interact with your brand, product or service in multiple ways and through as many devices as exist.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa?

Full Funnel Conversion Optimization Enables a More Personalized Online Experience

The data-driven strategy of optimizing the full marketing funnel helps you identify consumer segments. Behavioral information can be collected in-store, online, and post-visit. The insights derived from this analysis helps you craft and deliver online personalized experiences to boost conversions and increase their contribution to your bottom line. All the while deriving insights to improving your marketing strategy.

“You are engaging with the consumer on an intimate level — they are telling you what products are interesting. That customer data is one of the most important things to grow your brand.” – Kate Kibler, Timberland’s VP of direct-to-consumer.

For high-traffic sites, Conversion Sciences offers the latest martech stacks – ML and AI-powered – via the Conversion Catalyst AI™. Our Conversion Catalyst AI™ builds a predictive model that identifies which visitors are ready to buy, and delivers the perfect experience so that they are more likely to buy from you. So you can deliver the most optimized experience be it on your website, on wearable devices, voice search, augmented-reality or any of the myriad of experiences the IoT brings us.

Full funnel analysis and optimization will deliver a more cohesive personalized experience to your online customer segments.

2. Sales Funnel vs Full Funnel Conversion Optimization Metrics

It’s hard to take a look at your full marketing funnel and try to gauge how well it’s working besides ROI and profit margins. But following those metrics without fully understanding which effort or efforts made the difference, is no way to run a business either. But lucky you. Full funnel is optimized with your bottom line in mind and a bespoke full funnel attribution will help you identify what’s helping and what’s hindering your conversions.

Therefore, the difference between sales funnel and full funnel conversion optimization is that you will end up concentrating your marketing spend on those efforts who bring in profitable returns. Much better than looking at a measly conversion rate. right? ;)

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person while Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person while Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

ROAS vs ROI

Are you narrowing your business focus down to sales funnels and conversion rates? Are you making decisions that affect your whole business by a simple ROAS? Or are you leveraging a 360 degree customer blueprint to improve your company’s profit margins?

Do you need your customer journey mapped? Check out Conversion Sciences conversion rate optimization audit services.

In the addiction treatment center example, when the sales funnel was not profitable (its ROAS was negative), they could have shut down the ad campaign. But when they looked at the full funnel (in-patient treatment registrations), the ad investment was profitable and it justified the initial losses in the funnel. It had a positive ROI.

Thus, by using both metrics, you can isolate those efforts whose ROAS may be positive but not their ROI, which takes into consideration not a single digitally advertised campaign but how each contributes to the business profit margins. And you can spare from killing efforts with negative ROAS because, in the end, their revenue-generating power is much larger than the one calculated from the revenue from ad campaign/cost of ad campaign.

By doing so, you change the focus to driving business performance, not just advertising performance.

Single Attribution vs Custom Attribution

Going back to the addiction treatment center example. There are things they do that contribute to their bottom line – such as informational blog posts, quizzes, etc. But their attribution model assigned the conversion value to a single Google Ads campaign.

People have several contacts with a brand before they even consider converting on that landing page, clicking on that PPC ad or that Instagram shoppable image. Which means that any and all contributions along the 360 degree funnel, or full funnel or Profit Funnel™ must be taken into account and their value toward each of the conversions (testing kit purchase, treatment) attributed properly to measure its impact on revenues and on profit margins.

While a single touch attribution model is a fast and simple way to allocate credit to a campaign, full funnel must use a bespoke or custom attribution model to understand what is working and what is not.

It’s common yet dangerous and naive to make assumptions about which touchpoint to attribute credit for a conversion. Oftentimes these assumptions are created from unrecognized personal bias and proven false through data analysis. This is one of the biggest reasons that analyzing all metrics is vital to a company’s long-term success.

Let’s dive into a brand new online marketing concept: Contextualization. Thanks to AI and ML, we have come a long way from creating customer segments. To improve conversions, we also need to understand context. Read on.

I predicted years ago that my business would be using machine learning for much of what we do manually today.

When I talk to people like Olcan Sercinoglu, I know that day is coming. Olcan is the CEO at a company called Scale Inference. He studied and worked under Peter Norton from Google – the guys who wrote the book on Machine Learning – and has spent the last 25 years as a developer engineer. Scaled Inference focuses on applying machine learning to online user interactions, and to personalize their experiences in ways we could never do by ourselves..

If we can understand how machine learning is different, we can understand how our digital marketing will be changed in the near future.

And so my interest was, “OK, this is great, but how do we how do we build a platform that is useful to others?”

Olcan Sercinoglu | Why Context Matters

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From Segmentation to Contextualization: The New Way to Look at Marketing Key Takeaways

  1. Moore’s Law. Back in 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that we’d be able to fit twice as many transistors on a microchip every year. We are experiencing a golden age of tools – the tools are getting better, less expensive and getting easier to use.
  2. The future of AI marketing. Is it all about personalization? Are the metrics you’re optimizing for clear? And if not, can AI even work for you? Or how do we take all this data and make it matter?
  3. Contextualization. We are taking this idea of personalization and introducing you to a new term – contextualization. Everything you do as a marketer should flow from optimization. By understanding the metric first, then you can ideate and create based on the context that’s being emerged from the data.

How do we use AI to make us better marketers?

AI Optimization-Why context matters with Olcan Sercinoglu

AI Optimization-Why context matters with Olcan Sercinoglu

But at the end of the day or what companies actually want out of that saying there hasn’t been much progress. I think a lot of progress is going to happen as machine learning shifts towards metrics and these easier modes of integration.

Moore’s Law: As Valid Today as it was a Few Decades Ago

In 1965, a man named Gordon Moore made a bold prediction, a prediction that was expected to fail almost every year since. It is a prediction that helps to explain the dizzying speed with which our lives are being upended by new tech..

What Moore said in 1965 is that we’d be able to fit two times more transistors on a microchip every year, year after year. What this meant for the semiconductor industry is that microchips would get twice as fast and cost half as much to produce every single year.

This, they thought, was crazy talk.

A Grain of Rice and a Chessboard

Take a typical chess board. On the first square place a grain of rice. On the next square put two grains of rice. On the next square, four. And double the number of grains of rice on each subsequent square.

By the time you reach the final square, number 64, the amount of rice you would need would require the entire surface of the earth and its oceans to grow, 210 billion tons.

That’s the power of compounding.

Every few years, the skeptics declared that we had reached the end of our ability to shrink these tiny transistors any more. “It’s just not physically possible,” they said.

And every time, Moore’s prediction was proven more or less true.

Even today, as the wires that run across microchips approach the width of an atom, engineers find ways to make things half the size.

Do not miss: Can AI Marketing Tools Increase Your Website’s Conversion Rates?

Why should you care? As microchips shrink and drop in cost, so do the things we build with them. For example, the camera that is found in any laptop has a HD resolution and costs the manufacturer a few dollars. The cost of servers and storage space has plummeted as well. Hence, most of our computing and storage is done in the proverbial cloud.

All of this has created a golden age of technology — for consumers, for businesses, and especially for marketers. Entrepreneurs are using the cloud and cheap computing power to make digital marketing cheaper easier, and more predictable.

It is now more expensive to ignore the amazing data we can collect than it is to buckle down and put it to use.

While we’re sitting around wondering what to do with all of this data, entrepreneurs and engineers are using it teach machines to learn.

The Era of Neural Networks: Is the Future of AI marketing all about Personalization?

Neural networks are computer programs that work like human neurons. Like the human brain, they are designed to learn. Neural nets have been around for decades, but only in recent years have we had enough data to teach them anything useful.

Machine learning is lumped together with Artificial Intelligence, or AI, but it’s really much simpler than building an intelligent machine. If you have enough data, it’s relatively easy to teach a machine how to learn and to get insights from it.

In fact, machine learning is being used all around you and you probably don’t even know it.

In this episode, I am going to change the fundamental question you ask as a marketer. You will no longer ask, “Will this creative work for my audience?” You will ask, “Which people in my audience will this creative work for?”

And we’ll ask some more tactical questions.

  • How do we pull meaningful things out of our data in a reasonable amount of time.
  • So how do we understand the information that the machine pulls for us?
  • Are you optimizing for the right things? And if not, can machine learning even work for you?
  • How do we take all this data and make it matter?
  • How do we as marketers, become better at using the tools and resources available to us in the age of Moore’s law?

I start the conversation, asking Olcan, “Is the future of AI marketing all about personalization?”

From Segmentation to Contextualization: Focus on the Context that Your Visitors Arrive In

My favorite take away from my conversation with Oljan Sercinoglu is that context matters.

There is one big context that you don’t need machine learning to address: It is the context of your mobile visitors.

You may say that your website is responsive, and that you’ve already addressed the smartphone context. But, you haven’t.

Do you want proof? Check your analytics. You’re smartphone conversion rates are probably a half or a quarter of your desktop sites, even with that responsive design. I know this without looking at your analytics.

Mobile visitors are coming in a completely different context than desktop visitors. They don’t need a shrunk down version of your website. They need a different website.

Fortunately, you don’t need a machine learning program to identify these visitors. You can start personalizing your mobile site to deal with this new context.

Try this as a contextualization exercise: Reduce the number of fields on the mobile forms, or eliminate the forms altogether. Replace them with click-to-call. If you have an eCommerce site, make “Add to Cart” secondary and build your mobile subscriber list. Email is the life’s blood of eCommerce.

If your website is generating millions of visits, you may want to consider putting that data to work for you. Not every business is ready for machine learning, but you don’t want to be the last business in your market to start using it.

When You Get Back to the Office

When you get back to the office, I recommend that you share this episode of Intended Consequences with someone else in your company. It’ll make you look smart and forward thinking.

If not I have a challenge for you.

Here’s my challenge to you this week – start to really think about how you define success. Answer the question, “I’ve done a great job because…” and fill in the blank. Answer this questions three ways. everything you do as marketer should flow from optimization.

Then ask, how do I measure each of those with data I’m collecting today. Once you’re clear that it’s the idea that by understanding the metrics, first then you can begin to prioritize your data gathering and create based on the context that’s being emerged from the data.

Alright scientists, that’s it for this week.

Resources and links discussed

Olcan Sercinoglu | Why Context Matters

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Discover how to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site. Five factors you MUST look into to improve online conversions right now.

There’s one thing, one thing that’s keeping your visitors from converting on your site.

It may not be the only thing, but it is the primary thing that your online business isn’t delivering the results you expect. It’s where you start when you optimize your website.

So, traffic but not conversions? It’s one of these five things:

  1. The Value Proposition and Messaging isn’t clear.
  2. They perceive risk when considering taking an action.
  3. You aren’t showing up as credible and authoritative.
  4. They want to know if others have benefited from you.
  5. Your design and layout aren’t helping them digest the buffet of content you’re presenting.

Find out what keeps visitors from converting on your site and start testing to increase your conversions right now.

How to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site.

How to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site.

Value Proposition & Messaging

Do you think your value proposition is the one thing that keeps visitors from converting on your site? Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a value proposition. Your value proposition is composed of all of the things you do to solve a problem and is communicated by:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Content and Copy
  3. Images
  4. Pricing
  5. Shipping policy
  6. Words used in your navigation
  7. Design elements

All of these website elements are used to let your visitors know how you solve a set of problems, and why your solution is the best choice. The one that will save the most time and money, or that will deliver the most satisfaction.

But your value proposition doesn’t have to be communicated through words and images alone. Video, audio and animations are proven ways to communicate your value to a prospect.

And herein lies the rub.

Digital media gives us the amazing ability to put anything onto a landing page that our hearts desire. And if you can do anything, how do you know which is the right element to use? Here lies the conundrum.

How to know if your value proposition is what keeps visitors from converting on your site

A high bounce rate is a sign of three things:

  1. You’re bringing the wrong traffic
  2. Your lead isn’t hitting the mark
  3. You’ve been attacked by bots

If your landing page suffers from a high bounce rate, look at the source of your traffic. Does the page keep the specific offer made in the paid ad, email, or organic search query that enticed the visitors to click on your site? If it’s your homepage, the answer is most certainly, “No.”

If you feel that your traffic is good, and is coming to a relevant page, then we should ask if the lead is hitting the mark. By “lead” I am referring to the headline + hero image.

Often, hero images are wasted on something non-concrete. The headline should act as the caption for the image it accompanies.

Don’t show a city skyline. Don’t show a person smiling at a computer. These things don’t scream for meaningful captions and don’t help conversions either.

You should also look at the words you use in your main navigation. These should communicate what your site is about in the words of the visitor, not just the structure of your website.

Still don’t know what’s keeping them from converting? Ask your visitors

If you still don’t know what is keeping visitors from converting on your site, consider using an exit-intent popup that asks one open-ended question: “What were you looking for when you came to our site?” or “Why didn’t you purchase?”

We are also big fans of putting an open-ended question on your thank-you page or receipt page: “What almost kept you from buying?” or “What almost kept you from signing up?”

Discover How Our Conversion Rate Optimization Analysis Services Work

You May Be Scaring Visitors Away: Use and Misuse of Risk Reversal

In general, more people make decisions based on fear than on opportunity. So, your amazing value proposition is destined to die in the minds of many of your prospects because of fear.

  • What if I don’t like the product?
  • What if my identity gets stolen?
  • Will a pushy salesman call?
  • Will I have to deal with tons of email?

At the heart of it all is, “Will I feel stupid if I take action right now?”

Risk reversal (and most of the following) is a set of tactics that puts the visitor’s fears at rest. It consists of things like:

  • Guarantees
  • Warranties
  • Privacy policies
  • Explicit permissions
  • Return policies

Placing these items in clear view near a call to action can do wonders for your conversion rates.

Don’t put fears into their mind

There is a potential danger. Your risk reversal tactics can actually put fear into their mind.

For example, stating, “We will never spam you.” can actually place the concept in the mind of someone who wasn’t concerned about it. You might say instead, “We respect your privacy.” with a link to your privacy policy.

Traffic but not Conversions? Help Visitors Convert on your Site with Social Proof

Social proof demonstrates that others have had a positive experience with your brand. These take the form of:

  • Testimonials
  • On-site ratings and reviews
  • Third party reviews
  • Case studies
  • Social media shares, likes and comments
  • Comments

If social proof is your one problem that keeps visitors from converting on your site, customers don’t feel that you’re right for someone like them. Make sure you show them that they are in the group of people that benefit from you.

Negative Reviews Help

Ironically, it also serves to answer the question, “Just how bad was a bad experience with this company?” This is why negative reviews have proven to increase conversion rates on eCommerce sites. Cleaning your reviews or only posting good reviews can shoot you in the foot.

Is it Lack of Credibility & Authority What Keeps Visitors from Converting on your Site?

If you are in an industry with lots of competition, or with “bad actors” who manipulate to get sales, your one problem may be credibility and authority.

The design of your website is one of the first things that communicate credibility. But be careful. A fancy, overly-designed site may communicate the wrong idea to visitors. It may convey that you’re expensive or too big for your prospects.

Credibility can be established by emphasizing things about your company, and by borrowing credibility from other sources such as, your clients. your payment methods, you media appearances and the like.

Brand Credibility

You gain credibility by building confidence with your brand and value proposition. How long have you been in business? How many customers have you served? How many products have you sold? How many dollars have you saved?

Brand credibility generally takes the form of implied proof.

Borrowed Credibility

Your website or landing page can borrow credibility and authority from third-party sources. Placing symbols and logos on your website borrows from these credible sources. Ask yourself:

  • Have you been interviewed or reviewed in well-know publications?
  • Have you been interviewed on broadcast media outlets?
  • What associations are you a member of?
  • What awards have you been nominated for or won?
  • Has your business been rated by consumer organizations like Consumer Reports or the Better Business Bureau?
  • Have your products been reported on by analysts such as Forrester?

Place proof of your associations on your site’s landing pages to borrow authority and credibility from them.

User Interface & User Experience: Factors that Keep Visitors from Converting on your Site

Nothing works if your visitors eyes aren’t guided through your pages.

No value proposition, no risk reversal, no social proof, no credibility stands a chance if the layout and user experience don’t help the reader understand where they’ve landed or where to go from there.

Long load time equals poor experience

The first thing to look at is site performance. If your pages load slowly, you visitors may be bouncing away. If any element requires a loading icon of any sort, you are probably providing a poor user experience.

Clutter means bad visual hierarchy

When a visitor looks at a page, it should be very obvious what is most important element and what can be looked at later. This is called a visual hierarchy.

For example, we like to make call to action buttons highly visible, so that it is clear to the reader that they are being asked to do something.

Designers use their knowledge of whitespace, negative space, font, font size, color, and placement to design an experience that is easy for the visitors’ eyes to digest.

Don’t add surprises

A good user experience has little place for novelty. Arbitrarily adding animations, fades, parallax images or scroll-triggered effects are generally unnecessary, can cause technical glitches and may actually hurt conversion rates.

How to Know “what” is Hurting your Conversion Rate

We recommend this process to determine the primary problem that keeps visitors from converting on your website.

1. Gather all of your conversion optimization ideas

Begin recording all of the ideas you have for improving the site in the spreadsheet. Sources for these ideas:

  1. Ask your team
  2. Read your customer reviews
  3. Read your customer surveys
  4. Pull from your marketing reports
  5. Read your live chat transcripts
  6. Generate heatmap reports for your key pages
  7. Watch recorded sessions

Don’t be surprised to have dozens of ideas for a website or landing page.

2. Categorize each of your ideas

The ROI Prioritized Hypothesis List spreadsheet has a column for classifying each idea.

  1. Messaging
  2. Layout/UX
  3. Social Proof
  4. Risk Reversal
  5. Credibility

There will also be some things that you just want to fix.

3. Count your conversion optimization ideas

Count out how many ideas you have for each category. The category with the most ideas is probably the one problem you should address first. We use a pie chart to illustrate the different issues.

What Keeps Visitors from Converting on your Site? This site's one problem is Value Proposition and Messaging followed by Layout and UX

This site’s one problem is Value Proposition and Messaging followed by Layout and UX

4. Start working

Begin working on the ideas in the category with the most ideas.

This is a great time to start AB testing to see which of your ideas really are important to your visitors.

Your search traffic will demonstrate their approval through more sales, more leads and higher conversion rates overall.

This sounds like a lot of work

It is a lot of work. But you could consider hiring us to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site and we will test our way to your success.

You can request a free consultation with us.

This article is an updated and revised version of our original article published on Search Engine Land.

Brian Massey